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The Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration, also known as “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”, has begun!
I was in Magic Kingdom on the official anniversary and it was absolutely bananas. But being there that weekend allowed me to check out some of the new offerings all around Disney World.
This post will be my constantly evolving guide for what to expect at Disney’s 50th anniversary. I’m trying to keep all the details in one place, so this guide is pretty comprehensive. (updated November 9, 2021).
Disney World 50th Anniversary Date
The official Disney World 50th anniversary date is October 1, 2021. Once upon a time, Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971.
This is considered the birthday of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Because of this, all of the Disney 50th anniversary festivities start on October 1.
How Long will the Disney World 50th Anniversary Last?
The official celebration will last for 18 months. Yes, you read that right, 18 months. This is great news for people who want to experience the Disney World 50th anniversary celebration, but don’t want to deal with the insanity of the official launch.
Historically, the anniversary celebrations officially spanned at least a year anyway, with perhaps a bit of a soft opening buffer built in there. So doing 18 months isn’t really a stretch.
However, in the light of the uncertainty of the recovery from the pandemic, and the delta variant causing problems, officially making the event last for 18 months is a smart move.
It allows people to spread themselves out over the course of 18 months instead of jamming everything into a short period of time.
We know that limited capacity doesn’t seem to be much of a thing anymore, so don’t go to Disney World expecting smaller crowds. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.
Benefits for Disney Resort Guests During Disney’s 50th Anniversary
Disney has released a couple of benefits specifically for guests staying at Disney resorts (and the Disney Good Neighbor Hotels). All of these are expected to begin when the World’s Most Magical Celebration kicks off.
Early Theme Park Entry
In short, Disney World Early Theme Park Entry is the replacement for Extra Magic Hours. Disney Resort guests are allowed to enter the parks 30 minutes early, giving them a bit of an advantage over guests staying off site.
Early Theme Park Entry applies to the four Disney parks, every single day. This is a change from Extra Magic Hours, which only allowed early entry at specified parks on certain days.
For all the details we know so far, and my thoughts on this resort guest benefit, read through my Disney Early Theme Park Entry guide.
I’ve had a chance to try it out, and it’s definitely a good benefit, if 30 minutes too short.
Extended Evening Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests
This is a new one that got thrown at us all with Disney’s most recent update for Disney’s 50th Anniversary. As the heading applies, this benefit only applies to guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villas Resort.
These guests are given extended evening hours in select parks on select days. So this is similar to the PM Extra Magic Hours, only this time it’s offered to a much smaller group.
Guests must have a valid park ticket for the day, along with a Park Pass for that park. Alternately, Annual Passholders and guests with Park Hopper tickets are also eligible, as long as they entered their assigned park earlier in the day before hopping to the park with extended hours.
During these extra hours, as well as Early Theme Park Entry, select attractions, merchandise, and food locations will be available.
This translates to mean that the most popular rides will be open, but the less popular attractions likely won’t.
Guests need to have either their MagicBand, MagicMobile Pass, Key to the World card, or some other proof of being a Deluxe Resort guest.
Keep in mind, all the park guests are allowed to roam around the park during the extra hours, they just won’t be able to get on the rides.
To find out what parks offer this benefit when, look at Disney World’s official calendar.
What to Expect at the Disney World 50th Anniversary
Back when Disney’s 50th anniversary first entered conversation, the plans were pretty darn grand. It was expected that new rides would be available (Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy).
Unfortunately for all of us, a pandemic happened and really slowed down construction. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun new things to look forward to during this long celebration.
Even with all of this, there are still A LOT of new and exciting things which kicked off at the Disney 50th Anniversary celebration.
Disney has coined the phrase “EARidescence” to describe the overall atmosphere of what guests can expect. This refers mainly to the color scheme that will prevail throughout the parks and on the merchandise.
As would be expected, Mickey and Minnie along with their friends, will sport some new outfits to add to the celebratory mood.
To stick with the theme of EARidescence, their party clothes are decked out in hues of blue and purple. This is of course enhanced with a fair amount of sparkle!
