Aloha. 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 Dans, 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.