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Everything New for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

Massive preparations, additions, and renovations are underway.

Walt Disney World will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021. Massive preparations, additions, renovations and re-imaginations for this have been underway all across the resort for the past few years, and the party will continue past the end of 2021.

28 New Things for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

Listed in no particular order, check out everything new coming to Walt Disney World for their 50th anniversary. Make sure to read until the end to see our latest Disney World 50th Anniversary predictions.

1. Cinderella Castle “Royal Makeover”

Cinderella Castle Royal Makeover Closeup.
Cinderella Castle Royal Makeover Closeup. Credit Mickey Central
Cinderella Castle Royal Makeover Closeup.
Cinderella Castle Royal Makeover Closeup. Credit Mickey Central

Traditionally decorated in gray/beige and blue, the castle will receive a complete makeover for the 50th anniversary. The new color looks to have a pink tint, with navy blue turrets, and gold accents. The makeover will be quite different from its current look. Renovations have already started to begin with a recent pause in construction due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and will be complete for the anniversary celebration on October 1, 2021. Shows that take place in front of the castle along with the Happily Ever After fireworks will continue to take place through renovations because the construction crews are not using and scaffolding to complete the makeover.

ARTIST CONCEPT ONLY: Cinderella Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom will be receiving a royal makeover!
ARTIST CONCEPT ONLY: Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom will be receiving a royal makeover! Credit: Disney

2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Roller Coaster

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be a story-telling roller coaster that can rotate guests to focus on the action, and will be the first Disney coaster to feature a reverse launch. Credit: Disney

This coaster is based on the hit Marvel Studios movie series and is the only Marvel attraction at Walt Disney World. The ride will begin in a “Galaxarium” which will reveal the beginnings of the galaxy. The cars rotate and direct the rider to different parts of a story. It will be located in the “World Discovery” section of EPCOT, one of the four neighborhoods planned as part of EPCOT’s giant re-imagination. Construction is currently underway, but no opening date has been announced.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind concept art.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind concept art. Credit: Disney

3. Tron Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster

Tron Lightcycle Run Concept Art.
Tron Lightcycle Run Concept Art. Credit Disney

This high speed roller coaster is currently under construction at Magic Kingdom Park. It’s located next to Space Mountain in an expanded area of Tomorrowland. It’s speed of 60 mph will make it the fastest roller coaster at Disney World. The ride takes guests over a partially covered track while on light cycles from the movie Tron & Tron: LEGACY. Riders will strap into a contraption comparable to that of Pandora Flight of Passage. You’re held in securely with a restraint gently pressing on your lower back, while sitting forward. Although this ride does not go upside down, traveling on a light cycle with nothing around you makes this ride one of the most anticipated of the new additions to Walt Disney World. If you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open, the view will be worth it.

TRON Lightcycle Run Now Programming sign at Magic Kingdom on December 10, 2018
TRON Lightcycle Run Now Programming sign at Magic Kingdom on December 10, 2018
TRON Lightcycle Run construction progress July 11, 2019.
TRON Lightcycle Run construction progress July 11, 2019.

4. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Hotel

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Atrium. Credit Disney
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Atrium. Credit Disney

Walt Disney World’s newest hotel, predicted to be completed in 2021, is way more than just another hotel. The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel will be a totally immersive, interactive, luxury experience. If you’re a fan of Star Wars and willing to pay the estimated price of $3,300 per person for a three day, two night experience, then this is the place for you.

Guests will be “transported” from Earth to rendezvous with the Halcyon (the hotel’s official name) located in a galaxy far far away. Guests interact with characters as a story line unfolds. Reservations are limited to two nights. There are three room sizes and each is equipped with windows displaying virtual view of outer space. Prices may change according to demand. Reservations become available in late 2020.

Galactic Starcruiser Ship Concept Art.
Galactic Starcruiser Ship Concept Art. Credit Disney

6. New Epcot Shows

In celebration of the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary, we’re seeing four new amazing shows debut at Epcot. Each is listed below.

