NEWS: Disney World Celebrates and Begins 50th Anniversary Celebration

On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World Resort officially opened to guests for the first time, the culmination of years spent imagining, planning, and developing Walt Disney’s magical dream. Five decades later, guests can experience the magic when they visit The Most Magical Place on Earth to be part of its 50th-anniversary celebration. Learn more below.


1 – Debut of Harmonious and Beacons of Magic-Spaceship Earth at EPCOT

“Harmonious,” one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park is now showing at EPCOT, after an early soft opening on Wednesday, September 29. This new show brings the globe together at World Showcase Lagoon in a celebration of Disney music. It is a powerful tribute to the unifying power of story and song, embracing new technical magic that incorporates pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting, massive LED panels, and media in new ways. “Harmonious” features new interpretations of classic Disney songs in more than a dozen languages, performed by a diverse group of 240 artists from around the world, including Luis Fonsi, Joy, Danny Gokey, and the Ndlovu Youth Choir.

After the debut of the show, guests were treated to the transformation of Spaceship Earth into a Beacon of Magic. New lights shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, connecting to one another like 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.

Credit: Disney/David Roark

2 – Rededication Moment

On Thursday, September 30, at Magic Kingdom, we had the chance to attend a celebration event and catch the rededication moment. Disney Legend Christina Aguilera performed in front of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park. Aguilera appeared as part of the re-dedication ceremony for Walt Disney World on the eve of the vacation destination’s 50th anniversary. Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Executive Chairman Bob Iger re-dedicated Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney Legend Christina Aguilera performs in front of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, Sept. 30, 2021. Aguilera appeared as part of the re-dedication ceremony for Walt Disney World on the eve of the vacation destination’s 50th anniversary. (Credit: Disney/Kent Phillip)

“It is a thrill to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World and the extraordinary cast members and Imagineers who bring the resort to life every day and create magical moments for our guests,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “As we look to the next 50 years and beyond, we are inspired to continually reinvent the way we tell stories, and to use technology to immerse guests deeper into the story worlds they love so much.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek (left) and Executive Chairman Bob Iger (right) re-dedicate Walt Disney World Resort in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park, Sept. 30, 2021, on the eve of the vacation destination’s 50th anniversary. (Credit: Disney/David Roark)

3 – Debut of Beacons of Magic-Cinderella Castle and Disney Enchantment

Also on Thursday evening, Cinderella Castle was transformed into a Beacon of Magic and was illuminated with a dazzling radiance and pixie-dust sparkle. The castle will be a Beacon of Magic nightly during the 18-month celebration. Shortly after, another new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment” debuted as part of a private event and was lived streamed to fans everywhere.

The show was created to launch with “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” The show takes guests on a journey filled with adventure, wonder, and empowerment. Inspiring everyone to believe in magic, “Disney Enchantment” features lots of fireworks, powerful music, enhanced lighting, and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A. The show’s soundtrack is anchored by an emotional original song, “You Are the Magic,” written and performed by multiple GRAMMY® winner Philip Lawrence, whose musical career began as a Disney cast member performing in Walt Disney World shows.


4 – Anniversary Day at Magic Kingdom Park

October 1, 2021, marked the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom Park and Walt Disney World. Guests arrived before 6:00 am and Main Street U.S.A. was quickly packed with guests. At 7:55 am, the “Let the Magic Begin” welcome show returned to the park with a new 50th-anniversary theme and with the “EARidescent 8″ — Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale — welcoming guests to the park! The “EARidescent 8” also debuted in a new character cavalcade, Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade, that traveled through the park five times throughout the day. Our favorite characters are dressed in sparkling new looks, custom-made for this special occasion. Highlights of these celebratory designs include beautifully embroidered impressions of Cinderella Castle backed by fireworks, as well as a brocade in multi-toned, EARidescent fabric – all punctuated with pops of gold. Disney characters will also make appearances at Disney Resort hotels, dressed in their EARidescent best.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and pals welcome guests to Magic Kingdom Park in front of Cinderella Castle. (Credit: Disney/David Roark)

Wait times for attractions were actually quite low, but we suspect that is because most people were waiting in lines for merchandise, dining, photos, or just sitting and enjoying the atmosphere of being in the park on the historic day. Finally, guests were able to enjoy “Disney Enchantment” for themselves at the park.

