Friday in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida. 1971. Just get a look at this opening day map. It's a pretty cool one. Even without Space Mountain in Tomorrowland and the classic If You Had Wings nearby, guests couldn't wait to get down to the Sunshine State to see what was Walt Disney's final foray into the fantasy world.
At the end of magnificently grand Main Street, a brand new Liberty Square called out. And what a beautiful place it was! The Hall of Presidents was a must-see stop, but it was the imposing Haunted Mansion at the edge of town that caught everyone's eye. The gothic structure was especially eerie at night.
The premier version of the Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland entertained us all, but this side of the frontier was a little empty for the time being.
On the opposite side of the park, the beautiful Plaza Swan Boats would soon circle the park (and the Swiss Family Treehouse which sat on its very own island). Tomorrowland was light on attractions, but a huge expansion was a year or so from making its presence known. In the meantime, the entrance to the area was elegant and futuristic without being instantly dated.
Fantasyland had its own surprises. Walking through the grand castle, the Mickey Mouse Musical Revue played to packed houses. A double tracked Mr. Toad's Wild Ride offered guest two different excursions with Toad and friends, and right across the way, the elegant Nautilus submarines cruised a sparkling lagoon for a voyage 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
New attractions were on the drawing boards as well- The incredible and never built Western River Expedition and its replacement, Pirates of the Caribbean. The latter was quickly shoehorned into Adventureland after too many guests wondered why the pirates weren't also found in the Florida park.
Also planned: a well deserved The Walt Disney Story, celebrating the accomplishments of the man that began it all. I saw it all in its early years, the beginning of many, many visits to come.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)