Not only do Mickey and Minnie have new costumes, but so do Donald and Daisy Duck, Chip ‘n Dale, Goofy, and Pluto.
Guests can see them in their 50th Anniversary finery several times a day as they parade through the streets in the new “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade”.
The Disney Park Icons
Each of the icons at the Disney Parks received extra attention to make them even more special for the celebration.
Cinderella’s Castle of course gets the biggest party dress out of all the park icons. In case you missed it, the Castle received a makeover last year, changing its colors to a deeper blue roof and rosy colored walls.
For Disney’s 50th anniversary, Cinderella’s Castle received a lot of extra flare in the form of golden bunting and a 50th anniversary banner.
I have to say, this looks much better than when the castle was turned into a giant pink cake for the 25th anniversary…
Beacons of Magic
All of the park icons become even more special once the sun goes down at the parks.
At night, the Castle, along with Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, and The Hollywood Tower Hotel are transformed into Beacons of Magic.
By using projections, each of the park icons will get a little extra sparkle. Cinderella’s Castle will sparkle with some extra pixie dust.
The Tree of Life will have some magical fireflies, while The Hollywood Tower Hotel will have special new touches that bring it to life.
Over at Epcot, new lights are installed in the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, creating a dazzling new display. These lights are connected to each other and are designed to create the look of the night sky.
I’m very excited that this particular feature at Epcot is permanent and will exist well beyond The Most Magical Celebration.
All of this works together to give the park icons their own special EARidescent glow. Even during the holidays seasons, Beacons of Magic projections continue. They will alternate with any holiday themed projections used during those times of year.
Honestly, I’m super excited to see all of the park icons turn into Beacons of Magic. I’m a sucker for a good projections show, and Disney gives a master class.
“The Magic is Calling”
What would special projections be without their own original song? Enter, “The Magic is Calling”. This is the original anthem for the Disney World 50th anniversary.
The anthem will be played in all four parks, but with different arrangements to represent the uniqueness of each park.
Specifically, “The Magic is Calling” will play when each of the park icons turns into a Beacon of Magic. So when you hear that music starting, head on over to the park icons to take in the show.
The song will also play during other moments in the parks. Specifically, it is part of the Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade, featuring the “EARidescent 8” at Magic Kingdom.
Also, there will be custom versions of the song performed by the Main Street Philharmonic and Dapper Dans, the Discovery Island Drummers, and Voices of Liberty.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Disney announced that the long awaited Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure would open in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration.
In reality, this ride has been ready to go at any point in time, but Disney chose to wait until October 1, for many reasons.
Along with the ride is an entire new section of the France pavilion at Epcot. You can find more information at my post all about Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the France expansion.
We now also have information about Le Creperie de Paris which opens on October 1, 2021.
2 New Nighttime Spectaculars Debut
Just in time for Disney’s 50th Anniversary, they released two new nighttime spectaculars. The first is the long anticipated Harmonious at Epcot, while the second is “Disney Enchantment” at Magic Kingdom.
The new fireworks show at Epcot is another venture that was delayed by the pandemic. But at long last, it’s open. There has been a lot of skepticism about the enormous barges now parked in the middle of the lagoon.
And let me tell you, they are unsightly.
Periodically through the day they turned into fountains, but other than that, they just sat there obstructing the view.
Aside from unsightly barges, Harmonious is a celebration of Disney music, the stories and songs that unite and inspire the world. There’s a lot of new technology involved in Harmonious. The show includes pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting, and media in new ways.
I absolutely loved Harmonious. It’s the type of show that simply gives you all of the feels. It is heavy on Disney IP, each interlude involves a famous Disney song representing characters from different countries.
Some people have a problem with that, I don’t. It was very well done and is truly a visually stunning show. Between the music, the images the barges, and the fireworks, it was amazing.
Disney Planning Pro Tip: If you want the best view, you need to look at the barges head on. Otherwise you only see part of the projections.
The good news is you can get a decent view of the show from many different locations, you just might not be able to see the center barge fully.
But if you’re crowd averse, or refuse to sit and hold a spot for a couple hours, this is a good alternative.
