Happy Memorial Day everyone! Since the opening day of the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971, Disney has held a flag retreat ceremony for the flag on Main Street every single day. While many people do not notice the flag pole at all, since they are in a hurry to get past the entrance and well into the park, there is a fairly large flag pole in Town Square, and the US flag is flying high before the park opens. Well, that flag has to come down each day, and Disney isn’t going to pass up a great opportunity, so they have a Flag Retreat Ceremony every single day.
The Flag Retreat Ceremony is just one of the reason that Disney is so wonderful. It is the small things that make the parks special. I would guess that most people visiting the parks are completely unaware of the daily ceremony, and that is just fine. But, during your next trip, take some time to be in Town Square at 5PM one day in the Magic Kingdom, and you will be pleasantly surprised, and may shed a tear or two (don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Plus, if you happen to be a veteran, you may be able to participate. In the past, you were able to head to City Hall first things and “volunteer”. A few years ago, they altered the process and now select someone from the Disney crowds that looks as though they are military. This usually happens early in the day, though no one knows for sure exactly how one is chosen. If you are interested in being part of the Flag Retreat, wear something that might indicate you are a veteran (or active duty), be at the park early, at the rope drop, and ask around, it never hurts to ask. From what I know, it seems as though Disney security typically is in charge of choosing a volunteer, so feel free to talk to as many as you can to see if you may be able to volunteer. If you are chosen, you will get to participate in the program, walk the flag down Main Street and even receive a certificate and pin. From everyone that I have talked to that has ever participated, they have to a man stated that it was the most special “thank you” they had ever received for serving in the military. Even if you aren’t chosen, make sure to be there.
The Flag Retreat Ceremony typically includes the Dapper Dans, the Main Street Philharmonic as well as Disney security personnel. Several songs will be played, everyone will get to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the flag is then lowered while the band plays the Star Spangled Banner and then while the flag is being folded, the Dapper Dans lead everyone in a verse of God Bless America. The band then plays a few military songs, followed by a procession down main street and the final ceremony thanking the daily volunteer and their family.
The entire ceremony is only about 15 minutes long, but well worth your time.