Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vault Disney: Grand Opening of Walt Disney World television special

On this day, October 1, 1971 - after seven years of planning - about 10,000 visitors converged near Orlando, Florida, to witness the grand opening of Walt Disney World. The Magic Kingdom, encompassing approximately 107 acres, featured Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Tomorrowland, Main Street USA, and about 5,500 Cast Members. (MK was the only theme park at WDW.)

At the end of October 1971, the total attendance was around 400,000. The day after Thanksgiving November 26, 1971 an amazing 50,000 guests entered the Magic Kingdom! Walt Disney World also debuted 2 property hotels, the 15-story Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Village Resort - both built by U.S. Steel and both connected by a monorail system. The hotels were conceived by WED enterprises and the Los Angeles architectural firm of Welton Becket & Associates. U.S. Steel was to originally own the hotels, but just before opening, Roy Disney decided to buy out their interests and let Disney run the hotels themselves.

Resort planners scheduled the opening in October in the hopes that estimated crowds would be small - and they were. (Two days before the opening of Walt Disney World, the Florida Highway. Patrol had issued a statement that they believed as many as 300,000 people might try to be among the first to get into the Magic Kingdom.) Fortunately the small crowd of 10,000 on October 1, 1971 allowed any problems that sprang up to be fixed with minimal inconvenience, unlike Disneyland's chaotic grand opening day. Even official dedications and other media events were held off until later in the month so as to make sure everything ran smoothly. (The park's actual dedication didn't take place until October 25.)

*Source http://www.thisdayindisneyhistory.com/disneyworldgrandopening.html


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spz6IeiIKZI

Thanks to our friend Marcio Disney for putting up this great footage of WDW's Opening Day TV special that was rebroadcast on the Disney Channel.

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