The Polynesian Village Resort (originally planned to be to be a 12- story high-rise 
hotel & at one time referred to as the "South Seas" resort) opened on the south shore 
of Seven Seas Lagoon.
      The Contemporary (originally to be called the Tempo Bay Hotel) featured 
something probably never seen before by vacationers ... a monorail running directly 
through the middle of the A-frame structure's 10-story atrium! 
    Magic Kingdom Opening Day Attractions, 
Shops & Restaurants:

Walt Disney World Railroad: including the Walter E. Disney (#1), the Lilly Belle 
(#2), and the Roger E. Broggie (#3) locomotives (round-trip only)

Town Square: Town Square Cafe

Main Street transportation: Fire truck, Horse-drawn street cars, Horseless 
carriages, Jitney vehicle, & Omnibus

Main Street: Market House store, Camera Center, Coca-Cola Refreshment 
Corner, House of Magic shop, Penny Arcade attraction, Main Street Confectionery 
shop, Emporium store, Main Street Bake Shop, New Century Clock Shop, Main 
Street Cinema attraction, & Crystal Palace Restaurant

Adventureland: Adventureland Veranda restaurant, Jungle Cruise attraction, 
Swiss Family Tree House attraction, & Sunshine Pavilion attraction (also known 
as Tropical Serenade) sponsored by the Florida Citris Growers

Bear Country: Country Bear Jamboree attraction

Fantasyland: Dumbo Flying Elephants attraction, Mad Tea Party attraction, 
Snow White's Adventures attraction, Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant, 
Cinderella's Golden Carrousel attraction, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride attraction, Mickey 
Mouse Revue Audio-Animatronics musical attraction, It's a Small World 
attraction, & Skyway to Tomorrowland attraction 

Frontierland: Frontier Shooting Gallery, Frontier Trading Post shop, Pecos Bill 
Cafe restaurant, Mike Fink Keel Boats attraction, Mile Long Bar, Diamond
Horseshoe Revue attraction 

Liberty Square: Hall of Presidents attraction, Columbia Harbor House 
restaurant, Heritage House shop, Liberty Tree Tavern restaurant, & Haunted
Mansion attraction

Tomorowland: Skyway to Fantasyland attraction, Grand Prix Raceway 
attraction, Mickey's Mart store, & Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant

Cinderella Castle: King Stefan's Banquet Hall 
     On Friday October 1, 1971 - after seven years of planning - about 10,000 visitors 
converged near Orlando, Florida, to witness the grand opening of Walt Disney World.
The Magic Kingdom, encompassing approximately 107 acres, featured Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty 
Square, Tomorrowland, a Main Street USA, and about 5,500 Cast Members. (MK was the only theme park at WDW.)
At the end of October 1971, the total attendance was around 400,000. 
The day after Thanksgiving November 26, 1971 ... 
an amazing 50,000 guests entered the Magic Kingdom!
     Walt Disney World also debuted 2 property hotels, 
the 15-story Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian 
Village Resort - both built by U.S. Steel and both 
connected by a monorail system. The hotels were conceived 
by WED enterprises and the Los Angeles architectural firm of Welton 
Becket & Associates. U.S. Steel was to originally own the hotels, but just 
before opening, Roy Disney decided to buy out their interests and let 
Disney run the hotels themselves.
     Resort planners scheduled the opening in October in the hopes that estimated crowds 
would be small - and they were. (Two days before the opening of Walt Disney World, the Florida Highway
Patrol had issued a statement that they believed as many as 300,000 people might try to be among the first to get into the Magic Kingdom.) Fortunately the small crowd of 10,000 on October 1, 1971 allowed any problems that sprang up to be
fixed with minimal inconvenience ... unlike Disneyland's chaotic grand opening day. Even official dedications and other media events were held off until later in the month so as to make sure everything ran smoothly. (The park's actual dedication didn't take place until October 25.)
     The early morning found guests 
driving around the toll plaza over and 
over, trying to steer their way in to be 
the first visitors to the Magic Kingdom. 
William Windsor, Jr. and his family from Lakeland, 
Florida, were among the first guests to enter through one of 14 turnstiles (they had slept in their car overnight at a nearby 
roadside rest area). Mickey Mouse himself cordially led William, his wife Marty and their two sons Jay and Lee into the 
new park. Reporters swarmed the Windsor family, bombarding them with questions as cameras flashed, and the Disney 
Dixieland band played "It's a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." The Windsors then took part in a Main Street parade 
(riding in an antique fire engine) accompanied by Debbie Dane, Walt Disney World's first Ambassador, and Mickey Mouse.
OCTOBER 1, 1971

   Walt Disney World held a three-day grand opening celebration starting
on October 23Celebrities like Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson, Jonathan Winters, Annette Funicello and Fred MacMurray arrived in Orlando on that day to begin WDW's official opening festivities. The official grand opening celebrations of Disney's Contemporary and Polynesian Village Resorts took place on October 24. The Electrical Water Pageant and Fantasy in the Sky Spectacular also debuted that evening. By October 25 (the park's actual Dedication Day) the Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat, Peter Pan's Flight, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had all opened to guests as well. Television cameras caught all the action over these three days for an October 29 broadcast.

