Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 8, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 8, 2023

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 Writer's Note, News & Views

Happy Hanukkah to those that celebrate.

Speaking of celebrations, the winter holiday season is in full swing around Walt Disney World Resort now, and more of EPCOT has opened to guests, with lots of construction walls finally down (after many years) in the World Celebration neighborhood that used to be the center of what used to be called Future World. In fact, the only active construction project at EPCOT is the CommuniCore Hall and Plaza area, which should conclude before too long. And ahough no date has been announced for their opening and, at least from what we can see, does not look like it will be complete before year's end. Over in World Showcase Lagoon, EPCOT has a new nightly permanent fireworks show, too.


Sunsets are early at this time of year, and the colors of the sky can be quite vivid. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka

All of that leaves us with that question I've often asked in our updates over the past year: what's ahead for Walt Disney World Resort? Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro has used both last year's D23 Expo and this year's Destination D23 events to talk about the things the company is thinking about and to talk about the huge amount of capital the company has earmarked for expansion, but specifics remain absent heading into the final days of 2023. Yes, Disney and the State of Florida remain at loggerheads in litigation over the governmental administration of the resort, but we all know the competition a bit north on I-4 has its all-new theme park and hotels quickly rising and expected to open in roughly 18 months.

For 2024, we know that the Country Bears are expected to get a new show at some point over at the Magic Kingdom, and by "late" in the year, Tiana's Bayou Adventure will open, completing the reimagination of the former Splash Mountain with its new story expanding upon Disney's animated film, The Princess and the Frog. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney has announced that the Tree of Life theater has a new show being developed based on Disney's Zootopia, but we're not currently aware of its timeline. The company-wide Disney100 celebration is expected to end with 2023, and no promotional campaign has been announced for Walt Disney World to follow it, so the question of "what's next" for Disney's Florida theme parks looms larger than at any time since I took up writing these updates. That question will not hang out there indefinitely, so stay tuned.

World Celebration Gardens and "Luminous: The Symphony of Us" Debut

December 5 was the anniversary of Walt Disney's birth. EPCOT is often referred to as his last great dream. Though folks debate what Walt would have thought of the theme park Walt Disney Productions built bearing the name EPCOT just over a decade after his passing, Disney's first non-castle park remains unique in the world of theme parks, not just unique at Walt Disney World. On December 5, EPCOT finally removed most of the construction walls that have surrounded the "center" of what we used to call Future World for the past several years and revealed what is now named World Celebration Gardens.

The central area just beyond Spaceship Earth is now a new park-like setting. During the media event we attended on the opening day, Walt Disney Imagineers Scott Mallwitz (Executive Creative Director), Brianna Pfost (Art Director), and Doug Tobin (Landscape Architect) spoke about the creative team's thought process for this space. The gist of what they shared is that the space puts a "park" back into a theme park; the area that formerly had acres of pavement and the Fountain of Nations now has more than 300 trees and lots of additional green space. They told us that design elements were all done with "purpose" and that elements in the Creations Shop and Connections Café and Eatery tie in to elements of the gardens. For example, you can see ring structures reminiscent of the ring lighting inside the Starbucks coffee shop when you walk through the gardens closest to Connections Café. All the sculptures in the gardens hide show equipment, planned into the area for use by various park events (like festival uses that have yet to be fully disclosed).

The area contains the new statue depicting Walt Disney, "later in his life when he was dreaming up the overall Florida Project and the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," according to Disney Parks Blog. "He sits with a sense of fulfillment, enjoying the beauty of his realized dream: a park that represents pure optimism and truly celebrates the magic of possibility." This "Walt the Dreamer" statue sits in what is now called Dreamers Point. Dreamers Point looks out at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the gardens, which are connected by accessible ramps all the way "down" toward the bridge connection to World Showcase Plaza.

Walt the Dreamer
Walt the Dreamer sits on a bench overlooking the gardens looking toward World Showcase. On opening day, estimates were that the waiting time to get a photo sitting with the new statue were up to 45 minutes. Photo courtesy Disney Parks Blog.


This is the view from the "Walt the Dreamer" statue toward World Showcase.

The center of World Celebration Gardens is a planter shaped like the EPCOT logo (rose shape), though the best view of the logo would be from above higher up than guests will experience (like a drone).

Imagineers said the sculptures throughout the gardens "hide" various show equipment. Lots of different kinds of seating have been incorporated into the gardens, from permanent benches to tables and chairs.

