With Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration underway, you might be wondering what will be different about your trip if you head to the parks during the 18-month long fest. There’s a lot to see, and you’ll want to take in as much as possible while you’re there to soak in all the enchantment. The Orlando, Florida-based theme park is already known as the most magical place on earth, and these Disney World 50th Anniversary park exclusives will help you see why the company has dubbed its golden anniversary as the “world’s most magical celebration.”
Walt Disney World’s anniversary celebration officially kicked off on Oct. 1, 2021 — which was 50 years to the day when the park opened in 1971. The excitement will be felt during every second of your stay as it spans across all four theme parks will include new nighttime spectaculars, special merch, and limited-time food items. If you can believe it, that’s just the beginning: There’s so much to see during the 50th celebration that you won’t see at any other time. Thankfully, the anniversary festivities will last a full 18 months, so there’s no need to rush off to Florida right away.
From the little details to the big ones, here are all the things you’ll want to know about Disney’s 50th celebration:
Courtesy of Collette Reitz
When the sun sets each night throughout the 18 months, Disney World’s four parks will be illuminated by their respective icons in a spectacular showcase called “
Beacons of Magic.”
You’ll want to try to end a night at each one of the parks to see all four of the icons all lit up. They include: the Cinderella Castle sparkling in pixie dust in Magic Kingdom; Spaceship Earth looking luminescent in stardust courtesy of all-new LED lights at Epcot; the Hollywood Tower Hotel glittering in EARidescence at Disney Hollywood Studios; and the Tree of Life glowing with fireflies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
02 The Hunt For 50th Golden Statues Courtesy of Collette Reitz
In honor of the park’s golden anniversary, Disney World has a “Fab 50” bronze statue character collection scattered throughout its four theme parks. Don’t try to count 50 separate structures shining in their golden patina, though, because you’ll fall short: Each character counts as a statue, and there are quite a few two-for-one deals, according to a Disney spokesperson.
For example, you’ll find
Frozen’s Olaf and Bruni together at Epcot (which counts as two statues) as well as Rocket and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. In Magic Kingdom, you’ll see some solo renditions of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Donald Duck. If you find yourself a little shy of 50 characters on your search, be sure to take a peek up high and low (and behind shrubs) for less noticeable characters. 03 Redesigned Cinderella Castle Courtesy of Collette Reitz
Disney World revamped its Cinderella Castle from blue to gold (well, rose gold) for the anniversary and it’s more stunning than ever. “We totally did a redesign on Cinderella, Royal castle,” a Disney spokesperson tells Elite Daily. “We added the iconic rose gold shimmer ... we changed up all of the gateways, which are just beautiful, adding the iconic gold to celebrate the 50th.”
Magic Kingdom stans will immediately notice the gold touches on the castle, as well as the standout 50th anniversary medallion.
Epcot’s new Harmonious is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars in any Disney park worldwide, per a Disney spokesperson — and it’s one of the must-see shows for the 50th anniversary. The 20-minute spectacular is a celebration of different cultures and countries as told through Disney music and stories. You’ll hear classic songs in different languages as scenes from your favorite movies play among a light and water show that’s accompanied by fireworks.
Harmonious is a story in three acts — gather, celebrate, and, unite — and you’ll see the show progress through highlighting different cultures and languages, virtually visiting different countries, and then coming together as one for the finale.
05 Enchantment At Magic Kingdom Courtesy of Collette Reitz
At the Magic Kingdom, you can see
the new nighttime spectacular called Enchantment, which features fireworks, spectacular lighting, and special projection effects. Extending from Cinderella Castle to Main Street U.S.A., the show features some of your fave characters like Tiana, Miguel, and Rapunzel, set to an inspiring soundtrack.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can watch two unique 10-minute
KiteTails shows during the day. The first is inspired by The Lion King, and the second features your fave characters from The Jungle Book. Both shows feature 3D kites and windcatchers, some spanning up to 30 feet long, that take flight above the parks’ Discovery River Theater. 07 Talk To The Cast Members Courtesy of Collette Reitz
The best place to get the real feel for Disney World’s 50th anniversary is from the cast members themselves. A Disney spokesperson tells Elite Daily visitors should “take a step back and interact with the cast members.” You’ll likely learn a lot when you ask what the celebration means to them. According to the rep, “every cast member will tell you something unique and different.”
Fun fact: The golden Micky and Minnie statues in Magic Kingdom are dedicated to the cast members, with the plaque calling them “the heart of our magic.”
08 Experience EARidescence Courtesy of Collette Reitz
Disney World’d 50th anniversary celebration is all about EARidescence, which is a special shimmery glow you’ll catch throughout the parks during the 18-month celebration: in food, on the Cinderella Castle and other theme park icons, and even an EARidescent merch collection.
