The official 50th Anniversary date for Walt Disney World is October 1, 2021. But, the celebration of the 1971 opening of the Walt Disney World Resort will last much, much longer than that.
Here’s what we know so far plus some other things to be on the lookout for as we get closer to the kickoff.
When is the 50th Anniversary for Walt Disney World?
Although the official anniversary date for the opening of Walt Disney World is on October 1, the 50th Anniversary Celebration will last a lot longer than that.
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.
What new things are happening for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?
Disney has a *lot* of cool things planned. Here’s what you can expect to see starting on October 1, 2021:
Disney Enchantment (new nighttime show at Magic Kingdom)
As described by Disney, the evening event “will take you on a journey filled with adventure, wonder and empowerment.”
Disney Enchantment will also include music, enhanced lighting, fireworks, and for the first time projections extending from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.
Harmonious (new nighttime show at Epcot)
Unsurprisingly, after the original opening was delayed by over a year, Disney has finally announced that the new nighttime spectacular “Harmonious” will make its debut for the kickoff of the Anniversary Celebration on October 1.
This new show replaces Illuminations and the temporary show called “Epcot Forever,” and according to Disney ““It’s a grand, powerful tribute to the stories and songs that unite us, embracing new technical magic that incorporates pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting and media in new ways.”
Disney KiteTails (daytime show at Animal Kingdom)
After the short-lived Rivers of Light was scrapped, we thought that the Discovery River Amphitheater at Animal Kingdom would remain empty. But, we were wrong!
This new daytime show will incorporate performers flying windcatchers and 3D kites, with some stretching to 30 feet long. They will depict beloved characters, like Simba, Zazu, Baloo, and King Louie.
Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade (Magic Kingdom)
At Magic Kingdom, a new cavalcade will debut starting Oct. 1 called “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade.” It will run several times daily and feature Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale in all-new EARidescent costumes.
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:
Pluto and Goofy go EARidescent
Characters at the resorts are one of our new favorite things, and we now know that we can expect the characters to continue popping up at the resort hotels for the foreseeable future.
If you are staying at on onsite Disney hotel, look for Pluto and Goofy to make surprise appearances in their new EARidescent costumes during the 50th.
Disney Fab 50 golden sculptures (at all 4 theme parks)
According to Disney, “Across all 4 theme parks, 50 characters cast in gold wait to be discovered during The World’s Most Magical Celebration!”
Cinderella Castle update (Magic Kingdom)
Cinderella Castle will have two different looks: one during the day and another for the evening as part of the “Beacons of Magic” transformation that is happening at all 4 of the park icons.
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?
Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours
While not as exciting as a new attraction or fireworks show, Disney has announced that the 50th will kick off the start of a couple of other resort-wide changes.
First, the previously announced Early Theme Park Entry will debut in early October.
This new on-site benefit lets all guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels enter all 4 theme parks 30-minutes early. This replaces the now retired Extra Magic Hours that were a staple of the Walt Disney World theme parks for years.
In addition to Early Theme Park Entry, guests of Disney Deluxe and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts will have an additional opportunity to enjoy the parks outside of normal operating hours.
These new extended evening hours will be available on select nights, and at select parks. No further details are known at this time.
What attractions are opening soon at Walt Disney World?
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.
And, finally, Mickey’s Philharmagic is getting spruced up for the 50th with a brand-new scene based around Disney’s popular animated movie Coco.
Will the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World be crowded?
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.
With the new shows and lots of pent-up desire for travel, we do expect the 50th to bring a lot of people to Walt Disney World.
The opening days and the closing days of the 50th Anniversary, along with other traditionally busy times of the year (like the holidays) will likely be very busy.
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 (end of June 2021) Magic Kingdom and Epcot are showing zero availability for Park Pass Reservations for October 1 and 2, 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 or Epcot 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 hear that the special entertainment scheduled for the festivities will be ending.
If that happens, expect March 2023 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.
Mainly, you can expect that the opening of TRON: Lightcycle Power Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to bring lots (and lots) of people to the parks.
Whenever those opening dates are set (we anticipate that to be sometime in 2022), expect the crowds to be heavier, especially in the parks where the new attractions are located.
What are the Best Times to Visit for the 50th Anniversary Celebration?
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.
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. Disney has already announced a new cavalcade for the 50th, but we are still hopeful that there might possibly be a new, full-length parade in the works, too.
Unfortunately, even if there are plans for one, it doesn’t appear as if it will debut on October 1, but we have our fingers crossed that we might see one before the celebration is over.
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:
2 New Nighttime Spectaculars Will Debut on Oct 1
June 22, 2021
In June, we finally got a bit more info and a bit of a surprise when Disney revealed that not only would Harmonious debut at Epcot, but Magic Kingdom would also be getting a new nighttime show for the 50th.
Read more on the Disney Parks Blog.
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.
- Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Details Are Here
- Walt Disney World Posts Park Hours For Christmas Week & Extends Even More
- Disney’s Magical Express & Extra Magic Hours Ending At Walt Disney World
- Epcot’s Harmonious & New Magic Kingdom Nighttime Show Debuting For The 50th
- Happily Ever After Is Ending & More Disney World Entertainment Returns