20 vintage photos of Disney World that will give you all the feels

To kids, Disney World is the end all, be all of fairy tales: Looking out Prince Charming in Cinderella's castle, going round and round in "It's a Small World," loving the feeling of that stomach drop towards the end of Tower of Terror.

To parents, its a temper tantrum waiting to happen, with the masses of crowds, sugar and Florida heat -- but many know it's an important family experience to check off that travel bucket list. 

25 PHOTOS
Old photos of Disney World
See Gallery
Old photos of Disney World
(Original Caption) Disney: Pastel colored castle, where 'Sleeping Beauty was awakened by the Prince's kiss,' is the entrance to Fantasyland. Here also are the diamond minews of the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland's looking glass world, and the habitat of many other characters in Walt Disney's famed cartoons.
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Goofy, Pluto, Julie Andrews, Pinocchio performs on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Mickey Mouse (center) with Disney World cast members -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Julie Andrews (center) performs on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
4th August 1972: A topiary model of an elephant at Disney World, Florida. (Photo by Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images)
December 1960: Entrance to Adventureland at Disneyland, California. (Photo by Alan Band/Keystone Features/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Prime Minister Nehru, of India, is shown as he toured Disneyland, World Famous amusement park, accompanied by Walt Disney, who drove the Prime Minister in an old fashioned electric vehicle. Prime Minister Nehru will spend the next two days in the Los Angeles area as part of his visit to the United States.
31st October 1969: Landscape artist Charlie Sepulveda creating life size topiary Disney characters for the Walt Disney World entertainment centre in Orlando, Florida (Photo by Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images)
13th November 1969: The first phase of Walt Disney World under construction at Orlando, Florida. Covering 27,000 acres, it is the world's largest recreation centre. (Photo by Alan Band/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Julie Andrews performs in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in the Magic Kingdom -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Julie Andrews (center) performs on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Julie Andrews on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
APR 7 1972, APR 10 1972; Denver-Made Dune Buggies Heading for Disney World; Gail Kauffman of Unique Mobility Inc., manufacturer of The Englewood firm recently bought a half-interest in a dune buggies at 3730 S. Jason St., Englewood, perches leisure-car rental operation at Orlando - home of Disney on one of the 21 units ready to be loaded onto Santa Fe World - and will manage the operation with a fleet of 70 rail cars over the weekend for a trip to Orlando, Fla. dune buggies, all being shipped by rail from Denver.; (Photo By Bill Johnson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
THE GRAND OPENING OF WALT DISNEY WORLD -- Pictured: Julie Andrews on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 1: Boston College Cheerleaders along with the BC band perform out in front of the Cinderella Castle at in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, December 1982. BC was in town to play Auburn in the Tangerine Bowl. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
US Secretary of Education William Bennett, his wife Elayne, son John and an unidentified woman and girl, waving flags and parading down Main Street USA in an old-fashioned fire truck while on a visit to Disney World. (Photo by Robert Sherbow/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
THE MAGICAL WORLD OF DISNEY -- 'Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration' Episode 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Roy E. Disney, Michael Eisner, Ronald Reagan, Art Linkletter, Robert Cummings -- (Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Warren Beatty and Ron Galella during Press Conference For 'Dick Tracy' at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Crowds at Main Street of Disney World (Photo by Jonathan Blair/Corbis via Getty Images)
Crowds Waiting in Line at Disney World (Photo by Jonathan Blair/Corbis via Getty Images)
Group portrait of entire Walt Disney World staff, including cast of costumed Disney characters in fore, standing in front of Cinderella Castle prior to the grand opening of the amusement park. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 15: LIFE cover 10-15-1971: Disney World opens. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images)
Views of Disney World's Skyway multicolored cable cars passing over Fantasyland on way to Tomorrowland. (Photo by Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Disney World in Florida: exterior of Cinderella's Castle lit up at night and reflected in artificial stream. (Photo by Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Interior of the Contemporary Resort Hotel's Grand Canyon Concourse lobby, whose ceiling is 14 stories high and has monorail terminal (background) ,at Disney World. (Photo by Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Plans for the theme park began in 1959 as an addition to California's Disneyland, with construction beginning in 1966, the same year Walt Disney passed away. The first installation opened in 1971 -- when admission tickets were just $3.50 for adults! Disney World now sees more than 20 million tourists a year -- and it's no wonder that visitors come back year after year to experience that Disney magic.  

Scroll through above for some nostalgic pictures of Disney World, beginning with its grand opening. Can you believe just how much has changed? 

Related: Disney experiences you didn't know about 

15 PHOTOS
Disney experiences
See Gallery
Disney experiences

BECOME A STORMTROOPER FOR A DAY

The Void makes location-based virtual-reality games, where players interact with objects in the real world while seeing a VR skin that plunges them into far-off lands. The Void's Secrets of the Empire recruits players to go on an undercover mission for The Rebellion, snagging important enemy information while incognito as a Stormtrooper. You'll actually walk through the space, touch physical objects, feel temperature changes, and shoot a blaster as you strive to achieve your goals. Though it's $29.95 per ticket for what amounts to 10-15 minutes or so actually in virtual reality, the overall experience is longer. And for Star Wars fans or those curious about what the future of VR holds, it's a must-do. It's available in select cities, including Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., and London, with more on the way.

