Walt Disney World 40th Anniversary Recap!

By Cory Disbrow on October 7th, 2011   |    Posted in:  Articles   |    4 Comments

Hello readers! For today’s post, I’d like to share with you and relive the wonderfully fun day I had on October 1st, the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World!

We got to the park earlier than I think I ever had, standing at the turnstiles around 7:30 or 8AM. It had already looked like this:

After getting past the turnstiles, a few of us made our way up front and center for the Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony. The Mayor of Main Street was very, very excited to welcome so many Disney fans for the special day!

He then proceeded to open the park with all the characters, and the specially chosen “Family of the Day”, who looked absolutely terrified to be in front of such a huge crowds of WDW super fans!

After grabbing a special park map (or 12), we made our way to the Hub to get ready for the special presentation, which happened at 10AM. The presentation started out with a performance by the Main Street Philharmonic, who were excellent as always!

We then got a character procession down Main Street, followed by a couple of speeches, including words from Magic Kingdom Vice President Phil Holmes, and Walt Disney World President, Meg Crofton.

Of course, the Fairy Godmother was there to overlook the ceremonies and make sure nothing fishy happened!

After all the speeches were done, the Dapper Dans came on stage to lead us all in the largest sing along I have ever been a part of:

From there, it was basically a normal day at the Magic Kingdom, with the exception of a few pieces of merchandise and some artist signings, all of which got very, very crowded. Speaking of crowds, this was one of the busiest days I have ever experienced at the Magic Kingdom. By the time the fireworks came, Main Street was so crowded that backstage areas were being used to shuffle people in and out of the park. I think these two photos can explain this much better than I ever could though:

All in all, the 40th was a really awesome experience for me. I had never been to a large WDW celebration before, and it was just really exciting. Some people say that not enough was done for the anniversary, and while that might be true, 40 years simply isn’t 10, 25, or 50 in my book. It wasn’t overlooked, but it also wasn’t huge. The coolest thing, in my opinion, was seeing all the people there. Seeing so many folks who share a common interest and love for Walt Disney World was pretty amazing. To see how many people Walt and his team have reached over the years is a true statement to the magic of the place. It was certainly something I will never forget, and I can’t wait until the 50th so we can all get together and celebrate again! Thanks for reading, see ya real soon!!


  1. Tom Bricker   |   Oct 7, 2011

    Nice shots. While I agree that 40 isn’t as significant as 10, 25, or 50, I think it’s as significant as 15 or 20, both of which received year long celebrations. I think it’s just a matter of the company changing the types of things it celebrates/markets now. There’s more broad appeal in marketing things like the “Year of a Million Dreams” or “What Will You Celebrate” than there is in celebrating anniversaries ending in “0″ or “5.” Except in Paris, Tokyo, or Hong Kong, where those anniversaries still receive a lot of attention. All in all, though, it was a great time, and I’m really glad I was there!

  2. Hilary   |   Oct 7, 2011

    Have to agree with Tom – such a shame this isn’t a year long celebration (especially as I’m going to WDW in March). Will have to make do with Disneyland Paris’ 20th celebrations which WILL last a year.

    That aside, glad everyone had a great time and have loved seeing the photos.

  3. Bob Desmond   |   Oct 10, 2011

    I was there for the 15th year anniversary of WDW. I started working for Disney at the tail end of that year long celebration. What I remember the most from that year is that they gave away a brand new GM automobile EVERY DAY to a lucky guest!!! One of my first assignments for Disney was to photograph the lucky winners with their new car each new day. I would go from the MK to EPCOT daily to photograph the lucky winners. They would alternate parks as I best recall. I had to shoot it with a Hasselblad on B&W film as well as color negative. I would have the winners jump up in the air in front of their new car! Funny thinking back to those couple of months. Since that time, Disney and GM have NEVER done that again. The economy was GREAT in the late 1980′s. But not any longer.

    Compare that to the 40th anniversary of WDW. Basically, A DUD of a celebration this year. They are spending so much money on different new attractions and a new park in China, I guess they decided to not make a big deal of the 40th anniversary of WDW.

  4. Tom Bricker   |   Oct 12, 2011

    Bob, I might agree with your last sentence if Hong Kong didn’t currently have a year long 5th anniversary celebration taking place, Tokyo DisneySea (a single park–not even an entire resort!) didn’t have a 10th anniversary 18-month celebration taking place, and Disneyland Paris wasn’t about to start a similar celebration for its 20th anniversary. If global expenses were the issue, those parks wouldn’t be getting those celebrations. In any case, celebrations are marketing, and good ones can and do recoup their costs (even when giving away cars!).

    The reason this wasn’t celebrated similarly lies ENTIRELY with Team Disney Orlando and the marketing team for the “Disney Parks” (California and Florida).



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