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Disney World Opening Dates

Disney World Opening Dates

Are you a huge Disney fan like me? If so, you may be curious about the main Disney World opening dates. 

Disney World has an extensive and incredibly interesting history. And, you may be surprised to find out that many of the classic rides we enjoy today were opening-day attractions, dating back to the early 1970s. Come with me on a journey to explore these Disney World opening dates!

What is Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World is a theme park located in Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake, Florida. It is home to four theme parks, two water parks, 23 resorts, one campground, eight villas, and a shopping area called Disney Springs. 

Read more: Fun Things To Do In Disney Springs: No Ticket Required!

Though it’s known for being one of the leading theme parks in the United States, Walt Disney World didn’t start as a theme park. Known back then as only “The Florida Project,” the area where Walt Disney World now stands was originally slated for Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – or EPCOT. However, it wasn’t the EPCOT we have now. 

Instead, Walt’s concept was for the land to serve as an experimental community that he basically had total jurisdiction over. He wanted the people who lived and worked there to also be responsible for maintaining the community. The land would feature an airport, a monorail system, and schools, as well as a climate-controlled dome that would protect the residents from harsh weather conditions. 

The idea was over-the-top but a true testament to the kind of visionary Walt Disney really was. Toward the end of his life, Walt became obsessed with “The Florida Project,” turning all of his attention from the studio, animation, and Disneyland to focus on it. 

He was consumed with what his legacy would be and wanted to leave behind a blueprint of his futuristic utopia. In fact, he was still sketching out ideas for EPCOT until the day before his death. 

Ultimately, Walt’s vision for EPCOT would never become a reality, and his brother, who assumed primary responsibility for the new land after Walt’s passing, named the New Disney World Walt Disney World in honor of his brother. 

Opening Dates for Disney World Parks

Did you know it took nearly 30 years for us to get the Disney World we know and love today? All four theme parks opened across three decades, with one opening up every year from the 1970s to the 1990s. And surprisingly, there’s still room for them to build a 5th park!

Here are the opening dates for the four Disney World parks: 

  • Magic Kingdom – October 1, 1971
  • EPCOT – October 1, 1982
  • Hollywood Studios – May 1, 1989
  • Animal Kingdom – April 22, 1998 

Fun fact: Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day! 

Read more: How Many Disney Parks are There?

Disney World Resort Opening Dates

Here’s a list of all the Disney World resort opening dates:

  • All-Star Movies Resort – Jan. 15, 1999
  • All-Star Music Resort – Nov. 22, 1998
  • All-Star Sports Resort – April 29, 1994
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort – April 16, 2001
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas – Jambo House – July 3, 2007
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas – Kidani Village – May 1, 2009
  • Art of Animation Resort – May 31, 2012
  • Beach Club Resort – Nov. 19, 1990
  • Beach Club Villas – July 1, 2002
  • Boardwalk Inn – July 1, 1996
  • Boardwalk Villas – July 1, 1996
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – October 1, 1988
  • Contemporary Resort – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Contemporary Resort – Bay Lake Tower – Oct. 4, 2009
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Aug. 1, 1997
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – June 28, 1988
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Villas – Oct. 23, 2013
  • Fort Wilderness Resort – Cabins – Nov. 19, 1971
  • Fort Wilderness Resort – Campsites – Nov. 19, 1971
  • Old Key West Resort – Dec. 20, 1991
  • Polynesian Village Resort – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Polynesian Village Villas & Bungalows – April 1, 2015
  • Pop Century Resort – Dec. 14, 2003
  • Port Orleans – French Quarter – May 17, 1991
  • Port Orleans – Riverside – February 2, 1992
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – May 17, 2004
  • Star Wars Galactic StarCruiser – March 1, 2022
  • Wilderness Lodge – May 28, 1994
  • Wilderness Lodge – Copper Creek Villas & Cabins – July 17, 2017
  • Yacht Club Resort – Nov. 5, 1990
  • Rivera Resort – Dec. 16, 2019

Are you planning on staying at one of these resorts in the near future? If so, here are a few articles you should check out so you can know-before-you-go:

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The Best Disney Value Resorts Ranked
The Best Disney World Resort Pools
Disney World Resort Guest Mistakes
The Best Themed Rooms at Walt Disney World

Water Parks at Disney World Opening Dates 

Typhoon Lagoon Lazy River

Disney World is also home to two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach! Here’s when they opened: 

  • Typhoon Lagoon – June 1, 1989
  • Blizzard Beach – April 1, 1995

Read more: Tips for Spending the Day at a Disney Water Park

Disney Attractions Opening Dates

Here’s a list, broken down by park, of all the Disney attraction opening dates in chronological order. For the nature of this list, we are only including current rides. So, you won’t see shows, fireworks, or character experiences on this list.