The meaning behind the EARidescent color is all about melding the park’s history and future. “The EARidescent color is really about incorporating all the colors from the last 50 years, and then bringing all the new colors in from the next 50 years,” a spokesperson tells Elite Daily.
EARidescent won’t be the same for all park-goers, and you might experience it differently when you see it in different places. According to the Disney spokesperson, “It's leaving no color behind because as each guest comes into the park and looks at this EARidescent color, [it] kind of looks different from every angle.”
09 Epcot’s Light-Up Monorail
Epcot’s iconic Monorail got an upgrade for the 50th anniversary — special track lighting. Each Monorail now features glowing lights underneath that match the specific train’s color, bringing a magical glow as riders travel by.
10 Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary Starbucks Cups Courtesy of Collette Reitz
Your love of coffee and Mickey combine in new Starbucks tumblers. The cups honoring the 50th anniversary feature four different colors and designs depending on which park you’re in: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The ceramic tumblers have Mickey’s face on them and iconic attractions of the park it features.
You can find them in places like the Main Street Bakery or the Cinema in Magic Kingdom or Trolley Cart Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and they sell for $24.99.
If you prefer a mini version, there are also limited-edition Starbucks ornaments and pin sets with the same four designs.
According to the Disney Food Blog Twitter account, there are also
Disney 50th Starbucks mugs with park themes, so keep your eyes peeled in the gift shops. 11 Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary Merch Courtesy of Collette Reitz
There’s plenty of
limited-edition 50th anniversary merch at Disney World, from something as small as a special pin set that features each park to decked out Mickey and Minnie ears.
Disney really went all out with five different collections:
the Disney Castle Collection, the EARidescent Collection, the Celebration Collection, the Vault Collection, and Lux Logo collection, the latter which will pop up in November 2021.
Each of the five collections has a different vibe. If you’re looking for pieces that scream “celebration,” try the Celebration (duh) and Disney Castle Collections, since they’re shimmery and sparkly. To deck yourself out in the color of the moment, the EARidescent Collection is perfect. The Vault Collection is a total #TBT and even include the original Mickey and Minnie designs. Finally, Lux Logo will keep you sleek in all black with a touch of gold.
You can find the merch at several shopping locations throughout Disney World, including the
World of Disney at Disney Springs, the Emporium at Magic Kingdom Park, and Keystone Clothiers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 12 Spot Mickey At Epcot’s Creations Shop Courtesy of Collette Reitz The Creations shop in Epcot opened in time for the 50th anniversary celebration, and although it isn’t exactly a part of the 18-month fest, you’ll want to stop in to see the store’s special murals. It’s meant to tell the story of Epcot’s history. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in light and nod back to Epcot’s architecture, while the pops of color bring in the new Epcot.
You’ll want to take a look at the center of the store, where there are four abstract Mickey murals in red, yellow, blue, and green. According to a Disney spokesperson, “Each mural is facing towards [one of Epcot’s] the new neighborhoods.” Green points toward Epcot’s World Nature; blue faces World Celebration; red leads you to World Discovery, and yellow will take you to World Showcase.
Other visions of Mickey in Creations include 10 different Mickey sculptures displayed on the wall, as well as huge Mickey mural right when you walk in.
13 Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary Food
Of course, you can’t talk about Disney events without taking a deep dive into the limited-edition food items available in the parks, and the 50th anniversary celebration is no exception.
You’ll find over 150 new bites and sips throughout each of Disney World’s four theme parks, and the choices include some
Instagram-worthy food creations like a Squids Revenge Michelada and a Happy Haunts Milkshake.
Keep an eye out for 50th anniversary collectibles like popcorn buckets and reusable cups as well.
14 Stay In A Disney Resort
To really get the feel of the 50th celebration, Disney recommends staying at a Disney Resort. Of course, this may seem like a no-brainer, but Disney recently refurbished the
Polynesian Resort and Contemporary Resort.
In the Polynesian, you’ll enjoy a “Pacific Ocean-inspired palette” and designs that will remind you of
Moana. Channel your inner superhero at the newly redesigned Contemporary Resort, which has new Incredibles designs in the rooms (yes, you’ll see Jack-Jack in your room).
Another plus of staying in a Disney Resort is that you’ll have the perfect viewing spot for the
Electrical Water Pageant. As with everything else during the anniversary celebration, you can expect some 50th surprises during your stay, too. 15 Come Back For New Surprises Courtesy of Collette Reitz
There’s already so much to see, buy, and eat at Disney World’s 50th celebration, but as the party continues over the next 18 months, the parks will roll out even more items. You can expect to see new food and merchandise appear in the parks, and there may also be new surprises in the parks.
With so much to see and do at Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, you’ll want to book your trip ASAP.
The CDC recommends traveling only after you’re fully vaccinated and your vaccine has become fully effective . If you’re not fully vaccinated and must travel, check the CDC guidelines before you book. Check your destination’s vaccination and testing requirements before you depart.