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Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration – Dates, Changes & News

Get ready for the biggest party you’ve ever seen as we’ll soon be celebrating the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary! This is going to a celebration like non-other and we’re excited to see what Mickey and friends have in store for us!

Concept Art for Disney World's 50th Anniversary celebration

Can you believe that almost 50 years have already passed since Walt Disney World opened up on October 1, 1971?? Since that day, the resort has become one of the most visited vacation destinations on Earth with tens of millions of visitors annually.

When Disney does a celebration, they do it BIG, so we can only imagine everything that’s in store when they celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom and Disney World.

Even though we still have some time before the festivities start, you need to start planning now for all the new attractions, entertainment, merchandise and food you will find there.

In this post, we have a complete guide to the Disney World 50th Anniversary where we will explain everything you need to know. We’ll cover the 50th Anniversary dates, when it starts, how long it will last for and all the confirmed changes coming to the parks for the celebration.

We’ll also go over a touring strategy including when is the best time to go during the 50th Anniversary and all the rumored changes we might see by that time.

Sadly, there might be a change in plans to the festivities after the Disney parks closure, so we’ll go over what all that means and how it affects the celebration.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

In order to bring you up to speed on what you might find in Disney World for the 50th, make sure to read our guide on the Next Best Disney World Rides and Attractions coming in 2021 & 2022.

If you are planning your trip during that time, make sure to consult our post on the Best Times to Visit Disney World where we cover the basics, plus a ranking of our favorite months to go to the parks.

Hopefully, this article gives you a head start in planning your trip for Disney’s 50th Anniversary. As more information comes out, we’ll update this post so you always have the latest information! Now let’s see the biggest celebration at the most magical place on earth!

(NEWS 2/19/21): Disney World 50th Anniversary Start Date & Details Announced

Disney has just announced a bunch of new details about The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration including the start date, length of the celebration, new lighting packages for park icons, costumes, and more!

Mickey Mouse Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration is starting on October 1, 2021, and will last a full 18 months. The celebration will run through March 2023.

The length is about what we expected since most big Disney anniversaries run a least 14-16 months. This one is the biggest celebration we will see in the park for quite some time so it makes sense Disney wants to make it last.

The fact that it starts on October 1, 2021 the exact date when the Magic Kingdom originally opened also makes sense from Disney’s point of view and for guests. Disney originally planned on starting the event earlier, but since many guests are putting off their trips because of the current health crisis, it gives them more time to plan a trip.

It also gives Disney more time to prepare since they are running behind in the scheduled refurbishments they want to do to the park attractions.

We also found out that park icons in all 4 Disney World theme parks are getting special projection lighting packages for the nighttime shows. This includes lighting for Cinderella Castle (Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth (EPCOT), the Hollywood Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios), and The Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom).

Disney released some new artwork for them and we have to say they look amazing!

Cinderella Castle Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

Cinderella Castle will illuminate Magic Kingdom with a dazzling radiance that sparkles with pixie dust.

And at EPCOT, new lights will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, connecting to one another in a symbol of optimism resembling stars in a nighttime sky. The iconic structure’s permanent new lighting will continue beyond “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” as a defining feature of the park.

Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be awash in a brilliance evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure.

Tower of Terror Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, a warm light will emanate from the Tree of Life as magical fireflies gather to usher in the magic of nature.

Tree of Life Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

This confirms the new lighting package rumored for Spaceship Earth. We also really like the ornaments, special anniversary crest and gold bunting on Cinderella Castle. It will be worth a trip to each of the parks at night to see these changes.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

Disney released some new artwork for the 50th Anniversary logos that will be throughout the parks. The logo features the celebration’s iridescent and rainbow colors, and a big art deco-style “50”.

Lastly, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are going to be front and center for the celebration and we have new images of them showing off their 50th Anniversary costumes.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

Their costumes are a shade of “EARidescent” purple and teal.

That is a brief overview of the new details we just found out. Stay tuned in the coming days as we continue to add new information for you. In the meantime, continue reading below for a more detailed look at the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World and what to expect.

What Does Disney Have Planned for the 50th Anniversary Celebration?

