Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is coming up!
The official anniversary is October 1st, 2021, and the 18-month long celebration kicks off then! We’ll have new character costumes, park icon transformations, and more. But what if that celebration just isn’t enough? If you wanna do a little more to ring in the big 5-0, here’s 50 ways!
1. Get a celebration button
Disney offers FREE celebration buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, first visits, and more. You can celebrate almost any special occasion with one of these! Plus, a Cast Member will customize it with whatever message you want.
So why not grab one for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary and wear it for your day of celebrations? Just stop by any merchandise location to pick some up for your group!
Ride opening-day attractions
What better way to celebrate 50 years of the Magic Kingdom than honoring each of its Opening Day attractions? Whether you’re celebrating at home (by watching an attraction ride-through on YouTube) or navigating the park, pay homage to the Most Magical Place on Earth by experiencing each attraction!
2. Country Bear Jamboree
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in October 1971 with several attractions that are still around today! To celebrate this BIG birthday, you might as well throw it back and pretend like you’re in the ’70s (the 1970s, that is!). The audio-animatronic Country Bears Jamboree show may not be for everyone, but it’s a great break from the heat — and a chance to sing to some classic tunes.
Keep an eye out for timeless bears like Big Al, Liver Lips, Trixie, and more. They’ll prompt you to sing along for a knee-slapping good time!
3. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
There are not many attractions more classic than Dumbo the Flying Elephant. In fact, this ride is so iconic that its capacity was doubled when Disney built the Storybook Circus area in 2012.
In case you’re NOT familiar with this Disney rite of passage, guests board Dumbo himself and soar through the skies (in a circle). You’ll get some cool park views — you can even spot Cinderella Castle!
4. The Haunted Mansion
That’s right: Disney’s most beloved ghosts and ghouls have been on the hunt for their 1,000th resident since 1971. This attraction is SO beloved that it’s inspired endless merchandise — which, by the way, tends to sell out pretty fast. Fun Fact: did you know that The Haunted Mansion lives in a different “land” in each park? That’s right! The Haunted Mansion is the only attraction located in four different lands in four different Disney Parks: New Orleans Square at Disneyland; Liberty Square at Walt Disney World; Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland; and Frontierland at Disneyland Paris.
Next time you’re in Magic Kingdom, be sure to hop aboard a Doom Buggy and take a tour of the Mansion — it’ll be like time-traveling all the way back to 1971!
5. “it’s a small world”
We probably got the theme song stuck in your head JUST be saying its name. After all, that’s how classic “it’s a small world” is! “The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed” will take you on a trip around the world to visit dolls singing that very catchy tune.
The original “it’s a small world” moved to Disneyland after being featured in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. But it was so popular, a Disney World version was created when Magic Kingdom opened!
6. Jungle Cruise
This opening-day attraction is filled with dad jokes and puns about the jungle, animals, and the infamous “backside of water.” Your very own Skipper will navigate you through some of the world’s most famous rivers as you encounter audio-animatronic animals — and a few mishaps!
Even though Disney recently announced that this ride will be reimagined, we’re confident it’ll remain a Magic Kingdom must-do!
7. Mad Tea Party
Families have been taking a spin on the Mad Tea Party for decades. Fun fact: it was also an opening-day attraction in Disneyland!
While you may wanna steer clear of these teacups if you have a weak stomach (or if you just ate!), this dizzying ride can be heaps of fun for the whole family.
8. Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan’s Flight echoes one of Walt Disney’s dreams for the Disney parks: that guests of all ages can stay young at heart. You can hop aboard a flying ship and travel to Neverland on this opening-day attraction!
This is a super popular Magic Kingdom ride — wait times often stretch pretty long! But even though the animatronics are a little more outdated than some of Disney’s newer models, this classic attraction holds a special place in our hearts.
9. Enchanted Tiki Room
Head over to a tropical hideaway at the Enchanted Tiki Room! The original show was titled the “Tropical Serenade” and was one of the first attractions to use audio-animatronic figures. It paved the way for amazing new technology.
The “Tropical Serenade” eventually evolved into the Enchanted Tiki Room as we know it — the current version opened in 2011 (after a relatively short-lived iteration most guests would rather forget — Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management!) So while this EXACT show hasn’t been open since 1971, it remains rich in Disney history.
10. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Our last must-do Magic Kingdom opening-day attraction is Prince Charming Regal Carrousel! Originally named Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel on opening day, this ride is a classic for all ages. This ride is located in the heart of Fantasyland — hop on at night and you’ll see the whole area illuminated.
The ride itself is REALLY old — it dates all the way back to 1917! And it holds a special place in park history because Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland while watching his daughters on a carrousel.
11. Ride the Carousel of Progress
While the Carousel of Progress is not an opening-day attraction at Magic Kingdom, it’s still one of Disney World’s oldest attractions. In fact, it debuted at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair with the original “it’s a small world”!
Walt Disney himself worked on the Carousel of Progress, so that makes it pretty special in our books! Relax from the heat throughout the 20-minute show — and try to spot all the Hidden Mickeys!
12. See Mickey Mouse!
What’s Walt Disney World without Mickey Mouse?! Next time you’re in the parks, keep an eye out for the Mouse himself and give him a big ol’ wave!
And while you can’t give him a hug right now, you can still spot him in cavalcades in all four parks. He also greets guests from Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A. train station at park open and close! And for Disney World’s 50th anniversary, he’ll be all decked out in a brand-new, custom-designed costume.
13. Visit the Partners Statue
Speaking of Mickey Mouse — Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse’s partnership was legendary. You can pay tribute to this iconic pair by visiting the Partners Statue right in front of Cinderella Castle.
The statue was sculpted by Disney animator and Imagineer Blaine Gibson and debuted in 1995. He designed Walt’s expression to represent him watching happy people enjoying Magic Kingdom!
14. Visit “Walt Disney Presents”
“Walt Disney Presents” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is like visiting a mini Disney history museum! This walkthrough exhibit showcases Walt Disney’s life and the history of The Walt Disney Company. You’ll see how some classic movies were made and get a peek behind the scenes of the parks’ creation! There are storyboards, props, artwork, models, and SO much more.
You can also catch a short film while you’re inside. The featured film alternates between a Walt Disney biopic and a sneak peek of an upcoming Disney movie!
15. Take a picture in front of Cinderella Castle
Obviously, a great way to celebrate Disney World’s 50th anniversary is with a picture in front of its most classic landmark. Cinderella Castle was refurbished just last year to become the glistening pink icon we know today.
And if you’ll be in Magic Kingdom on October 1st, 2021 or later, keep an eye out for Cinderella Castle’s special 50th anniversary transformation!
16. Get a picture with the Roy and Minnie Statue
Many of us know about the Partners Statue that stands front and center in front of Cinderella Castle. But did you know that another Magic Kingdom statue honors two more very important figures?
The “Sharing the Magic” statue features Roy O. Disney holding hands with Minnie Mouse on a park bench. It’s a tribute to how Roy supported his brother Walt throughout the creation of The Walt Disney Company. Although Roy tended to stay out of the limelight, he was actually the one who opened Magic Kingdom after Walt’s death.
17. Look for Hidden Mickeys
Disney World is FULL of Hidden Mickeys. They’re a nod back to the Mouse who started it all! If you look closely throughout the Disney parks, you’ll find familiar-looking Mickey shapes scattered around.
18. Look for these Main Street, U.S.A. windows
The names on the windows of the Main Street, U.S.A. buildings are a big nod to Disney World history. They’re the names of Disney Imagineers or other figures who played an important role in Disney World’s creation!
Roy E. Disney, Walt Disney, and more have their own windows on this iconic street! Some windows even feature the names of fake corporations used to acquire the land for Disney’s “Florida Project” — which would later become Disney World. Next time you walk down Main Street, U.S.A., take a closer look at all these names!
19. Eat a Mickey-inspired snack
Here at DFB, we’re HUGE fans of Disney snacks. Disney World is filled with classic treats like a Mickey Pretzel or a Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar. Whether you have a sweet tooth or crave something more savory, you’ve gotta try something Mickey-inspired!
After all, you might as well be thinkin’ about the Mouse who started it all while you nosh on a favorite treat!
20. Look for Easter eggs for old attractions
Through the years, several Disney attractions have been removed to make way for new ones. But Imagineers usually leave hidden touches of the old ride in the new attraction. These can be extra fun to try and spot!
