Woman recalls what it was like on Magic Kingdom's opening day in 1971
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Walt Disney World has kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration, dubbed ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration.’
Festivities began on October 1st, the same day that Disney opened its first Florida park, Magic Kingdom, in 1971. The anniversary fun will continue for 18 months as new experiences debut across the entire Florida resort.
Lake Mary resident Susan Kroll was actually at Magic Kingdom on that historic day in 1971. At the time, she was living in Buffalo, New York, but she and her husband were visiting family when they decided to head to Walt Disney World.
Cinderella Castle under construction (Photo from DisneyParks Blog)
"We were here visiting — my husband and Billy. I was pregnant with my second son at the time and we were going to go to Marine Land that day cause we figured it would be too crowded to go out to Disney," Susan told FOX 35. "Then, we heard on the news that there weren’t [many people there] other than reporters and news people. That was all that was there basically. Nobody else had gone out."
RELATED: The history of Walt Disney World and its opening 50 years ago
"So, we said, ‘okay, let’s go there.’ We got in the car and drove out," she added.
Susan said that she paid just a couple of dollars to park and admission was $7.
"I couldn’t even believe how beautiful it was. Everybody that was there was just fascinated with the whole place," she said in regards to seeing Magic Kingdom for the first time. "Everyone was very excited to be there."
Magic Kingdom entrance in 1971 (Photo from Walt Disney World)
She added, "I had been to amusement parks before but nothing like that."
WATCH: Disney World History: Magic Kingdom official grand opening and dedication in 1971
Susan was at the park with her family, including her one-year-old son Billy. He told FOX 35 that he was too young to remember the day but Susan said that he was very excited about it all.
The two of them snapped a picture in front of Cinderella Castle and they intend to recreate the same shot on the 50th anniversary as they will visit Magic Kingdom once again on October 1st, 2021.
Photo from Susan Gaul Kroll
After the successful opening of Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort went on to open three more theme parks, two water parks, dozens of resort hotels, and a massive retail, dining, and entertainment district.
RELATED: Timeline: Major events in Walt Disney World’s history
Susan actually attended all three parks on their opening days as well. She moved to Florida in 1975 and eventually became an annual passholder. To this day, she still continues to visit the parks. In fact, when FOX 35 spoke to her, she had actually just returned home from a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney's Hollywood Studios opening (Photo from Walt Disney World)
She often brings her family along for the fun as well.
"I kept my grandkids out of school when ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ opened and took them out there because there are some things that are a once in a lifetime opportunity and that was one of them. We were just fascinated by the whole thing," Susan said, adding that she is a huge Star Wars fan. "I really love the Star Wars stuff. I’m really a Star Wars freak. I really liked the ‘Rise of the Resistance’ and the ‘Millennium Falcon’ rides."
Despite her love for Star Wars, Susan said that her favorite park is Epcot, explaining that, "I just like walking around the world and seeing all the different cultures from everywhere, especially at Christmas time."
She also said that she has sung in Epcot’s Candlelight Procession for over 30 years. She works with Lake Mary High School so she has participated in both the high school choir and a church choir. She is excited to share the stage with her granddaughter one day as she attends Lake Mary High School.
RELATED: EPCOT's Candlelight Processional returning Nov. 26 for the holidays
Also in Epcot is one of Disney’s newest rides, ‘Remy's Ratatouille Adventure,’ which is set to open on October 1st, the first day of The World’s Most Magical Celebration. Susan got to ride the attraction during a preview for annual passholders and said that it was "very cute. I would highly recommend it."
As for Susan’s favorite attraction though, she said that "my favorite ride of all the rides out there, if I’m really tired, I just like going to the ‘Carousel of Progress.’ You can kind of relax in there and cool off."
With the 50th anniversary approaching soon, Susan is excited to visit the parks. She is especially looking forward to seeing the ‘Disney Fab 50 Character Collection,’ which are 50 golden statues on display across all four parks. For example, guests can catch Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse outside of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom.
Susan said that she is also looking forward to the new shows that Disney is going to debut across the resort.
For instance, at Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, the ‘Disney Enchantment’ firework show will begin on October 1st, lighting up the night sky and kicking off the 50th anniversary fun. The show includes fireworks, music, enhanced lighting, and immersive projection effects.
A new nighttime spectacular, "Disney Enchantment," will debut Oct. 1, 2021, at Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Created to launch with the "World’s Most Magical Celebration" the show will take guests on a journey filled with adventure, wo
Then, over at Epcot on the same night, Disney’s largest nighttime spectacular ever created, titled ‘HarmonioUS,’ will debut. It features familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by artists from around the world, massive set pieces, custom-build LED panels, choreographed fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, and lasers.
"Harmonious" will debut Oct. 1, 2021, at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. As one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park, the show will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the worl
Several other new experiences will debut over the 18-month 50th anniversary celebration. For everything you need to know about the upcoming festivities, check out ‘What to expect during Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration’ by FOX 35 Orlando.
Susan, we wish you the best and hope that you have a blast during The World’s Most Magical Celebration.
Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.