cinderella-castle-50th-mary-blair-art-3682288

Disney World Opts for 50th Anniversary Celebration with Zero Nostalgia

You no doubt have seen the new commercial for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”. If you somehow missed it, here it is:

The commercial shows banners and the “Beacon of Magic” lighting we have been promised for the event, but not much else. The song choice is “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, which is odd, given that not much new is actually announced to open for this event, other than a delayed Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, you know, a ride that opened at Disneyland Paris in 2014 and was supposed to open at EPCOT in 2020. Disney stalled, delayed, and even halted construction on other attractions planned for the 50th anniversary, most notably TRON Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but they also haven’t hit a ride opening deadline in Florida in many years, so we expected those to be a little late to the party anyway.

Before we start blaming the pandemic for this situation, let’s also remember that Universal Orlando Resort completed the VelociCoaster during the pandemic, a large-scale roller coaster attraction with zero animatronics. That’s not wildly different from what TRON or Guardians of the Galaxy are, with the exception of being mostly indoors, in gravity buildings that were pretty-much completed before a park closed in Orlando in March 2020. Smaller, regional theme parks completed many of their rides that were being constructed at the time as well, many of them debuting those attractions this summer.

Regardless, the broken promises of new attractions are not even the reason I am writing this. I could easily forgive the delay of major additions if given something, anything actually celebrating 50 years of Walt Disney World. As of now, there is no museum aspect, no major ride restoration, no nostalgia-laden advertising, and no press release that even mentions anything from the past.

What was striking to me about the commercial, for a monumental 50th anniversary, is that it has zero references to the storied history and legacy of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. There is no mention of Walt Disney and his last great dream, or even a nostalgic look at vintage footage of guests and characters in the parks. They took the time to put 16 “hidden” references in the commercial, yet none of them are related to anything other than Disney films. We are not celebrating 50 years of Disney movies on October 1st, by the way.

Here’s a recent Disney Parks ad that actively grabbed hold of your emotions and memories of the past in a thoughtful way:

The above isn’t even an anniversary ad, it was just for a short return of an old parade. Mind you, Disneyland Resort typically shows an understanding for what people love about the place, and that dates back to their 50th birthday.

Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration was not littered with new attractions either, but it did embrace the park’s incredible history. A film starring Steve Martin to recap the five decades that came before played at the Main Street Opera House and was accompanied by a thoughtful and well-curated historical exhibit. Classic attractions were also restored and added new magic, such as Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and more. This formula worked so well that Disneyland has replicated it over and over again, parlaying it into a massively successful Diamond Celebration in 2015 and decades of nostalgic merchandise that they have sold since 2005.

Ads for Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary celebrated nostalgia too, along with the original song, “Remember the Magic”:

Smaller amusement parks are even doing a better job than Disney World on capturing these feelings, all while celebrating their key milestones. Knott’s Berry Farm is marking 100 years this year, and in celebration, you’ll find a new attraction that pays homage to a long-lost one, resurrected meet and greet characters from the past, and photo-ops for extinct attractions. These are not wildly expensive things, they’re just thoughtful and show some level of care.

What is so remarkable about a 50th anniversary is that guests who have visited over all 50 years are still with us and can return to celebrate this special place. Walt Disney World has been visited by so many people over these decades, and it’s not just people who are active fans on social media. There are millions of people who have an emotional connection to memories made at these parks and resorts, memories that pre-date the attention span of the management currently in the company and their marketing strategy. Doing small, yet thoughtful things playing on our nostalgia means something to us, the most loyal and loving of guests, and shows people that you care about more than just their money. A golden anniversary is not the time to look at your audience as numbers, it is a time to embrace their feelings for your destinations and establish a connection with them, showing that you understand what they cherish about it.

With 126 days left until October 1st, 2021, I think I speak for everyone in saying we hope something will materialize, something showing an appreciation for returning guests and the incredible feats that were pulled off in 1971 and beyond.

We are pleading with The Walt Disney Company to care about this anniversary before it is too late. There is no do-over on a 50th birthday celebration.

For more information on booking your next trip with our official travel agent sponsor, the Vacationeer, visit wdwnt.travel.

3.5 44 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

93 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Achilles
Achilles
23 days ago

Couldn’t agree more.

Skywise
Skywise
23 days ago

That’s because the new Disney is distancing themselves from Walt’s legacy. It’s intentional as he’s “problematic” as well as most of his work and movies he’s left behind.

May
May
22 days ago
Reply to  Skywise

You hit the nail on the head

Judy
Judy
23 days ago

tbh yeah

Erok
Erok
23 days ago

Yes!! What you said Tom!👏👏👏 this is a shame, I would expect this company to be taking pride in this milestone regardless of the obstacles that may have come.

Scott
Scott
23 days ago

Well said Tom

Doug
Doug
23 days ago

Given how many great attractions Disney World has done away with, I’m not too surprised that they won’t be referring much to the past.

Matt Ciccone
Matt Ciccone
23 days ago

We can hope that with the celebration lasting a whole year, they release nostalgia related things.

Hannah Taylor
Hannah Taylor
23 days ago

Great points!

Frank
Frank
23 days ago

Is it just me, or has Disney Co been “de-Walting” the company ever since the 50th anniversary of his passing in 2016?

May
May
22 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Yeah they have been deWalting to pretend to be woke

J S
J S
21 days ago
Reply to  May

I love how you say “pretending to be woke.” I don’t think they are pretending to be woke, but are the spokespersons for wokeness since wokeness is essentially pretending to care about social justice. Disney is just disappointing me lately.

Last edited 21 days ago by J S
Brooklyn
Brooklyn
22 days ago
Reply to  Frank

100%

Brian Hester
Brian Hester
23 days ago

Boy, we’re drawing a lot of conclusions from one 30-second teaser video.

