Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Begins

“I don’t do enterprise with carnival folks.”

In 1959, a landowner rebuffed Walt Disney’s try to purchase beachfront property within the Florida Panhandle with these phrases, or so legend holds. It might have been one of many greatest financial blunders of all time. To construct his East Coast model of Disneyland, the daddy of the theme park trade as a substitute went to a sleepy Central Florida city referred to as Orlando, and opened a resort on Oct. 1, 1971, that now sprawls throughout 42 sq. miles, employs greater than 70,000 folks and attracts roughly 50 million guests yearly: Walt Disney World.

On Friday, Disney World started celebrating the property’s 50th anniversary, with confetti cannons turned as much as full blizzard, the one setting that Disney Parks entrepreneurs have. The promotional occasion will final not less than 18 months and can embody new curler coasters for Epcot and the Magic Kingdom; a brand new high-end lodge meant to simulate journey on a “Star Wars” galactic cruiser; two new fireworks extravaganzas; limited-edition merchandise; and MagicBand+, wearable know-how that can unlock (for a worth) interactive experiences.

There may be additionally a theme tune, with a not-so-subtle title: “The Magic Is Calling.”

Those that dislike the corporate’s supertanker-full-of-sugar strategy to household leisure will certainly recoil much more. However hundreds of thousands of individuals will heed Disney’s name, pouring lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} into the corporate, airways and the Orlando financial system — all of that are nonetheless making an attempt to recuperate from the pandemic.

“There’s been huge demand,” mentioned Jeffrey Merola, the proprietor of Mouse Trip Planning, a Disney-focused affiliate of Direct Journey in Syracuse, N.Y. “However I’ve undoubtedly had some folks reschedule for 2022. They need to wait to see what occurs with the coronavirus, and a number of other of Disney’s larger anniversary choices don’t come on-line till then anyway.” (These curler coasters, for example.)

Mr. Merola, who can be a guidebook creator, spoke from the Orlando airport on Friday afternoon. He had visited the Magic Kingdom within the morning. “I wished to be there on the precise anniversary as a result of it felt historic,” he mentioned.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Merchandise swung to a revenue ($356 million) in its most-recent quarter as the supply of coronavirus vaccines prompted households to return in giant numbers. (The division misplaced $1.9 billion in the identical interval a yr earlier.) “We’re going to be rising capacities as we’ve got the demand,” Christine M. McCarthy, Disney’s chief monetary officer, informed analysts on Aug. 12.

However the Delta variant prompted cancellations, with journey brokers saying that households had been once more fearful about touring to Florida, particularly with kids too younger to get vaccinated. Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief government, acknowledged “a little bit of an affect” from Delta in remarks at a latest investor convention, however he mentioned that reservations for the end-of-year holidays had been holding up. He famous that Disney’s security measures, together with masks necessities, had confirmed efficient.

Mr. Chapek and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s government chairman, kicked off the 18-month advertising occasion on Thursday night time with speeches in entrance of Cinderella’s Fort, which the corporate had outfitted with gold gildings and iridescent paint (referred to as EARidescent in Disney promos). Reactions from followers to the brand new look have been largely constructive — particularly in contrast with the fortress’s unlucky twenty fifth anniversary look in 1996, when Disney turned it right into a Pepto Bismol-colored cake.

Then once more, you possibly can’t please everybody:

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