  The hotel's construction began with steel frames being erected on site. Later 
modular pre-constructed guest rooms were lifted into place by crane. The original 
idea of these modular rooms was to facilitate very rapid renovations and 
maintenance. A supply of extra rooms could possibly be maintained and periodically 
refurbished with updated decor and furniture. Once these new rooms were ready, 
the idea was that existing outdated rooms could simply be unbolted from the frame 
and swapped. But due to settling and shifting of the main steel frame, the original 
rooms obviously became immovably bound into the structure forever. The guest 
rooms originally inserted in the Contemporary remain in the resort to this day.
April 6, 1971 cover 
of LOOK magazine

"On opening day, I remember Card Walker and I think Don Tatum going up in a helicopter to see the traffic coming 
in to park. Originally, we had predicted there would be about 10,000 people but the newspapers kept increasing that 
figure. One paper on the East Coast predicted 200,000 and that was picked up by a foreign newspaper that added 
an additional zero so it was reported that two million people would show up. We purposely opened in the off-season 
to work out the bugs and it turned out we were right that there was about 10,000 that first day. Anyway, they are up 
in the helicopter and they see this long line of cars and they are smiling and then suddenly the line turns the wrong 
way and they realized that the cars weren't guests but cast members driving to work. We had about 5,000 cast 
members in those days." -Press Agent Charlie Ridgway
"Not all the construction was actually here on the site. The monorail trains for example, were designed and engineered 
by our Disney staff in California and then assembled at the Martin Marietta plant in Orlando. We also required 337 
monorail beams to be precision cast using the first major application for three-dimensional, pre-stressed concrete. The 
nearest place that could handle the work was Tacoma, Wash., so we had to ship them 3,000 miles across the United 
States to our property." -Card Walker (executive vice president and chief operating officer)
"Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas... Ladies and Gentlemen, please collect your belongings and watch your head and step. Please assist small children by the hand."

When Disney World opened in 1971,
it was the first theme park to have
 continuously playing ambient music on
 pathways between attractions. 
The mosaic mural in the fourth-floor
lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort
was created with 1,800 one-square-foot
tiles. It took 18 months to construct!
Way back in 1958, Walt Disney asked 
Economics Research Associates to find a 
suitable location for a second Disney park. 
The recommendation was Florida.
When WDW first opened, there were 
just five Mark IV monorails in operation 
(although five more longer trains were 
later added). 
A network of warehouse-sized rooms, 
hallways, and office spaces were built 
under Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. 
The park that guests see are actually the 
second and third stories.
Key dates leading up to WDW's October 1, 1971 opening:

