John Raoux / AP
Orlando, Florida — Applying to be one of Walt Disney World’s first workers, high school graduate George Calogridis made a momentary decision to set the course for his life. He chose a room where future workers in the hotel would be hired.
Chuck Miram was inspired by a job offer from a transplanted Disney executive who owns a new home he was landscaping.Arlene Anderson jumped at the chance to work at New Disney theme park In Florida, I fell in love with the beauty of Disneyland in California while traveling two years ago.
At that time, the three were one of the 6,000 employees who first opened the Magic Kingdom to the public at Disney World on October 1, 1971. Currently, they are one of 20 people still employed at theme parks from the first day. A resort celebrating its 50th anniversary on Friday.
Over the decades, Disney World added three more theme parks and 20 hotels, helping Orlando become the most visited place in the United States before the pandemic, resulting in 77,000 employees. I came to hold it.
What didn’t change was the dedication of former employees to the dream machine created by Pixie Dust, Walt Disney and his Imagineers.
John Raoux / AP
“Disney is my love, and it’s still the case,” Anderson said recently before starting the merchandising shift at the Magic Kingdom Hotel. “I love Disney.”
Employees of the 50-year club say theme park resorts have allowed them to grow their careers and try out new hats. Caroglidis worked until he became president of Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Miram has gone from being a warehouse worker to buying spare parts for vehicles and shows.
Forrest Bahruth joined Disney World employees as a show director in January 1971, responsible for the staging and choreography of parades and shows. He has also been given the opportunity to help open other Disney theme parks around the world for the past 50 years.
“There are people all over the world working on their jobs. They are dissatisfied with it. They really don’t like their work,” Bahruth said. “As we can see, we are enthusiastic. We are honored to be in a place where we love our work.”
History of some Disney World
There was no guarantee that Disney World would succeed 50 years ago. Walt Disney, a pioneering animator and entrepreneur with the name of a Florida resort, died in 1966, just a year after announcing plans for “East Coast Disneyland.” The company quietly acquired 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) of shrubland on the outskirts of Orlando for about $ 5 million through secret land purchases using fake names and shell companies.
The task of leading the project to Opening Day was entrusted to his brother Roy Disney. Roy Disney, along with officials from other companies, persuaded the Florida State Capitol to set up a quasi-government agency to give Disney autonomy on infrastructure and planning issues. .. Roy died almost three months after Disney World opened.
Just a few weeks before its opening, the construction of Magic Kingdom was less disruptive and it seemed impossible for everything to be in time.
“It was like an army of ants. Everything was under construction. The interior was still inside. The roof was still on top,” Bahruth said. “There were paintings and landscaping. Things were arriving at that moment. It was like trucks going everywhere.”
Barras rehearsed the main street with a parade choreography. The main street passed through the center of Magic Kingdom and resembled a small town at the turn of Walt Disney’s childhood century. He was a basser, but hours before Disney World’s grand opening, Kalogridis was drafted to put a lawn outside the hotel where he worked.
Memories of the first day
Two things remain in the memory of many years of employees from the first day. The first was a photo. Thousands of Disney World workers standing in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle were images of Mickey Mouse and other costumed characters holding hands. Two weeks later, it appeared on the cover of Life magazine.
“They launched all the characters, staged first, and then tried to bring together all the different workers based on the color of the outfit,” Miram said. “If you’re from Fantasyland and it’s yellow, you’ll go over there.”
The second was the parade. A marching band of 1,076 members, conducted by Meredith Willson, the composer of the Broadway show “The Music Man,” starred. 4,000 Disney entertainers marched through the theme park, with choirs and US military band trumpet players. Hundreds of white pigeons were released into the air, unfriendly to the environment, and thousands of colorful balloons were released.
“It was the biggest I’ve ever seen,” Bahruth said.
Only about 10,000 visitors appeared on the first day. This equates to about 90 minutes of visitor at the much larger Walt Disney World today. It wasn’t until 1971 Thanksgiving, almost three months later, that Disney executives answered whether the new resort would be successful. That’s when a car about to enter Magic Kingdom stretches miles down the interstate highway.
“After that first Thanksgiving, it was very clear that the public definitely liked what we were doing,” Kalogridis said. “That first Thanksgiving, that was the moment.”
Some former staff say they are happy to work at Disney World 50 years from now: NPR
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