A – Z Guide to Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration (What to Expect, See and Do)

The most anticipated event of the Disney season is closing in on us very quickly. The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration starts on October 1st and will run for 18 months, ending approximately in early 2023.

There are so many fantastic things in store for the resort as a whole to honor all of the gifts of magic, hope and dreams that have come true over the past few decades with the resorts.

With the celebration lasting this long, it gives everyone plenty of time to fully experience new and fantastical things from food, merchandise, attractions and more.

The best thing is as a solo traveler, you will have time to see and do so much with your own personalized planning, tailored to your desires.

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New Ratatouille Ride at Epcot front entrance with fountain

But there is a lot to cover so let’s go over what we will be discussing today:

  • Celebration specific
  • Upcoming Attractions
  • NEW Entertainment
  • Upcoming Restaurants and Eateries
  • Star Wars Hotel
  • Disney Genie and Lightning Lane
  • Tips for the Disney World 50th Anniversary

We are going to go ahead and start with the most anticipated: what special anniversary specific things are coming to Walt Disney World for its 50th anniversary?

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Statues Collection

One of the most recent introductions are the Golden Disney World 50th Anniversary statues. There were 50 statues created to honor a few beloved Disney characters.

R2D2 Star Wars Gold Statue for Disney World 50th Celebration
Hollywood Studios

These statues can be found in the parks but the first of the 50 have made their park debut in Magic Kingdom, including Mickey and Minnie in the hub courtyard and Stitch on the Purple galactic wall in Tomorrowland.

BB8 Star Wars Gold Statue Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration
Hollywood Studios

Disney Parks Blog has been announcing all the statues as we get closer to the opening day and they can now be seen in the parks when you visit.

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Beacons of Magic

Disney Parks will debut the anniversary with a nightly showing of Beacons of Magic, which will illuminate all 4 park icons, summoning all to come and join in the magical celebration starting October 1st.

Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration New regal jeweled banners are installed on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Photographer Todd Anderson
Photo Credit: Disney Co.

Cinderella Castle will dazzle guests with a glow with the help of some faith, trust and pixie dust. Spaceship Earth will shine bright as the latest technology with its reflective panels brilliantly becoming a true beacon of magic, innovation and of the bright future to come.

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, a beacon for the show biz elite of the 1920s, will glimmer and sparkle like the stars of yesteryears that stepped foot into the glamorous place decades ago.

Hollywood Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios

Its EARidescant sparkle will call guests to adventure and imagination. Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life is no stranger to dazzling its guests at night.

It will join the icons and lead the pack as it calls forth its enchanted fireflies once again to light up the night with the spectacle and beauty of nature.

Cinderella Castle Décor

Cinderella Castle gets its well-deserved makeover, which has recently been completed a few weeks ago. The castle now boasts a light pink color with blue pastel.

Just as Fairy Godmother turned a pumpkin into Cinderella’s coach with her wand festive fall-themed wreaths on Main Street, U.S.A. Photographer Todd Anderson Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Photo: Disney Co.

Blue and Gold banners adorn the castle held up by blue and gold matching jewel garlands. The castle spires are swirled elegantly by Cinderella’s fairy godmother with gold ribbon.

In the center of the castle, above the window where characters occasionally come out to greet guests during special occasions, is the 50th anniversary crest in the EARidescent colors of the celebration.

The crest does not get in the way of the projections for the current fireworks spectacular, Happily Ever After, which will be departing on Sept 30, 2021. I would assume with the replacement this will be the case as well.

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Attraction Refurbishments

Several attractions are currently undergoing or have undergone refurbishments. It seems Spaceship Earth may have its delayed refurbishment beginning in the next few months while beloved classics like it’s a small world have received a vibrant paint job on its façade.

Magic Kingdom New Fantasyland with Peter Pan Ride and Small World

Meanwhile the Confectionary and Chapeau is still closed with no return date as of yet but treats can be found in Main Street Cinema. The Baby Care Center should reopen in the fall but the temporary location is near Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

Transportation Updates

Finally, Disney Skyliner will be closed briefly between January 23-28, 2022 for guests who like to visit during the slow season and will be staying at the following resorts: The Riviera and Caribbean Beach Resort.

New La Creperie de Paris at Epcot

Access via International gateway will be down for this period as well but guests can use busses during this time.

Cast Member Appreciation, Magic Makers & Fab Five Makeovers

Cast Members have had a very rough time since the pandemic so the Disney Parks are honoring some of them by sharing their stories on the Disney Parks Blog and highlighting some phenomenal ones who have gone above and beyond for visitors.

Spaceship Earth Beacon of Magic at night at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Photographer Todd Anderson Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration

The Disney Cast Members will be gifted with special EARidescent masks and name tags that will sparkle and shine just like the entire resort because they are truly the beacons of magic.

Disney Parks is calling on guests to nominate a magic maker in their life to be celebrated during this celebration.

Disney Cast Member holding Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse balloons

You can nominate someone here who has done anything between sincere acts of kindness for a friend, coworker or neighbor, to someone who has done work with charities, etc.

