This month, Walt Disney World began celebrating its 50th anniversary which, in many ways, is really just the 50th anniversary of the one theme park that was there when this all started. Magic Kingdom has certainly changed a lot in 50 years, but despite everything that has changed, there are actually a lot of attractions that are still there, even decades later.
If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World for its 50th birthday, then consider checking out these 14 attractions that were there on day one, and are still there today:
Country Bear Jamboree
Originally conceived for a Disney-themed ski resort in the 1960s (a story for another time), The Country Bear Jamboree held its first performance when Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. The attraction was so popular that it was quickly replicated for Disneyland. While the west coast version closed down in 2001, the original Jamboree has continued going strong, despite the occasional rumor to the contrary.
Dumbo The Flying Elephant
Dumbo the Flying Elephant very nearly counts as an attraction that was an opening day experience at both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite ready in time at Disneyland, it opened to guests about a month after the park did. It was ready for opening day at Magic Kingdom. However, you won’t find it in the same place it was on that day. When Fantasyland underwent major changes in 2011, Dumbo was moved to the new Storybook Circus area, also a second set of flying elephants was added.
Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
A simple attraction that's often overlooked, the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade’s biggest change since opening day is probably the fact that, along with the 50th anniversary, the attraction is now free of charge. Also, rumors that this day one attraction would be going away have been greatly exaggerated.
The Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents was an idea that Walt Disney had wanted to see realized years previously. While he had to settle for just one animatronic President when Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln debuted at the 1964-65 World’s Fair, by the time Disney World was being dreamed up, it became possible to make animatronic figures of all the Presidents. Since the attraction's opening, each new head of state has been added in turn. The show only recently reopened, with the new animatronic for President Joe Biden having been added.
The Haunted Mansion
Disney was so sure that the Haunted Mansion was going to be a hit when it opened in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square in the mid-1960s that when the elements of the attraction were being constructed, they made double of everything, one for Disneyland, and one for the (nearly) identical version when Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. This made the second version of the attraction a little cheaper to build.
It’s a Small World
One of the most beloved attractions from the 1964-65 World’s Fair that was later transplanted at Disneyland, It's a Small World made its debut inside Fantasyland when the Magic Kingdom opened as well. It even has a (much smaller) version of the Disneyland façade, although that wasn’t there on day one and was added later.
The Jungle Cruise was an E-ticket attraction on day one at Disneyland, likely the most popular ride when that park opened, so it made all the sense in the world to build one at Magic Kingdom as well. As with many of the attractions that were built for a second time, the Disney World version is bigger, and largely better. In this specific case, thanks to a ruined temple the boats travel through that can’t be found at Disneyland.
Mad Tea Party
The classic ride that makes you dizzy has been an opening day attraction at nearly every Disney Park around the world where it has opened. The only real difference between the ride today and on opening day at Disney World is that it now includes a canopy, because it rains in Florida.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Many of Magic Kingdom’s original Fantasyland dark rides, like Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, have disappeared over the years to make way for newer attractions. But Peter Pan’s Flight has always been the most popular classic dark ride, and it’s still going strong, boasting one of the longer wait times you'll tend to find in the entire park.
Prince Charming Regal Carousel
The carousel is an amusement park classic and even at a place that tries to “plus” everything, you kind of need to have one. Magic Kingdom’s carousel outdoes nearly all the others out there by simply being massive, with an entire additional row of horses compared to its Disneyland counterpart.
Swiss Family Treehouse
It’s been more than 60 years since Disney released its version of Swiss Family Robinson, but the Swiss Family Treehouse still stands in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. The Disneyland version of the treehouse was rethemed to Disney’s Tarzan in the 90s, but the Magic Kingdom version has thus far avoided such a fate.
When Magic Kingdom opened, there was no attraction called the Tomorrowland Speedway. Instead, it was called the Grand Prix Raceway. In addition to the name, the attraction itself has changed over the years, with the track undergoing multiple adjustments, including being shortened, to make way for other park changes. It’s not the exact same day one experience, but the experience is still there to be had.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
While the show that’s today called Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was originally called Tropical Serenade at Magic Kingdom, the show itself is the same experience today that it was back in 1971. That’s not to say the attraction hasn’t been through changes. It spent more than 10 years as The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), which was a very different show. However, following a fire (that some called a blessing), the show was reverted back to its former self, though with a brand new name.
Walt Disney World Railroad
We’ll call this one an “honorable mention” because, while the Walt Disney World Railroad was there on opening day, and it will be available to guests again in the future, it actually isn’t right now. The construction of the Tron Light Cycle: Power Run roller coaster forced a “temporary” shutdown of the railroad which, due to various delays (including the pandemic), has now lasted much longer than anticipated. It's still there to see, you just can't go for a ride, yet.
If you find yourself at Walt Disney World during the 50th anniversary, perhaps consider spending your time at Magic Kingdom experiencing these great day one rides and shows. It would be a fitting way to celebrate the last five decades and those attractions that have withstood the test of time.