Walt Disney World Has Announced Details for its 50th Anniversary, but What About New Rides?

Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration will kick off later this year, beginning October 1st, and it will last 18 months according to the resort’s official announcement.

While this initial announcement focused mainly on character costumes, and something called “EARidescent moments,” many are wondering whether or not we’ll be seeing some new shows, fireworks, or even some new rides for the 50th? Let’s talk about what has been announced, and what this 18-month-long event might actually bring with it.

As of now, one of the only days that you cannot make a park reservation at Magic Kingdom is October 1, 2021. That’s the 50th anniversary of the opening of the park, and the day that this 18-month celebration will be kicking off.

So far, much of the announced information seems to be focused on some temporary, (and one permanent,) aesthetic changes to each of the four Walt Disney World theme park’s icons.

According to Disney:

This 18-month celebratory event will feature new experiences at the resort’s four theme parks and beyond, where shimmering EARidescent décor will appear as if by magic. Shining at the center of it all will be Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park, which will add to its royal makeover from 2020 with new gold bunting, sparkling golden embellishments and other new enhancements, including a 50th anniversary crest warmly welcoming guests to the join the festivities.

  • Cinderella Castle will illuminate Magic Kingdom with a dazzling radiance that sparkles with pixie dust.
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, a warm light will emanate from the Tree of Life as magical fireflies gather to usher in the magic of nature.
  • The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be awash in a brilliance evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure.
  • And at EPCOT, new lights will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, connecting to one another in a symbol of optimism resembling stars in a nighttime sky. The iconic structure’s permanent new lighting will continue beyond “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” as a defining feature of the park.

While the other park icon changes will only be temporary for the event, EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth will be receiving its first new nighttime look in decades. In a perfect world, where things were not affected by the pandemic, we may have gotten a new version of the attraction inside to coincide with its new lighting package on the outside.

Other than details for new Mickey and Minnie costumes, not much else has been revealed for the “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” starting this Fall. It’s possible that some of the finer details may have yet to be worked out, like whether or not it will be appropriate to bring a fireworks or other nighttime show online during the pandemic. Future safety recommendations from the CDC, and possible loosening of restrictions may have everything to do with those aspects.

Some out there have speculated on an east coast version of a Main Street projection show, possibly tied to an updated Happily Ever After, or just on its own throughout the evening.

Others are hoping for a new nighttime parade for the Magic Kingdom, as the park has been without one for quite some time now. Again, still no solid information on these types of concepts.

One thing we do have a pretty good idea on are what new rides we should be getting for the 50th anniversary. While both of the new roller coasters that are currently under construction were originally intended to open by this year, leading up to the anniversary, it appears that the new Tron and Guardians rides will instead open some time in 2022.

Since the event will last 18-months, it will run all the way through early 2023, leaving plenty of time for these two major attractions to be counted as part of the celebration. (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is set to open this year at EPCOT, but that may debut ahead of the scheduled 50th anniversary event.)

There are also rumors for some attractions around the Magic Kingdom to receive updates and upgrades before the 18-month window closes. I’m sure fans are hoping for enhancements to classic rides like the Haunted Mansion, but so far all we have received confirmation of are changes coming to the Jungle Cruise.

The updated Jungle Cruise will feature a few updated scenes, along with the addition of new gags, like a sinking boat that has been overrun with chimpanzees.

A reimagining of Splash Mountain into a new ride based on The Princess and the Frog was also announced for Magic Kingdom, but no timetable for the change was given, and many believe it will not be ready within the 18-month celebration.

Other attractions that have been announced — and have not yet been cancelled due to pandemic cuts — may include the Moana Journey of Water and PLAY! Pavilions for EPCOT. The new Space 220 restaurant is still expected to open by 2022 as well as these two child-friendly attractions. These new additions could be touted as part of the 50th anniversary for the resort, as well as EPCOT’s 40th anniversary in 2022.

All of these additions were originally announced as part of upcoming slate of attractions originally intended to open “in time for,” but now changed to “during,” the 50th anniversary event.

And that’s not even mentioning upgrades to infrastructure and other beautification enhancements around the resort. All four of the theme parks have been receiving new park entry upgrades, including permanent security screening areas. And the entry arches into the resort itself were all repainted to match the gold and blue style of the 50th anniversary.

I’ve seen some out there a little disappointed in the lack of announcements for new offerings at the resort to debut for the anniversary, but with two major roller coasters, attraction enhancements, and some new additions at EPCOT, I’d say so far I’m pretty happy with the lineup.

There will of course be plenty of EARidescent merchandise and celebratory food and drink to go along with the event as well. And hopefully we get Harmonius at EPCOT, and fingers crossed, the biggest nighttime spectacular the Magic Kingdom has ever seen, before that 18-month window closes!

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