LAloha. Today I wanted to talk about the Flag Retreat at Magic Kingdom® Park . It is a ceremony that takes place daily at Main Street, U.S.A.® and is modeled after a military ceremony called Evening Colors. The ceremony is a way of paying tribute to the United States by honoring the American Flag, the symbol of our great nation.

Every day aboard all US military bases, the flag is raised during a ceremony called Morning Colors, and lowered during Evening Colors. For the purpose of comparison, I will focus on Evening Colors since there is no ceremony for the raising of the flag at Magic Kingdom® Park .

Prior to sunset, a small detail of service members will march out to the flagpole and take up positions around it. They will untie the halyard from the flagpole, and wait for the appointed time. In most cases, Colors is sounded at sunset, though in some cases there is a specific time set by the Commander for Colors to take place. At the appropriate time, “Attention” will be played, which lets everyone in the area know that Colors is about to begin. Military custom dictates that everyone in the area turn to face the direction of the flagpole at this time, come to the position of attention, and salute the flag if they are in uniform. After “Attention”, “Retreat” will be played. As the song plays, the flag is lowered slowly and removed from the halyard. When the music ends, “Carry On” is played, and everyone goes back to whatever it was that they were doing before Colors. The Color detail then folds the flag and marches it inside to be stored overnight.

The Flag Retreat at Magic Kingdom® Park is very similar. It has taken place since Opening Day, October 1, 1971. The ceremony will be held every night at 5:00 PM, as long as the park isn’t under a weather condition and as long as the Christmas Parade isn’t being filmed. For the ceremony, a Guest Veteran is chosen at random each day from all of the Guests visiting Magic Kingdom® Park . This Guest Veteran assists the Main Street Operations Team, The Main Street Philharmonic (except Fridays and Saturdays), The Dapper DansT, and the Security Color Guard perform the ceremony. From time to time the Voices of Liberty singers and Color Guards from all branches of the military will be invited to participate.

The ceremony begins with The Main Street Philharmonic playing a fanfare of patriotic music. Then The Dapper Dans introduce the ceremony and, with the assistance of another special Guest, lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. After the Pledge, a trumpeter from The Main Street Philharmonic will play “Retreat” followed by the “National Anthem”. At this time, the flag is lowered slowly by the Security Color Guard. Next, “God Bless America” is sung while the flag is folded and given to the Guest Veteran. The Guest Veteran is then introduced, and a medley of each branch of service’s songs is played. The entire group of participants then march the flag down Main Street, U.S.A.® to be retired for the night. For their participation, the Guest Veteran is given a certificate, a commemorative pin, a PhotoPass™ card with all of their photos on it, and a complimentary 5×7 photo from PhotoPass™.

As you can see, the Flag Retreat ceremony is very similar to Evening Colors. It is a wonderful tribute to our country. The next time you find yourself in Magic Kingdom® Park , please take a few minutes to check out this patriotic event. A very special thank you to the Walt Disney Company for providing the information about the history of the ceremony.

(Images from the author’s personal collection.)

Joshua Shusterman is United States Marine and has been stationed in both North Carolina and Hawaii.  He is an avid Disney fan, and has taken several trips to Walt Disney World® as well as Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.  He has extensively researched military discount programs and offers from The Walt Disney Company, and loves to spread the word to his fellow service members.  He can be reached on Twitter @JLShusterman or email at JLShusterman@Gmail.com.

8 Responses to "Military Mouse – Flag Retreat at “Magic Kingdom® Park”"

  1. Richie says:

    Great info on a practice I knew little about… profound and meaningful stuff
    Keep up the great content!

  2. Linda A Raymond says:

    I surprised my husband ( a retired 20 year Air Force Veteran ) ,,,with the Honor of being Veteran of the day, and participate in the Flag retreat . It was a wonderful experience . If you have the chance to do this, it is very special. So many people came up to him , and thanked him for his service. We have his picture proudly displayed.. Thanks for this post.

  3. Becky Manion says:

    I had known about the flag ceremony for a few years now, and finally got to see it this year in March.

    It’s a very respectful and moving few minutes. I am a UK citizen and loved watching.

  4. Lacey Stonerock says:

    How does one go about becoming the Veteran of the Day? I would love to surprise my dad with this honor when we go next month! It’ll be his first time at Disney, and what a way to top it off!!

  5. Linda A Raymond says:

    Lacey, I Went to City Hall on Main Street FIRST thing when the park opened. I had read about this on the Dis boards and was told they do it first come first serve. The park opened at 8:00am. As my husband waited for us to Get on the train, I excused myself to use the lady’s room (I wanted it to be a surprise)… So I just want in and asked the Cast Member, she went back and asked and said no one had asked as of yet (it was only ten mins. after park opening)… So they took his name and rank, Branch of service,that’s all I think (been a while) . They asked me to have him out front of City Hall, I think it was an hour before, sorry but they will tell you. I had purchased an Air Force T-shirt and Hat, and had it in a back pack (I always carried). When I brought him to City hall, (saying I wanted a good spot for Flag Retreat), a cast member came over and asked him if he was the Veteran of the day. I do not know how or why they thought to just come up and ask us, but they did. Of course my husband said no as I was saying YES, LOL. The surprise on his face was fantastic….they gave him time to go change his shirt. Then they had him practice with the guards a few mins. It was wonderful. I hope you can make this happen for your dad. I had heard that if they had already picked someone for the day, that they ask if you are going to be there any more days. So maybe, if you go the first day you get there it would help. Good luck. It would be a wonderful.

  6. Roseanna Rabalais says:

    You go Disney!!! Don’t ever stop this beautiful tradition!!! God bless America, Go USA!!!

  7. Nikki says:

    Do you know if it has to be a veteran or could it also be an active duty service member?

  8. Joshua Shusterman says:

    Sorry for the late reply, it has been a busy week.

    Thanks Linda for answering Lacey’s question. Nikki, active duty can also participate. All you need to do is ask. I would suggest asking early, as they seem to choose their special guest early in the morning.

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