Disney World’s 50th Anniversary – the Ultimate Guide

Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

Are you planning a trip to Disney World in 2021? If so, you will be in for a really big treat! In 2021 on October 1st, 2021, to be exact, it will be Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!! This is a really huge deal! I myself, cannot even believe that the park is already 50 years old. Granted I wasn’t even born yet when the park opened, but still, yet, it is just crazy that this wonderful, amazing place is just now turning 50 years old!

 

What is the 50th Anniversary All About??

Technically, it is not just Disney World’s 50th Anniversary aka the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom. It is also the 50th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, or well, more specifically, The Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Village Resort.

When Magic Kingdom opened, so did both hotels and that is what started the Walt Disney World Resort. Throughout the course of Magic Kingdoms’ history, they have celebrated many milestones. October 1, 1981, was the very first big milestone these two hotels and Magic Kingdom celebrated. The next celebration wasn’t until they celebrated their 10th anniversary in which Disney called it the ‘Tencennial Celebration.’

Disney World's 50th Anniversary

The second big milestone Disney celebrated was the opening of the second Disney park (Epcot) in 1982, which coincidentally, opened on October 1, 1982; the 11th anniversary of Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, and the Polynesian. Four years later on October 1, 1986, Magic Kingdom celebrated a milestone of 15 years! Five years later on October 1, 1991, Magic Kingdom celebrated their 20th Anniversary in which they called the Surprise Celebration!

The last big celebration Magic Kingdom had was back in 1996 for the 25th Anniversary Remember the Magic party which lasted for a total of 15 months! Since then, the park has not celebrated anything huge. Yes, the park celebrated its’ anniversary, but they have only celebrated in a minor way when compared to prior ways they have celebrated. That will all change though come October 1, 2021.

 

This day will be a very significant day like no other. If you have been to a huge milestone celebration in the past, then you will be in for a big treat as this celebration will be the biggest, grandest, and longest celebration ever. It is not just Disney World’s 50th Anniversary aka the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom, but also the 50th anniversary of the Contemporary and Polynesian Resort as well as the 40th anniversary of Epcot! As this is such a huge deal, you may be wondering just what exactly they will be doing to celebrate?

 

What Does This Anniversary Party Entail??

Since Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is still 3 years away, we know some things, and then we don’t know some things. The things we do know consist of projects Disney is working on and what we don’t know consists of rumors/speculation.

 Magic Kingdom

Let’s look at Magic Kingdom for instance. One of the big projects being worked on is the building of the Tron Light Cycle ride. If you’re not familiar with what this is, it’s a ride that was built for Tomorrowland in Shanghai Disneyland. It opened with the park in 2016. Believe it or not, the ride was developed and was always going to come to Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, but it came to Shanghai first. That being said, the ride will make its’ debut in 2021 for the 50th anniversary of the park. That’s the first official thing we know about the plans for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

The second thing we know from examining Magic Kingdom is that Tomorrowland is getting some kind of major makeover. This process is in phases and has slowly been going on for the past year or two, but we see these changes. The whole theming of the land is slowly changing from a retro-future Tomorrowland to a more modern-techno future Tomorrowland.

The first changes we saw in regards to theming was a complete refresh in the painting of the rockwork towards the entrance to the land and some painting changes involving certain walls in the land. Specifically, in regards to walls, the famous ‘Purple Wall’ has been recently updated with a new color scheme.

Staying in Tomorrowland, the next topic of discussion in terms of the future of the land would be the Tomorrowland Speedway. Currently, there is a love/hate relationship that many guests have with this ride. Personally, I don’t think it goes fast enough. 

Disney World's 50th Anniversary

 

People love it as it is a ride that brings about nostalgia when they rode it for the very first time as kids and than were able to take their kids on it for the first time. Then there are those who hate it. They hate it as it smells horribly from the gas it emits, and then it is a very loud ride. Come January 2, 2019, the ride will be going down for a very lengthy refurbishment. Part of this refurb is to alter the track slightly so that the addition of the Tron Light Cycle ride can be done. The other part of this refurb based on pure speculation at this moment (Disney not confirmed this in any way) is that the ride will be updated to fit in more with the modern-techno future of Tomorrowland. That being said, when the ride comes back it is possible the ride will no longer have gas-powered cars and be less loud. The way to do this is to simply change each car to electric but who knows, Disney may not even do that at all.

