All about Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration (updated 9/22/21):
This year is the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration! When it was first announced and plans were initially being made there was a lot of excitement. That excitement soon turned to questions and uncertainty once the pandemic hit, but now people are (cautiously) getting excited again about the Disney World 50th. We still have some questions, but also some news and things to look forward to! I figured it would be useful to gather everything I can here.
When does the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary start?
The celebrations will begin on the actual 50th anniversary date of Disney World – October 1st, 2021.
How long will the Walt Disney World anniversary last?
Disney has officially started that the Disney World 50th anniversary dates for the celebration will start in October this year and last for 18 months.
When does the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary end?
In case you don’t feel like doing the math, 18 months after October 1st 2021 is April 1st, 2023. So we can expect the celebrations and Disney 50th anniversary events to last through the end of March 2023.
When can you book Disney for the 50th anniversary?
This section updated 9/22/21
If you’re talking about for the beginning of the celebration – right now! Disney is currently taking bookings through 2022, so if you’re thinking about visiting during the first year of the Disney World 50th anniversary celebrations I’d get those reservations in soon. In fact, if you’re considering fall 2021 you probably want to do that now (more like yesterday really – make sure you email me today!). Hopefully if you’re looking to be there on the actual anniversary of October 1st, 2021, you’ve already booked that!
Because I like running numbers and believe in giving realistic examples, I priced out some trips during the Disney World 50th anniversary. Keep in mind availability and pricing is all subject to change but was accurate as of 9/22/2021. Also, these prices are for room only reservations and do not include park tickets.
If you’d like to go early on in the celebration but avoid the madness of the actual anniversary date
Consider an early or mid-November trip. I priced out some rooms for Sunday, November 7 through Saturday, November 13th, 2021. A few samples of what’s available include:
- Coronado Springs standard room at $1,849
- Caribbean Beach pirate room at $2,293
- Boardwalk Villas at $5,549
- Riviera Resort 2 bedroom villa for $9,028
If you want to wait longer to go into the celebration
I’d take a look at early/mid-May for a time when I think more things will be open and added but more affordable than spring break season. A couple of room only pricings for Sunday, May 8th-Saturday, May 14th, 2022 include:
- Pop Century standard room at $1,348
- Coronado Springs tower room at $2,327
- Art of Animation family suite at $3,373
- Polynesian standard view at $4,672
- Contemporary Resort main tower lake view room at $4,997
There’s a lot changing at Disney (it feels like almost every day) and I’m staying up to date with the news. Hopefully you’ve found my blog to be a great resource, but contact me if you’d like more personalized help!
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Which resort should I stay at for the 50th anniversary?
This is a pretty personalized question and will depend a lot on your preferences. A few suggestions I might make though – a monorail resort (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, or Polynesian) are great splurges if you’re planning to center a lot of your vacation around the Magic Kingdom. Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness are also nearby and only a boat ride away.
If you’re on more of a budget, I’m a big fan of the resorts on the Skyliner line – these include Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach. The Skyliner takes you easily to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are still just a bus ride away.
The Riviera Resort is the newest one and it’s gorgeous and feels really high-end and deluxe. If you’re looking to truly treat yourself take a look at this one. It also has Skyliner access, and the dinner I had there was phenomenal.
Will the Disney park pass reservation system still be in place during the 50th?
section updated 9/22/21
As far as we know, yes. They have extended the calendar for park reservations along with their resort reservations through all of 2022. A lot of people fear this means it will stick around forever. At the end of the day I think Disney wants as many people in the parks as possible (because $$ of course!). Even if it does stick around, I don’t think it will be hard to get reservations most days even close to the date, unless it’s a big event or a holiday.
For example, as of right now park pass availability at Magic Kingdom is completely booked for the actual Disney World anniversary date of October 1st, 2021. The only other date this is true is on Halloween, October 31st. However, Disney has been known to increase availability when they can so I would keep checking. While ideally they want as many people there as they can, but if you’re looking to go during this time I would make your reservation now so you can be ready to jump on it if that does open back up.
What will Disney World do for the 50th anniversary celebration?
Disney has released a few details and peeks at what’s to come, as well as some opening announcements for October 1st. That being said, there will probably be other things opening next year through 2022 as well. What we know for certain is that the castle will get a new look, two new fireworks shows are coming to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is opening, there will be projections at night on all of the major icons in the 4 parks, Mickey and Minnie will have new outfits, and there will be merchandise and food items along with their 50th anniversary theme of “EARidescence.” It’s also extremely likely that a number of new attractions, restaurants, and entertainment options that have been in the works will make their debut, which I will detail more below.
