On October 1, Walt Disney World officially kicked off its 50th-anniversary celebration, an 18-month long event that marks five decades since the Magic Kingdom opened in October of 1971.
The celebration will see Disney’s Orlando theme parks and resorts continue their evolution, with new attractions, additions to the guest experiences, and the smaller touches that Disney is known for, transforming the theme parks to both mark the 50th and keep the Disney experience alive for its regular guests.
Travel Market Report was on-hand in Orlando earlier this month for a preview of what guests and travel advisors can expect from the celebration.
At the same time Disney kicked off its 50th-anniversary celebration, it also launched its newest attraction at Epcot—Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The attraction, a 4D ride experience located in a new, expanded section of France pavilion of the theme park, is a family-friendly ride that invites guests into the world of Remy, the main character from the 2007 Pixar animated movie Ratatouille.
But that’s not all that Disney has planned for the next 18 months.
During last week’s guest preview of the 50th, Disney showcased its other big Epcot addition—Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a hybrid roller coaster that is set to open sometime in 2022. The coaster was set to open prior to the 50th, but COVID delays postponed it.
While Disney is holding details of the coaster close to the vest, guests can expect a thrilling omnicoaster ride that allows the ride vehicle to rotate 360 degrees as it hurdles forward, along with the signature Disney theming built around the 2014 film and sequels.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Just as the Disney parks today are almost unrecognizable to what debuted in Orlando 50 years ago, the next evolution of the Disney parks is also set to transform the experience. And that next transformation might be beginning with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
The experience is part-attraction, part-hotel, and all Disney. Think of a two-night cruise ship experience with the fully immersive theming of a Disney Star Wars attraction where guests get to become the heroes of their own story.
Guests will arrive at the property and board, just like they would a cruise ship, but instead of heading onboard to their cabin, they’ll be sent to the Halcyon Starcruiser in a launch pod. And instead of a view of the sea, guests will stay in a cabin or suite with a view of space.
Life on board will include tasks like learning how to wield a lightsaber and interacting with “an eclectic collection of characters,” along with transporting to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney Studios.
Disney describes it as a chance to “live a bespoke experience and journey further into a Star Wars adventure than you ever dreamed possible.” It’s an experience that’s extending the theme park experience to a resort and is totally, completely, fully immersive like no other resort or attraction before it.
Voyages begin on March 1, 2022, and general bookings open up later this month.
Photo: Daniel McCarthy
Space 220 is the newest restaurant on Disney property, debuting at the end of September in Epcot’s Future World close to the Mission: Space attraction. The table service restaurant is another new Disney offering that aims to fully immerse guests in the experience.
Guests, just like the plans for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, will be transported into space prior to their meals and then will be greeted by views of the stars and planets from their table.
Disney has long been known for its attention to detail in its parks, resorts, and other properties that have created a loyal, passionate fan base all over the world. The 50th-anniversary celebration will continue that with a number of non-attraction additions.
One is a new collaboration with Amazon called “Hey, Disney!” that will get Amazon Alexa technology into Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms. A complimentary service for all Disney guests, “Hey, Disney!” will serve as the personal assistant for Disney guests, allowing them to ask for bus times, park times, housekeeping, and more.
Another is MagicBand+, the next version of Disney’s wearable guest technology that will be even more interactive than the previous versions. MagicBand+ will pull guests further into the Disney experience, lighting up during firework shows, interacting with the new 50th anniversary statues on display in all four theme parks, and more.