Walt Disney World celebrates its 40th birthday
Written by Robert Niles
Updates: Scroll down for an additional report from TPI reader TH Creative, and video of the 40th birthday ceremony.Tweet
Thanks to TPI reader Amy Smith for these photos from this morning's 40th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
I love how Disney played with the design of the olf A-E ticket books for the front of today's anniversary guidemap. (All visitors to the park today also got a birthday button.)
And here's the inside of today's guidemap. (How many will we see on eBay today?) Yes, that's Orange Bird at the bottom!
At the castle at 10am, the Disney characters marched in to music from each of the park's previous anniversary celebrations. Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton spoke to the crowd, then the Dapper Dans led the crowd in singing "When You Wish Upon a Star."
With a blast of pyro and streamers, the show came to an end.
There will be a special anniversary edition of the fireworks tonight. Relatively low-key for a Disney celebration, but we knew that would be the case. (Hey, it was still better than my 40th birthday party!) Here's hoping Disney makes up for the relative lack of festivities today with something truly awesome for its 50th.
Update: Disney's provided an edited video of ceremony highlights:
Another report, from Theme Park Insider reader TH Creative: We arrived in the Magic Kingdom parking lot at 7:30 AM, took the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon and were at the turnstiles just before eight. Crowds had already started to form. Park operators relieved pressure on the entrance by letting guests into the area in front of Main Street Station just after 8 AM. At 9 AM, the steam train rolled in with the characters, the park opened and everyone moved forward (snatching up stacks of commemorative guide maps).
I imagine crowds became more intense as the day got longer, but between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM we saw only moderate lines. After the ceremony we walked into the "Enchanted Tiki Room" (no wait at all). It was great seeing the original show again for the fist time in many years. "Jungle Cruise" was a 20-minute wait (thank you for cleaning off the Indian elephants). My wife Barbara went over to Frontierland to pick up Fastpasses for "Big Thunder Mountain." My son and I hit "Pirates of the Caribbean" (equal time for J. Rao). Again the wait time was 20 minutes. We ate lunch at Tortuga Tavern and used the Fastpasses. My son headed to "Haunted Mansion" (he reported a 30-minute wait) while Barb and I wandered over toward Liberty Square. We were delighted to catch a performance by the FANTASTIC Main Street Philharmonic. On the way back we walked right up to the "Move It! Shake It" which my wife loves – Barb likes to dance.
We headed home after that (at around 4 PM). I am sure that the park became very crowded that night. But in the seven hours we were actually in the park (9 AM to 4 PM) our party of three took in a character greeting, eight attractions, three parades, the 40th Anniversary ceremony, had lunch and took in multiple performances by the Main Street Philharmonic and the Dapper Dans.
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