The Tomorrowland Speedway is expected to open sometime in Summer of 2019. When that is, we don’t know just yet as Disney hasn’t explicitly said. Either way, I am pretty sure that it doesn’t take five months to alter a track but, hey, who knows.

Speaking of refurbishments, Peter Pan’s Flight will be closing from January 7, 2019 until February 2, 2019. It is only a 27-day refurbishment, but still yet, what exactly is being done on the ride? The last time the ride was refurbished was back in November of 2015. Granted the ride only closed for six days, it was still only for a minor refurbishment. As this is going to take 27 days to refurb, one can only wonder just what exactly will be taking place? Perhaps the ride will be updated in some way to prepare February 2, 2019.

Epcot

I love visiting Epcot, but I am ready for some more rides there.   Thankfully, Epcot is getting many renovations to prepare itself for this huge celebration. 

Epcot’s renovations will “keep it true to the original vision while making it more timeless, more relevant, more family-friendly, more Disney,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts. “Families want a little bit more of that Disney wow factor.”

It’s been years, (since the 90s actually) that Spaceship Earth received a major update.  Nows the time.  Spaceship Earth will be closing sometime in 2020 for its updates.  These changes are rumored to take almost 2.5 years. 

In Fal 2021, Future World will be welcoming a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY COASTER.  I’m very excited, can you tell?

Ratatouille the Adventure will be opening between France and Morocco.  If you’ve been to Disneyland Paris and have ridden the Ratatouille ride there, know that it’s going to similar.  If you haven’t, it is going to be a dark, trackless ride where the riders are shrunk to Remy’s (the rat) size.  If you want a sneak peek of that, watch this video

Mission Space will also be receiving a revamp, update, and a matching restaurant. 

The China pavilion will get a new 360-degree film to replace “Reflections of China.”

Opening in 1982, Epcot was Disney’s version of the World Fair as well as a celebration of technology and the future, it’s fallen a bit behind so these changes will be very welcome for us all.

Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is going to be huge when it opens up at Disney World in the Fall of 2019.  You will be able to travel through space, board a star destroyer, and fly the Millennium Falcon. 

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is going where the Great Movie Ride used to be.  Disney say’s this ride is going to defy logic at 2 1/2-D.  The attraction will have a new catchy theme song and begin with a Mickey & Minnie short cartoon.  It will put you inside the world of Mickey cartoons.

 

There is one last thing we absolutely know is going to happen before we dive into speculation. We do know this celebration is going to be huge. Perhaps, this celebration will be the biggest, grandest, and most memorable celebration Disney World has put on to date. In fact, while it is not confirmed, (but is most likely going to be) it is to be a celebration that lasts for at least a year if not a year and a half! Why have it so long? Well, first off it is to celebrate the 50 years of memories, magic, happiness and smiles the resort has created over the last 50 years. It is also to celebrate the 50th of the Contemporary and Polynesian Resort. Not only that, but the same year Epcot will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. To say there isn’t a lot to celebrate is kind of an understatement. When Disney decides to put on a big party and celebrate, you better be prepared as it is something you do not want to miss out on!

Rumors and Speculation Regarding the Big 50

Disney World's 50th Anniversary

Now it is time for speculation. These things I am about to share are things that are only rumored currently for the Disney World’s 50th Anniversary plans. They have not been confirmed in any way, although some of these things are most likely going to happen based on evidence of other celebrations Disney has put on. When Disneyland celebrated their 60th anniversary, they had special fireworks. It was called Disneyland Forever. That said, it is almost guaranteed that Magic Kingdom will have some kind of special fireworks for the anniversary. No, it is not going to be replacing Happily Ever After but instead just be at the Magic Kingdom for a limited-time engagement. Disneyland also debuted a brand-new nighttime parade for the 60th anniversary which was called Paint the Night. If you go to Magic Kingdom now, you would see that currently there is no nighttime parade.

