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For Disney World’s 50th, theme parks to get sparkly new look

Starting Oct. 1, look for enhanced lighting on Cinderella Castle and theme park icons.
This artist rendering shows how Cinderella Castle will become a "beacon of magic" starting Oct. 1 as part of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration.
This artist rendering shows how Cinderella Castle will become a "beacon of magic" starting Oct. 1 as part of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration. [ DISNEY | Disney ]
Published Feb. 20

Walt Disney World turns 50 in October and the company announced big plans Friday to mark the occasion at all four Orlando theme parks.

Starting Oct. 1, Cinderella Castle will premiere a new paint job and lighting effects at night, which will make it appear to shimmer with jewels and gold ribbons. There will also be a nighttime light projection show that will tie in the other three theme parks and will run for 18 months, Disney said.

In this artist rendering, Spaceship Earth at Epcot will get enhanced lighting that will resemble a night sky of shooting stars.
In this artist rendering, Spaceship Earth at Epcot will get enhanced lighting that will resemble a night sky of shooting stars. [ DISNEY | Disney ]

Epcot’s Spaceship Earth will have new lights that will shine across the reflective panels of the iconic globe, creating a night sky that is being called “a symbol of optimism.” The Epcot lighting package will remain permanently after the anniversary celebration ends, Disney said.

At Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life will have “magical fireflies.” The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will receive special upgrades that will evoke Hollywood’s golden age.

In this artist rendering, the Tree of Life gets enhanced by "magical fireflies" starting Oct. 1 in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the celebration honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
In this artist rendering, the Tree of Life gets enhanced by "magical fireflies" starting Oct. 1 in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the celebration honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. [ DISNEY | Disney ]

“At night, our four park icons are going to come to life with a magical iridescent glow, covered in pixie dust, that we call the beacons of magic,” said Dana Carlson, associate broadcast producer with Disney Live Entertainment.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse will also get new costumes that Disney dubbed “EARidescence.” The mouse couple will be clad in special iridescent attire, with gold shoes and bows, and sparkly patterns on their costumes similar to when Cinderella Castle is backed by fireworks.

Beginning Oct. 1, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will host “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
Beginning Oct. 1, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will host “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. [ MATT STROSHANE | Matt Stroshane, photographer/ Disney ]

Spreading the 50th anniversary event over 18 months could help thin out crowds eager to see the changes. The parks continue to limit occupancy to less than half typical levels due to the ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 shut down the parks in mid-March before they reopened in July with limits on distancing, mask requirements. Disney did away with parades and fireworks to reduce crowds gathering. All park attendance is managed with an advanced reservation system, and Disney has stopped selling new annual passes.

The company hinted there will be more news coming for the anniversary event.

In this artist rendering, the Hollywood Tower Hotel in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get enhanced lighting that evokes Hollywood's golden age beginning Oct. 1.
In this artist rendering, the Hollywood Tower Hotel in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get enhanced lighting that evokes Hollywood's golden age beginning Oct. 1. [ DISNEY | Disney ]