Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World - 6 stars out of 10

The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World - 6 stars out of 10
October 29, 1971

The Grand Opening of Disney World is completely different from the opening day of Disneyland.  While the Disneyland opening explored the park and had that hectic feeling of breaking news, this special is very calculated and produced with elaborate dance numbers and various skits to show off the Disney resorts.  While I craved a look into Disney World similar to the live broadcast of Disneyland, it makes sense that it had to be different.  First, twenty of the twenty-three attractions were replicas of Disneyland attractions, so much of the world had already experienced them (this also explains the featuring of Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of the Presidents, and the Mickey Mouse Revue.  Second, a live evening special would have limited the audience to nighttime views of the park since the park is in Orlando, whereas the opening of Disneyland occurred in the afternoon on the West Coast.  Plus, how else could you transition into 140 members of various symphony orchestras performing in front of the Castle?  Even though Walt wasn’t here for this opening, there is still something magical about Julie Andrews singing When You Wish Upon a Star on Main Street USA.  I was just craving some sort of dedication or speech, though Bob Hopes tribute to Walt Disney was very nice.  It is so weird to see Disney World without Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and other rides that have become iconic pieces of the park; at the same time.  It also brings back great memories of the Skyway and makes me wish that the Mickey Mouse Revue was still there in some form.  Mickey’s Philharmagic is one of my favorite rides, but it must’ve been so cool in 1971 to watch your favorite movies come to life in such an awesome musical presentation.  While the Walt Disney World Grand Opening was more of a musical special that took place in the park instead of an exploration of the park, it is all worth it for the marching band finale that you won’t believe.  I won’t spoil it for you, you just have to see it for yourself at 1:08:00.  If nothing else, skip ahead to the final 15 minutes of this special if you are in the mood for some Disney magic!

[Pictured: Balloons on Main Street U.S.A.  You really should watch this part!]

Other Park Opening TV Specials:
Disneyland Opening Day (1955 ABC Broadcast) -
EPCOT Center: The Opening Celebration -
The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening -
Disneys Animal Kingdom: The First Adventure -
Disneys California Adventure TV Special -

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