New lighting structures can be found throughout the gardens, and, just beyond, CommuniCore Hall and Plaza continue to take shape.

On opening day, some of the garden areas were already being used for character meet and greets during the day. Many of the areas in the gardens give the impression of a "flex space" that future EPCOT festivals could use for different entertainment or other purposes.

Even more new planter boxes have been added to the World Celebration area.

The pavement includes a graphic representation of Spaceship Earth similar to how it appeared on EPCOT Center park maps. It is located near the bridge to World Showcase.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

For its opening day appearance, many folks on social media observed that the area seems to have a rather bland color palate by day. Though the Imagineers didn't expressly say so, they implied that the area is largely intended as a flex-space. They spoke of the desire to take some of the guest pressure of festivals, where crowds sometimes overwhelm World Showcase Promenade, and shift it to this area. They told us that areas have been prewired for various sound and lighting functions in the future, and that it has all been done very purposefully. It seemed pretty easy to imagine that as EPCOT rolls through the various festivals on its annual calendar, these garden areas could be decorated with banners or other decor in the color palates of the festivals, and that entertainment and kiosks likely could be installed on a festival-by-festival basis.

At night, however, the area comes alive with lighting that ties into and compliments the shows that take place on the lights of Spaceship Earth. Walt Disney Imagineering built full light and color control into numerous points in the gardens, including the largest show light structures they've ever built (the partial ring around the center of the gardens) and the even larger ones coming on line when CommuniCore Plaza opens. At Dreamers Point itself, the ground includes a star field comprising over 300 LED lights. The programming for all of it can be tied in to Spaceship Earth shows and for other uses that will evolve over time.


At night, the rings on the ground surrounding the central planter light in different colors and become part of the shows with the lighting on Spaceship Earth.

In some of the planter boxes, lighted grass stalks glow at night.

Some of the largest light structures Imagineering ever created "ring" the central garden and the lighting is programmed in sync with Spaceship Earth shows.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Speaking of nighttime at EPCOT, the park's new nighttime spectacular also debuted on December 5. "Luminous: The Symphony of Us," according to Disney Live Entertainment's Tom Williams (Executive Producer), Steven Davison (Executive Creative Director), Stacey Simons (Producer), and Stef Fink (Music Producer), was created over the past year and a half to be the new permanent show at World Showcase Lagoon. Unlike its previous "permanent" predecessor, "Harmonious," the creative team decided to harken back to storytelling without video and projections.


The large permanent show barges of Harmonious have been replaced by smaller barges that are piloted into place daily, along with a number of additional fountains and other platforms. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The nearly 18-minute show includes two new songs composed specifically for it. The show's score incorporates the EPCOT anthem by composer Pinar Toprak (which played all day in the World Celebration Gardens area and is also used for one of the light shows on Spaceship Earth) along with a number of Disney and Pixar songs in new arrangements, including some in medley form.


During a medley of songs from "Toy Story," the show lighting included colors reminding me of the Pixar ball. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The show also incorporates the lighting of Spaceship Earth during some segments. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Because the show doesn't use video and projection technology, this show likely can be enjoyed from more vantage points around World Showcase Lagoon than Harmonious could be. Though I've only seen the show once, from a reserved area for media at Italy, I believe that the experience shouldn't vary too greatly so long as guests select a spot around the lagoon with a view of the main fountain barges. This show includes a significant amount of low-level pyro that will likely require line-of-sight to enjoy, but beyond that, I can imagine watching this show from many places around the park and, indeed, I enjoyed it enough to want to see it again. I generally don't provide reviews in these updates, but I did enjoy it more than Harmonious, which I didn't enjoy enough on first—or subsequent viewings—to go out of my way to see the show repeatedly.


Ahead of the debut of Luminous, Disney shared a behind the scenes look at the new show. Video courtesy Disney Parks.

Views of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays got underway right after Thanksgiving, and since I have a Sorcerer Annual Pass that is blocked the days immediately around Thanksgiving, I finally got a chance to get a look at the festival this past week. Remember that EPCOTHolidays.com is the site to check for the most up-to-date list of scheduled celebrity narrators for the Candlelight Processional as well as for dining packages which, at least for the two nights I was in the park, seemed to be more popular than ever. Remember, that the dining packages include guaranteed seating for a specific performance of the Candlelight Processional.


EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is underway through December 30.

