Walt Disney World at Large
  (beyond the parks)

  1971 -

       The main focus of Walt Disney World, from its conception, was that which would lie beyond the borders of the Magic Kingdom. The original five year plan did not include or even forecast for the distant future a second theme park, but it did call for a variety of resort hotels and recreational activities geared toward commanding up to a week of vacation time.

     Starting with just two hotels (The Contemporary and
Polynesian) and a campground (Fort Wilderness) for the October 1, 1971 opening, accommodation options remained sparse until the opening of the Golf Resort Hotel and the Motor Inn Plaza hotels at Lake Buena Vista in 1973.  Additions came gradually and were placed in relative accordance with the master plan that had been in place before even the WDW Preview Center opened in 1970.

     Likewise, activities ranging from boat rentals and horseback rides to golfing and tennis were introduced at the offset, and were further enhanced in measured paces with additions such as
Treasure Island (later Discovery Island) in 1974, the Walt Disney World Village in 1975 and River Country in 1976.

     No one closely involved in the original plans for WDW could have predicted the direction that the resort would take after the Eisner & Wells management team arrived in 1984.  After a quick glance at the property's usage up to that time, they set about to aggressively capitalize on opportunities for more profitable development. By 1987, planning and construction were underway for a dizzying mix of new hotels, entertainment complexes and water parks.  Nineteen years later, the company has yet to stop and catch its breath.  Compare a property road map from the early 1980s with a map printed since 1994 - the original planned scope of WDW appears an exercise in understatement.


Walt Disney World

Altered Vacation Kingdom


Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Opened: October 1, 1971

Disney Personnel:
Walt Disney,
Roy Disney,
Richard F. Irvine,
Gen. Joe Fowler,
Gen. Joe Potter,
Claude Coats,
 Marc Davis,
Marvin Davis,
Bill Martin,
George McGinnis,
John Zovich,
hundreds of others

Descendant of:

Related Internal Sites:
WYW's WDW Index


Treasure Island/
Discovery Island
The Walt Disney World
Preview Center
The Wonderful World
of Water
Ski Show

Altered States:

Polynesian Village Resort
Topiary Sculptures

Lost Worlds:
The Asian Resort
EPCOT - the City


Walt Disney World Publications

All photos copyright
The Walt Disney Company. 
 Text copyright 2007
Mike Lee