LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Following the success of Disneyland, which opened in 1955, entertainment pioneer Walt Disney (1901-66) set his sights on what he called his company’s “most exciting and challenging assignment” — the creation of a vast vacation paradise known today as Walt Disney World Resort.
Walt’s dream was realized when Magic Kingdom, the first of four theme parks at the sprawling Florida site, opened Oct. 1, 1971. Walt’s older brother and lifelong business partner, Roy O. Disney, inaugurated the park with a heartfelt dedication that remains today on a bronze plaque in Main Street, U.S.A.:
… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together.
Magic Kingdom sits on 142 acres with the towering Cinderella Castle at its center. Similar to Disneyland in California, the park is divided into six themed lands — Main Street, U.S.A.; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland.
Popular attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Stitch’s Great Escape!, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, “Mickey’s PhilharMagic,” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, it’s a small world, Jungle Cruise, Hall of Presidents, Mad Tea Party, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Country Bear Jamboree, Tom Sawyer Island, Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Cinderella Castle, the park’s icon, stands 189 feet tall and includes 18 towers. Inside its main hall, five glittering mosaics created under the direction of Dorothea Redmond and Hanns-Joachim Scharff tell the story of Cinderella in 500 brilliant hues of glass.
In addition to dozens of Disney characters found at locations throughout the park, Magic Kingdom presents a rich variety of entertainment each day, from colorful parades to visiting marching bands. Major productions include:
- “Dream Along with Mickey” — Mickey Mouse and friends show Donald Duck that dreams really do come true in this musical stage show.
- “Celebrate a Dream Come True” — Mickey Mouse leads a daily parade celebrating the history of Disney animation.
- “Main Street Electrical Parade” — Presented on select nights, this energetic parade of Disney characters features floats dotted with millions of twinkling lights.
- “Wishes” — Jiminy Cricket narrates the biggest, boldest fireworks show ever presented at Magic Kingdom, a heart-tugging “story in the sky” about making a wish come true, presented most nights.
Food and Beverage
Popcorn to prime rib is available in a variety of unique settings that include everything from elegant table-service restaurants to outdoor refreshment carts. Major eateries include:
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Main Street, U.S.A.) — salads, pastas, Italian entrees
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Frontierland) — burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads
- Columbia Harbour House (Liberty Square) — clam chowder, fish, chicken, sandwiches
- Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland) — pizza, Italian sandwiches, salads, soups
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Tomorrowland) — burgers, chicken, soups, sandwiches
Guests can dine with Disney characters at Cinderella’s Royal Table (Fantasyland – breakfast, lunch and dinner); The Crystal Palace (Main Street, U.S.A. – buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner). For dining reservations, call 407/WDW-DINE.
- Night of Joy — Top contemporary Christian music acts presdent concerts from several stages during this special-ticket evening event in September.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party — Mickey and the gang invite guests to this all-ages celebration of fun frights held on multiple nights each October.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — Each holiday season, Mickey and his friends celebrate the season on several special nights with exclusive entertainment and a holiday-themed parade starring Santa Claus.