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Which Disney attractions will be opening for the 50th?
section updated 9/22/21
Disney announced an opening date of October 1st, 2021 for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot. So it will open in time for the 50th and anyone who is traveling after that! This is most likely the big “headliner” attraction they are going to advertise at least for the beginning of the 50th anniversary celebration.
The other two major rides that will open AT SOME POINT during the 50th include TRON Lightcycle Power Run in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in Epcot. Just based on construction, Disney being unsure about when they can get rid of social distancing, and their announcement about Remy, I don’t see them opening other attractions in 2021. I would guess they might target March 2022 for at least one of these to take advantage of the spring break crowds, and then possibly late May for the other to kick off Memorial Day weekend and the summer. Depending on progress it’s not impossible that they save Guardians of the Galaxy for October 1st, 2022 (which would be the 51st anniversary of Disney World and the 40th anniversary of Epcot).
There are also some attractions that are getting refurbishments or have just been re-done with some new components. We may see more things like this coming up. These include:
- Jungle Cruise additions (already done)
- New scene coming to Mickey’s Philharmagic (coming in November 2021)
- Splash Mountain refurb (probably not happening for awhile)
The Play Pavilion at Epcot was previously announced for 2021, but due to the fact that this is an interactive area/activity that involves a lot of touching, I think they may save that until 2022 when people aren’t as worried.
What Disney entertainment will be opening for the 50th?
section updated 9/22/21
- Disney Enchantment, a new fireworks nighttime show in Magic Kingdom (October 1st, 2021)
- Harmonious, a new fireworks show in Epcot (October 1st, 2021)
- Disney’s KiteTails, a daytime show coming to Animal Kingdom (October 1st, 2021)
- Beacons of Magic – projection shows coming to all 4 parks
- Electrical Water Pageant is getting a new scene for the 50th
- Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life in Disney Springs (opening November 18th, 2021)
As for characters and parades, they still aren’t doing meet and greets right now. We know Mickey and Minnie will have fancy new outfits, so other characters might as well. At some point I’d expect to see a parade, whether it’s a brand new one or they bring in an older, beloved parade (there will be a Christmas parade at that specially ticketed event). Until that point I think we’ll get themed character cavalcades (like the holiday ones they did this past year), smaller entertainment groups performing from further away areas, etc.
What Disney restaurants will be opening for the 50th?
section updated 9/22/21
New restaurants that will be coming to Disney in the next 18 months include:
- Space 220 in Epcot (just opened September 2021)
- La Crêperie de Paris in Epcot (opening October 1st, 2021)
- Steakhouse 71 at the Contemporary (opening October 1st, 2021)
- Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Hollywood Studios (no date yet)
Roundup Rodeo is intended for Toy Story Land and was first announced in April 2019. So they had almost a year to work on it before the pandemic. I think they’ll make that a priority as well since it’s probably pretty far along and Hollywood Studios could definitely use another restaurant.
There will also be plenty of specialty food items for the Disney World 50th anniversary, and I have a feeling they’re going to be beautiful. The more instagram-able, the better. At the 2019 D23 convention they showed a few preview photos and we spotted things like iridescent cupcakes, sparkling beverages, and fancy coffee drinks.
- California Grill – limited time prix fixe menu offering favorite items from the past 50 years
Now that fireworks have returned, it was only a matter of time before dessert parties and other special events came back too! Here’s a look at some of the ways you can catch the shows and get some good food/drink:
- Celebration at the Top: 50th Flavors and Fireworks at the Contemporary (starts October 2, 2021)
- Various Magic Kingdom 50th anniversary dessert parties (starts October 3, 2021)
- Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise (available now)
- Rose and Crown Fireworks dining package (starts October 1, 2021)
- Spice Road Table dining package (starts October 1, 2021)
What Disney World 50th anniversary merchandise will be available?
Don’t worry, there is plenty of merch! Disney has released a number of “collections” and previews so far, so there should be something for everyone. A peek at some of the new merch coming:
- Ratatouille collection – includes an “interactive chef hat,” mugs, playset, apron, and more
- Vault collection – retro style items inspired by merchandise in 1971
- Celebration collection – features the 50th logo, Mickey and friends, etc.
- Castle collection – white and gold items such as a spirit jersey and ears
- EARidescent Collection – spirit jersey, mini backpack, and more
What are some of the Disney World 50th anniversary rumors?