TAKE A DISNEY CRUISE

There are four Disney Cruise Line ships: Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. The Dream accommodates 4,000 passengers and offers family entertainment by day, including the AquaDuck water coaster, and an adults-only entertainment area by night. According to U.S. News & World Report, a majority of customers reported feeling like the personalized attention from staff made this cruise worth the ticket price. Prices vary depending on the length of the cruise, the season, and other factors. While cruise prices can be steep, there are ways to shave costs.

WALK IN WALT'S DISNEYLAND FOOTSTEPS

This is a guided, 3-hour tour available at Disneyland. Each participant is outfitted with an audio device and headphones to hear a knowledgeable guide as they wind you through the park's notable areas that relate to Walt Disney himself, including some areas not typically available to park guests. The tour will clue you in on all sorts of Disney history and trivia, plus it includes lunch, a pin, and, itinerary permitting, access to two rides without waiting in any interminable queues. This add-on is $109 and best serves older children and adult Disney enthusiasts who don't mind a lot of walking.

HOLD THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

Disney World offers the Keys of the Kingdom guided tour, where guests will get to explore backstage areas and the underground Utilidors. Like other tours, guests will get an audioguide and headphones to ensure they can hear the guides. The tour is five hours long, featuring history and insider intel. Lunch and a keepsake are included in the $99 per person add-on fee.

INDULGE AT CHEF'S COUNTER AT NAPA ROSE

Napa Rose, helmed by Chef Andrew Sutton, is the restaurant within the Grand Californian Hotel, meaning you don't have to buy a ticket to the park to dine. You'll get one of 14 exclusive seats and five to seven courses over the course of three hours or so. Every course is tailored to each individual guest's preference, meaning you'll see (and perhaps get to sample, if you're friendly) more courses than you yourself will be served. This special-occasion meal is $100 per person, with an optional wine pairing for $45.

TAKE THE EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

This multi-day, annual fall event at Disney World offers the chance to sample food and drinks from around the globe. Though you will need to pay for the food and beverages you try, access is included with your park admission while the fest is running. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available, as are cooking demos, wine tastings, and the Eat to the Beat concert series.

TAKE THE CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

Not to be outdone, Disney California Adventure has its own foodie fest. Park admission grants you access to the festival, where you'll find kiosks offering samples of California beer, wine, and food. Demos from celebrity chefs and gourmet dinners are available at an extra cost.

GO ON A PIRATE ADVENTURE CRUISE

This one's for the kids. For an additional $40 to $50, children 4 to 12 can go on a 2-hour treasure hunt with a swashbuckling guide. Disney World offers three such adventures, each of which involves sailing on a park waterway while hearing an old pirate tale. The adventure includes the pirate booty, should they find it, and a snack.

TAKE A WILD AFRICA TREK AT DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM

If you feel like splurging, one of the best-rated add-ons is the Wild Africa Trek, a 3-hour add-on at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. The adventure is split between walking and riding on a safari vehicle though a fictional African village. This allows guests to encounter majestic animals, including hippos and crocodiles, which you can see as you walk across a rope bridge. All guests receive African-inspired snacks and a souvenir photo. The price varies, but is usually about $200 a ticket, and that's on top of your admission into the park.

BE A TIKI GOD AT TRADER SAM'S

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar is located in downtown Disney in Anaheim, meaning you don't have to buy a ticket to the park to go. The bar is just as magically themed as the park, and offers a variety of bar food and tiki cocktails. Order the wrong one, and you'll incur the wrath of the gods, resulting in volcanic eruptions or terrible storms.

HAVE A DOLE WHIP

Dole Whips are one of the most popular foods one can enjoy at the resort, consisting of non-dairy soft-serve in pineapple juice. They are both delicious and refreshing. If you happen to be in downtown Disney in Anaheim, you can also stroll over to Coffee House, where you can order a Dole Whip with rum.

DRINK A MANHATTAN AT CARTHAY CIRCLE

While alcohol is not served at Disneyland, it is available at California Adventure. Carthay Circle is one of the park's best dining options, and it also offers a full bar. When you order a Manhattan, it comes served with a perfectly spherical ice cube, made with a special device, which you may get to see in action. It doesn't hurt that the bar is gorgeous, invoking Old Hollywood vibes.

VISIT DISNEY ON AN UNOFFICIAL THEME DAY

Disney fans frequently arrange to flood the park with similar sartorial choices on select dates. Dapper Day is when guests don mid-century fashions, while Bats Day is for the goths in all back. There's a Tiki Day, as well as Gay Days Anaheim for the LGBTQ community. To participate, you just have to buy a pass for that day and dress your best.

GET YOUR MOUSE EAR LOWERED

The old-timey Harmony Barber Shop is a functioning barber shop located on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. The staff of smartly dressed licensed cosmetologists offer adult haircuts for $19, kids' dos for $18, and a My First Haircut package with Mickey Ears and a certificate for $25.

EXPERIENCE FAIRYTALE DINING AT CINDERELLA'S ROYAL TABLE

Join Cinderella and her princess friends in her picturesque castle for a meal. This Disney World experience can be had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but those who choose later seatings will get to see the fireworks from inside the castle. Children are encouraged to dress up for photo ops which character. As a caveat, guests are advised to book a reservation far in advance. Dinner is $73 for adult diners and $43 for children.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Travel Report by AOL newsletter to get exclusive deals and wanderlust inspiration delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.