World’s Most Magical Celebration

The magic is real. You see it in the joy on children’s faces. Ours were beyond delighted with the charms, thrills and fun at Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebrations. When we first informed the kids, ages seven and five, that we heading to Disney World for a vacation, they were jumping up and down with excitement. They couldn’t wait to tell their friends. Once we got there though, it was pure pleasure—with a side of Cinderella hugs, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and Splash Mountain.

Mickey Mouse will star in the “Mickey and Friends Cavalcade” when Magic Kingdom Park reopens July 11, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. With traditional parades on temporary hiatus to support physical distancing during the park’s phased reopening, Disney characters will pop up in new and different ways throughout the day. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

For five decades—since the fall of 1971—a trip to Walt Disney World has been synonymous with the ultimate childhood family holiday. Then and now, it’s the entry point to a new world, “a world of fun and fantasy, where teacups spin, elephants fly and life’s cares melt away.”

Back then, 10,000 guests enjoyed the magic on opening day, October 1, at the family hotspot that encompassed a single theme park, a couple of resort hotels and two golf courses. Today’s Walt Disney World covers dozens of square miles and contains four theme parks—Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, plus two water parks—Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, along with more that 20 resort hotels. And there is no shortage of luxury to experience.

“Disney Enchantment” at Magic Kingdom Park, debuts Oct. 1, 2021, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The new nighttime spectacular features stunning fireworks, powerful music, enhanced lighting and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A. (David Roark, photographer)

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with its Victorian grandeur, gorgeous grounds, on-site monorail and boat transportation, is one of several luxe options. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is another five-star pick, thanks to its tropical ambience, fabulous dining and grand amenities. Choosing a Disney Resort hotel is an absolute must, though, for maximum family magic; these extravagant settings not only enrich the whole experience, they also make it easier and more enjoyable to get around. 

Inside Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Disney guests will take the controls in one of three unique and critical roles aboard the fastest ship in the galaxy when Star Wars: GalaxyÕs Edge opens May 31, 2019, at Disneyland Resort in California and Aug. 29, 2019, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. (Disney Parks)

We had a one-bedroom suite at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The location was perfect, the kids loved the pool and we all enjoyed The Chronos Club, an exclusive lounge offering snacks, drinks and great views.
 There’s certainly loads to see in this wonderful world that appeals to all ages. Luckily, we were able to be part of the 50th anniversary celebration, an extravaganza that includes new attractions, nighttime shows and other magical experiences for a limited time. The good news is this birthday party extends through the end of March 2023, so you can take advantage of the opportunity too.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., shines the spotlight on our beautiful, bountiful planet with its annual Earth Month Celebration taking place throughout April. During this popular event, nature-themed challenges invite guests to earn a limited-time Wilderness Explorer Earth Day Nature badge. (Catie McCabe, Photographer)

Our first theme-park visit was to Hollywood Studios. Highlights here include Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Boulevard, Indiana Jones’ Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Frozen singalong at Echo Lake, plus the rides and shows at Toy Story Land and Sunset Boulevard. If you have Star Wars fans in the family, they’ll be thrilled with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Its big attractions are Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

The next day we headed to Magic Kingdom, where the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade was a hit. Disney Enchantment, the nighttime fireworks show, was also spectacular. Disney after dark is quite something to see. During the World’s Most Magical Celebration, the landmarks at each park are transformed into Beacons of Magic:  Cinderella Castle fills its environs with dazzling luminosity and pixie dust; at EPCOT, new lights shine across Spaceship Earth; and at the Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life glows as fireflies highlight the magic of nature.

A perennial guest-favorite springtime event at Walt Disney World Resort is now bursting with fragrant blossoms, seasonally inspired flavors and lively entertainment. The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 2 through July 4, 2022, cultivating fresh experiences for the entire family as part of the “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring the Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary. The park-wide event features fun for the whole family inspired by the season, from spectacular Disney character topiaries to lush gardens to fresh flavors from Outdoor Kitchens and more. (Courtney Kiefer, Photographer)

Our next two stops were EPCOT and the Animal Kingdom. At EPCOT, there’s a new, out-of-this-world thrill, thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Starting in the Galaxarium, it’s the first reverse-launch Disney coaster and one of the largest fully-enclosed coasters in the world. (It’s okay to close your eyes.)

Finally, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom we had a predictably wild and enjoyable time, courtesy of thrill rides and shows including Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue … and Beyond! Beginning to end, our Disney World adventure was beyond special. As the kids put it, “When are we going again?”