Changes for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in All Four Parks

Changes for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in All Four Parks

With Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary comes changes in all four parks, resorts, Disney Springs, and more! Even new services and changes in planning a Disney Vacation are in the works. And if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last few years you are in for some big surprises! This includes things as big as new lands, and as small as new Disney character experiences. Check out all the Changes for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in All Four Parks. New Rides, Restaurants, Resorts, and everything retiring along the way!

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios things to do guide to Toy Story Land Get ready to play big in Andy's Backyard #toystoryland #toystory #playbig

What is the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Dates?

The Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration starts October 1, 2021 and runs through March 2023.

How Long does the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Last?

The World’s Most Magical Celebration at Walt Disney World lasts 18th months. 

When is the Best Time to go to Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary?

Following the historical crowd levels for Walt Disney World anniversaries we’d say your best bet is to Plan a 2022 Disney Vacation AFTER the initial crowds have lessened. If you’re looking for the Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World during the 50th Anniversary celebrations here are our recommendations.

  • January- February
  • First week of March
  • Third week of September
  • Mid-October to the week before Thanksgiving.

Any of these times in 2022 are great times to visit. And in 2023 we’d say January and February are the best times to visit Walt Disney World. If you’re looking to visit Walt Disney World on a budget be sure to check out the Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to visit Walt Disney World so you can make sure you’re getting the best deals on resorts and tickets. 

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Plans

With Walt Disney World making significant changes every year to meet demand and continue challenging Universal Studios, the plans to spruce up each park and introduce new experiences and rides have been in the works for years! We’re breaking this list of changes at Walt Disney World down by Park, in list style. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of EVERYTHING changing at all four Disney Parks, Resorts, and property-wide. 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. 

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Logo Disney 2021

What is Happening for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?

New Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Logo Reveal

Walt Disney World has 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. All clearly represented in the new mood board for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

50th Anniversary Golden Statues across all four parks
In this artist rendering Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are featured as special golden character sculptures in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. They will be joined by 50 characters as part of the “Disney Fab 50,” a new collection of golden sculptures debuting Oct. 1, 2021, across all four Walt Disney World theme parks as part of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. (Disney)

The Fab 50 Disney Statue Collection in All Four Parks

Coming to Walt Disney World parks are gilded gold statues featuring 50 favorite Disney characters to set the stage for magic throughout the entire celebration. 

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.

Anniversary Celebrations at the Disney Resorts

2021 marks the Anniversary of Walt Disney World as a whole, and Magic Kingdom Park, which officially opened back on October 1, 1971. But we also get to celebrate opening day Resorts too. 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! Complete with buntings, a 50th medallion, sparkles, and golden accents honoring the “Golden Anniversary” of 50 years.

Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom 50th Anniversary Updates and Changes

Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom: “Cinderella Castle illuminates the park with a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust.”

  • Monsters Inc Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom returns August 8, 2021
  • Disney Enchantment Fireworks Show debuts October 1, 2021. 
    • This new Fireworks show is a combination of pyrotechnics, lighting, fireworks, and enhanced projection lighting that will stretch down Main Street USA.
  • New Projection Lighting on Cinderella’s Castle
  • Tomorrowland Makeover.
  • A new Pixar’s Coco scene is coming to Mickey’s PhilharMagic on October 1, 2021
  • Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade tours the park at random.
  • New Park Entrance refurbishments.
  • Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash debuts August 2021. 
  • New character Costumes for Minnie, Mickey, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale. These are the MAIN Disney characters that will be part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations. 
  • Cinderella Castle refurbishments with 50th-anniversary medallion, buntings, and gold accents.
  • Splash Mountain is being re-themed as Princess and Frog Ride. Per Disney Parks Blog.
  • Disney Characters are set to be added to It’s a Small World ride by 2022. 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. The Happily Ever After Fireworks Show Retires September 29th, 2021. 
  • Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks debut 2019 at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • PeopleMover Refurbishments.
  • Walt Disney World Railroad Refurbishment and new scenes
  • Carousel of Progress Updates
  • Instagram darling, The Purple Wall, is refreshed with geometric graphics, Galactic Purple Wall.
  • TRON Lightcycle Roller Coaster completion in 2022 in Tomorrowland.
  • Jungle Cruise – new scenes

What’s Cancelled at Magic Kingdom?

  • Happily Ever After Fireworks Show Retires September 29, 2021. 
  • Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom Suspended January 2021
  • 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
Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary at Hollywood Studios
(Disney)

Hollywood Studios 50th Anniversary Updates and 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.”

What’s Cancelled at Hollywood Studios?

