ORLANDO (CBSMiami) — Today marks the 43rd birthday of the largest, most visited amusement park in the world, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Ever since the gates first opened on October 1, 1971, the park has been about creating magic and memories with cutting edge technology.
When the Magic Kingdom first opened, there were about 10,000 visitors. The Walt Disney World Resort also debuted 2 property hotels, the 15-story Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Village Resort, both connected by a monorail system. At the Contemporary, guests were thrilled to see the monorail running directly through the middle of the A-frame structure’s 10-story atrium.
Disney World was built to supplement Disneyland in Anaheim, California which had opened in 1955. However, Walt Disney himself, it is said, disliked all of the businesses that opened around Disneyland. In addition, most of the population of the U.S., at that time, still lived east of the Mississippi in the 50s so Walt wanted to build another park on the east.
A site in Orlando was chosen for the new park and the Disney company started to purchase land. Disney used various dummy corporations to acquire all of the land in order to avoid a burst of land speculation.
It worked and the Magic Kingdom was created. Walt, who was highly involved in the planning of the “Florida Project” would never see it’s opening He died December 15th, 1966.
When Roy O. Disney, Walt’s brother, welcomed guests during the grand opening of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom , he explained that the park included his brother’s full name, so that people would not forget the name “of the man who started it all.”
On opening day in 1971, the price of general admission to the Magic Kingdom cost just $3.50.
Guests could also purchase a book of ride tickets. Each book consisted of A through E tickets with the E tickets being the best rides, like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jungle Cruise.
A 7-adventure ticket book was only $4.75 for adults which included admission and an 11-adventure ticket book was $5.75 for adults. Kids were cheaper.
Parking was only 50-cents per vehicle.
Disney dropped the ticket book system by 1982, but even then, the price of admission was still just $15 to get into either the Magic Kingdom or the newly-opened EPCOT Center. Now, we’re just under the $100 mark.
Did you know you could fit the original Disneyland Park in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom and still have room to park some 300 cars.
Happy Birthday Walt Disney World!