Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will be an event unlike anything we’ve seen in quite some time! This eighteen-month-long birthday party is full of new entertainment offerings, firework spectaculars, dazzling golden statues, and of course, special edition merchandise to collect.
If you’re visiting Disney World during the 50th Anniversary Celebration, there are a few key planning tips you should keep in mind!
Your 50th Anniversary Celebration Checklist
No matter when you plan on visiting Disney World during its 50th Anniversary Celebration, there are a number of steps you need to take to make sure your trip is thoroughly planned out. These steps include:
- Select your vacation dates
- Book flights, hotel accommodations, and park tickets
- Book Park Pass Reservations (book these as soon as you have your park tickets!)
- Make Advance Dining Reservations (available 60 days prior to arrival)
- Prioritize your top 50th Anniversary must-do’s
We’ll go into more detail for each of these five steps below, but just know ahead of time that planning a trip during the 50th Anniversary Celebration may be a little more involved than how you normally plan a trip to Disney World. And, as you may already know, the sooner you can get a jump on booking those reservations, the more you’ll likely save!
How Long is the 50th Anniversary Running?
The first step you should check off of your planning “to do” list is determining WHEN exactly you’ll visit during the 50th Anniversary Celebration. You don’t really have a shortage of dates to choose from; the Celebration is scheduled to last a whopping eighteen months, from October 2021 through April 2023. The official 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World is right at the beginning, on October 1st, 2021.
We would suggest you start planning NOW if you are thinking of visiting Disney World earlier on in the Celebration (any time from late 2021 through the first half of 2022). Hotel rooms are harder to come by and some of the fall dates are starting to fill up for Park Passes. These Park Passes have been replenished from time to time but go quickly! Plus, on top of the fun Celebration festivities, there are some major holidays (and normally some of the busiest times of year) soon after the event starts you might wish to avoid.
Click here for a few important dates you will want to book Park Pass Reservations for ASAP if you’re traveling in 2021.
What’s New to Discover?
We’ll get to the new rides and entertainment coming to Disney World in just a minute, but we wanted to start with a general overview of all of the new decor coming to the parks for the 50th Anniversary Celebration!
The exciting news here is that there is something new coming to ALL of the four theme parks! If you want to see everything that there is to see for the 50th Anniversary, you’ll want to be sure to plan enough days to book Park Pass Reservations for every park (or, you can upgrade your ticket to a Park Hopper).
In Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle is already decked out for the festivities, with stunning decorations covering nearly every square inch of the castle (especially when you consider the castle recently got that new coat of paint!). Cinderella Castle will come alive at night as well with beautiful projections.
Speaking of projections, each of the park’s “icons” will get its own version of this nighttime overlay for the 50th anniversary. Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom will all be must-see photo ops once the sun goes down! Each icon will come alive with light each night. The EPCOT “points of light” addition will actually be permanent beyond the celebration!
You can also see the dazzling “Fab 50” golden statues featuring some of our favorite Disney characters across the four parks. Classic characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse along with new favorites like Joe from Pixar’s Soul and Dante from Pixar’s Coco will be located throughout Disney World.
If you’re a big fan of all things EPCOT, another big celebration will take place during the 50th Anniversary Celebration, and that’s EPCOT’s 40th Anniversary! The park is will turn the big 4-0 on October 1st, 2022. By then, there should be even MORE to see and do at EPCOT, so be on the lookout for more decorations and guest offerings leading up to the OTHER big celebration.
Make sure your phones are fully charged because we have a feeling there will be TONS of new photo ops across Disney World throughout the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
What Rides Should You Prioritize?
No trip to Disney World would be complete without taking a spin on your favorite rides and attractions, but a trip to the parks during the 50th Anniversary Celebration will come with a few added stops on your itinerary! The first new ride to open right out of the starting gate is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT, opening on October 1st!
Depending on when you visit during the 50th Anniversary Celebration, there may be more headliner attractions to check out, too. 2022 will (hopefully!) bring the opening of both TRON Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT. If you’re into big, wild thrill rides, you may want to consider holding off on your 50th Anniversary vacation until these rides are open!
Splash Mountain is one ride you might want to consider riding one more time during the celebration. It’s set to get its big reimagining to a new Princess and the Frog theme. If you visit during the 50th Anniversary, it may be your last chance to take a ride down to the Laughing Place before it transforms into a bayou!
What Shows Do You Have to Check Out?
Entertainment is another huge category filled with new offerings for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. While we sadly need to bid adieu to Happily Ever After and EPCOT Forever, these two nighttime spectaculars will make way for Disney Enchantment and Harmonious, respectively.
Disney Enchantment is going to be your main nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom. This show, debuting on October 1st, 2021, will be unique in that it is the first time projection mapping will be used on not only Cinderella Castle, but all along Main Street, U.S.A.! We saw the same type of projection treatment debut for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary and it was REALLY cool.