  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show paused October 2020
  • Jedi Training Academy 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
Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary at EPCOT
 (Disney)

Epcot 50th Anniversary Updates and Changes

Epcot is getting a major overhaul. The biggest news to come out of the D23Expo 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.”

  • Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT returns August 21, 2021
  • NEW Epcot Neighborhoods
  • New Projection Lighting on Spaceship Earth
  • Dreamers Point Statue
  • New Entrance Refurbishment with pylons
  • 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. Date open TBD.
  • 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
  • Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular to replace Epcot Forever October 1, 2021.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Club Cool Renovation.
  • New Creations Shop in Epcot, replaces MouseGear.

What’s Cancelled at EPCOT

  • Reflections of China Retires December 1, 2021. 
  • Epcot Forever Retires on September 28, 2021. 
  • 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
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime show retires 2019

Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom 50th Anniversary Updates and 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 only 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.”

  • Return of Festival of the Lion King in a modified layout
  • Disney KiteTales
    • This daytime show features 3-D kites flying through the air. At 30 feet long, some are shaped like our favorite Disney Characters including Simba, Zazu, Baloo, and King Louie. Open October 1, 2021.
  • New Projection Lighting on the Tree of Life
  • 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 a 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
  • 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. 

The Incredibles Rooms at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney Resort 50th Anniversary Updates and 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.

  • The Incredibles Rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are available Fall 2021. 
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort refurbished to Moana Theme in 2021
  • The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Hotel set to open in Fall 2021
  • BoardWalk Ice Cream opens at Disney’s Boardwalk to replace Ample Hills Creamery 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. 
  • Citricos revamped to a Mary Poppins Returns-themed restaurant. 
  • Victoria and Albert’s Bistro set to replace Citrico’s Restaurant at the Grand Floridian. Date TBD.
  • 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. Open TBD.
  • 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, a new signature rooftop dining. 
  • 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 ( Project May Be Canceled) resort begins construction on River Country Water Park site, located between Fort Wilderness campgrounds and Wilderness Lodge.
  • Princess and the Frog Restaurant ( Project May Be Canceled) to open at Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge

Walt Disney World Changes 50th Anniversary Park Updates and Changes

  • 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
  • Skyliner Gondola stations are available at Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts. And Disney’s Riviera Resort, Epcot International Gateway, and Hollywood Studios Main Gate. Disney Skyliner Gondola Transportation System opens on September 29, 2019.
  • 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
  • Ample Hills Creamery closes on the Disney Boardwalk June 2020
  • Magic of Disney store location opening with the South Terminal Complex at Orlando International Airport in 2022. 

disney springs opens may 20 2020 after walt disney world closure

Disney Springs Updates and 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. 

  • Salt and Straw Ice Cream slated to arrive in Disney Springs in 2022. 
  • Wondermade Marshmallows Opens serving specialty marshmallows April 2021
  • Christmas Tree Stroll debuts in 2020. 
  • 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. Date Open TBD. 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 opens in 2021 serving cookies, cake slices, and coffees.

Disney World Planning Changes in 2022

Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Updates and 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.

Changes at Walt Disney World for the 50th Anniversary

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.

Walt Disney World Park Updates for the 50th in all four parks!


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12 thoughts on “Changes for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in All Four Parks”

  • 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?

  • Is Mickey not so scary holloween on for next year 2021
    And the meet and greets back on to for next year
    And you missed jurassic park rollar coaster and princess and the frog turning from splash mountain and tron when will that be all done next year ?

  • Hey Heather. Thanks for the check in. So, we don’t know any of these details yet. The Jurassic Coaster is Universal Studios so not included in this post. Splash Mountain changing to Princess and the Frog is on the list under the Magic Kingdom section, but since that was a recent announcement from Disney and not confirmed to actually be done by the 50th Anniversary we haven’t included additional information because a construction date has not yet been set by Disney World. As soon as we get a confirmed planned date we’ll be sure to add it here. Same goes for TRON. It’s on the list under Magic Kingdom but again no tentative date for Tron opening has been set- we only know it was one of the original projects to be completed by the Oct 1, 2021 date, but with the closing this year we haven’t heard any additional news on when it will open. We do, however, expect Tron to be open by the Oct 1 2021 date as originally planned as this is their flagship anniversary project and will most likely draw the biggest crowds. And for meet and greets and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we also cannot say. The change of a calendar year doesn’t necessarily make Covid go away and we’re assuming that Disney will continue to be conservative and cautious in how they reintroduce both meet and greets and the parties throughout next year. Again we’ll add new details on dates the second we hear things regarding any of the 50th Anniversary projects confirmed. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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