Next time you’re in Magic Kingdom, look for a portrait of Mr. Toad and Owl — it’s a nod to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh taking the place of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. And in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can find a “The Great Moving Ride” poster in the fair scene of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. That’s a tribute to The Great Movie Ride!
21. Send mail from Magic Kingdom!
Did you know that you can send a letter (or postcard!) straight from Magic Kingdom? The mailboxes on Main Street, U.S.A. briefly disappeared last December, but they’re back now and we couldn’t be happier!
Next time you’re in the park, write a letter about your 50th anniversary adventures and drop it in! A Cast Member will collect it and make sure it’s mailed to your destination.
22. Buy a Mickey balloon
Okay, these things are pricey. As in, 14 bucks apiece! But if you’re gonna splurge for one of these, why not make it a special occasion?
23. Visit all 4 parks in 1 day
The ultimate challenge on any park day: try to visit all 4 parks in one day! You’ll need to head over to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That’s sure to give you a taste of the full Disney experience!
24. Find the 50 classic Disney golden sculptures around all 4 Parks!
On October 1st, 50 classic Disney pals will be getting special golden character sculptures around all 4 parks! Yes, you read that right, FIFTY characters! Some of the characters include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who will be displayed near Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.
Other characters we know are getting statues are Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale! Disney also said there will be surprising ways we’ll be able to interact with the sculptures as part of the celebration. Creating a unique scavenger hunt to find all 50 seems like a great way to explore all of the parks for this special occasion.
25. Admire the Park icon makeovers
The Magic Kingdom isn’t the only park getting attention during this celebration. In fact, the icons at all four parks will ALL be transformed into “Beacons of Magic” at night! While you’re exploring all four parks to find the 50 golden statues, take the time to admire each of the park icon makeovers, especially at night, when their magic comes to life.
The Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom will host some animated fireflies and other nighttime lighting magic for the occasion.
Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will also get some 50th sparkle and shine.
These new EARidescent icons are just the splash of pixie dust and attention to detail that we expect from Disney for such a grand event.
26. Look for Imagineer tributes in the parks
We love the creativity of Imagineers…they tend to leave hidden tributes scattered around the attractions they help create! If you know where to look, you can find some truly unique pieces of Disney history.
On your way out of Flight of Passage, check for three red handprints with initials. One of those is legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde’s (the other two are Jon Landau and James Cameron!). And the tombstones in the queue for the Haunted Mansion reference other Disney Legends or Imagineers.
27. Visit the opening-day Walt Disney World resorts
While three Disney World hotels opened in 1971, only two have been there since day one! Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort both opened with Magic Kingdom on October 1st, 1971. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground followed in November that year!
So technically, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of a couple of Disney hotels this year, too! You might as well take the monorail from Magic Kingdom over for a mini celebration.
28. Take a picture with the Walt Disney World Railroad
The Walt Disney World Railroad is currently unavailable to clear the way for construction on TRON: Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom. But you can still snap a photo with it! A photo with the iconic floral Mickey at the front of the Railroad Station is a milestone memory for any Disney park visit.
If you’re looking for the train — head to the Fantasyland station for your photo-op. On your next trip to Magic Kingdom, feel free to head over and admire this classic attraction. It’s a great reminder of Walt Disney’s love for trains!
29. Conquer the Magic Kingdom mountains
Few Disney challenges are as iconic as conquering the Magic Kingdom mountains. Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain are all beloved Disney attractions, and we’re confident they live up to their hype.
Ride all three and proclaim yourself King/Queen of the Mountains just in time for the 50th anniversary! And for a bonus mountain, add in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!
30. Go to a character meal
Characters are a Disney park staple. They serve as the inspiration for many attractions — and you can even meet some of them for yourself! Character meals are a great way to wave and send air hugs while typical meet and greets remain unavailable.
31. DisneyBound as your favorite character
DisneyBounding is when someone dresses up in an outfit that coordinates with a Disney character. It’s not a full-on costume — just an inspired look. And you can celebrate Disney World’s 50th anniversary by DisneyBounding as a classic character (or even just one of your all-time favorites)!
