It’s almost here — Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!
Magic Kingdom Theme Park and Walt Disney World officially opened on October 1st, 1971, and soon we’ll be honoring 50 years since that day. Disney plans to celebrate for 18 months, starting on the anniversary date, and we can’t wait to experience all the new offerings! However, if you want to celebrate in your own unique way, we’re sharing the details with you today on how to recreate the opening day of Magic Kingdom!
Let’s start out with one of the biggest parts of your day, the rides! There are actually several rides at Magic Kingdom that are still around from opening day. In fact, you’ll be able to board one of these first thing when you walk into the park — the Walt Disney World Railroad.
In Adventureland, Jungle Cruise is an opening day attraction, and in Liberty Square, you can ride the fan-favorite Haunted Mansion. The only ride in Tomorrowland currently that was around on opening day is Tomorrowland Speedway, although back in 1971, it was known by a different name.
Fantasyland has several opening day rides, including Dumbo the Flying Elephant, “it’s a small world”, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. At the time when the park opened, the carousel was known as Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel.
Jump on any of these rides, and it’ll be like you stepped back in time! Disney has done a great job of keeping them updated and refreshed for 50 years now!
While you’ll certainly enjoy your time on those nine opening day rides, there are some other attractions you’ll want to check out as well. The Swiss Family Treehouse, one of Adventureland’s most interesting and lesser-known (or, ahem, lesser-enjoyed) offerings, has been around since the beginning.
Lastly (or maybe first, since you’ll likely start your day here), make sure to take a ride on the Main Street Vehicles when they’re open to guests. We didn’t include these on the list of rides since they don’t have a posted wait time, but when they’re operating, you can find them boarding guests at the front of Main Street, U.S.A., and giving rides down to Cinderella Castle.
Shows & Entertainment
When recreating Magic Kingdom’s opening day, there are also several shows and entertainment options to check out! You’ll first want to catch the Dapper Dans performing their classic tunes on Main Street, U.S.A.
As you make your way through the park, stop to listen to the singing birds (and crooning flowers) at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and the singing bears at Country Bear Jamboree. Both of these shows have been around since opening day, proving that Disney was really into singing animatronic animals at the time and they’ve still got staying power!
The other show you’ll want to check out is The Hall of Presidents. This show in Liberty Square takes guests through American history, ending with a speech by the nation’s current president. There are animatronic versions of all the presidents inside, and they’re truly impressive!
Ready to eat like it’s 1971? Well, the good news is that you’ll have several choices! Crystal Palace, Columbia Harbour House, Liberty Tree Tavern, and Tomorrowland Terrace have all been around since opening day, although several of them have seen some changes over the years.
In Frontierland, you’ll find another Magic Kingdom staple, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Originally opening with the park on October 1st, this restaurant was first known as Pecos Bill Cafe and was connected to the Mile Long Bar. In 1998, both restaurants closed and were transformed into what we know today, with the Mexican-inspired menu arriving in 2015.
Another restaurant that was around on Magic Kingdom’s first day was the Diamond Horseshoe. At the time, it was known as the Diamond Horseshoe Revue and was home to a musical show with dancing, singing, and a funny storyline. It went through several changes over the years, turning into a Quick Service location and briefly hosting “Goofy’s Country Dancin’ Jamboree.” Nowadays, the restaurant is a Table Service spot without the dinner show.
And if you’re going to celebrate all day long, then you’re definitely going to need some souvenirs to remember it all! If you’d like to head to a store that was open from the beginning, you’ll have three options: Frontier Trading Post, Main Street Confectionery, and the Emporium.
Frontier Trading Post is where you’ll want to stop for your Disney accessories, like pins and MagicBands. If you’re craving something sweet, check out Main Street Confectionery (note that the Confectionery will be closed for a refurb in spring 2021) for fresh goodies. And as you likely know, the Emporium is Magic Kingdom’s main gift shop, offering all kinds of souvenirs.
We can’t forget about finding a place to stay! If you truly want to immerse yourself in 1971, then you’ll have two places to stay. Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort both opened with Walt Disney World, and they’re still around today! They’ve been refreshed and updated many times over the years, but both hotels still have plenty of original Disney charm.
Classic Disney Things
Last but not least, there are a few things that we think you should add to your to-do list, just to get in the “Magic Kingdom mood.” It wouldn’t be a trip to the park without taking a leisurely stroll down Main Street, U.S.A., and soaking up all the magic!
You’ll also want to make sure that you stop to get that quintessential photo in front of Cinderella Castle. It’s the perfect way to remember your trip!
Finally, you’ll definitely need to say hey to Mickey Mouse! He’s been around since the beginning, and whether you hug him at a meet-and-greet or wave to him in a parade, there’s almost nothing more “Disney” than Mickey!
There you go, that’s your full “opening day” planned in Magic Kingdom, 50 years later! We’re so thrilled to celebrate 50 years of the park that we love, and we can’t wait to share all of the special offerings and fun updates with our readers. Make sure to stay tuned to AllEars for the latest news on the 50th Anniversary!
What’s your favorite opening day activity in Magic Kingdom? Tell us in the comments!