Santa meets and greets guests inside Odyssey pavilion again this year. Be sure to check My Disney Experience for the hours he will be available, as he does not necessarily meet late into the operating day.

Joyful: A Celebration of the Season performs several times daily on the stage at World Showcase Plaza featuring songs celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa.

Holiday Kitchens around World Showcase feature specialty food and beverage offerings, some less obviously tied to the holiday season than others.

A number of different Festival of the Holidays banners line World Showcase Promenade.

The park's central Christmas Tree in World Showcase Plaza includes ornaments with the Disney100 celebration design.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Disney Vacation Club Annual Meeting Recap

The annual meetings of the Board of Directors and Members of Disney Vacation Club took place at the convention center at Disney's Contemporary Resort on December 6 (along with a West Coast simultaneous meeting connected by telephone). The annual meeting is largely a highly scripted legal formality to establish the budgets that result in the mandatory member dues. DVC is set up in such a way that Disney controls the board of directors and appoints all of its members, and its properties are condominium lease-holds where members, like me, own a fractional interest in a real estate unit (DVC calls them villas) for a time period established by the creation of a particular property (like Old Key West, BoardWalk, Aulani, the Villas at Disneyland Hotel, and so forth) and that interest is converted into a point value that allows a member to decide how to "spend" their points on an annual basis during the years specified in the purchase contract.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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DVC typically doesn't share much news in the annual meetings and this year followed that model. DVC did release some new concept art for the previously announced Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness. DVC shared that next year's annual meeting will be held at Disney's Contemporary Resort on December 12, 2024. Beyond that, the general session and question-and-answer portions of the proceedings this year seemed to have been designed to address questions raised by members over the past year about availability of room reservations, the make-up of the board itself (that Disney control issue mentioned above), and theme park reservations. In short, DVC leadership seemed to want to convey it was listening to its members, and this year's meeting was rather uneventful compared to the hostilities that rose on the floor last year. Indeed, with Annual Pass sales open again and the backlog of post-pandemic "revenge" travel seemingly ending, no issue seemed to raise the ire of the membership like last year.


Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

For those who are DVC members, the most relevant information in the annual meeting is the current refurbishment schedule for DVC properties, and the budgets that result in the annual dues members pay. Though light on specifics, DVC leadership says that dues increases this year were generally most heavily impacted by wage pressure in the hotel industry, increases to the cost of general liability insurance (most pronounced at the beach resorts), and increased property taxes. DVC leadership didn't have any specific comment on whether the ongoing dispute between Disney and the State of Florida over governance of the property could lead to increased costs to members when asked by two members during the question-and-answer period.


Disney Vacation Club properties receive full refurbishments approximately every 14 years with "refresh" renovations about every 7 years.

The oldest DVC property, Old Key West, has the highest assessments per ownership point at Walt Disney World Resort.

The beach properties have the highest overall assessments due to hurricane repairs and higher insurance costs.

DVC's board is comprised of DVC leadership. The condo associations were created to ensure Disney control and DVC is charged with maintaining a Disney level of quality, according to its leadership.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Vice President of Communications, Yolanda Cade, once again hosted the General Session of the meeting. This year, she also conducted the Question and Answer session and introduced special guest, Disney on Broadway star Kissie Simmons, who sang the DVC anthem and then was joined on stage by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Holiday Nights at Island H2O Water Park Underway (Some Proceeds Benefit Give Kids the World Village)

MousePlanet was invited to attend a media night at Island H2O Water Park which is running "Holiday Nights" this season, with some of its proceeds benefiting Give Kids the World Village. Last year, the venue hosted the Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights events, but, as noted in our Special Reminder (below), this year the Village is hosting its own VIP tours. As the event was originally scheduled while I was unavailable, I asked my friend, Paula Brown Kennedy, to attend the event on my behalf, and she reports on it for us here.

Holiday Nights is a brand new event that is taking place this season at Island H2O Water Park in Kissimmee. It’s just minutes from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It takes place on select evenings through December 12, and then nightly from December 13 through the end of the year. My daughter and I were hosted by Island H2O, we attended Holiday Nights on December 2.

The highlight of Holiday Nights is arguably all the photo opportunities. They are everywhere! There are so many places to take pictures that the photo ops are listed on the map.


Island H2O Water Park is hosting Holiday Nights on select nights through December 12, and nightly from December 13 through the end of the year.

There are many photo opportunities all around the event.

For a list of all the photo opportunities, see the park map.

