Magic Kingdom in October 1996

Although we had just been to Walt Disney World in June 1996, Laura and I returned to Florida in October 1996 for another visit. There were several reasons for this trip, but one of them was because Walt Disney World began celebrating its 25th anniversary on October 1, 1996. That seems like a long time ago now that they have already had the 50th anniversary, doesn’t it? Here are some photos from the Magic Kingdom during that trip.

We rode on the ferry across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. And even from this distance, you can already tell that things are a little different this time around.

Here we are in Town Square, where the Main Street Hotel was serving as the place to welcome “Guests of Honor”. Much fanfare was made about returning guests being guests of honor during that 25th anniversary celebration, and you could even get a button (actually, a sticky-back foam thing) with the year of your first visit to proudly wear. And yes, if you did not know, that building is supposed to be an old hotel. And no, you can’t actually stay there. Also, I always like photos like this showing the people there to see how the styles have changed over the years.

I have always liked this small corner of the Main Street Emporium and its interesting architecture. Not much special about this photo otherwise, but I decided to include it anyway.

A look down Main Street USA, back during the days when the Main Street Cinema showed movies. During the old days, Mickey Mouse cartoons were shown in the Cinema. At this time, they were showing “Mickey’s Big Break”, a short film about how Mickey Mouse got into the movie business. It was originally created for something at Disney-MGM Studios that did not last too long, so it was nice to see it here for a year or two. The film even had a cameo by Roy E. Disney as his famous uncle.

For the 25th anniversary, Cinderella Castle was converted to a large “cake”. That was accomplished with lots of pink paint, along with some inflatable pieces attached to the castle. It was popular with some, and it was unpopular with many more. In hindsight, the Castle Cake was one of their more interesting marketing moves, to say the least.

When the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse was added to the Magic Kingdom in 1993, character statues were also added around the perimeter of the central plaza. I am including this one of Brer Rabbit, as he has now moved on from his home in Splash Mountain. I would presume this statue has moved on sometime in the past as well.

Moving on to Adventureland, here is the steel drum band that used to perform on most days, J.P. and the Silver Stars. I always enjoyed seeing and hearing them. They added music and fun to the area.

In Fantasyland, a statue of King Triton was added to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon, because you could meet Ariel at the site of the old Fantasyland Stage near here. 20,000 Leagues had closed a couple of years earlier, and this statue was another indication that the subs were not coming back. Of course, the entire lagoon was removed some years later to make room for new Fantasyland additions.

One of the new changes for the 25th anniversary was Mickey’s Toontown Fair. The area had previously been known as Mickey’s Birthdayland and then Mickey’s Starland before reopening as Mickey’s Toontown Fair on October 1, 1996. As part of the renovations, Mickey Mouse’s house got a new cartoon-looking exterior (see the original look from the 1988 post). The interior of the house remained much the same as it had been, however.

Part of the new Toontown Fair area was Goofy’s Barnstormer roller coaster. It was a smaller coaster, aimed more at younger visitors, and it was pretty short compared to Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. The Barnstormer is still there, by the way, even though Mickey’s Toontown Fair gave way to the Storybook Circus area with the Fantasyland changes in 2012.

By the time of this visit, I had developed a love of the Walt Disney World Railroad trains, and that love would go on to be the beginnings of this website. On this trip, I took several photos of the trains, such as this one of Engine No. 1 Walter E. Disney arriving at Mickey’s Toontown Fair. The other track that you can see is the switch track back to the roundhouse where the trains are stored and maintained.

And here is Engine No. 1 Walter E. Disney at Mickey’s Toontown Fair station blowing off some steam. The engines take on water from the water tower at this station, and then they blow down the boiler to remove sediment from the water. It makes a great steam show when they do. And thanks to the engineer for the wave!

Also on this trip, we saw Engine No. 3 Roger E. Broggie, seen here leaving Mickey’s Toontown Fair. The area around the Toontown Fair station was great for being able to view the trains, which you could not do very well at the Main Street and Frontierland stations. So I would often hang out here to get some train photos. And thanks to the fireman for waving in this photo! Those guys were good at spotting cameras.

I always like to include a photo of Laura in these posts when I can. In this one, she was waiting patiently for me while I took photos of the trains. That’s real love, and I appreciate it!

And before we leave, here is one more photo of the Cinderella Castle Cake. I actually did not take as many castle photos on this trip as I usually do, because I had some mixed feelings about the whole cake thing. Looking back (hey, that’s the name of this site!), I wish I had taken a few more. But that was before the digital camera take-all-the-photos-you-want days. So a few photos of the castle cake are all I have.

Happy 25th anniversary from the Magic Kingdom, and check back soon for more Looking Back photos!

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.