Mickey Mouse Anniversary dancing

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary will be one of the biggest celebrations Disney has ever had, and rightly so. October 1, 2021, will be the 50th anniversary of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, and the entire Walt Disney World Resort as a whole. This was the beginning of the vacation capital of the world!

The Magic Kingdom celebrated its 10th, 15th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries with milestone celebrations, the later called “Remember the Magic” which lasted a full 15 months long!

What Disney World is planning for its 50th Anniversary is going to outdo all previous celebrations and is something you absolutely will not want to miss. Disney has stated that each of the 4 theme parks in Orlando is getting updates for the celebration, so if you haven’t been in a few years, this might be a good time to go.

Fireworks for Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration

For the 50th anniversary, Disney is working on new attractions, entertainment options, merchandise, food and a plethora of updates and refurbishments to the theme parks and existing attractions. Like has been done in the past, everything will be decked-out and themed to the 50th, including character costumes and decorations for the buildings.

Besides the new, Disney is sure to bring out some old fan-favorites such as rare characters for this one-time event. And as always is to be expected, you will probably see some attractions or shows retire as well, so it might be your last chance to see so some of your favorite things in the park.

Because of all of these changes, Disney is expecting millions of extra guests to make a visit for this historic event!

Whatever Disney does to pull it off, it’s going to be incredible, unlike anything that has ever happened to the Walt Disney World Resort before! We’ll be updating you on all the changes here so stay tuned!

Disney World 50th Anniversary Dates – When Does it Start? How Long will it Last?

When does Disney World 50th Anniversary start

The biggest question on peoples’ minds is when will the 50th anniversary celebration actually start. Thankfully, after waiting months for the answer we now have confirmation of all the dates.

The official day of the 50th Anniversary for Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom is October 1, 2021. The actual Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration is also starting on October 1, 2021.

That doesn’t, however, mean that the festivities are only going to last one day. Whenever Disney celebrates a big anniversary, it always lasts months, and oftentimes up to one year or more.

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration will last a full 18 months from the start date. That means we can expect the celebration to last through March 2023.

This is similar with the Disneyland 60th Anniversary which lasted almost a full 16 months from start to finish. The plan for Disney World’s 50th is going to top even that.

If this was a normal time when all the parks were fully operating, the 50th Anniversary would start around August, a couple of months before the actual anniversary date in October, or maybe even a bit sooner.

Again looking to Disneyland’s 60th, we see the festivities started in May 2015 when the actual anniversary date wasn’t until July.

That, however, was most likely Disney’s original plan, which had to be modified some, as attraction enhancements are now behind schedule and not might be ready in time.

Disney World 50th Anniversary dates

We think waiting until October 1, 2021, to start the 50th celebration is the smart move on Disney’s part. It would have been nice to start a few months earlier to create some buzz and excitement for guests to return back to the parks, but that just isn’t possible in the current climate.

There are too many uncertainties at the moment, and it looks like Disney is going to need all the time they can get to be ready for the 50th.

Pushing it off until October 2021 makes more sense.

At that point, they won’t have everything ready for the start of the event, but at least some of the new rides will be ready in time. Disney will open the rest of the new attractions currently under construction in 2022 while the celebration is still going on.

It also makes sense for guests since many people are still nervous about traveling. Giving them a few more months means the parks are closer to returning to “normal” conditions without all the safety guidelines.

Disney has already said this is likely in 2022, which means that will be the case for the majority of the anniversary.

When Will it End?

Disney 50th Anniversary

Especially since the Disney World 50th Anniversary is getting off to a later start than originally planned, Disney is making it last longer on the backend to make up the difference.

From our calculations, the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary will end in March 2023.

Our original guess was that the 50th celebration would last until the end of 2022, but 18 months from October brings us to March 2023, which should include the entire month.

Disney is spending millions on the preparations for this party, and you can be sure they will use those costumes and keep the decorations up as long as they reasonably can. At 18 months, this is going to be the longest anniversary celebration Disney has ever put on.

If you were waiting to hear the dates before booking your trip, you no longer have to do so. I would start making plans immediately since the hotel rooms are going to fill up very quickly.