Part of the proceeds of tickets will benefit Give Kids the World Village and its not-for-profit mission of providing cost-free week-long vacations for critically ill children and their families.

Photos by Paula Brown Kennedy.

A fun activity for all ages is the Island of Elves Scavenger Hunt. There are Elf on a Shelf dolls hidden throughout the water park. The map has hints on where to search for the elves, and when you’ve found all six you can turn the map in to receive a prize. Some of them are well hidden!

Santa is of course part of Holiday Nights, meeting in his cottage. Kids can also write letters to Santa, play in foam, or take a ride on a train. Since all the wet rides are closed, the little ones can instead hit a dry inflatable slide.

Each evening there is a Hawaiian-theme luau, with hula and fire dancers. Kids who want to participate can join in for one song, and there’s other audience participation during the show. There could also be a DJ or a local band performing when you’re at Holiday Nights.

There is a fire pit where you can buy the ingredients and make s’mores. There are other treats on hand if you’re hungry. There are gifts for sale, and also event merchandise.

Tickets for Holiday Nights are available online or at the gate. You could save if you buy them ahead of time. Part of the proceeds will benefit Give Kids the World.

Paula Brown Kennedy is the owner of Disney Over 50. Follow along on the site, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

This & That & Reminders…

…REMINDER:Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party continues on select nights at Magic Kingdom through December 22. The long-established hard-ticket event is held after the park closes early, at 7:00 p.m., and runs through midnight. Party ticket holders can enter the park as early at 4 p.m. on event night (no additional ticket or park reservation required). Most of the remaining 2023 dates are sold out, so if you want to go, be sure to book your tickets in advance. Tickets vary by date, from $159 to $199 per ticket, plus tax, and are $10 less for children ages 3 to 9, and some dates offer discounts to Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. All the details and tickets are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

…REMINDER: Some of the Disney Springs food and beverage operating partners have shared some of their winter holiday plans with us, and we pass them along here:

Breakfast with Santa at Maria and Enzo’s at Disney Springs : Breakfast with Santa is an enchanting experience that will include a delicious breakfast spread of classic menu items, a visit with Santa Claus and his merry band of elves, family-friendly holiday activities, take-home treats, and a keepsake photo. After enjoying breakfast, guests will get to meet Santa. Children can share their holiday wishes with him and will receive a keepsake photo from their special meet and greet. The event runs select dates through December 24, and tickets are $45 for children and $69 for adults.

Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs

Earl of Sandwich will provide its fan-favorite seasonal offerings this year, including its Holiday Ham and Holiday Turkey.

  • Holiday Ham – Ham, cinnamon sweet potato ok mash, cranberry sauce & cheddar
  • Holiday Turkey – Turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce & mayonnaise

Jaleo at Disney Springs

On Christmas Day, Jaleo at Disney Springs will offer a limited-time menu of festive Spanish recipes:

  • Sopa de lentejas – Stewed lentils with chorizo, butifarra and vegetables ($14)
  • Canelones de rabo de toro y foie – Pasta stuffed with oxtail with a foie gras and bechamel sauce ($24)
  • Carrilleras de cerdo con puré de patatas – Braised pork cheeks with wild mushrooms and potato puree ($24)
  • Pollo a la Catalana – Half roasted Catalan style chicken with prunes, raisins, pine nuts and Oloroso wine ($36)
  • Lubina al “Pil Pil” – Mediterranean Seabass with classical “Pil-Pil” sauce ($56)

Jaleo is also offering a holiday-curated gift basket featuring a variety of José Andrés Foods specialty products, providing key ingredients for traditional and modern Spanish cooking. Priced at only $65, each basket, brimming with an assortment of products like:

  • Spanish Olive Oil Potato Chips
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pisto
  • Spicy Green Olives
  • Squid in Ink
  • Mussels in Escabeche
  • Escalivada

Jaleo Disney Springs’ gift baskets are wrapped beautifully, ready to be placed under the Christmas tree, making the art of gift-giving simpler and tastier this holiday season. Purchase at Jaleo in Disney Springs, or pre-order a basket when you make a reservation to dine.

