Disney World’s 50th Anniversary: Everything New

If they don’t start making Minnie’s dress in adult sizes, I’m gonna scream.

Did you know Walt Disney World just turned 50 years old? Though it originally started with just one theme park and a handful of resorts, a lot has changed since opening day in 1971.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

From a light show at each of the parks called Beacons of Magic to new restaurants and shows, Disney World is doing a lot to celebrate this milestone. As a huge Disney fan, I went to check out all of the new things myself, and here’s what I’m most excited about!


Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure


A favorite of Disneyland Paris, this ride recently opened at Epcot and follows Remy on a new adventure where you’ll shrink down to the size of a rat and help him evade Chef Skinner while preparing a meal. The ride utilizes a trackless system and is similar to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.



David Roark / Disney

The new nighttime show is a fusion of reinvented Disney songs performed by artists from around the world and larger-than-life pyrotechnics.



Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

This is the Magic Kingdom’s new nighttime fireworks show that takes place in front of the castle, taking the reins after the discontinuation of Happily Ever After. You’ll listen to a medley of Disney songs, new and old, as the castle takes on several different aesthetics before your eyes. 



Matt Stroshane / Disney

Animal Kingdom has a new show that fuses Disney with one of the most underrated forms of fun…kites! Guests can watch as boats tow colorful windsocks around the water and professional kite fliers make character-themed kites dance.


Renovated Disney’s Contemporary Incredibles Rooms


There is not one singular fixture in this room that I don’t want to sneak under my shirt and try to put into my own house. The new Contemporary rooms, while Incredibles-themed, are understated and a mid-century modern dream.


Renovated Disney’s Polynesian Village Moana Rooms


Just like in the Contemporary, the nods to Moana are subtle and beautiful. Again, I want to steal absolutely all of the decor.


Spaceship Earth Beacon of Magic Light Show

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

During Epcot’s Beacon of Magic transformation, each of the reflective panels on the outside of Spaceship Earth have a little light in the corner, turning the ball into a dazzling array of color, drifting stardust, and iridescence.


Monorail Glow

David Roark / Disney

The Walt Disney World monorails got a spiffy little feature for the 50th anniversary: a glow! Every monorail looks straight out of Tron now when they’re cruising by at night.


50th Anniversary Statues

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Around all four parks are 50th anniversary bronze statues of faves from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel. These statues will have some kind of interactive element to them with the new Magic Band+ bands that arrive in 2022 for purchase in the parks.


Tower of Terror Beacon of Magic Light Show


While the ride remains the same, During Hollywood Studios’ Beacon of Magic transformation, the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s facade temporarily gleams as if it’s in the height of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Keep your eye out for the mingling patrons in the window of the Tip Top Club.


Character Digs


The eight OG characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale) all have sparkly new duds for the 50th. If you love their outfits as much as I do, you’ll want to check out some merch available that is inspired by their dazzling apparel.


New Wallpapers

Disney / BuzzFeed

In the same section of the Disney World app that you can download your photos, you can also find downloadable phone wallpapers exclusively for the 50th anniversary.


Tree of Life Beacon of Magic Light Show


In Animal Kingdom’s Beacon of Magic transformation, fireflies gather at the Tree of Life to brighten the park’s focal point in a display of enchantments of the natural world.


Magical Photos


Some of the Disney Photopass locations will have fun 50th anniversary–themed shots, like holding 50th anniversary balloons or blowing Mickey confetti (hopefully, in your pictures, though, you look like you have less of a Voldemort nose than I do).


Cinderella Castle Beacon of Magic Light Show


Magic Kingdom’s Beacon of Magic transformation involves decking out Cinderella’s castle with so many different shades and colors, it’s hard to believe that it’s actually real.


Space 220

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

This brand-new restaurant just opened at Epcot, and it gets its name by launching travelers 220 miles above the Earth to have dinner on a space station. You can check out cosmic views while you enjoy a galactic-themed menu (no Airborne required).


