Magical History Tour

25th Anniversary Welcome Center Looks Back . . . and Into The Future of Walt Disney World Resort

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- An early design model of what would become the soaring towers and turrets of the landmark Cinderella Castle . . . zany Country Bears in their "embryo" form as study models . . . historical photos of Walt Disney surveying the site for his "Florida Project" and of brother Roy at the Magic Kingdom dedication . . . renderings and three-dimensional depictions of Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Disney Cruise Line and Sports Complex . . . an all-new side-kick for Mickey Mouse -- Ms. Crystal Ball -- who can take people places where no one has yet gone . . .

These are some of the sights and sounds recalling more than a quarter century of Walt Disney World history and taking a glance at what the future holds for the popular destination resort, all featured together at the 25th Anniversary Welcome Center, opening Oct. 1. Located in the Town Square area of the Magic Kingdom, the Welcome Center also encourages guests to recall their own first visit to Walt Disney World Resort and "announce" it with a date -- 1971 through 1996 -- affixed to a "guest of honor" badge. During a visit to the Welcome Center, guests also can claim a commemorative lithograph celebrating the 25th anniversary.

The feature show of the Welcome Center is "Mickey's Magic Workshop," a motion picture sneak peek at the new magic being created for the Vacation Kingdom. As the story goes, the Sorcerer reminds Mickey Mouse that he needs to have all the magic ready for arriving guests.

Mickey's a bit befuddled . . . until he discovers, buried in a trunk, Ms. Crystal Ball with her sharp-edged wit and well-rounded vision of the future. She becomes Mickey's -- and guests' -- guide on a magnificent tour of adventures yet to come.

After the movie, guests can browse along a "highway to the future" lined with models and renderings depicting some of the projects in development. Highlights include a 1:200 scale model of the Disney Magic, Disney Cruise Line's first ship, and a site model of Disney's Animal Kingdom -- a 500-acre environment for wildlife adventures that is so huge the 16-foot by 16-foot depiction is able to capture only one-third of it. The Tree of Life, which will be a visual landmark at Disney's Animal Kingdom, is portrayed as a 6-foot by 6 1/2-foot model -- a scale that belies its enormity (140 feet tall with a canopy 150 feet across -- almost as massive as Spaceship Earth at Epcot).

Prior to entering the theater for "Mickey's Magic Workshop," guests are on a "memory lane" of historical photos, models and memorabilia dating from the mid-'60s to the opening of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1, 1971. Maquettes -- or study models -- of characters that would become popular in early Magic Kingdom attractions such as Country Bear Jamboree, Jungle Cruise and the Mickey Mouse Revue; a late-'60s castle model used to give designers a sense of the scale of the 185-foot-high Cinderella Castle; opening-day tickets, commemorative coins, memorabilia, sketches and photographs all capture the history of Walt Disney World Resort. The exhibition also includes video recollections of opening day by guests and celebrities who participated.

The 25th Anniversary Welcome Center will be a feature of the 15-month celebration, which begins Oct. 1 and continues through December 1997.

For more information about Walt Disney World Resorts, call 407-824-4321 or visit their home page on the World Wide Web. For reservations, call 407-W-DISNEY or your travel agent.

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