Josh
Josh
22 days ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

Yes I agree it’s only 4 months away, but IMO we can’t take COVID completely out of the picture and complain about delays of very large projects going on at 3 of the 4 parks (counting Galactic Starcruiser for HWS). Nevermind any plans they had for the 50th before COVID decimated any budget they were working with. I think it’s fair to assume stuff for the 50th is going to be cut, but I still think we can’t come to ANY conclusions of what they have planned (or lack of in your point of view) because simply they literally haven’t announced… Read more »

Tom
Tom
22 days ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

You done yet knowing everything Tom?

David
David
21 days ago
Reply to  Josh

You’ll be lucky to get even some of those things you list. Fireworks are expensive. Parades are VERY expensive in terms of staff costs. I would be amazed if there is any nighttime parade at MK any time soon. Perhaps they might adapt/update HEA or do something different with MK fireworks but I wouldn’t expect much else. You can tell how they’re attempting to manage down expectations by getting so over-excited about spotlights at HS and little LED lights all over Spaceship Earth.

Will Claypool
Will Claypool
23 days ago

Hear hear!

I agree with this post. Costs tripled in 20 years, people can’t afford what they used to. Kids just need to be kids and experience that “magic” like we did.

KenG
KenG
23 days ago

Tom I totally I agree with you. The fact that I live near Disneyland I have not seen these ads yet (but I did see “The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” ads that do capture that nostalgia and emotion. What is baffling is that ads and promotions tugging at the emotions of millions of people that grew up going to Disney World, and being all cooped up for a year would be a huge pull to get them back! I could just imagine folks seeing a 50th anniversary ad with nostalgia in it and welling up in tears and literally getting… Read more »

Mick
Mick
20 days ago
Reply to  KenG

The Disney > Universal and Apple > Google/Samsung argument is more veiled under perceived value than actual value received. It pains me to say that Disney has got it wrong the majority of the time over nearly the last decade. Continually up charging without actually innovating, trying to market things that have existed for years as something brand new to spend more $ on, just like Apple.

Doug
Doug
23 days ago

You have a good pint. I think a video showing all the wonderful things from the past would be an interesting contrast to the severely limited offerings today. No parades, no character meet and greets, no fireworks, no complementary transportation, no extra magic hours. The loyal guests are the only people who would notice this.

SCOTT m Lee-ROSS
SCOTT m Lee-ROSS
23 days ago

I am sorry, but I have to disagree with everything you have posted. I was excited to watch the commercial today and thing that it does a great job of summarizing the last 50 years at Walt Disney World with just one word….MAGIC. We travel to Disney from across the country multiple times a year. I read this site multiple times each day for the latest updates. Why? Because of the magic of being at Walt Disney World. I have planned my trip the last week of September for 3 years now. I made my DVC reservations on the morning… Read more »

Ryan
Ryan
22 days ago

But they could be doing so much more. Don’t be satisfied with the bare minimum. “Magic” isn’t the history of the park, it’s the specific attractions and people like you who visited. That’s what should be celebrated not iridescent shiny glitter.

May
May
22 days ago
Reply to  Ryan

It’s important to be satisfied with bare minimum. Helps you cope better.

Frank
Frank
22 days ago
Reply to  Ryan

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Susan B Anthony quoting Thomas Edison in The American Adventure-Epcot!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ben
Ben
23 days ago

Crack….. Tom just hit a HOMERUN…. Disney needs to show more love to World.. it is the biggest and most recognized I.e greatest of all the parks… it’s got all the potential that no other park has or can have for that matter.

neirda
neirda
23 days ago

I rarely ever agree with you Tom, but I have to say you’re completely right here with no exaggeration. It’s sad, but it’s a business at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean they can’t treat WDW with more respect though.

figmentfan
figmentfan
23 days ago

Agreed.

Natalie
Natalie
23 days ago

I literally come here for Tom’s realness. Also, being the fact that my first visit was in 1978, yeah, I’m a little disappointed by this, too.

Ryan
Ryan
22 days ago

I could not agree more. Whoever is running this celebration seems to have no respect for the past of the park or idea of how a celebration should be run. A celebration should be full of new offerings. They hold far too much hope that people will return and drive revenue just off of the name of the celebration. It surely doesn’t help that the general public has no idea how little will be offered for this celebration. It’s the most visited theme park in the world and yet it receives the executive attention of a peanut.

Anonymous
Anonymous
22 days ago
Reply to  Ryan

In my opinion, the person who is running this operation actually show a ton a respect to the theme parks. Nostalgia brings a ton of uncreativity and disrespect. Not to mention rides like 1983 journey into imagination and the great movie ride we’re freaking awful attractions.

David Smith
David Smith
22 days ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You obviously: 1) Tried a very unsuccessful attempt at satire and being funny, or 2) You do not understand WDW.

Jeremy
Jeremy
22 days ago

With all the negativity in the world, it’s nice to find positivity on this website with this article being an exception. Yes they could do a bit better with a commercial but I highly doubt this is the only one to come for the 50th. Have a little faith

Anonymous
Anonymous
22 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I agree with you with a burning passion Jeremy. All these nostalgists need to have some faith and positivity in this too!

come on Disney.
come on Disney.
19 days ago
Reply to  Anonymous

it’s not about just the nostalgia. It’s about how we are 4 months away from this celebration and we only know about lighting designs for the parks. It’s either one of two things. They don’t have a plan for the anniversary an or they aren’t putting much of an effort into the anniversary because they don’t care. They are under horrid leadership and Chepek just sees some walking dollar bills. If disney doesn’t do something soon the people are out