However, let us know in the comments if you’d like to see opening dates for those, and we’ll make one!

Magic Kingdom

Disney World Opening Dates 4
  • Jungle Cruise – Oct. 1, 1971
  • The Haunted Mansion – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Peter Pan’s Flight – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Country Bear Jamboree – Oct. 1, 1971
  • The Hall of Presidents – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – Oct. 1, 1971
  • “it’s a small world” – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Mad Tea Party – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Walt Disney World Railroad (Main Street, U.S.A) – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade – Oct. 1, 1971
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – Oct. 2, 1971
  • Walt Disney World Railroad (Frontierland) – May 1, 1972
  • Tom Sayer Island – May 20, 1973
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Dec. 15, 1973
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Jan. 15, 1975
  • Space Mountain – Jan.15, 1975
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – July 1, 1975
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Sept. 23, 1980
  • Walt Disney World Railroad (Fantasyland) – June 18, 1988
  • The Barnstormer – Oct. 1, 1996
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Nov. 3, 1998
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – June 5, 1999
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – May 23, 2001
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Sept. 30, 2003
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid – Dec. 6, 2012
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – May 28, 2014

Read more: Best Magic Kingdom Rides to do Before Lunch

Astro Orbiter is a bit of a weird entry because the original attraction debuted on November 28, 1974. Originally known as StarJets, it went under a refurbishment before re-opening to guests on April 30, 1994.

Read more: History of Magic Kingdom Rides

Epcot: 

Living with the Land Epcot

Epcot is a bit weird. For the sake of this list, we’re going to break it down to cover the individual opening dates for both rides and pavilions. Rides first:  

  • Spaceship Earth – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Living with the Land – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Test Track – March 17, 1999
  • Mission: SPACE – Oct. 1, 2003
  • Soarin’ Around the World – May 5, 2005
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends – Jan. 24, 2007
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros – April 6, 2007
  • Frozen Ever After – June 21, 2006
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – Oct. 1, 2021
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – May 27, 2022

Like Astro Orbiter, Journey Into Imagination With Figment has several opening dates. Known back then as Journey Into Imagination, it originally opened at Epcot on March 3, 1983. The current ride iteration – Journey Into Imagination With Figment – on June 2, 2002, though it went through a refurbishment in the 1990s, too. 

Read more: The Exhaustive Guide to Epcot Rides

World Showcase Pavillion Opening Dates

  • Canada Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Germany Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Mexico Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • American Adventure Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • France Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Japan Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Italy Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • United Kingdom Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • China Pavilion – Oct. 1, 1982
  • Morocco Pavilion – Sept. 7, 1984
  • Norway Pavilion – June 3, 1988

Read more: How Much Does it Cost to Drink Around the World at Epcot?

Hollywood Studios

Disney World Opening Dates 5
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Aug. 25, 1989
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues – Dec. 15, 1989
  • Muppet*Vision 3D – May 16, 1991
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – July 22, 1994
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – July 29, 1999
  • Toy Story Mania – May 31, 2008
  • Slinky Dog Dash – June 30, 2018
  • Alien Swirling Saucers – June 30, 2018
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – Aug. 29, 2019
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Dec. 5, 2019
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – March 4, 2020

Read more: The Big Guide to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Animal Kingdom:

Disney World Opening Dates 6
  • DINOSAUR – April 22, 1998
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug – April 22, 1998
  • Wildlife Express Train – April 22, 1998
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris – April 22, 1998
  • Discovery Island Trails – May 24, 1998
  • Kali River Rapids – March 18, 1999
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek – March 1, 1999
  • Expedition Everest Legend of the Forbidden Mountain – April 7, 2006
  • Na’vi River Journey – May 27, 2017
  • Avatar: Flight of Passage – May 27, 2017

Read more: Behind the Scenes of Kilimanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom

Disney World Opening Dates for New Attractions

Disney World Opening Dates 7

This year is going to be huge for returning fan favorites, such as the Happily Ever After fireworks, which are coming back (albeit in a revised version), on April 3, 2023. 

In addition to the return of everyone’s favorite fireworks show, the following attractions are slated to open sometime in 2023 and 2024:

  • TRON Lightcycle/Run at Magic Kingdom – April 4, 2023
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom – late 2024
  • Moana: Journey of Water at EPCOT – late 2023

Read more: What to Expect Tron Lightcycle Run Coaster

What new attraction are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments. And, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for all the latest Disney tips and tricks. 

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