Walt Disney World grand opening on this day in 1971


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The dedication plaque of Walt Disney World

The dedication plaque of Walt Disney World

Although the Walt Disney World Resort opened on October 1, 1971, featuring the Magic Kingdom, two hotels, lakes, lagoons, golf courses and a campground, that day was not officially the grand opening. When Disneyland in California opened in 1955, things did not run smoothly, to say the least. There are the legendary stories such as the ladies heels sinking into the melting asphalt, and there are the lesser known stories such as when the future President of Disneyland, Jack Lindquist, waited 45 minutes for his young son to return on the Canal Boats of America that ended up being dragged back by workers in high rubber boots. In 1971, the folks at Disney were not going to take any chances in Florida, so although the new resort would open on the 1st, the official grand opening would occur on October 25th, giving them ample time to work out any kinks. On that day, Roy O. Disney delivered the dedication speech, “Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place… a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together.” While the grand opening festivities occurred later in the month, today is indeed a day of historical significance… the 38th anniversary of that magic day when Walt Disney World Ambassador Debby Dane Browne first led guests into the Magic Kingdom, and the first day the public was able to experience a Disney Resort, as it began its journey to become the premiere destination resort in the world.

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