Changes to 50th Anniversary Plans Since Park Closures

EPCOT Spaceship Earth Disney World 50th Anniversary

Since the Walt Disney World closure happened back in March, you may be wondering: “How does this affect the 50th Anniversary celebration?” Are they still going to have the celebration as scheduled? Will it get delayed? Will the attractions originally planned for the 50th get built in time, or even built at all?

First of all, we want to ease your minds, at least to a degree. Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is still going to happen, though it’s true some things might be a little different than how the company originally planned them to be.

This closure couldn’t have come at a worse time for the company and it has put a huge financial strain on management. Not only were all the domestic parks closed, but all Disney theme parks in the entire world were forced to shut down for months. Because of these closures, the company lost tens of millions of dollars each day by not being open.

The problem isn’t only the short-term loss in revenue, but many analysts are predicting it could be up to two years before attendance is back to normal in Disney World.

sun setting over construction site TRON coaster

Because of this, Disney has had to reduce their budget for current and future construction projects in the parks right now. This includes many new attractions they were hoping to have ready in time when guests arrive at Disney World for the 50th Anniversary.

The first change then is that some of the new upcoming attractions are going to be delayed. Disney hasn’t announced the exact opening dates of most of the projects planned for 2021 and beyond. Nevertheless, all projects are now months behind schedule in comparison to where they should be, and this means that some of those new rides will just not be ready in time for the 50th.

That’s not the worst of it though. When companies meet tough economic times, often they are forced to put projects on the back-burner, or even shelve some altogether. In fact, Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently revealed that the company spent $700 million less on construction and refurbishments in 2020 because of the lack of revenue across the company.

Chapek also recently announced Disney is also spending significantly less money on new projects in 2021.

Some of the new attractions will be built with much less budget than originally planned and other upcoming attractions that Disney has already announced will not even get built. We go more in-depth in a recent post about the Disney Rides Most Likely to be Canceled or Delayed due to the park closures.

The good news is that Disney is going to need to give guests an incentive to bring them back to the parks, and just saying you are throwing a big party is not going to cut it. People are going to be nervous about traveling for some time, and only amazing new attractions and experiences for the 50th Anniversary is going to make that happen.

upcoming projects for Disney World 50th Anniversary

The great majority of projects that are far along in the construction process (TRON, Ratatouille and Guardians for example), have already recommenced construction and are full-steam ahead. Those are going to be the calling cards that start to bring guests back to the parks and a sense of normalcy. Some of the other ones that are still in the planning stages have instead been postponed or cut.

We also have heard that Disney might be reallocating some of the budget away from new projects and instead for enhancements to the existing attractions. They can refurbish these to make them as nice as possible for the 50th and have a broader impact. There is just so much up in the air right now and management is still deciding the right course to take.

Disney has already invested millions of dollars into the preparation of this event, and you can be sure they are going to do everything possible to recoup that investment. It may take longer than expected, but most of the attractions will get built.

At least Disney World is now open again, and Disney is finally getting some revenue flowing to the parks once again. It will take some time to get back to normal, but at least it’s a start.

Right now it may seem like Disney’s 50th Anniversary is happening at the wrong time, but we may find it’s the perfect medicine to get people back to the parks and help the company correct its finances sooner than would have otherwise happened in a different year.

New Logo and Theme

Disney World 50th Anniversary logo

Along with any anniversary celebration comes a new logo and overall theme. Disney’s World’s 50th Anniversary is called: “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”

We also got a sneak peek look at the 50th Anniversary logo, which features Cinderella Castle upfront and center with iridescent and rainbow colors, and a big art deco-style “50” in the middle of it.

We love this look and think it is a fitting representation of the celebration going on. Disney will most certainly release logos for the other theme parks in the same style, and it should be a seamless fit for all of them.

Disney released an image showing some of the new offerings and decorations based on the 50th-anniversary logo and color pattern including drinks, banners, cupcakes, MagicBands, and even the castle itself looks like it has those rainbow colors in it:

preview of Disney World 50th anniversary colors and theme
photo credit @thehealthymouse.com

Expect banners to go up all around Disney World property in the same color scheme and style as we get closer to the start of the event, as well as lots of similar merchandise and food and beverage options.

This is sure to be one magical celebration!

Confirmed Changes for the 50th Anniversary – Park by Park

Ok, so now that we know what it’s going to look like, just exactly what changes and new additions are coming to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary celebration?

