01 July 2015

In Celebration of Our Nation's 200 Birthday Year

The Bicentennial, for those that may not have been around or have strong memories of the time, wasn’t one of those events that you had to ask an organization why they were celebrating. It was more a question of how would they be celebrating. America on Parade was the Disney answer, and they staged their celebration in the grandest fashion they could! Here’s how they sent the patriotic message out to the world:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL. -- Independence Day will be celebrated every day at Walt Disney World for the next 15 months with “America On Parade” happily saluting the nation’s 200th anniversary.

In one of the nation’s biggest birthday parties, typical Disney showmanship will turn 200 years into a colorful procession of historical highlights lasting more than a half hour. Parading down Main Street, U.S.A. will be the “People of America” -- 150 larger-than-life, doll-like characters dressed in period costumes and riding bright and fanciful parade units to the typical tunes of all-America. High-stepping music with guest bands and spectacular fireworks will round out the daily celebration.

The parading extravaganza will be staged at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California until September, 1976. During some 1200 performances, more than 25-million visitors are expected to attend including two-million guests from foreign lands.

The “People of America,” dressed in the colorful costumes of the past, range from sailors who discovered America to Colonial soldiers, Western frontiersmen, Bowery girls and Tom Sawyer’s friends.

“We created a bigger-than-life spectacle to give all our visitors, young and old, the exciting feeling of being children again,” says Bob Jani, vice-president of entertainment who directed preparation of the parade.

“We want everyone who sees it to go away feeling they really have celebrated America’s birthday,” Jani adds.

The doll-like stars of the parade measure from eight to ten feet tall with parade units up to 30 feet high towering above spectators so that even those in the third or fourth row can see easily as the procession moves down Main Street, U.S.A. and through Frontierland.

Each unit carries its own special musical accompaniment -- toe-tapping combinations of 1890 band organ music and a space-age electronic music synthesizer.

Special recognition of America’s accomplishments in many fields includes dancing telephones, gigantic ice cream sundaes, stylized steamboats, airplanes plus television sets and record players as big as a house.

Finale of the parade is performed under five giant gas-filled balloons by hundreds of visiting high school and college bands from across the nation. Each week, beginning in July, a different state will be specifically featured in the parade. The State Salutes will be staged in order of admission to the Union.

Leading each parade is a Disney re-enactment of the “Spirit of ‘76” featuring three of America’s favorite performers, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck.

Other Bicentennial features at Walt Disney World between now and the end of summer, 1976, include complimentary admission to the impressive Hall of Presidents where the 186-year old history of the American Presidency is re-created in life-like realism.

A special Bicentennial edition of “America the Beautiful” is another complimentary attraction featured during the year-long celebration. It is presented by Monsanto in the CircleVision 360 theater where historic scenes surround the audience.

The Walt Disney World celebration also will give visitors an opportunity to experience such exciting new attractions as Space Mountain, the whirling thrill of the new StarJets, a re-created “Mission to Mars” and the soon to be completed “PeopleMover” where unique magnetic powered trains will carry guests on a super-smooth tour of Tomorrowland.

During the Summer season and at other holiday periods, “America On Parade” will be presented twice daily at Walt Disney World at 3 and 9 p.m. with spectacular red, white and blue fireworks following each nighttime performance.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will be open every day during the summer (from June 7 through August 30) from 9a.m. to 1a.m. Off-season hours are 9a.m. to 7p.m.

Recreation and entertainment accommodations in the Contemporary, Polynesian and Golf Resort hotels, Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds and in the entertaining new Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village are open every day and evening throughout the year.

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