In 2021, Walt Disney World will turn fifty, and we can’t wait to see what kind of epic celebrations are planned for this special event! While we await the details, we thought about all the things we’d like to do at in the World before the big day — some big, some small, and most of them totally unique to the Most Magical Place on Earth!
Here are 50 memories to make before Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
Spin in a teacup
The wind whipping through your hair as you spin as fast as you can, giggling like a kid because on the Mad Tea Party, you are one! If you haven’t already made this memory, it’s time. Jump in a colorful cup and turn that wheel as fast as you can!
Hug Mickey Mouse
There’s something heart-warming about meeting Walt Disney’s main mouse — the mouse who started it all! Mickey can be found in all four parks, in various outfits, and he’s always ready for a hug! Don’t miss out on this memory, no matter how old you are!
Get your picture taken with your favorite Disney character
The parks of Walt Disney World are home to so many beloved characters, and whether your favorite is an everyday meet — like Goofy or Daisy — or hard to find — like villains and Dwarfs — meeting your number one bucket list character is a memory you won’t soon forget.
Sport some Mickey/Minnie Ears
This memory is easier to make than ever right now! Minnie Ears are all the rage, and there’s a design for everyone, whether you’re into color trends, characters, or bows! But Mickey Ears are the ultimate classic Walt Disney World head gear, and you can’t go wrong with those! Get yours embroidered or wear them as is — then make some more memories while getting your ears on.
Eat a Cupcake
Walt Disney World is forever concocting new and delicious cupcake treats, and we think everyone should eat a cupcake before the World’s 50th! Check out the DFB Cupcake Crawl if you need some ideas, hit up your resort pastry case, or stop into a confectionery in one of the parks. Cupcakes are everywhere (even allergen-free ones at Erin McKenna’s in Disney Springs!), and you’ve got to eat one.
Eat a Mickey Ice Cream Bar
Perhaps even more imperative than a cupcake is to eat a Mickey Ice Cream Bar! There’s nothing like bursting open that crinkly wrapper and pulling out a perfect Mickey silhouette in dark chocolate (coating). Truly heavenly. And while you can now find these bars in the freezer at some grocery stores, you can’t beat eating one in the shadow of Cinderella Castle or overlooking World Showcase Lagoon. Ice cream magic.
Set foot on Batuu
Batuu is the planet represented by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and you’ve got to visit this new land before the World’s 50th. And thankfully, with Galaxy’s Edge opening in August 2019 in Disney World, you’ll have plenty of time to do that — even if you want to avoid visiting the land in its early days. Drink a Blue Milk, meet a wookie, and pilot the Millennium Falcon!
Dine at your dream Disney World restaurant
Walt Disney World dining has something for everyone — including aspirational restaurants that you might not hit up on every visit. If you’ve dreamed of watching the fireworks from California Grill, enjoying a mouthful of ‘Ohana Bread Pudding, or dining with Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table, now’s the time to do it!
Attend an Epcot Festival
Epcot has become a destination for those wanting to explore its many festivals, including Epcot’s International Food and Wine, International Festival of the Holidays, Festival of the Arts, and the Flower and Garden Festival. Each of these special events runs for several weeks and features food booths, unique displays, bespoke entertainment, and loads more. If you haven’t experienced a festival at Epcot, pick your favorite, and make a go of it before 2021!
Eat a Dole Whip
We talk a lot about Dole Whip here at the DFB, and that’s because it’s such a refreshing, sweet treat that seems tailor-made for central Florida. And now, Dole Whip can be found in a number of flavors in addition to classic pineapple, so you can eat a Dole Whip that suits your style.
See Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After is an epic fireworks and projection show that you’ve got to see to believe. The soaring music, stunning images projected onto Cinderella Castle, and exceptional pyrotechnics astound even the more cynical guest. Watch from the Hub around the castle, or make a night of it with the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party!
You’ve got to see Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic, too! This intense and character-filled show pits good against evil with Sorcerer Mickey saving the day. It’s become a classic, and it’s worth viewing regardless of the upcoming anniversary. Be sure to see Fantasmic on your next visit!
Tackle the Kitchen Sink
Beaches and Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts serves up one of the most buzzed about treats in all of Walt Disney World: the Kitchen Sink. It’s an ice cream sundae (boy, is that an understatement — see why here!) that consists of five types of ice cream, every topping in the soda shop, and a full can of whipped cream. The menu says it serves four, so bring friends! (Also it can serve way more than four!) The Kitchen Sink is a Disney World bucket list item for sure!
Sing along while riding “it’s a small world”
Whether you love the theme song for “it’s a small world” or not, resistance is futile. We say: join in! Sing to your heart’s content! The small world dolls won’t judge, and the other folks in your boat are… in the same boat. Embrace that ear bug and reflect on how small the world is, indeed!
Go on Safari in Animal Kingdom
Kilimanjaro Safari is one of the most popular rides at Animal Kingdom — and in the entire World! This energetic ride takes through puddles, past elephants, and across the savanna! You’ll spot a number of African animals, including giraffes, okapi, rhinos, and elephants. The fun, adventurous spirit of Kilimanjaro Safaris is irresistible!
