Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 21-27, 2017by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 21-27, 2017
Writer's note: I saw real snow in Chicagoland and Disney "snow" (which a friend has dubbed "snoap") at Magic Kingdom this past week. I prefer the latter. There is a lot of news to cover, lots of Views around the World, and a whole lot of "This and That" (plus even more beyond that in the Refurbishments and Discounts sections), so we will get right to the Update, and we will even hold off on presenting a new One Passholder's Tip until next week.
Spoiler Alert: Batuu is Galaxy's Edge | Disney Financial News is Mixed | Holiday Treats and Beverages Around the World | First Disney Parks Holiday TV Special of the Season to Air November 30 | SpectacuLAB Now Open at Epcot Innoventions | Black Friday returns to Disney Springs | Epcot Candlelight Calendar | Views around the World | One Passholder's Tip | This and That | Crowd Forecast
If you were following along our Social Media on Friday, we had a special just-after-sunrise opportunity to be among the first to see the latest update to Star Tours – The Adventure Continues at Disney's Hollywood Studios before the park gates opened to the public. As Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix explained yesterday in our Disneyland Resort Update, both coasts' Star Tours attractions now include two new destinations from the Star Wars universe. The first is a planet called Crait, from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As Adrienne wrote yesterday, "We don't learn much about the planet from the sequence, but the visuals are interesting." I also thought it was fun!
The second location is Batuu, which we now know is the name of the "remote outpost on the galaxy's edge" under construction in Florida at Disney's Hollywood Studios and also behind Disneyland out in Anaheim, California. There are quite a few "Easter Egg" surprises along your adventures that we will leave for you to discover and, for now, adventures are not randomized except for some of the interstitial scenes.
The Walt Disney World public relations team used the opportunity of the just-past-sunrise event to further promote the upcoming December 16 return of Star Wars Galactic Nights, the hard-ticketed, after-hours event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The tie in here is not only the totality of the Star Wars universe, of course, but the special "Inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" panel discussion that will be presented several times that night featuring members of the Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm teams working on the new lands. The panel, which is scheduled to include Scott Trowbridge, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering; Robin Reardon, Executive Creative Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering; Chris Beatty, Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering and Doug Chiang, VP/Creative Director at Lucasfilm, promises to "give guests an inside look at the making of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands currently under construction at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland park." We have been invited to attend the Star Wars Galactic Nights event and will provide a full report.
Actor David Collins is now scheduled to moderate the panel discussions. Disney also announced this week that Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok to Star Wars fans is among his credits) is now scheduled to appear at Star Wars Galactic Nights.
Now that Sunset Boulevard is home to the nightly projection show "Sunset Seasons Greetings," the technology is in place for Star Wars Galactic Nights' one-night-only presentation of the all-new "Star Wars: Galactic Destinations" projection show on the facade of The Hollywood Tower Hotel and along the boulevard. The creative team promises images from the entire (known) Star Wars universe, including The Last Jedi, in light of the fact the film officially debuts the night before the event. We were told, and Disney Parks Blog confirms, that The Last Jedi will be evident in the Launch Bay, the Path of the Jedi film, A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show, and the Galactic Spectacular fireworks show too.
As previously reported, guests at the Galactic Nights events are welcome to come in costumes, subject to guidelines. Iconic attractions will be open with what Disney says will be "little-to-no wait times," probably because most of the attendees will be visiting all the special Star Wars-themed special attractions all night long.
Tickets for the hard-ticketed event may be purchased online or by calling (407) 934-7639. Tickets are $129/adult; $125/ages 3-9 (discounts available for Annual Passholders and DVC Members). The event runs 7 p.m. until midnight. Special foods and beverages will be available for purchase individually or as part of a Galactic Tasting and Viewing Package as well, as Disney Parks Blog reported earlier this fall.
While our Updates generally are focused on what is going on at Walt Disney World Resort itself, every now and then it is necessary to reflect upon The Walt Disney Company as a whole as it relates to the Parks and Resorts Division, which includes Walt Disney World. Last week, the Company reported earnings and, as Orlando Sentinel noted, September's Hurricane Irma passing through Central Florida "took a $100 million swipe at Walt Disney Company's operating income." On the whole, however, the Parks and Resorts division revenue grew in the most recent fiscal quarter, though other divisions saw declining revenue and income.