Well, a lot of the speculation I discussed above could also be counted as rumors since they aren’t confirmed by Disney. However, they are things that I think are based on a lot of probable evidence; specifically that most of them are things that Disney had initially announced and intended to do before the shutdown occurred and pushed everything back. There are some rumors that are more just theories – some more likely to be true than others. Take them all with a grain of salt. A few that I’ve heard:
- Disney will bring in the Paint the Night parade from Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom
- Fastpass+ will be replaced by a new, similar system (possibly something you pay for or that is included with Disney resort reservations but not regular tickets; possibly similar to Disneyland’s MaxPass system) (UPDATE: this is now confirmed and Genie+ will be coming this fall)
- The Gran Fiesta Tour in Epcot will be re-themed to Coco
- More virtual queues will be introduced for major attractions (one will be used for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure on opening)
- Muppets. I’ve read maybe 5 different Muppet rumors about them being added to or getting a new attraction – possibly to spice up the Hall of Presidents
- A new nighttime show added to Animal Kingdom to replace Rivers of Light
- A Mandalorian/baby Yoda addition to Star Tours
- Stitch’s Great Escape will finally be replaced by… something (A Wreck-It Ralph attraction?)
I’ve more or less listed these rumors in the order that I personally think they are most likely to happen. Then again, I’ve been wrong before!
Will the Star Wars hotel be open in time for the 50th?
section updated 9/22/21
It won’t be open on the first date of the 50th, but at some point during the celebration! My prediction that I originally wrote back in March:
“So I don’t think it will be open in time for the beginning of the anniversary, but I think it will open at some point during the 18 month celebration. If you want my complete and utter guess – I’d go with an opening date of May 4th, 2022.”
We now have confirmation that the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser will open in “spring 2022”. To stay up to date and learn all the details, check out my guide to the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience.
What will crowds be like for Disney’s 50th anniversary?
If you’re talking about the actual anniversary date of October 1st – high. Very crowded. As many people are they will let Disney allow. However you want to phrase it, that day in Magic Kingdom will be packed. If you’re looking to visit the other parks that day it will either be empty because everyone is at Magic Kingdom, or really busy because people booked trips wanting to go to Magic Kingdom but it was at capacity. Currently park pass availability is already booked up for that date at Magic Kingdom (see above) but that could very well change before we hit the fall.
For the rest of the 18 month celebration, it’s really hard to say because so much has changed. I used to be able to predict fairly well what crowds might be like during a certain time. I still think many of these things will be true. Major holidays like Christmas, Easter, spring break, and Thanksgiving will be crowded. Anything people can turn into a long weekend like President’s Day or Memorial Day. The summer has been a lot less crowded lately and I actually think that will become more and more true in the next few years. People typically went during the summer because of work and school obligations, but as more people are seeing flexibility in their ability to work from home (and varying opinions on pulling kids out of school) they’ll avoid the very hot months of June, July, and August.
If you’re looking for the least crowded times to visit during Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, I would suggest mid-December 2021, January and early February 2022, and May-September 2022. No guarantees though!
The first thing I will tell you is that Disney does not want either of these things in their parks – but they are complying with safety measures both to keep guests and cast safe and to avoid any possible bad PR. When these things disappear is almost completely reliant on the vaccination schedule of the country. The CEO, Bob Chapek, said at the most recent earnings call “[capacity] is really going to be determined by the rate of vaccination of the public” and that he sees “some level” of social distancing and masks through 2021. But he also said “Do we believe we’ll be in the same state of 6 foot social distancing and mask wearing in 2022? Absolutely not.”
As soon as health officials or someone high up, like Dr. Fauci or President Biden, say that they believe enough people have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, I think Disney gets rid of social distancing, increases park capacity, and makes masks optional everywhere (they are currently only required indoors). Hand sanitizer? That’ll probably stick around, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing!
How can I plan my Disney World 50th anniversary trip?
Hopefully all of this information has helped you a little bit in figuring out when you want to go during the Disney World anniversary in 2021 or 2022 (or even early 2023!). If you’re ready to start planning there are a few things you can do! Contact me or your travel agent for free travel planning services. Investigate Disney’s official website. Check out my 2022 trip planning printables on Etsy. And then GET EXCITED! It’s going to be a truly magical, once in a lifetime experience no matter what.
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What are you most looking forward to during Disney’s 50th anniversary celebration?