With Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary lasting for a total of 18 months, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the celebration.
The festivities officially kicked off on Oct. 1, 2021 and will end come April 1, 2023.
But don’t worry; even though it’s the 50th anniversary, there are still a lot of the other “regular” events happening at the same time as “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” like Epcot’s four seasonal festivals.
If you’re heading to Disney World during the 50th and aren’t sure what you should or shouldn’t waste your time on, I’m here to help you narrow down the options presented you.
Now, if I’m being honest, I could make this list short and sweet by simply saying one word: Epcot.
Does trying to navigate the park and the “Progress Walls,” aka the many walls blocking off construction from guests’ view, continue to be an obstacle course?
Yes. But, it has gotten better over time. And, even though there is still a lot of work to do, the changes that have already come to Epcot are great, and it makes me excited to think about what the park will look like when construction is (finally) completed.
As for the additions that debuted at Epcot during the 50th, they are top-notch. But, I’ll get to those in moment. I also don’t want to discredit the other parks, because they of course have their own 50th magic, even though it might not exactly live up to my personal Epcot standards.
Really, you can’t go wrong with celebrating 50 magical years at the most magical place on earth. Just being there during a huge milestone is fantastic, and to say I was able to ring in the 50th on Oct. 1 is something I will never forget.
But for those who are traveling soon or thinking about visiting sometime during the anniversary and need help figuring out what to do, here is a list of my favorite things at Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
50th Anniversary Decorations
As you walk through each theme park, you’ll notice special anniversary decor, including banners with the number “50” and reading, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
You’ll also be able to spot gold accents here and there, because after all 50 is a golden anniversary.
Speaking of colors, “EARidesecent” is the official anniversary color, which Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Chip ‘n’ Dale can all be seen wearing around Magic Kingdom.
Finally, Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom also has also been transformed with celebratory decorations.
As much as I prefer the old blue and gray tones of the castle, the pink has definitely grown on me. There’s no denying that the castle is still beautiful. Plus, the new color scheme really complements the anniversary decor donning the castle.
As a bonus — even seasonal decor is getting a 50th twist. Look for gold accents in both the fall and winter decorations, including this gem (above) at Hollywood Studios.
Fab 50 Character Collection Statues
Another lovely touch you’ll notice around Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom are the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection gold statues.
There are 50 characters in total represented, but there are only 36 separate statues. Some characters (like Jaq and Gus Gus) are combined into 1 statue.
These statues make for great photo-ops and are extremely well done. If you haven’t seen them in person yet, be sure to make time to locate them all.
First, let me begin by admitting a hard truth that I know many hardcore Disney Parks fans will disagree with — I never liked IllumiNations, the 20-year nighttime spectacular that retired at Epcot in 2019.
Admittedly, I only saw it once, but that was enough.
As for Harmonious? I love it so much!
Yes, the barges are still a massive eyesore during the day (anyone else think the daytime fountains would be better?), but the nighttime spectacular is very good.
I can’t get enough of the music, the fountains, the colors, the way the barges move, and the fireworks. But, even more, I love the representation and cultural diversity of Harmonious.
There are 15 Disney songs reimagined by 240 artists from across the globe and 13 different languages represented.
I think Harmonious is a masterpiece, especially the soundtrack that I listen to all the time at home.
To be clear, Harmonious isn’t leaving Epcot once the 50th concludes, so you have even more time post-anniversary to see the 20-minute show!
Spaceship Earth’s Beacon of Magic
Don’t walk, but run to see the Beacon of Magic of Epcot! Yes, it’s that good.
Each park icon (Cinderella Castle, Tower of Terror, Tree of Life, and Spaceship Earth) all glow each evening with special 50th projections and lighting deemed “Beacons of Magic.”
The mini-shows run every 15 minutes for about a minute or so, except for Spaceship Earth’s Beacon of Magic.
If you didn’t know, Imagineers transformed Spaceship Earth by adding “Points of Light” all over the attraction’s exterior.
The new nighttime lights that resemble stars in the nighttime sky add to the Beacon of Magic in all the right ways. Plus, the show runs for about 3 minutes!
In even better news, the points of light are now a permanent fixture and will continue beyond the 50th celebration. Here’s hoping the Beacon of Magic show sticks around too.
No matter how many times I’ve seen this, I still get emotional watching it. The music and lighting will seriously blow your mind. This is truly one of the greatest additions Epcot has seen in a long time.
Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade
In honor of the 50th anniversary, there is a themed cavalcade that you can catch throughout the day at Magic Kingdom.
The mini-parade includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Goofy, and Chip ‘n’ Dale on two tiered floats, along with dancers and performers wearing their best EARidescent costumes.
There’s even a new 50th anniversary anthem that plays called “Magic Is Calling.”
This is super cute and a great way to see some of your favorite classic Disney characters.
You can check the My Disney Experience app for showtimes. The cavalcade starts at the back of the park near Splash Mountain in Frontierland and moves towards the front, exiting next to the Main Street Fire Station.
Orlando International Airport Welcome
As soon as you arrive in Orlando, you get a 50th anniversary welcome at the Orlando International Airport!
In addition to a cute tea cup photo-op by the Magic of Disney store in the main terminal near security, there are EARidescent projections along some of the floors, a 36-foot long video screen showcasing the Beacons of Magic, and decals of some of the Fab 50 statues lining the tram that guest board once they get through security.
These are some lovely touches and a great way to begin a Disney World vacation. They’ll stick around the airport through March 2022.
New 50th Anniversary Passholder Card
If you’re a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, did you know you can upgrade your AP card to one that’s themed for the 50th anniversary?
All you have to do is visit a Guest Services window and ask for a 50th AP card at no extra cost.
At the time I got mine, only the gold Mickey Fab 50 statue AP card was available, but it’s still fun and adorable!
Seeing as the 50th will run for 18 months, who knows if or what else Disney will add to the celebration.
If I had my way, I’d like to see the return of a nighttime parade, because it’s been forever since we’ve had one of those at Magic Kingdom.
Until then, you can find me at Epcot setting up shop in front of Spaceship Earth watching it sparkle and glow like the grand and miraculous Beacon of Magic she is.
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