Main Street
Liberty Square
Toontown Fair
October 1, 1971
Origins: After the success of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney set his sights on bigger projects. The lessons learned in the construction and operation of Disneyland made Walt realize that he needed lots of space to overcome the logistical obstacles that he encountered in California. For example, he had no control over the area immediately surrounding Disneyland, and the park was soon surrounded by cheap motels and other opportunistic businesses attempting to cash in on the success of Disneyland. Walt wanted to created a utopian environment; one where he could provide guests with a complete fantasy escape from the real world. To do so he needed to have control over all aspects of a guest's experience—
everything from their arrival and where they stayed to their recreation and dining. (In addition, Walt had plans to build a city of the future called EPCOT, but that's a story for another time!)

But where could he go to fulfill his dream? Many locations were considered, but in the end Florida was selected due to its favorable climate, growing population and availability of land. And so in the mid 1960s, Disney started to quietly acquire large parcels of land in central Florida. The mystery buyer was unveiled to the public in October of 1965, and construction of the Walt Disney World Resort was underway.

There was much to be done. The area was largely swamp land, and millions of cubic feet of earth had to be moved to prepare the site. There was also the challenge of cutting through the miles of inevitable red tape (the result being the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District which oversaw such tasks as water management, wildlife preservation and zoning).

Phase One of the Florida project included the construction of the Magic Kingdom itself, an entrance complex, golf courses, and five resort hotels (only two of which were actually built). Bay Lake was drained and millions of cubic yards of earth were excavated to provide the foundation for the Magic Kingdom. The area next to Bay Lake was found to be unsuitable for construction, so a lagoon was created to extend the natural boundaries of Bay Lake to the front of the Magic Kingdom. This lagoon (named Seven Seas lagoon) was refilled along with Bay Lake, and both were lined with thousands of tons of pure white sand that was found during the course of excavation. With the area fully prepared, the Magic Kingdom began construction, opening its doors to an eagerly awaiting public in 1971.

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