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A few months ago I started looking at ways to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. After much thought I realized that the best way to do this was by creating a daily article for 40 days talking about a specific year in Disney's history. So, for the next 40 days we will be counting back from this year (2011) all the way down to the year 1971 (which will be discussed on October 1st, 40 years to the day after the opening of the park).


We made it! 40 years ago, to the day, Walt Disney World opened up with one theme park and two resorts. Let's head back and experience the World as it was on this day in 1971!

Let's begin on the opposite side of the Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom over at the Polynesian. The Poly became the first resort to open on Walt Disney World property due to the fact that they needed the press to have a place to stay the night before the opening of the Magic Kingdom. The resort opened with eight longhouses that held 492 rooms for guests. The resort is still one of the most popular throughout Walt Disney World with one of the greatest views of Cinderella Castle!

Just around the Lagoon was the Contemporary which opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1st! Although the original plan of having a back entrance that led guests into Tomorrowland fell through, the attraction still features one of the greatest locations to a Disney park.

Then of course there was the grand daddy of them all...The Magic Kingdom!

When Walt realized that his beloved Disneyland didn't have any room to expand he set off to find an area that wouldn't just be a park, but an entire world where all of his dreams and ideas could come true. After a long search and several obstacles the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World were complete.

The park originally opened up with six themed lands. Over on Main Street, USA the Walt Disney World Railroad's whistles would welcome guests into the Magic Kingdom. With Walt's love of trains this instantly became one of the go to attractions for fans of all things Disney. On opening day the train made a whopping two stops! One on Main Street, USA and the other in Frontierland!

Along Main Street there were several other "attractions" in the form of shops and entertainment. The Dapper Dan's would serenade guests walking by, while others were amazed by the tricks being performed at the House of Magic. A little ways down the road you could visit the penny arcade. Now most of the games found here can be found throughout Walt Disney World, but the two most known spots are the second level of the Main Street Train Station and over at the Boardwalk!

Adventureland would open up with three signature attractions that were all very popular in Disneyland as well. The Jungle Cruise takes guests through some of the biggest rives of the world while their skipper performs some very punny jokes. Just next door guests could climb to the top of the Swiss Family Treehouse, one of the few Disney created trees in the park, and just across the way from both attractions was Tropical Serenade.

Tropical Serenade was actually a remake of The Enchanted Tiki Room, the first audio-animatronic show ever created in Disneyland. While the name was originally changed, the attraction would get a refurb that would come with the name change, The Enchanted Tiki Room - Under New Management, and eventually turned into Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room just two months ago!

Frontierland received the greatest honor of them all! When the Country Bear Jamboree opened on October 1st, it became the first attraction to appear first in Walt Disney World before Disneyland! The attraction was originally intended for a ski resort Walt was involved in, but when that idea fell through he realized it'd be perfect for his Disney World. Imagineers made sure the attraction became a reality. With the popularity of the attraction in the Magic Kingdom, Imagineers eventually brought it over to Disneyland as well.

Also debuting in Frontierland were the Diamond Horseshoe Revue, Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, and Mike Fink Keel Boats!

Another first at Walt Disney World was the inclusion of a new land that wasn't previously at Disneyland. The land? Liberty Square, which was based off of a land originally conceived for Disneyland but never became a reality! The land featured the Hall of Presidents, which was originally intended for Disneyland, but eventually became Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. This time around all presidents were present, but of course, Honest Abe did a lot of the talking once again.

Just around the corner was the spookiest mansion ever seen which 999 happy haunts called home! While the attraction was based off of Disneyland's version there were several differences right away, such as a longer introduction in your Doom Buggy. More importantly, the attraction featured the famous stretch room from the original attraction. The original's needed a way for guests to go into the ground so they could go underneath the train tracks, but in the Magic Kingdom this was unnecessary since the attraction was no where near train tracks. Imagineers liked the effect so much in the original mansion though that they kept it for the Magic Kingdom versions as well. This time around, though, the room actually stretches up instead of having guests go down!