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

Holiday Cocktails – running now through Dec. 31

  • Yokai – Morimoto Knob Creek Bourbon, Monin Caramel Apple Butter, Chambord, MSG, Prosecco ($19)
  • Kyuri and Spicy – Cucumber-Infused Espolon Blanco Tequila, Jalapeno, Ginger Liqueur, Ancho Reyes, Velvet Falernum, Lime, Monin Agave ($18)
  • Toji Moon – Absolut Mandarin Vodka, Sake, Monin Habanero-Lime, Lemongrass, Yuzu, Celery Bitters ($16)
  • After Midnight – Courvoisier vs Cognac, Legent Bourbon, Ginger, Orgeat, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cinnamon Syrup, Black Walnut Bitters ($17)
  • Forever Young – Barrel Aged for 2 Weeks- Aviation Gin, Aperol, Carpano Antica, Blood Orange Liqueur, Mole Bitters ($18)
  • Maker Mark Flight – Makers Cask Strength, Makers 46, Morimoto Maker’s Mark Private Select – From Chef to Bar, Morimoto Maker’s Mark Private Select – A5 – Spring Staves ($36)

Chicken Guy! Disney Springs (and its Winter Park location)

Chicken Guy! has launched two new flavors of deliciously hand-spun milkshakes available throughout the holiday season. Shakes are $6.49 for a regular and $6.99 for a large at Winter Park, and one size for $6.99 at the Disney Springs location.

  • Frozen Peppermint Cocoa Shake – Vanilla soft serve, hot cocoa mix, peppermint and crushed candy cane pieces, topped with marshmallow whipped cream, mini marshmallows and a chocolate drizzle.
  • Holiday Cookie Shake – Vanilla soft serve, blended with sugar cookies, marshmallow whipped cream, mini m&m's & holiday sprinkles, topped with a special holiday cookie.

Pepe by José Andrés at Disney Springs

Until Dec. 30, Pepe will offer half-price frozen or regular sangrias with the purchase of any Spanish-style sandwich on the menu. Perfect for on-the-go dining, Pepe by José Andrés is known for its Spanish food truck fare from international culinary innovator José Andrés. Guests can indulge in an extensive menu of hot and cold Spanish-style sandwiches like bocatas and bikinis, plus salads, soups, sides and desserts. For refreshing beverages, white and frozen Spanish sangria are available, as well. See the full menu here.

Pizza Ponte at Maria and Enzo's

A perfect place for quick-service, Italian specialties, Pizza Ponte provides an assortment of house-baked sweet-and-savory pastries and handmade sandwiches, plus Pizza al Taglio and Sicilian-style pizza by the slice, ranging in toppings from tomato, cheese and basil to spicy salami or forest mushroom. Fan-favorites include the Big Roman, the biggest slice of pizza on Disney property. Italian beer and wine are available for guests, as well. See the full menu here.


Planet Hollywood has transformed into a winter wonderland decked out in boughs of holly, wreaths, twinkling lights, trees, and more, designed to create an unforgettable holiday dining experience for all our guests. The delightful, seasonal ambiance is perfect for celebrating with friends and family during this magical time of year.

NEW! Frosty the Snowman Shake is available throughout the holidays!

  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream adorned with red and green Christmas candies, sprinkles, and holiday mints topped with homemade whipped cream and a marshmallow snowman popping out with a candy cane.

Holiday Photo Opportunities: Discover a plethora of stunning backdrops that are perfect for capturing the spirit of the season in the lobby. Stroll down Candy Cane Lane, a charming street lined with oversized candy canes, giant lollipops, and colorful holiday lights in the Merchandise Shop.

NEW! Holiday Merchandise

  • Black, long-sleeve spirit jersey emblazoned with candy-cane Planet Hollywood across the back and candy canes on the front chest.
  • Black, short-sleeved t-shirt with red Planet Hollywood logo surrounded by colorful holiday lights.

Magnificent Holiday Decorations

  • Christmas Trees: Towering, beautifully decorated Christmas trees welcome guests into the lobby and throughout the four floors.
  • Twinkling Lights & Festive Garlands: The entire restaurant is aglow with thousands of twinkling lights and greenery that winds gracefully around bannisters and seating areas, casting a soft, inviting radiance and delightful atmosphere that fills the rooms.

Holiday Music Fills the Air: To complete the ambience and atmosphere, sounds of classic holiday tunes play on the large video wall, enhancing the experience.

Also, Planet Hollywood is one of the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll distribution locations, so Guests may pick up their maps to participate in the jolly event with 19 sparkling trees filling the town with cheer!

…The Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs is back for the holiday season, with themed trees located throughout the shopping, dining, and entertainment district. If you want to meet Santa at Disney Springs, you'll need to head to Once Upon A Toy, and, yes, there is a virtual queue.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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…The resorts, of course, are also decked out for the holidays. Gingerbread displays are back at both Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.

