The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, February 20, 2021 1:00 am

Disney World prepares celebration of 50 years

MIKE SCHNEIDER | Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. – Walt Disney World in Florida turns 50 in October.

To help celebrate, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be wearing flashier threads, and iconic structures such as the Cinderella Castle and the golf-ball-like Spaceship Earth are getting new lighting, Disney officials said Friday.

Plans for the 18-month celebration, which starts in October, are being made amid one of the toughest stretches the resort the size of San Francisco has faced in its nearly 50 years. Last spring, Disney World closed for two months to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, leading to the temporary furlough of 43,000 workers.

Last fall, the company announced layoffs for 28,000 workers from its parks division in Florida and California because of limits on attendance and other pandemic-related issues.

Disney officials said last November that revenue at its parks, experiences and products business fell 61%, to $2.6 billion.

Before the pandemic, Disney World employed around 77,000 workers.

“If ever the world needed some pixie dust and a little extra magic from our cast, that time is now – and we hope you join us in the excitement,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort in an email to community leaders.

Disney World has high hopes the 50th anniversary celebration provides Disney fans enough reason to return to the theme-park resort during a time when vaccines will be more widely distributed.

For starters, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and other costumed characters will be getting sparkling clothes. 

The castle at Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom will be glowing with special lighting during the celebration. The Cinderella Castle also will be made over with gold bunting and other golden embellishments.


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