Day after day, we are getting closer and closer to the Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th birthday. This Golden Anniversary Celebration is arguably the most anticipated Disney Parks event since Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. It is going to be a resort-wide celebration of epic proportions. Each theme park will be taking part in the celebration, and construction was underway adding new attractions and completing renovations in preparation.
But then came the global pandemic and caused all of Walt Disney World to shutter and delay construction. And now, as we get closer to October 1, 2021, we have to start asking ourselves when will Disney World’s 50 Anniversary Celebration begin? Or, in the present circumstances, when CAN it begin?
Now, like Disneyland Resort’s Diamond Celebration (which lasted around a year and a half), Disney World’s 50th Celebration will no doubt last several months, if not an entire year. And it makes sense for the event to begin on or around the mega-resort’s actual birthday, October 1, 2021. It could also start in January, right after Disney World’s modified Christmas celebrations, and run through the entirety of 2021. It could also commence a few months before the actual date, as celebrations did for Disneyland’s 65th Anniversary.
But before when we can think about what day the party will get started, we need to answer the question when can it get started?
In Mid-July, the theme parks reopened. In Mid-September, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis initiated Phase 3 of reopening which gave theme parks permission to return to normal if they want.
But the main concerns still rest on Disney being able to catch up on construction projects, as well as Disney’s decision when it comes to its health and safety policies.
The primary concern for many Disney fans is construction progress. There are plenty of frequent visitors who don’t want to have the Golden Celebration with construction barriers and ride closures.
When the plans were first announced, it was made clear that the theme parks should look better than ever with even more attractions to experience. That means the completion of the EPCOT Revamp with the new entryway, redesigned Future World, and new attractions like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind be up and running.
That also means the Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster could be completed at the Magic Kingdom, along with the renovations currently underway on Cinderella Castle. Not to mention the completion of the new Star Wars-theme hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
But the global pandemic brought those projects to a grinding halt. After Disney made the decision to close the Walt Disney World resort, the company also made the decision to cease construction activities as well. Inside the Magic reported that over 1,000 construction workers were laid off.
When the decision was made, the director of Buena Vista Construction Co., Tom Troffer, stated, “We do not currently know how long the cessation of construction and maintenance projects serviced by the affected project workers will last, but we will continue to communicate with the union halls throughout the process and during our anticipated efforts to ramp the business back up within six months.”
Since July, significant progress has been made recently. Cinderella Castle’s Royal Makeover is now complete, and the other attractions are beginning to take shape. But the total consequences of the delays are is still unknown.
But that has not stopped the rumor mill. Insiders have stated that construction projects will be delayed will into 2021. The Orlando Weekly shared one writer’s story who states that the 50th Anniversary Celebration was supposed to launch in early 2021 but has since been delayed due to construction.
“According to industry insider Jim Hill, who has been crucial in the reporting on the film-related delays for the Guardians attraction, the 50th Anniversary was to launch in early 2021 but has now been delayed to October 1, the actual date of the 50th Anniversary. This allows for the projects currently delayed to be finished and gives more time for the pandemic to subside.”
New Attractions Coming in Time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary
Over the past few months, construction has gotten back on course and several of the planned attractions are still expected to be ready for the 50th Anniversary. That is, before October 1, 2021.
Those include the Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction Cosmic Rewind, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run rollercoaster in Tomorrowland, as well as the Ratatouille-themed attraction at EPCOT’s France Pavilion. The new Star Wars-themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, is also set to be completed by Disney World’s 50th birthday.
But there are some projects that Disney has confirmed will not be ready in time, and they include Spaceship Earth’s refurbishment and the addition of a Mary Poppins-themed attraction in the U.K. Pavilion.
There is reason to argue that Walt Disney World would want to wait for these ongoing projects to be completed before beginning some sort of celebration.
A Modified Celebration?
Regardless of what attractions are completed, it has to be decided if Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will be modified for the uncertain times we are in. The mega-resort has already taken action to modify its annual festivities.
They unveiled a dialed-back version of EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival. They canceled their after-hours, extra-ticketed events Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and opted for modified all-day experiences
Character Meet and Greets, stage shows, and parades have been replaced with character cavalcades or flotillas in the four theme parks.
But all of that could change over the next several months!
Governor DeSantis announced that Florida would move into “Phase 3” of reopening in which “Theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.” While Disney has not changed any of its policies yet, the recognition that it is now free to further reopen provides enormous amounts of potential.
Walt Disney World has also stated multiple times that it has been watching the Shanghai Disney Resort regarding reopening strategies. Including potentially increasing capacity, and character meet and greets.
We have also reported that Walt Disney World is considering bringing back Character Meet and Greets and even testing its firework shows. One can only hope when the 50th Celebration begins, there will be as few “Modifications” as possible.
When do you think Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will begin? Let us know in the comments!