You don’t even need to go to the parks for this activity. Go for a more subtle style and head to the grocery store in your new outfit!
32. Talk to a Cast Member
Cast Members often have fun stories to share about their experiences working at Disney. Sometimes you can even learn fun trivia from them! They’ve usually got LOTS of stored-up “secrets” about their work location.
And while you’re chatting with your friendly, neighborhood Cast Member, be sure to admire their new EARidescent name tags, a special addition to celebrate the 50th!
Next time you see a Cast Member, strike up a conversation with them! You never know what you could learn.
33. Ride the monorail
Disney World’s monorails are pretty iconic! They transport guests from the Magic Kingdom area resorts to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT — that’s the first section of Walt Disney World that was ever developed. Just note that the EPCOT monorail is not currently running due to limited park operations.
To look back on Walt Disney World’s beginnings, take a trip on the monorail around these OG spots. And don’t forget to please stand clear of the doors (por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas)!
34. Take some PhotoPass photos
Disney’s PhotoPass service is a great way to capture memories of your Disney vacation! You can snap pictures at tons of photo-ready spots around the parks — and even get your on-ride photos, too. While you’re perfecting your pose, be sure to ask your PhotoPass Cast Member about magic shots and other locations where you can get new special options!
Knocking some of the 50th anniversary must-do’s off this list? Don’t forget to take a photo at those spots — or just pick a few of your favorites! Just keep in mind that these pictures are free to take but NOT free to keep. You’ll have to buy them individually or in a Memory Maker package (or be an Annual Passholder!) to get to keep them without that pesky watermark.
35. Eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table
Cinderella Castle is a Disney World landmark. So naturally, one of the best ways to celebrate the parks’ 50th birthday is by going INSIDE it! You can eat lunch or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table — just keep in mind that character dining with the princesses is not currently available (though you might get a quick appearance by Cindy herself!).
At some tables, you’ll get a window view of Fantasyland that offers a great opportunity to people-watch! If we can’t fulfill our dreams of staying in the Cinderella Castle Suite, at least this dining experience is a chance to step inside the castle somehow.
36. Watch a performance of the Dapper Dans
The Dapper Dans quartet is famous for wandering around Magic Kingdom singing chipper tunes. They’re also known for their seasonal makeovers: they transform into the Cadaver Dans for Halloween and sing Christmas carols for the holiday season!
If you wanna hear some classic tunes, catch them hangin’ around Main Street, U.S.A.! They add incredible atmosphere to the small-town feeling of this iconic area.
37. Walk down Main Street, U.S.A.
Everyone visiting Magic Kingdom has to walk down Main Street, U.S.A. to really get into the park, but how many people actually slow down and appreciate everything going on here?! Spend some time walking down Main Street, U.S.A., taking it ALL in. We already mentioned the window tributes, Dapper Dans, and mailboxes. How many other details can you find?!
This section of Magic Kingdom is extra special because it has a real connection to Walt Disney. The street’s based off Marceline, Missouri, where Walt lived as a child! We love walking around and feeling like we stepped back in time.
38. Eat a Dole Whip
Okay, the Mickey-shaped snacks are a BIG deal — we get it. But one of our favorite Disney treats is not so Mouse-shaped. After all, what’s a trip to Magic Kingdom without enjoying some Dole Whip? The tasty dessert first popped up in Magic Kingdom around 1986, after DOLE sponsored some attractions over in Disneyland. That’s right, this treat has some HISTORY behind it.
There are also TONS of flavors to choose from that have been added over the years: you can get mango, raspberry, strawberry, lemon, and more. You can even get it in a special snack like the (amazing) Kakamora Float! Disney sure knows the way to our hearts is through a Dole Whip. For those celebrating at home, you can make the classic Dole Whip from your very own kitchen!
39. Ride some brand-new Disney attractions
Celebrate how far Disney World has come by riding some newer attractions! Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Flight of Passage, and Slinky Dog Dash are all great examples of how technology has evolved to elevate the theme park experience.
40. Watch the new firework show in Magic Kingdom
The World’s Most Magical Celebration will feature a BRAND-NEW nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom called Disney Enchantment, which will debut on October 1, 2021!
