All words and photos provided by guest authors, No Vacation Required. Header photo by Walt Disney World/Kent Phillips.
Walt Disney World is 50 years old. And forget aging gracefully, the parks have never looked better.
To honor this remarkable achievement, Disney is holding an 18-month celebration so that every fan has a chance (or two, or three!) to get down to Orlando to join in the festivities.
But wait a second. As if Walt Disney World wasn’t already overwhelming for many people to navigate in two, three or, four days, now they’ve thrown a huge anniversary party into the mix? Don’t you worry your mouse-ear-covered head, we’ve got all the must-know details so that you can hit all the “best of” goodness that’s part of this Golden Celebration.
We were in Florida for a special preview of all the fun. For your planning pleasure, here are 11 of our favorite things from Walt Disney World’s 50th celebration. And don’t @ us because Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora — World of Avatar aren’t on the list. For this assignment, we’re sticking to those things that are part of the 50th.
Appreciate the EARidescent Awesomeness
Everything shimmers, and it’s amazing. During our pre-search, we noticed that much was being made about this component of the celebration. Honestly, we were not convinced. But then we showed up at Walt Disney World and found the shimmer on our room key, park brochures, food, and characters, and we were sold. We refuse to pick a favorite in this category. You may be all about the glitter already, but if you’re not, set your judgement aside and let the shimmer steal your heart.
Marvel at the Beacons of Magic
Speaking of the visual makeover, iconic attractions at Walt Disney World theme parks sparkle and shine in a whole new way after dark. Our favorite: Spaceship Earth’s major plus-up, symbolizing possibility and optimism. This is a truly “can’t miss” moment. We—along with our group of pals—were entranced. Some of us may have even laid on our backs to take in the view. But we’ll deny it.
Feast in the Festive Fare
All we’re gonna say here is this: When you’re in Magic Kingdom, make your way to Friar’s Nook. Order the Toad Burger. Get a pic for the ‘gram. And then eat. It’s a brat burger with all the basics, but it’s plussed up. Listen, there are yummier burgers in the park, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s cuter. And, I mean, this burger is so darn adorable that, if we weren’t always hungry, we may have tried to bring it home.
Snag Some Limited Edition Merch
During our time at Walt Disney World’s 50th celebration, the lines for merchandise were—hands down—the longest. Real Disney fanatics want the merch more than the food and more than the attractions. This worked out really well for us, because we’re all about the food. But I digress. You’ve got to get your hands on this sought-after stuff. What’s most covetable? The straight forward 50th anniversary ears that – you guessed it—shimmer. (See all the 50th anniversary goods here.)
Ride the New Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
We’re kind of being sneaky here. Although this attraction is not directly part of the 50th anniversary, Disney launched it to align with the celebration. So, we’re going to bend our rule just a tad to say that you have to experience Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure located in EPCOT’s World Showcase (where else but France). You’ll find yourself shrunk down during this fast-paced, food-based adventure. And when they say that all your senses will be activated, they mean it. So, plan to grab a crêpe when you exit.
Get New Photos Ops
Don’t miss the all-new Magic Shots. Our favorite snap is the “EARidescent Balloons Magic Shot,” which has you holding a grip of 50th anniversary balloons. And if you haven’t done Disney PhotoPass before, you need to get with it. Your memories will thank you. (See all the new photo opportunities here.)
Savor Shimmering Sips
Walt Disney World is spilling over with new beverages for the 50th celebration, but we found that one really shined. Or should we say, shimmered? If your thirsty from a day of mirth and merriment, it’ll be worth your time to track down the EARidescent Sip-a-bration. It’s a non-alcoholic blend of lemonade and strawberry punch. It’s served in a souvenir cup, and it comes with a character surprise. And there’s a little bit of magic that we don’t want to spoil for you.
Find All the “Fab 50” Character Statues
As guys who like to stay on the move, we love a good scavenger hunt. You too? Well, you’re in luck. It’s an absolute blast to—as you’re enjoying the parks—keep an eye out for the 50 golden characters placed around in honor of this celebration. Our favorite to spot was Chip and Dale. And, no, we’re not going to tell you where find them. So let us know when you do!
Cool Down with a Sweet Treat
Nearly every venue you encounter will be marking this occasion with a special sweet entry or two. We suggest you focus on the treats that will pop up as you roam the parks. We hit all four parks, and our first place winner in the dessert category ended up being an enormous ice cream sandwich that we stumbled upon in Animal Kingdom at Dino-Bite Snacks. Be sure you take a break from the Florida heat with this sweet treat, featuring vanilla ice cream between two house-made double chocolate chip cookies studded with crunchy EARidescent sprinkles.
Enjoy the Extravaganzas
EPCOT has a new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious. Magic Kingdom has a new fireworks and projection show, Enchantment. But you’re a Disney fanatic, so, of course, you’re not going to miss those extraordinary shows. But there’s another new extravaganza that the cool kids (of all ages) are as excited about: Animal Kingdom’s Kite Tails. It’s on the ground. It’s in the water. It’s up in the air. It’s joyful. It’s ridiculous fun. Don’t miss it.
Sit Back and People Watch
We sat for hours watching Disney enthusiasts wander the parks letting their fandom flags fly high and proud. Here’s a great way to hydrate… Have a seat in the shade and take a sip of your 50th anniversary beverage each time you and your crew spot another guest decked out in EARidescent splendor. Spoiler alert: You’ll be very hydrated. Seriously, though, just sitting back and taking it all in is one of the best parts of the celebration.
Okay. You have 18 months to experience Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration. While that is much longer than a typical Disney celebration lasts, time goes fast. So, get your trip booked, build your plan of attack (because there is so much more to experience than the 11 things we covered), and get ready for the most magical birthday party ever.
What are you most excited to celebrate during Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary? Share with us on Instagram using #ExpediaAtDisney.