In 1971,the world's largest theme park opened its gates for the first time in Florida, welcoming fans young and old into the realm of Walt Disney, the celebrated animator behind film classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, and the park’s revamped offerings (along with lifted capacity limits and mask mandates) are ushering in a whole new world. Here are some of our favourite new experiences and classic attractions to inspire your next visit.
Mark your return to travel with a trip to the most magical place on Earth, just in time for its 50th anniversary celebration.
The long–awaited Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride. For fans of the franchise as well as those looking for an out–of–this–world experience, this 360–degree rotating coaster will take you on an intergalactic chase through space and time with the guardians of the galaxy, Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Star–Lord, who need your help on an urgent mission. As you zoom past the planets and stars following the guardians on their mission, you will hear one of six randomly selected signature songs that are perfectly synced to the ins and outs of the ride, just like in the movies.
Themed foods like Mickey–shaped ice cream sandwiches – Who doesn’t love themed desserts? Find snacks shaped like your favourite Disney characters, or transport yourself to a different time and place with authentic Parisian pastries at the Les Halles Boulangerie–Patisserie in the France pavilion (or treats from the Christmas Corner in the Germany pavilion).
Experience happy hour around the world. At the 11 country pavilions in Epcot, raise a glass with libations inspired by destinations and celebrations around the world, like the Snakebite cider at the British–style Rose & Crown Pub, located in the U.K. pavilion, or the Orange Sunshine Wine Slushy at the Citrus Blossom Booth in the Port of Entry (a tribute to Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival).
Extravagant firework shows. Several of the Disney parks host firework shows on different nights, each unique to the park and complete with songs from Disney movies old and new. Check the schedule and head to a display like the Enchantment Show in Magic Kingdom, which features characters like Moana and Joe Gardner from Soul, or the Harmonious show in Epcot, with floating giant screens, choreographed moving fountains, lights and lasers.
Meeting your favourite Disney characters and snapping the perfect photo. Pose with icons like Mickey and Minnie, and keep an eye out for others casually strolling the parks, like Winnie the Pooh catching butterflies in his spare time.
Parades in Magic Kingdom, where you can spot some of your favourite characters dancing and singing along to Disney classics throughout the park, including Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled, Elsa and Anna from Frozen, and even the characters from Dumbo!
Classic rides in all the parks like the thrilling Tower of Terror or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Hollywood Studios, Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot, Splash Mountain to cool off in Animal Kingdom, and the immersive Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride in Epcot.
Buying your own pair of Mickey Ears – Bring home a little piece of magic. There’s no shortage of souvenir options at Disney World, but we’re all about the classic Mickey Ears: Opt for the black, white and red, or choose the limited edition white and gold 50th anniversary ears.
Cirque du Soleil X Disney. Sit back, relax, and catch a showing of Drawn to Life from Cirque du Soleil, a live acrobatic journey that follows a determined main character who discovers one last gift left by her animator father: a sequence of unfinished drawings. Drawn to Life transforms the stage into a giant animation table and includes an original score inspired by timeless Disney music.
Spending quality time with the whole family. Whether you’re park–hopping all day or lounging by the pool at your resort (we love the carnival–themed Luna Park Pool at the Boardwalk Inn), Disney World has entertainment for all ages, making it an ideal spot for families with little ones or teens (and maybe even a grandparent in the mix).