Honoring Veterans: Walt Disney’s Flag Retreat Ceremony at Disneyland

by Jim Denney, author of Walt’s Disneyland

Flagpole&PlaqueWalt Disney loved his country, and he was grateful to the men and women of the armed services for their defense of freedom. He tried to join the Army during World War I. Too young to enlist, he obtained his parents’ written permission, but illness prevented him from getting into the war. Walt did spend time in France at the end of the war as a Red Cross ambulance driver.

Walt wore his patriotism on his sleeve. “I get red, white, and blue at times,” he once said. On Disneyland’s opening day, he read these words from the dedication plaque which is located at the base of the Town Square flagpole: “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America.”

At sunset every day at Disneyland, the park’s security and entertainment cast members conduct a Flag Retreat Ceremony, assisted by guests of the park who are military veterans. It’s a moving ceremony, and a time for reflecting on our American freedoms. It is, above all, a time to salute our military men and women who serve, sacrificing family time and financial benefits to keep America secure and free.


It’s an emotional ceremony not to be missed during your next visit to Disneyland. The Color Guard opens the ceremony with a salute to the veterans who are present. Then the flag is lowered and folded. The Dapper Dans and the Disneyland Band perform patriotic and military music, and the audience is invited to sing along.

FlagpoleThe Flag Retreat ceremony has been a Disneyland ritual since opening day in 1955, a tradition begun by Walt himself. The Veterans Day observance is especially moving, because it includes a procession of veterans, both guests and Disneyland cast members, from the Central Plaza, down Main Street U.S.A., to the Town Square and the flag pole.

The ceremony is conducted in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, which requires the flag be flown only from sunrise to sunset (though the flag may be flown at night if it remains well-lit). You may notice flags around the park that are not lowered at sunset and are not illuminated. This is not a violation of the Flag Code; these flags have only forty-five stars and are not officially American flags.

For more stories and insights regarding Walt Disney’s patriotism and his deep respect for veterans, read Memorial Day Remembrance: How Walt Used Disneyland to Honor Military Heroes.

Jim Denney has more than 120 books to his credit, and has co-written books with sports stars and Hollywood celebrities. His previous book on Walt Disney, How To Be Like Walt (co-written with Orlando Magic founder Pat Williams) has remained in print for a dozen years, and has garnered 4.8 out of 5 stars in 185 customer reviews on Amazon.com. Walt’s Disneyland: It’s Still There If You Know Where to Look by Jim Denney (Anaheim, CA: Writing in Overdrive Books, May 2017) is available at Amazon.com; Paperback $15.99; Ebook $5.99.

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Walt’s Disneyland: It’s Still There If You Know Where to Look is NOW AVAILABLE for just:

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After you read it, please do me a favor and write a customer review of the book. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to write to me. My contact information is in the front of the book.




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