On October 1, 2021, Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th Anniversary! Magic Kingdom has been flooded with fans clamoring to spend their day in the magnificent aura of the mouse, but there was no need to rush.
Like all big Disney celebrations, this anniversary party will be at least an 18-month affair! So, if you’re unable to run down to Orlando ASAP, read on for tips to a magical trip!
BE KIND TO THE CAST MEMBERS
This isn’t so much a tip as a gentle reminder that cast members at WDW are doing their best in less-than-ideal circumstances. Whether you’re having the best or worst day of your life, be kind to cast members you encounter. They’re dealing with frantic guests regularly, and aren’t paid enough to deal with rude behavior. Cast members bring joy every day—they deserve to be treated with respect.
MERCHANDISE WILL COME BACK
Unless you’re after a limited-edition item that is only being released once within a series, there is no reason to panic over sold-out anniversary items. Disney will be restocking throughout the anniversary, so please be patient.
Do not run straight to resale pages and encourage resellers to further cause merchandise shortages. I saw multiple people walking around EPCOT with their arms full of merchandise despite the “two identical items per guest” policy, and it’s unfortunate.
Remember to leave magic for others and don’t worry if you miss out.
TRY THE DESSERT PARTY
With the new fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Enchantment, comes another iteration of the dessert party. While the party is touted as a 50th Anniversary Celebration offering, it isn’t much different than the Happily Ever After parties of the past.
That said, the offering is still a great way to top off a long day in the park! You get a smorgasbord of desserts, cheeses, and crackers alongside gorgeous views from Tomorrowland Terrace. In addition to this, Adults 21+ may enjoy beer and wine if they choose, while anyone can enjoy various non-alcoholic beverages, including sparkling apple juice.
Beyond just the yummy goodies, you secure a prime spot for firework viewing that’s right in the grassy area off of Main Street, U.S.A. near the statue of Mickey and Walt! These spots are exclusive and reserved for dessert party guests only.
Starting at $59 for children (ages 3-9) and $99 for adults, the dessert party offerings aren’t inexpensive, but they can free up valuable time in the parks while providing a beautiful view. If you can swing it, it’s worthwhile.
In addition to this, Disney offers the same service at Tomorrowland Terrace starting at $69 (ages 3-9) and $114 for adults. The premium cost includes a table where you stay for the fireworks.
I preferred the grassy area (and the smaller price point), but have heard the views from the Terrace are just as good, albeit a little off-center.
DON’T SKIP HARMONIOUS AT EPCOT
While the hullabaloo surrounding nighttime shows is often focused on the Magic Kingdom, Harmonious at EPCOT shouldn’t be missed!
The unique combination of music, fireworks, light, water, and pyrotechnics is something I’ve never seen before at any WDW park, let alone in the center of the World Showcase! Those who remember Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom–and were fond of it as I was–will love elements of the show that made it into Harmonious! Harmonious uses barges and large screens for their projections, and while this is an eyesore during the day and left me wondering why they can’t give water projections another go, it was undeniably breathtaking.
Beyond the stunning visuals, this show brought tears to my eyes!
Harmonious is aptly named, and full of familiar (and not-so-familiar) Disney tunes in both English and native character languages. As much as I adore Roger Bart’s version of “Go the Distance” from Hercules, it was amazing to hear in Greek. The same goes for music from Mulan, Moana, and Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Fans of the musical version of Hunchback will love the gorgeous section devoted to the song “Someday”, which feels timely in our hectic (sometimes scary) world. It’s a gorgeous show that shouldn’t be missed. It’s so good that it nearly makes up for Kite Tails at the Animal Kingdom.
Have you seen the memes?!
50TH ANNIVERSARY MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE
Magic Kingdom isn’t the only place to experience the 50th magic! Every park has exclusive celebratory perks: from glittering banners to special treats, to gift shops with exclusive merchandise, to Joffrey’s specialty drinks and exclusives, every park has something to offer.
Plus, the 50 golden anniversary character statues are spread throughout the parks thematically: you’ll find droids from Star Wars in Hollywood Studios, Simba and his pals in Animal Kingdom, etc.
On top of that, if you’re a fan of Starbucks they are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year! I wasn’t sure if the “You Are Here” collection pins meant to celebrate both anniversaries or just WDW, but I immediately fell in love with them.
If you like sleek and simple souvenirs, these pins fit the bill.
MERCH EXISTS OUTSIDE OF MAGIC KINGDOM
While some coveted anniversary merchandise might be relegated only to Magic Kingdom, a lot can be found in the other parks as well! We saw so many shelves picked clean throughout the shops in Magic Kingdom, but found plenty of anniversary merchandise at the other parks every other day of our recent trip.
Don’t forget that you can ask cast members to lookup an item you’re looking for! While they can’t guarantee anything, they can view inventories at shops across all four parks, making it worth your time to ask.
PARKS ARE CLEARING OUT IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON
Due to the 2 pm Park Hopper start time and the park reservation system, the lines for rides plummeted after 2 pm. We were able to walk on to most rides at Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and even a bit at Magic Kingdom in the afternoon.
Hollywood Studios had relatively normal wait times for rides like Slinky Dog Dash, Rise of the Resistance, and the Tower of Terror. If you love Toy Story Mania as much as I do, you’ll be happy that hear that you should be able to get in quickly, too!
HAVE FUN AND TAKE YOUR TIME
There is so much to see over the next 18-months. Are you planning a trip? Let us know in the comments!