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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By Associated Press Writer
updated 10/4/2007 11:08:34 AM ET 2007-10-04T15:08:34

The Walt Disney Co. plans to build a family resort in Hawaii, but it will not be an island Disneyland.

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced Wednesday it has bought 21 acres of oceanfront property on the western side of Oahu that it will use to build an 800-room hotel complex.

The resort, Disney's first without a nearby theme park, will emphasize family-centered vacations while respecting Hawaii's culture, said Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo.

"It will give our guests another way to visit a place that they've loved for many years," Rasulo said. "As the crossroads of Asia, it is your diverse culture that makes this place so special."

Disney spent $144 million to buy the land at the Ko Olina development, near the existing J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa.

Disney has several themed resort hotels near Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida, but it has never built a hotel resort that will stand on its own. Hawaii has no full-scale amusement park.

Slideshow: The heart of Hawaii Construction on the resort is expected to begin next year, with opening set for 2011. The planned Disney complex has not yet been named.

Rasulo said there were no plans to expand the resort into a theme park.

"This decision and project really enhances our state's reputation as a family destination," said Gov. Linda Lingle. "That's what we are, and the Disney name brings that to everyone's mind, front and center."

The hotel complex is expected to create 1,000 jobs along the island's Leeward coast, an area known as much for its homelessness as for its breezy beaches.

The resort's designs and amenities won't be finalized until early 2008, but Rasulo said it will include educational and cultural activities, including local entertainers and hula dancers.

"When our families go home, they will know much more about Hawaii," Rasulo said. "To call it a hotel would be a vast understatement of what we're trying to achieve."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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