Walt Disney World is officially 50 years old!
I was fortunate enough to be in Magic Kingdom on its actual 50th anniversary. While it was magical and emotional, it was also crowded. Read along to find out how I skipped all of those crazy lines and what I did instead!
I've been planning this trip for a long time. I predicted that the crowd situation would likely look intense, and I was right. However, what I wasn't prepared for were where the crowds actually were.
I personally prefer my "merch" in the forms of things I can use in my daily life. (Water bottles, coffee mugs, hoodies, etc.) After over 20 personal trips over the last 31 years, I've learned what I use the most. Anyway, I never got super into things like popcorn buckets, pins (I do have a few), or other items that I otherwise can't use in my daily life.
If you saw the INTENSE lines on the news, TikTok, IG, etc., those were lines for merchandise and popcorn buckets. No joke. As of 8:15 a.m., the Emporium and Main Street Confectionary were literally full for the day and were not accepting anyone else into their virtual spots. With those people in lines for merch, as well as people who didn't mobile order food in advance (more on that soon), lines for rides were crazy short all day.
While most people were extremely polite, I sadly saw some very ugly behavior on October 1st, too. Literally fighting over merchandise, folks screaming at Cast Members, complaining about having to wait for food, you name it. Please, no matter where or when you're traveling, remember to BE KIND.
What I Ate
I pre-ordered our breakfast, dinner, and snacks at 5:30 a.m. (We had table service lunch reservations.) While that may sound extreme, I mentally thanked myself for that all day long. I was also sure to hydrate constantly, and carried snacks in my park bag, just in case! (If you're wondering what's in my park bags, get my packing list here!)
Breakfast - Fresh fruit waffle sandwich and French Vanilla Iced Coffee (Sleepy Hollow)
Lunch - All-You-Care-to-Enjoy platter and 2 adult beverages (Liberty Tree Tavern)
Snack - Pineapple Dole Whip cup (Aloha Isle)
Dinner - 1971 Meal (Casey's Corner)
One of the highlights of my day was seeing absolute legend Randy Morris play at Casey's Corner! Randy started as a pianist at Casey's Corner (then called Coke Corner) back at the park opening in 1971. He's since retired, but returned on the 50th to play again! It was incredible, and I'm getting emotional just typing about it!
What I Did
While these aren't the order we rode them in, we experienced:
I was at Magic Kingdom on September 29th for the last-ever Happily Ever After, and I thought that surely nothing could top that show. This one absolutely did.
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. This show made my jaw drop, gave me goosebumps, and made me laugh, cry, and sing along. The theme song, "You Are The Magic", is one of the best, most magical pieces written for a Disney attraction ever. This show is a must, MUST see. I was so glad to get up close to the Castle (we were in front of the hub grass) for the premiere, but next time I definitely want to watch from Main Street USA.
Did you know that there are projections along Main Street during this show?? Depending on where you watch, you'll have a completely different experience!
This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I'm so incredibly thrilled that I was there to experience it. The heat, the crowds, the exhaustion...they were all well worth it.
The World's Most Magical Celebration lasts for 18 months, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to experience everything that the 50th Anniversary has in store, including cavalcades, nighttime spectaculars, shows, and merchandise (did I mention that the infamous Starbucks cup that people were punching each other over is already back in stock???? LOL!!)
There is tons of fun, excitement, and magic to be had. If your trip isn't on the books yet, contact me to get started or schedule a complimentary vacation consultation to get more information!
What I Wore
I opted not to do a DisneyBound for the 50th, and instead relied on a few of my tried and true favorites. I wore a pink version of my favorite FunkyMonkey park sandals, a pink "bunny ear" scrunchie at the bottom of my Dutch braid, rose gold Mickey earrings, (mine were "Hey June" brand and a gift from a friend, but I've linked something similar), and my favorite Disney Parks Attractions Loungefly mini-backpack. You can find each of these right on Amazon and can shop them from these links or from the photos below!
Your theme park bag is one of the most important parts of your entire trip. Without a well-packed bag, your park day can get derailed quickly. After all of the time, money, and excitement you've put towards your vacation, that's the last thing that you want! I give to you one of my most coveted tips...how to pack your park bag!
Be sure to grab my FREE park bag packing checklist below!
First things first, you'll actually need a park bag. The park bag that you choose will depend on who you're traveling with and which parks you're visiting. I've previously talked about the best park bags for every guest. I suggest starting there if you're trying to decide on what type of bag you'll need. However, today we're going to focus on what goes inside that bag!
The first things you're going to carry with you are the obvious basics. This includes things like cash, credit cards, and IDs. I personally prefer not to carry my entire wallet, and instead use a zip-top wallet. If you're looking for a luxury version, this Michael Kors wallet is perfect. This Vera Bradley change purse is very similar to the one I carry. (Except mine has a Hufflepuff print!)
You likely always have your phone with you anyway, but make this is more important than ever. You'll use your phone to take photos, order food, check wait times, and can even house your tickets and park passes into there! Therefore, you're also going to want a portable charger in that bag, too. This is identical to my favorite charger! (I couldn't get a link to my exact charger, sorry!
Health and Safety
The next category we're going to make sure we have are anything related to health and safety. Face coverings* (if you're wearing them), hand sanitizer, and band aids. Hand sanitizer has long been a staple on my packing lists long before 2020, but now it's even higher on my list! Band-Aids are another good one to carry with you. In addition to their normal uses, you'll definitely want those to cover any blisters on your feet. There's nothing worse than touring with blisters!
*This list previously recommended 2 face coverings per person, per day. As of April 18, 2022, face coverings have become optional at all Walt Disney World locations. You know your family best! Do what works for you and your travel party.
Florida is not only hot, but V E R Y humid. It's also full of unpredicted weather. It's not unheard of to have a beautiful morning and evening with a monsoon-level storm for an hour in the afternoon. For this reason, you'll need to be prepared, rain or shine. The first item you'll need, no matter the temperature, is sunscreen. (Don't make the major mistake that I made a few years ago!) With all of that heat, I also recommend either (or both!) a personal fan and a cooling towel. I also encourage all clients to carry ponchos with them. A poncho will allow you to get around during any downpours and are also a game-changer when it comes to water rides! Which brings me to my final category...
Ready for Anything!
There are a few items to include in that park bag that may not make sense when you read my checklist, but trust me on this! The first is a variety of Ziploc bags. Use one to keep face coverings (if you're wearing them) safe and clean while you're eating. Use a larger gallon size to hold wet ponchos. If you're riding Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids, you can also keep cell phones in a sandwich size bag to help keep them extra dry. (I'm a big Ziploc fan, clearly.) I also recommend carrying a hydrating lip balm. Finally, I recommend a water bottle strap. This one doesn't necessarily stay in your park bag, per say, but staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do.
If you found this list helpful, be sure to check out some of my other packing tips:
Best Items to Beat the Heat
New Items to Pack
Click here to get a full, comprehensive vacation packing checklist.
Your park bag is one of the most important parts of your trip. Whether you're traveling solo, with a family, riding rides, or shopping, I'm breaking down the best bag for each type of traveler! Just make sure you follow my only rule: ALL BAGS MUST ZIP!
For the Family Traveling Together: Full-Size Backpack
Invest in a great sturdy backpack. I have one from Thirty-One that I bought YEARS ago to use as a park bag, and still use it on every trip. (And yes, that's my maiden name embroidered on it! Told you I've had it for years!) This bag has two large zipper pockets to keep things organized, a smaller zipper pocket (great for snacks), two side pockets for water bottles, an interior zipper pouch, and the world's most comfortable shoulder straps. There's plenty of space to keep everyone's things organized and protected.