October 1, 2023, 12:36 PM ·

Happy 52nd birthday today to the biggest theme park resort in the world – Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom first opened to guests on October 1, 1971 – the first element in what now is the biggest theme park resort on Earth, with four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels and the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district.Today, the Magic Kingdom remains the most-visited theme park on the planet, most recently expanding with the addition of the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster.Eleven years after the Magic Kingdom opened, Walt Disney World opened its second theme park, EPCOT, on October 1, 1982. Patterned as a permanent World’s Fair, EPCOT shared its name with the original concept for what became the Walt Disney World Resort, an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”

Disney is nearing the completion of a years-long refurbishment of the EPCOT property, which has re-envisioned the former Future World as three new lands: World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature. The highlight of that project has been the transformation of the old Universe of Energy pavilion into the Wonders of Xandar and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Rewind.For more on the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, please visit our one-page visitors guides, which include Theme Park Insider reader rankings and our advice for visiting.

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