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Looking back into Walt Disney World’s history

Looking back into Walt Disney World’s history

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There is so much excitement and anticipation leading up to Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. However, do you ever wonder just what all this fuss is about? Sometimes, it’s worth looking into the past so that we can really appreciate all of the celebration.

Disney’s Big 50th

Credit: Disney

If you are true Walt Disney World fans, then Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary should not be anything new to you. I (Maggie) feel like anything Disney news related is something having to do with the huge 50th anniversary celebration.

So much is in store for guests of Walt Disney World for the celebration. The 18-month long celebration beginning October 1st, 2021 will bring a brand new firework celebration at Magic Kingdom, Harmonious at EPCOT, and NEW character costumes and cavalcades!

Credit: Disney

If that isn’t enough for you, Walt Disney World is also planning to install 50 golden character sculptures throughout each of their four theme parks. You can take a look at all of the sculpture reveals so far in this post HERE.

All four of the Walt Disney World park icons are expected to receive an EAR-idescent makeover and guests also can look forward to the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT. For a great guide on how you can ride this new attraction, take a look at this post.

The Preview Center

Debbie Dane Browne – tour guide of The Preview Center / first Walt Disney World Ambassador
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

I am willing to bet not many people realize years before Walt Disney World’s opening, more than one million people visited what was one of the very first Disney attractions in Florida. This was called The Preview Center.

Credit: D23

This building once was guests very first look into what would become Walt Disney World. Think back to before Walt Disney World opened. People did not have social media. There was no (gasp) KennythePirate to inform guests about this exciting new project! So, what did people do? They went to The Preview Center.

Disney Parks Blog has shared the following insight into the significance of this building:

“Located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard (originally known as Motor Inn Plaza), the center was already under construction when it was announced in early October 1969. Sneak previews for dignitaries, officials and the press started on Jan. 10, 1970, while public tours began six days later on Jan. 16. It operated daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 30, 1971, the day before Magic Kingdom Park opened.”

“Fourteen cast members were selected from hundreds of applicants to serve as tour guides. One guide was Debby Dane Browne, who was later selected as the first Walt Disney World Ambassador in October 1970.”

Disney Parks Blog

“During our interviews, we did not know what to expect, as none of us had visited Disneyland,” Debby reminisced. “We knew, however, Walt Disney World was going to be the most incredible and best thing to happen to Florida.”

Under guidance from Disneyland cast members who relocated to Florida, the newly selected team spent two months of intense training. They learned everything they could about The Walt Disney Company and the new resort in development.

“We were surprised at how many people came to see us,” continued Debby who is pictured above wearing her Disney Ambassador costume. “Families along the East Coast were longing for a place to have magical vacations. The center gave them a first taste of Disney. More than 5,000 people visited us opening weekend, and it was wonderful sharing pixie dust with them.”

The Preview Center Tour

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

During tours of The Preview Center, guests would view a short film about Walt Disney World and would view concept art. After the presentation, guests could shop for souvenirs, have some refreshments and view some of the animal topiaries outside by the lake.

You might be thinking, what? Did this actually exist? I have never heard about it before. BUT if you are a pin collector, you might have seen this pin featuring The Preview Center that was from a Disney trading event in 2011. If you did not know what it was all about, then you do now!

What do you think of The Preview Center? Is this the first time you have heard about it? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World and celebrate the 50th anniversary? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Maggie Baltz

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