These vintage photos show Disney World’s evolution from Florida Project to ‘the most magical place on Earth’


It's hard to believe that something once simply known as "The Florida Project" would change the face of Orlando and Central Florida forever. Walt Disney first envisioned his new theme park in the early 1960s, years after first opening Disneyland in California in 1955. Called "The Florida Project," Disney's plans included Magic Kingdom and something he called "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," or Epcot for short. Disney never got to see the attraction because he died in 1966 while it was still under construction. When Walt Disney World finally opened in 1971, Roy O. Disney dedicated the project to his late brother, saying, "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney … and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn – together." In the decades since, "the most magical place on Earth" has attracted millions of guests and sealed Orlando's fate as one of the most visited cities in America. Check out these vintage photos from the State Library & Archives of Florida showing Disney World's evolution from the '60s to the late '90s.




| Photos by State Library & Archives of Florida