Thinking about planning a trip during the big 50th Anniversary Celebration at Walt Disney World?
Here’s what we know so far plus some other things to be on the lookout for as we get closer to the kickoff.
50th Anniversary dates
Billed as “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will last for a whopping 18 months, from October 1, 2021 until April 1, 2023.
That means you’ll have plenty of time to experience all the new and fabulous offerings.
Even before the extended closure in 2020 we thought that the 50th Anniversary would bring heavier-than-average crowds.
In fact, before the closure we anticipated that we would see crowd trends similar to what we saw for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration.
There, the new entertainment and show offerings inspired many trips and led to large crowds (especially in the opening months).
However, Disney hasn’t made any similar parade or show announcements for Walt Disney World.
That doesn’t mean they won’t, but with the current health and safety guidelines it is understandable why they haven’t yet.
But, we don’t think the lack of early announcements for new parades or shows will keep the crowds away.
Many, many people saw their 2020 vacations delayed. And, the further into 2021 and 2022 we go, we think the more comfortable people will feel about traveling.
Consequently, we do expect lots of those cancelled vacations to be rescheduled for dates that will fall during the celebration.
The opening days of anything at Walt Disney World are always busy, and we definitely expect the same for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
In fact, as of right now (mid-March 2021) Magic Kingdom is showing zero availability for Park Pass Reservations for October 1, 2021.
That could change (especially if the capacity limits are adjusted) but for now, you are out of luck if you want to visit Magic Kingdom on the “official” kickoff day.
As for the rest of the Fall months, the increase in the number of schools hosting Fall breaks means that in recent years, October & November have seen a dramatic uptick in visitors.
So, if crowds are your main concern, you’ll want to skip them.
Just like the opening days can be busy, the end of something big can also draw larger-than-average crowds.
That means the final weeks of the 50th may also see an uptick in crowds. This will be especially true if we do happen to see any limited run entertainment (like parades, etc.).
If that happens, expect March to be busy as guests flock back to see something “one last time.”
Other potentially busy times
In addition to the big 50th, there are a few other things happening in the next 2 years that will also attract heavier-than-normal crowds.
Several attractions and 1 show are slated to be opening. And, while we know that Ratatouille will open on October 1 as part of the 50th, we also anticipate seeing TRON: Lightcycle Power Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opening up sometime in 2022.
And, of course, the long-awaited new nighttime show Harmonious is also scheduled for Epcot.
Whenever those opening dates are set, expect the crowds to be heavier, especially in the parks where the new attractions are located.
Best Times to Visit
Want to visit during the 50th but worried about the crowds?
Check out some suggested times below. And, for a complete look at our recommendations, check out our Crowd Calendar.
Early December 2021 & 2022
If you want to catch things early, but you don’t want the super-heavy crowds found in the opening days, consider the first part of December.
Things will still be busy, but they shouldn’t be anywhere near the levels of what we expect to see in October.
January and February 2022 & 2023
If you can avoid the holidays (New Year’s, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Presidents’ Day), January and February of both 2022 and 2023 will likely be a good time to visit since you should have lower crowd levels and lovely weather.
Late April/Early May 2022
The last week of April, first part of May in 2022 should also be a good time to visit. Aim to travel in the sweet spot between the Easter crowds and early Summer guests.
Mickey and Minnie go Earidescent
Who doesn’t love a new party outfit?
Mickey and Minnie will be getting some shiny new looks just in time for the celebration, too.
Described as “EARidescent,” these costumes are extremely glamorous and perfect for a 50th anniversary:
Park Icons will be transformed
The first major announcement for the 50th Anniversary Celebration (aside from the dates) was the news that all the park icons would be receiving a transformation becoming what Disney describes as “Beacons of Magic.”
Cinderella Castle (Magic Kingdom)
Cinderella Castle will have two different looks: one during the day and another for the evening.
During the day, expect to see “golden bunting and a 50th anniversary crest.”
But the real magic arrives at nighttime, when the castle is transformed into a sparkling piece of magic with a dash of pixie dust.
Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
The Tower of Terror will see some additional enhancements for the 50th.
Disney says this will evoke the “glimmer and shimmer of the golden age of imagination and adventure.”
Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom)
Already gorgeous at night, the new enhancements will invoke the feeling of “enchanted fireflies” that have gathered to call forth the magic of nature.
Spaceship Earth (Epcot)
The most significant changes will be Spaceship Earth which will receive a dazzling display of lights and will be part of a new permanent nighttime display that will continue beyond the scheduled 18 month celebration.
Disney says that the “Lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism.”
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Disney recently announced that the highly anticipated Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure would be opening up on October 1 as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
What we are still waiting to hear more about
While nothing is ever guaranteed, we do expect to hear some news about additional offerings for the 50th.
Here are some things we will be looking for:
This one is tricky.
Before the closure we had been fairly confident that Disney might have some new show or parade to debut for the celebration.
But now, with the current restrictions, it is a bit more difficult to know whether we might expect anything special.
We do think, however, that we will see something.
We’re just not sure what (or where) that will be.
You can be sure that there will be lots (and lots!) of opportunities for merchandise.
No words yet on exact designs, but if Disney continues current trends expect plentiful EARidescent options including limited edition ears and Spirit Jerseys.
Food & dining
Disney has gotten really good at creating specialty food and drink items, and we expect to see the same for the 50th Anniversary.
We don’t have details yet but we expect to see things like cupcakes, shakes, and popcorn buckets.
With something as highly anticipated as the 50th, you can expect to see the information slowly trickling out over the next few months.
Here’s everything Disney has officially released to date:
First details emerge
February 19, 2021
On February 19, 2021 we got the first bits of details on the big 50th Anniversary from Disney.
With the October 1 date quickly approaching, we were hopeful to receive more, but it was also understandable why Disney could only fill us in on a few of the most basic details.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Opening Date Announced
March 9, 2021
After nearly a year of waiting, we have an opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: October 1, 2021.
While originally set to open last year, this new attraction will now be a part of the kickoff for the big 50th Anniversary Party.