What Disney Parks Looked Like Through the Decades
The Disney parks have changed a lot over the years, but the magical memories remain. Here's what The Happiest Place on Earth looked like between 1955 and 2020.
Disneyland opened its doors to the public on July 17, 1955. Ever since, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle has welcomed kids (and kids at heart) into Fantasyland. Hungry? Check out our Disney Parks copycat recipes.
Characters from some of Disney’s early films—like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and the mischievous “Honest John” from Pinocchio—entertain visitors in Fantasyland. These tasty eats are inspired by your favorite Disney films.
Pluto catches a ride on Disneyland’s “People Mover” attraction—an innovative transportation ride that gave guests an overhead view of Tomorrowland.
Disney World opened in Florida on October 1, 1971. A trio of siblings spends some quality time together just a few years after that inaugural date. Craving more nostalgia? Check out this retro PB&J Disney milk shake recipe.
In addition to rides, the Disney parks are known for their high-quality entertainment. Here, a group of performers sing and dance for a crowd gathered outside of Cinderella’s castle. (Which is also where you can catch Disney’s jaw-dropping fireworks displays.)
One of the most beloved events in Disney history, the Main Street Electrical Parade ran in Magic Kingdom between 1977 and 1991. The parade was officially retired at Disney World in 2016.
Even royalty visits the happiest place on Earth. The young boy on the left is Prince Harry—enjoying a thrilling ride on Splash Mountain. Psst! This is what Princes William and Harry ate as kids.
‘Tis the season for a little magic. Mere days after Halloween, Disneyland transforms into a holiday wonderland.
Disneyland’s sister park, California Adventure, made its debut on February 8, 2001. Since then, the park has undergone several transformations—including a rebranding of the Sun Wheel seen here to Mickey’s Fun Wheel in 2009.
Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005—and the “Partners” statue depicting a hand-in-hand Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse remains a popular photo spot for park guests. Another park favorite? Dole Whip. Here’s how to make it at home.
One of the original Disneyland attractions, Submarine Voyage, reopened to the public after nine years of refurbishment. It was rebranded with a Finding Nemo spin.
No, this isn’t Africa. It’s Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park, which opened on April 22, 1998. Its goal is to help guests learn about and better appreciate all kinds of animals—like the rhinos seen here.
After acquiring the rights to Star Wars just a few years earlier, Disney began integrating the beloved films into park experiences, like the Hyperspace Mountain attraction seen here. (In 2019, the brand would go a step further and introduce Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge worlds at both Disneyland and Disney World.)
A new attraction based on James Cameron’s Avatar film was introduced at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in May 2017. The Na’vi River Journey ride, seen here, takes guests through the enchanting world of Pandora.
Disneyland temporarily closed its doors to the public in March, 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. parks are expected to reopen in July.