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Disney World 40th Anniversary: Share Your WDW Memories (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 09/30/11 08:45 AM ET   Updated: 09/30/11 11:51 AM ET

Work on the "Florida Project," as Disney World was called in its early stages, began in a swampy Central Florida after Walt Disney's death in 1966. Three weeks prior to the official opening, 100,000 Central Florida locals participated in trial runs. Come October 1, 22 park attractions were ready to go and 5,000 cast members were in costume to greet guests.

“Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland... the blessing of size,” Walt Disney once said. “There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.”

Roy Disney echoed his brother on October 1, 1971, as the Magic Kingdom's turnstiles clicked for the first time, referring to Walt Disney World as "this happy place," a phrase Walt had deployed during the opening of Disneyland in 1955.

Embracing that sentiment, Walt Disney World grew to encompass EPCOT (previously EPCOT Center) in 1982, Disney's Hollywood Studios (previously Disney-MGM Studios) in 1989, and Disney's Animal Kingdom in 1998. Add to that a massive shopping, dining and entertainment complex, golf courses, two waterparks and a slew of resort hotels, and you've just begun to scratch the surface. And, as the park complex reaches its ruby anniversary, even more changes are afoot. A Fantasyland expansion will soon be open, plans for an Avatar-themed land are in the works and the new Art of Animation Resort will open in 2012.

To think: It all started with a mouse.

Brush up on your Disney nostalgia with the slideshow below, and share your favorite WDW memory with us.

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  • Disneyland Dedication 1955

    Walt Disney's dedication speech for Disneyland from July 17, 1955.

  • Cinderella Castle under construction

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World Construction

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World Construction

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World Construction

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Roy O. Disney's Opening Day Address

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World 1971

    Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnfamilyphotos/4828417437/" target="_hplink">fivequinns</a>/Flickr

  • Disney World 1971

    Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnfamilyphotos/4828418309/" target="_hplink">fivequinns</a>/Flickr

  • Star Jets (1971-1994)

    Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/disneyworldsecets/2768390537/" target="_hplink">BestofWDW</a>/Flickr

  • Disney World's 20th Anniversary

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World's 20th Anniversary

    Photo: The Walt Disney Company

  • Disney World 25th Anniversary

    Photo: AFP/Getty Images

  • Walt Disney Biography

  • Project Florida Film 1971 (Part I)

    Walt gives a preview of his Florida Project.

  • Project Florida Film 1971 (Part II)

  • The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World

    Video from Disney World's grand opening celebration on Oct0ber 29, 1971. Warning: This special is an hour long, so make sure you have time to watch!

  • Tencennial Birthday Show

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy">ShaineHobdy</a>:<br />

  • Tencennial Birthday Float

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy">ShaineHobdy</a>:<br />

  • Tencennial Main Street Trolly Unit

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy">ShaineHobdy</a>:<br />

  • Tencennial Main Street Trolly Unit

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ShaineHobdy">ShaineHobdy</a>:<br />

  • Tom & Chris Jeffries

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cejeffries"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cejeffries">cejeffries</a>:<br />10/1/1986 - WDW 15th Anniversary 10/1/2011 - Tom & Chris 25th Anniversary

  • Happy 40th Birthday, Walt Disney World

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ksst"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ksst">ksst</a>:<br />The price of a ticket to Walt Disney World in 1986.

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