Well, everyone, we are just one day away from celebrating 50 years of Walt Disney World – that is the most significant and most exciting Disney milestone for so many of us!! After going over all of the major milestones in Walt Disney World’s incredible history, we’ve officially arrived at the 21st century.
If you’ve missed any of the previous articles detailing the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, they’re linked right here for your convenience.
April 16 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge opens, featuring spectacular views of lush savannas home to more than 200 animals. The resort is also home to one of the largest collections of African art in the United States.
October 1 – 100 Years of Magic Celebration commences, honoring the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth. New parades debut in all four parks, a 122-foot-tall Sorcerer Mickey hat becomes an icon for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream (now Walt Disney Presents) also opens to take guests on a journey through the life of Walt Disney.
December – Disney’s PhotoPass launches, offering guests an innovative way to view and retrieve professionally captured photos online.
May 5 – Walt Disney World joins in the “Happiest Celebration on Earth,” with Disney parks around the world saluting the 50th anniversary of Disneyland Resort in California. Opening as part of the celebration: Soarin’ at EPCOT and the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
April 7 – Expedition Everest opens, bringing new thrills to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
October 1 – “The Year of a Million Dreams” begins at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. A new “Dream Squad,” randomly selects guests to win an array of prizes. These include priceless, “dream come true” experiences like a night’s stay in the new Cinderella Castle Suite.
January 17 – The first Disney Dreamers Academy event brings 100 exceptional African American high school students from around the U.S. to a four-day, immersive, transformational mentoring experience at Walt Disney World Resort. Becoming an annual event, the free program has since encouraged more than 1,000 participants to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.
September – The luxury residential resort community Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort welcomes its first residents. Designed by Disney Imagineers, the community offers distinctive neighborhoods, expansive nature preserves, and concierge-style resident services.
May 31 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opens with a new style of accommodations – Family Suites for parties of up to six people.
December 6 – New Fantasyland opens at Magic Kingdom Park. The 26-acre expansion of the original land initially includes three new attractions and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Other phases of the new land include Seven Dwarfs Mine Train that opened May 28, 2014.
MagicBands and the My Disney Experience mobile app launch for all guests, bringing innovative new enhancements to help guests plan and experience Walt Disney World Resort.
September 29 – Culminating a three-year reimagining of what was previously Downtown Disney, Disney Springs comes to life. The retail, dining, and entertainment district will continue to grow, encompassing four “neighborhoods” all themed to Florida towns of the early 20th century.
April 12 – A 48,000-panel, five-megawatt Mickey-shaped solar array debuts near EPCOT. The facility is able to produce enough power equal to 1,000 residential rooftop systems.
May 27 – Pandora – The World of Avatar opens as an entirely new themed land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, featuring two attractions, dining, retail, and instantly iconic floating mountains.
June 30 – Toy Story Land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, allowing guests to play with their favorite toys in Andy’s backyard in three attractions.
July 9 – Gran Destino Tower opens with 500-plus new guest rooms along with new dining and convention spaces, completing a multiyear transformation of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
August 29 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The 14-acre land invites guests to experience their own Star Wars stories like never before. One of the most ambitious and technologically advanced attractions created for a Disney park, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens December 5 inside the land.
September 29 – Disney Skyliner takes flight. This grand, state-of-the-art gondola system connects EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four Disney Resort hotels.
December 16 – Disney’s Riviera Resort opens, a Disney Vacation Club property inspired by Europe and imagined by Disney.
December – A new 270-acre, 57-megawatt solar facility goes online, generating enough renewable clean energy to operate two of Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks annually.
March 4 – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the first ride-through attraction in a Disney park dedicated to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
October 1 – “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” will begin, saluting the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. The 18-month event will feature new experiences at all four theme parks and beyond, with shimmering EARidescent décor.
Senior Editor for the DIS and DCL Fan | Disney Vacation Club Member | Thrilled to have been a '13/'14 Disney Parks Moms Panelist (now planDisney) | Lover of all things Disney; the Magic of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line | ºoº