Photos: Walt Disney World at 40

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  1. 40 and fabulous

    Fireworks explode above Cinderella Castle as dancers and Disney characters perform while taping a segment of "Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade" at the Magic Kingdom on Dec. 3, 2010, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 40th anniversary of the opening of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort will be celebrated in 2011. (Mark Ashman / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Star power

    Musical artist Yanni, right, plays the piano as the "Yanni Voices" perform an arrangement of "O Holy Night" at the Magic Kingdom on Dec. 3, 2009, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Yanni was taping a segment for the "Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade" holiday TV special. (Mark Ashman / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'I'm going to Disney World!'

    Tom Brady, quarterback of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, signs autographs at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Feb. 2, 2004, one day after leading the Patriots to a 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers. (Gene Duncan / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The first 25 years

    First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd as Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner applauds Oct. 1, 1996, during the rededication of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on the 25th anniversary its opening. (Tony Ranze / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Royal fun

    Prince William, right, grimaces after he and friends of the royal family finish their ride on Splash Mountain Aug. 26, 1993, at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Harry Soames, left front, was the prince's companion on the three-day vacation. Other passengers are unidentified. (Bob Pearson / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Celebrating two decades

    The 20th anniversary rededication ceremony of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 1991 brought legions of Disney cast members onto Main Street, U.S.A. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A world-class welcome

    Roy O. Disney, brother of Walt Disney, is joined by the beloved Disney character that started it all, Mickey Mouse, in welcoming the first guests to the grand opening of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Oct. 1, 1971. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cinderella's future home

    In 1971, a blue-spired castle -- destined to become one of the world's most-photographed buildings -- rose in central Florida as the iconic centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom, which opened on Oct. 1, 1971. In the 40 years since guests first strolled down Main Street, U.S.A., Walt Disney World Resort has blazed brave new entertainment trails based on its founder's fertile imagination and vision that the resort would forever continue to evolve. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 3/1/2007 6:51:45 PM ET 2007-03-01T23:51:45

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will build a luxury hotel and 18-hole championship golf course along the northeast border of Walt Disney World, theme park officials said Thursday.

The Toronto-based luxury hotel chain is part of two expansion plans that will take eight to 10 years to fully develop and will include single- and multifamily vacation homes, fractional ownership homes and a 450-acre retail, dining and lodging district, said Meg Crofton, Disney World’s president.

“This is a first-of-its kind development for our company,” Crofton said. “Four Seasons is a world-renowned brand known for its luxury and appeal.”

The number of jobs the two developments will bring to the area is unknown, Crofton said. Disney currently has 60,000 employees.

Four Seasons, with 74 hotels in 31 countries and two locations currently in Florida, will anchor a 900-acre development which already houses two golf courses. The hotel planned to open in 2010 could break ground later this year, Crofton said.

One of the existing golf courses will be upgraded into a championship course and the other will be renamed after the Four Seasons brand.

The second development will be roughly the size of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and be located just outside the western entrance. About 4,500 time shares and hotel units will surround a pedestrian-friendly retail village that includes restaurants, shops and small-scale entertainment venues. Construction is slated for later this year.

“We chose this area because it’s a great opportunity to further enhance the western entrance of our resort,” Crofton said. “We’re currently putting the finishing touches on the design and then we will give this development a strong brand name.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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