Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Changes by 2021

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Changes by 2021

 If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last few years you are in for some big changes! There are supposed to be 50 Changes implemented  for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary by 2021. 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 Lands. Plus, you’ll also see some of your favorite things retire. With Walt Disney World making significant changes every year to meet demand and continue challenging Universal Studios, even more changes are coming in preparation of the anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021. Here’s the list so far!

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Updated 7/26/2020

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in 2020 or 2021 read all about Walt Disney World’s Opening Plans  and everything that may affect your vacation. 

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans

We’re breaking this down by park, in list style. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of EVERYTHING happening 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 and will reflect projects that have been affected by the 2020 closing of Walt Disney World.  Scroll the post for a list of items that are new ( and have recently retired) per park, the new logo, the new pink Cinderella Castle and everything you need to know. 

When is the Disney World 50th Anniversary?

The “official” 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World is October 1, 2021. But never fear! We won’t have to wait that long Disney anniversary celebrations to start. Previous anniversary celebrations have lasted a full 15 months, and while we don’t know a starting date yet! We will share it as soon as we have it. History has shown that the start date for Walt Disney World anniversary celebrations happens a couple months prior. If we had to guess, we’d say plan for August 2021 as a potential starting month for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary and November or December 2022 for the anniversary activities to end. As a result, you have plenty of time to make your way to Disney for the 50th anniversary in 2021. 

Will Disney’s 50th Anniversary be Delayed?

Disney During the COVID Pandemic and the reality that many projects stopped when the parks closed will affect the 50th Anniversary. Take a look at the Disney Construction Projects for 2020 at Walt Disney World. These changes after closing of the Disney Parks will no doubt have an effect on the ability to complete some projects by deadline. But, for the most part, we believe the major and almost-completed projects will begin to complete as soon as construction staff is back in full. 

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When Can you book Disney for 2021?

If you’re worried about room availability for the 50th Anniversary at Disney World and all the limited capacity at the parks, know that Walt Disney World announced that Disney 2021 Packages release on June 28, 2020. BUT, rumor around town is that you can book starting June 24th. So, get ready to be up early and have a plan b and c in place for your dates and resort choices. Flexibility will be key!

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 has seen so many changes, and this will surely delay some construction we’ve been waiting on. And as Disney crowds go, as soon as the celebration dates are announced you can just plan on it being crowded. So 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 history we’d say Jan- Feb 2022, we like the first week of March, the third week of September, and really mid October to the week before Thanksgiving, November 2022 would probably be the best times to visit. Packages for 2022 won’t even release until Summer 2021, so you have plenty of time to think it over. 

Epcot construction at walt disney world after closing 2020

What are the Plans 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 will be called The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Complete with 50th Anniversary Disney Snacks, Merchandise, and temporary events across the parks. Much like we saw the Incredible Summer in 2018, we’d expect special events available for a limited time throughout the anniversary year

New Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Logo Reveal

The New Walt Disney World Logo encompasses 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 Anniversary.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Logo Disney 2021

Everything Planned for Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary 2021

Cinderellas 50th anniversary castle walt disney world 50th anniversary

Changes Coming for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

As part of Disney’s 50 Magical enhancements before the 50th, 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 for 2021

  • Splash Mountain is being re-themed as Princess and Frog. Per Disney Parks Blog.
  • Disney Characters added to It’s a Small World Ride by 2021. Similar to Disneyand’s Version.
  • Introduction of the Hub Grass in front of Cinderellas 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
  • 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 by 2021 in Tomorrowland
  • New Castle colors completed honor of Cinderella’s 70th Anniversary. 

walt disney world 2020 walt disney world 2021

No longer at Magic Kingdom

  • Royal Merry Makers are cut
  • Move it Shake it MousekeDance it Parade finishes late 2019
  • 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

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Hollywood Studios Changes for 2021

Hollywood Studios has been under construction for about two years. With quite a bit still to do,Hollywood Studios and Epcot are the parks that will have the biggest changes going into the 50th Anniversary in 2021. 

