Travel: Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration – Magic Kingdom {Day One}

I know it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, but I’m excited to share our Walt Disney World {WDW} vacation with you! WDW turned 50-years-old on October 1, 2021. I also had a milestone birthday in November 2021, so it seemed like a great place to spend my belated birthday and to celebrate the end of a very bad year.

We left for Florida at the end of May, as soon as school got out for the summer. The crowds were manageable and while it was still busy, but we planned ahead and had a good strategy for accomplishing everything we wanted to accomplish. The heat was manageable as well, although there were a couple days it was extremely hot.

Our favorite park in Disney World is Magic Kingdom, so we decided to book end our two days in this park by going on our first day and our last day. Our second and fifth days we spent at Hollywood Studios, our third day we did Epcot and our fourth day went to Animal Kingdom. I’m going to do a different post for each park, so hold onto your hats because this here is the going to be the wildest ride in the west. I’m kidding! But get ready for some long posts full of good information.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration

First of all, let me give a shout out to our travel agent, Kim Rowland of JKLM Travel. She’s been booking our Disney vacations for seven years. She also handles Universal, Beaches and Sandals Resorts, several cruise lines and several hotel chains. Give her a call if you want to plan a vacation. She’s very knowledgeable and a wonderful person!

Where We Stayed

For the first five days of our trip we stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and for the last two days we stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I have always dreamed of staying at the Contemporary since I was little, so I was going to do it, because it was my milestone birthday, remember? It’s a Deluxe Resort, and as such is a bit pricey, so we also stayed at a Value Resort as well to help offset the cost.

Today, let’s focus on Pop Century!

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Magic Kingdom Day One

We stayed here at Kim’s suggestion, and I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort nine years ago. Outside of the pool area there was nothing we liked about it. I was worried Pop Century would be similar, but it was so much better. I highly recommend it if you are choosing a Value Resort.

Disney Pop Century Resort Pet Rock

The resort is huge, and it’s broken down by decades – each room and cluster of buildings being a different theme {50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s}. Because of my health, I wasn’t confident how I was going to do with a lot of walking, so I requested a room in the 70’s. I vetoed the suggestion of an electric scooter and my daughter and I “trained” by walking every night for a month before our trip. The 70’s was central to the food court area and both forms of transportation – the buses and the Skyliner.

Walt Disney World Pop Century Resort

The rooms are great and have recently been remodeled. We thought the theming in the rooms was done tastefully and the beds were very comfortable. The theming outside of the rooms is extra, but my daughter loved it. There was plenty of storage space and a little nook for your coffee, including a Keurig with Joffrey’s Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Blend. There’s also a small refrigerator.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration
We got these blankets at Disneyland a few years ago and bring them on Disney trips  

As for transportation, the buses go to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom while the Skyliner goes to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the Skyliner, but I loved it! It was so easy, moved super-fast and because of Covid, they weren’t cramming a bunch of people into one car. We rarely rode with another family. Plus, it’s on a constant loop, so you don’t have to sit and wait 20 minutes for the next one to arrive.

Disneys Pop Century Skyliner

What We Did

We did Genie+ is what we did. I knew I couldn’t walk around all day and night, therefore, we had to be strategic about what lands we did so we weren’t crisscrossing the park. We decided to use Genie+ for Lightening Lanes {LL} and pre-booked it for all of our days in the parks {you won’t be able to do this anymore very soon, I believe}. Initially, I had a big problem paying even extra on top of an admission, but in the end, I was so glad we used it and I feel we got our money’s worth.

That being said, it’s just my daughter and I, so it was an extra $30 a day. If you have a large family, that will add up. We also purchased the Individual Lightning Lane {ILL} for a few other rides.

To use your Genie+, you wake up early and get on the app at 7am, ready to book your first ride and purchase your ILL for the day.

Walt Disney World Tomorrowland

Our first day in Magic Kingdom, we bought the ILL for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and got an afternoon time. We picked our top three rides in each land each day and those were our priority. After booking the ILL, I went in and booked a LL for Peter Pan, which we got around 10am.

You have an hour to use the LL, and can book another one once you redeem it for a ride, or after two hours have passed since you last booked one, or two hours after park opening. Don’t get me started. It’s confusing, but I suggest watching videos on YouTube to get the hang of it before your trip.

We decided to use our magic half hour {since we were staying at a Disney resort} and rope drop Fantasyland. While everyone else ran to Mine Train, we went to The Barnstormer. No one was there and we got right on.

Barnstormer Walt Disney World

Next, we headed to Dumbo. Again, no one was there and we got right on. Then we walked over to Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. No one was there and we got right on. We headed over to It’s A Small World where there was a small line.

Walt Disney World It's a Small World

Before 9am and the park opening, we had already ridden most of what we wanted to in Fantasyland outside of our Genie+ selections. We decided to head over to the Haunted Mansion where we waited for about 20 minutes because the park had just opened and the lines were getting a little longer.

Haunted Mansion Disney World

After a delicious cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern, we rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This was our longest line of the day at 45 minutes.

While in line, I booked a LL for Space Mountain later in the afternoon. Once we were done with Pooh, we redeemed our LL for Peter Pan. When we finished this ride, I could book another LL so, I got Tomorrowland Speedway.

We headed over to Tomorrowland where we watched Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. It was cute and nice to sit in air conditioning. Next, we went on the Carousel of Progress, enjoying a seat and the air conditioning again. I hadn’t been on this since I was a teenager, but my daughter and I actually really liked it. It’s a nice break from rides and it’s educational, but in a fun way.

Carousel of Progress

I really wanted to ride the People Mover, but it was down, and it was time to redeem our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so back to Fantasyland we went. We’re not sure what all the hype is about this roller coaster, but we rode it! It was under construction on our last trip, so it was something we really wanted to do. The ILL was $10 each. I’m not sure I would pay that to ride it again.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

After lunch at Be Our Guest, we went back to Tomorrowland because it was time to redeem our LL for Tomorrowland Speedway. These cars are a lot harder to drive than the Disneyland cars, and it was not as scenic or fun as the California park, but my daughter got to practice driving, sooo that’s winning, right?

The People Mover had just started back up, and we were lucky enough to hop right on. Finally, we redeemed our LL for Space Mountain and then headed back to the hotel after some Main Street shopping.

Buzz LIghtyear Disney World

What We Ate

Gaston’s Tavern – The cinnamon rolls here are famous, so it gets busy. The line moved a little slow and it was crowded, but we did end up finding a table inside and the cinnamon roll was yummy!

Gastons Tavern Disney World

Be Our Guest Restaurant – Kim was able to get us a reservation at Be Our Guest on our first day for a late lunch. We knew this was a little on the expensive side, but figured it was something we needed to do at least once.

It was exactly that, but we did really enjoy it. We both had salad, a filet mignon and a dessert trio. Our waiter was great and we got to see the Beast. I’m not sure why Belle isn’t also included? It’s a mystery…

Be Our Guest Disney WOrld
Try the Grey Stuff it’s Delicious 

Pop Century – Since we had eaten a late lunch, we hung our in our room and went to grab something later. I loved the pre-made Greek Salad and ate a lot of those throughout our stay. The pre-made sandwiches were also good.

My daughter enjoyed the pasta and chicken fingers. Everything is cafeteria style, so you grab a tray and pick your meal. You can eat in the dining hall, or take your food back to your room, which is great.

Our first day was a success! We rode everything we wanted to ride, got the ILL for Mine Train and used three more LL’s with Genie +.

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Magic Kingdom Day One

Stay tuned for day two in Hollywood Studios!

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