The next nighttime spectacular to debut for the 50th is called “Disney Enchantment”. This show debuts at Magic Kingdom specifically for the anniversary.
Disney Enchantment is designed to take guests on a journey filled with adventure, wonder, and empowerment. The show will feature music, enhanced lighting, fireworks, and immersive projection effects that run from Cinderella’s Castle all the way down Main Street.
This is the first time any projections have extended all the way down Main Street. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to see these projections.
The crowds were insane on Main Street and I just wasn’t willing to jam myself in there. Impersonating a sardine during a pandemic is not my thing.
So I went for my old standby from years ago, I went to Fantasyland to watch the fireworks. There was so much space you could literally lie on the ground if you wanted to.
While I missed all the projections, watching from Fantasyland is pretty cool too. You are surrounded by fireworks there and still hear the music loud and clear.
I definitely enjoyed the show, I grinned from ear to ear the entire time. But I do that with pretty much any fireworks show. I just love fireworks.
I’m reserving judgement until I can see the full on view, but I liked Harmonious a lot better on these initial viewings. The music felt more powerful in Harmonious.
I’ve watched videos of the front view of Enchantment, and I was underwhelmed. But seeing a video just doesn’t compare to seeing it in person.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible for Disney to do a bad fireworks shows. Just different levels of good.
Disney Kite Tales
We wouldn’t want to leave Animal Kingdom out, would we?
Animal Kingdom has a new daytime show premiering for The Most Magical Celebration on Earth. Disney Kite Tales will be shown several times daily at the Discovery River Amphitheater.
The show involves performers using kites and windcatchers of all shapes and sizes. In addition to that, out on the water there will be large three-dimensional kites. Some as long at 30 feet!
Look for Simba, King Louie, Baloo, and Zazu flying through the air. The show is choreographed to favorite Disney songs.
This is a mildly entertaining show, once which kids would enjoy quite a bit I think. However, it’s not one I’d plan my day around attending. If you happen to be in the area and it’s going to start soon, absolutely go see it.
Disney Fab 50 Statues
Everyone’s 8 favorite characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip ‘n Dale, Goofy, and Pluto) have new golden character sculptures displayed in the gardens of Magic Kingdom.
In total there are statues of 50 Disney characters scattered around all of the parks.
There are 50 characters in total represented by statues scattered throughout all 4 Disney parks.
The statues are all over the place in the parks. A fun activity for the family to do is see how many of them you can find over the course of the trip!
My favorite statue that I found was Stitch!
Space 220 Restaurant
After an extremely long wait, and many delays, Space 220 Restaurant has opened in Epcot. This immediately became the most sought after dining reservation in all of Disney World.
I tried so hard to get a reservation for my trip and failed miserably. Then I tried to wait in the standby line to get into the lounge. The wait was over 2 hours.
Needless to say, I never made it inside. If you want to get a reservation for your trip, make sure you are on the ball on reservation day. In case you haven’t already, read all about how to make Disney dining reservations. Those tips might come in handy.
If you want to know about what all the fuss is about, read my Space 220 Restaurant guide. It even includes the menu. Just not real pictures since I never made it inside. That’s what I get for trying to get in on the busiest weekend of the whole year.
Disney World Anniversary Merchandise
It wouldn’t be an event at Disney World is there wasn’t specially designed merch! Disney released a sneak peek at just some of the merchandise coming for the anniversary.
Most of the loot is available only in the parks, but you can also find 50th anniversary merchandise on shopDisney.com. The EARidescence collection just hit shopDisney and the Castle collection is “coming soon” to the website.
I’m going to put a sampling of pictures of the merchandise, but there are way more than what you see here. Plus, expect to see new offerings show up throughout the course of the 18 month celebration.
These items are available as of August 12, 2021, for all those guests going before the anniversary officially starts.
What we can see so far are a few different shirt designs and this pretty sweet insulated mug. I’m sure there will be a little bit more, but I wouldn’t expect too much more until they roll out the big guns for the official start.
Here we have the main attraction, so to speak. This collection includes pretty much every type of merchandise you could possibly want for the anniversary.
