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Vintage Walt Disney World: Remember the Magic

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

Sure, there were 25 candles signifying the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort for all to see, but it’s not what guests remember the most.

25 Candles Signifying the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort

This 185-foot-tall birthday cake as big as a castle (Cinderella Castle if we’re getting specific) was the centerpiece of this celebration that had guests talking for years. It was estimated the cake weighed in at 40 million pounds. That’s a lot of cake mix!

Centerpiece of the Anniversary Celebration - the 185-Foot-Tall Birthday Cake

With 55,040 tablespoons of pink paint in three different shades (who kept count? I lose count after counting out five tablespoons!), this cake was rich enough to satisfy any sweet tooth with its 50 gumballs, 30 lollipops, 4 Life Savers, 12 gum drops, 16 red candy hearts and 16 green candy stars.

During the 25th anniversary, guests knew it was Time to Remember the Magic and the transformation of Cinderella Castle is one memory no one is soon to forget.

Comments

  • This was my first trip to WDW and I was entranced by the Castle Cake! I was 11 and in awe of everything I saw. I was even able to participate in the Castle Stage show.

  • How long was this up? I was there in 94 and 98 but 15 years ago is 96…

  • WOW! Fifteen years already?!? Seems like this only happened yesterday.

  • No…I was there in 94 and 97…Would it still have been up Nov ’97?

    • Yes, the celebration lasted 16 months according to our records, so yes, it would have still been up!

  • I loved the castle as a cake. I was about 9, and it just amazed me that they could turn the castle into something so fun, bright, and colorful.

  • I remember the castle like this but my fond memory of the 25th anniversary was the music to the 25th anniversary parade “Remember the Magic”, I loved it so much!

    “Remember the magic, remember the magic, its time to remember the magic”

    • Now I’m singing it in my head!

  • I remember taking my wife to Walt Disney World for her first visit. I kept saying, “wait until you see the Castle at the end of Main Street!” (not knowing it had a makeover)

    When we turned the corner and saw the Castle dressed as a giant birthday cake, we were speechless. Standing on Main Street, mouths opened in amazement my wife said, “Wow, it’s not at all how I pictured it.”

  • I loved the Castle Cake. It was a great stunt. I know some people hated it, but I thought it was very cool. One thing I loved about it was that parts were inflated with air, so on a windy day, you would see some of the icing bobbing back and forth – and I thought that was funny. I’m glad it was temporary (unlike the Sorcerer Hat at Studios, which I’m still hoping will find its way to the archives someday, like the Epcot “arm” finally went away.) But what is planned for the 40th? There’d better be some mention of it at the Wine and Dine race!

  • Oh no, the cake castle!!! I spent years flushing that image from my mind. 🙂 My least favorite of the celebrations.

  • It HAD us talking for years???

    We STILL talk about it!!! At least I know I do!! 😛

    It was an absolutely awesome idea!!!

  • This was my first trip as well. Very good memories.

  • That was the summer I worked in the College Program. Since I worked in Fantasyland I got to look at that every day! :-/

  • The Castle Cake! You either loved it or hated it; and my family loved it! Our sons were 9 and 4 at the time and we took them out of school in October, so we would be there for the re-dedication of the park. It was a terrific week as I remember getting to meet Roy E. Disney and Dick Nunis that day, prior to the re-dedication. But we could not get over the way the castle had been transformed. We took tons of pictures from virtually every angle and we still have a 20 x 24 framed print hanging up in our house. It was the most interesting look to Cinderella’s Castle that I have ever seen.

    And I also agree with Kai, “Remember The Magic”….great song for this birthday celebration.

  • I was there for the 25 year celebration of WDW. It was also a celebration of finishing my chemo treatments. When we first saw the castle my girls thought itlooked like someone spilled stomach relief medicine all over it.
    David’s right, you either loved it or hated it.
    Regardless WDW will always be my favorite vacay destination. Just wish they were doing more to celebrate their 40th

  • I remember this when I was 12 years. I’ll never forget eating at the Crystal Palace and looking out the window while there was a storm blowing and watching the candles on the castle blowing in the wind.

