If there’s one thing Disney knows, it’s how to throw a magical celebration. The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration features a host of new shows, decorations and parades for guest enjoyment. For many, going to the resort for the first time or the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 makes this experience all the more special. The question then becomes how to manage your time when there are so many options. Fear not, we’ve compiled a definitive list of our favorite sights to see, experiences to have, plus a few things you shouldn’t feel too bad missing out on.
ten Must See: Topiary at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
The Flower and Garden Festival is an annual staple at Epcot. Each spring, beautiful topiaries of beloved characters are placed in Epcot’s World Showcase pavilions and throughout the rest of the park. Over 50 different characters are on display for guests to discover and enjoy. Flower and Garden never disappoints, but this year seems to have added an extra sense of the spectacular, with flower displays throughout the park also celebrating Walt Disney World’s historic anniversary.
9 To see: the 50th anniversary golden character statues (Fab 50)
Walt Disney World Resort is certainly known for its decor and the park’s almost magical ability to add or change decorations throughout the park in what seems like a snap. One of the more understated yet fun additions to the decor strewn across the parks are the Fab 50 gold character statues of some of Disney’s most iconic characters, old and new. These statues go beyond the expected characters, like Mickey and Minnie though. Between the four parks, you’ll find forgotten classics like Tick and Tock, and even more modern characters like The Incredibles’ Edna mode and Finding Nemo fan-favorite Dory. Fun Fact: When the new MagicBand+ launches later this year, they will have a fun interactive feature in conjunction with the Fab 50 statues.
While the rides at Walt Disney World draw the biggest crowds, the food has to follow close behind, right? Fear not, Disney is also hosting its 50th anniversary celebration for food connoisseurs. There are several new additions to their menu that take quite a bit of inspiration from classic Disney properties, including the much-loved Haunted Mansion, The Sword in the Stone, and even the criminally underrated adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad. . The menu of special items took months to develop, and Disney’s culinary team has referenced park menus since the 1970s to create the perfect selection of flavors for guest enjoyment. Special 50th birthday treats are scattered around the parks, but can be found without too much trouble.
seven Watch: Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Coaster
We’d be remiss not to mention a brand new coaster, wouldn’t we? Walt Disney World’s all-new Marvel-themed roller coaster is truly a unique and immersive experience. The indoor attraction takes guests into the world of Guardians of the Galaxy and features favorite characters from the movie, including Groot, Drax and Gamora. The ride is Epcot’s first roller coaster and features the kind of cutting-edge technology Disney is famous for, including a backwards launch and detachable cars that allow riders to experience the roller coaster from all angles . The Cosmic Rewind roller coaster officially opens May 27 at Epcot, and you have to check it out!
6 Must See: Ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot
The Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind may be in its infancy, but a new attraction launched in October 2021, at the very start of Disney’s 50th anniversary celebration. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a copy of the Paris Disneyland carousel, which opened in 2014. Nestled in the France pavilion at the Global Showcase, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a trackless 4D experience that takes guests right into the restaurant of Gusteau and lets them experience a day in the life of Remy and his rat friends. The family attraction is the perfect way to experience the world from a smaller perspective than they are used to.
5 See: Disney’s Adventure Friends Cavalcade at the Magic Kingdom
Nothing like a new fashion show to make you want to party. Disney’s Adventure Friends Cavalcade is a new parade featuring 30 beloved Disney and Pixar characters. Guests will get to see some of their favorites from years past, including Miguel de Coco and The Incredibles, as well as some of the modern princesses, like Merida from Brave and Moana. This parade is a great way for guests of all ages to learn about some of the characters they don’t see wandering the park every day. As usual, the actors are great at interacting with the audience, and it’s a memorable parade for adults and kids alike.
4 Must See: The Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular at Epcot
As Magic Kingdom follows its impressive fireworks shows, Epcot had the opportunity to host a new kind of display, with their show called Harmonious. The show combines pyrotechnics, water effects and LED screens to create a 360° experience for spectators. Harmonious was created to celebrate the multitude of cultures that have inspired Disney stories over the years, with songs sung in the native languages of their home countries. It is a unique presentation that differs from a more traditional fireworks display.
3 Skip: Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade at the Magic Kingdom
Now listen, before you get mad, listen to me. A Mickey Mouse parade is always fun, and seeing the original Disney characters decked out in their 50th anniversary finery is always a great time. However, with the addition of the Adventure Friends Cavalcade and fan-favorite Festival of Fantasy Parade (which features a 26-foot-tall evil fire-breathing dragon), Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade is a slightly more standard viewing. If you happen to catch it on your visit, great, but if you can’t make it there are still plenty of opportunities to spot these legacy characters in the parks and possibly take a photo with them. .
2 Skipping: the electric water contest
Taking place on Bay Lake near Magic Kingdom, the Electric Water Pageant is a nighttime parade of water floats that circles the lake and features large-scale light tableaux from some of Disney’s most water-friendly films, like The Little Mermaid and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While the floats are always an added treat to see when visiting the park, they happen every night and aren’t as immersive as some of the other shows that take place throughout the anniversary celebrations.
1 Skipping: The Lighthouses of Magic
Walt Disney World always goes the extra mile when it comes to the little extras for their various celebrations, and it’s to be expected that they’ve kicked things up an extra notch for this momentous occasion. Along with the makeover of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom, each park installed special lighting systems on its Beacons of Magic. It’s the four icons of each park that are lit up in all their glory: Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, Hollywood’s Tower Hotel at Hollywood Studios, and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. The lighting installations of each icon are undoubtedly magnificent and definitely worth stopping to see when visiting the parks. However, it is not necessary to visit each park individually to see the markers. Enjoy it if you can, but if you can’t, don’t lose sleep over it.
There are endless possibilities for guests of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration. The ultimate takeaway is to experience as much of this fantastic event as possible, which runs until the end of March 2023.
A Guide to Disney’s New 50th Anniversary Attractions