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Walt Disney World turns 50: Magical celebration kicks off Friday

Disney World 50th Anniversary
Disney turns 50.png
Posted at 6:13 AM, Oct 01, 2021

On October 1, 1971 Walt Disney World officially opened to the public for the first time. Today, the park is sharing all the magical details planned for the milestone celebration.

Disney World opened 50 years ago; these workers never left

There were 6,000 employees who opened the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World to the public for the first time on Oct. 1, 1971.

Among them, two dozen workers from that first day are still working for the theme park resort a half-century later. They will join in celebrating Disney World's 50th anniversary on Friday.

Over those decades, Disney World added three more theme parks, two dozen more hotels and grew to have a workforce of 77,000 employees before the pandemic.

But what never changed was the original employees' devotion to the dream machine created by Walt Disney and his Imagineers.

50th-anniversary celebration

Disney is pulling out all the stops for its big birthday celebration that will span 18-months — but, all the details haven't been released yet. The Disney Parks Blog said to check back on this page as, "we highlight all the magic beginning tomorrow (Friday) and running throughout this 18-month celebration."

You can also keep up with the latest celebration details as Disney announces them on this page dedicated to the 50th anniversay.

The park did release the following video on Thursday highlighting some of the new 50th-anniversary merchandise, food and drinks.


Beacons of Magic:

  • "The World’s Most Magical Celebration will light up with wonder as the theme park icons are transformed into Beacons of Magic, beckoning all to come and celebrate."
    • Beacons of Magic will be available nightly at select theme parks. Images are artist concepts only.
  • Magic Kingdom
    • Cinderella Castle illuminates the park with a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust.
  • Epcot
    • Lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism.
  • Hollywood Studios
    • The iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel glitters with EARidescence, evoking the glimmer and shimmer of the golden age of imagination and adventure.
  • Animal Kingdom
    • A warm and glorious light emanates from the Tree of Life, as enchanted fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature.
Disney World 50th Anniversary
The newly painted Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is seen with the the crest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the theme park Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Disney Fab 50 Character Collection:

  • "Across all 4 theme parks, 50 golden characters wait to be discovered during The World’s Most Magical Celebration!"
  • Look for the following characters:
    • Mickey Mouse
    • Minnie Mouse
    • Donald Duck
    • Daisy Duck
    • Goofy
    • Pluto
    • Chip 'n Dale


  • Celebration Collection – Available October 1, 2021
    • "Check out this wide-ranging assortment of commemorative items that’s so big, you’ll never run out of ways to change up your look as you experience this once-in-a-lifetime celebration."
  • Disney Castle Collection – Available October 1, 2021
    • "Featuring everything from collectibles to castle-inspired attire, there’s something for everyone in this regal collection inspired by Cinderella Castle—a centerpiece of The World’s Most Magical Celebration."
  • Vault Collection – Available October 1, 2021
    • "Hit rewind with this super-fun assortment of retro-themed treasures right out of The Walt Disney Archives. Go back to opening day—at least in spirit—with this ultra-cool collection created for the 50th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World Resort."
  • EARidescent Collection – Available Late October 2021
    • "During the 50th anniversary celebration, Walt Disney World Resort will shimmer like never before! If you’re inspired by this otherworldly glow, check out this eye-catching collection that lets you wrap yourself in the shimmer of The World’s Most Magical Celebration."
  • Luxe Logo Collection – Available November 2021
    • "Take The World’s Most Magical Celebration to a whole new level with this upscale selection of highly coveted 50th anniversary collectibles—destined to be the crown jewels of your collection. Choose from fashionable apparel, accessories and more that are as spectacular as the celebration itself."

Find 50th Anniversary Merchandise at these locations: