Today marks a little known, but important date in Disney history. It was exactly 38 years ago today that Walt Disney World started its 3 day Grand Opening Celebration.
The Magic Kingdom had actually been open to the public for a few weeks before the Grand Opening, but it was for this affair that many notable celebrities turned up. Names you may know include Bob Hope, Annette Funicello, Rock Hudson and Fred MacMurray.
Back in 1971, the Walt Disney World Resort complex consisted basically of only the Magic Kingdom theme park and two hotels, the Contemporary and the Polynesian. This did not stop thousands of people from visiting the World in its first few days of operations. According to the Orlando Sentinel, an estimated average of 15,000 people a day attended the Magic Kingdom in its first weeks.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney had died less than five years before the opening so he was unable to see his dreams of a massive resort area realized. Decades before he opened Disneyland in California, but with limited resources, he could not afford to buy enough land to grow as he would have liked. With the Disney World project, he obtained 47 square miles of land, more than enough to grow for centuries.
For your enjoyment, below is a short video taken at the new Contemporary Hotel featuring Bob Hope during the Grand Opening of Walt Disney World