  • 6a. Beauty and the Beast Sing Along
    The sing-along is a 15-minute long film narrated by Angela Lansbury (aka Mrs. Potts), and opened on January 17, 2020. It Features 5 songs from the movie. In this version, Lefou is the hero, helping Belle and the Beast to fall in love. Screenings are located at Palais du Cinema in the France pavilion, also home to the long running Impression de France.
  • 6b. Awesome Planet
    Located in the Land Pavilion, this 10 minute film has replaced the Circle of Life in the Harvest theater. Launched on January 17, 2020, it is hosted by Ty Burrell of Modern Fame, contains a new musical score by Steven Price, and features scenes created by Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic. It’s also equipped with special effects like wind, water and scents of nature to help you fully experience the film’s environmental message. It’s a beautiful addition to the pavilion, and a perfect way to wait for your Soarin’ FastPass.
  • 6c. Canada Far and Wide
    This beautiful 14 minute film, opened on January 17, 2020. It’s located in the Circle-Vision 360° theater in the Canadian pavilion. It replaced O Canada!, and is hosted by Canadians Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. It’s a breathtaking and informative tour of the Canadian provinces from Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territories. This theater has no seats, so guests are required to stand.
  • 6d. Wondrous China
    Using a new digital camera system developed by Disney Imagineering, Wondrous China is the first Disney Circle Vision film recorded in a seamless format. This means that there is no space in between screens, just one continuous viewing experience. The prior technique required nine cameras and nine screens. Replacing Reflections of China, it is located in the China pavilion of Epcot. The theater is standing only, allowing the guest to appreciate the visuals in front, around, and behind them. It’s set to open in 2020.
Canada Far and Wide in Circle Vision 360° at Epcot.
Canada Far and Wide in Circle Vision 360° at Epcot. Credit Disney
New for 2020: “Tales as Old as Time: French Storytelling on Stage and Screen” along with “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” at the Palais du Cinéma in the France pavilion at Epcot
New for 2020: “Tales as Old as Time: French Storytelling on Stage and Screen” along with “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” at the Palais du Cinéma in the France pavilion at Epcot. Credit Disney

7. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the brand new ride occupies the area that was formerly The Great Movie Ride. The exterior of the building and some of the queue are the same, but the marquee announcing Mickey and Minnie is beautifully lit in neon, an ode to old Hollywood. This is not a roller coaster, but be ready for unexpected twists and turns, and special effects creating an amazing experience.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Concept Art. Credit Disney
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Concept Art. Credit Disney

Two fun facts: This is the first and only ride that stars Mickey and Minnie, it also contains the most hidden Mickeys.

8. Space 220 Restaurant

Space 220 features a 250 foot wide digital screen to create the illusion of being high above the earth.
Space 220 features a 250 foot wide digital screen to create the illusion of being high above the earth. Credit: Disney

Located in Epcot’s Future World near Mission Space, this much anticipated Outer Space themed restaurant, will be opening some time in 2020. The guest’s experience begins with two elevator rides up into space. Each is equipped with digital screens that imitate a journey to Centauri Space Station, the destination 220 miles above the earth… thus the name. Once inside the restaurant, there will be jaw dropping panoramic views of outer space as you choose from a large selection of craft beers and over 1,000 bottles of wine.

9. Mickey Shorts Theater

Mickey Shorts Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Mickey Shorts Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Credit Disney

Newly opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this all encompassing Mickey theater (even the seats are Mickey shorts) will show a series of his short films. This theater is occupying the space of the former seasonal “Path of the Jedi” attraction.

10. HarmonioUS Epcot Nighttime Show

HarmonioUS at Epcot.
Concept art of HarmonioUS at Epcot. Credit Disney.

Perhaps one of the most thrilling additions to Epcot’s multi-year transformation, this extravaganza is set to be Disney’s most spectacular nighttime show ever. It replaces the current Epcot Forever and will include familiar Disney music, fountains, pyrotechnics and lasers. It’s set to debut in spring of 2020.

11. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure under construction with Imagineers. Credit Disney
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure under construction with Imagineers. Credit Disney

Opening Summer 2020 in the re-imagined Epcot France pavilion, this 4D ride will have guests “shrink down” to the size of a rat. You’ll go on a kitchen adventure and see the world from Remy’s point of view.

12. La Crêperie de Paris

La Creperie de Paris concept art.
La Creperie de Paris concept art. Credit Disney

Offering both quick service and table options, La Crêperie de Paris will serve items created by Chef Jerome Bocuse, also chef of Le Chefs de France. Sweet and savory crepes, along with a variety of hard ciders from the Brittany region of France will be on the menu. It’s set to open Summer 2020.

