During this weekend, we honor Walt’s brother, Roy O. Disney, who was born on June 24, 1893.
While Walt led the creative side, Roy guided the business side and finances. Together Roy and Walt founded Disney Studios as brothers.
Roy was an equal partner in all facets of the production company. He became the company’s first CEO in 1929, although the official title was not given to him until 1966. He also shared the role of chairman of the board with Walt from 1945 and succeeded Walt in the position of President around this time as well. Following Walt’s death in 1966, Roy postponed his retirement to oversee construction of what was then known as Disney World. He later renamed it Walt Disney World as a tribute to his brother.
Even though Walt Disney passed away before he could see the Florida project finish, his brother, Roy O. Disney, helped see the completion of Magic Kingdom.
On October 25th, 1971, Roy O. Disney, officially dedicated the Orlando theme park resort.
The dedication was part of a three-day grand opening weekend celebration held from Oct. 23 to 25. Celebrities, guests from around the world and thousands of Disney cast members were on hand to mark this milestone.
Roy read the dedication while standing behind a podium flanked by the one and only Mickey Mouse:
“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney … and to the talents, the dedication and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn – together.”
Immediately following Roy’s remarks, the official Grand Opening Parade stepped off on Main Street, U.S.A., with a small marching band, Disney characters and toy soldiers making their way toward Cinderella Castle.
Herald Trumpeters of the United States Army Bandthen sounded off to announce the arrival of a 1,076-member marching band led by Meredith Willson, composer of “The Music Man,” and comprised of many Central Florida high school students. A mass choir soon appeared on the castle stage to join the band in “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
Years later, on Oct. 25, 1999, a special statue of Roy with Minnie Mouse, titled “Sharing the Magic,” was dedicated near the spot where Roy read the original 1971 dedication. The sculpture was created by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson, who also made the “Partners” statue of Walt and Mickey a few years earlier.
Today, the “Sharing the Magic” statue is found in front of City Hall. Look carefully and you’ll see Roy is holding Minnie’s hand from underneath, a nod to how he supported his brother throughout their history together. And now there are two more special statues at Magic Kingdom Park, as up near Cinderella Castle, golden sculptures of Mickey and Minnie are dedicated to the cast members past, present and future in honor of the 50th anniversary.
Be sure to look for the statue on your next visit to Magic Kingdom!
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