Soar over London on Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan’s Flight is one of the most popular rides in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, and the wait times are proof! Guests board masted ships that take them up, up, up and over scenes familiar from the film. Soaring over miniature London is a highlight and a classic must-do before the 50th anniversary!
See the Festival of Fantasy Parade
Magic Kingdom is no stranger to elaborate, over-the-top parades, and Festival of Fantasy is one such extravaganza! The colorful floats shuttle popular characters like Merida, Rapunzel, Elsa, Anna, Captain Hook, and Mickey Mouse through the park and right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.! The energetic music, fabulous costumes, and fire-breathing dragon are massive crowd-pleasers!
Get your picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle
You KNOW you’ve got to do this one! Whether it’s a selfie, a group shot, or a PhotoPass pic, you absolutely have to have a shot in front of Cinderella Castle! Not only is this an icon and symbol of Walt Disney World, it’s also pretty darn photogenic. Bonus points if you get your pic when the Castle is dressed in icy lights for the holiday season!
Spot as many animals as you can on the Tree of Life
Animal Kingdom’s icon, the Tree of Life, is a work of art depicting 300+ animals on its enormous trunk and roots. Plan some time to explore the Tree of Life trails to find some of your favorites, including ants, gorillas, owls, and more! It’s truly astounding up close and from afar!
Walk “right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.”
If you’ve heard this catchy tune, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Walking “right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.” is how many guests feel like they’re arrived “home”, and it’s the best way to experience all the turn-of-the-century design, too. There’s no place like Main Street, U.S.A., and taking your time to drink it all in is a must-do memory.
Ride an opening day attraction in Magic Kingdom
To honor the past, what better way than to ride one of the original opening day attractions? Some of your options include Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Ride one or all of them to feel like you’re right back on day one (minus all those selfies of guests with the Backside of Water…).
Visit every country in World Showcase
Epcot’s World Showcase is a wonderful way to sample culture and cuisine from around the globe, and before the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, you have to visit every country in this Showcase! Sample the food or drink, buy a souvenir, or talk to the cast members who hail from these diverse countries! Bonus points for learning how to say hello in every language!
Go Soarin’ Around the World
Soarin’ Around the World is a fun hang glider experience in Epcot’s Land Pavilion that carries riders over the African savanna, along a crumbling glacier, and over the Eiffel Tower. This thrilling ride impresses guests with the built-in scents that evoke the images on the screen and the smooth motion of the glider itself. Tip: for the best views, request concourse B!
Pick and try your must-eat Epcot snack from this DFB Guide video
Pick and try your must-eat Magic Kingdom snack from this DFB Guide video
Pick and try your favorite snack from this Disney’s Hollywood Studio DFB Guide video
Pick and try your favorite Animal Kingdom snack from this DFB Guide video
Treat yourself to a souvenir at the World of Disney
Choosing a souvenir to represent your Walt Disney World vacation is a fun way to create a memory that can be evoked by a thing. Whether it’s a trendy spirit jersey, a pair of ears, a spoon rest, or a magnet, treat yourself to a souvenir from Disney Springs’ World of Disney!
Eat a food you’ve never tried in Epcot’s World Showcase
Because World Showcase highlights the culture and cuisine of eleven countries, it’s all but certain you’ll find something to eat that you’ve never tried before. Be sure to explore this culinary opportunity before the 50th anniversary, and maybe you’ll find a brand new favorite snack for the next fifty years!
See a Broadway-style show
Walt Disney World is known for its world-class attractions, and stage shows are designed to impress here. Festival of the Lion King is the most energetic and vibrant of the Broadway-style shows, and it’s a must! Other fabulous stage shows include Finding Nemo the Musical and Beauty and the Beast! All of these shows feature stunning performances and artwork in the form of costumes, set pieces, puppets, and more!
Fly on a Banshee
If you haven’t already climbed onto the back of a Banshee and soared over Pandora, you really don’t know what you’re missing! Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora is a masterpiece of a ride. Not only is the virtual reality film impeccable, your personal ride vehicle actually breathes beneath you. So much stimulation and excitement in one innovative ride.
See Rivers of Light
For many years, Animal Kingdom was a daytime park, but now Rivers of Light captivates guests after the sun goes down. Using water, light, and laser technology — not to mention colorful, lighted floats and ethereal music — Rivers of Light captures the spirit of the park and its many creatures. And don’t forget to explore the rest of the park after dark, too. Pandora comes to life in a whole new world, and the Tree of Life awakens!
Ride the monorail
The monorail is a staple of Walt Disney World transportation, with many guests (of all ages!) considering it a bonus ride! From your highway in the sky, you can see the World in a brand new way. Whether you’re riding the monorail resort loop, arriving at Magic Kingdom from the Transportation and Ticket Center, or heading to Epcot, the monorail is an exciting way to get around.
Remember Walt at One Man’s Dream in Hollywood Studios
This video and display experience allows visitors to gain some insight into the main behind the mouse. Featuring memorabilia from the archives, you can learn about Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, the Disney Parks, and more! For Disney history buffs — or those fascinated by stories about the Parks — One Man’s Dream is a great way to spend some time.
