*Updated* Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Guide

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The details are now pouring in for the Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration, also known as “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”.

As we get closer to the start date (less than two months away!), details are becoming more clear.

This post will be my constantly evolving guide for what to expect at Disney’s 50th anniversary. Honestly, this guide has gotten huge with all the details released (updated August 15, 2021).

Mickey Mouse and friends ready for Disney 50th anniversary
(Matt Stroshane, photographer) ©️ Disney

When Will the Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebrations Start?

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 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 judging by crowd pictures, but I suspect capacity still isn’t quite back up to normal. So the 18 month time frame helps with this.

Benefits for Disney Resort Guests

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

Disney teased this new benefit back in January but still hasn’t given us a ton of details. But what we do know now is that it starts on October 1 along with the celebration.

In short, 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 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.

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 should translate 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 will likely be allowed to roam around the park during the extra hours, they just won’t be able to get on the rides.

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).

While Disney hasn’t made any sort of official statement, it now looks like those rides likely won’t be ready in time for the 50th anniversary. The delays caused by COVID, along with the financial strain brought on by the pandemic, put a halt to those plans.

So unless some sort of miracle happens, don’t expect those rides to be ready by October 1. But hopefully they’ll open at some point during the 18 months.

At this point, I’m not even sure if the basics of the Epcot Future World redesign will be completed before October 1.

However, even with all of this, there are still A LOT of new and exciting things which will kick off the Disney 50th Anniversary celebration.

Introducing EARidescence

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.

Character Costumes

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!

©️ Disney

We now know that 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”.

Mickey Mouse and friends in EARidescent costumes in front of Cinderella's Castle
©️ Disney

The Disney Park Icons

Each of the icons at the Disney Parks will receive special 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…

©️ Disney

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 will all be transformed into Beacons of Magic.

Beacons of Light on Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom

By using projections, each of the park icons will get a little extra sparkle. Cinderella’s Castle will sparkle with some extra pixie dust.

Tree of Life Beacons of Magic artistic rendering

The Tree of Life will have some magical fireflies, while The Hollywood Tower Hotel will have special new touches that bring it to life.

Hollywood Studios Beacons of Magic artist rendering

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.

Epcot Beacon of Magic on Spaceship Earth

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.

And these artistic renderings are simply beautiful. I find myself hoping that Disney sells these as art because I would definitely buy them.

“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 finally opens up on October 1, just in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration.

In reality, this ride has been ready to go at any point in time, but Disney is choosing 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

Disney just announced that not one, but 2 new nighttime spectaculars debut on October 1, 2021. The first is the long anticipated Harmonious.

Artist rendering of Harmonious to debut at Disney's 50th Anniversary celebration
(Kent Phillips, photographer) ©️ Disney

If there hadn’t been a pandemic, this probably would’ve opened before then, but now it finally has a date. Harmonious is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever seen in a Disney park.

It will be 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.

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.

Disney Enchantment artist rendering of new Magic Kingdom nighttime spectacular
©️ Disney

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.

Disney Fab 50 Statues

Everyone’s 8 favorite characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip ‘n Dale, Goofy, and Pluto) will have new golden character sculptures.

These sculptures will be on display in the gardens of Magic Kingdom.

Golden character sculptures to debut at Magic Kingdom during Disney's 50th Anniversary
©️ Disney

There will be 50 characters in total represented by statues scattered throughout all 4 Disney parks.

Disney has been slowly revealing the characters and locations over the past couple of months. In addition to the statues listed above, here’s what we know so far:

  • Orange Bird (Magic Kingdom)
  • Mad Hatter (Magic Kingdom)
  • R2-D2 (Hollywood Studios)
  • Woody and Bo Peep (Hollywood Studios)
  • Timon and Pumbaa (Animal Kingdom)
  • Winnie the Pooh and Piglet (Magic Kingdom)
  • Edna Mode (Hollywood Studios)
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere (Magic Kingdom)
  • Dante Golden (Epcot)
  • Joe Gardner (Hollywood Studios)
  • Cheshire Cat (Magic Kingdom)
  • Sebastian and Flounder (Hollywood Studios)
  • Dumbo and Timothy (Magic Kingdom)
  • Figment (Epcot)
  • Stitch (Magic Kingdom)

Space 220 Restaurant

After an extremely long wait, and many delays, Disney finally announced the opening of the totally immersive Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot.

While we don’t have an exact date yet, we know Space 220 opens in mid-September. This will be a highly sought after dining reservation throughout the anniversary celebration.

To learn more, check out everything we know so far about Space 220 in my complete guide.

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.

I’m going to put a sampling of pictures of the merchandise, but there are way more than what you see here.

Pre-Celebration Collection

These items are available as of August 12, 2021, for all those guests going before the anniversary officially starts.

Disney World 50th anniversary insulated mug

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.

Celebration Collection

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.

Disney 50th anniversary soap dispenser

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.

Vault Collection

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.

EARidescent Collection

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.

This book is available for pre-order now and is released on September 28, 2021.

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.

I’m willing to bet money there’s information in there that hasn’t even been released yet. That’s probably why the book won’t drop until September 21!

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!

This is also available for pre-order now and will release on September 21, 2021.

Delicious Disney

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.

You can preorder Delicious Disney now on Amazon, but this one won’t release until April 5, 2022.

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 is set to debut in fall 2021, presumably by October 1.

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
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind (Epcot): 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.

The state of transmission rates and variants will play a large role in when those attractions open.

If You Want to Attend “Opening Day”…

If you are one of the people who wants to be there to celebrate the official start of the Disney World 50th anniversary, you need to act NOW. Like seriously, go book a trip right now.

Remember, Disney still requires a Park Pass reservation in order to enter one of the parks. This is how they limit the capacity in each one of the parks.

As of writing this, Magic Kingdom is already filled to capacity with Park Pass reservations. Availability has opened up here and there over the past couple of months, but I don’t know if it will happen again this close to the opening.

However, there’s the option of park hopping over to Magic Kingdom later in the day. You might miss anything “official” that happens on opening day in the morning, but you’ll still get to experience Magic Kingdom on the beginning of the anniversary.

Remember, park hopping looks a bit different these days, so make sure you understand the new park hopping rules.

Disney World 50th anniversary pin image

Your Thoughts

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.

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2 thoughts on “*Updated* Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Guide”

  1. can’t wait to see “EARidescence”. It sounds so beautiful. I’m especially anxious to see the decorated castle. I was there for the 25th many eons ago and I remember how disappointed I was to be there with that crazy birthday cake castle. These decorations sound much more lovely and delicate even. If I get to go, I will definitely go later in the season to avoid some of the crowds. See ya there!

    1. I was there during the 25th too and the castle was dreadful. My daughter found my old pictures of it and she agreed. But these decorations look so much better.

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