I wouldn’t normally celebrate the end of a party, but as The World’s Most Magical Celebration honoring the first 50 years of Walt Disney World Resort officially winds down, I’m just as exhilarated about the next 50 years of our history! This celebration was so much more than just a moment in time; it was history in the making, and wow, was it unforgettable. It’s almost overwhelming to remember it all, so here are my top 5 memories from this iconic celebration:
1. Cast Members at the Heart of the Celebration
Our cast members are truly the heart of our magic, so naturally they were key to this anniversary celebration, too! I loved all the ways cast members were recognized over the past 18 months, and each moment of recognition felt more special than the last. My personal favorite moment for cast? It was actually thousands of little pop-up moments created by our Pixie Patrol! They surprised cast members across property with more than 70,000 EARidescent prizes throughout the celebration.
2. Sparkling EARidescent Décor & Lights
As the EARidescent décor starts to come down this weekend—including the phased removal of those beautiful 50th anniversary embellishments on Cinderella Castle—I’m still a little awestruck by how boldly and beautifully we transformed our World for the celebration. And our world-famous castle wasn’t the only icon to get dressed up for the occasion, with each theme park’s icon illuminating the night as a Beacon of Magic. While most of that 50th sparkle and EARidesence will end with the celebration with park icons at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Magic Kingdom Park returning to their usual radiance… Spaceship Earth will continue to shine well into the future with beautiful light displays each night!
3. The Disney Fab 50 Collection
Fun golden sculptures featuring 50 beloved characters at each of our theme parks? Um, yes please! If you were hoping the Disney Fab 50 Collection would stick around just a bit longer after the celebration, you’re in luck… I hear they may be in our parks beyond the celebration’s official ending for guests to enjoy.
4. Celebrating with the Community
This unforgettable celebration didn’t just stay within our gates, either – we “drove” that very magic out into our communities, too. For those of you here in Florida, you’ve likely seen the beautiful 50th anniversary license plates driving around the state. Thanks to every Floridian who purchased a specialty plate during the celebration, more than $1.5 million has been raised for Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida so far, helping to create treasured memories for these families and children. If you’re still interested in getting your very own 50th anniversary license plate, better get one soon! There’s a limited amount left, so check with your local County Tax Collector’s Office or license plate agencies throughout the state of Florida before they’re gone.
Over the course of this 18-month celebration, we also gave more than $6.5 million in grants to 60+ nonprofits, and Walt Disney World cast personally volunteered more than 233,000 hours at local organizations through our Disney VoluntEARS Program—that’s incredible!
5. Adding Even More Magic!
There was a lot to revel in during this party, but we didn’t just celebrate to honor our first 50 years… we also grew! EPCOT continued its transformation, adding La Creperie de Paris, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (a personal fav of mine!), just to name a few of our newest theme park additions. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser also took us to a galaxy far, far away, and Roundup Rodeo BBQ officially introduced us to the world’s first “Toy Story”-themed restaurant earlier this month.
To all who joined us or helped us celebrate the first 50 years of Walt Disney World Resort—thank you for being part of the magic. The next 50 years are sure to bring more pixie dust, and there’s a boundless collection of memories just waiting to be made. Our Disney story is just getting started.