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Disney World’s 50th Anniversary: 5 Highlights from the Parks

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Are you ready to celebrate Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?

Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will host “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. They will dress in sparkling new looks custom made for the 18-month event, highlighted by embroidered impressions of Cinderella Castle on multi-toned, EARidescent fabric punctuated with pops of gold. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

October 2021 marks Disney World’s 50th anniversary. If you weren’t able to make it to the kick-off celebrations, don’t worry, Disney World will be celebrating for the next 18 months. So you can still book your WDW vacation for your family and be able to enjoy all the special anniversary Celebrations. In the meantime, in honor of that milestone anniversary, here are five fun highlights from Orlando’s Disney World parks to opening day. We’re celebrating with this blog post, so let’s get started!

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Opening Day

Roy O. Disney and Mickey Mouse at the Oct. 25, 1971, dedication ceremony for Walt Disney World Resort on Main Street, U.S.A., in Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Originally called “The Florida Project”, Disney World’s opening day was filled with a lot of excitement. Although the Magic Kingdom was the only park at the time, guests had their choice of 19 attractions when the theme park opened in 1971. There was more than plenty for guests to do!

On the official dedication day, Roy Disney dubbed Disney World “The Most Magical Place on Earth” and said, “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.”

EPCOT

Before the Magic Kingdom opened, Walt Disney announced his vision for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Sadly, Walt Disney never got to see his community of the future plan unfold. The EPCOT that opened on October 1, 1982 is quite different from what was announced although several of his ideas were carried out in the park of the future.

Originally called the EPCOT Center, the park evolved with innovation in mind and was twice as big as the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s EPCOT is a theme park dedicated to both education and entertainment with guests enjoying the Future World area and the 11 World Showcase countries.

Disney Hollywood Studios

Grand opening gala in 1989 for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Opening on May 1, 1989 this park is all about the glitz and glamour of movies, starlets, and music. The park was named Disney-MGM Studios until 2008 when it took on its current name Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

When the park opened its icon was the Earfful Tower until the Sorcerer’s Hat was built in 2001. When Mickey’s sorcerer’s hat was removed in 2015, the focus moved to the Hollywood Tower of Terror which will be one of the icons that the 50th anniversary celebration will light up during it’s 18 month festivities.

Animal Kingdom Park

The Tree of Life under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in 1997 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

The last of the four parks to open, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park opened on April 22, 1998. The focus of the park is wildlife and animal conservation with several exciting rides that are a big hit with guests who love a thrill ride.

What makes this park different from the other three is the consideration given to the animals which is why there are no fireworks or loud nighttime shows.

Disney Springs

A reimagined World of Disney opened in 2018 at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Formerly known as Downtown Disney this area has changed the most over the years. The adult nightlife area, Pleasure Island, came and went in favor of a more family-friendly atmosphere in 2008.

Since then the area has grown into a dining and shopping district that’s a huge draw for visitors to Disney World and the Orlando area.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek (left) and Executive Chairman Bob Iger (right) re-dedicate Walt Disney World Resort in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sept. 30, 2021, on the eve of the vacation destination’s 50th anniversary. (David Roark, photographer)

There’s no doubt that Walt Disney World has grown and evolved over the last 50 years, and it’s that constant drive to provide an exciting experience for guests that keeps Disney fans coming back year after year. Happy 50th anniversary, Walt Disney World! I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring.

If you haven’t booked your Disney World Vacation yet, you can find the absolute BEST exclusive ticket and hotel deals available through Get Away Today. –>HERE<–. Use my code TheQG to save even more!

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