Magic Kingdom opened October 1, 1971. EPCOT Center opened on October 1, 1982. Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened May 1, 1989 and was the third of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World in Orlando FL. Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, and was the fourth–and to this date the last new theme park built at the resort. They have expanded and added on to their existing properties, closing some or adding on to favorites.
My first visit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom came during the summer of 1976 during my month-long bicentennial bus tour of America. DisneyWorld had opened just five years previously and at that time, only one park was completed. I remember the weather in June was hot and wet. The park was fun, affordable and my friends and I enjoyed it for the day before we took a bus to Cape Canaveral and the Space Center there.
Over the next 21 years three more parks opened, the final one, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opening in April of 1998.
My wife and I stayed at one of the resorts for our honeymoon in January of 1998. We only have few pictures from that time, and truthfully my memories are somewhat dim, but I know we had a great time visiting the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood-MGM Studios (as it was named then). I remember there being virtually no crowds in January of that year.
For our 25th anniversary we went back to DisneyWorld. Much has changed since our first visit and, due to their new reservation system, we weren’t able to visit two of the parks. We did enjoy Epcot and the Animal Park.
In 1997-98 DisneyWorld was celebrating their 25th anniversary; it’s a bit of symmetry that our 25th was celebrated while the parks were still decorated for their 50th anniversary, our silver and their golden. This time I took plenty of photos and we brought home an assortment of mementos and commemorative knick-knacks. Added them to the box labeled “wedding stuff” but I guess I need to update the label.
We’ve visited the parks twice before with family, for my 60th and then my 65th birthday. In 2017 Pandora-the World of Avatar had just opened and we were able to experience an area that looked remarkably like the landscape from the movie Avatar, as if the movie set had been brought to stunning life. When we visited again this year, the wait time to ride either experience (Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey) was two hours. We had dinner in the canteen, shopped the offerings in Windtraders store.
I have seen and read so much about the Star Wars-themed area in DW Hollywood Studios (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) and the new Galactic Cruiser immersive experience (hotel) I was really excited to see them. However, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios remain their two most popular theme parks and reservations were not available during our stay. Just as well: when I saw the cost of staying in the Galactic Cruiser for two days, I was pretty shocked. It seems like it would be a fun place to bring the grandchildren, very immersive experience. But as I talked it over with my friend Dave later, the family could spend a week at a “fully immersive” Dude Ranch in Colorado for half the cost. Something to think about when planning our next adventure. Galaxy’s Edge, or riding the range in the mountains of the Old West? Got plans for the summer?