Disney World celebrates 50th anniversary, promises to keep creating magic
By Alvaro Blanco
Orlando, Florida, Sep 30 (EFE).- Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary at its biggest group of amusement parks, and it is doing so with announcements of new openings and attractions and debuting new experiences to maintain public interest in the world’s most visited tourist destination of its kind.
While waiting until Thursday evening for the official launch of 18 months of celebrations to commemorate the fact that on Oct. 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom opened its doors, Disney took advantage of the occasion to announce that in 2022 it will open two new attractions – the “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser” hotel and the “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” attraction at EPCOT, which is located very near Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
But before those features are up and running, on Friday, visitors to the parks will be able to enjoy new experiences in the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and the Animal Kingdom.
The aim is to keep alive the public interest that brings about 58 million people to Walt Disney World each year, a complex that includes four of the 10 most-visited theme parks in the world, according to figures compiled by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).
The new hotel, inspired by the Star Wars saga’s adventures, promises guests that they will embark in the starcruiser on a three-day, two-night full interactive immersion adventure, being able during that time to interact with familiar characters from the saga and even take “light saber” dueling classes.
The hotel will open its doors on March 1, 2022, and will begin taking reservations starting on Oct. 28, 2021.
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” will open sometime during 2022 at EPCOT to offer the public an intergalactic chase through space and time.
EFE had the chance to see how work on this attraction is progressing, and its creators said that it will include one of the largest indoor roller coasters in the world and, using “new technology,” will surround the public “360 degrees” with this Marvel saga.
The “Guardians of the Galaxy” attraction is part of the EPCOT transformation that seeks to update and bring it closer to the traditional concepts of Disney’s other theme parks, featuring a greater presence of characters from the films.
As part of this effort, on Friday the four-dimensional family attraction “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” will make its debut, along with the “Harmonious” evening show featuring music, lights, lasers, water, fireworks and gigantic screens.
“Harmonious” will include 15 well-known songs from Disney films to send a message of unity, and to do that it will rely on 240 artists from all over the world speaking 13 languages, including Luis Fonsi.
The Puerto Rican, along with Joy Huerta, from Mexico’s Jesse & Joy duo, will perform part of the song “Recuerdame,” from the 2017 film “Coco.”
And in the Magic Kingdom, the flagship attraction of Disney World, on Friday “Disney Enchantment” will give the public the “most magical” celebration in the world with a new version of the traditional show that every evening illuminates Cinderella’s Castle, although this time, in a new twist, it will also move into Main Street.
All this is being done to keep Walt Disney’s dream alive, with the entertainment icon saying that his parks would never close down and would keep growing as long as there was “imagination” in the world.
But Disney did not live to see the opening of the Magic Kingdom. One month before his death, in November 1965 he and his brother Roy announced their plans to build Disney World in Orlando after the huge success enjoyed by Disneyland, which had opened 10 years earlier in California.
Previously, the brothers had bought 28,000 acres on the outskirts of Orlando, a move that would give them the space to do what they could not do in the middle of Los Angeles with Disneyland.
Walt Disney World was designed not only to include the Magic Kingdom theme park, but also hotels, golf courses and shopping centers, and there was enough land area for the company to build three other theme parks and two aquatic parks, along with a sports center.
The arrival of Disney World in central Florida radically changed the economic model of the region, giving a heavy tourism flavor to an area that earlier had been devoted mainly to cattle raising and citrus production.
In 1965, when the opening of Disney World was announced, the population of the Orlando metro area was 250,000, but now it’s over two million and local economic activity depends to a great extent on the theme parks and associated businesses.