  • Disney Society Orchestra Debuts August 2020, replacing Beauty and the Beast on Stage
  • Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance opens to massive success. Boarding pass system implemented.
  • 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
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular refurbishment and new storylines 2020
  • Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge open Aug 29,2019. Land open in phases.
  • Toy Story Land opens June 2018
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuted at the Chinese Theater March 4, 2020
  • Mickey Shorts Theater opened March 2020
  • Star Wars Galactic Nights show debuts 2017
  • Grand Avenue is created as 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

No longer at Hollywood Studios

  • Beauty and the Beast on Stage Removed August 2020
  • Star Wars A Galaxy Far Far Away stage and show are removed Feb 2020
  • Meet and Greet with Toy Story 4 Bo Peep cancelled Feb 2020
  • New Mike and Sully Meet and Greet in the One Man’s Dream building cancelled 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 changes at walt disney world

Epcot Changes for 2021

Epcot is getting a major overhaul. The biggest news to come out this years 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. 

  • 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
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse Craft Drafts & Barbecue replaces Liberty Inn. Read the review.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is an indoor “storytelling” Rollercoaster that catapults guests into space backwards and allows 360 control of the coaster car. Completion planned by 2021
  • Le Creperie de Paris. Authentic French Creperie is announced for Epcot France anticipated 2020
  • 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 anticipated completion 2020
  • Space 220 Restaurant opens in Future World (soon to be World Discovery) to be located next to Mission Space. Completion in 2020
  • The Spike the Bee Pollen-Nation scavenger hunt game is introduced at Flower and Garden Festival 2018
  • Epcot Forever is in interim evening digital show over the lake in World Showcase, opened Oct 1, 2019.
  • Epcot evening show Harmonious debuts late 2020 to replace Epcot Forever.
  • Wondrous China, is the new China CircleVision film to replace old film in China, Epcot.
  • Canada Far and Wide, CircleVision is the new Canade 360 film premieres with Festival of the Arts 2020
  • Mary Poppins Attraction to open in Epcot in UK by 2021 indefinitely delayed or cancelled.
  • Soarin’ Update happened in 2016 changed to Soaring Around the World
  • Beauty and the Beast Sing Along opens January 2020
  • Spaceship Earth Refurbishment  indefinitely delayed or cancelled.
  • Soarin’ Update happened in 2016 changed to Soaring Around the World
  • 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

Regal Eagle Smokehouse BBQ and Craft Beers at Epcot Disney World

New BBQ at American Adventure Epcot Disney World BBQ
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue is a fast-casual restaurant located at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Here, guests will enjoy classic American backyard barbecue and home-style craft brews. (Kent Phillips, Photographer)

No longer at Epcot

  • 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 Frozen theme in Frozen Ever After
  • Starbucks in Epcot Plaza and Club Cool not closing but relocated during renovation
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth night time show retires 2019

up a great bird adventure animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom Changes for 2021

If you haven’t gotten to Pandora: World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom yet, know that this lands 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.

  • 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
  • Rivers of Light We Are One night show debuts in 2019. Permanently Closed 2020
  • 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
  • Addition of New Christmas 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. 

No longer at Animal Kingdom

  • Up! A Great Bird Adventure replaced August 2020
  • Rivers of Light Permanently Closed Summer 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. 

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Disney Resort Changes for 2021

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.

  • Refurbishments begin at Saratoga Springs 2020
  • Victoria and Albert’s Bistro, replaces Citrico’s Restaurant at the Grand Floridian may complete by end of 2021. 
  • Enchanted Rose Lounge replaces Mizners 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 Mickey’s Breakfast a la Art debuts as the best new character dining experience. Read the Review.
  • Star Wars Immersion Resort 2-night, 3 day experience on the Galactic Starcruiser under construction. Reservations available 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 Bridge The broken walkway from Magic Kingdom that leads to the Grand Floridian is set to be connected providing another option for walking guests to avoid the monorail or buses. Completion in 2020.
  • Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge resort begins construction on River Country Water Park site, located between Fort Wilderness campgrounds and Wilderness Lodge 2022. May be delayed or halted.
  • Princess and the Frog Restaurant to open at Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge May be delayed or halted.

