Veterans Can Participate In Disney’s Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat at Walt Disney WorldOne of my favorite things to do on a Walt Disney World Vacation is to see the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat at least once while I’m there. It’s held every day at 5:00 PM in the Town Square on Main Street USA.

Just recently I spent a few days at WDW and was lucky enough to catch the Retreat twice. I took some new pictures on the first day and did a video on the second. You can see the pictures here and the video is on this page, it’s the top video the other is a Disney promo.

Disney Security members, Main Street Operations personnel, and the Dapper Dans Barber Shop Quartette conduct the ceremony along with a daily special guest. This special guest is a veteran who happens to be touring the Magic Kingdom that day.

New Selection Procedures

When spending time at Disney I’m always working to confirm my facts and tips to keep up to date and this trip I discovered a big change to the Retreat selection process.

In the past it was possible to volunteer to take part in the ceremony, you’d just go by City Hall in the morning to do so (first come first served).

But the new procedure is quite different. The veteran participant is selected at random by the Magic Kingdom Entertainment Department. They didn’t share how they make the selection but I have a few thoughts.

In order to make the selection Disney needs to identify who is a veteran. I see two ways they could do this:

  • By monitoring the entrance turnstiles
  • By spending time talking to people

Or perhaps a varied mix of the two at different times.

Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Tickets are very distinctive. Most Disney ticket media are flimsy papery/cardboard tickets, while the Armed Forces Salute tickets are hard plastic like a credit/gift card and have a distinctive logo, which when put through the turnstile comes out with the image up. MK Entertainment could be looking for one of these tickets as people enter the park in order to make their selection.

Disney Armed Forces Salute Ticket

The Disney Armed Forces Salute Ticket

One on One

MK Entertainment could spend time chatting with guests trying to find a veteran. This could be very time consuming. If this method is used I’d think that the same method would be used that they’ve used for selecting parade participants. They’ll either strike up a conversation as you are walking down Main Street or at the morning rope drop.

Rope drop is the morning park opening, prior to the scheduled park opening people are allowed to travel to and pass through the turnstiles, but are barred from going further into the park by a rope. Typically Disney Characters (from MK Entertainment) entertain those waiting.

Do You Want To Get Picked?

Here are my thoughts on trying to be selected.

  1. Use the Armed Forces Salute Ticket to enter
    • Use a turnstile with more Disney Castmembers around it
    • Slowly use your AFS Ticket, put it away slowly, ensure the logo is seen by castmembers
  2. Arrive in time for rope drop
    • Get there early enough to be in front so you can talk to Disney Castmembers on the other side of the rope
  3. Wear military distinctive clothing
    • Wear tee-shirts and or hats to show you are military
    • Service or Unit items
    • VFW, American Legion, etc. items
  4. Chat with Disney Castmembers
    • At The turnstile, at Rope Drop, walking down Main Street
    • They could be in uniform or street clothes with a name tag
    • Mention how thankful you are for the Armed Forces Salute
    • Just ask a Castmember if they’ve selected someone yet, can’t hurt to try!

It’s All Random

Remember it’s random and if all your hard work trying to get noticed hasn’t worked you are still in the Happiest Place On Earth.

Enjoy your day and don’t forget to be in Main Street’s Town Square just before 5:00 PM.

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  1. Amy Y says

    We also recently discovered this during our family vacation to WDW in July. It was our Thank God for redeployment family trip. When we went to volunteer my husband they informed us of this new policy and also told us that they tend to pick people wearing military significant clothing.

  2. Beth Powell says

    We were there on October 22nd, 2011 and while I knew that they usually choose a vet at random, I took my chances and inquired at City Hall. I gave a brief background on my dad’s military service and also mentioned my parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary that same day. While I was told by the cast member that they do choose the veteran of the day at random, she said she would check to see if one had been chosen for the day. About 10 minutes later she came back to tell me that everything was looking good, but that I had to wait for another cast member. About 5-10 minutes later another cast member came to speak to my family and informed my dad that he would be the veteran of the day. It was a surprise for him and he was so excited! By the way, he was not wearing anything that indicated he was military. So it NEVER HURTS TO ASK!!!! What an honor it was and a memory we will not soon forget!!!

    • Steve says

      That is very exciting! I’m glad that it worked out for your Dad.

      They say timing is everything, it’s great you went first thing.

      This is really great news for those who’d like to try to participate in the wonderful ceremony.

      Thanks so much for the report Beth.

  3. says

    Just a thought, with the current Salute to the Military including the military room rates, that’s another way they may be able to “tag” a vet if the name is attached to a military discount for the room rate in their systems…

    • Steve says

      Hi Jeanmarie,

      That is a very good idea. The turnstiles could be set alert the castmember on the small screen they have.

  4. Stephen Bugaj says

    My wife and I are headed to Disney world for our honeymoon shortly. I’m an active duty sailor and was wondering If I wore my dress whites if that might possibly increases my chances of possibly being picked.

    • Steve says

      I sure think it would!

      Get to the Magic Kingdom early (in time for rope drop) and if no one approaches you head straight to Town Hall on Main St. USA to ask if you can participate.

      Good Luck!

  5. Paul Hewson says

    My wife was selected as the Veteran of the Day last week. She was not wearing anything particularly military in fashion nor was she asking any cast members about this. Rather, we took our military tickets (which she purchased on base) to the Will Call booth first thing in the morning to activate them. While they were activating our tickets, they said, “please wait there, someone is coming around to speak with you.” We thought we had done something wrong at first, but this man arrived and began asking my wife about her branch of service, MOS, and so forth. Then he invited us to participate and gave everyone in our group a fastpass for any attraction, any time of day, just to make up for the time the ceremony would take from our schedule! The ceremony didn’t really last that long, but everyone in our party was asked to march in the parade following the flag retreat and my wife was given a collectible Veteran of the Day pin and certificate. Great surprise!

    • Steve says

      Hi Paul,

      That is Awesome!!!

      I’m so glad that you guys had that great experience. You just never know. Others have asked and were able to participate.

      What time did you guys arrive to activate your tickets?

  6. says

    I have a question. Has anyone ever done the flag retreat ceremony in honor of another military person? Here is my thing. My best friend who was like a brother to me died in a car accident 12/2/11 and he was cremated. I have a small urn of ashes with me in Orlando and the rest are with his parents in Ohio where we are both from. He was going to be buried in a military cemetery but I or his parents can’t be buried next to him. So his mother never received a flag. I know I wont keep the flag from MK but I would like to participate in the ceremony in his honor. Do you think this would be possible? He was in the Navy and was a police officer. Thanks

    • Steve says

      Hi Johnathen,

      I would recommend contacting WDW ahead of time to try to coordinate this before you go! I don’t know if they do special requests like this.


      Walt Disney World Guest Relations
      P.O. Box 10000
      Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

      This is the universal address! For example, if you want to write to the General Manager of All Star Music, or any other resort, address the envelope to the person and use the P.O. Box 10000 address.

      Walt Disney World Guest Communications
      PO Box 10040
      Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040


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