Harmonious is the long-awaited nighttime show coming to World Showcase Lagoon in EPCOT, debuting on October 1st, 2021. The show uses several barges as fountains, projections, as well as spots to shoot off fireworks!
If you’re looking for daytime entertainment, head to Animal Kingdom! Starting on October 1st, 2021, Disney KiteTails will feature three-dimensional kites depicting all sorts of animals, including Disney characters like Simba and Baloo. You can check it out at the Discovery River Amphitheater!
When it comes to planning for entertainment, you may want to find a spot early if you want the best view in the park. These three shows will likely be in high demand, especially Disney Enchantment and Harmonious. We’ll be on the lookout for dining packages or any additional ways of getting reserved seating for these shows in the coming weeks and months!
Click here to read more about what has been announced so far for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration!
Will There Be New Dining?
There have been several new exciting developments when it comes to Disney World dining for the 50th Anniversary Celebration! First and possibly most exciting, we FINALLY get the grand opening of Space 220, the long-awaited Table Service restaurant in EPCOT that takes guests “220 miles” above Earth. This restaurant will offer lunch and dinner and open officially September 20th.
La Crêperie de Paris and its to-go counter service option, Crêpes a Emporter at La Crêperie de Paris in the France Pavilion in EPCOT are also finally open, just in time for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. These restaurants feature both Table Service and Counter Service dining options, with a menu that features both savory and sweet crêpes.
We’re also keeping our eyes peeled for more information about Roundup Rodeo BBQ, the much-needed Table Service restaurant coming to Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For all of these new restaurants coming to Disney World, Advance Dining Reservations will be in high demand, so our tip would be to book these restaurants FIRST the minute your 60-day window opens up.
When it comes to classic Disney World dining, a couple of popular restaurants will bring new offerings to guests, both located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort! California Grill will host a special dining experience for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, and The Wave will be reimagined as a brand-new dining experience for guests, Steakhouse 71! This reimagined space and new menu are scheduled to be available in time for October 1. If you’ve visited these restaurants in the past, it may be worth booking a reservation and seeing what’s new.
Finally, if you’re visiting during this year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival you’ll want to check out all of the new food booths and menu updates! Of course, EPCOT’s four festivals will also take place throughout the 50th Anniversary Celebration, offering even more unique dining options. BUT, 9 booths were set to debut on October 1st. Most of them have already opened, but come the big anniversary day, you’ll have even more options!
Where Should You Stay?
By the end of 2021, all Disney World owned-and operated-hotels will have reopened, giving you the most amount of overnight options since Disney World closed in March of 2020. This is good news if you’ve been waiting for your favorite Disney World Resort hotel to reopen.
The brand-new Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser will be a new overnight experience coming in the Spring of 2022. Keep in mind that you will have to tack this onto your vacation as it’s a curated two-night experience and not your typical “hotel.” Don’t expect any bus rides from the Halcyon (the name of the starcruiser you’ll be staying aboard) to Magic Kingdom!
So, where should you stay? That depends on several important factors, including your vacation budget. You can almost always afford a longer vacation by staying at a Value or Moderate Resort over a Deluxe Resort, but those added perks and amenities may be worth the extra cost to your family! If you want to truly be immersed in all things 50th Anniversary, you may want to consider checking out hotels that have been around since 1971, like Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
In general, the sooner you are able to book your hotel reservations, the better! Rooms have been limited in supply so your favorite hotel or your preferred room type may be booked sooner than you anticipate.
What Will Crowds Look Like?
Finally, we wanted to touch base on what the crowds could potentially look like during the 50th Anniversary Celebration. As we’ve just covered, there are going to be a lot of new offerings from rides to dining to entertainment coming to Disney World over the next year or so, and lots of fans from all around the world will want to be among the first to check it out.
We can likely anticipate higher than normal crowds for Fall and Winter 2021 into 2022 as the 50th Anniversary Celebration kicks off. It’s hard to say at this point how busy the parks will be throughout the rest of 2022, but those 50th Anniversary crowds will likely be coupled with guests visiting after they delayed their usual trips due to the pandemic.
Our advice? Grab those Park Pass Reservations ASAP once your trip is booked and your tickets are purchased. That way, you’ll know that you have a confirmed reservation to get into the park of your choice.
We hope this was helpful in starting your planning process for your 50th Anniversary Celebration vacation to Disney World! While many of the steps you’ll take in planning this trip are similar to trips you may have taken in the past, there are some NEW details to keep in mind. Park Pass Reservations will likely still be around, so you don’t want to forget to book those! New restaurants could make booking Advance Dining Reservations more tricky, and all of the new entertainment offerings could mean major CROWDS, especially in the evening! We’ll be covering all aspects of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, so be sure to check back often before your next trip!