October 1st, Walt Disney World kicked off it’s 50th anniversary with all of the pomp and circumstance one would expect from the most magical place on Earth. What sets Disney World apart is the dedication the company takes to make the visitor experience to the next level.

Upon arrival to Orlando, Florida, I was shuttled to Epcot where I began to witness how Disney is upping the ante regarding the guests’ experience. They are adding a 100% indoor park to Epcot, called Guardians of the Galaxy which will open in 2022. During the afternoon, I saw the patrons scouting the best viewing places in the park for “Harmonious,” an elaborate fireworks celebration that integrates a dynamic light show with the soundtrack featuring Disney’s famous songs from their legendary movies.

This is an overall view of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. The food provided is by famed celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Before the fireworks show, I stopped at La Crêperie de Paris restaurant, a quick-service restaurant that features a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse. It is the centerpiece of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a new family-friendly attraction inviting guests into the larger-than-life world. We were fed creme brulee, a variety of cheeses, macarons and champagne. All of this leads into a world where visitors feel like Remy himself in Paris.

As the fireworks were set off from the barges on Bay Lake in Epcot later in the evening, guests were inspired and left in awe.

“It’s just exciting to see Epcot continue to grow and evolve. And that’s how Walt envisioned us,” said Kartika Rodriguez, Vice President of EPCOT. “You know, he saw it as a state of always growing, always evolving and never stopping. I think he would be very proud of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do to create these wonderful experiences for our guests. We create these moments where people can come together as a family, with their friends, and just enjoy life and just create these memories that they can talk about and laugh about.”

As I arrived at the Magic Kingdom Thursday, I was taken aback at the sheer grandeur of Cinderella’s Castle. It would also be appropriate to be transparent with you: It was my first time visiting Walt Disney World. To those who have never been, Cinderella’s Castle is much bigger in person.

When speaking to the engineers and designers that retrofitted the castle with the drapes and 50th Anniversary signage, they emphasized “Ear-a-descent (pronounced iridescent)” because it incorporates all colors in the spectrum. They ultimately landed on a shimmery rose gold that brought their vision to light. It was a two year process from start to finish: six months going through visions and marketplaces, another year in construction, and then another six months doing the logistics planning for how to actually install everything.

Cinderella’s Castle is illuminated in the night sky during “Enchantment” on Thursday, September 30, 2021. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

After having dessert, light foods and enjoyable vibes at TomorrowWorld, I was able to witness “Disney Enchantment,” inside the Magic Kingdom. “Enchantment” is an elaborate light show that immerses Cinderella’s Castle with iconic scenes from Disney’s films thanks to state-of-the-art projection technology. We set sail across the sea with Moana, soared above the clouds on Aladdin’s magic carpet and more. These projections extend down Main Street, U.S.A., complementing the images on the castle while creating an entirely new immersive and expansive environment for Magic Kingdom.

All in all, traveling to Walt Disney World is an experience unlike any other with a staff (referred to as cast members) that is world class. If it’s your first time or you’ve been going since you were a child, the innovations to the park will keep you coming back.

Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration will take place over the next 18 months.

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...