It is often difficult to see exactly how the Company's financial news directly translates into the parks and resorts themselves. Sometimes, as was the case a few years ago while Shanghai Disneyland was facing construction cost overruns, fairly obvious cuts were evident around the U.S. parks with many cast members muttering off-the-record "thanks Shanghai" in response. It is possible that damage caused by Hurricane Irma will impact some Disney Vacation Club Members as Hurricane Matthew did last year. A bit more about the Hurricanes' impact in a "This and That" item below.
So far, it does not appear that massive cuts are on the way at Walt Disney World, and all the significant capital projects announced at and before D23 Expo back in July roll forward with the highly anticipated 2018 opening of Toy Story Land, the extremely highly anticipated opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in 2019, and the numerous projects announced for the Resort's 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2021 (and beyond). Indeed, just last week, Disney Parks Blog noted the milestone in construction at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge with cast members signing a support beam to be installed to top out the new land.
But, we would be remiss if we failed to note that on the heels of the earnings reports, more than 145 Disney Employees were notified last week that they were being laid off in connection with restructuring in the Parks and Resorts Division globally. As Orlando Sentinel reported, the restructuring involved more than 0.1 percent of the division's 145,000 employees at its 12 theme parks and 52 resorts in North America, Europe, and Asia. The positions eliminated are reportedly in human resources, finance, marketing, sales, and operations, but, "Disney said it did not expect visitors to experience any changes visiting the theme parks or hotels."
Currently, several unions representing Disney's Florida cast members are negotiating their next contracts with the resort. According to news reports, the two sides are not close, but no immediate work stoppages are expected. A union-organized rally of cast members did interrupt traffic on FL-535 between the Cross-Roads shopping center and the entrance to the Resort at Hotel Plaza Drive last month, and it drew significant local television news coverage. As it took place "off property," it did not interfere with theme park or resort operations.
We will report on future news and developments when they have potential for impacting the Resort.
Though the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has concluded its 2017 run, you know there are still plenty of opportunities to eat and drink around Walt Disney World Resort throughout the holiday season.
In the sweet treats category, from the "World" where some of the gingerbread houses are life-sized, these are some of this season's offerings around Walt Disney World Resort:
- YULE LOG CAKE at Main Street Bakery
Exclusive to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, this festive Yule Log consists of white chocolate mousse, raspberry mousse, cassis pate de fruit, and chocolate flourless cake. It comes covered with a red glaze, striped with white chocolate and topped with a garnish featuring Mickey and Minnie.
- NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS CAKE PUSH-POP at Sleepy Hollow
It looks like Sandy Claws is "Making Christmas" again with his new cake push-pop – available at Sleepy Hollow. He's filled his dessert with layers of orange vanilla cake, cranberry cherry mousse, white crispy pearls, cream cheese buttercream and holiday sprinkles. It's also topped with a chocolate piece featuring none other than Sandy Claws, himself!
- ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS BELLE DESSERT at Gaston's Tavern
If you're looking for gluten-friendly options, "Beauty and the Beast" fans will be excited to try this gluten-friendly Enchanted Christmas Belle Dessert at Gaston's Tavern. This flourless chocolate cake is filled with white chocolate peppermint mousse and covered in a yellow glaze with a chocolate garnish featuring Belle dressed in her holiday best.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- "PREP AND LANDING" GINGERBREAD CUPCAKE at ABC Commissary, Catalina Eddie's and The Trolley Car Café
For all of the good little helpers, Disney has created a gingerbread cupcake just for you! Each fresh baked cupcake is topped with a magical swirl of frosting, red and green sprinkles, and even a cupcake topper with the characters Prep and Landing from the Disney Short Animations. These cupcakes can be found throughout the park at places like ABC Commissary, Catalina Eddie's, or The Trolley Car Café.
- HOT CHOCOLATE FLIGHT at Min and Bill's Dockside Diner and Fairfax Fare
For the Princesses and Princes that are all grown up (ages 21+), stop by Min and Bill's Dockside Diner and Fairfax Fare to try the special array of hot chocolates. Choose from a Hot Chocolate Martini, Baileys Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, or a Black Cherry Bourbon Hot Chocolate. Feeling adventurous? Get the Hot Chocolate Flight and try all three!
- OLAF DESSERTS (Various varieties) at multiple locations
These desserts are worth melting for – Olaf has come to celebrate the holidays this year and he's brought a sleigh full of fun new treats. Find his special cupcake at ABC Commissary, Rosie's All-American Café, Catalina Eddie's, Fairfax Fare and Sweet Spells. You'll also find an Olaf Pop at Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction, an Olaf Sundae at Hollywood Scoops, and Sugar Frosted Fruit Bites at Pretzel Palooza. But that's not all – be on the lookout for an Olaf-themed sipper that comes filled with a fun "Frozen" beverage!
