With a little bit of faith, trust, and pixie dust, the Walt Disney World theme park is celebrating its 50th year since opening with what they call “the world’s most magical celebration”– an 18 month long celebration featuring many new additions.
On Oct. 1, 1971, Disney World first opened up its doors to the public. Since then, the park has become the most visited vacation resort in the world with around 58 million visitors annually. Disney also employs over 70 thousand people at the park, making it the biggest single-site employer in the United States.
It’s a big park, so it makes sense that 50 years would be a big celebration. For a year and a half, the park will honor five decades since opening with additions, retro and modern.
For example, on the day of the 50th anniversary, October 1, several visitors noticed a sweet parallel to the first opening day. On Casey’s Corner, the original pianist came back to play on the corner once again. Randy Morris posted on Instagram the exciting news:
It is official – ! I will be playing the piano at Casey’s Corner on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary of its opening day, October 1st, 2021. I was also there playing at the same location, then called Coke Corner, on October 1st 1971, so it’s my 50th at Disney as well! I will be sharing sets with the NEW Casey’s corner pianist, Grayson Smith! Grayson is a super nice guy and a fine pianist. The wonderful Jim Omohundro has retired, after many decades, and he deserves accolades also. Sets start at 11:10 and I’ll be doing the first one. Wheeee!
Dressed in a barbershop-quartet style striped vest and hat, Morris performed his original pieces from 50 years ago with the same splendor and excitement as before.
Disney World has 25 official rides in total, as well as 34 attractions. There are four main parks: Magic Kingdom, which has many smaller parks within it; Animal Kingdom, a park dedicated to the beauty of the natural world; Hollywood Studios, which features Disney-owned sagas such as Star Wars; and Epcot, a park themed for more sci-fi and engineering, along with an international area full of rides and attractions around the world.
There is also Disney Springs, a large, lakeside shopping resort with restaurants, souvenirs, and vendors. All of the parks are connected via sleek, futuristic monorails.
All parks are joining in on the celebration.
New additions for 50 Years of Magic
For several months, Cinderella’s Castle has been under construction. Now, the castle is back once again, and this time, with a sparkling new paint job. To celebrate 50 years, a large ornament declaring the occasion was placed in the center. The actual castle is now pale pink and the towers are redone with more golden accents, such as giant ribbons wrapping around the tops.
Another unique addition are 50 golden character statues around all four parks, called the Disney Fab 50. These characters include iconic classics, like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and new characters such as Joe from the recent Disney Plus release, Soul.
New attractions have also opened up. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is the new ride at Epcot, and is very similar to L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy in Disneyland in Paris. Visitors will ride in rat-shaped cars that will take them through a larger-than-life kitchen and restaurant with massive props and past three-dimensional screens.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will also get updated looks with new and sparkling costume designs, coined as “EARidescant”, a term used by Disney to describe the glowing looks around the park.
The Beacons of Magic are nighttime project displays onto icons in each of the parks: Spaceship Earth for Epcot, the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Tower Hotel in Hollywood Studios, and of course, Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. These colorful, sparkling projections light up each icon at night and will continue for the entire 18 months.
Other additions include a theme song, “The Magic is Calling”, and new delicious food options.
Disney World may have already been “the most magical place on Earth”, but now, the park is becoming even more magical, as everyone joins in on the celebration for 50 years.