The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Changes happening in time for and throughout The World’s Most Magical Celebration are VAST! If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last few years you are in for some big surprises! With changes in ALL 4 Disney Theme Parks, Refurbished Resorts, plus New Services, many things are different! This includes things as big as new lands, and as small as new character meet and greets. Apart from all the planning now needed to make the most of your trip, you’ll also see new Disney Rides, Disney Restaurants, Shows, and more. Plus, you’ll also see some of your favorite things retire. We’re covering ALL the New Things Coming to Walt Disney World and all the things that have been canceled in each park.
- 1 Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and the COVID Pandemic
- 2 Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans
- 3 What is Happening for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?
- 4 Changes Coming to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary
- 5 Magic Kingdom Changes
- 6 Hollywood Studios Changes
- 7 Epcot Changes
- 8 Animal Kingdom Changes
- 9 Disney Resort Changes
- 10 Walt Disney World Changes Park Wide
- 11 Disney Cruise Line Changes
- 12 Disney Springs Changes
- 13 Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Changes
- 14 Disney World 50th Anniversary RUMORED Enhancements
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and the COVID Pandemic
We’ve been keeping track of all the changes in the works that are coming to Walt Disney World. With the changes at Disney During the Pandemic, there are a few things to be aware of upfront. Obviously, we don’t know if the pandemic will be “over” by the time the 50th Anniversary arrives on October 1st, 2021, but we’re hopeful! We’ll share what we know so far!
Have Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans Changed due to the Pandemic?
If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World in 2021 there are many things that have changed. From a shorter dining reservation window to the temporary suspension of fast passes, and the required Disney Park Pass Reservations be sure to check out all the ways Planning for a Disney Vacation in 2021 is Different. Many pandemic restrictions are in place through 2021.
When does the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World Start?
The “Official” 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World is October 1, 2021.
Walt Disney World has shared on their website that the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World will last 18 months; October 1, 2021- March 2023.
Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans
With Walt Disney World making significant changes every year to meet demand and continue challenging Universal Studios, even more, changes have arrived in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021. Here’s everything you can expect for The Most Magical Celebration on Earth in 2021.
We’re breaking this down by Park, in list style. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of EVERYTHING changing at all 4 Disney Parks, Resorts and property-wide. This includes the construction that is most recent, replacement rides, new restaurants, and everything planned for Disney’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. This post is updated regularly.
How Long will Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Last?
18 months! If you’re visiting between October 1, 2021- March 2023 you will be a part of the World’s Most Magical Celebration!
When’s the Best Time to go to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary?
Ok, guys, we’ll be honest about this one. 2020 caused so many changes, and 2021 is still dragging along. So this is surely delaying some construction we’ve been waiting on. And as Disney crowds go if you’re aiming to visit anytime around October 1st, just plan on it being crowded. As a result, we’re going to stick to some tried and true Disney Pro Tips on this one. We like visiting the times of year that are least crowded, least expensive and with the best weather. Read our post about the Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to visit Walt Disney World, to get a clearer picture.
Following the crowds and pricing history we’d say in 2022; January- February, the first week of March, the third week of September, and mid-October to the week before Thanksgiving. And in 2023 January and February are best. Any of these times would probably be the best times to visit.
What is Happening for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?
Along with all the changes in entertainment, rides, restaurants, and services, we also get a new Logo and an Event Name. The anniversary happenings are called “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Complete with 50th Anniversary Disney Snacks, Merchandise, and temporary events across the parks. Check out all the Official Walt Disney World Plans we’ve shared in our Disney World’s Most Magical Celebration 50th Anniversary post.
Will Walt Disney World do anything special for the 50th Anniversary?
Yes! ALL FOUR THEME PARKS are getting updates! We share everything that’s on the way in each Disney Park as part of the 50 magical enhancements by the 50th below. Disney will also release special edition buttons, pins, merchandise, snacks, and more. 2021 marks the Anniversary of Walt Disney World as a whole, and Magic Kingdom Park, which officially opened back on October 1, 1971. The Contemporary Resort. Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds and The Polynesian Resort and Villas are also celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 2021, so we’ll be sure to see specialty merchandise and something special for those resorts too.
Will Cinderella’s Castle Change for the Disney World 50th Anniversary?