If you know someone who has truly brought magic to someone’s life, they could win a trip to Walt Disney World and a year’s subscription to Disney+.

This nomination process will end on October 1st, so you only have a couple of weeks left to nominate!

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Merchandise

In early summer, Disney Parks Blog gave guests a peek at some of the merchandise and collections that will be coming during the anniversary. Three of the collections will debut on October 1st while the last two will debut later in October and in November.

Star Wars Gold Statues Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration at Hollywood Studios

1. Celebration Collection

The October 1st release collections are the celebration collection, which gives guests the chance to say “I was there” with that EARidescent glimmer and shine that defines the celebration.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Football T-Shirt for Kids

2. Castle Collection

The Castle Collection allows you to look as gorgeous and spectacular as Cinderella Castle! From ornaments to charms to clothing, this regal collection is sure to turn heads, especially the Minnie Mouse ear headband that lights up.

3. Vault Collection

The Vault collection will be sure to delight fans of all ages! The collection takes vibes from the retro logos and brings it back to life for guests to love and cherish.

You can grab vintage style Plush, ears, plates and much more as they will continue to add more to the collection as the celebration continues into 2022.

4. EARidescent Collection

The EARidescent collection debuts in late October and guests who divulge will be treated to being surrounded in an otherworldly glow as they don shimmering spirit jerseys, ears and much more!

5. Luxe Logo Collection

The final collection is the Luxe Logo collection, which will debut in Late November. This collection will feature upscale jewelry, attire, accessories and more, perfect for those who want to flaunt their love of Disney in a flashy way.

Get more Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary merchandise here on shopDisney.com!

Upcoming Attractions During Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

I am sure we are all desperately exciting for the attractions we will be able to experience this year and possibly next but a moment of silence for the attractions we lost aka the Mary Poppins ride in UK Pavilion.

New Ratatouille Ride at Epcot Entrance in France Pavilion

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

As of this post however, something is currently testing next door and across a bridge from UK pavilion and that is the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opening officially to the public on October 1st.

This attraction will utilize the virtual queue system we have grown to understand with Rise of the Resistance over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

New Ratatouille Ride at Epcot Gusteau's

This attraction is almost exactly like its sister and original in Disneyland Paris’s Walt Disney Studios.

Currently Annual Passholders are doing previews of the attraction and are in awe of this family ride that allows you to zip and scurry through Guesteau’s kitchen while smelling some truly scrumptious and drool inducing smells.

New Ratatouille Ride at Epcot Dinner Scene Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

I won’t give away too much but if you want to experience it, there’s been footage of the original for many years now that you can peek at.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

One of the anticipated attractions is also coming to Epcot and it features some of our favorite Marvel anti-heroes if you will.

The Guardians of the Galaxy will come to Epcot with their attraction, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” will be the first attraction on Walt Disney World property to be loosely based on a Marvel film. It was originally slated to debut this year but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

An official opening date hasn’t been released yet, but we follow Peter Quill as he claims a pavilion called “Other- World Showcase Pavilion” and presents deep space travel with a “Galaxarium”, a planetarium that will allow guests to witness the formation of the universe and hyper jump to Xandar.

The issue is the guests are sent back to witness the big bang. The ride system has shown to be something different and innovative so we are looking forward to seeing Star-Lord and the Guardians.

Tron Lightcycle

Finally, the Tron roller coaster. One of the things regular guests like to do is to ride the Peoplemover and see how the construction for the ride is progressing in Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland People Mover

Similar to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the Tron coaster is a copy from Shanghai Disneyland which is a very popular thrill ride.

While there is no opening date for this coaster yet, it is the reason why the Walt Disney World Railroad is currently suspended. The projected date as of right now is summer 2022 and you will be patiently waiting to board a Tron Lightcycle to explore the grid from the films!

Upcoming Disney World Anniversary Entertainment

One of the big bombs when it came to entertainment for the anniversary was the announcement that “Happily Ever After” fireworks spectacular was going away only a few days after it returned for the first time since the pandemic started.

Disney fireworks show

Enchantment Magic Kingdom Fireworks Show

Disney announced that the replacement would be called “Enchantment” which debuts in October 1st.

The inspirational showed filled with Disney music will feature characters from Disney Pixar’s “Soul” and other beloved classics, old and new. The show will have fireworks and immersive and fantastical projections that cover Main Street U.S.A.

Disney Parks Blog has shared tidbits of the music that was conducted for the show recently. It will be interesting to see if this will be a worthy replacement for such a short lived and loved show.

Recommended: 10 BEST Magic Kingdom Shows You Have to See!

Epcot’s Harmonious

Harmonious is the replacement for Epcot Forever, which was pretty well known to be a temporary in between bridge from Illuminations to this new show. It will debut on Oct 1st as well.

Rainy day At Epcot Orlando Florida

Harmonious utilizes fountain barges, in the daytime there are barges in World Showcase lagoon that are fountains but at night they help with the spectacle. It combines fireworks, pyrotechnics, and more.

What makes Harmonious unique and special is that it brought together 240 artists from around the globe.

