What Went Wrong on Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

October 1st, 2021 was a historic day in Disney World history with the 50th-anniversary celebrations kicking off!

Happy Birthday Disney World!

We brought you along with us to all four parks (and the resorts!), sharing a look at all the new entertainment, snacks, merchandise, attractions, and more that debuted in the parks for the first time. And, we’ve been bringing you the latest ever since! But, as things have settled down in Disney World, we’re reflecting on everything that happened that day way back in October 2021 and how a few small tweaks could have made a big difference in the guest experience.

So, Here’s What Went Wrong on the 50th Anniversary, and What Could Have Been Done Differently!

Released More Merchandise

What is a Disney celebration without some merchandise, right? Well, Disney certainly delivered on that end for the 50th anniversary, releasing tons of new merchandise including an exclusive Anniversary Collection that was only available in ONE store in Magic Kingdom.

50th Anniversary Merchandise

And, while busy days in Disney World are usually filled with long lines for rides, on October 1st, the longest lines were actually for stores! So, instead of waiting hours to hop on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, guests were waiting hours in virtual queues and lines across the parks.

We saw lines at the Creations Shop in EPCOT

Creations Shop Line on October 1st

…World Showplace (where new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure merchandise was released)…

Line to get into World Showplace for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure merchandise on October 1st

…and there was even an hour-long wait for snack kiosks in Magic Kingdom to secure the newest Balloon Popcorn Bucket.

Line for Mickey Balloon Popcorn Bucket on October 1st

And, of course, with such a high demand from park-goers, things started to sell out pretty quickly.

Cast Members shared that these sold out park-wide by 9:30AM

So, what could Disney have done to relieve this issue? Well, all in all, it seemed that they really just needed more merchandise. It can be hard to know exactly what will sell out, but we have seen items like Popcorn Buckets, Minnie Ears, and exclusive collections sell out in the past. And, with Park Pass Reservations completely booked for almost all of the parks on October 1st and merchandise being one of the main attractions, we can’t help but wonder if there could have simply been more quantities of popular items.

Release Merchandise in MORE Locations

Speaking of merchandise, the 50th Anniversary collections could only be found in a few select locations around the parks, which led to quite a bit of crowding in those stores.

50th Anniversary Vault Collection

For example, at Magic Kingdom, The Emporium was home to the Celebration Collection and it was almost impossible to walk around the store throughout the day. And, with so many people in one spot on the hunt for merchandise that was selling out fast, sadly, there were some reports of fights breaking out.

Crowds in The Emporium on October 1st

Additionally, Disney’s Anniversary Collection was released exclusively at Big Top Souvenirs in Magic Kingdom and the only way to get inside was to join a virtual queue. But, the QR code needed to enter the queue continued to change throughout the day, making it incredibly difficult to secure a spot in line.

And, with frustrations high near Big Top Souvenirs, we witnessed a lot of guests who were not on their best behavior towards other guests and Cast Members.

It was VERY crowded over here.

Of course, a lot of the draw to an exclusive collection like the ones released on October 1st is that it’s hard to get, but we can’t help but think that some of the tensions may have been alleviated if there were more spots to pick up the specialty items. Or, Disney could have even used a virtual queue system for other stores in the parks to reduce the crowds inside and disperse guests throughout the day a bit better.

Debuted a New Attraction or Overlay

If you were to look at the My Disney Experience app on October 1st in Magic Kingdom, you would have noticed that lines for attractions were NOT long compared to what we normally see on the most crowded days in Disney World. And, that’s because everyone was taking time to explore all of the new 50th anniversary offerings, and none of those involved rides.

Main Street, U.S.A. Morning Crowds on October 1st

Now, over at EPCOT, there was a new attraction (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure), but it opened with a virtual queue and no standby line (which isn’t the case anymore). Because of this, crowds were still focused at stores and dining locations because only the people who secured a spot in the virtual line could ride and even they only had to return when they were notified that it was their turn.

Crowds in the France Expansion on October 1st

So, instead, lines were long for merchandise (like we’ve mentioned), mobile order, and even fireworks, with people staking out their spot for Disney Enchantment in Magic Kingdom early in the morning.

Crowds waiting for the start of Disney Enchantment.

Traditionally, busy days in the parks aren’t anything like this because…well…Disney doesn’t introduce 150+ snacks, 3 new merchandise collections, and debut a new fireworks show usually. But, even with all the new things available on October 1st, a new attraction (that had a standby line) or even a 50th-anniversary overlay at a current attraction would have helped to disperse the crowds a bit better.

Crowds on Main Street, U.S.A. for the 50th Anniversary Cavalcade

So, the big kick-off to Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebrations certainly had a few hiccups, but, hey, we all got through it! And, now that the dust has settled, crowds are more manageable and we’ve got MANY more months to experience it all.

Of course, we’ll continue to bring you along through it all, so stay tuned to AllEars for more!

We Went to Disney World on the Busiest Day EVER. This is What We Learned.

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Were you in Disney World for the 50th anniversary? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Replies to “What Went Wrong on Disney World’s 50th Anniversary”

  1. I was there on Oct 1, and frankly it was disappointing. Other than super long merch lines and a receiving a small poster when you left, there was not much special about the day. It really could have been any other day at MK. One giant missed opportunity was for some sort of opening ceremony or proclamation. We all got to the park SUPER early, crowded toward the stage, watched Mickey, Minnie, et al dance for a minute or two, and that was it.

  2. I was in MK at opening on the 50th and the merchandise situation was a total fail. It took 8 hours (and a full day of refreshing my phone) to get into the virtual queue at Big Top and of course the items I wanted were long gone.

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for this delightful video and I do hope you all will be around for the 100th!
    I love DW but I am 80 years old so I know I won’t be around for the 1ooth.
    You guys are the BEST!

  4. Disney failed with merchandise. This is unusual for them. They relied heavily on China. I had checked the blogs like All Ears for all merchandise alerts. My daughter visited on December 2021 and she could not find a coffee cup of any kind at the Emporium or World of Disney. We visited as a family in March 2022 and many of the vault items I hoped to obtain were gone. The Confectionary (although remodeled) was a shadow of its former self. All the good boxed candies were gone (my mom likes the chocolate covered pretzels in the shape of mickey’s head) and replaced with the M&Ms Mars store. The Chapeau which we always browsed was now a popcorn counter for the candy store. Don’t know where you go to get your name stitched on your ears now. Choices at times were limited. They only had one type of 50th photo album which I found at the Emporium (I had to ask, hard to find). Also merchandise that they did have was often low quality. It was sad. I was able to buy the vault item I wanted from ebay. I got lucky it was only double the retail price.