This new fireworks show will also feature memorable music, enhanced lighting, and immersive projection effects that will extend down Main Street, U.S.A.! Disney shares that “this evening extravaganza will take you on a journey filled with adventure, wonder and empowerment.”
41. Try the Animation Experience
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Disney animator? Try The Animation Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! These FREE animation classes run throughout the day over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
You’ll get a taste of how animators hand-drew some of Disney’s most famous movies! This is a great way to try your hand at the creativity that inspired so many of our favorite attractions. Plus, you’ll get to take home your drawing as a souvenir!
42. Explore EPCOT
Walt Disney had big plans for this park as the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” While that’s not exactly how EPCOT turned out, it still has a rich history! After all, it is Disney World’s second park (and it gets to celebrate its big 40th anniversary NEXT October 1st!).
Go for a stroll around EPCOT and think about what Walt envisioned — or just enjoy the pretty sights around World Showcase! And it doesn’t hurt to try some of our favorite snacks while you’re there. 😉
43. Visit the new food booths at EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival
Indulge your taste buds with flavors from international booths all around the park at this year’s EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival. This year’s festival runs from July 15th through November 20th!
Though many food booths will open at the beginning of the festival, on July 15th, some booths have been reserved for a special opening on October 1st. This year will feature over 30 booths — including some DFB favorites (looking at you, Alps!) — others will be new to experience!
44. Watch a parade
Disney parades may be temporarily suspended, but there are still character cavalcades! Wave to some of the OG Disney characters — including Mickey and Minnie. It’s a great way to see all your favorite pals while typical meet and greets are suspended.
Currently, you can catch Mickey and friends, the princesses, Pixar characters, and more during these cavalcades! Check our list of current cavalcades to see who else you can spot.
45. Buy a souvenir
Okay, we’re not one to tell you to go spend your money on every Disney souvenir you see. After all, they can be expensive or just plain WEIRD. But the parks are bound to have some special merchandise for the anniversary, and if you want to remember this once-in-a-lifetime trip, it may be worth it.
While Disney hasn’t unveiled their merchandise offerings for the big celebration just yet, we’ll keep you posted when they do!
46. Go on an adventure with a new rodent in the parks
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a new attraction coming to EPCOT’s France pavilion in World Showcase. This attraction is based on the Pixar film, Ratatouille, about a culinarily gifted rat, Remy, whose ambition to become a chef in Paris introduces him to some unexpected friends and a wild adventure.
The ride, a replica of the original attraction from Disneyland Paris, will occupy a brand new section at the back of the France Pavilion, and it will open on October 1, 2021 — the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort! Be one of the first to experience the journey through Chef Gusteau’s kitchen with your new pal, Remy!
Keep the celebration alive at home!
Whether you’re not able to make it to Florida to celebrate the 50th in person, or if you just want to keep that magic alive throughout the year, the last few things you can do at home!
47. Watch The Imagineering Story on Disney+
The Imagineering Story premiered on Disney+ in fall 2019. It follows the history of the Disney parks from Disneyland’s humble beginnings all the way to the international scale they’re at today.
You’ll get a peek behind the scenes at the ups and downs of The Walt Disney Company’s journey. After all, what better way to celebrate Disney’s future than by taking a deep dive into its past?!
48. Watch ride-through videos
If you live far from Disney, take a virtual trip to the parks by watching videos of some Disney attractions! You can pretend you’re in the front row of some of your favorite rides — all without waiting in line.
And don’t worry — we’ve got you covered here at DFB! You can take a virtual trip to the parks with us — or you can head to YouTube to find even more ride-throughs. There’s plenty to choose from!
49. Read some Disney history books
So you’ve brushed up on all your Disney trivia, hunted for Hidden Mickeys, and combed the parks for secrets. What now? You can learn even MORE about Disney by — that’s right — reading books!
There are tons of ’em that talk about Disney history, people who made the parks influential, recipes, and more. Check out our favorites here and start digging in!
50. Cook park-inspired recipes
Or, if you wanna make some character-inspired recipes, we’ve got those, too. Try out these Mickey donuts!
So there you have it: 50 ways to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary! We’ll be gearing up for October 1st by checking these off our must-do list. Stay tuned to DFB for more Disney news!
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How are you celebrating Disney World’s 50th anniversary? Let us know in the comments!