Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary Saturday with a flurry of 45 beloved Disney characters in a colorful celebration at Magic Kingdom Park.
The crowds cheered as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald, Pluto and all of their pals flooded the Cinderella Castle stage to the classic tune of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
It was 45 years ago – Oct. 1, 1971 — when Walt Disney World officially opened, rising from the marshy landscape southwest of Orlando, Florida. The much ballyhooed “Florida project” was the dream of visionary Walt Disney.
“I was here on that day,” Walt Disney World President George A. Kalogridis told guests gathered in front of Cinderella Castle Saturday. “I can tell you that, for all of us Cast Members, in the resorts and the theme park, both, it was a day of excitement, anticipation, and considerable butterflies in the stomach. But mostly it was a day of joy, because we had the privilege of knowing that we were about to create Disney memories that our Guests could cherish for a lifetime.”
The celebration hit a high note with a special live arrangement of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” underscored by a burst of pyro magic and colorful streamers shot high above the Kingdom.
Though he never lived to see opening day, Walt Disney’s legacy of family entertainment lives on in four Florida theme parks (including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks, more than two dozen resort hotels, the Disney Springs retail-dining-entertainment complex, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and other venues.
Walt Disney once said that Disneyland (and by extension all Disney parks) would never be completed. It will continue to grow so long as there is imagination left in the world.
In keeping with Walt’s wish, in 2016, Disney World welcomed a number of attractions throughout all four parks and new shopping and dining experiences at Disney Springs. In 2017, the Most Magical Place on Earth, in collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment will bring to life the mythical world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s AVATAR, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. The awe-inspiring land of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and soaring Banshees will give guests a transformational experience they will never forget.