Tuesday, October 5th, 2021
Last week I was invited to a media preview of the World’s Most Magical Celebration – the 50th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. I questioned how Disney was going to find new and innovative ways to celebrate such a milestone. But I was quickly reminded that nobody creates magic quite like Disney can and they have pulled out all the stops for this celebration to prove it.
When the Walt Disney World Resort opened its doors back on October 1st, 1971, it consisted of one theme park, two resort hotels and a campground. Today, the 147 square kilometre complex includes four theme parks, two water parks, over 25 resort hotels and much, much more. Yes, the resort has grown – a LOT – over the past 50 years.
The idea of Disney World began one Sunday afternoon, when a father was bored watching his daughters on a carousel. That boredom led to a vision of somewhere in the world where adults and children could play together. Fifty years later, this common enjoyment remains the focus of Walt Disney World, as majority of its attractions and shows are still experienced and enjoyed by Guests of all ages.
One of the main additions for the 50th anniversary is the brand-new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure inside the France pavilion at Epcot. Once onboard, you’ll feel as though you’ve been shrunk to the size of Chef Remy as you scurry though Gusteau’s restaurant on one wild ride. This attraction for all-ages is a welcomed addition to the park, as it fits in perfectly with both The Sea with Nemo and Friends and Frozen Ever After.
The centrepiece of the magical celebration is Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The castle underwent a lengthy refurbishment and is now dressed up in a new colour scheme and fancy décor. For those of you who remember the 25thanniversary Castle cake, I promise you Disney did not repeat that beautiful disaster.
Scattered across all four parks are the Disney Fab 50 statues, which represent the stories that have moved us to dream bigger, follow our passions and believe in the power of magic. I quite enjoyed trying to find all 50, but I only found 24. I look forward to discovering the remaining 26 on my next visit.
The most exceptional features of the celebration all take place after the sun goes down. Since 1971, fireworks have offered Guests an exclamation point at the end of an enchanting day at Magic Kingdom. From the days of Fantasy in the Sky to the recent Happily Ever After, over and over, each new nighttime spectacular has raised the bar. And the all-new Disney Enchantment nighttime show at Magic Kingdom is no exception to this golden rule. Narrated by Angela Bassett, Disney Enchantment blends fireworks, Disney music and immersive projection effects from Cinderella Castle, all the way down Main Street U.S.A.
Over at Epcot, Harmonious has debuted for the 50th and it is the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney theme park. I’m not going to lie, this show scared me. Mostly because I worried that the giant barges that are required for it are quite the eye sore in the middle of the World Showcase lagoon. But I’m happy to report that these new daytime barges are well worth this amazing evening show. Harmonious celebrates the music of Disney and its ability to unite us all, bridging cultures and generations to unlock the magic of possibility.
On top of these two nighttime spectaculars, all four theme park icons transform into ‘Beacons of Magic’. Cinderella Castle creates a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust. Lights shine across the reflective panels on Spaceship Earth. The Hollywood Tower Hotel returns to its former glory by evoking the glimmer of the golden age and fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature on the Tree of Life. These Beacons of Magic are stunning! So much so, that I question why it took Disney 50 years to make this happen.
During the celebration, Disney is full of magical touches. Throughout the resort, you’ll discover many royal blue and gold 50th anniversary decorations, EARidescent connects all corners of the resort, monorails feature glowing nighttime lights that match each train’s specific colour and SO much more.
In pure Disney fashion, the 50th anniversary celebration is for all ages to experience. The magic is calling and there has never been a more opportune time to answer that call. But not to worry if you don’t feel comfortable traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort just yet, as the World’s Most Magical Celebration will be ongoing for the next 18 months.
– Christine Fiorelli
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