1999 was a vital year for Walt Disney World preparing for the 21st century

25 years ago, Walt Disney World answered the challenges of Universal Studios and the 21st century with bold transformations to the entire resort!

USA, Florida, Orlando, Disney World, Epcot, Spaceship Earth...
USA, Florida, Orlando, Disney World, Epcot, Spaceship Earth... / Wolfgang Kaehler/GettyImages
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Fast Pass changed everything

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“Pirates of the Caribbean” Ride at Disneyland (Photo by Barry King/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** / “Pirates of the Caribbean” Ride at Disneyland (Photo by Barry King/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***

Amid the debate today on Genie and Lightning Lane and such, it can be forgotten what a game-changer the original Fast Pass was. As soon as it began, guests were asking why it took so long for Disney to try it. At first, there were just a few attractions, but guests fell for the idea of getting a ticket for a time, a few hours off, and a walk-on line to skip the bigger queues. 

It was a simple but genius concept and it paid off big time with guests collecting tickets, freeing them for other attractions and shops. Other theme parks followed suit as Fast Pass became a vital part of the Disney theme park experience. 

Epcot transformed, good and bad

EPCOT - Test Track re-theming coming soon
A new theming of Test Track has been announced but not what it is! Photo credit: Brian Miller /

No park in 1999 transformed as much as Epcot. First, after years of stops and stalls, Test Track finally opened and became a huge success. Guests loved racing around this thrill ride, and it felt far more vibrant than the old World of Motion. 

Sadly, other Epcot changes weren’t as well received, such as closing the beloved Horizons. Journey Into Imagination got a makeover so hated that Disney had to change it fast and even Imagineers admit they blew it. Then, of course, the addition of that Wand to Spaceship Earth, an eyesore for years. It was a mixed bag for Epcot that would hint at the various identity crises it would have for years to come. 

The Magic Kingdom had wild upgrades

Magic Kingdom
The sign for Magic Kingdom on the monorail platform. Photo Credit: Brian Miller /

The Magic Kingdom had its share of changes in 1999, such as removing the long-standing Skyway. But it made up for that with some fantastic additions. While guests had been upset over Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closing down, few argued with the wonderful Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh becoming a great replacement. 

There was also Buzz LIghtyear’s Ranger Spin and Tarzan’s Treehouse as the Magic Kingdom proved it could keep up with the times with great additions to remain the top park amid the four core ones.