More: Discover the best restaurants at Epcot.

13. Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant

Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant Concept Art.
Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant Concept Art. Credit Disney

Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Toy Story Land, this table service restaurant (the first in Toy Story Land) will open some time in 2020. Guests will be surrounded by Andy’s Toys as they enjoy a variety of BBQ fare.

More: Discover the best restaurants at Animal Kingdom.

14. Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue

Entrance to Regal Eagle Smokehouse Craft Drafts & Barbecue in Epcot.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse Craft Drafts & Barbecue. Photo credit @jordanfincher.

This addition will serve a variety of mouthwatering smokehouse BBQ dishes, such as dry-rub pork ribs and beef brisket sandwiches. They’ll also serve some lighter fare including salads and plant based burgers. Their large selection of craft beers, wines, and Coca Cola fountain drinks makes this a perfect place to sit and cool off. This delicious addition to Epcot’s American pavilion is now open!

15. PLAY! Pavilion

PLAY! Pavilion at Epcot concept art.
PLAY! Pavilion at Epcot concept art. Credit Disney

Located inside the geodesic domed building formerly home to the Wonders of Life, this attraction is designed to be an experience that enables guests to digitally interact with some of their favorite Disney characters. It’s set to open in 2020.

16. Epcot Entrance Overhaul

Epcot Entrance Overhaul Concept Art
Epcot Entrance Overhaul Concept Art. Credit: Disney

When the Leave a Legacy monoliths that greeted you on the way into Epcot were moved, then began the overhaul of the entire entryway experience. The construction has been ongoing, but so far lots of greenery, a new security check area, and a callback to the original retro fountain in the design from Epcot’s early years are being worked on. Completion is scheduled for 2020 or 2021.

17. Magic Kingdom Entrance Overhaul

Old Magic Kingdom Entrance
Old Magic Kingdom entrance.
New Magic Kingdom Entrance
New Magic Kingdom entrance. Currently under construction.

According to permits filed in 2019 we know that Magic Kingdom’s entrance is being overhauled and what it will look like when complete. The entrance area overhaul will make for a more streamlined experience for guests coming from the bus drop off, boat docks, monorail, and new walkways linked to the Contemporary and Grand Floridian resorts. The boat docks and resort baggage check areas are currently under construction. The walkway from Grand Floridian is almost complete.

18. Animal Kingdom Entrance Overhaul

Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance overhaul under construction.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom entrance overhaul under construction. Credit @bioreconstruct.

Construction is currently focused on moving baggage check further away from the entrance and on the tram drop off/pick up, adding an overhead cover. This is another attempt at making the park entrances more organized and less confusing. In addition, it will increase space for entering guests.

19. Beatrix Restaurant Coming to Disney Springs

Shops at Disney Springs
Shops at Disney Springs

This sit down restaurant focuses on health and comfort. It will feature primarily vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, with fresh squeezed juices and a coffee bar.

20. Cirque du Soleil’s “Drawn to Life” at Disney Springs

This new Disney Springs experience blends WD Animation, WD Imagineering, and the awesomeness of Cirque du Soleil. Previews begin in March 2020 but the premiere will be held until April.

Cirque du Soleil's Drawn to Life at Disney Springs
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products are excited to reveal Cirque du Soleil’s “Drawn to Life”. (Cécile Andreu, photographer)
Cirque du Soleil's Drawn to Life at Disney Springs
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products are excited to reveal Cirque du Soleil’s “Drawn to Life”. (Cécile Andreu, photographer)

21. Club 33 Harambe House in Animal Kingdom

This private lounge is for club members only. The last of four in Walt Disney World, Club 33 Harambe House opened at the end of December 2019. Each of the Disney World parks has one in a somewhat hidden location. Entrance is reserved exclusively for Club 33 members which if you were wondering, starts at $33,000 and an additional $15,000 for each subsequent year.

22. Disney’s Riviera Resort

Disney's Riviera Resort as seen from Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort

Opened in December 2019, this 300 room resort is European Riviera themed. It’s the first newly constructed Walt Disney World resort serviced by the new Disney Gondola Skyliner System. Dining options include a Parisian Cafe, a quick service restaurant, and an outstanding rooftop restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner.

