Your Guide to Celebrating Disney100 at Walt Disney World

in Walt Disney World

Mickey and Minnie in front of the Disney100 sign

Credit: Disney

Fresh off its 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World is preparing for its biggest celebration yet – Disney100.

In 2023, the Walt Disney Company marks 100 years since its creation. What was then just an animation studio opened on October 16, 1923, as the Disney Brothers Studio, run by the one and only Walt Disney and his brother, Roy O. Disney.

A century is no small feat. That’s why Disney is going global with its Disney100 celebration, adding new experiences and attractions to Disney Parks worldwide to ensure its centenary is a party to remember. The festivities kicked off at Disneyland Resort in January but are set to reach the Walt Disney World Resort in the following months. Here’s your complete guide to the magical celebrations you can’t miss on your Walt Disney World vacation in 2023.

Mickey and Minnie at the Disney100 Exhibition
Credit: D23

What is Disney World doing for Disney100?

When the Disney World Resort announced its plans for Disney100 on its website, it revealed it would focus on celebrating the “timeless Disney stories and characters that have captured our hearts for the past 100 years.”

To help Guests relive their fondest Disney memories, each of the Parks is joining in on the fun. Disney100 starts at Disney World after its 50th Anniversary ends – which means April. Each month from April to August will have a different storytelling theme:

  • April – Animal Kingdom’s 25th Anniversary
  • May – Star Wars
  • June – Pixar characters
  • July – Mickey, Minnie, and friends
  • August – Disney Princesses and Frozen
  • September – Marvel superheroes

From September, the celebration will shift to EPCOT.

Disney has developed a reputation for introducing upcharges to their Parks in recent years, especially when it comes to a Disney World vacation (hello, Genie+). The good news? Disney100 is the exception. Like the 50th Anniversary, everything new for Disney100 is included in the cost of admission. For example, if you buy a ticket to Disney’s Hollywood Studios mid-Disney100, you can enjoy all the celebration offers in the Park for no extra cost. Now, as for what you can expect in each Park…

What’s happening at EPCOT?

The bulk of Walt Disney World’s Disney100 celebrations is in EPCOT. From September to the end of 2023, EPCOT will welcome Guests with a platinum statue of Mickey Mouse – one that will presumably look similar to the platinum statue in Disneyland.

EPCOT will also receive a new statue of Walt Disney, known as “Walt the Dreamer.” Previewed at the D23 Expo in 2022, he’ll sit behind Spaceship Earth in the newly-completed World Celebration area of the Park.

Walt the Dreamer Statue Close Up
Credit: Disney

Once open, this area will feature Communicore Hall, a festival and meet-and-greet location where you can catch Mickey and Minnie in their 100th Anniversary platinum outfits. From the summer, Guests can also meet EPCOT’s most divisive mascot, Figment, inside the Imagination! pavilion.

The celebration will also coincide with the opening of Journey of Water – a self-guided outdoor trail inspired by the world of Moana (2016), where you can “play and interact with water as it travels from the sky to the oceans and back again.” Installed in December 2022, a staggering 16-foot tall topiary statue of Te Fiti overlooks the area.

Te Fiti at EPCOT's Journey of Water Inspired by 'Moana'
Credit: Walt Disney Imagineering

And finally, Guests can look forward to a brand-new nighttime spectacular on World Showcase Lagoon. EPCOT’s current show, Harmonius, ends on April 2. EPCOT Forever will return as a temporary replacement before a new show debuts in late 2023.

Cinderella Castle Partners statue at Walt Disney World
Credit: Disney

What’s happening at Magic Kingdom?

Of course, Disney’s most-visited theme park is marking the company’s 100-year Anniversary. However, it isn’t home to Walt Disney World Resort’s biggest celebration (more on that later).

Magic Kingdom is adding a meet-and-greet with Mirabel from Encanto (2021). From the fall, you can find her in the Fairytale Garden next to Cinderella Castle. Mirabel will replace Merida from Brave (2021), and the area will be rethemed from the Scottish Highlands to the magical Casita Madrigal just for her.

Mirabel at the Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Magic Kingdom isn’t getting a new nighttime spectacular like Disneyland Park, but it will see the return of a fan favorite. Happily Ever After replaces the wildly unpopular Disney Enchantment on April 3, 2023. This time, the show has been enhanced with projections down Main Street, U.S.A. There are also rumors that Magic Kingdom may welcome back the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade later this year, but nothing’s confirmed as of yet. Plus, there’s the addition of a new ride when TRON Lightcycle / Run opens in Tomorrowland on April 6. None of these are specific to Disney100, but still welcome additions to the celebration.

You can also expect to see some Disney100 decorations around the Park and special characters out for the occasion. While Disney World is yet to give more details on how its storytelling themes will impact each Park, it’s safe to assume that July’s focus on Mickey and friends and August’s focus on Disney Princesses will primarily play out in Magic Kingdom. Watch this space for more info.

Moana at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

What’s happening at Animal Kingdom?

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom marks its 25th Anniversary in April, it’ll actually host the first themed month of the Disney100 celebrations.

The focus of the celebration is “conservation.” Disney has yet to drop details about what this will entail. What we do know is that Animal Kingdom will offer new Park-specific merchandise, new food offerings, and meet-and-greets with characters rarely seen in the Parks. Moana will also make her Animal Kingdom debut with a regular meet-and-greet from April 22, the Park’s actual birthday (and also Earth Day).

The sun sets over the Millennium Falcon at Hollywood Studios' Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

What’s happening at Hollywood Studios?

Disney has revealed little about Hollywood Studios’ involvement in Disney’s 100th Anniversary. However, we can make a few educated guesses. Considering the Park is home to Galaxy’s Edge, it’s safe to assume it’ll be the hub of May’s Star Wars celebrations. With Toy Story Land and Pixar Place, it seems inevitable that the Park will also be the focus of June’s Pixar month.

We can also expect decorations for Disney100 throughout the Park. In March, these started replacing those for Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary.

Mickey and Minnie at the Disney100 Exhibition
Credit: D23

Can I get Disney100 merchandise?

Disney never wastes an opportunity for exclusive merchandise. Products started creeping into Walt Disney World stores in early 2023. From Spirit Jerseys to Mickey ears, you’ll be able to find Disney100 merch throughout the Parks.

One of the most desired products is, of course, the Disney100 popcorn bucket. You can find these near the Imagination! pavilion in EPCOT, but they’re sure to spread Resort-wide.

Mickey and Minnie ears designed especially for Disney100
Credit: Disney

Also, keep an eye out for Disney100 pressed pennies. These feature characters from the studio’s 100-year history – including some you may not expect. For example, Animal Kingdom is home to coins featuring characters from Ice Age (2002), a franchise Disney inherited after purchasing Blue Sky Studios in 2019.

World of Disney at Disney Springs at nighttime
Credit: Disney

Can I celebrate Disney100 anywhere else at Walt Disney World?

You don’t have to go to a Disney Park to celebrate Disney100. The celebrations aren’t as big, but Disney100 is still very much present in Disney Springs, where World of Disney features a display of all of Disney100’s merchandise. 

Disney Springs is also sure to receive the same platinum touch as Downtown Disney over at the Disneyland Resort. Keep an eye out for platinum-infused décor and special Disney100 treats.

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