What’s Coming to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary

Walt Disney World is embarking on a special year, celebrating its 50th anniversary on October 1st, 2021. What was set to be a massive celebration has had to be tampered down due to COVID. Slowed construction progress, lower tourism levels and the present cloud of uncertainty of what will life be like in a few months has led to a slow release of what will happen on the anniversary. Still there has been a trickle of news about what to expect starting October 1st and this post will be a catch-all for anything that is announced and our (hopefully) short reaction to those.

Perhaps the biggest set of information so far is that the 50th anniversary, to be known as Walt Disney World’s Most Magical Celebration on Earth, will last for 18 months, starting in October. On first blush this seems like a very long time for a celebration but really it’s a pretty standard time frame. It might be slightly longer so that some of that slow construction progress can be completed, adding new items to the anniversary over the course of that long span. If anything, I would expect the party (I’m already tired of writing celebration) to get extended to a full two years.

Walt Disney World’s Most Magical Celebration on Earth is not a great name, for the record. I’m glad they’re keeping with current Disney tradition in making the most wordy names possible. Just say it out loud a few times and you get winded! Anyway, perhaps the biggest news about Walt Disney World’s Most Magica… (oh, forget it!) is the lack of news. As I’ll cover in the following paragraphs, really not much has been attributed to the anniversary. Part of that is the tampered down expectations I mentioned but the other consideration is that I don’t think Disney execs have any idea what they’ll be able to do in October. Maybe there is new entertainment coming? If there is then there’s no way of knowing if having crowds in close proximity will be allowed. Parades and nighttime shows are so up in the air right now to the point where holding off on any of those announcements until there sure of an opening date makes sense.

Now, for what’s actually been announced. We’ll start in Magic Kingdom since that is where the true anniversary is! As part of the celebration, Cinderella Castle will add to its royal makeover from last year. The castle will feature golden bunting and a 50th anniversary crest as part of its festive new look. Here’s a look at the concept art.

This seems fine? I definitely like it more than other castle makeovers. The new paint job on Cinderella Castle last year looks better in person than in photos and isn’t my favorite thing overall. I do think the gold bunting will look pretty good with it, even if it is a little over the top. I realize my opinion is no better than anyone else’s on how things look. My preference for these type of makeovers is just staying away from anything too egregious and I think they are safe here. Sidenote: Could you imagine drawing clouds that look this beautiful? Yeah, me neither.

To go along with the regal castle, Mickey and friends will be receiving new costumes.

I like these pretty well. When it comes to character costumes, I prefer them looking fancy and in their Sunday bests. This certainly fits that bill. Being from the state of Washington, I will never knock purple and gold together. Mickey could use a top hat maybe? Forgive me, I’m still working my way up the fashion blogging ranks. The detailing on Mickey’s jacket is cool.

The other park icons will also receive new nighttime lighting and projections. Spaceship Earth (seen above) will shimmer, making the lights look like stars. This new lighting package will become permanent, replacing the classic purple and orange look that Spaceship Earth has sported for almost 40 years.

For me, this is a bittersweet change. I think the new effects look very pretty and will utilize updated technology. But this also could be a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Spaceship Earth at night is absolutely gorgeous and always has been. The jury is out on this one but I am excited to see what happens.

The other icons adding nighttime lights isn’t as controversial. Hollywood Studios will add projections to the Tower of Terror, adding a glow that will evoke the golden age of Hollywood. This isn’t anything new for Tower of Terror, which has been adding projections during the Christmas season for the last few years.

Here is Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life all lit up for the anniversary. I don’t think this looks very different from the usual Tree of Life Awakenings but perhaps we’ll get a few new vignettes for the celebration!

For now, that is all of the news there is to report! We expect much more announced over the next few months and will update this post accordingly.

What do you think about these upcoming additions? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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