During “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” an 18-month event beginning October 1, 2021, honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, guests can step back in time by imagining themselves as one of the first to visit Magic Kingdom Park in October 1971. While some attractions and restaurants may have received fresh pixie dust over the years, these experiences deliver magic today just as they did 50 years ago. Learn more below.
Walt Disney, in 1966, said, “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland – the blessing of size. There is enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” That “something special” turned into magic when Walt Disney World officially opened to the public on October 1, 1971. Phase one included Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The resort was a showplace of innovation, featuring a transportation system of monorails, watercraft, trams, and motor coaches, as well as a centralized computer network and other groundbreaking systems supporting the many guest offerings and attractions. As you visit Magic Kingdom during the 50th anniversary, take a moment to celebrate the attractions and offerings that guests enjoyed on opening day.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Main Street, U.S.A. is quintessentially Disney and sets the stage for a magical visit to the park. On opening day, the Walt Disney World Railroad station offered a one-stop circle tour of the park. Unfortunately, the railroad is currently closed, but the newly refurbished Main Street Station looks better than ever.
As you walk right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A, take in a view of the iconic Cinderella Castle. The castle has changed throughout the years. In 1996, when Walt Disney World Resort celebrated its 25th anniversary, Cinderella Castle was decorated as a giant birthday cake!
Thankfully, for the 50th-anniversary celebration, the castle received a new royal makeover. Beginning in 2020 and finishing in 2021, Cinderella Castle now boasts gold bunting, sparkling golden embellishments, a 50th-anniversary crest, and other enhancements inspired by Disney Legend Mary Blair.
No stop to Main Street, U.S.A. would be complete without taking in some of the delicious dining options at opening day favorites such as Main Street Bakery (opened as Main Street Bake Shop), Crystal Palace, Main Street Confectionery, Casey’s Corner(opened as Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner), and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (opened as Town Square Café).
Over in Adventureland, guests can enjoy three opening day attractions. First, discover a home in the sky when touring the Swiss Family Treehouse, a charming island abode built in a large leafy tree called a Disneyodendron semperflorens grandis (ever-blooming Disney tree). Next, you’ll want to check out the recent enhancements to the world-famous Jungle Cruise, where dangerous beasts and dry wit abound. Finally, be sure to sing along with a lively menagerie of exotic birds, flowers, and Tiki statues in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (opened as Tropical Serenade).
Looking for a snack? Then head on over to Sunshine Tree Terrace, the home of the Orange Bird! This is an opening day restaurant that’s perfect for a classic Disney treat, (now in a different location)!
4 – Frontierland
Frontierland boasts the Country Bear Jamboree, another opening day attraction. While the show has been pared down some, fans still rave about this classic attraction. When it’s time to rustle up some grub, Pecos Bill Café, an opening day restaurant, has long served Mexican fare and other classic theme park foods. It was remodeled and renamed Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café in 1998! Another dining option is the Diamond Horseshoe! While the original show is no longer around, you can still enjoy a great American holiday meal in this original dining space.
Over in Liberty Square, guests will find two classic attractions that are not to be missed! First, be sure to take a spirited tour of the Haunted Mansion, home to 999 happy haunts. We hear there’s always room for one more if you’d like to stay! Also, at Liberty Square, guests can learn about the formation of the United States and the nation’s hard-fought struggles along the way in The Hall of Presidents. This summer, Disney updated the show with a President Biden animatronic, continuing the tradition of adding a new president when they take office.
As you might expect, you’ll find the most opening day attractions at Fantasyland. First up, you’ll journey through all seven continents of the world aboard “it’s a small world,” sailing past vivid, fantastical scenes representing the sights and sounds of dozens of nations. Have an “ear”-born adventure with Dumbo the Flying Elephant, as a jubilant organ accompanies a graceful trip through the Fantasyland sky. Celebrate a very merry unbirthday with the Mad Tea Party, sitting inside an oversized teacup to twirl through a wild wonderland of color and song. Be sure to set sail across the sky with Peter Pan’s Flight, boarding a pirate galleon to follow Peter Pan on a journey to Never Land. Finally, enjoy a royal spin on Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, featuring 90 wood-carved ornate horses and one intricately carved chariot.
Pinocchio Village Haus still offers a terrific quick-service meal with not-to-be-missed views of “it’s a small world.” Dining inside Cinderella Castle has been a must-do since opening day when King Stefan’s Banquet Hall opened. The restaurant is now Cinderella Royal Table.
Finally, over at Tomorrowland guests, can rev up for an exciting and scenic drive on the Tomorrowland Speedway (opened as Grand Prix Raceway), accelerating around sharp bends and lush foliage and winding past favorite attractions visible from the roadway. Unlike in 1971, guests can now see the Tron Lightcycle Run coaster being built right before their eyes and get great views of the new attraction from the Speedway. For opening day dining, go to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. While the current restaurant opened in 1994, it took the place of Tomorrowland Terrace Café. The current Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant in Tomorrowland is in a different location than the original. Yes, it’s confusing. Also opening in 1971 is The Lunching Pad, which originally was located in the current spot of Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies.
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