Steakhouse 71

Disney / Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Another brand-new restaurant that just opened in time for the 50th, Steakhouse 71 in Disney’s Contemporary Resort has a thoughtful menu modeled after some of Walt’s faves…with an upscale twist. Peep the ambrosia in the middle picture, which is way fancier than the one my great-grandma made.


La Creperie de Paris

Matt Stroshane / Disney

It’s quite nearly impossible getting off of the new Ratatouille ride without getting hungry. Thankfully, a cute crepe shopped opened up next door serving both sweet and savory!


The Toad Burger

Kent Phillips / Disney

Look at this happy little guy! I’m partial to any inanimate object with a face, and this Magic Kingdom burger is no exception. It’s a nod to a 1971 opening day attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which has since been replaced. You can grab this bite at Friar’s Nook in The Magic Kingdom.


Squid’s Revenge

Kent Phillips / Disney

The presentation of this michelada with a charred octopus and cucumber almost makes me forget I don’t like tomato juice. But if I did, how fun is this? It’s inspired by one of the Magic Kingdom’s 1971 opening day attractions, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and can be purchased at Be Our Guest Restaurant.


Mission to Mars Burger

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Burgers have always been missing one thing, and it’s Cheeto dust on the bun. While it sounds on the messier side to eat, the Mission to Mars burger takes a cue from the 1971 opening day ride, Mission to Mars, and can be found in Tomorrowland at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.


Uncle Orville’s Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Kent Phillips / Disney

A geeky version of a big ol’ sundae, this sweet is served in a plastic bathtub, which you can find Uncle Orville singing in when you board the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.


Happy Haunts Milkshake

Kent Phillips / Disney

I’m one for the details, and while this blackberry milkshake and purple chocolate donut look like they can satisfy just about anyone’s sweet tooth, my favorite thing is the Haunted Mansion wallpaper straw. You can pick up this sweet treat across from the Haunted Mansion at Columbia Harbor House.


Magical Ear-idescent Sip-a-bration Lemonades

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

For the 50th, Disney is serving a lemonade at the parks. What’s so magical about it? I’ll tell you! It comes with a little character on the rim, of which, if you drop it into the lemonade, it makes the lemonade change colors, get sparkly, and adds a little fruit punch twist to your drink! You can find it all across the Walt Disney World resort.


Magical Beacon Cocktail

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

If you want to celebrate in a little more boozy of a way, get as lit as Spaceship Earth in that gif above with a Magical Beacon, which has gin, blue curaçao, lemonade, orgeat, grenadine, and a glow cube! You can find it all across the Walt Disney World Resort.


Chocolate Pyramid

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

At the Mexico pavilion in Epcot, you can order one of these giant and incredibly festive pyramid cakes that not only celebrate the 50th anniversary, but bling out the Mexico pavilion’s centerpiece.


Yuzu Mousse Cake

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Matcha cream, Kinako crumb, and Yuzu sauce round out this cute-as-heck dessert inspired by Epcot’s Japan pavilion.


Vanilla and Blueberry Panna Cotta

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Can you guess the country it’s inspired by? If you were about to guess Italy, you’re right. The little stroke of white chocolate looks like it was marked by a brush stroke by an early Renaissance painter, no?


Boba Blue Magic

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

It looks so fun! Pea flower ice cream, blue lychee jelly, blueberry boba, and a fortune cooke all work together in this dessert inspired by the China pavilion.


Chicken Dinner Cupcake Trio


Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort has served over 10 million chicken dinners, and this dessert pays homage to that by making a fried chicken-shaped apple fritter with apple moonshine filling and vanilla buttercream. Even though it may look savory, this dessert is a sweet treat!


Filet Mignon with Walt’s Hash

Kent Phillips / Disney

Walt Disney loved his steak and potatoes, so this bite elevates that by putting a fried egg on filet mignon over a bed of roast beef hash. It tastes so down-home, and yet, so fancy.


