Before I go too much further with my story of Walt Disney World’s grand opening, I feel the need to outline the actual events theme ideas that were to be produced for the grand opening of the park itself. The first event was to be a huge luau on the beach of the Polynesian Resort. The next event was a concert by the World Symphony Orchestra on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt area, and the final event was to be the actual grand opening of the park on October 1st, 1971 featuring Meredith Wilson and over 1,180 other musicians. Our team job was to provide technical support for all of these events. It may not seem like much to say it was just three events, but when you consider the number of people involved, all the action and cues, you start to develop a better picture of the scale we were working on. This was to be an event the size of which most (if not all) in attendance had never seen before.
All of these fantastic opening events were created by the Vice President of the Entertainment Division, Bob Yani. At the time Bob was considered to be one of the most creative pageant producers in the entire country. Bob Yani also, to my knowledge, created and conceived all the live entertainment shows and ideas for themed events for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, which is an impressive resume, to say the least. It should be pointed out that there were many other talented people in the Entertainment Division who may very well have more than assisted Mr. Yani in the creation of all these shows, as at that time I was not part of the Entertainment Division and wouldn’t have known all the details regarding who did what. My team’s job was to provide and meet with the leadership of the Entertainment Division and ascertain the technical support requirements necessary to support their live entertainment shows in the parks, campgrounds, and resorts. We couldn’t afford to spend much time doing anything else. Though all of the teams communicated with each other on a regular basis, they were largely focused on working towards their own goals and responsibilities. It simply wouldn’t have been possible to have learned the names and faces of every single person working in the park at any given time during those developmental stages (or even now, I would imagine). So while we had a strong sense of direction and organization, it was still chaotic in some respects. We just had to roll with it to get the job done.