The goal of the show is to show to Guests how the power of Disney music and their stories have the power to inspire and unlock the ability to imagine and believe, regardless of language differences or borders.

Kitetails at Animal Kingdom

An adorable addition joining Animal Kingdom is “Kitetails.” Taking place in the Discovery River Amphitheater as Disney themed three-dimensional kites and windcatchers as they dance in the air and mesmerize guests to the beat of familiar upbeat Disney music.

Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest in Florida Sun Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

It will be a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the park as a solo traveler.

Ready to make your trip out to Walt Disney World Resort, then get your no obligation, FREE Quote by filling out the form with The Park Prodigy by Clicking HERE!

Upcoming Restaurants and Eateries

One of the big newcomers is Space 220 in Epcot’s Future World will be something unlike anything that Imagineers have attempted before.

Space 220

This restaurant was originally slated for a Winter 2019/2020 opening but was delayed for unknown reasons, then of course the pandemic.

Space 220 Restaurant offers the “height of dining” at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Photographer Todd Anderson
Photo: Disney Co.

Disney Parks Blog has recently announced that the restaurant will at long last open on September 20, 2021. Imagineer Zach Riddley has shared a video exploring the restaurant and what guests will be able to experience.

Guests will travel in a space elevator that takes you 220 miles above the earth to dine in the Centauri Space Station that will give you surreal views of the planet as you eat.

The restaurant will be a true marvel of Disney Imagineering as it gives you the best of immersion and Disney dining as we go into the anniversary.

But there is one more eatery joining Epcot on Oct 1st and that’s the “La Creperie de Paris” restaurant! It is currently soft opening with annual passholders at the moment with the ride.

La Creperie de Paris

The creperie has inspiration from the Brittany area of France and the menu was crafted by the talented chef Jerome Bocuse which features savory galettes and sweet, sweet dessert crepes!

This restaurant has table service and quick service and is currently walk up only, but this may change when it opens officially. You can also try out hard ciders that the region is known for to pair with their equally famous crepes.

Menus are currently the same all day. You may want to sink your teeth into the one inspired by the rat of all our dreams.

Disney Genie and Lightning Lane

This particular news may have been the one that shocked the Disney community the most. It was suspected that FastPass would either not return or that it would come back but be some sort of paid system.

Disney Parks Blog announced that their Disney Genie planner within the My Disney Experience app, would roll out in the fall and ultimately make it easier for guests to plan out a seamless experience for their park days.

New Lightning Lane Entrance at Epcot Journey into Imagination Ride

Disney Genie was first brought up during the last D23 Expo and wasn’t really mentioned until recently.

The Disney Genie will have two versions, the second version being Disney Genie+.

Disney Genie Plus

The Disney Genie+ will utilize Lightning Lane, which is the new version of FastPass where guests have the option to pay for “Jump the line” access to select attractions for $15 per person per day and it has been confirmed that this will be accessible for Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Lightning Lane

There will be another Lightning Lane option or “A La Carte” option where guests can pay a certain fee to ride a certain attraction and jump the line for it. Price Lists have not yet been revealed nor do we know currently what rides will have the Lightning Lane option.

More details will come out as we get closer to its rollout date but expect to adjust to this in the fall as this will be the new way to do Disney World.

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

3 Pro Tips for Your Walt Disney World Anniversary Celebration Visit

It’s getting more and more clear that Disney is focusing on giving guests the tools to plan their vacations to make it as stress free as possible.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival one-day itinerary with colorful topiary.
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

1. Plan Around with the Disney App

Your best tip for now is to get familiar with the My Disney Experience app and the Disney Genie portion prior to your visit so you can maximize your time and enjoy the parks.

My Disney Experience App Ticket Selection

2. Keep The Notifications On

If there are pieces from the collections you are desperate to have, always have notifications ready for ShopDisney. So, if you are visiting the parks, always check World of Disney in Disney Springs as they tend to keep more inventory for coveted items.

3. Avoid Resellers

Also, try to avoid resellers. The celebration will last for 18 months so these items will constantly be in rotation and some even adding more pieces to their collections as time goes on.

Ready to start planning your next Disney World vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!

Final Thoughts on Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration

It may seem like there is an overwhelming number of things happening for the anniversary, so much that there’s no way you cannot possibly do and see it all.

Disney Boo Bash Magic Kingdom Halloween Main Street USA with Cinderella Castle
Photo: Disney Co.

This is why I believe Disney made the anniversary so long because it’s so grand and spectacular that you will want to see, do and experience all the news things that are coming from October 1st to 2023 and beyond!

In the end, this is a great opportunity for solo travelers to truly explore and enjoy everything offered. This milestone celebration will inspire joy, memories, innovation, imagination and appreciation for those who give the magic all the life it has since 1971.

Walt Disney World Guide to the 50th Celebration
Save Image for Later on Pinterest!

I hope you are all ready to join the jamboree and have a blast on October 1st!

What are you most looking forward to during the celebration? Let us know in our Facebook Group and chat with other solo travelers!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

About the Author

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

Planning a trip soon? If so, read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!

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