Step Back June/July: The Liberty Bell at Walt Disney World

by
Joan Feder

Feature Article
This article appeared in the June 29, 2021 (#1143) edition of ALL EARS®

Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

 

Liberty Bell in Liberty Square

Join us on our monthly journey into the past as we explore the history of Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company. This time we look back to 1989, and separate fact from fiction, as we tell the story behind the Liberty Bell at the Magic Kingdom.

TRUE OR FALSE?

The Liberty Bell was in Liberty Square when Disney World opened on October 1, 1971.

FALSE!

Liberty Square was one of the original lands in the Magic Kingdom. The Hall of Presidents and Haunted Mansion debuted with the area. But there was no Liberty Bell when the park opened.

TRUE OR FALSE?

The Liberty Bell was cast as part of America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976. It was one of 50 bells produced from the original mold, one for each state. Since Pennsylvania already had the original bell, they didn’t need one of these replicas. Pennsylvania graciously agreed to give Disney the extra bell to place in the Magic Kingdom.

FALSE!

This often repeated urban legend is wrong on several accounts. While reproductions were cast from the original mold of the Liberty Bell, they were not made for the Bicentennial. They were manufactured in 1950, more than a quarter of a century before 1976. They were produced to promote the sale of U.S. Treasury Bonds.

There were 55 bells cast, not 50—one for each of the then 48 states, plus one for Washington DC and the rest for the U.S. territories.

The bell at the Magic Kingdom is NOT the reproduction that was made for Pennsylvania. That “extra” bell is still in Pennsylvania, in Allentown, where it has been since 1962.

TRUE OR FALSE?

The bell that hangs in the Magic Kingdom is the only Liberty Bell ever displayed in Liberty Square.

FALSE!

In 1987, Disney World borrowed one of the U.S. Treasury replicas from Mount Vernon Memorial Park and Mortuary in Fair Oaks, California. The loan was supposed to last for one year.

On September 17th, Mickey, Minnie, and “Ben Franklin” welcomed the bell to its temporary home in Liberty Square. Mickey chimed the bell for 200 seconds as part of a nationwide bell ringing that celebrated the 200th birthday of America’s Constitution.

The borrowed bell was a guest favorite, so its stay was extended until June of 1989.

TRUE OR FALSE?

Disney ordered their own bell to be cast from the same mold as the original Liberty Bell?

TRUE!

The loaner was so popular, that Disney decided to get a bell of its own. It was ordered from the Paccard Bell Foundry in Annecy-le Vieux, France. This was the same manufacturer that cast the 1950 copies from the original mold.

This Liberty Bell was installed just in time for July 4, 1989. It has hung in its place of honor ever since.

This true story of the bell’s origin is even on a plaque that is posted in Liberty Square. It reads: “For over two Centuries, the Liberty Bell has Symbolized Liberty to Most of America. Cast from the same mold, this bell is a ‘second generation’ of the original bell that hangs in Philadelphia. It was cast for WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT in 1989”.