  • I know the Disney online fan community overwhelmingly reviles the cake, but I can state emphatically that my family LOVED it! I was 16 back in 1997, and we could only afford to visit WDW every 4-5 years. I remember being in awe of the castle, and I loved the “Remember the Magic” song!

    Before our trip, my twin brother (whose dream was to become a cast member – and he did, as a CP in 1999) wrote a letter to Walt Disney World, saying how excited he was to visit and see the cake.

    To thank him for his letter, WDW sent him a gorgeous 8×10 photo of the “cake” castle. He framed it and hung it on his wall, and he still has it today!

    I also still have my badge, which had my first trip year on it…wow, that was such an amazing celebration. Thanks for another walk down memory lane!

  • Friends came all the way from The Netherlands on vacation in Orlando and they wanted to have their picture taken in front of the iconic castle but when they saw it they where so disapointed and skipped the photo just because everyone hated it.
    Yes it was the worst decoration of the castle ever!

  • This was my first trip to Disney World when I was 4 years old….I still remember jumping out of my stroller and falling on my face because I was so excited.

  • That poor castle! What was Cindy thinking?! Let’s just hope she’s a little more modest for the 50th..

  • I remember the birthday cake very well. We were on our honeymoon – so no romantic pictures in front of the castle for us! We will be back for our 15th wedding anniversary and WDW 40th celebration – looking forward to seeing what they have planned. Wouldn’t it be funny if they “baked” the cake again!!

  • #21 – I still can’t figure out why so many people hated the castle with the cake overlay – I thought it was great and took several photos of it, which I still have to this day. Very colorful and it was fun to see it in person, on one of our many trips to WDW.

  • This was my son’s first trip to Disney World (age 4). I remember he tried to eat the castle lol!!!

  • That’d be great if they baked the cake again! I didn’t get to see it! Would have been the fall of my senior year of HS, and I sure didn’t go to Disney then. Went in April of 97 tho and it wasn’t a cake at that point.

    But….we plan to be at MK for the 40th! Can’t wait to see what they have in store for everyone! I’m just amazed that the trip I was planning coincided…I was going for Food & Wine, but realized it was the 40th about a month ago…so we’re doing both!

  • Remember it very well!!! We took our family vacation to Disney in July of 97, and it was also an early graduation/birthday present for me! Lots of pictures of the castle that year1

  • I was there that year and have a hilarious picture of my cousin and myself in front of the castle cake. I thought it was cool then but I was 14. If I saw it now, I probably wouldn’t be a fan. My 4 year old daughter on the other hand said it looks, “So cool!!” LOL

  • Actually, this is Natalia, Todd is the hubby… I was on the 1997 WDW 25th Anniversary Traditons Team, and yes, I remember the cake well. Cannot believe it has been that long… also loved the 25th Anniversary theme song “Remember the Magic” By Brian McKnight. It was truly an amazing sight to see…

  • THAT IS AWESOME!! I had no idea they did that. 🙂 I hope they do soemthing like that again for the next big anniversary! 🙂

  • We got married on the day that Magic Kingdom first opened October 28th 1971. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for our 40th year Anniversary!!

  • @Micayla I was there in Feb ’98 and they were in the process of transforming it back, so the castle was half and half (I need to dig up those Polaroids). So it was probably at least part, if not all, cake in Nov ’97.

  • My first trip to Disney the castle was in its original dress.
    My second trip to Disney the castle looked like a birthday cake.
    However, it was my third trip to Disney that I saw the castle in a pretty cool state….Half birthday cake, half Cinderellas castle!! Going back 10-8/10-15 and i cant wait!

  • I too was there with my wife for our honeymoon. Awesome thing is we will be back there this year for our anniversary, toting our 3 Disney children with us.

  • When I first found out they were transforming the castle to a birthday cake I was to excited for my own good. I begged my mom to take me even though we had just been the year before (I was 11 years old). I was so devastated because I just knew she wouldn’t. Low and behold my gymnastics nationals happened to be in Orlando that year and I did get my wish! That was the best surprise I ever received!