YES! You can now see Cinderella’s Castle in all its Rose Gold glory! But Cinderella’s Castle has ALWAYS gotten a face-lift for the Disney Anniversary Celebrations. So we’ll be seeing more buntings, a 50th medallion, and tons of sparkles too! Complete with golden accents honoring the “Golden Anniversary” of 50 years.
New Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Logo Reveal
The Disney World 50th anniversary named The World’s Most Magical Celebration even gets a NEW Logo filled with sparkles alongside strong purple, blue and pink hues no doubt honoring some of the more recent color trends at Disney. Imagination pink, Purple Potion, and Unicorn colors have been merchandise darlings this past year and are clearly represented in the new mood board for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Changes Coming to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary
As part of Disney’s 50 Magical enhancements before the 50th Anniversary, we’ve been tracking all the comings and goings of rides, restaurants, and shows at all 4 Walt Disney World parks, Disney Resort changes, and new services. Check out everything happening in our lists here.
Magic Kingdom Changes
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom: “Cinderella Castle illuminates the park with a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust.”
- Cinderella Castle refreshes with rose gold paint, draped buntings, sparkles, and 50th Medallion over the entryway.
- Splash Mountain is being re-themed as Princess and Frog. Per Disney Parks Blog.
- Disney Characters set to be added to It’s a Small World Ride by 2021. Similar to Disneyland’s version.
- Introduction of the Hub Grass in front of Cinderella’s Castle, for lounging and dessert parties.
- Wreck-it Ralph Attraction to replace Stitch’s Great Escape by 2022
- Skipper Canteen Jungle Cruise Restaurant comes to Adventureland
- Happily Ever After Fireworks Show replaces Wishes
- Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks debut 2019 at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
- PeopleMover Refurbishments coming, including new areas and scenes within the ride
- Walt Disney World Railroad refurbishment
- Tomorrowland Re-imagining to match white and blue Tron Lightcycle theme and new Entrance sign.
- Carousel of Progress Updates
- Instagram darling, The Purple Wall, is refreshed with geometric graphics.
- TRON Lightcycle Roller Coaster completion in 2022 in Tomorrowland
- New Castle colors completed in honor of Cinderella’s 70th Anniversary.
- Jungle Cruise – new scenes
What’s Cancelled at Magic Kingdom?
- Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom Suspended January 2021
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor October 2020
- Main Street Citizens October 2020
- Move it Shake it MousekeDance It! Street Party October 2020
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire October 2020
- Royal Merry Makers Cut
- Muppets: Great Moments in History Cut
- Hallowishes Fireworks Show Retires
- Wishes Fireworks Show Retires
- The Main Street Electrical Light Parade retired 2018
- Stitch’s Great Escape Closed 2018
- Magician Mickey Character Meet and Greet no longer includes a “talking Mickey”
- Move it, Shake it, Dance it, Play it Parade retired 2019
- Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial retired 2018
Hollywood Studios Changes
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Hollywood Studios: “The iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel glitters with EARidescence, evoking the glimmer and shimmer of the golden age of imagination and adventure.”
- Disney Society Orchestra Debuts August 2020, replacing Beauty and the Beast on Stage
- New park logo debuts in 2019 for 30th anniversary
- “Studio” Parking lot names are replaced by character names, preparing to remove studio theming of park.
- Fantasmic is refreshed 2017
- Additional Star Tours storylines added for a possibility of 26 different ride experiences
- Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge open Aug 29, 2019. Land open in phases.
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Ride: A new ride with simulations similar to Star Tours that allows guests to “control” the ride together.
- Rise of the Resistance Ride exceeds expectations, a boarding pass system is in place to accommodate crowds. Here’s how to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass.
- The Galactic Datapad App is in Disney Play for immersion experience and gaming
- Galaxy’s Edge New Restaurants and Shops
- Toy Story Land opens June 2018
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuted at the Chinese Theater on March 4, 2020
- Mickey Shorts Theater opened in March 2020
- Star Wars Galactic Nights show debuts 2017
- Grand Avenue is created as a walkway to Galaxy’s Edge
- Baseline Tap House added on Grand Avenue
- Introduction of the Sunset Seasons Greetings show at Christmas
- Lightning McQueen’s Race Academy intermittently open
What’s Cancelled at Hollywood Studios?