We’re going to go park-by-park and look at the confirmed additions we know about so far. Things are probably going to be added to this list, and maybe a few taken off too as we get closer to the start. Things will also change greatly once we find out more about the construction schedule for the new attractions.

Not all of these changes and additions will necessarily be open at the beginning of the 50th Anniversary, but they should be open at least at some point during the celebration.

Magic Kingdom

TRON Lightcycle Run Bike for Magic Kingdom
  • TRON Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster
  • Tomorrowland Makeover
  • Walt Disney World Railroad refurbishment
  • Cinderella Castle Refurbishment & Projection Lighting Package
  • New Entrance

As of now, Disney hasn’t announced too many of the additions coming to Magic Kingdom Park for the 50th, but you can bet there will be a lot of them considering this is the anniversary of this very park. Something really incredible has to be done to wow visitors and a few things are already in progress.

Tomorrowland is going to see the majority of the changes in the Magic Kingdom. Already a makeover has begun throughout the land, slowly transforming it from a steam-punk futuristic style with harsh metal theming, to a more classic and modern future with white accents. These are most noticeable by looking up at the decorative columns of the PeopleMover.

Staying in the future, Disney has also recently updated the Tomorrowland Speedway, refreshing the track and making room for the attraction we are the most excited about, the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster.

TRON Lightcycle Run construction site

This is the crown jewel of the 50th Anniversary celebration and a clone of the guest-favorite ride of the same name in Shanghai Disneyland. The TRON coaster will be the biggest addition to Tomorrowland since Space Mountain and will breathe new futuristic life back into what has always been a troublesome land.

Right now, it looks like Disney is behind schedule with TRON, and will not be open by October 2021. If that’s the case, Disney will use it as one of the attractions opening in intervals during the remaining 18 months of the celebration.

We also know that the Walt Disney World Railroad will be back up and operational at some point in 2021 and it will look newer than ever.

Something not quite as attractive as the rides is the new entrance coming to the Magic Kingdom. This will streamline the entrance process between the various transportation methods and will make it easier to get those 50th Anniversary crowds into the park.

Will the Castle Change?

Birthday Cake Cinderella Castle 25th Anniversary

One common question people want to know is if Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is going to change for the 50th anniversary. This is valid considering what’s happened in the past. Let’s just say that Disney World management and the fans have a rocky history when it comes to anniversary celebrations and Disney Park icons.

While Disney has had backlash over some pretty poor decoration choices in the past like the Birthday Cake Castle, putting a magic wand next to Spaceship Earth, or Sorcerer’s Hat in front of the Chinese Theater, Disney is not making the same mistake again and has much more modest plans for Cinderella Castle.

Disney has in fact done a refreshing to Cinderella Castle, and the work is now done and visilbe to guests in the Magic Kingdom.

The colors on Cinderella Castle are now more brilliant than ever with the top portion of the castle getting a subtle rose pink color and the roofs a much more vibrant blue. We also love the gold trim around the castle’s features, honoring the “golden anniversary” of 50 years.

Cinderella Castle Disney's Magic Kingdom concept art

Again, this makeover is already finished, so it will be perfect by the time the festivities start.

You can read more about the Cinderella Castle refurbishment in our updates post dedicated to it.

Disney has also announced new nighttime projection lighting packages for each of the 4 theme park icons, and that means Cinderella Castle is also getting new projections. Cinderella Castle will decorated with ornaments, a special anniversary crest and gold bunting.

Seeing the castle in person, the roof at times looks like it’s projecting the same iridescent rainbow colors that are in the actual 50th Anniversary logo. It’s a really cool effect and changes depending on the lighting outside.

We’re excited about the changes coming to the Magic Kingdom and this will make the Resort’s most famous icon even more beautiful than ever!

EPCOT

Concept art for EPCOT Map after 50th Anniversary
  • Future World transforming into 3 New Neighborhoods
  • Spaceship Earth Refurbishment
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Coaster
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Moana: Journey of Water
  • France Pavilion Expansion
  • Space 220
  • Play Pavilion
  • Disney Harmonious Fireworks Show
  • Dreamer’s Point
  • “Awesome Planet”
  • “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 3D”
  • “Wonderous China”
  • New Entrance

While the Magic Kingdom is the park actually celebrating its 50th Anniversary, it’s EPCOT that is getting the Resort’s biggest overhaul. In fact, this is the most extensive project ever done to a Disney World park and something that was greatly needed since it was ignored for so many years.