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Walt Disney World Changes Park Wide 2021

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 late 2019
  • New Bus Fleet arrives, with usb charging ports in the seats
  • Disney Skyliner Gondola stations will be 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 open September 29, 2019. Read the Review. 
  • Club 33 locations are being built in all four parks. See where!
  • All 4 Disney Parks now serve alcohol with meals 
  • Minnie Van Service available for guests at all Disney Resorts
  • Disney Genie App supposed to debut in 2020 to help streamline planning experiences including both Dining and Fast Pass Reservations, offering a complete Disney Vacation experience crafted specifically for you.
  • Implementation of the Disney Park Pass System to accommodate 2020 needs as a result of the closure.
  • Ample Hills Creamery closes on the Disney Boardwalk June 2020

disney cruise line Disney Wish

Disney Cruise Line Changes

  • Eleuthera in the Bahamas Islands is purchased as the 2nd Port island for Disney Cruises. This island will be referred to to as Lighthouse Point and join Disney’s other private island, Castaway Cay. 
  • Disney Cruise Line adds the Disney Wish to as the 5th ship in the fleet January 2022. See details.

Disney Springs Changes

Disney Springs has been morphing ever since it stopped being Downtown Disney. Now a fairly upscale shopping and restaurant experience Disney springs is continually adding amazing things to the non-park day experience. 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’s some of the new things. 

  • 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 Winter 2019
  • Chicken Guy, Guy Fieri’s quick serve restaurant opens, makes our best quick serve 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 to arrive in 2020
  • Gideon’s Bakehouse serving cookies, cake slices and coffees. Opening in 2020

Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Changes 2021

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’s 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.

To see all the main upcoming changes see Disney’s website here. We’ll be sharing all the new things as they pop up so stay tuned! If you’re interested in some of the changes over at Disneyland, check out the Disneyland section of our blog.

If you got questions, reach out! A lot is happening!

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9 thoughts on “Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Changes by 2021”

  • Great list! With all the new changes when do you think it best to take a second trip – I like to go at the least busiest times

  • Typically the best times are around Jan-Feb and again August-October. Both of these times in 2019/2020 should be OK crowd wise, because a lot of people are either going to wait for Star Wars Galaxy Edge to open late November and go then, or skip 2020 altogether and just plan their “big trip” in 2021 when the anniversary festivities are in full swing and all the new stuff is open.You never can tell with the crowds, but these months do tend to be the lowest each year.

  • Looking at a family holiday for the anniversary 2021. Dilemma.. Do I being them over in the April May when it’s good weather and the crowds are not manic or wait till the Oct when the anniversary kicks in but the crowds will be UNBEARABLE??

  • Hey Paula! We think the whole year of 2021 is gonna be pretty busy! Celebrations actually start late 2020 in preparation for the 50th Anniversary, so we’d say base it on the weather or the ride you most want open. Waiting until October 2021 may not get you more of an advantage than going in May. We don’t know exact open dates for the big rides like Ratatouille, or Tron, but by May 2021 Runaway Railway will be open, Star Wars Land will be complete and the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride will be done. Ratatouille is slated for a late 2020 opening rumored right now. The only ride you may have to wait until October for will be Tron. Hope that helps!

  • Hi, you said Star Wars was three months behind schedule – does that mean we’re still looking at a Fall 2019 opening? We’re planning our first ever trip for Feb 2020 and Star Wars is high on the list of must-dos!

  • Hey Adele! So at this point, Galaxy’s Edge has been pushed back to open in “late” fall, which leaves it pretty vague. We anticipate it will open after a series of soft openings, so by your trip in February 2020, we’re guessing the crowds will be a tiny bit lower than the first couple of months after opening and hopefully they will have a lot of the bugs worked out by then!

  • Congratulations on your future and first ever trip. Regardless of when you go you going be amazed. Don’t rush and just let yourself sink into the Magic!!

  • I apologize if this has been answered already, but planning on going for the big 50th celebration in May, would that be too early? I keep hearing October. Are the celebrations starting in October? Or year round?

  • Hey Amanda, the 50th Anniversary Celebrations for Walt Disney World will most likely start October 2020, run through 2021, and then maybe even stay a little into 2022. So as long as your trip falls anytime in 2021 you will get to be part of the anniversary celebrations.

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