Click here for our Instagram Story from October 1 at Magic Kingdom Park with photos and video from the day.

5 – Anniversary Day at EPCOT

October 1, 2021, marked the 39th anniversary of EPCOT and was also the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The new attraction invites guests into the flavorful world of Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award®-winning film “Ratatouille.” Guests feel as if they shrink to the size of Chef Remy and scurry through Gusteau’s famous restaurant. They discover Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in World Showcase as part of a newly expanded France pavilion, where the real is made fantastic in a reimagining of Paris inspired by the film.

Also debuting October 1 in the expanded pavilion is a delicious new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options. The menu features sweet crepes, savory buckwheat galettes (naturally gluten-friendly), and authentic French hard cider. The attraction, restaurant, and pavilion expansion are all part of the historic transformation of EPCOT currently underway, bringing a breadth of new experiences to the park.

Click here to learn more about what’s new and coming at EPCOT as the transformation of the park continues. 

Click here for our review and what you need to know about Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Click here for what you need to know about the new La Creperie de Paris restaurant and expanded France pavilion.

6 – ‘Disney KiteTails’ Takes Flight and Beacons of Magic-The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

New daytime entertainment also debuted this week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.  “Disney KiteTails” comes alive several times daily at the Discovery River Theater. Performers fly windcatchers and kites of all shapes and sizes, while out on the water elaborate three-dimensional kites – some stretching to 30 feet long – depict Disney animal friends, including Simba, Zazu, Baloo, and King Louie. These colorful creations dance through the sky to the beat of favorite Disney songs in an uplifting, vibrant experience for the whole family.

Credit: Disney/David Roark

Also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the Tree of Life becomes a Beacon of Magic when a warm light emanates from the Tree of Life as fireflies gather to usher in the magic of nature.

7 – Beacons of Magic-The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Not to be left out of the celebration, The Hollywood Tower Hotel also becomes a Beacon of Magic when it transforms nightly. The hotel has a golden glow and certainly is once again a star in its own right!

8 – Golden ‘Disney Fab 50 Character Collection’ Sculptures Appear Across Theme Parks

Also part of the 50th-anniversary celebration, new “Disney Fab 50 Character Collection” golden sculptures are spread across the four Walt Disney World theme parks in honor of the 50th anniversary. Fifty characters are featured in total, including Miguel and Dante from Disney and Pixar’s “Coco” at EPCOT; BB-8 and R2-D2 from Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Simba, Timon, and Pumba from “The Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park; and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse – dedicated to Walt Disney World cast members – at Magic Kingdom Park. And beginning in 2022, guests will be able to use the new MagicBand+ to interact with these statues in fun and surprising ways as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration.

Click here for a complete list of the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection and where you can find them.

9 – Celebratory Food and Drinks Look to the Past for New Inspiration

During its 50th anniversary celebration, Walt Disney World once again demonstrates how food and drinks can be key ingredients for a fun day at The Most Magical Place on Earth. New menu items for the celebration offer nods to the resort’s past while pushing culinary adventures to exciting new places. These include theme park classics and some of Walt Disney’s favorite items, along with novel dishes and sips full of color, whimsy and a touch of EARidescent shimmer. Of the 150-plus new items available, examples include:

  • Cheese Fries with Walt’s Chili at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
  • Filet Mignon with Walt’s Hash at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Mission to Mars burger at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in Magic Kingdom Park
  • EARidescent Croissant Doughnut at EPCOT
  • EARidescent Ice Dream Cone at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • 50th Celebration Ganache Chocolate Bar at The Ganachery in Disney Springs
  • 50th Celebration Soufflé at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Magical Beacon Cocktail found at many table-service restaurants, lounges, and pool bars at Walt Disney World

Novelty items developed for the celebration, including popcorn buckets, mugs, and sippers, are now available, and will continue to roll out across Walt Disney World throughout “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”