  • I liked the idea of it, but thought it was way too much pink. I was 25 at the time as well and loved celebrating being as old as WDW!

  • Ohhh so beautiful! Many wonderful memories for sure. It was my first trip to WDW as well – in 1996. I was 9 years old and I celebrated my birthday there too!
    But it was August so the castle was still getting ready. All pink, so lovely!
    I came back in 2009 and of course, celebrated my 22nd birthday there! 🙂
    Post more pics!

  • I was working there that summer and remember it being so hot the cake actually started to melt!

  • I remember that so well. That was my first visit. My wife and I were there in March/April 1997. It was amazing!

    We found out while we were there that we were expecting our first son.

    Next week, we make our third family trip (my fourth, my wife’s fifith) with our two sons. We’ll be at Magic Kingdom the day it turns 40!!

  • Personally I did not like it, but I was there and I remember the magic. I have it on one of my sweatshirts to remind me of it all the time.

  • Wow, that’s a beautiful photo! I’m so happy we have “Disney” in general. Whether it’s Disney Cruise Line, Disney movies, Disney clothing, Disney this or Disney that… anything Disney is great! (Get ready, WDW… I’ll be there in less than 10 days!).

  • My parents specifically made sure that we went after they took the cake down before we made our first trip to Disneyworld. I wanted to see Cinderella’s Castle, not a giant gaudy Birthday Cake.

  • I was 8 in 1996 when we went 15 years ago and this was the way the castle look for me the very first time I went. I remember it well! I

  • Oh, the “Pepto-Palace!” I’m a traditionalist and love the Disney history and all, but I will admit that this was kind of a cool stunt! Hey, it was restored back to its original configuration a bit later.

    Anyway, I have one of those actual “gum drops” from one of those turrets hanging on the wall in the house…just so I’ll never forget!

  • I was five when this happened and I LOVED the cake castle. Now that I’m older I actually collect wdw 25th anniversary memorabilia and I have the parade song! But the best part of that trip was my sister who is two years younger than me. She loves tinkerbell and at the time, there wasn’t anything with tink on it for kids. The only think she was looking forward to,was seeing tink fly. Just before the fireworks however,they announced that because of weather conditions,tink wouldn’t be able to fly.Of course, lil sis starts crying.Suddenly, there was a flash of light and tink flew right over us,and blew my sis a kiss.She turned to my mom,beaming,and said”See Mom,I told you my Tink wouldn’t let me down.” Ah,Disney memories….

  • I was born on the day Walt Disney World opened–October 1, 1971. My first trip there was for our 25th birthday, and I was in awe. While many were critical of the Castle decorated as a cake, I thought it was magnificent, as if it was decorated just for me. I’m heading back to Disney World next week to celebrate our 40th together on October 1, and I’ll look at Cinderella’s Castle with great memories of our 25th! Can’t wait!

  • That was the 1st time I took my 3 children to Disney World. The castle cake was unbelievable, absolutely amazing!

  • We came for our honeymoon! I had no idea that Cinderella’s castle would be decorated like a cake….what a great suprise, it was like our own personal wedding cake again! We just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary in July. Todd & Karrie

  • I was there when it looked like this!!!

  • Yeah, this was not a pretty sight, thank god it was undone to put the castle back to the original beauty. The big pink cake thing was a disaster……

  • I was there that year with my high school marching band and choir. We performed in the parade at EPCOT because it was also part of Magic Music Days. I actually have a picture of me and some of my friends in front of the “Cake Castle”. None of us were particularly fond of it, but it was still Magic Kingdom 🙂

  • I was there for a week in 1996 and loved the Castle Cake. Over in the UK part of Epcot, they were selling replicas of the castle cake and Ian M Fraser was there doing signings. I purchased one, which he then signed and I had my picture taken with him. It was a great experience.

  • this was the first year that we took our grandaughter, she was 4, she was sooooooo excited, she loved every minute of it and loved the castle , but wanted to see the real one

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