Welcome to Year 50 at Walt Disney World!
A year from today, Walt Disney World will throw the most fabulous party in half a century.
Presuming that the pandemic has abated by then, Disney fans from around the world will flock to Orlando.
Their express purpose involves a special event, as Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th birthday.
Welcome to Year 50, everyone! Here’s what we can expect over the next 12 months, along with some things Disney will do for its half-century day.
For multiple years, park officials have plotted a course for a special date, October 1st, 2021.
On that day 50 years ago, Walt Disney World opened thanks to the passion of Roy Disney, who died mere months later.
Some have suggested that completing his brother’s dream nearly killed Roy, but we’ve all benefited from his dedication.
Walt Disney World holds the title of most popular paid tourist destination in the world, and it’s home to the most successful theme park, too
When Walt Disney stealthily purchased swampland in Florida, even he couldn’t have dreamt of the triumph his project would achieve.
On October 1st, 1971, brother Roy proudly proclaimed the following:
“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney and to the talents, the dedication and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place… a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn—together.”
Obviously, this moment has proven seminal in Disney and theme park history.
When the time comes, Walt Disney World will throw a party that lasts all year.
So, we have just entered Year 50 for Walt Disney World, but Year 51 will have all the fun stuff.
Initial plans for the 50th-anniversary party called for a 12-month celebration that may have even started early.
Alas, the pandemic has put a crimp in those plans for multiple reasons. Park officials remain unsure about safety parameters in October of 2021.
Also, Disney faces newfound financial constraints that could limit the celebration.
Here’s what we know.
About The New Ride That Will Open Soon
Disney planned to throw a party for the ages. And they spared no expense on the gala affair.
Walt Disney World will debut three new attractions between now and the end of 2021.
All of them should have opened by the first half of 2021. However, Coronavirus has altered some plans.
Ratatouille the Ride should debut soon at EPCOT. In fact, if not for the pandemic, it would already be several months old.
Park officials had planned a triple whammy of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Ratatouille.
In some alternate universe, those attractions all opened over a seven-month period. This reality included Rise of the Resistance and Runaway Railway.
Ratatouille has remained on hold since March. Disney was less than three months away from a grand opening when the parks closed.
During the four months that Walt Disney World shut down, cast members couldn’t progress much on construction.
So, Ratatouille still isn’t quite ready, at least technically. The prevailing belief is that Imagineers could finish it whenever they want.
Unfortunately, they have good reasons to wait a while longer. Still, we know for sure that it’ll open before next October.
About the Other New Rides
Similarly, optimism remains high for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the roller coaster coming soon to EPCOT.
Disney hasn’t completed construction on this one yet, but it could feasibly arrive in time for the 50th-anniversary date.
At a minimum, we’ll get this coaster during the celebration year. And that’s not the only coaster on deck.
Tron Lightcycle Power Run already dominates the skies at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.
Disney originally scheduled it for a Fall 2021 opening, just in time for the anniversary.
Believe it or not, that possibility still exists. However, I think it’s unlikely that both Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy are ready on October 1st.
Disney has several reasons not to do that. So, I expect a similar pattern to what we witnessed with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Critics jumped on Disney for not having everything ready when the themed land opened. Then, Rise of the Resistance caused a secondary rush.
That strategy would spread demand across multiple quarters, something Disney’s finance department would love.
I expect that Ratatouille opens during the first half of 2021. Then, one of the roller coasters debuts in September, just in time for the anniversary.
What Else to Expect
Park officials planned a multitude of special events to throw the biggest bash ever.
For example, Disney famously closed its most lauded nighttime presentation, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
The temporary replacement was Epcot Forever, but that was a stand-in for Harmonious, which should have debuted already.
During the park closures, Disney chose not to unveil any new shows until 2021. So, Harmonious has had to wait, but it’s close to ready.
Magic Kingdom was also scheduled to receive a nighttime parade as part of the festivities.
That may yet happen, but it won’t be anything new. Instead, we may get the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade or another classic.
I think we’re all for that. In fact, I believe that the return of a 1970s parade makes more sense than something new.
After all, part of a 50th-anniversary involves looking back at the features of the past that led to today.
For many of us, that’s the Main Street Electrical Parade, which anchored 20th century nights at Magic Kingdom.
Of course, Disney will have some other tricks up its proverbial sleeve, too.
The Play! pavilion should debut late in the summer of 2021. For a while, this new child-friendly area appeared in danger, but Imagineers have made headway.
Presuming that everything remains on schedule, EPCOT fans can walk over to the former Wonders of Life pavilion to discover the most futuristic fun factory.
At the Play! pavilion, you’ll enter an interactive city where Disney characters come to life. Oh, and there’s a monorail attraction, too!
You have to give Disney credit. They’d planned to pull out all the stops for this celebration.
Most of those plans were so well-considered that they’re pandemic proof!
Should You Visit Next October?
Oh yes. I’m not going to say that crowds will be small, even if the pandemic continues until now.
The appeal of Walt Disney World will entice guests to visit on October 1st, 2021.
Company executives specifically set up the new Park Pass system through the last week of September next year. That timing isn’t coincidental.
This celebration qualifies as the most significant event since the parks opened in 1971.
People will want to be there, and Disney has primed the pump by giving them incentives.
At a minimum, we’ll have a new ride, a new fireworks presentation, and probably a parade.
We’re also likely to have at least one new roller coaster and an EPCOT pavilion, too!
Finally, I don’t want to FOMO you to death, but would you really want to miss the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World?
We’re officially in year 50 right now, and MickeyBlog will track all the developments leading up to Disney’s biggest party ever. It’s gonna be great!