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Then and Now: Walt Disney World turns 50

The basic fabric of the theme parks in Orlando stays the same while other elements continue to evolve.
Cinderella Castle 50th Anniversary Crest
Posted at 1:04 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 13:48:34-04

ORLANDO, Fla. — Friday, Walt Disney World in Orlando is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. While some things have changed the ideals that founded the resort stay the same.

And while some things have stayed the same the parks were definitely built to constantly evolve.

"[Opening day was] absolutely incredible. It was fresh and new, but I mean, the main thing was the monorail," reminisced Tom Morris. Tom Morris was a kid on opening day, and the wonders around him inspired him to become an Imagineer at Walt Disney World.

"I saw a Main Street that was much grander and bigger and more spectacular than what I had grown up with at Disneyland," said Morris.

His first job was working on a pavilion at EPCOT then getting bigger and bigger assignments, "I became the creative lead for Hong Kong Disney Park," Morris said. He continued to influence Disney Parks all over the world before retiring.

"Well I think that's the great thing about Disney Parks is they get better with age, you know, the trees grow in the technology becomes better," Morris said.

In archive footage Walt Disney confirmed the ideals of evolution at the parks, "The sketches and plans, you will see today are simply a starting point."

That was always Walt Disney's intention to have constant growth and self- improvement. "It will be a community of tomorrow, that will never be completed," said Walt.

"And it's kind of a reinforcement of the human spirit in some ways," said Morris.

"Walt Disney World is always going to continue to grow because there's always going to be dreamers, there's always going to be Imagineers and that's exactly how Walt wanted it to be," said Raevon Redding aWalt Disney World Ambassador.

Now, 5 decades later the resort continues to reinvent itself while keeping its original mission, "For everyone to escape reality, and really live their childhood fantasies. That's what the vision was now that's still what the vision is," said Redding.

Morris looks forward to the future, "Another 50 years. Let’s see it. It will get even better."

The “most magical celebration in the world begins Friday and will last for the next 18 months.