November 1, 1999 – The Disney Wilderness Preserve Opens to the Public
“At The Disney Wilderness Preserve, nature offers you a front-row seat to conservation at its best.”
On November 1, 1999, the Disney Wilderness Preserve opened to the public, almost seven years after its initial purchase. Disney acquired the 12,000-acre area of the Walker Ranch in 1992 with the plan to turn the land into an expansion area of Walt Disney World, but instead gave the land to the Nature Conservancy with the intent of turning it into a preservation. When it opened in 1999, it featured a special Conservation Learning Center, along with nature trails that guests can walk at their leisure, a lab in conjunction with the University of Central Florida and the National Ecological Observatory, and wood stork rookery. Overall, the area is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals.