D23 has released the schedule of events for the upcoming celebration of Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary. The price tag seems pretty high, until you see the special guests and the number of events planned. Plus, this might be the only Official celebration of the 40th this year.
May 14 and 15, 2011
Fantasia Ballroom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World
Open Friday, May 13 from noon – 9 p.m. Open Saturday, May 14 at 8 a.m. Registration will be located at the East Registration Counter in the Fantasia Lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Available Thursday, February 24, at 10 a.m. PST/ 1 p.m. EST.
$175 per person; $215 for ticket plus one Great Disney Scavenger Hunt team (of between two and four people)
This year Walt Disney World Resort is celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary, and D23 is saluting this magnificent occasion with a magical two-day event that will illuminate the rich history and storied legacy of Walt Disney’s “Project Florida” for fans of all backgrounds — from the casual guest to the most ardent armchair experts.
Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th will transport D23 Members on a journey from the moment the first parcels of land in Central Florida were purchased in 1964 through the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982. The exclusive event will offer two full days of special entertainment, surprise guest appearances, a remarkable gathering of Walt Disney World “pioneers,” retrospectives, screenings of rare and newly discovered film and TV footage, archival displays and informative presentations that will give D23 Members an unprecedented look at this truly spectacular World.
Highlights of Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th include appearances by such notables as Disney Legends Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, Jack Lindquist, Charlie Ridgway, Tom Nabbe, Bob Matheison, Orlando Ferrante and Ron Logan, in addition to Debra Browne, the 1971 Walt Disney World Ambassador to the World.
The weekend will culminate with an enchanting concert, Magic Journeys: A Flight of Fancy through 40 Years of Walt Disney World Musical Memories, featuring Disney Legend and Academy Award® winner Richard M. Sherman.
All guests will also receive a complimentary, limited-edition reproduction of the 1970 “Preview Edition” of the Walt Disney World souvenir guidebook. Published exclusively for the Walt Disney Archives Collection, the 22-page soft cover booklet — featuring colorful photography and exquisite illustrations — highlights the excitement that was soon to debut in Orlando.
Plus there will be a special exhibit from the Walt Disney Archives featuring rare items and artifacts from the creation and evolution of Walt Disney World Resort.
Current line-up for Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th (times, panels and talent subject to change):
SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2011
9:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.
D23 Head Steven Clark welcomes D23 Members with some special guests and a few surprises you won’t want to miss!
Weird Walt Disney World
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Following their laugh-out-loud antics at Destination D: Disneyland ’55, Walt Disney Archives director Becky Cline and Disney historian Paul F. Anderson are at it again — this time taking guests on a fun-filled trip through the strangest and most bizarre parts of Walt Disney World history. A peculiar “lawnmower tree?” A crazy cast of singing fruits and vegetables? Who knows what the duo will unearth as they explore the wonderfully weird and wacky side of the Vacation Kingdom.
Walt Disney World: The Way We Were
11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Remember the charm of the Orange Bird and the musical delights of the Mickey Mouse Revue? The elegant Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and backwoods adventures along the Fort Wilderness Railway? Join Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith as we explore vintage pictures of Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts, including rare photos of construction and a fond look at some favorite attractions, shops and restaurants of the past.
12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
EPCOT: Walt Disney’s Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Walt’s vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow far transcended the realm of family entertainment and for many years remained shrouded in secrecy. Re-enter the 1960s hallways of WED Enterprises with Archivist Steven Vagnini and Disney expert Paul F. Anderson in this unprecedented look at the inspirations and plans for Walt’s EPCOT, and find out the little-known ways that Imagineers brought their late founder’s dream to reality throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort.
Past Forward: A History of Walt Disney World on Television
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Like its predecessor, Disneyland, the early success of Walt Disney World Resort can be attributed to the extensive television exposure it received through both Disney broadcast efforts and news media coverage. Be sure to tune in to this nostalgic journey through Walt Disney World Resort history as reflected in the many national network TV specials and nascent offerings from the early years of The Disney Channel. Join Disney Archivist Rob Klein as he takes TV remote in hand to stroll through some of the many highlights of Walt Disney World Resort on television.