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show October 2020
- Jedi Training Academy October 2020
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage October 2020
- Green Army Men Drum Corps October 2020
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid October 2020
- Star Wars A Galaxy Far Far Away stage and show are removed Feb 2020
- Meet and Greet with Toy Story 4 Bo Peep canceled Feb 2020
- New Mike and Sully Meet and Greet in the One Man’s Dream building canceled Feb 2020
- Citizens of Hollywood street show scaled back, some street shows retired.
- The Great Movie Ride closes
- Wonderful World of Animation Nighttime Show debuts for 30th Anniversary Closed late 2019
Epcot is getting a major overhaul. The biggest news to come out of the D23Expo 2019 was that Epcot would be transformed and demolish Innoventions West to create new spaces aligned with four new areas of the park; World Celebration, World Discovery World Nature, and World Showcase. The new four sections of Epcot create experiences aligned to different universal themes. Read about the full changes to Epcot here.
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at EPCOT: “Lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism.”
- Epcot name is officially changed back to EPCOT (Feb 2020)
- Choza de Margarita, a permanent outdoor food kitchen, is added to Mexico
- Interactive Play!Pavilion in Wonders of Life Building planned for 2021
- Addition of Journey of Water with Moana-based theme to include waterfalls and interactive experiences in World Nature scheduled for 2022 tentatively.
- Regal Eagle Smokehouse Craft Drafts & Barbecue replaces Liberty Inn in the American Adventure Pavilion
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is an indoor “storytelling” Rollercoaster that catapults guests into space backward and allows 360 control of the coaster car. Completion planned by 2022
- Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt game debuts at Festival of Holidays 2020
- La Creperie de Paris. Authentic French Creperie is announced for Epcot France Opening October 1, 2021.
- Awesome Planet, a new movie arrives at The Land Pavilion replacing Circle of Life in 2020
- Frozen Ever After replaces Maelstrom
- Takumi Tei, an artisan Japanese restaurant, opens 2019
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in France Opening October 1, 2021
- Space 220 Restaurant opens in Future World (soon to be World Discovery) to be located next to Mission Space. Completion TBD
- The Spike the Bee Pollen-Nation scavenger hunt game is introduced at Flower and Garden Festival 2018
- Epcot Forever is an interim evening digital show over the lake in World Showcase, opened Oct 1, 2019.
- Epcot evening show HarmonioUs Nighttime Spectacular to replace Epcot Forever.
- Wondrous China, is the new China CircleVision film to replace the old film in China, Epcot.
- Canada Far and Wide, CircleVision is the new Canada 360 film premieres with Festival of the Arts 2020
- Mary Poppins Attraction to open in Epcot in UK by 2021 indefinitely delayed or canceled.
- Soarin’ Update happened in 2016 changed to Soaring Around the World
- Beauty and the Beast Sing Along opens in January 2020
- Spaceship Earth Refurbishment indefinitely delayed or canceled.
- International Festival of the Arts debuted in January 2017, now an annual art festival at Epcot
- World Celebration is the planned entrance name for Epcot to transition before 2022
What’s Canceled at EPCOT
- Voices of Liberty October 2020
- Chip and Dales Christmas Tree Spree Game is Replaced October 2020
- Innoventions West to be demolished
- Ellen’s Universe of Energy closes.
- Leave a Legacy walls came down at Epcot Spring 2019
- Liberty Inn Restaurant in America, Epcot closes July 8, 2019
- Circle of Life with Timon and Pumba closes at The Land building
- Maelstrom is refurbished with a Frozen theme in Frozen Ever After
- Starbucks in Epcot Plaza and Club Cool not closing but relocated during the renovation
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime show retires 2019
Animal Kingdom Changes
If you haven’t visited Pandora: World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom yet, know that this land’s popularity has ranked Animal Kingdom in the #2 most popular theme park spot, second to Magic Kingdom. Lots of people, lots of awesome, lots going on.
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Animal Kingdom: “A warm and glorious light emanates from the Tree of Life, as enchanted fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature.”
- Pandora, World of Avatar Opens Spring 2017
- Flight of the Banshee, consistently still seeing 120-180 minute waits 3 years after opening.
