More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Happy 45th Anniversary to Magic Kingdom Park

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

It’s the place that turns kids into pirates, princesses, fairies and knights. It’s where children – of all ages – come face-to-face with their heroes. It’s where romances began, where engagements happen, and where family “firsts” and milestones are celebrated. It’s charming and thrilling, adventurous and romantic, and full of heart all at the same time. In short, Magic Kingdom Park is the place that so many Disney fans consider…home. And on Saturday, October 1, this magical place will officially celebrate 45 years of creating unforgettable experiences like this for thousands of families from around the world.

Plans to build a Disney theme park here in Central Florida were first announced by Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney at a press conference in Winter Park, FL, in 1965. Six years later, Walt’s “Florida Project” had grown into a full-blown multiproperty vacation destination – the Walt Disney World Resort, which on opening day 1971 included Magic Kingdom Park, Contemporary Hotel and Polynesian Village Hotel. (Check out the video above for some amazing construction footage of the park before it opened).

Magic Kingdom Park opened to feature lands and attractions similar to those at Disneyland park, but with a few striking differences, including the addition of a Liberty Square section and new park-specific attractions like Country Bear Jamboree. One of the biggest differences to debut at Magic Kingdom Park was the park’s castle, a towering 189-foot-tall Cinderella Castle that served as the focal point of the park.

Constructing a property of this size was no small task – and neither was celebrating the accomplishment of opening the world’s largest Disney property to-date. To celebrate, the resort held a three-day series of grand opening festivities that culminated on October 25 with the grand opening of Magic Kingdom Park. In the video above, which we shared for the park’s 40th anniversary, opening day cast member Forrest Bahruth shares his memories of this massive celebration, which featured a 1,076-piece marching band, 50,000 balloons and more.

In the 45 years since that magical opening day, Walt Disney World Resort has grown to welcome three more theme parks, two water parks, more than two dozen resort hotels, the dedicated shopping and dining area of Disney Springs, plus countless recreation opportunities. But we’re not stopping there. The next few years will welcome even more exciting experiences than ever, with the debut of new lands at two of our parks, as well as innovative attractions and exciting entertainment.

What else will the future hold for Walt Disney World Resort? One guarantee is that whatever it is … it will be simply magical.


  • Happy anniversary!

  • Please advise on Disney World’s plans for the 50th anniversary?


  • Coming to visit next week! This will be our 30th year visiting Walt Disney World, our home away from home. We can not wait to enjoy all of the magic.

  • Congrats on your 45th birthday from Australia. How very exciting!!! I will be seeing you later this month and look forward to getting some 45th birthday merchandise. I love this place and first visited in 1987. This will be my fourth visit and I hope to visit again for Walt Disney World’s 50th birthday. Until then, Happy 45th!!!!

  • Happy Anniversary Walt DisneyWorld, my home away from home! I’ve celebrated every year and have been there for 10 year anniversary, 15 year anniversary, 20 year anniversary, 25 year anniversary, missed 30 :(, was there for 35th anniversary and 40th and hopefully I will get there for 45! Been going there since 1975, 27 times!

  • I was there for the festivities. It was fun. Happy 45th

  • Celebrating the anniversary with family including my teenage daughter. Spent day at Hollywood studios. Excited about parades at MK tonite. Happy 45th MK!

  • Happy 45th Birthday to my favourite place on earth ?

  • Oh my gosh!! Thank you for this!! LOVED it!! It just made my day!! 🙂

  • I was born 11 days after Walt Disney World opened. I’ve always felt a close connection to the park and hope we both have quite a few more birthdays ahead! Anytime I feel down, a good memory of Pirates or Haunted Mansion or Horizons will pick me back up. It’s so wonderful to have a place that not only makes you feel good when you’re there, but stays with you and makes you feel great just knowing something exists for everyone’s happiness. It truly was Walt’s greatest dream. Wish I was there today!

  • Growing up in Tampa, FL with my Dad working on the construction of the MK, I remember my excitement when I was told I would be celebrating my 9th birthday just a little over one month after Grand Opening at this magical place! I remember not sleeping for the next 34 days! What a special memory! What a special place!

  • I definitely cried reading this blog post! Florida born, growing up 15 minutes from WDW and spending so many weekends and holidays at the parks WDW has always been my life. Got engaged at the haunted mansion in August 2015. Spending our honeymoon sailing the open ocean for 3 days on the Disney dream followed by 7 days at the Polynesian Village Resort this coming January! I love Disney World, it will ALWAYS be HOME for me and my family and the family I build with my soon to be hubby! Happy 45th Disney World!!

  • Will the 45th merchandise still be in the parks at the end of December??

  • Greatest place in the world!!!

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