A retrospective look at Walt Disney World 1971; The Most Magical Place on Earth opens in Orlando, Florida.
As I prepare for my upcoming trip to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, I realize that 50 years ago to the day I was sitting in a family meeting. We were planning our very first visit to the Resort . Walt Disney World would open on October 1st, 1971. And we would make our inaugural trip 9 months later.
50 Days to 50 Years
Since then, those 50 years of plotting, dreaming and magic-making have brought me and mine SO MUCH JOY. I honestly can’t say what my life would look like without them. The exponential experiences of fellow Disneyphiles need to be shared. It is that bucket of Pixie Dust that has led to 50 Days to 50 Years.
This montage of collective tales of our most magical times at Walt Disney World begins today. In exactly 50 days, we will attend The World’s Most Magical Celebration!
New York World’s Fair Brings Disney East
Today I am highlighting 1971, but my personal Disney connections, my “Walt roots” began in the year 1964. Our Disney introduction happened during our family visit to the New York World’s Fair. My father worked at the US Pavilion, and we were granted a sneak peak at the exhibits prior to the official opening. Although only 5 years old, experiencing Walt Disney’s “Progressland”, “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln”, the “Ford Magic Skyway” and “it’s a small world” sowed the seeds for a lifetime love affair!
We simply could not get enough, and returned many times throughout ’64 and ’65. The Disney exhibits were always the most popular and quite crowded. There were rumors at the Fair that Walt would leave his attractions in Fresh Meadows. (Can you imagine, my parents thought, if he were to build an East Coast Disneyland? Right in our backyard?!) Maybe my father could work there too!! Of course our hopes were dashed when an official announcement of the “Florida Project” was made at a press conference on November 15th,1965.
Planning for our next character adventure would now involve an airplane. Thankfully, plan we did. Each Sunday we eagerly waited for the next installment of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. We drooled over the rendering of his “Vacation Kingdom”. Even as children, we were devastated when Walt passed in December of 1966. Gratefully, we were relieved that he continued to be shown in highlights of the show through 1967. Our family read LOOK and LIFE magazines regularly, hoping to see pictures or details of the fabled Project.
Walt Disney World 1971 Review
After years of researching and saving, my mom booked our first visit during the summer of 1972. We plotted how to get the most of our “E” tickets. (An 11 ride attraction ticket book cost $5.75, and we were determined to make the most of every penny!) We made lists of every attraction; 20 of which existed at Disneyland, and 3 totally new in concept.
October 1st, 1971 marked Opening Day at Walt Disney World. Nine months later we would take our first trip to our new Home. After 6 long years, we finally got to see our characters again!
We loved the Park, but we were swept away by our accommodations. A one week stay at the Polynesian Village transported the kids from Queens to an exotic tropical destination. Just as Walt said it would. The Resort theming was completely unique for its time, and offered a total experience of architecture, food and entertainment. We knew we were in a magical place before we ever set foot in Magic Kingdom.
Though we did not get to the Luau that first year, we spent hours in the Nanea Volcano pool.
From early on, my family valued the Disney frame of mind- honest and pure of heart. It is impossible to count the ways in which we have been shaped by our experiences at Walt Disney World. We’ve returned to this happy place almost every year since this first trip, and every family rite of passage has Walt Disney World as its backdrop. Fifty years is a LONG time, but proof that Disney memories really do last a lifetime…
Thank you for joining the first of 50 days of cherished Disney community memories! Tomorrow we will transport you to 1972, and feature Paula (aka LeagueCityMouse) blogging at The Magical Mouse Pad . We hope to see you again!!