Five Decades of Magic at Walt Disney World - A look at some rare construction photos from 1980 - 1989

28 days ago in "Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary Celebration - The World’s Most Magical Celebration"

Posted: Tuesday June 29, 2021 8:34am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary on October 1 2021, and as the countdown to the anniversary continues, Disney is today sharing some rare photographs of the resort construction and milestones from the early years.

In this second set of images, we look at 1980 - 1989. All photos Copyright The Walt Disney Company. View the previous 1971 - 1979 timeline.

1980

Sept. 23 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens in Frontierland, expanding the mountain range at Magic Kingdom Park.

1981

Oct. 1 – A year-long Tencennial Celebration begins, bringing new entertainment to Magic Kingdom Park. Later in the year, the EPCOT Preview Center opens on Main Street, U.S.A.

1982

Oct. 1 – EPCOT opens with five Future World pavilions – Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination and The Land – and nine World Showcase pavilions representing Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, France, United Kingdom and Canada.



Disney expands its legacy of work with Make-A-Wish as the first wish is grated at Walt Disney World Resort. Since 1982, more than 176,000 life-changing wishes have been granted for children facing critical illnesses in partnership with more than 250 wish-granting organizations around the globe.

1983

Dec. 16 – The first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held at Magic Kingdom, starting a tradition of popular Disney After Hours events, combining special entertainment and offerings with extra time in the park.

Dec. 25 – The Walt Disney World Christmas Parade is broadcast live from Magic Kingdom on ABC, going on to become a holiday tradition and growing to include parades and performances from both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

1984

May 11 – The Disney Dreamers & Doers program begins recognizing young people who demonstrate excellence in their schools, families and communities. Since 1984, Walt Disney World Resort has recognized nearly 14,000 students from public and private schools across Central Florida.

Sept. 7 – EPCOT World Showcase expands with the opening of the Morocco pavilion.

1986

Jan. 15 – The Living Seas (now The Seas with Nemo & Friends) opens at EPCOT, home to more than 200 species of sea life in a 5.7 million-gallon “ocean” of saltwater.

1987

Jan. 25 – The iconic “I’m Going to Disney World!” commercial debuts. New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms is the first to shout the now-famous phrase following his team’s Super Bowl XXI victory.

1988

June 3 – EPCOT World Showcase expands with the opening of the Norway pavilion.

June 28 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opens as the flagship of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. It’s followed Oct. 1 by Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

1989

May 1 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens with Tinseltown glamour, major entertainment attractions and behind-the-scenes looks at movie-making.


May 1 – The nighttime entertainment complex Pleasure Island opens with a glittering array of restaurants and themed nightclubs. It will close in 2008 to make way for Disney Springs.

June 1 – Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park opens, featuring a 95-foot-high mountain, eight water slides and a 2.5-acre wave pool.

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mnelson35 hours ago

Unless something horrible happens I’m sure October will go on as planned.

Figments Friend5 hours ago

Gonna be a huge crowd there on the 1st, methinks. Hoo boy....can't wait for the fun! ✨ Remember kids, BRING YOUR OWN FOOD with you! Smuggle in as many snacks as you can. The lines for food and even mobile pick up will likely be insane, and the added chaos will make it a must. You can thank me for the tip when it's all over. 😎 -

jrhwdw6 hours ago

Good, I guess..with the CDC today, let's hope HEA makes it till Sep 29th, And the 50th goes on as planned!

DCBaker7 hours ago

October 1st MK Park Passes for all buckets have been replenished -

tcool1239 hours ago

So far this is has been the biggest let down for a statue for the lineup in terms of announcements. Lumiere and Cogsworth are fine representations for New Fantasyland or Sunset Boulevard, Timon & Pumba are a perfect fit for Animal Kingdom representation, Pooh and Piglet are fine representations for Fantasyland. But Edna? Her "attraction" hasn't even been open since reopening, but if she was placed at Contemporary given the new rooms I suppose it would be a stretch but it would fit 🤷‍♂️

DCBaker11 hours ago

Video for Edna Mode statue announcement -

Nmoody120 hours ago

You can sell the statues after the celebration though and make $$$

MadTeacup1 day ago

I'm not saying the whole project is based around it. I AM saying that I expect the new statues in the HUB to be a permanent replacement to what is there and a clever way of removing Br'er Rabbit without that character being singled out. The fact that these "Additions" will draw less attention to Br'er Rabbit's removal is a win for the company.

UNCgolf1 day ago

I doubt that. Disney could just remove that overnight at some point and most people wouldn't notice. Beyond that, the people that would care have to know that statue is almost certainly going to disappear at some point. I don't think Disney is worried about any backlash.

MadTeacup1 day ago

They appear to be the same size as the current Hub statues that have existed now for decades, I believe. I think this is a low-key way of eliminating the Br'er Rabbit statue without drawing attention to its removal.

UNCgolf1 day ago

I was hoping one of these reveal videos would show them with the person revealing them instead of as a separate video clip.

MisterPenguin1 day ago

No pictures of one of the statues with a banana, yet, for perspective.

UNCgolf1 day ago

I meant see the actual physical statue in real life with something else for perspective, not just the concept art. The concept art makes them look like they'd be maybe 3 feet tall but I wouldn't be surprised if they were bigger.

dreday31 day ago

Okay. Now that's pretty exciting. (seriously) That will look great.