ORLANDO, Fla. – Seemingly overnight Central Florida changed forever after October 1, 1971, when Walt Disney World opened but the theme park wasn’t the only notable event that year.
The Apollo 15 astronauts took the first drive on another world in a lunar rover. Broadway’s big new hit was Jesus Christ Superstar.
Speaking of hits, Joe Frazier spoiled Mohammad Ali’s comeback attempt. The new hit TV shows were “All in the Family,” “Sonny and Cher” and “Columbo.” The top-grossing movie wasn’t “Black Widow,” it was “Billy Jack,” with “Fiddler on the Roof” as No. 2.
[MORE DISNEY 50 COVERAGE: Cinderella Castle: The heart of Walt Disney’s dream come true]
Pittsburgh beat Baltimore in the World Series, while Baltimore beat Dallas in Super Bowl V and Canonero II won the Kentucky Derby.
Also in 1971:
- Eighteen-year-olds got the right to vote under the 16th amendment.
- Richard Nixon, in his first term, was fighting inflation.
- Eisenhower silver dollars hit the stores— the first dollar coin since 1935.
- The average new car would set you back around $4,000 -- highway robbery, according to my father.
- Charles Manson was convicted of murder.
- Led Zeppelin overtook the Beatles as most popular band, but the number one single was “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night.
Here’s a look at other things that have changed from 1971 compared to 2021:
Grade A whole frying chickens
- 1971 - 25 cents/pound.
- 2021 - $1.80/Pound
- 1971 - 36 Cents/Gallon (leaded)
- 2021 - $3.01/Gallon (unleaded)
- 1971 - 8 Cents
- 2021 - 58 Cents (as of August 29th)
A three-bedroom Home in Florida
- 1971 - $25,400
- 2021 - $289,705 (and climbing fast according to Zillow)
- 1971 - 205,442,000
- 2021 - 331,449,281
- 1971 - 7,158,000
- 2021 - 21,600,000
Orlando Metro area Population
- 1971 - 522,575
- 2021 - 2,630,000 (estimated)
- 1971 - Carl Langford
- 2021 - Buddy Dyer
- 1971 - Reubin Askew (D)
- 2021 - Ron DeSantis (R)
Number of Central Florida Theme Parks
- 1971 - 2 (Magic Kingdom & Cypress Gardens)
- 2021 - 13 (with Epic Universe and Peppa Pig Park in the works)
Number of Disney Hotels
- 1971 - 2
- 2021 - 25
Number of Hotel Rooms at Walt Disney World
- 1971 - 1,538
- 2021 - 36,780
Number of Hotel Rooms in Central Florida
- 1971 - 5,000
- 2021 - 123,000
Number of Magic Kingdom Attractions
- 1971 - 22
- 2021 - 39
Adult Price of Admission
- 1971 - $3.50 (Most Attractions used individual A-E tickets. Most popular ticket book: $5.75)
- 2021 - $109-$159 (1-day, 1-park pass)
Best Local TV News Station
- 1971 - WDBO-TV 6 (CBS)
- 2021 - WKMG-TV 6 (CBS)
To all who come to this happy corner of ClickOrlando.com/disney50, welcome! Walt Disney World is counting down to its 50th Anniversary, and so are we. With 50 days until 50 years, we are taking a daily look back at the past, how Disney’s opening shaped Central Florida’s present, and a peek at what’s in store for the future.
We’re also looking to hear your memories of Walt Disney World: What do you love? What do you miss? What are some of your magical moments? You can share them with us and we’ll post them all for everyone to enjoy. Some might even be featured during our News 6 TV coverage of Walt Disney World’s 50th.
Here’s to dreaming, and here’s to another half-century of The Most Magical Place on Earth!