- Na’vi River Ride
- Satuli Canteen Quick Service
- Pongu Pongu Counter Service
- Feather Friends in Flight debuts August 2020, replacing UP! A Great Bird Adventure
- Tiffin’s Restaurant opens in 2017
- Tree of Life Awakenings evening digital show opens, with seasonal overlays
- Introduction of Kevin, from Up as wandering character at Animal Kingdom
- Donald Duck’s Birthday Bash takes on a potentially permanent setup in Dinoland
- The addition of New Christmas at Animal Kingdom Offerings, including large animal marionettes and digital show, arrives in Animal Kingdom in 2019.
- Animal Kingdom After Hours now offered for late-night park time.
What’s Cancelled at Animal Kingdom?
- Pandora Utility Suit (Mech Suits) October 2020
- Festival of the Lion King October 2020
- Finding Nemo – The Musical October 2020
- Rivers of Light We Are One night show debuts in 2019. Permanently Closed 2020
- Up! A Great Bird Adventure replaced August 2020
- Primeval Whirl Permanently Closed Summer 2020
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch Conservation Center closes 2018. Intermittently open.
- Flights of Wonder Closes, replaced by Up! A Great Bird Adventure.
- Animal Kingdom’s parade is removed from the programming schedule
- Primeval Whirl set to intermittent operations.
Disney Resort Changes
One of the biggest ways Disney is meeting the needs of more guests is by upgrading current resorts and establishing new resorts. Disney resorts are and have been going under refurbishment or scheduled to before the 2021 deadline.
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort CLOSED The DVC Rooms, gits shops and main lobby remain open.
- Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2021 as well, The Polynesian Village Resort is getting a Moana-inspired facelift with a new Monorail station area, room refurbishments, and a fresher color scheme. Most of this project is set to complete by Summer 2021.
- The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Hotel opens in Summer 2021.
- Refurbishments begin at Saratoga Springs 2020
- Grand Floridian Re-Imagining in progress.
- Removal of Disney’s Grand Floridian Society Orchestra from the resort entertainment. The last day is Oct 3, 2020.
- Victoria and Albert’s Bistro, replaces Citrico’s Restaurant at the Grand Floridian may complete by end of 2021.
- Enchanted Rose Lounge replaces Mizner’s Lounge The Beauty and Beast inspired Bar and Lounge at Grand Floridian opens Fall 2019
- The Coronado Springs Gran Destino Tower Refurbishment completed in 2019
- Disney Riviera Resort and Villas opens as a new DVC property Dec 16, 2019
- Topolino Terrace, a rooftop restaurant atop Riviera opens now.
- Topolino Terrace Character Breakfast Mickey’s Breakfast a la Art debuts as the best new character dining experience.
- Star Wars Immersion Resort 2-night, 3-day experience on the Galactic Starcruiser under construction. Reservations are available in late 2020.
- Caribbean Beach Resort construction completes December 2018
- Sebastian’s Bistro opens as Caribbean Beach’s new Table Service Restaurant.
- Coronado Springs adds Toledo’s Restaurant, on the rooftop. Read the Toledo Review.
- Three Bridges Waterside Bar and Grill at Coronado Springs opens Summer 2019
- Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian Walkway completed in 2020.
- Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge resort begins construction on River Country Water Park site, located between Fort Wilderness campgrounds and Wilderness Lodge (indefinitely delayed or canceled)
- Princess and the Frog Restaurant to open at Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge (indefinitely delayed or canceled)
Walt Disney World Changes Park Wide
At all four parks, Disney has done things to connect, make things easier, and offer new experiences. The transportation efforts have been to offset huge crowd increases. See our 5 rules to keep from getting locked out if the parks it maximum capacity.
- Dessert Parties and special viewing areas are added for most evening shows, available at an additional cost.
- Park to Park Bus Service begins at Walt Disney World in late 2019
- New Bus Fleet arrives, with usb charging ports in the seats
- Disney Skyliner Gondola stations are available at Disney’s Art of Animation/ Pop Century Resorts, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Epcot International Gateway, and Hollywood Studios Main Gate. Disney Skyliner Gondola Transportation System opens on September 29, 2019. Read the Review.
