The Making of Walt Disney World

Nov. 15, 1965: Press Conference – Walt Disney (from left), Florida Gov. Haydon Burns and Roy Disney hold a press conference to announce that 27,000 acres have been bought in Central Florida for a Disney project, Walt Disney World.

Dec. 3, 1965: Aerial Photos – An aerial photo of the Disney property, with significant landmarks noted, before construction.

Mid-1960s: Property Inspection – Roy Disney, in glasses, inspects the Lake Buena Vista property in the mid-1960s where Walt Disney World will be built.

May 12, 1967: The Disney Bill – Roy Disney watches as Florida Gov. Claude Kirk signs the Disney bill, which created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, at the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, Fla.


Dec. 7, 1970: Cinderella Castle – Bill Martin, project designer for the Cinderella Castle at Disney World in 1970. (File photo)

1970: Plans Unveiled – Disney World plans unveiled 1970. From left to right, the men standing at the back are Domm Tatum, Gov. Claude Kirk, Roy Disney and Lt. Gov. Ray Osborne.

Jan. 22, 1970: Preview Center – The preview center at Walt Disney World.
May 18, 1970: Main Street, Magic Kingdom
Nov. 28, 1970: Main Street, Magic Kingdom – Construction of Main Street at Walt Disney World.
May 18, 1970: Haunted Mansion – A carpenter hand-carves a figure for Haunted Mansion.
One of the submarines used for the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride arrives.
Aug. 29, 1970: Monorail – An unpainted Monorail car sit inside the Martin Marietta plant where the trains are being built.
Sept. 26, 1970: Monorail – Concrete footings are ready for Monorail beams to be put in place.
Oct. 5, 1970: The Contemporary – The beginning of external construction of The Contemporary, including the Monorail beams.
Dec. 7, 1970: Cinderella Castle – Construction of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.
Dec. 7, 1970: Cinderella Castle – December 1970 file photo. Cinderella Castle under construction at Disney World.
Dec. 9. 1970: The Contemporary – U.S. Steel executives stand in front of one of the modular pods for The Contemporary as they look over plans for the resort.
Jan. 6, 1971: Haunted Mansion – An exterior view of Haunted Mansion construction.

Jan. 24, 1971: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
April 8, 1971: Monorail – Burt Weller, Martin Marietta’s No. 2 man on the Monorail project guides a car out of a building for loading. The trains were being prepared for the move to Florida.

April 8, 1971: Monorail – Walt Disney World monorail cars sit outside in the rain at the Martin Marietta plant where they were built.

April 8, 1971: Monorail – Loading a monorail on a flat bed at Martin Marietta for transport to Walt Disney World.

May 15, 1971: Walt Disney World Railroad – The first narrow-gauge railroad train, reincarnated from life in Yucatan sugar cane fields, arrived at Walt Disney World. Mickey Mouse greets Earl Vilmer, a railroader who helped build Disneyland’s first steam locomotives.

June 4, 1971: The Contemporary
Aug. 12, 1971: A sidewheeler under construction.
Aug. 13, 1971: Contemporary, Monorail – The nearly completed monorail tracks stand next to the still-under-construction Contemporary resort.
Nov. 16, 1971: The Contemporary – An exterior view of construction on The Contemporary. You can see the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle in the background.
July 16, 1973: Space Mountain – Construction workers build a circular platform that will reach 175 feet in the air for Space Mountain.
Aug. 24, 1973: Space Mountain
Dec. 11, 1973: Space Mountain – Topping off Space Mountain ahead of its opening.
January 29, 1974: Space Mountain – View of Space Mountain under construction at Walt Disney World.
March 4, 1974: Space Mountain – Space Mountain under construction in Tomorrowland.
Nov. 9, 1976: Empress Lilly
August 1979: Big Thunder Mountain – Big Thunder Mountain under construction.
Oct. 1, 1979: Epcot – The groundbreaking for Epcot Center.
Jan. 2, 1981: World of Motion – The wheel-shaped shell of the World of Motion is nearly complete.
Jan 14, 1981: Kitchen Kabaret – Sculptor Wayne Strong creates the singing foods for the Kitchen Kabaret show in the Land pavilion at Epcot.
Jan. 28, 1981: Epcot – About 2600 construction workers are busy building Disney’s $800 million Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
Feb. 6, 1982: Spaceship Earth – Progress on “The ball” that will house a communications exhibit at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center attraction.
Sept. 25, 1982: Epcot – Workers put finishing touches on Epcot a week before opening day.
Oct. 11, 1982: Horizons – Construction progresses on the Horizons pavilion in Epcot’s Future World.
Oct. 1, 1983: Living Seas – The groundbreaking, including a water spout, of Epcot’s Living Seas Pavilion.
June 15, 1987: Pleasure Island – Anchored by the Empress Lilly boat on one end, the six-acre Pleasure Island is seen under construction.
Sept. 1, 1987: The ‘Earffel Tower’ – This file photo shows the “Earffel Tower,” the 130-foot water tower, at Walt Disney World’s MGM Studios on Sept. 1, 1987.
Nov. 21, 1988: Wonders Of Life – The geometrically-designed roof of the Wonders of Life Pavilion is Epcot is completed during construction.
July 27, 1989: The Swan
July 27, 1989: The Dolphin
About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.