Walt Disney World reveals plans for 50th anniversary celebration

Credit: AJC

Fast facts about Walt Disney World.

Credit: AJC

Plans for 18-month celebration will begin later this year

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World in Florida turns 50 in October.

To help celebrate, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will wear flashier threads and iconic structures such as the Cinderella Castle and the golf-ball-like Spaceship Earth are getting new lighting, Disney officials said Friday while unveiling the first details of how the massive theme park resort will mark its milestone anniversary.

Plans for the 18-month celebration, which starts in October, are being made amid one of the toughest stretches the resort the size of the city of San Francisco has faced in its nearly 50 years. Last spring, Disney World closed for two months to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, leading to the temporary furlough of 43,000 workers.

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Last fall, the company announced layoffs for 28,000 workers from its parks division in Florida and California due to limits on attendance and other pandemic-related issues. Disney officials said in November that revenue at its parks, experiences and products business fell 61% to $2.6 billion.

Before the pandemic, Disney World employed about 77,000 workers.

“If ever the world needed some pixie dust and a little extra magic from our cast, that time is now — and we hope you join us in the excitement,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort in an email to community leaders.

Disney officials unveiled the first details on how Disney World will celebrate its milestone anniversary. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)
Disney officials unveiled the first details on how Disney World will celebrate its milestone anniversary. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Credit: Joe Burbank

Credit: Joe Burbank

Disney World has high hopes the 50th anniversary celebration provides Disney fans enough reason to return to the theme park resort during a time when vaccines will be more widely distributed.

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For starters, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and other costumed characters will get sparkling clothes that include iridescent fabric and embroidery with renderings of the Cinderella Castle. The resorts’ iconic structures — the castle at Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom — will glow with special lighting during the celebration. The Cinderella Castle also will be made over with gold bunting and other golden embellishments.

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“It is going to be the world’s most magical celebration,” said Dana Carlson, an associate broadcast producer for Disney Live Entertainment.

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