50th Anniversary Petit Cake


It’s actually hard to eat the cake because it’s so beautiful, but if you did, you’d get a lovely blend of vanilla chiffon cake, blueberry jam and lemon curd. TBH, that sounds worth it.


Minnie Profiterole


Minnie’s Profiterole is being served at the Grand Floridian Resort and has her retro hat on it and is served with one of Walt’s favorites: cinnamon apples and Chantilly cream. Yum!


Pressed Penny Silk Pie

Kent Phillips / Disney

Any Disney kid growing up has taken home their fair share of pressed pennies, and that’s what this dessert is channeling. This chocolate pressed penny is sitting on top of one of Walt Disney’s favorite desserts: silk pie!




Honestly, what we need more of are interactive desserts you can hit with a tiny mallet. Enter the Pigñata, a dessert you can try at Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs for the 50th anniversary. While it doesn’t have any of the historical nods on this list, it has a baby hammer, and that may just be better.


’71 Ears

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Since it’s their 50th anniversary, Disney is bringing some opening day merchandise faves back, including these adorably throwback plastic ears.


This Hat

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

I don’t know what’s happening with this Mickey hat, but I love it. It’s so delightfully nostalgic, and, quite honestly, how often can you buy a visor with a stuffed animal attached to the front of it?


’71 Kitchenware

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Plates, mugs, and trivets oh my! The ’71 collection also has these souvenir staples faithfully recreated from what their opening day twins looked like. My fave: Pooh’s honey hat on the mug!


Souvenir Spoon and Thimble Set

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

At one point in history, they stopped selling spoons and thimbles as souvenirs. When you think about it, they’re fun to display and take up far less room than a souvenir cup collection would, so I’m all for it.


Ratatouille Clothes

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Thank goodness Remy has his fair share of merchandise in the parks now. Thanks to his new ride, you can get these sweet duds at Epcot. Please don’t forget the cheese socks. They’re the best part of the outfit.


Ratatouille Clothing Car

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

The new ride is trackless, much like Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This cute little toy clips onto your clothes and you can use a cheese remote to make it scurry all over your outfit!


Ratatouille Kitchenware

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Finally, my dreams of owning a Ratatouille-themed cheese board have become a reality. There are new rolling pins, cheeseboards, mugs, bowls, aprons, and a cookbook so you can finally try to cook as well as Remy.


Ratatouille Plush

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Normally, plush is plush, but something about this teeny tiny Emile and teeny tiny Remy coming through holes in plush cheese and holding an olive and a strawberry made me tear up a little because it was so cute.


50th Anniversary Plush

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

The plushies are wearing the same outfits that the characters in the parks are IRL. I can’t get enough of Mickey’s lil’ fireworks vest.


AND you can buy and wear Minnie’s ear-idescent dress!

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Only kid sizes, though. You think if we started an online petition they’ll change that?


Minnie Sipper and Mickey Popcorn Bucket

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

FINE. ONE MORE AND I’LL MOVE ON. I just love their outfits so much. To truly go all in, you’ll need the Minnie plush, the Minnie iridescent dress, a photo with Minnie in her iridescent duds, AND this Minnie Sipper. There’s nothing better than a nice set of coordinating pieces. This Mickey popcorn bucket really finishes the look.


Mickey Soap Dispensers

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Stick with me, but this soap dispenser pops out a little foam Mickey silhouette when you push the pump down. And here I was thinking washing hands was boring.


Ear Backpacks

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

TBH, I love a nice practical backpack for the parks, but this is practicality at the next level. It has its own little section for your ears!


50th Anniversary Crocs

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

If you wanted Crocs that got across your love of Disney, but missed out on those kickass Lightning McQueen ones from a while ago, here you go!


New Castle Decor

Disney / Getty

Cinderella’s castle has gone through many transformations over the past 50 years, but after its vibrant new paint and gold bows, it now, more than ever, looks like it just came out of a storybook. 

New things galore! That’s not it, though. Even more new experiences and merchandise will be coming out over the course of the next 18 months during the celebration! What are you most excited for?

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