Just released: 4 things we know about Disney World’s upcoming 50th anniversary festivities

Feb 19, 2021

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When guests walk through the turnstiles on Oct. 1, Disney World will officially celebrate its golden 50th anniversary. Disney World has been prepping for this celebration for quite some time, including with 2020’s new paint job for Cinderella Castle, a variety of new attractions that have been under construction, a whole new look for Epcot and more.

But now, we have some new details about when and how the celebration will take place.

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The celebration will last longer than expected

As expected, Disney World’s 50th-anniversary celebration will begin on Oct. 1, but we just learned it will actually last for a full 18 months.

This extended celebration timeframe is presumably due, at least in part, to the pandemic. This will allow folks who aren’t yet ready to travel in 2021 additional time to be a part of the festivities. It also allows for additional time to finish and debut some attractions that won’t be completed by October 2021 due to pandemic-related delays.

Related: When Disney World may eliminate the mask requirements

The castle will be adorned in gold

Remember that (interesting) candy-covered look that Cinderella Castle got for the 25th anniversary?

(Photo courtesy of Disney Parks)

Well, this is nothing like that. Luckily, gold is synonymous with a 50th anniversary, and there’s little doubt that the castle will look magnificent with gold bunting and a new 50th-anniversary crest.

(Image courtesy of Disney Parks)

It’s not just the Magic Kingdom and its castle that will get a fresh look, according to the official Disney Parks Blog, magical fireflies will inhabit Animal Kingdom’s central Tree of Life, Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror will get a new overlay and new lights will shine across the reflective panels at Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth dome.

Related: What to expect at Disney World in 2021

New costumes for characters

Mickey and Minnie are also getting a special new look in a variety of “earidescence” blues, purples and, of course, gold. Hopefully, by the time this celebration rolls around, there will be a way to get more than a distanced selfie with this golden couple.

(Photo courtesy of Disney Parks)

Park pass reservations already booked for Oct. 1

While we now know the celebration will last for 18 months, if you hope to be inside the Magic Kingdom on the actual 50th-anniversary date on Oct. 1, you have an uphill climb ahead of you.

For months now, advance Park Pass reservations that are required to enter any of the Disney World theme parks have been been fully booked for the Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1. However, the other three Disney World theme parks are still available on Oct. 1 and Magic Kingdom has availability starting the following day. So, you can still plan a 50th anniversary week trip to Disney World if you wish, but being inside Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1 is going to take some luck picking up cancellations or perhaps some additional availability if or when it is released.

Several Disney World hotels are also not showing availability for that Oct. 1 weekend, but others are bookable.

Currently, this includes the Grand Floridian (walkable to Magic Kingdom), Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach (both of those two are on the Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios), Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (including the newest Gran Destino Tower) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kidabi Village. Prices for these start around $300 per night and skyrocket to over $1,000 per night, depending on resort and room type.

Keep in mind that the Disney Magical Express bus to and from the Orlando airport will still run through the end of 2021 but will not be an option for any trips that start in 2022 and beyond.

The on-property Disney Swan, Dolphin and new Swan Reserve (which are not eligible for the Magical Express bus as they are actually Marriott properties) also have availability that Oct. 1 weekend for around $300 or 50,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

If you think you want to go Disney World from Oct. 1 through the end of 2021, when things always get busier around the holidays, making some refundable reservations sooner rather than later isn’t a bad plan.

Bottom line

There’s still plenty we don’t yet know about what Disney is calling “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” including the all-important detail of which new shows, rides and attractions will be ready for when the big event kicks off on Oct. 1. Some of that is still likely going to be dictated by capacity and safety restrictions.

Featured image by Disney Parks, Matt Stroshane, photographer

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