On October 9, 2016, Magic Kingdom held its’ very last performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Since then, Magic Kingdom has not gotten any nighttime parade. In fact, this is now the longest time in Magic Kingdom history the park has been without a nighttime parade. Will we ever get one back? Well, if Disneyland got a special parade for their big celebration, chances are Magic Kingdom may most likely receive a brand-new parade for its 50th. Hopefully, we do get a parade as the parades were truly special to see. It was another way for guests to stay at the park later at night. I myself have memories of seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade along with the SpectroMagic Parade many times with my family members. With the technology we have today, I am sure that if and when a nighttime parade comes back, it is sure to be quite the spectacle!

 

Back on the topic of rides, there are rumors out there that talk about the refurbishment and update of several Disney attractions at Magic Kingdom. We know so far that the Tomorrowland Speedway is coming back different in some way shape or form. Peter Pan’s Flight may be coming back newly updated, but who knows. Hopefully, it does come back with the added updates the Disneyland version received. The rumored attractions to receive some kind of update for the 50th include but are not limited to: The Tomorrowland Speedway, Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Carousel of Progress,  It’s A Small World, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Stitch’s Great Escape, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain.

 

How Should One Prepare for the Big 50th??

With the 50th anniversary on its way, you may be wondering just how you should prepare for this grand occasion? My first piece of advice is to book your vacation as soon as packages for 2021 are released. Most likely that will be sometime in 2020.

The second thing you need to do is plan to arrive at the Magic Kingdom the day of the 50th by no later than 5:30 am. What I mean by arriving by 5:30 is by 5:30 you are all the way at the gate ready and waiting to get in the park. I actually recommend going as early as you possibly can, so if you can get there before 5:30, then great. If not, well, try your absolute best. You are going to want to get there early for a number of reasons.

Disney World's 50th Anniversary

The first reason is if you do not, loads of people will be in line well before you and it may take a really long time to get in the park. That being said, you will also miss some things happening in the park right away when it opens, hence the reason you need to be there early. As soon as people are let into the park and this could be as early as 5:30 am, people will either head straight for the Emporium to wait in line and buy special anniversary merchandise or they will head right to the center hub in front of the castle and wait for the dedication ceremony that will be taking place. If you are fortunate enough to make your way through the line of the emporium and get a great spot for the ceremony, you did really good.

 

My last piece of advice is to be prepared. The crowds and lines will be extremely long. Think about how the crowds are at Black Friday. Then take that energy and double or maybe even triple it. That is how crazy it will be at the park. This day may even be worse than going to the park on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve. Along with being prepared, you need to have a battle plan. Plan out your day exactly how you want it to go and then stick to that plan. If you do not have a plan, you may not get to do all the things you want to do during the park’s celebration.

So, if you plan, if you prepare, and if you are a crazy person like me who will be at Magic Kingdom at 5:30am on a Friday, then you will have the best time of your life! Either way this celebration is sure to one to remember and be anything unlike you have ever seen! Will I see you there? Who knows, but you have 2 years, 11 months, and 5 days (from the day I wrote this) until the big 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Kicks off!

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Disney World's 50th Anniversary

7 thoughts on “Disney World’s 50th Anniversary – the Ultimate Guide

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    It looks like there’s so much to enjoy at Disney World’s 50th Anniversary! I would love to take my kids here some day for sure. Thankful for your complete guide 🙂

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    This looks like a lot of fun. We went to the Disneyland 50th anniversary years ago. It was a wonderful time.

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    We went to Disneyland 2 years ago and my daughter really enjoyed that place. We witness how magical this place is and seeing every smiles of different people watching their parade makes my heart so happy. Now, I am wishing to witness that again together with my second child. It is really a fun and magical place in the world.

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    OMG! How beautiful Disney World is this period! My kid will be happy to visit it once again!

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    Oooh! I would love to visit during one of their anniversaries. It looks like they go all out. I’ve only been to Disneyland once in my life and it was amazing!

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    I can’t imagine how over the top this will be. The attention to detail at Disney is always outstanding.

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