23. Annual Epcot Festivals 2020

Mickey Minnie and Goofy topiaries on display at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
Mickey Minnie and Goofy topiaries at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. “EPCOT – 2013 EPCOT International Flower” (CC BY 2.0) by jared422_80 (color corrected)
Entrance to Epcot during International Festival of the Arts.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Spaceship Earth” (CC BY 2.0) by HarshLight Photo was edited to remove some clouds.

Festivals in Epcot will not be affected by construction. The International Festival of the Arts lasts from 1/17 – 2/24 2020. The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival takes place from 3/4 – 6/1 2020 and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival has dates of 2/28 – 4/21 2020.

24. Disney Skyliner

Disney Skyliner Gondolas.
Disney Skyliner Gondolas.

The gondola lift system opened in September 2019 and travels to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, The Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century and Art of Animation. Each gondola holds up to 10 people and is a very pleasant and breezy way to travel.

25. Transportation and Ticket Center Renovation

Transportation and Ticket Center Renovation.
Transportation and Ticket Center Renovation. Credit @bioreconstruct.

This area has been under renovation for a while and should be finished in the near future. Among the changes are new trees and flowers, larger security check areas and the removal of Walk Around the World Bricks.

26. New World Showcase Adventure

Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure
Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure. Photo credit Disney.

Who doesn’t like a scavenger hunt? The new DuckTales World Showcase Adventure is just that! Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, players will seek out treasure, discover villains, and be involved in a mystery, all while uncovering the beauty of Epcot’s World Showcase.

27. Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana

Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana concept art.
Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” at Epcot will be the first experience inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite guests to meet and play with magical, living water. Credit Disney

This new attraction is being currently being constructed in Epcot in the location formerly occupied by Innoventions West. Guests will be able to explore and interact with water in a lush jungle environment straight out of Disney’s Moana. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 related construction delays, we’re hearing this attraction may not be finished in 2021 but here’s hoping!

28. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Stormtroopers Attack in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Credit Disney
Stormtroopers Attack in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Credit Disney

New in 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge transports guests to a galaxy far away. The rebel outpost on the planet of Batuu to be precise. More than three years in the making, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is one of the biggest projects in Disney history and marks a much welcomed expansion to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge offers two marquee rides: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as well as a variety of out-of-this-world dining options such as the famous blue and green milk.

Ships in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Credit Disney
Ships in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Credit Disney

Our Disney World 50th Anniversary Predictions

With so many new things coming to Disney World, it’s hard to believe there is even more we still don’t know about. Below are our latest predictions on what else we think you may see at Walt Disney World in 2021.

1. Walt Disney World Buses and Monorails

Monorail Yellow Toy Story 4 edition arrives at the entrance of Magic Kingdom.
Monorail Yellow Toy Story 4 edition arrives at the entrance of Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World Bus Service.
Walt Disney World Bus Service.

Although most of the Disney World monorail trains are 30+ years old, it looks like there are no plans for a new system any time soon. Rehab and reconditioning of the current trains, in anticipation of the upcoming anniversary, is planned. New seating, interiors and signage will be completed within the next year. Walt Disney World buses are being wrapped with favorite Disney characters for the celebration. Some that have already been completed include Avatar, Galaxy’s Edge, Frozen and Figment.

2. Walt Disney World Railroad Shuttle

Walt Disney World Railroad – Lilly Belle train at Fantasyland.
Walt Disney World Railroad – Lilly Belle train at Fantasyland.
Walt Disney World Railroad at Frontierland Train Station.
Walt Disney World Railroad Train Station in Frontierland.
Magic Kingdom Train Station.
Magic Kingdom Main Street, U.S.A. Train Station.

The Walt Disney World Railroad has been shut down since the start of construction of the Tron roller coaster due to the track needing to be re-routed underneath Tron’s queue. Therefore, we predict the railroad might serve as a “shuttle” between Main Street and Fantasyland through the open section of track before it’s complete reopening in 2021.

Past, Present, and Future

An overview of the new neighborhoods coming via the Epcot overhaul.
Epcot Overhaul’s New Neighborhoods
Epcot Overhaul Overview concept art.
Epcot Overhaul Overview Concept Art. Credit Disney

The past 10 years have brought so many changes to Walt Disney World. The incredible transformation of ideas into reality makes Disney World a place you’ll want to return to again and again. Who knows what the next 10 years may bring. Perhaps instead of just visiting another galaxy via digital screen, we may actually go! Which addition are you looking forward to the most? Let us know!

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