When I was talking to my granddaughter the other day, the subject came up about my very first trip to Walt Disney World. It seems so long ago because it was, 1976. I had finished college (no degree) and moved back home while I was looking for a job. My dad surprised us one evening with an announcement that he had talked to his brother who lived in Michigan and we were all going to meet up in Florida to visit my grandfather. We were also going to first meet at Walt Disney World. I remember how excited my sister and I were. My little sister was only eight at the time. Yes my parents decided that when their only child went off to college, it was time to have another child. I was apprehensive at the news, but can’t imagine my life without her. So, we headed to Florida to meet with my aunt, uncle, and three cousins from Michigan. We stayed in a hotel in Orlando, even though WDW had three resort hotels built by then, they were beyond our budget.
There was only the Magic Kingdom at that time. The Contemporary, Polynesian, and Fort Wilderness opened their doors in 1971 along with the park opening. According to Wikipedia Walt Disney never got to see his vision completed, but his brother Roy kept their dream alive even after some set-backs after Walt died in 1966. The Florida Project, as it was nicknamed by Walt, was a vision of Walt’s and developed into a real plan in the 1960’s. The Magic Kingdom was the first park to open and it was over a decade before EPCOT was completed and opened in 1982.
EPCOT was one of Walt’s favorite concepts. Disney’s MGM Studios opened in 1989 and renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2008. The fourth park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. I remember when we were there you could see the construction going on for EPCOT even though there were privacy fences around it. It was very exciting knowing that another park was being built and it promised to be incredible. Other resorts were going to be popping up almost yearly along with two other parks and two water parks. It would be 10 years before I made it back and boy was there so much more to see and do.