This October 1st morning marked a special occasion at the Magic Kingdom as Walt Disney World celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special presentation at the Cinderella Castle Forecourt stage. A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the park’s turnstiles eagerly awaiting entrance to secure a spot to enjoy the day’s special festivities (and buy limited edition merchandise).
It all began with a performance by the Main Street Philharmonic band, playing a medley of classic and popular Disney tunes from decades of film history. The band was introduced by current Walt Disney World Ambassadors Norman Vossschulte and Jennifer Mason.
Video: Main Street Philharmonic performs on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage
Next, a procession of 40 popular Disney characters paraded down Main Street USA before Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton and Magic Kingdom vice president Phil Holmes took the stage to say a few words to mark the occasion. In the end, the Dapper Dans led a park-wide singalong of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” after which the Fairy Godmother and all the other characters, from Snow White to Rapunzel, helped officially mark the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World with daytime fireworks and blue and gold streamers.
Video: Walt Disney World celebrates its 40th anniversary with a Magic Kingdom ceremony
A few photos from the festivities (more in the slideshow at the bottom of this article):
On the way into the park, guests were given special 40th anniversary buttons and guide maps, available for this day only.
Many fans dressed for the occasion, hosting their own mini-celebrations throughout the day.
In Frontierland, guests who lined up as early as 6am continued to wait in line throughout the morning hours, many missing the ceremony, to obtain limited edition and exclusive merchandise as well as meet some of Disney’s most popular artists.
Prior to the day’s activities, I had a chance to interview several high-ranking Disney employees who have worked at Walt Disney World since it opened 40 years ago and were excited to help celebrate today’s milestone. I’ll be sharing those interviews very soon, so keep checking back.
Tonight, Walt Disney World will conclude its 40th anniversary celebration with a few extra fireworks added to the nightly Wishes spectacular at the Magic Kingdom. And those who were in attendance will be able to say “I was there!” when Walt Disney World moved into its fifth decade of entertaining millions.
More photos from the Walt Disney World 40th anniversary celebration at the Magic Kingdom:
(Photos by Michelle Moss, Ricky Brigante)