5 Decades at Walt Disney World: The Eighties (Part 2 of 5)

5 Decades at Walt Disney World: The Eighties (Part 2 of 5) 1
EPCOT Grand Opening
Credit: D23

Note: If you’re looking for Part 1, Click HERE!

The 70’s had taken off and Walt Disney World was developing at a rapid pace. In 1979, construction had begun at EPCOT, famous rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain had found their way home. But with all things Disney, things keep moving forward and the innovation never stops.

The 80’s would have two major Disney World park openings, a water park opening, and an introduction to a parade that fans still look forward to today! Though it may not have been the exact vision that Walt Disney had when he planned for EPCOT, the land in Florida would be put to good use and ready for plenty of expansion.

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.

Five Decades of Walt Disney World – Walt Disney World News
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Mickey and Pals at EPCOT in 1985
Walt Disney World News

1982 – Disney expands its legacy of work with Make-A-Wish as the first wish is granted 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.

1983 – 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.

1984 – 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.

1988 – 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.

1989 – 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.

1989 – 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.

Five Decades of Walt Disney World – Walt Disney World News
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With the addition of Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Typhoon Lagoon, Disney World was starting to look like the park we know and love to this day. There would more development and additions to come to the parks during the 90’s. Walt Disney World was soon to evolve from a park experience to a vacation destination

News/Photo/Quote Credit: Disney / Walt Disney World News

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