April 15, 1964 - Disney attorney heads to Florida to begin land purchases
June 18, 1964 - Disney attorneys finalize large Central Florida land purchase from Demetree Family
May 04, 1965 - rumors of East Coast Disneyland circulate
June 14, 1965 - Walt holds planning meeting for new Florida theme park
June 25, 1965 - attorney confirms anonymous buyer has completed all Florida land purchases
November 15, 1965 - Disney formally launches Disney World project
September 30, 1966 - many "dummy" companies are merged into Compass East Corp.
December 17, 1966 - Roy O. Disney announces park's name will be Walt Disney World
February 02, 1967 - Roy O. Disney outlines late brother's plan
May 12, 1967 - Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake are established
May 30, 1967 - site prep begins on WDW project
September 26, 1967 - Compass East Corp. becomes Walt Disney World Company
May 22, 1968 - Walt Disney Travel Company incorporated in Florida
April 30, 1969 - WDW's first official press event
May 06, 1969 - Railroad engines purchased for WDW Railroad
April 06, 1971 - LOOK magazine reports on the nearly complete WDW
June 28, 1971 - Disney announces plans for an airstrip to be built on WDW property
September 23, 1971 - Dapper Dans WDW debut; performing for Cast Members & families
September 30, 1971 - WDW Preview Center closes
On opening day, the 
Contemporary Resort 
featured 1046 rooms.
Also debuting in the hotel -
Top of the World restaurant &
Gulf Coast Room restaurant.
The resort's rooms were divided between eight guest longhouses - named 
Bali Hai, Bora Bora, Fiji, Hawaii, Maui, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. (Although in 
October 1999, the names were changed.) The Polynesian's restaurants were the 
Papeete Bay Verandah and the Coral Isle Coffee Shop (later the Coral Isle 
Cafe), supplemented by the Tambu Lounge, Captain Cook's Hideaway Lounge 
and the Barefoot Snack Bar. The center of the resort - the Great Ceremonial 
House (which still exists today) served as both lobby and focal point. In the 
1980s the "Village" portion of the name was dropped, leaving the resort as 
Disney's Polynesian Resort.
On opening day, the 
Polynesian Village Resort 
featured 492 guest rooms
(of which 6 were suites).
Also debuting in the hotel -
Coral Isle Cafe restaurant &
Papeete Bay Verandah restaurant.
You could fit the original Disneyland Park in 
the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom and still 
have room to park some 300 cars.
Riding down Main Street USA:
Mickey Mouse joins guests aboard a "new-fangled" chugging Fire Engine for a ride down Main Street, where turn-of-the-century America is recreated.
Contemporary Resort - A Vacation Adventure: The exciting Contemporary Resort is located along the shores of beautiful Bay lake ... right in the middle of "The Vacation Kingdom of the World."
The Grand Canyon Concourse:
The Contemporary Resort's Grand Canyon Concourse is highlighted by a colorful 90-foot high mural.
"I picked a family with a father who looked like (popular golfer) Jack Nicklaus 
and a mother who looked like Mrs. Brady (from the television show "The 
Brady Bunch").  They had two blonde sons. After the first family entered, we 
opened the Walt Disney World gates and people came in to a well-staffed and 
well-organized day." -Director of Marketing Jack Lindquist
Welcome To The Magic Kingdom:
Pluto, Mickey and Goofy are among dozens of favorite Walt Disney characters who meet guests in person throughout the Magic Kingdom.
The Haunted Mansion: Hovering over a riverbank, in "deathly splendor," is the mysterious Haunted Mansion ... an active retirement home for 999 happy ghosts, ghouls, and goblins!
Inside The Haunted Mansion: A "trembling trio" of deceased musicians strikes up a graveside melody!
When Disney World first opened (and for many years thereafter), guests purchased a 
book of ride tickets (similar to what you would get at a carnival or fair).  The book 
consisted of A through E tickets, with the E tickets being the best rides. E ticket 
attractions included 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Haunted Mansion, Jungle 
Cruise, Small World and the Hall of Presidents.

Seven Adventure Ticket Book: Adult $4.75, Junior $4.25, Children $3.75
(included transportation, admission to MK and seven adventures)

Eleven Adventure Ticket Book: Adult $5.75, Junior $5.25, Children $4.75
(included transportation, admission to MK and eleven adventures)

General Admission: Adult $3.50, Junior $2.50, Children $1.00
(inlcuded unlimited use for one day of transportation system,  admission to MK and all 
free shows, exhibits and entertainment)

Parking: 50 cents per automobile
October Preview Month
"My very first job on opening day was, for the folks coming over the bridge towards Haunted Mansion, I was the person that 
was going to take that E-ticket. Breaking the code on that A-through-E ticket was a little bit more cumbersome for me than
I think you can guess. There were plenty of people that got in that morning on an A-ticket, I'm pretty sure." -Phil Holmes
(later Disney World Vice President)

It was Roy O. Disney who insisted that the name of the Florida Project be changed from "Disney World" to
"Walt Disney World" as a tribute to his brother. Roy’s foresight clearly set the stage for future expansion of the
Walt Disney World Resort; the infrastructure of roads and land development was in place, Disney was in complete
control of the property, and the philosophy of "exceeding guest expectations" was established and would
endure and prosper for years to come. One of Roy’s major decisions concerned the positioning of the
Magic Kingdom. The financial people wanted to place it at the corner of two highways, I-4 and 192.
That would make it readily available to the public and preclude the high expense of building 
infrastructure of roads and canals and preparing the land for future use. Roy, however, had other plans.
He insisted that Walt’s original vision for the property be followed.
"We’re going to finish the Florida park, and we’re going to do it just the way Walt wanted it," he told WED staff shortly
after Walt’s death. Roy’s vision enabled future development of what is now Downtown Disney, Epcot, Disney’s
Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
"Ponce De Leon couldn't find the fountain of 
youth in Florida, so Walt Disney created it."
-Bob Hope
Opening Day Cast Member memories:
"In those days, there were no rehearsal facilities. We had been rehearsing in parking lots, gyms, schools, church parking
lots – wherever we could go. We traveled all over Central Florida getting performers for the parades." -choreographer
Forrest Bahruth (later Epcot Show Director)
"One of the huge memories I have from opening day was watching the rope drop on Main Street, U.S.A. and watching thousands of people stream into the various lands of the park and occupy this place for the very first time ever.  You could imagine the fulfillment of Walt’s dream that he never got to see come to fruition." -custodial host Kevin Myers (later Vice President of Resort Operations)
This Day in Disney History - THE FIRST - THE ORIGINAL
Traveling in time since 1999!