The Walt Disney World That Never Was
4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
What do the Western River Expedition, Asian Resort Hotel and Sleeping Beauty dark ride have in common? While these amazing experiences were crafted in the minds of skilled artists at Walt Disney Imagineering, they comprise a different kind of dimension of Walt Disney World history: the grand experiences that never made it off the drawing board or out of the model shop. With an array of rare artwork and photographs, longtime Imagineer Tony Baxter lifts the curtain and takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour through the incredible world of the Walt Disney World that never was.
5:45 p.m. – 8 p.m.
From the Vault: Walt Disney World Resort on Film
8 p.m. – Walt Disney World is not often associated with motion pictures and film, but from before groundbreaking up through the creation of EPCOT Center, Walt Disney World Resort was heavily promoted through such theatrical and internal films as “Project Florida,” “The Magic of Walt Disney World,” “A Dream Called EPCOT” and “EPCOT 77.” Join your hosts Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter and Disney author and historian Tim O’Day as they screen these rare treasures from the Disney film vaults, plus newly discovered and restored documentation footage of the construction and early years of Walt Disney World Resort.
SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011
Sunday Morning Surprise with the Walt Disney World Resort Ambassador Team
9:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.
You won’t want to miss this very special — and did we mention surprising? — presentation at the start of your day!
Walt Disney World in Detail
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Think you know everything there is to know about the Walt Disney World Resort? Find out as we join Disney author and Imagineer Jason Surrell as he uncovers the little-known details and design references that have made ride vehicles, cast member costumes and even unassuming trash cans such treasured parts of the magic.
Imagineering Walt Disney World: From Yesteryear to Tomorrowland
11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Join longtime Imagineer Eric Jacobson, who oversees the portfolio for Disney’s largest resort in the world. Eric will share insider stories and images of yesteryear, as well as new and exciting surprises of things on the horizon at Walt Disney World.
12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Creating “A Whole New Disney World”
2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
What began as 27,400 acres of quiet Central Florida swampland blossomed into an incredible, one-of-a-kind vacation destination “Where Dreams Come True.” From the top-secret acquisition of the land to the Imagineering and entertainment behind the magic, hear the stories of how it all happened in this impressive panel discussion featuring: Debra Browne, Orlando Ferrante, Bob Foster, Bob Gurr, and Ron Logan. Hosted by Disney Legend Marty Sklar.
Making the Magic Happen
3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Opening and maintaining a resort the size of the city of San Francisco was no easy task and our panel of Disney Legends — Jack Lindquist, Bob Matheison, Tom Nabbe, Charlie Ridgway and Bill Sullivan — will recount what life was like making the magic happen, from opening the Magic Kingdom through the debut of EPCOT Center. It’s a story of challenges, misadventures, creativity, and unbridled excitement for the leaders who inherited “A Whole New Disney World” from Uncle Walt and his Imagineers. Hosted by Tim O’Day.
4:45 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Autograph Session with Disney Legends and Authors
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Please note, there is limit of one item per person to be signed for each guest. Thank you.
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Magic Journeys: A Flight of Fancy through 40 Years of Walt Disney World Musical Memories
8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
As a spectacular conclusion to Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th, Disney Legend and Oscar® winner Richard M. Sherman, who along with his brother Robert has contributed a multitude of tunes to the Disney parks songbook, headlines this unforgettable tribute to the melodies that helped shape the World.
Micks N’ Mingle
9:30 p.m. – 10:45 p.m.
One last opportunity to meet your fellow D23 Members, the D23 Team behind Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th and some of our special guest participants before we officially bring our extraordinary event to a close.
NOTE: Available only to D23 Members in good standing. Members may reserve a ticket for themselves and one (1) guest. There are a limited number of tickets available. The room will be cleared during several breaks; during these breaks seats may not be saved. This is a separate event from D23’s Great Disney Scavenger Hunt. D23 Members will be required to provide their membership number when purchasing tickets. Credentials may be picked up only with a valid photo ID AND D23 MEMBERSHIP CARD. D23 Members who do not bring their membership card may not be admitted to the event. Ticketed members who do not attend the event forfeit their place as well as all experiences, benefits, and gifts associated with the event. All D23 Special Events are subject to change without notice. Panels are subject to change. Talent is subject to availability. There are no cancelations or refunds, and tickets are not transferrable.
- Book Review: Walt Disney World, 20 Magical Years (imaginerding.com)
- Book Review: Harriet Burns, Walt Disney’s First Lady of Imagineering (imaginerding.com)
- Book Review: Walt Disney’s Railroad by Michael Broggie (imaginerding.com)