Walt Disney World Construction Timeline

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary - Photo by Steps to Magic

We all have to start somewhere!

With Walt Disney World, there are huge milestones between the shovels hitting the ground in Central Florida and the current iteration of the resort. My goal is to share the year and the event that made headlines, which may include hotels, theme parks and everything in between!

Hope this is helpful and fun!

Walt Disney World Construction Timeline


1960’s

1965

  • Walt Disney announces Florida Project

1966

  • Walt Disney dies of lung cancer at age 65

1967

  • Construction of Walt Disney World Resort begins

1970’s

1971

  • Magic Kingdom opens
  • Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses opens
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort opens
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort opens
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground opens
  • Roy O. Disney dies at age 78

1972

  • Disney’s Village Resort opens

1973

  • The Golf Resort opens

1974

  • Discovery Island opens

1975

  • Walt Disney Village Marketplace opens

1976

  • Disney’s River Country opens

1980’s

1980

  • Walt Disney World Conference Center opens

1982

  • EPCOT Center opens

1986

  • The Golf Resort is expanded and renamed The Disney Inn

1988

  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opens
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort opens

1989

  • Disney-MGM Studios opens
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon opens
  • Pleasure Island opens

1990’s

1990

  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts open
  • Walt Disney World Swan opens
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin opens

1991

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter opens
  • Disney Vacation Club is launched
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort opens

1992

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside (formerly known as Dixie Landings) opens
  • Bonnet Creek Golf Club opens

1994

  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort and Disney’s All-Star Music Resort opens
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opens
  • The Disney Inn is leased and then purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense and is renamed Shades of Green

1995

  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach opens
  • Disney’s Wedding Pavilion opens
  • Walt Disney World Speedway opens

1996

  • EPCOT Center is renamed Epcot
  • Disney Institute opens
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas open

1997

  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort opens
  • Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex opens
  • Downtown Disney West Side opens

1998

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens
  • DisneyQuest opens

1999

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort opens
  • Discovery Island closes
  • Hurricane Floyd closes the resort for the first time in its history on September 15.

2000’s

2000

  • The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opens

2001

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge opens
  • Disney’s River Country closes
  • On September 11, a series of terrorist attacks closes the resort for the second time due to national safety concerns.

2002

  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas opens
  • Shades of Green closes for renovations

2003

  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort opens

2004

  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa opens
  • Shades of Green reopens after renovations
  • Hurricane Frances closes the resort for the third time from September 4 to 5.
  • Hurricane Jeanne closes the resort for the fourth time on September 26.

2007

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas opens

2008

  • Disney-MGM Studios is renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios

2009

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort opens
  • Treehouse Villas opens

2010’s

2011

  • Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort opens

2012

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opens
  • Phase 1 of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion opens

2013

  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opens

2014

  • Phase 2 of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion opens

2015

  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows opens
  • Walt Disney World Speedway closes
  • Downtown Disney is expanded and renamed Disney Springs

2016

  • Disney Springs finishes construction
  • Hurricane Matthew closes the resort for the fifth time on October 7.

2017

  • Pandora – The World of Avatar opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Hurricane Irma closes the resort for the sixth time from September 10 to 11.
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opens
  • DisneyQuest closes permanently for the NBA Experience

2018

  • Toy Story Land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

2019

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Aug 29, 2019)

We’ll be adding much more into this article as things are added to the landscape at Disney World!

Written by Dustin Fuhs

I’m Dustin Fuhs, a theme park fanatic that has created this platform to showcase my passion, tools and opinions to create a fun and interactive experience for everyone who visits. My goal is to help you and your family have the most magical experience at Walt Disney World. In reading my articles and ideas, I hope that you can find some fantastic ways to bring your dreams into reality! If you want more Theme Park fun - listen to the We Like Theme Parks Podcast at https://welikethemeparks.podbean.com/

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