Oct. 1 marks 49 years since Walt Disney World’s main theme park, Magic Kingdom, opened its gates to the public. Opening in 1971 to around 10,000 visitors and 5,500 Cast Members, it became a huge success, with over 30,000 people attempting to visit the theme park in the days following its opening, according to Disney News.
The theme park had 22 attractions on opening day, designed for guests of all ages. Some of these attractions are still operating today, including “It’s a Small World,” “The Jungle Cruise,” “The Haunted Mansion” and “Peter Pan’s Flight.” These rides have seen little-to-no alterations over the years and remain beloved attractions across generations. Rides such as “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” and “The Tomorrowland Speedway” were also opening day attractions, but have seen considerable overhauls and changes since their debuts, and there are some rides, such as “Snow White’s Scary Adventures,” that no longer exist. These upgrades allow Imagineers, Disney engineers, to add new attractions and keep the theme park up to date.
One of the greatest changes over the years in Magic Kingdom, and in Disney Parks in general, are the park admission prices. In 1971, guests had to pay $3.50 for a park ticket. Today, it costs more than $3.50 for a bottle of water. The average price for a one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom, with no extras such as dining plans or Florida resident discounts, is a whopping $124 per adult, ages 10 and up. Why such a big jump over the years? People believe that not only has Disney become more advanced in technology, which costs more, but the parks are now made to cater to the wealthy. The cost of a normal lunch in the parks can range from $10 to over $60 per person and a pair of Mickey Ears now averages $30. The recommended budget to take to the parks for one day is over $200 per person.
So, why bother? Why venture to what many call “The Most Expensive Place on Earth” as a college student trying to make ends meet? The magic.
People from all around the world have been brought together by a mouse named Mickey, and Walt Disney has become a household name. No matter how much the parks cost, no matter how hot it may be or how long the lines, 58 million individuals visit the parks each year. The feeling of walking down Main Street U.S.A. towards the glistening Cinderella Castle is unmatched. No matter your age or where you come from, Disney is always there to welcome you home.
Stories of all kinds come to life in the Magic Kingdom. For the past 49 years, this Disney park has astounded guests from all around the world. The next time you decide to visit, look back on the years of history this park has endured to become one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, the history is truly magical.