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Disney World unveils first of its 50th anniversary plans

  • ILLUSTRATION COURTESY WALT DISNEY CO. VIA TNS
                                At Epcot in Disney World, an illustration depicts the new lights that will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth in a symbol of optimism, according to a Disney spokesperson. Below, the General Joe Potter ferry boat sails across the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Magic Kingdom.

    ILLUSTRATION COURTESY WALT DISNEY CO. VIA TNS

    At Epcot in Disney World, an illustration depicts the new lights that will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth in a symbol of optimism, according to a Disney spokesperson. Below, the General Joe Potter ferry boat sails across the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Magic Kingdom.

ORLANDO, Fla. >> Walt Disney World has announced the first details for its 50th-anniversary celebration, which will last 18 months and include lighting enhancements to all four of its theme parks’ icons, including Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

The event — dubbed “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” — will begin Oct. 1, the resort announced Feb. 19. Disney World opened to the public Oct. 1, 1971.

Expect the castle’s makeover to include more gold decor. The landmark received a paint job that shifted its color scheme to deep blues and light pinks last year.

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

It will not be a repeat of Disney World’s 25th-anniversary celebration, which saw the castle transformed into a giant pink cake.

Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life and the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be incorporated into the celebration as well.

During Disney World’s celebration, the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s lighting will evoke the golden age of imagination and adventure,” Disney says.

“At night, our four park icons … are going to come to life with a magical iridescent glow, covered in pixie dust, that we call the beacons of magic,” said Dana Carlson, associate broadcast producer with Disney Live Entertainment.

Disney renderings show the Hollywood ­Studios building, home of Tower of Terror, outlined in bright lighting. The Tree of Life will be home to “magical fireflies,” Disney said. An artist’s concept shows multiple points of light on the adjoining triangles of Spaceship Earth. The Epcot lighting package will remain after the 50th-anniversary celebration ends, Disney said.

Meanwhile, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will don new costumes for the occasion. The look is described as multi-toned with pops of gold and embroidered impressions of Cinderella Castle backed by fireworks.

Some of the celebration news was announced during a Feb. 19 broadcast of “Good Morning America,” which airs on Disney-­owned ABC. A brief segment showed Mickey and Minnie in their new outfits, on a float with 50th anniversary theming and Cinderella Castle in the background.

“If there was ever a time that the world needed some pixie dust, this is it,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, posted on social media on Feb. 19. He indicated that more information would be given “in the weeks and months ahead as we approach the big day.” The anniversary event will feature “new experiences at the resort’s four theme parks and beyond,” a news release said.

The company hadn’t previously revealed much about its golden year. When some major attractions were announced, their completion date was presented as “in time for” the 50th celebration, but no specific dates were given. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted operations, shutting down the resort for about three months in 2020.

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