Walt Disney World has a big birthday coming up in 2021. It’s the big 5-0! Believe it or not, Magic Kingdom Park opened on Oct. 1, 1971. The "World's Most Magical Celebration" will kick off across all four Walt Disney World theme parks Oct. 1, 2021, and will run for 18 months. Disney has even coined the word "EARidescence" to describe what the celebration will be like! Like any big party, you’ll need time to plan. Disney Park Pass reservations are already filling up (in fact, Magic Kingdom is booked already for regular park guests, resort hotel guests and annual passholders on Oct. 1, 2021), so you may want to book your hotel and get a park reservation through the Disney World reservation system ASAP. EPCOT also shares an anniversary with Magic Kingdom (it will turn 39 years old this year!), and it will be celebrating in a big way with the grand opening of Remy's Ratatouille Adventure on Oct. 1, 2021. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.
What to Expect at Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
Most large Disney anniversary celebrations include magical entertainment, special park décor, new rides, fun souvenirs and delicious themed treats. We do not have all the specifics yet, but Disney just released some early details about what to expect, such as Mickey and Minnie's new looks, more final touches to Cinderella Castle's royal makeover and special nighttime lighting at each of the four theme park's icons!
Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Entertainment
Disney World is 50 and fabulous. Nothing screams "party" like Walt Disney World entertainment! Usually special parades and fireworks set the stage for celebratory entertainment with catchy music and even dancing. But parades and fireworks have been temporarily been paused at Disney World due to COVID-19. (Anyone who has celebrated a birthday since the pandemic can relate to modified birthday plans.)
At night during the "World's Most Magical Celebration," Cinderella Castle, along with the icons from the other three parks, will transform into Beacons of Magic. Pixie dust will shimmer on the castle, magical fireflies will inhabit the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and new touches will come to life on the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Over at EPCOT, new lights will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, resembling stars in the night sky — this will be a permanent feature that stays beyond the "World's Most Magical Celebration."
We know the parks have tested some fireworks shows at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom after the parks have closed, so hopfully that points to these frog favorite forms of nighttime entertainment returning to Disney World at some point. At the IAAPA Expo, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro said that Disney is planning on bringing back the entertainment that was canceled indefinitely. A lot can happen and change between now and the Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration, so for now we remain patient and wait for more frogciting news.
We are ever hopful frogs. When fireworks return and crowds can gather, we’d expect a castle fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. Also in 2021, we expect Harmonious — the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park — to debut at EPCOT as planned. Harmonious celebrates how the music of Disney inspires people around the globe. Expect to be carried away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists. Harmonious features huge floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more. Harmonious was originally scheduled to take place during the anniversary, but we await new word on its debut. For now, you can see the Harmonious barges in World Showcase Lagoon!
It's possible we could experience new nighttime shows in the other parks, as well as special parades. And as the pandemic situation changes, it’s possible to see more new announcements as time goes on. But it's hard to predict, so keep hopping back for more confirmed updates.
New Rides and Attractions for Disney World's 50th Anniversary
What better time to open new rides and attractions than during the World’s Most Magical Celebration? Here’s a look at new rides and attractions set to open. As of now, only Remy's Ratatouille Adventure is confirmed for Oct. 1, 2021.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (EPCOT) — You’ll shrink to Chef Remy’s size and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (EPCOT) — Join the Guardians of the Galaxy on an adventure across the cosmos. The storytelling coaster rotates 360 degrees to focus your attention on the action. If you were wondering where the rewind comes in, this is the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
PLAY! Pavilion (EPCOT) — In this digital metropolis, you’ll discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect you with friends, family and beloved Disney characters like never before. Help fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
Originally, TRON Lightcycle Run coaster was supposed to open at Magic Kingdom in time for Disney World's anniversary, but that ride does not have an opening date on the calendar just yet. The park has hit "pause" on construction so we do not expect to see that coaster opening as planned.
New Restaurants and Lodging for Disney World's 50th Anniversary
Space 220 restaurant (EPCOT) — A new restaurant in the Mission: SPACE Pavilion is out of this world. Dine in a stellar space station with a view into outer space. Enjoy amazing daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles away.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser — Disney World is launching a new vacation experience where guests can check in for a two-night adventure aboard a glamorous starship. Once onboard, guests interact with characters and become active participants in the stories that take place around them on their galactic journey.
Disney World 50th Anniversary Décor
Cinderella Castle already got fresh new look in paint and gold in 2020 in preparation for the Disney World 50th anniversary celebration. But the festive look is not quite done! The castle will add golden bunting and a 50th-anniversary crest. The first piece of decor has just arrived, and the castle's magical transformation will continue over the next few months.
You can expect special decorations around the resort to celebrate the occasion. The Walt Disney World archway sign and Magic Kingdom toll booth plazas are also undergoing a royal makeover to match the royal blue and rose gold paint of the castle.
Mickey and Minnie will also don special birthday outfits! Their sparkling new look will be custom-made out of EARidescent fabric with gold highlights. SUPER CUTE! We can't wait to see if any of their friends will dress up too.
Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Merchandise, Food and More
No party is complete unless guests eat treats and depart with a goodie bag. In this case, the bag will likely be a bag of purchased “souvenEARS” from the event. You can expect event merchandise to be available at gift shops around the resort. Clothing, hats, ears, pins, plushes, frames, sippers, popcorn buckets and more are popular anniversary celebration merchandise. Expect all that and so much more.
In October 2020, Disney World announced a special 50th celebration license plate for Florida-registered car owners. Proceeds of the license plate go to Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida.
We look forward to seeing and tasting the themed 50th treats in the parks. We Disney foodies must be patient as Disney World releases these delicious details much closer to the actual event. But we fully anticipate that there will be cupcakes. What's a party without cake?
How to Plan for Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration
We all know all too well that 2020 and 2021 were and are not ordinary years in terms of Disney World park operations. It’s hard to say exactly what we can expect by October 2021. So hop over to our post on Planning a Walt Disney World Trip in 2021 for the most updated details about park reservations, capacity limits and more. At this point, the Disney Park Pass reservations system is set to be in place until early 2023. That means you will need to make your hotel and your park reservations in addition to general park admission. Having hotel reservations without park reservations will leave you out of the park. Park hopping returned Jan. 1, 2021, so be sure to take that into consideration if you're planning a 50th-anniversary trip! You only need to make a Park Pass reservation for the first park you plan on visiting; since the second park is subject to capacity limitations, we'd suggest making your Disney Park Pass for the park you'd most like to visit if you'll be hopping. In a change to park procedures, Disney recently announced that coming later this year as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration, resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels will be able to enjoy more park time with 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park, EVERY day.
Park pass reservations for theme park guests, resort hotel guests and annual passholders are already full for Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1, 2021. Since this is not a one-day party, you’ll have plenty of time to join the celebration if October is not your best time to travel. Large celebrations do tend to attract crowds. Capacity is limited, at least for now, which means if you have your heart set on visiting when the event kicks off or at peak times, you should start planning now and make sure to book that park reservation! Hotels and park passes may sell out for that week. For the best availability, book early.
More details are yet to be unwrapped. The anticipation feels kind of like when you are looking at your pile of wrapped birthday presents and wondering what’s inside. We can’t wait until more news unfolds! So keep hopping back as we update this post with more and more details as they are announced. What we do know is that large anniversary celebrations always bring a lot of additional Disney magic to the parks, so they make an especially great time to visit.
Are you planning to visit during the Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration? You can save money on discount Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets and hotels when you book with your favorite froggy friends.