…REMINDER: Elementary, middle, and high school teachers can enter to win a Walt Disney World Resort vacation in the "Imagination Campus Sweepstakes." Twelve winners will each get a four-day, three-night stay at the Walt Disney World Resort, and will have the special opportunity to experience "exclusive insights" into Disney Imagination Campus and network with the other winners. Eligible teachers can enter the sweepstakes through January 13, 2024. For eligibility requirements and details visit: DisneyImaginationCampusTeachersSweepstakes.com. Disney says that there is no purchase necessary to enter or win and that a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. The sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), and entrants must be 21 years of age or older, and be teachers. Void where prohibited by law. Full official rules on the website, and MousePlanet is in no way affiliated with this sweepstakes which is sponsored by Disney Destinations, LLC.

…REMINDER: Through December 10, 2023, Impossible Foods is running an ImpossibleSweepstakes which includes opportunities to win a trip for up to four to Walt Disney World Resort from Impossible Foods, including airfare, 4 nights of accommodations in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, 4 days of Walt Disney World theme park tickets for each guest, and more. There are also other prizes, including food prizes. Full details on the linked website. MousePlanet is not affiliated with or responsible for this contest.

…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic event nights have been announced for 2024. The complimentary, after-hours events feature select attractions with shorter-than-usual wait times, plus character greetings, entertainment and more:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – February 27, 2024 and April 23, 2024.
  • EPCOT – January 25, 2024 and March 1, 2024.
  • Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – June 4, 2024 and July 11, 2024.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – August 27, 2024.

Registration generally opens first for eligible Disney Vacation Club members (namely, those that have bought a certain number of points directly from Disney) with a qualifying Disney Resort hotel reservation on the event date(s). Pending availability, all other eligible Members may try their luck at reservations for the event about a week later. A link to the event registration is posted online shortly before the registration windows open. Keep an eye on your email or the event website for updates. Disney Vacation Club Members are limited to attending one Moonlight Magic event per theme park, per calendar year.

…In celebration of the more than 75 years of collaboration with Toys for Tots, the Walt Disney Company has provided grants to the organization that will deliver an additional 75,000 toys to children in need this holiday season. The public is invited to participate in the Disney Ultimate Toy Drive, Disney’s annual holiday campaign supporting the Marine Toys for Tots Program to help deliver toys to children in need. There are several ways to participate, including in-person at drop off locations at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort, and Disney stores through December 15, or online via shopDisney through December 24. Last year’s Disney Ultimate Toy Drive helped Toys for Tots distribute more than 24 million toys to nearly 10 million children, a record-breaking year for the organization. For more information, visit disney.com/toydrive.

…This holiday season, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin will offer a full slate of new yuletide offerings as well as festive favorites returning to "Santa’s Favorite Resort." The celebration includes Elf Outpost (including complimentary cookie decorating), Tales from the North Pole (paid experience), Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greets at their customized tiki hut (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through December 23), Life-Size Chocolate Holiday Santa Scene (Swan lobby), Magic Keys for Santa on Christmas Eve (for present delivery on December 24), Dancing Lights Show on the causeway, and more. Details are available at SantasFavorirteResort.com and guests can receive 25% off a second room booking with code SANTA.

…Over in the shipyard in Germany where Disney Cruise Line's Disney Treasure is under construction, the iconic red funnels have been added to the ship.

SPECIAL REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village to Welcome Guests For 2023 VIP Holiday Tours

Give Kids The World Village, the 84-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida, provides critically ill children and their families with weeklong, cost-free vacations including accommodations in whimsical villas, transportation, donated attraction tickets, meals and much more. Since the organization was founded in 1986, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 160,000 families from all 50 states and over 75 countries.


Give Kids the World Village is decorating its resort for the holidays. It is inviting the public to see the resort on select nights with VIP Holiday Tours with ticket proceeds benefiting its mission of providing cost-free week-long Central Florida vacations to critically ill children and their families. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Back during the holidays in 2020, when they couldn’t host the kids and their families, they worked with their partners to create the Night of a Million Lights event nights and invited the public to visit the village to see holiday lights and decorations with the proceeds of those events benefiting the village and its mission. They had another set of Night of a Million Lights events back in 2021 at the Village when it had partially reopened, and then, last year the event moved over to Island H2O Water Park because the Village had fully reopened to Wish kids and their families.

