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Step in Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

The opening of Magic Kingdom Park in 1971 was a joyous occasion – with a three-day grand opening ceremony to match! One of the highlights was the park’s official Grand Opening Parade, which stepped off with style at 2 p.m. on October 25.
Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971 Step In Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

First up, a small marching band dressed in red and white uniforms played “The Mickey Mouse Club March,” while Mickey Mouse kept the beat on an over-size drum. A large cast of Disney characters followed, including: Dumbo (“Dumbo”); Queen of Hearts and White Rabbit (“Alice In Wonderland”); Thumper and Flower (“Bambi”); Gepetto and Honest John (“Pinocchio”); Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and the Queen (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”); the Aristocats (“Aristocats”); and Winnie the Pooh, Heffalumps and friends (“Winnie the Pooh” featurettes). A fleet of marching toy soldiers followed, trailed by waltzing alligators and hippos from “Fantasia.”

A highlight of the parade took place when the Herald Trumpeters of the United States Army Band lined the top of the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A., to signal the arrival of a 1,076-member marching band. This line of marching musicians, directed by “The Music Man” composer Meredith Willson, stretched from the park’s main entrance all the way to Cinderella Castle and played “76 Trombones.” A mass choir then appeared on the castle stage to join the band in “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

During the last verse, larger-than-life drums that lined the parade route were opened to release 50,000 multicolored balloons. Simply amazing!

Would you believe that some of the cast members who originally designed this parade still work for Walt Disney World Resort more than 40 years later? Check out the video below to see what one had to say about this must-see moment in Magic Kingdom Park history.


  • Amazing! I loved the video and photos.

    • Thank you!

  • I was actually there opening day and a couple days before opening day. I was four at the time so I don’t remember a lot. My parents said they avoided Main Street during the ceremonies. Since my grandparents were Florida/Orlando residents we were able to go that day and before the “official” grand-opening. First of many trips to Disney World.

  • Astounding! after only 24 years at Walt Disney World this gives me pixie chills. I cannot even begin to think of the logistics to put this all together. A great example of Disney Magic! Happy Anniversary Walt Disney World

    • Looks like it sure was a great celebration!

  • Wow, that is so cool! I wish I would’ve been alive at that time to see it. 🙂

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