Which Opening Day Attractions Remain at Disney World?
During the 50th anniversary party at Walt Disney World, you may feel a bit nostalgic.
No matter how old you are today, you cannot help but wonder what Magic Kingdom would have been like on its opening day in 1971.
Well, you may be surprised to learn that several attractions from that date remain in operation now!
Here are the opening day Walt Disney World attractions you can still experience!
Country Bear Jamboree
The premise for this attraction dates back to a ski resort that Walt Disney had planned.
Once the Sierra Club withdrew its support for the Mineral King ski resort project, that idea died.
Walt Disney also coincidentally passed away during the legal battle. So, Imagineers decided to honor him with this passion project.
Yes, Country Bear Jamboree resides at Walt Disney World as a tribute to the company founder, who loved the idea of Audio-Animatronic creatures playing music.
The Hall of Presidents
At the time, everyone at Disney loved the idea of robotics. You may not believe that Audio-Animatronics qualify, but that wasn’t the opinion of the era.
Walt Disney and his design team garnered international acclaim for their work at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln impressed people the most, as a dead President came back as a machine with lifelike moments.
During the early 1960s, this was what passed for witchcraft. But, with Mr. Lincoln spoken for at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom officials did the West Coast one better.
The Hall of Presidents debuted with all the American Presidents in robotic form.
Since 1971, Disney has added a new one for each new POTUS. It’s a remarkable celebration of our country’s democratic process.
The Haunted Mansion
The timeline between the debuts of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom’s versions of this attraction is closer than you probably realize.
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion didn’t open until August of 1969. So, there’s only about two years and six weeks where one existed without the other.
Debates rage about which ride is better, but I love the open space of Magic Kingdom. More Haunted Kingdom is better, although I wish the Hatbox Ghost would appear.
It’s a Small World
This is the other opening day attraction whose roots trace back to the 1964 World’s Fair.
Disneyland got the actual version from the Pepsi pavilion exhibit. So Magic Kingdom had to build its own.
I like the one in Orlando, but the history of the one at Disneyland wins out. Still, there’s nothing more opening day of Magic Kingdom than that infernal song.
Nobody believes me when I tell them that Uncle Walt built Jungle Cruise as a straightforward boat expedition into the unknown.
After only a few years, Jungle Cruise had already turned into a joke-heavy ride. So, when the Magic Kingdom version opened, everybody knew the deal.
This one also lacks the historical significance of Anaheim’s. I don’t care, though. It’s MY Jungle Cruise and the only one that does Jingle Cruise during the holidays.
Of course, the yuletide version lacks the heritage of Magic Kingdom’s opening day. So, try to ride the authentic Jungle Cruise if you can.
Mad Tea Party
Yes, since October of 1971, Mad Tea Party has been making parents vomit as their kids cackled with glee.
The genius of this attraction is that it takes up a tiny footprint in a theme park. It provides tremendous bang for the buck, though.
So, the lines have remained constant for 50 years now. Everyone wants to spin their parents until they puke. It’s the little things that unite us as a people.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Only three attractions on this list share the distinction of being opening day rides at Disneyland AND Magic Kingdom.
We’ve already discussed Jungle Cruise and Mad Tea Party. Peter Pan’s Flight is the other.
This ride has proven timeless due to its remarkable recreation of the sensation of flight.
A cast member sprinkles a bit of Pixie Dust on your boat, and off you go to Neverland!
This one screams classic Disney and has a claim to being THE best of the original Disney attractions.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
When you want to ride the oldest attraction at Walt Disney World, there’s only one choice.
Despite the name, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel didn’t open with Magic Kingdom. Well, it did, but that wasn’t its first debut.
This attraction started in 1917 (!) as The Liberty Carousel. So yes, it dates back to the World War I era.
When you want to talk about something that will remind you of yesteryear, the best choice is something FROM yesteryear.
Autopia anchored Disneyland during its early years. Several versions of the ride populated the park, making a Magic Kingdom version a foregone conclusion.
I maintain that this attraction represents the worst use of space at Walt Disney World and encourage you to look at a park map if you don’t believe me.
Still, nothing speaks to the history of theme parks like Autopia and its cross-country twin, Tomorrowland Speedway.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
This attraction introduced the concept of the Audio-Animatronic when the Disneyland version debuted in 1963.
In 1971, Magic Kingdom received a clone by a different name, Tropical Serenade. However, it was otherwise the same.
Disney made a grave miscalculation with a later re-theming called The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management).
That show introduced characters from The Lion King who were…promptly rejected. Since then, Disney has restored the original presentation, which everyone adores.
In fact, after a rumored closure a couple of years ago, Disney fans openly rioted against the idea, forcing park officials to confirm nothing would change.
Walt Disney World Railroad
I mentioned earlier how three attractions were available on opening day at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World Railroad doesn’t make the cut because it’s technically a different ride experience from Disneyland Railroad.
However, Disney fans should appreciate that both parks embrace Uncle Walt’s love of trains.
The one at Disneyland comes with a few more bells and whistles, but that’s not the problem for Magic Kingdom fans. Instead, it’s that this railroad remains closed.
Park officials cannot bring it back until work has been completed on some remaining elements of Tron Lightcycle Power Run.
Hopefully, Walt Disney World Railroad will return soon. But, until then, it’s kind of an asterisk. It was available on opening day and will be again one day, just not now.
The list doesn’t stop here. Some other remnants of 1971 remain available to park guests. Those include:
- Cinderella Castle
- Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
- Swiss Family Treehouse
So, including the castle, you have a total of 14 attractions you can still re-live as if you’d spent opening day on Main Street, U.S.A.