Get your picture taken with Roy & Minnie
The Partners Statue is iconic, but an oft-forgotten photo opp exists at the start of Main Street, U.S.A., where Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse rest on a bench with a seat left just for you! Cozy up to these two pals, and snap a pic!
Make a Wish at Cinderella’s Wishing Well
Walt Disney World is a place where dreams come true, so find Cinderella’s Wishing Well along a path to the right of Cinderella Castle, and make a wish for yourself. If you toss in a coin, know that these are collected and donated to children’s charities, so your wish will go toward helping making others’ wishes come true, too!
Rope drop at a park
Even if you’re not a morning person, plan to rope drop at least one park. Those precious opening minutes are magical. Not only are you seeing the parks in that beautiful morning light, you’ll also be more likely to snap pics with few (or no!) other guests in them! Plus those ride wait times are minimal, helping you to cross a few popular attractions off your list first thing!
Hunt for Hidden Mickeys
These intentional (and sometimes unintentional) Hidden Mickeys add some unexpected fun in the parks! Look for Mickey in the swirls of fabric designs, curled up hoses, trios of stones embedded in walkways — really anywhere and with any materials! Hidden Mickeys are a blast to find and well worth the dedicated effort of hunting for them!
Listen to the Dapper Dans
This barbershop quartet can be found throughout the day on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A., and you’ll know you’ve found them when you hear some classic tunes sung in pleasant harmony! Listening to the Dapper Dans is a quintessential Magic Kingdom experience — don’t miss them (or their colorful suits!)!
Pick up a few Hitchhiking Ghosts in a Doom Buggy
If you dare, ride Haunted Mansion and see if some Hitchhiking Ghosts want to follow you home! This fun on-ride enhancement inevitably ends up in chuckles as ghosts end up sitting on your lap (or head!).
Start planning your next trip
Who says you can’t make memories in advance? The process of planning your next trip post-50th anniversary means more memories to make and new experiences to have. And because Walt Disney World is always growing and changing, you can be sure that your memories won’t stop anywhere near fifty!
Watch the Epcot nighttime spectacular
World Showcase Lagoon is transformed night after night for IllumiNations, with fireworks, lights, lasers, and music merging to create a moving show. IllumiNations is ending in 2019, to be replaced temporarily by Epcot Forever and permanently by an as-yet-unnamed show. But no matter what show you see, there’s nothing quite like the beauty of those elements coming together over the water.
Ride a Ferry Boat
The Walt Disney World Ferry Boat is a must-do! Use it to traverse Seven Seas Lagoon on your way to the Transportation and Ticket Center or just ride it back and forth! This is a relaxing and classic way to see the World (and some snazzy hotel views) from the water!
Explore Tom Sawyer’s Island
Become a little explorer again on Tom Sawyer’s Island! It’s so quaint you’ll need to take a river raft to get there, and once you do, you’ll be able to enter mysterious caves, cross barrel bridges, and play in a fort! Don’t forget to see if Aunt Polly’s is open for a root beer float or a PB&J!
Ride the Liberty Square Riverboat
The Liberty Square Riverboat is a lovely way to see some truly unique Magic Kingdom views. Ride the Riverboat as the sun sets for a peaceful, cool way to recharge before your evening exploits!
Eat a Mickey Pretzel
There are lots of Mickey-shaped treats to try before the World’s 50th anniversary, and the Mickey Pretzel is at the top of the list! This doughy, salty snack is big enough to share and comes with some tasty plastic cheese! Grab one before you settle in for Festival of Fantasy or to help fuel your fun between meals!
Go back in time on Carousel of Progress
Craving a cool sarsaparilla? Maybe you long for the days of yore when we pumped water into our sinks instead of turning on a faucet. Carousel of Progress has all of this and more, all wrapped up in a (sort of chronologically confusing) rotating theater show with animatronics, a catchy tune, and plenty of bad dad jokes! You’ll be singing “there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow” for days!
Have some chicken nuggets
Some foods just taste better at Disney World, and chicken nuggets are one! You’ve got to have some of these crunchy, salty nuggs at least once before the anniversary (even if you’re stealing them from your kids!). Pair them with some golden brown Disney World French fries for the ultimate deep fried indulgence!
Ride the People Mover
Technically called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, this relaxing ride is affectionately known only by that last part: the Peoplemover. Climb on board when you need a break from the thrills, and you’ll find new views and some behind-the-scenes sneak peeks!
Go inside Epcot’s Spaceship Earth
Finally, go inside Epcot’s globe: Spaceship Earth! You’ll explore the history of communication and see (and smell!) some classic Disney design. Take a whiff of Rome burning, watch a printing press in action, and see some rad 70s-style outfits before you travel backwards through a simple but fascinating light show. All on this, our spaceship earth.
What a way to prepare for the ultimate Walt Disney World celebration in 2021! And this list is just the beginning! We’ve got lots more ideas to get pumped for the 50th anniversary!
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How many of these memories have you made? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments!