5 Decades at Walt Disney World: The Nineties (Part 3 of 5)

5 Decades at Walt Disney World: The Nineties (Part 3 of 5) 1

Note: If you’re looking for Part 1, Click HERE, and for Part 2, Click HERE!

Ahh, the 90’s. A decade of grunge, family sitcoms and of course, for expanding Walt Disney World. The events of the 70’s and 80’s created a bedrock for what Disney World would be. Major parks and attractions all took their place. Its in the 90’s where Disney World would introduce more hotels, more celebrations, and of course, a Fourth Park.

With EPCOT and Hollywood Studios opening in the 80’s, Walt Disney World property would have a massive hotel expansion. A total of 10 resorts, lodges and hotels would open in the 90’s! Checkout the timeline below to see if you can guess them all

1990 – November – The first phase of the EPCOT Resort Area opens with the debut of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (Nov. 5) and Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Nov. 19). The following year brings Walt Disney World Swan Hotel (Jan. 13) and the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (June 4). All within walking distance of the theme park, the collection of resorts significantly expands lodging and convention options.

1991 – November – The Disney Harvest program launches. Today this program annually collects more than 823,000 pounds of prepared, unserved food from throughout Walt Disney World Resort for distribution to more than 40 Orlando-area nonprofits served by Second Harvest Food Bank.

1991 – Dec. 20 – Disney Vacation Club launches with the opening of its first resort, now called Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

1993 – April 23– The Walt Disney Company dedicates 8,500 acres of land purchased at the Osceola-Polk County line to The Nature Conservancy to preserve for future generations as the Disney Wilderness Preserve.

1994 – Jan. 16 – The inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon steps off, eventually growing into the popular runDisney races today.

1994 – April 29 – The inaugural EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival debuts. In the years to follow, festivals dedicated to food & wine, the arts and holidays join the lineup.

1994 – June 12 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios expands with the opening of its first new themed area, Sunset Boulevard, bringing more shops, dining and entertainment to the park…along with the haunted thrills of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (July 22).

Five Decades of Magic at Walt Disney World
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Credit” Walt Disney World News

1994 – Walt Disney World Resort continues to expand lodging options with the openings of: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (May 28), Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort (April 29) and Disney’s All-Star Music Resort (Nov. 1).

1994 – The African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida is established with Walt Disney World Resort as a founding trustee. Walt Disney World’s support and sponsorship of the Chamber includes hosting the its crowning celebration for Central Florida’s most dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs, the Eagle Awards.

1995 – April 1 – Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park debuts, offering winter-themed fun in a water park setting, including a 12-story drop down the high-speed waterslide Summit Plummet.

1995 – April 22 – The Disney Conservation Fund forms to provide support for respected conservation organizations saving wildlife and protecting the magic of nature. To date, the fund has directed $100 million to support nonprofit organizations working with communities to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet.

1995 – July 15 – Disney’s Wedding Pavilion opens on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, part of a vast expansion of options for weddings and vowel renewals. Today, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons offers a wide range of nuptial and honeymoon planning around the globe.

1996 – Feb. 9 – Disney Institute opens, bringing more than 60 interactive programs to guests seeking fun and self-enrichment in customized vacation experiences. In the years to follow, Disney Institute evolves into a renowned training and professional-development organization that helps organizations be more successful using business insights and best practices of Disney parks and resorts.

1996 – July 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas open along with their lively namesake boardwalk that brings new restaurants and nightspots to the EPCOT Resort Area.

1996 – Oct. 1 – Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 25th anniversary with a year-long celebration, new entertainment and Cinderella Castle decorated as a giant birthday cake.

Five Decades of Magic at Walt Disney World
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Credit: Walt Disney World News

1997 – March 28 – ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex opens. The 220-acre complex includes multiple outdoor playing fields, baseball/softball diamonds, a track & field complex, a fieldhouse and a 9,500-seat ballpark. Over the years it will grow to encompass two additional fieldhouses, an ESPN broadcast center and even more outdoor playing fields. It will also serve as an official training site for various American and international professional teams, as well as host of several major sporting events such as the Invictus Games, the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament and the 2020 NBA restart of the regular season.

1997 – Aug. 1 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort opens. With 1,900 guest rooms and a 220,000-square-foot convention center, it is the largest of the Disney resort hotels that cater to meetings and events.

1998 – April 22 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opens on Earth Day. At 500 acres, it is Disney’s largest park and home to approximately 1,800 animals representing 200 species. The park’s icon, the Tree of Life, is a tribute to nature, featuring more than 300 intricately carved animal images.

Five Decades of Magic at Walt Disney World
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Credit: Walt Disney World News

1999 – March 18 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park expands with Asia, a new themed area featuring Kali River Rapids and the Maharajah Jungle Trek that introduces tigers and other animal species to the park.

1999 – Oct. 1 – The Millennium Celebration begins at EPCOT. The 15-month event marks the debut of the popular nighttime spectacular, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, that will run for 20 years. Also new is Millennium Village, celebrating the cultural achievements of 25 countries, and the Tapestry of Nations parade. The celebration also brings pin trading to the forefront for Disney collectors everywhere.

Five Decades of Magic at Walt Disney World

The ninties were jammed packed with openings, anniversaries and celebrations. Soon, the 2000s would hit the park and there would be a discussion of what can and could be done. Disney, as a company, hit a slump (stock-wise) in the 2000s and that would effect the progression of the parks.

Part 4 Coming soon!

Credit – Quotes/Photos: Disney / Walt Disney World News

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Danielle H