Just around the corner there was a Fantasyland which featured the most attractions of all the land and interestingly enough, several of those attractions are still enjoyed by guests today! Cinderella's Golden Carousel got recognition as the oldest attraction found throughout the park since the original carousel was made in 1916 in New Jersey!

The center of Fantasyland featured the famous Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction, while the Mad Tea Party marked the gateway between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Both were attractions recreated from Disneyland, but with a few differences. Dumbo, for instance, doesn't have a pool of water underneath the Dumbo's, and is the only Dumbo attraction in the world that doesn't. This is due to the fact that underneath the attraction are the utilidors, the tunnels Cast Members use to remain unseen, and the weight of the water may have caused a leak into the tunnels beneath them. The main difference for the Mad Tea Party is the fact that this one actually has a covering! Why? The Florida rain of course!

Snow White's Adventures opened, much like Disneyland's version, on opening day! The attraction would go through several changes over the year. When guests began to realize that Snow White was not in the attraction (since they were meant to be playing her role) they complained and Snow White was eventually brought into the attraction. However, guests complained that the attraction was still very scary so the title Snow White's Scary Adventures became the main name for the attraction. Unfortunately, this signature attraction will close in the near future to make way for the Fantasyland Expansion.

When Walt Disney went to the 1964 World's Fair several of his attractions became hits, but "it's a small world" became one of the most loved of all! So much that when the Fair was over, Walt insisted the attraction would call Disneyland home. On October 1st, the attraction also made the Magic Kingdom home and has been delighting guests ever since!

When Fantasyland first opened three popular attractions were present that are no longer around today. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was the only attraction to feature two tracks! Each track would take guests on a completely different wild ride. Eventually this attraction would disappear for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which featured a more popular character. However, guests did protest for Toad to stay, and even though the attraction may no longer exist, Toad can still be found hidden in the attraction, and in the pet cemetery over at The Haunted Mansion.

In addition to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Mickey Mouse Revue, which sat where Mickey's PhilharMagic now sits, invited guests to watch several audio-animatronics which featured popular Disney characters from Huey, Dewey, and Louie, to the Three Caballeros, to Mickey and Minnie, playing different Disney songs. The attraction eventually moved over seas to Hong Kong Disneyland.

The final attraction that was present on opening day that is no longer around was the Skyway to Tomorrowland. And of course to go with that were our opening day attractions in Tomorrowland, Skyway to Fantasyland, and the Grand Prix Raceway. The Grand Prix Raceway, or the Tomorrowland Speedway as we now know it, was a longer attraction on October 1, 1971, but with the addition of Mickey's Birthdayland in 1988, the attraction was shortened for the expansion of the park!

These weren't the only attractions that opened this year, however. The very next day the Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat made its first trip around the Rivers of America. The name was eventually changed to the Liberty Bell Riverboat, while the Admiral Joe Fowler became one of the ferryboats to transport guests from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom!

On October 3rd my personal favorite attraction, Peter Pan's Flight soared into guests heart. The two and a half minute attraction guests took guests to Neverland and back and continues to do so today!

In addition to Peter Pan's Flight coming a little after opening day, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea also made a splash when it first opened! The attraction was wildly popular, but due to slow loading times, it was eventually closed since it was costing more money to run than anything else. The water was drained in 2004 and made way for Pooh's Playful Spot. However, have no fear, because an under water journey will be returning to this location when the Fantasyland Expansion is complete and the newest Little Mermaid attraction once again takes guests Under the Sea.

So there you have it! 40 years, 40 days! Thank you to everyone for joining me the past 40 years as we've explored how the parks has changed over the years! But don't worry! The fun doesn't stop here! In fact, if you join us this Wednesday for the W.E.D.nesday Show!, we'll be talking all about the creation of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World starting way back in 1955! Until then, have a great day!


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