We are afraid of things getting cut from the plans after Disney’s recent comments, let’s just hope they don’t neglect the park and still give it the care and attention it needs in the long-term, just to save money in the short-term.

Starting out up front, the new Epcot Entrance is almost completed and will have a new fountain to greet guests. Future World will be no more, instead, being replaced by 3 new neighborhoods, World Celebration, World Discovery and World Nature. The new entrance should be ready in time, but the overall transformation of Future World will take more time and might not be ready for the 50th.

The super ambitious new festival center for example has already been put on hold and rumors are that it won’t get built for another 3-4 years minimum, if at all.

The biggest addition and one that will be a big draw for guests coming to the 50th Anniversary celebration is the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride taking over the old Universe of Energy building. This attraction is definitely going forward, but might not be ready in time for the start of the 50th Anniversary in October 2021.

Cosmic Rewind Roller Coaster Model at Epcot Experience

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will also be a big draw as it’s an IP that’s popular with Disney guests and adds a new family attraction to EPCOT. That and the France expansion will both be ready in plenty of time for the 50th on October 1st.

Disney had already announced the Spaceship Earth refurbishment would be starting in May 2020 and it was believed they were hoping for a target opening of 2022, putting it in the middle of the 50th celebration. Those plans have since changed and the Spaceship Earth refurb has been put on hold. No word yet on when or if those plans will move forward.

While the new EPCOT fireworks show Disney Harmonious was supposed to debut in 2020, that is changing to 2021, but it should also be ready for the 50th.

Even though it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the Space 220 restaurant, that should debut by the end of 2020 or sometime in 2021 at the latest.

We aren’t quite as sure however about the Moana: Journey of Water attraction or Play Pavilion, both of which Disney has been silent about since their announcements at the D23 Expo. I supposed Disney could cut some costs and postpone both attractions if need be.

Sadly, the Cherry Tree Lane addition to the U.K. pavilion and the Mary Poppins attraction have now been shelved and will not be built for the 50th Anniversary. It’s disappointing to see, but not surprising that things ended up this way with all the budget cuts.

Hollywood Studios

inside of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway theater
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Mickey Shorts Theater

Thankfully, most of the improvements needed in Hollywood Studios for the 50th Anniversary have already been finished, and to rave reviews.

Biggest of all is the amazing new Star Wars land: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge which has lived up to most of the hype we heard for the 5 years before it was built. It has amazing and realistic theming, wonderful restaurants and shopping options, but most of all, two incredible new attractions.

The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride will have you living out every childhood dream of riding this iconic spaceship. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance though, takes things to a completely other level and is probably the best ride in Walt Disney World at this time. Both attractions plus Galaxy’s Edge as a land, are valid reasons to visit Disney World during the 50th celebration.

In 2020 we saw the debut of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, a charming new attraction filling in some big shoes for the Great Movie Ride. While it isn’t a reason in-of-itself to come all the way down to Disney World, it’s a must-do once you are there.

Animal Kingdom

Flight of Passage ride queue

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the park that will see the fewest additions for the 50th Anniversary, this mostly because of more urgent attention in the other three parks.

The Animal Kingdom is doing well thanks to the huge success of Pandora: The World of Avatar with its two rides: Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Both are incredible additions and Flight of Passage is definitely one of my favorite rides anywhere. Think of it as a souped-up version of Soarin’.

Like the Magic Kingdom, one addition we can be sure of at the Animal Kingdom for the 50th is the new entrance. This will make it easier for visitors coming from the buses or parking lot in this expanded area.

You can read more detailed descriptions about all the new rides and attractions coming to Disney World in the next few years in a recent post.

Disney World 50th Anniversary Rumors – “50 Magical Enhancements”

Disney World 50th Anniversary Rumors

Even though there are many plans for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary we already know about, there are plenty that are rumored that Disney has yet to announce. In fact, the biggest rumor is that Disney is planning “50 Magical Enhancements” for the 50th Anniversary.