Credit: Disney/Kent Phillips

10 – Take the Magic Home with 50 Anniversary Merchandise Collections

Guests can discover multiple new merchandise collections launching in October and November 2021 as part of the celebration. These new items include apparel, accessories, plush, homeware, keepsakes, collectibles, and much more, in several different collections:

  • The Celebration Collection includes a wide-ranging assortment of commemorative merchandise for the whole family.
  • Drawing inspiration from Cinderella Castle, the Disney Castle Collection features everything from collectibles – such as ornaments and charms – to castle-inspired attire and a light-up, 50th anniversary- edition Minnie Mouse ear headband.
  • Disney fans and those who love all things vintage will be eager to unlock the Vault Collection that pays tribute to 50 years of Walt Disney World magic with an assortment of retro-themed designs right out of the Walt Disney Archives. page4image58004352
  • In line with new décor seen across Walt Disney World during the 50th-anniversary celebration, the EARidescent Collection features a shimmering array of themed fashions and accessories.
  • As the name implies, the Luxe Logo Collection offers a range of upscale pieces for the Disney collector.

11 – ‘The Magic Is Calling’ During 50 Anniversary Celebration

“The Magic Is Calling,” an inspiring new song written especially for the 50th anniversary, can be heard in a variety of ways during the 18-month celebration. Platinum-selling songwriter and music producer Alana Da Fonseca and Nashville-based songwriter and producer Bobby Studley created the original song, collaborating with award-winning composer Emily Bear and singing phenom Journi. Da Fonseca and Studley’s pop-music style, Bear’s soaring orchestrations and Journi’s magical vocal performance come together to create a song that is at once nostalgic, inspirational and contemporary.

The new song calls all guests to join in the celebration, including at night when icons at each theme park transform into Beacons of Magic. “The Magic Is Calling” is also included in special live entertainment moments across Walt Disney World, such as during “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade” at Magic Kingdom Park, or performances by the Dapper Dans (Magic Kingdom Park), Discovery Island Drummers (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park) and Voices of Liberty (EPCOT). “The Magic Is Calling” is available on the Walt Disney World playlist through Disney Music Group.

12 – Electrical Water Pageant Adds 50 Anniversary Shimmer

A 50-year tradition, the Electrical Water Pageant sails nightly across Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, delighting guests at nearby Disney Resort hotels with music and lights in a floating parade. For the 50th anniversary celebration, the show includes new whimsy with a towering castle, swirling pixie dust, and a version of the celebration anthem “The Magic Is Calling, recorded in the pageant’s iconic electro-synth- magnetic sound.

13 – Walt Disney World Transportation Features New Magic

Many of the fun and convenient forms of complimentary Walt Disney World transportation receive special 50th-anniversary décor during the celebration. Guests may ride in sparkling style with new artwork added to select Disney Skyliner cabins, Disney Transportation buses, and a golden Monorail train. Each Monorail train also receives special nighttime enhancements for the 50th anniversary with the addition of glowing lights that match each train’s specific color, spreading magic everywhere the Monorail runs across Walt Disney World.

14 – Original Walt Disney World Resort Hotels Add New Pixie Dust

As Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary, Walt Disney Imagineering is continuing to enhance the storytelling at the vacation destination’s two original Disney Resort hotels, part of the Disney Resorts Collection. All guest rooms in the iconic A-frame tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are being completely refurbished, blending a sleek Monorail motif evoking Tomorrowland with some favorite characters from Pixar Animation Studios’ Incredibles films. In the lobby, guests see a collection of modern art pieces as well as historical, behind-the-scenes photographs of Disney’s Contemporary Resort in development and under construction. The resort’s lobby restaurant is aptly renamed Steakhouse 71, offering a reimagined dining experience just in time for the 50th-anniversary celebration.

Guest rooms were recently reimagined at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort with a color palette inspired by the Pacific Ocean and its necklace of islands. Their fresh new look draws on the details, textures, and patterns found in Disney’s “Moana,” with characters and references to the film’s rich storytelling. The resort also boasts a dramatic new porte cochere to enhance the arrival experience as guests pull up to its Great Ceremonial House.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


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