Accessories, soap dispenser, Dooney and Bourke bags, headwear, coordination outfits and so much more abound in this collection.
I don’t know about you, but there is a 100% chance that I’m buying that soap dispenser at some point during the anniversary…
Disney Castle Collection
This merchandise is inspired by the iconic Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. You can find collectible ornaments, mugs, shirts, and Minnie Mouse ears.
I’m not going to lie, that button down shirt alarms me. But I saw many people wearing it on opening day.
This one will be popular with long time Disney World fans. These items drew inspiration from iconic items from the Disney archives.
It’s time to go retro Disney! This collection harkens back to original Disney World souvenirs and designs. This collection will continue to expand throughout the 18 month anniversary celebration.
With all this focus on an EARidescent color schemes, of course there’s a merchandise collection based on it as well. This collection will hit the stores in late October.
We’re not given too many examples yet, but expect that this collection will be extensive.
We do know about a spirit jersey, Loungefly backpacks, and Minnie ears.
Official Disney 50th Anniversary Books
I am pretty darn excited about this next merchandise. There are four different books being released in late September specially designed to celebrate the first half century of Disney World.
All of these books are available for pre-order on Amazon right now!
A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of the Most Magical Place on Earth
A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of the Most Magical Place on Earth is an homage to the first half century of the Walt Disney World Resort.
This is a coffee table book full of rare Disney theme park concept art, photographs, and more.
Birnbaum’s 2022 Walt Disney World: The Official Vacation Guide
Birnbaum’s 2022 Walt Disney World: The Official Vacation Guide is chock full of Disney vacation planning tips geared specifically towards the 50th anniversary celebration.
Birnbaum’s 2022 Walt Disney World for Kids
And of course, we have the famous travel guide for kids in Birnbaum’s 2022 Walt Disney World for Kids. Again, this has a focus on the 50th anniversary.
This book is designed for kids to read themselves. What a wonderful way for kids to not only spend some time reading, but also get excited for an upcoming trip!
For fans of cooking, and Disney food, this a must have. Delicious Disney takes a look at Disney’s culinary past, present, and future, while also including some of Disney World’s most famous recipes.
This is a must have cookbook for any Disney foodie.
Will FastPass+ Return for the Disney World 50th Anniversary?
Finally, we know the answer to this question, and that answer is a resounding no. Instead of FastPass, the new Disney Genie system debuted in October 2021.
Part of Disney Genie is the new Disney Genie+ option which is the new FastPass replacement. For $15 per person per day, you can skip the lines of certain Disney World rides.
But not all of the rides.
If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you read all about Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane access to fully understand this new system.
What Could Potentially Be Added in 2022?
As I mentioned above, there are several projects still underway which simply couldn’t be completed in time for the grand opening. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see them open at some point during the celebration.
In addition to simply having delays, it’s probably a good idea to stretch out the openings of new things across the span of the 18 months.
It helps keep the energy high throughout what is admittedly a long period of time.
Here are possible projects to open with my best guess as to when they’ll open:
- Play Pavilion (Epcot): 2022
- Moana’s Journey of Water (Epcot): Late 2022
- DuckTales World Showcase Adventure (Epcot): 2022
- TRON Lightcycle Run (Magic Kingdom): mid-2022 to early 2023
The first three on this list are actually interactive types of attractions. Because of this, they are challenging to open in the midst of a pandemic.
Construction on Tron has been moving at a good pace, but we don’t know when that will open yet. Clearly, they’re prioritizing Guardians of the Galaxy for now.
What’s Definitely Getting Added in 2022
Disney keeps announcing new, and returning, entertainment and attractions coming in 2022. The exact dates aren’t yet released, but I’ll keep that updated!
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind (Epcot roller coaster): Officially in 2022
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…And Beyond! (Animal Kingdom stage show): Officially in 2022
- Fantasmic! (Hollywood Studios night time show): 2022
- Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom castle stage show): Early 2022
- Festival of Fantasy Parade (Magic Kingdom): Early 2022
Do you plan to visit during Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration? Will go towards the beginning of wait until the end? Let me know in the comments below.