50 years of Disney magic: Your guide to 'The World's Most Magical Celebration'

It's finally here: Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Friday.

Starting October 1, the theme park resort is throwing ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration' to commemorate five decades of Disney magic! The celebration will last 18 months. 

Crowds packed Main Street, U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom ahead of the park opening to be the first to step foot inside on Disney World's birthday!

RELATED: 10 secrets about Disney World you never knew

Disney has some very special things planned for guests visiting all four parks over the next 18 months.

Anyone who has been to Magic Kingdom lately cannot miss the incredible royal makeover of Cinderella Castle. The iconic centerpiece is adorned with jewels and royal blue ribbons as gold draping and turrets surround its towers.

"The entire castle will shimmer with pearls and jewels, and the turrets and towers will be wrapped in iridescent gold and royal blue ribbons," George Adams of Walt Disney Imagineering previously said. "Above the castle gate, a 50th anniversary crest will warmly welcome guests to join the festivities."

RELATED: Woman recalls what it was like on Magic Kingdom's opening day in 1971

Then, at night, Disney said that Cinderella Castle will illuminate Magic Kingdom with lighting enhancements, creating "a dazzling radiance that sparkles with pixie dust." Nighttime lighting enhancements will also be used at the other parks. 

(Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Fireflies will inhabit the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, special new touches will bring the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Hollywood Studios to life, and lights resembling stars in the sky will shine across the reflective panels of EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth.

RELATED: VIDEO: Walt Disney's personal plane spotted at Animal Kingdom

Cinderella Castle illuminates with a dazzling radiance and pixie-dust sparkle when it transforms into a Beacon of Magic at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as part of the resorts 50th anniversary celebratio

A warm light emanates from the Tree of Life when it transforms into a Beacon of Magic at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as part of the resorts 50th anniversary celebration. (David Roark, p

At Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, the ‘Disney Enchantment’ firework show officially begins on October 1st, lighting up the night sky and kicking off the 50th anniversary fun. Walt Disney World Resort offered previews of the two new firework shows this week.

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New lights shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, connecting to one another like stars in a nighttime sky and creating a mesmerizing symbol of optimism when it transforms into a Beacon of Magic at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in

The Hollywood Tower Hotel is awash in a brilliance evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure when it transforms into a Beacon of Magic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as part of the re

At EPCOT, ‘HarmonioUS' is being dubbed the "largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park." The show celebrates Disney music and features familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by artists from around the world.

Disney fans have been snatching up collections of 50th anniversary-themed merchandise from the parks. The Emporium in Magic Kingdom was swamped on Friday morning with people grabbing up the items that included pajamas, backpacks, new Mickey Mouse ears, Magic Bands, and a giant Cinderella Castle playset!

RELATED: Timeline: Major events in Walt Disney World’s history

New merchandise will debut throughout the 18 months, including the ‘Vault Collection,’ composed of favorites for long-time fans and retro-themed designs inspired by items from the Walt Disney Archives.

Throughout the parks, guests can go on a scavenger hunt to find the Disney Fab 50 sculptures featuring some of your favorite characters!

RELATED: 'Space 220' restaurant opens at Epcot: Menu and how to visit

"Our ‘Disney Fab 50’ sculptures pay homage to the past 50 years of Walt Disney World while ushering us into the next 50 years and beyond," Disney Park Blog reported. 

October 1 also marks the official opening of the highly-anticipated ‘Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure' at EPCOT.

"This spinning, whirling, family-friendly attraction invites you to shrink down to the size of Chef Remy on a thrilling chase through Gusteau’s restaurant, complete with sights, sounds and smells for an exhilarating '4D’experience," Disney Parks Blog reports. 

RELATED: 'Remy's Ratatouille Adventure' officially opens at EPCOT

The new ride is based on Disney and Pixar’s beloved Academy Award-winning "Ratatouille."

The attraction is part of a newly expanded France pavilion inside EPCOT which nearly doubles the size of the existing pavilion. Many guests have previewed the ride, but it will officially be open on Friday.

Walt Disney World will also be giving guests even more time to spend at its theme parks during the 50th anniversary by extending their theme park hours. 

The new hours for the 50th anniversary are: 

Magic Kingdom

  • 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Park Hopper hours: 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Early Entry hours: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Park Hopper hours: 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Early Entry hours: 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.


  • 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Park Hopper hours: 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Early Entry hours: 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Park Hopper hours: 2:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Early Entry hours: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary, Disney made some big announcements about what's to come that guests will surely be excited about. 

For those waiting for an official opening date for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel, here it is: March 1, 2022! 

"General bookings for this immersive adventure in a galaxy far, far away will open less than one month from now, on Oct. 28, 2021," Disney Parks Blog reports.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a first-of-its-kind vacation experience that goes beyond anything Disney has created before. 

RELATED: Here's what a Disney World ticket cost when it opened in 1971

"Guests will travel the galaxy in style aboard the Halcyon starcruiser and eventually making your way to the Outer Rim for a planetside excursion to Batuu," said Disney Parks Blog. "You choose how to make your way in the galaxy – maybe as a member of the Resistance, or by learning the ancient ways of the Jedi lightsaber. Maybe you prefer loyalty to the First Order or the excitement of living life like a smuggler? The decisions are up to you."

RELATED: Disney announces opening date for Star Wars hotel, MagicBand+ debut

Walt Disney World said that the resort will offer a two-night itinerary where all guests arrive and depart together, similar to a cruise ship.

Keeping that promise as Walt Disney World kicks off its 50th anniversary celebration, the theme park resort announced its new, next-generation wearable technology: MagicBand+! 

MagicBand+ will keep the popular features guests know and love with their current MagicBands – but with added features to make experiences even more magical.

Read more about MagicBand+ HERE!

But wait, there's more!

We've learned the highly-anticipated 'Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind' attraction will open at EPCOT in 2022! 

The family-friendly roller coaster Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is described as a ‘storycoaster’ that rotates 360 degrees as you help the Guardians save the galaxy. It will also feature the first reverse launch on a coaster in Disney history and is one of the longest enclosed coasters in the world.  

The next 18 months are sure to be magical for Disney lovers young and young at heart! You can check out our complete guide to the 50th anniversary celebration here.

Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates on ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration.'