Most of these enhancements won’t be completely new attractions but renewing and refurbishing existing ones so they are in top shape for the celebration. Enhancements that beautify the Magic Kingdom and the other parks will also be included, as well as special 50th Anniversary-specific entertainment and shows.

It looks like Disney has shifted some focus away from making new attractions for the 50th, and instead wants to emphasize the existing attractions by bringing them up-to-date as much as possible. Some of the budget has now been moved into the “improvements” category.

In fact, it looks like Disney has already given a nickname to their infrastructure improvements and are calling it “Project Nugget.” This is a catchall for all the various construction and refurbishments related to the 50th Anniversary.

It’s important to note that we still don’t know which of these projects are getting the green light and which ones will have to way. Many were on the table before the closure of the parks and now might not go through due to a lack of time and money, and the many changes of leadership within Disney recently.

In any event, let’s look at some of the most talked-about rumors and what we potentially could see coming to the parks for the 50th.

Magic Kingdom

  • Cinderella Projection Lighting Package
  • New Nighttime Parade
  • Special Fireworks Show
  • Big Thunder Mountain – special effects additions
  • Jungle Cruise – scene updates
  • Walt Disney World Railroad – scene enhancements
  • Carousel of Progress – scene change
  • It’s a Small World – Disney character addition
  • Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – refurbishment
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – refurbishment
  • Astro Orbiter – refurbishment
Jungle Cruise ride enhancements Magic Kingdom

Since it is the Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary, and there is only one new attraction coming, Disney will take some time to refurbish some of the fan-favorite ones to make sure they are in the best shape possible.

They’ve been talking about adding special effects to the final show scene in Big Thunder Mountain with projection mapping effects like in the Disneyland version.

The Jungle Cruise, on the other hand, may get an update to reflect the new film with Dwane Johnson, though the film release has not got pushed back, so we are doubtful this will happen in time for the 50th.

More scene enhancements could be added to the Walt Disney World Railroad once it finally opens back up, and would be an easy addition since it will still be closed for at least most of 2021.

Enchanted Tiki Room changes

Both the Swiss Family Treehouse and Enchanted Tiki Room have been talked about, but we don’t have any specifics at this time about what could realistically change. The same with any updates to the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland.

The Carousel of Progress is one of our all-time favorite attractions and well-deserving of some much-needed attention. For years they’ve talked about updating the final show scene and bringing it more up-to-date technology-wise, so we’ll keep an eye on that.

One that I’m surprised hasn’t been worked in already since it’s already in Disneyland is adding the Disney characters to show scenes in It’s a Small World. As controversial as it was in Disneyland, we think it’s a good fit and a way to involve guests a bit more in the ride.

Nighttime parade returning to Disney World 50th Anniversary

Maybe the biggest rumor, however, is a new nighttime parade for the Magic Kingdom. The park hasn’t had one since 2016, and 5 years is way too long for the premiere park in the biggest theme park destination in the world to not have a nighttime parade. Disney was supposedly seriously considering this before the closure, but now that probably isn’t going to happen.

As an alternative to a brand new nighttime parade in the Magic Kingdom, it looks like we might be getting “Paint the Night” to come over from Disneyland instead as a temporary option. The only snag is the “Mack” float from the Cars franchise, as it can’t do the Magic Kingdom parade route. Either a new float needs to be made, or they can just drop him from the show.

Disney has confirmed that Cinderella Castle is getting a new projection lighting package which will add ornaments, a special anniversary crest and gold bunting, along with special effects.

Lastly, there are sure to be some 50th Anniversary-specific shows to be included. In similar past celebrations, Disney has included a new fireworks show. If this happens, it will likely just be a temporary show that goes on during the 50th, but then Happily Ever After will come back once it’s over.

Who knows if they will be doing fireworks shows again in 2021, but hopefully they can at least in 2022.

More possibilities are new stage shows or a new dance party. We’ll have to see what develops in the coming months.

EPCOT

  • Spaceship Earth Projection Lighting Package
  • New World Showcase Country
  • Journey Into Imagination Overhaul
Figment future in EPCOT park

Most of the updates coming to EPCOT for the 50th Anniversary have already been announced. The most common two you always here are an update to the Journey Into Imagination ride and a new country finally coming to World Showcase.