For 2023, the Village is back to full force, and, in fact, is hosting more families than ever just this month. They also wanted to get back to sharing the holidays with the public as much as they can while serving their guest families, so this year they are offering VIP guided tours. Remaining scheduled dates are December 1, 2, 15, 16, 21, and 22. Timed Tickets are available at GKTW.org/holidayvip for $59.99 per person (plus a ticket fee). Ticket sales fully benefit the Village and its mission.

The guided tours will include select venues on the Avenue of Angels lit with 1.6 million lights, vignettes decorated by GKTW partners, props and photo opportunities, and more. If you want to take it to another level, groups of up to 30 can arrange for special Balcony Dessert Parties by contacting the Village.


Give Kids the World Village invited MousePlanet and other media to a preview on October 3, 2023, to help get the word out. File Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

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Resort Reservations, Ticket Advice & Special Offers

Note: MousePlanet does not edit past Updates to reflect price increases; for up-to-date prices, check the most recent Walt Disney World Resort Update.

Walt Disney World recently launched its newest offer for families looking to book their spring travel – the Kids Play & Dine for 50% Off. For stays from March 3 through June 30, 2024, children (ages 3 through 9) theme park tickets and dining plans are half off with the purchase of a 4-night, 4-day Walt Disney Travel Co. package that includes a room at a Disney Resort hotel, theme park tickets, and a dining plan. Guests can book packages now at this page of DisneyWorld.com.

The Walt Disney World Resort website lists current offers, deals, and discounts on this page.

There are currently published offers for bookings by December 15, 2023, with savings up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays select nights through March 24, 2024; stays most nights February 25, 2024 through March 24, 2024 feature savings up to 30%. These early booking discounts are detailed specifically at DisneyWorld.com/Save. As always, there are additional offers for Florida residents, Annual Passholders, U.S. Military members and more when you look at the full list of offers.

For Florida residents that wish to visit only on weekdays, they can now purchase a 4-Day Disney Weekday Magic Ticket for just $59 per day, plus tax (total price: $235 plus tax), or a 3-Day ticket for $72/day plus tax (total price: $215 plus tax), or a 2-Day ticket for $98/day plus tax (total price: $195 plus tax). Tickets are valid weekdays only through December 22, which, interestingly enough, has no blockout dates. Park hopping can be added to this ticket type for $40 plus tax; the Water Park and Sports Option can be added for $35 plus tax; the Park Hopper Plus option (which is sort of a combo of the prior two) for $55 plus tax. For theme park entry, Disney Park Pass reservations are required, but the tickets do not need to be used on consecutive days; all tickets expire December 22, 2023.

MousePlanet’s travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages.

REMINDER: Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages can now be booked completely on its website! No cumbersome quotes needed! Simply compare all your favorite Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Get Away Today's hand selected off-property hotels in a few clicks, and then customize for your included tickets for your vacation.

Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages now have the option to add Layaway Plans, which allow you to pay the total balance up to eight days prior to travel. You can also add their popular "Peace of Mind Plan" when booking a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, which allows any reschedules and cancellations up to five days prior to travel with no penalty.

When booking with Get Away Today, all Walt Disney World Resort on-site packages include Get Away Today’s e-concierge, which includes its Best Price Guarantee, Dining Reservation Reminders, access to their Concierge Team email for help before and during your vacation, and more.

Looking to go beyond Walt Disney World Resort when visiting Central Florida? Check out Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.

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Only purchase Disney theme park tickets directly from Disney, an authorized seller, or a travel agency like MousePlanet travel partner Get Away Today! As always, we remind our readers that Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets are rarely offered at deep discounts unless you are a resident of Florida or eligible for U.S. Military Personnel benefits. Historically, non-Florida residents tend to benefit the most by purchasing tickets in advance (and, of course, being mindful of the rules relevant to those tickets). Don't get scammed! Never buy tickets from an unofficial or secondary outlet, such as through eBay or Craigslist. Never rent or purchase tickets from people approaching you outside Disney property stating they have remaining days or leftover tickets. This practice is against the terms of use for Walt Disney World Theme Park admissions, and may result in denial of entry. There is no way to determine if these tickets are valid until you try to use them to enter the parks.

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When you book your Walt Disney World vacation with Get Away Today, you'll be able to save BIG! Save up to 30% on Walt Disney World Resort Hotels and get an extra day FREE.

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