Awesome TV Special Recorded for the Disney World Opening #TBT

Last Updated on: February 12th, 2024

disney world opening videoFor this week’s throwback video, I dug up this awesome video of the Walt Disney World opening that aired as a TV special in 1971.

The grand opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 was a landmark event in entertainment history, marking the expansion of Walt Disney’s vision from the original Disneyland in California to a much larger and more ambitious park in Central Florida. The opening was commemorated with an elaborate television special that starred Julie Andrews and Glen Campbell, among other notable figures, capturing the magic and excitement of this new venture.

The Disney World Grand Opening Special was a lavish affair that aired on October 29, 1971, nearly a month after the park officially opened its gates on October 1. This delay allowed the park to smooth out any operational kinks and ensured that the television special could showcase the fully operational resort in all its glory. Produced by the Disney Studios, the special was a showcase not just of the park’s attractions but also of Disney’s storytelling prowess and its ability to enchant audiences of all ages.

Julie Andrews, already beloved for her roles in “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music,” was the perfect choice to host the special. Her grace, warmth, and familiarity with Disney magic made her an inviting guide through the wonders of the new park. Glen Campbell, a popular singer and television host at the time, brought his musical talent and charismatic presence to the special

The special featured a tour of the Magic Kingdom, including iconic areas like Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Viewers were treated to performances and parades, with Andrews guiding them through the magical experiences that awaited guests at the park. The special also included appearances by other celebrities and Disney characters, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Beyond the entertainment, the special served as a powerful marketing tool, showcasing the scale, beauty, and immersive experiences of Walt Disney World to a nationwide audience. It highlighted the technical innovations and creative storytelling that had gone into the park’s creation, from the Audio-Animatronics in attractions like the Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion to the carefully crafted thematic elements of each land.

It is pretty amazing to think about how far Disney World (and TV specials) has come over the past 50+ years. Sit back and enjoy this one everyone!

OK, cue Glen Campbell….

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and