- Disney Club 33 locations at Walt Disney World are revealed.
- All 4 Disney Parks now serve alcohol with meals
- Minnie Van Service available for guests at all Disney Resorts
- Face Recognition for entry begins testing at Disney Parks in 2021
- Artificial Intelligence Bag Check Scanners Debut at Hollywood Studios Aug 2020
- Implementation of the Disney Park Pass Reservation System to accommodate 2020 needs as a result of the closure. Use planned until at least September 26, 2021.
- Ample Hills Creamery closes on the Disney Boardwalk June 2020
Disney Cruise Line Changes
Disney Springs Changes
Now a fairly upscale shopping and restaurant experience Disney springs is continually adding amazing things to the non-park day experience. Disney Springs has been morphing ever since it stopped being Downtown Disney. We love that you don’t have to pay admission or have a ticket to the parks to enjoy Disney Springs. And that the Disney buses still bring you there! Here are some of the new things.
- Wondermade Marshmallows Opens serving specialty marshmallows April 2021
- Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt is replaced in 2020 with the Christmas Tree Stroll
- Cirque de Soleil announces Drawn to Life, a new show highlighting Disney Storytelling and a familiar score to immerse guests in Disney Magic at the Cirque de Soleil location in Disney Springs March 2020. Read for more details.
- Cookie Dough Food Truck opens by September 2019
- Beatrix, neighborhood restaurant, coffee house, and market open by 2020
- Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill opens
- Jaleo, a new Spanish restaurant featuring tapas opens
- City Works Eatery and Pour House featuring craft beers is set to open in Winter 2019
- Chicken Guy, Guy Fieri’s quick-serve restaurant opens, makes our Best Quick Serve Restaurants at Disney Springs list.
- Pepe by Jose Andres opens
- Sunshine Churros Kiosks opens Aug 2019
- World of Disney store is refurbished
- New Mac and Cheese Food Truck
- NBA Experience opens Aug 12, 2019
- Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew opened in January 2021
- Gideon’s Bakehouse serving cookies, cake slices, and coffees. Opening in 2020
Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Changes
If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last few years you may not have gotten a chance to do your own DIY planning via the My Disney Experience app, have a go at fast pass booking ( p.s. its not on paper anymore), or experience the joy of magic bands! Here are the big planning changes we’ve seen. And if you need a fresh look at how to do the whole planning thing check out our 12 step post.
- Disney’s MagicMobile Wallet Service introduced for Apple devices first in 2021.
- Read all the ways Planning Your Disney Vacation Will Change amidst the COVID pandemic
- Introduction of Magic Bands as identifiers for park tickets, resort keys, and Fastpass bands.
- Disney Genie App planning service offering a complete Disney Vacation experience crafted specifically for you. (indefinitely delayed or canceled)
- And the announcement that Disney is No Longer Offering MagicBands for FREE.
- Introduction of more streamlined Fast Passes. , FP+ was temporarily(?) suspended in 2020.
- Disney Parks Pass Reservation System introduced for 2020 and 2021
- A stricter Disney Planning Timeline for Restaurant and Fast Pass reservations.
- The My Disney Experience App gets upgraded to unlock your resort room with the app.
- Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue Introduced at Galaxy’s Edge
- Mobile Order arrives at 40+ Restaurants across the parks for mobile food pick up so you don’t have to wait in line.
Disney World 50th Anniversary RUMORED Enhancements
Given the current climate and general delays, we could hazard a guess that most of these will NOT be completed by 2021.
Magic Kingdom Rumored Changes
- New Night Parade
- New Anniversary Fireworks Show
- Walt Disney World Railroad – new scenes
- Carousel of Progress – new scene
- Big Thunder Mountain – new special effects added
- Jungle Cruise – new scenes– CONFIRMED Jan 2021
- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – refurbishment
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – refurbishment
- Astro Orbiter – refurbishment
EPCOT Rumored Changes
- New World Showcase Country- Brazil has been rumored to be taking the spot between Italy and Germany and opening in 2022.
- Journey Into Imagination- re-imagining
Hollywood Studios Rumored Changes
- Tower of Terror – new special effects added
Animal Kingdom Rumored Changes
- Expedition Everest –refurbishment and fixes