In the weeks leading up to the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World on October 1, 2011, Disney has been hinting that “surprises” will be in store for guests visiting the Magic KIngdom on that date. Amidst the speculation of what these surprises could be, a morning presentation and additional nighttime fireworks have been officially scheduled to mark the occasion.
UPDATE (9/27/11): Specifics about Saturday’s festivities have been added into the text below.
Beginning at 9:45am on Oct. 1, a character-filled parade will kick off in Town Square, heading down Main Street USA. At 10 a.m., a 40th anniversary presentation will take place on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, featuring characters, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, and a performance that will include a song from the Dapper Dans, dancers and even a few fireworks.
Then that night, at 9 p.m., the “Wishes” nighttime spectacular show will add special fireworks in celebration of the anniversary, making for a long day in the park for anyone arriving before the morning presentation and staying through the nighttime show. The fireworks show will use perimeter launching points, expanding the show outward and filling the night sky with pyrotechnics.
UPDATE (9/29/11): Disney has released details on how and when guests will be allowed to line up to obtain wristbands for limited edition pins and Vinylmation, as well as get admission into the park, on Oct. 1.
Beginning at 6:00 a.m., wristbands for the limited edition items will be given out on the side of the turnstiles closest to the Monorail station. This is the earliest time Disney is allowing guests to line up outside the park. Then the Magic Kingdom turnstiles will open at 7:45 a.m. for guests having breakfast in Cinderella Castle as well as those with wristbands.
Guests for breakfast will head to the castle while guests with wristbands will form another line beginning at the Liberty Square bridge, which will then be led to the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon at 9:00 a.m. to pick up merchandise.
There will be four groups of wristbands, A, B, C, and D, each allowed to purchase merchandise during a specific time window. Those with Group B wristbands will likely miss the scheduled character parade down Main Street USA, as their purchase window will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Likewise, those in Group C may miss the castle stage presentation, as their window is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The final window is from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., after which wristbands are no longer valid. More information about the wristband procedure and merchandise available for purchase can be found on Disney’s What’s HapPINing blog.
It’s not yet clear what time guests without wristbands will be allowed to enter the park to get viewing spots in front of Cinderella Castle or along Main Street USA for the morning’s activities.
Many guests have already been planning an early morning trip to the Magic Kingdom long before this presentation was known about. A large crowd and long lines are expected that morning and throughout the day, with Magic Kingdom hours recently extended until midnight that night. Some fans are even planning on arriving to the park in 1970s attire to unofficially celebrate “Retro Day,” which should offer some great nostalgic photo opportunities (particularly for instagram users).
In addition to the presentation and fireworks, a variety of 40th anniversary merchandise will be available in many of the park’s stores. Disney artists will be at the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland and Uptown Jewlers on Main Street USA, signing autographs and meeting with fans. Featured artists include Costa Alavezos, Brent Reese, Greg McCullogh, Noah, Dave Avanzino, Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney, Jim Shore, Robert Olszewski, and Gene Gonda.
But aside from the artist signings, there still may be additional surprises planned for the day. Special park guide maps, buttons, and cupcakes should also be available as part of the day-long celebration of 40 years of Walt Disney World.