When Walt Disney World opened on October 1st, 1971, the vacation capital of the world opened with two resorts; The Contemporary and The Polynesian. On opening day, each room had a large wall which displayed this wonderful Paul Hartley map of the Phase 1 and planned Phase 2 resorts, including everything north of the parking lot. The maps remained until the early 1980s, when Disney refurbished the rooms.
Phase 1 Resorts
Disney had planned 4 resorts for Phase 1. The Contemporary, The Polynesian, Fort Wilderness Campground (11/1971) and The Golf Resort (12/1973). Each is on the map in a pretty close representation to how they were on October 1st, 1971.
Phase 2 Resorts
After Phase 1, Disney had plans to build 3 additional resorts which are also depicted on the map. The Asian would have been built first (planned for 1974) and was to be built on the square piece of land where the Grand Floridian now stands. The Mediterranean/Venetian was to be located on the piece of land between the Contemporary and the Ticket and Transportation Center, and finally the Persian which was planned for a piece of land north of the Contemporary. All three of these Phase 2 resorts were cancelled due to the energy Crisis of 1973.
The map is indicative of how the Magic Kingdom was on day one. Two notable differences are the existence of what appears to be Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. However, in actuality it was the Western River Expedition originally planned for the same piece of land. Next is the color of the castle. It appears based on the map, that originally Disney planned for a pink hued castle to match Anaheim’s.
There are tons of little details that can be explored on this map that never made it to the final plan. From the Fort on Discovery Island to Western River Expedition.
Where did they all go?
In the early 1980’s, when the maps were removed, they had hundreds of these just laying around. If you asked the right person and timed it correctly, Disney would let you have one for the cost of shipping to your home. One reportedly cost $200 to ship to New Jersey. Others were sold for scrap masonite from property control and hundreds were destroyed. I’m fortunate enough to have one that I treasure! I have heard from a handful of people who also have and love the maps. If you have one, reach out to me at email@example.com, and tell me your story. I would love to hear about it and talk about this wonderful piece of Disney History.