At this point, I think both of these are off the table and won’t be built in time for the celebration. Out of the two, I think there was more of a chance to see a new country in World Showcase, but again, time and money are limiting factors and it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer.

The same goes for a Journey Into Imagination refurbishment. A re-do is definitely needed, but it just isn’t going to happen at this point. Besides these two, we aren’t hearing much else as EPCOT needs to just concentrate on the Future World overhaul and the new rides they are already building. Those should be more than enough if they are able to be done in time for the 50th.

Hollywood Studios

  • Tower of Terror – New Projection Lighting Package
  • Tower of Terror – Ride Special Effects.

With all the enhancements to this park over the last few years, Hollywood Studios should be relatively quiet leading up to the big event. The only one that is definitely happening at this point is the new projection lighting package for the show on the outside of the Tower of Terror building.

We are also hoping for the rumored new special effects in the elevator shafts of the Tower of Terror ride, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Animal Kingdom

  • Tree of Life – New Projection Lighting Package
  • Expedition Everest – Fixing the Yeti

When is Disney going to fix the Yeti? Your guess is as good as mine at this point. This one always gets talked about, but there are more pressing issues on hand and they won’t have the budget to get this one done by Disney’s 50th Anniversary.

What is confirmed is the new projection lighting show on the Tree of Life, similar to the projection lighting on the other park icons.

Resort Hotels

guests in the bridge on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel concept art
  • Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel
  • The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
  • Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge

With potentially fewer guests coming to Disney World in the next few years than originally planned new resort hotels would seemingly be at the bottom of the list for Disney to build. Already we’ve heard of one of these hotels is not going to be built in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration.

The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel is the most anticipated one of the group, and we’ll have to see if the market is there for such a high-end experience. We are doubtful, but if the attendance bounces back you might see it in 2022 during the 50th.

The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve recently got a new name change, and the construction is moving forward as well. Technically not owned by Disney, we think it will be ready in Sumer 2021.

The construction on Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge is a mystery as Disney hasn’t come out and said officially that the project has been canceled the project. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to go forward since Disney won’t need more hotel rooms for a while.

The situation is strange since it was one of the only construction projects in Walt Disney World that continued during the park closures. It will probably get built eventually, but maybe not until 2023 or later.

Even if it’s not built, if you are coming down for Disney World’s 50th, there will still be plenty of new places to choose from!

Special Food for the 50th

Disney always does special event-themed food for whatever kind of celebration they are doing, and you can bet we will have dozens of 50th Anniversary-themed food and beverage offerings once the celebration kicks off.

Expect to see the iridescent rainbow colors on cupcakes, cookies, pastries, cakes, churros, pretzels, ice cream, dole whips, and just about any other Disney food item you can think of!

50th Anniversary Merchandise

If you thought there is going to be a lot of food offerings, wait until you see all the Disney World 50th Anniversary merchandise that will be for sale in the parks!

You’ll see that same 50th Anniversary rainbow design and the logos on sweaters, t-shirts, hats, pants, mugs, sipper cups, MagicBands, and more. There is likely to be a lot of limited-edition merchandise too, which will make this event a Disney collector’s dream come true!

Possible Guest Promotions

Disney World 50th Anniversary promotions

Seeing as Disney will need something extra to get visitors to the parks for the 50th Anniversary, it’s not out of the question we see some kind of special promotion aimed at the guests which could enhance their time while visiting.

Remember when Disney ran the “Year of a Million Dreams” that ran from late 2006 all the way through 2008? It was a special promotion in which Disney World and Disneyland guests were randomly selected each day and given special privileges and prizes to make their trip even more magical.

The prizes included extra FastPasses, being the Grand Marshall in the parade, and even a night’s stay in Cinderella Castle or a free Disney vacation. That promotion brought a ton of buzz to the guests and it would be very smart on Disney’s part to do something similar for Disney World’s 50th.

I have no insider info on this and maybe they haven’t even thought of it yet, but it would be a great incentive for guests, offering them some “extras” to make their trip feel as special as this type of celebration should feel. Let’s hope Disney comes up with something similar here.

Disney World 50th Anniversary Touring Changes