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10 new must-see attractions for Disney World’s 50th anniversary

New rides, firework shows, themed restaurant experiences and photo opportunities are springing up to celebrate the resort’s golden anniversary.
The sculpture of Walt Disney in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. The castle got a major makeover to celebrate its 50th anniversary and there are loads of attractions opening to mark the Oct. 1 anniversary.
The sculpture of Walt Disney in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. The castle got a major makeover to celebrate its 50th anniversary and there are loads of attractions opening to mark the Oct. 1 anniversary.
Published Sep. 28
Updated Sep. 30

Walt Disney World is ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 1.

After more than a year of entertainment offerings altered by coronavirus safety measures, loads of new attractions, dining options and nighttime shows open this week.

The pandemic is still a party pooper with limits like park reservations needed in advance, masks required indoors and the absence of parades. But the theme park giant is celebrating its golden anniversary with several must-see experiences in an 18-month campaign it calls “the world’s most magical celebration.”

Related: For Disney World's 50th, a look back at the Mouse that changed Florida

All these attractions will be in place on or near Oct. 1. Some are permanent changes, and the rest will be on display for the next year and a half, so you have time to catch them.

New attractions

Disney Enchantment: The new high-tech nighttime finale for the Magic Kingdom combines lasers, fireworks and projections and features songs and characters from Disney movies like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast and some new original music. The display runs from Cinderella Castle and down Main Street U.S.A.

A new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will debut Oct. 1 at Magic Kingdom. It will feature music, enhanced lighting, fireworks and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.
A new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will debut Oct. 1 at Magic Kingdom. It will feature music, enhanced lighting, fireworks and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A. [ DISNEY | Disney ]

Harmonious: The new 20-minute show of dancing fountains, lights, lasers and fireworks at Epcot takes over World Showcase Lagoon each night. Floating barges have custom-built LED panels that display iconic scenes from Disney movies like Aladdin and Mulan, with arrangements of classic Disney songs performed by choirs and artists from nine countries and in multiple languages.

Disney KiteTails: At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a new daytime show at the Discovery River Amphitheater features three-dimensional kites. Characters like Simba and Zazu from The Lion King and Baloo and King Louie from The Jungle Book fly overhead as music plays from favorite Disney movies.

The grand opening for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is set for Oct. 1 at Epcot at Walt Disney World. The family-friendly attraction makes guests feel as if they shrink to the size of Chef Remy as they scurry through Gusteau’s restaurant.
The grand opening for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is set for Oct. 1 at Epcot at Walt Disney World. The family-friendly attraction makes guests feel as if they shrink to the size of Chef Remy as they scurry through Gusteau’s restaurant. [ MATT STROSHANE | Disney ]

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: The new Epcot ride is a family-friendly attraction designed to make riders feel like they’ve shrunk down to rodent size. They scurry along in rat-shaped vehicles through a cartoon version of Paris and Gusteau’s restaurant.

Light shows: All four parks have light shows around four of the most symbolic structures, transforming them into what Disney calls “Beacons of Light.” Cinderella Castle is illuminated with a glow that sparkles with pixie dust. Epcot’s iconic sphere of Spaceship Earth has been installed with reflective panels to create images in the stardust. The Tower of Terror ride will trade spooky for sparkly. The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be awash in glittery lights evoking the golden age of Hollywood. And at Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life will appear to be enchanted by fireflies that summon the spirit of Nature.

To celebrate Disney World's 50th anniversary, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom will become enhanced at night by magical fireflies.
To celebrate Disney World's 50th anniversary, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom will become enhanced at night by magical fireflies. [ DISNEY | Disney ]

Photo ops

New character costumes: Mickey, Minnie and all of their friends have received a wardrobe upgrade with outfits that sparkle with custom-made fabric and gold highlights. Be on the lookout for the characters in these new duds, since Magic Kingdom has not yet resumed its traditional character meet-and-greets.

Beginning Oct. 1, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be donning sparkly duds for "The World's Most Magical Celebration" honoring Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista.
Beginning Oct. 1, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be donning sparkly duds for "The World's Most Magical Celebration" honoring Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista. [ HAND-OUT/WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT | pennlive.com ]

Fab 50: Each park has golden character statues known as the Fab 50. Classic characters can be found scattered throughout gardens and green spaces. Disney says the statues will be interactive using a new MagicBand+, which will become available next year. No doubt, they’ll become popular photo spots.

Timon and Pumbaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park are two of the Disney Fab 50 golden statues appearing in all four Walt Disney World parks as part of the resort's 50th anniversary celebration.
Timon and Pumbaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park are two of the Disney Fab 50 golden statues appearing in all four Walt Disney World parks as part of the resort's 50th anniversary celebration. [ DAVID ROARK | Disney ]

Cinderella Castle: One of the world’s most photographed buildings and a backdrop for countless family pictures got a major makeover this year. The castle’s body has been painted pink, navy and gold. It is adorned with jewels and royal blue ribbons as gold draping and turrets surround its towers.

A new crest honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort adorns Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom park. The crest completed the castle’s royal makeover to mark the park's 50th anniversary. It joins gold bunting, sparkling embellishments and other new enhancements leading up to the 18-month celebration.
A new crest honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort adorns Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom park. The crest completed the castle’s royal makeover to mark the park's 50th anniversary. It joins gold bunting, sparkling embellishments and other new enhancements leading up to the 18-month celebration. [ KENT PHILLIPS | Kent Phillips, photographer ]

New dining experiences

La Creperie de Paris: The France pavilion in Epcot has a new restaurant next to the Ratatouille ride that offers a menu inspired by France’s Brittany region. It is a traditional creperie with a focus on made-from-scratch crepes and galletes. Disney has even imported buckwheat exclusively from Brittany and three flavors of hard cider popular in the region.

Dining with a view at the new Epcot restaurant Space 220. Guests travel in a space elevator miles above the Earth with windows that have a virtual view of outer space.
Dining with a view at the new Epcot restaurant Space 220. Guests travel in a space elevator miles above the Earth with windows that have a virtual view of outer space. [ DISNEY | Disney ]

Space 220: Going beyond a typical themed restaurant, this trip to space is located in Future World at Epcot, between Test Track and Mission: Space. The dining room has virtual windows that seemingly look out into space, and a prix-fixe menu for both lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended and can be made via the My Disney Experience app.