Next October, Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida, United States will launch their big 50th anniversary festivities. Walt Disney World Resort and its fans are ready to celebrate this milestone, following closures and launch delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In honor of this monumental celebration, we share five brand new ways you can be part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary.
Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary: The Story
First, let’s turn back the clock. Disney’s Magic Kingdom opened its doors on October 1, 1971 in Bay Lake, later renamed Lake Buena Vista. Producer and company founder Walt Disney wanted the park to expand on the concepts of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. Disney died in 1966, less than four years before the opening of his Magic Kingdom.
Later, the Orlando resort grew with the opening of three other theme parks – Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today the complex houses two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), two commercial areas (Disney’s BoardWalk and Disney Springs) and multiple themed hotels, all known collectively as Walt Disney World Resort.
What does Walt Disney World have behind its sleeves to highlight its first half century? How can you participate in the celebration? Get to know Disney Orlando’s five new things to know in time for its anniversary.
5 Free Disney Trips for “Magical” People
We all carry within us the potential to be good people. However, some individuals stand out for their acts of sacrifice, perseverance, and contributions to better our world. Now Disney puts the power in your hands to give those “magic makers” a well-deserved trip. Through the Disney Magic Makers promotion, the company will give away 50 free visits to Walt Disney World to 50 people, all suggested and voted for by the public at large.
Just visit the official Disney Magic Makers website, nominate someone whose altruism makes them worthy of the free Disney visit, then return to the site and vote for the remaining candidates. The deadline for entry is October 1, 2021 and nominees must be legal residents of the United States.
4 Outdoor Nighttime Shows Make a Big Comeback
Of all the strict measures taken by Disney to protect its guests after its reopening, the saddest one was probably canceling its spectacular nightly displays of lights, music and fireworks. Now that more people have been vaccinated and many still wear face masks, outdoor nighttime shows are back with new surprises.
Magic Kingdom will feature Disney Enchantment, a show full of Disney music and pyrotechnics, enhanced with immersive projections and holographic effects. Unlike previous presentations within Disney parks, these projections will extend beyond Cinderella’s castle and encompass buildings up to Main Street, U.S.A., the park’s entrance section.
Epcot, the futuristic jewel in Disney Orlando’s crown, will present Harmonious, a new nighttime show on the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon. This spectacular will feature water fountain choreography alongside fireworks, dazzling lights, and more.
Along with these evening shows, many of Disney’s attractions will turn into Beacons of Magic at night with the help of lighting and immersive projection effects.
If you are looking for something more tactile and earlier in the day, Disney’s Animal Kingdom bring a kite demonstration called KiteTails. Visitors will look up at the sky and enjoy the new show, featuring themed kites based on their favorite Disney characters, accompanied by their most popular songs.
3 Hunt for the Golden Characters
Speaking about characters, how about a scavenger hunt to find 50 Disney characters bathed in gold?
Disney parks are noted for their hidden design details, such as the “hidden Mickeys” incorporated into its decor. The Disney Fab 50 Character Collection turns this fact into a fun game for guests.
For the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary, 50 gold-cast statuettes based on different Disney characters will be scattered around the four theme parks, waiting for you to discover them. Think you can find them all? Without searching online?
2 Brand New Rides
Last year promised to be a big one for Disney in Orlando, with new attractions and innovative lodging experiences. Then the COVID-19 health crisis delayed all plans. Fortunately, everything scheduled for 2020 will be available during the 50th anniversary celebration.
Novelties include Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a fun 4D ride imported from Disneyland Paris in France. Based on the animated success of Pixar, this ride will transport visitors to the kitchen of Gusteau’s restaurant in Paris. There they will become rat-sized like Remy the chef rat, in order to help young Alfredo Linguini and escape from Chef Skinner.
The Star Wars universe will also be along to celebrate Disney Orlando’s anniversary. You can already visit Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars-themed land within Disney Hollywood Studios. There you can enjoy several new attractions, including a revamped version of the classic Star Tours, interactive adventure Rise of the Resistance, exciting flight sim Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, plus workshops where you can assemble your custom droid or lightsaber. Galactic Starcruiser, the Star Wars-themed hotel, will accept reservations starting in 2022.
For the most heroic, the Marvel universe is now available … at the other side of the country. Avengers Campus opened at Disney California Adventure. The bad news for those who prefer Disney World to Disneyland? Before Marvel sold its intellectual property to Disney, Universal Studios Orlando obtained the rights to use its characters for Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Universal still pays those rights to Marvel and as long as it does, Disney cannot open Avengers Campus in Florida.
1 A Year-and-a-Half-Long Celebration
Can’t visit Walt Disney World this October? No matter! Just like a world expo, Disney always runs its big celebrations for months. In the case of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary, you will have 18 months to plan your trip and join the fun. All the goodies we showcased, plus the rest of the Disney theme park magic, will await your visit.
For more information and tips to plan your visit, contact your nearest travel agent or visit the official My Disney Experience site.