Disney World Celebrated 40th Birthday Saturday

Monday, October 3, 2011 - 12:17pm

ORLANDO, FL- The place that put Orlando, Florida on the world map, making a home for a big mouse is now 40 years old.

Disney world is celebrating that big milestone last weekend with balloons, parades and even birthday cake for all of its guests.

And for the thousand who are partying at the Magic Kingdom, there is no other place they would rather be.

It’s tough to imagine central Florida without Disney. Forty years ago, what is now Main Street USA was just marshy land in southwest Orlando, until a dream by a man named Walt Disney. Many remember those days very well.

"We were here opening day, we were very, very young, very young," says Teresa Conner, visitor.

October first, 1971, Walt Disney World opened its gates and since then, millions have visited again and again like sister’s Teresa Conner and Rosemary Wilder.

"We went through display of what was going to be EPCOT and not even started yet. Hooked from day one," says Rosemary Wilder.

Disney’s economic impact on central Florida has been monumental. It's the area's largest employer and basically put Orlando on the map.

For Disney faithful, like Gina Conrad, who is visiting now for the 34th time, seeing the Magic Kingdom grow and evolve has been, well, magical.

I always envision Walt and what he would think, looking back. Interesting to think what he'd think," Gina Conrad.

There are some changes on the horizon in the Magic Kingdom, including a new Fantasyland, double in size, that's planned to open next year.

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