Orlando in the 1960's vs Today

By Roger Jimenez

We stumbled upon some archival footage of Central Florida and we’re going to break it down for you today! Let us take you back in time for a little bit as we look behind at life in Orlando in the 1960’s and see how much has changed since then.

Read along or watch our reaction video below for more!

‘The Space Race’

During the 60s, before Orlando became the theme park capital of the world or one of the most desirable cities to call home, Orlando was beloved for its proximity to the legendary JFK Space Center and its convenient central location that connected it to the rest of the state of Florida. Even after the amount of development over the past 60+ years, rocket launches are still an amenity that Orlando residents can enjoy right in their back yard.

two images with space shuttle blasting off

Downtown Orlando

The amount of growth in the downtown area is amazing to see when looking back. In the video, a smaller Downtown is visible, accompanied by a blossoming Lake Eola district that houses prominent insurances and growing tech companies at the time, such as the Martin-Marietta Corporation. Today, this area brings in thousands of residents and visitors with the amount of businesses, restaurants, and events it hosts on a daily basis.

two images of downtown orlando in 1960s and now

Old Businesses

At the time, the giant companies in the Orlando area included the likes of Tupperware and Minute Maid, the latter of which who took advantage of the abundant orange groves that were around at the time. They established a headquarters here as well before moving out to Texas in 1967 due to the increasingly colder climates that affected the growth of orange groves.

Nowadays, however, the orange groves are few and far between but can still be found alongside various farms and wineries where you can pick your own fruit and flowers, such as Southern Hill Farms in Clermont.

three images from old video with people working

The Development of Disney

A prominent piece of the old footage includes the development of Walt Disney World and the beginnings of what is now one of the top attractions on the planet! During its inception, Walt Disney estimated that the park(s) would bring 30,000 jobs to the area in its first 10 years.

screenshot of video with orlando sentinel newspaper and text

Today, Disney is responsible for employing over 75,000 workers and is consistently one of the top employers in the area! We’re sure Mickey Mouse himself never would have guessed just how far his legacy would go!

Other Major Differences

Orlando Junior College / Lake Highland Prep

Before Lake Highland Prep, there was the Orlando Junior College. Some history on the school: The Orlando Junior College actually used to be a private and segregated school exclusively for Christians! They integrated later in the 70's thanks to the competition coming from Valencia and Rollins College.

two images of orlando junior college in the 1960s and today

Orlando Public Library

The Orlando Public Library’s iconic steely look and brutalist architecture has always stood as a monolith of architecture and knowledge, even way back when!

two images with orlando public library

Orlando Science Center 

The humble beginnings of the Orlando Science Center can be seen in the video, when it was just a museum and just a fraction of what it has currently become today thanks to their heavy expansion throughout the years. The center was a hub for all the young dreamers who wanted to be a part of the space race of the 60s.

two images of orlando science center in the 1960s and now

Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival

Watch some archived footage of one of the very first sidewalk art festivals that have been held in Winter Park for the last 64 years. This upcoming 2024, be sure to come out and celebrate the festival's 65th anniversary as they continue to host countless Orlando artists and merchants.

Orlando Panthers

Do you remember when Orlando had their very own football team? If you don’t, it’s probably because the team was only around for a couple of years in the mid-60’s before disbanding in the beginning of the 70s. Interested in watching them in action? Watch them play at the famous Tangerine Bowl back in the 60s!

Orlando’s Population

As for the biggest notable change in the area, the population of Orlando in the 1960s topped at just around 200,000. Today, there are over 2 million residents in the Orlando area and counting!


From a tiny Downtown and the beginnings of Walt Disney World, to the emergence of cultural institutions, Orlando's evolution is a story of growth and evolution. The archival footage captures the essence of progress, painting a dynamic portrait of a city that has embraced change. With a nod to the past and a vibrant present, Orlando's rich history sets the stage for a promising future!

Interested in settling in the area? We can help!


The Orlando Real is sponsored by The Pozek Group. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Orlando, reach out and we would love to help!

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