- WARM APPLE FRITTER
The Cookie Nook is serving up warm apple fritters with creamy cinnamon ice cream topped with a warm and gooey caramel sauce.
The layers of this rich chocolate cake are held together with a tart apricot jam and covered in a smooth dark chocolate glaze. A decadent way to indulge this holiday season!
In the 21-and-over beverage category, Disney Parks mixologists have created many holiday-inspired libations using traditional holiday ingredients like baking spices, cranberry, chocolate, pumpkin, and marshmallow that you can find in the parks, resorts, and at Disney Springs. For example, at Epcot's Germany pavilion's Bavaria Holiday Kitchen, Gluhwein: Hot spiced wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, anise, and sliced orange. Others holiday beverages include:
- BLACK CHERRY BOURBON HOT CHOCOLATE: Flurry of Fun - Dockside Diner at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Black cherry bourbon, hot chocolate, toasted marshmallow syrup, topped with a maraschino cherry
- WINTER WONDERLAND: Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs
Vodka, peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liquor, chilled, served with a candy cane rim and garnish
- PECAN CHICORY ESPRESSO MARTINI: Paddlefish at Disney Springs
Pecan vodka, chicory Liqueur, espresso and simple syrup
- TROPICAL SNOWSTORM: Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Bourbon, coconut rum, cream of coconut – falernum, cinnamon, and orgeat syrups rimmed with toasted coconut
On November 30, the first of the Disney Parks Holiday TV specials will air on ABC-TV with the broadcast of "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration" from 9 to 11 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Julianne Hough and Nick Lachey host the show, with correspondent Jesse Palmer. Hough and Lachey perform the big opening number from the Cinderella Castle stage at Magic Kingdom (which was recorded a couple of weeks ago).
For the first time ever on primetime television, Frozen stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell (the voices of Elsa and Anna) will appear together in front of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle accompanied by a 30-voice choir singing "When We're Together" from the new Walt Disney Animation Studios short Olaf's Frozen Adventure. The show also promises sneak peeks into the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (the new lands) at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, due to open in 2019, as well Toy Story Land coming next summer at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Musical performances in the primetime special include:
- Ciara will perform a joyful Christmas medley, including "Jingle Bells" and "Jingle Bell Rock" from a sparkling Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort.
- Grammy Award-winning country artist Darius Rucker will sing "Winter Wonderland."
- Emmy-nominated actress and singer Lea Michele will be joined by special guest Joey McIntyre to sing the classic holiday duet, "Baby It's Cold Outside."
- Multiplatinum-selling group Fifth Harmony will sing "Can You See," from The Star soundtrack, plus "The Christmas Song."
- Fitz and the Tantrums will perform their platinum-certified hit, "HandClap," and their original Christmas song, "Santa Stole My Lady."
- Multi-Grammy-nominated trio Hanson will light up the night singing "Finally It's Christmas," from their recently released Christmas album.
- Boy band In Real Life will sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
- Multiplatinum powerhouse Jason Derulo will perform "This Christmas."
The latest merchandise synergy between Disney Parks and the Disney-owned ABC-TV network will attempt to allow home viewers to "Glow at Home" during some of the acts in the show. If you have the new "Made with Magic 3.0: Connected Ear Hat" and the Shop Disney Parks app installed on a smart phone, bluetooth technology is supposed to sync the ear hats with the tv show. The app also has controls allowing viewers to adjust the ear colors and speed of the strobe for those with the hats. For those without the hats, the app will also have a "second screen" experience that is supposed to complement some of the performances on the TV.
The newest ear hat and the remote control features are now available. Whether it works better than last year's attempt at a second screen experience, we would love to hear about. Let us know your mileage on this one!
Part of the former House of Innoventions is now the new home of The SpectacuLAB, an interactive show that opened at Innoventions at Epcot last week across the hall from Colortopia. As we previously reported, technology company Murata, a global designer, manufacturer, and supplier of electronic components, sponsors a nearly half-hour long show in collaboration with Science from Scientists, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve STEM literacy at schools. The show is presented several times daily; check the times guide and the sign at the show's queue for showtimes.
The show is hosted by "intern" Frankie (working on his first day, no less), along with two actual scientists. The team do several demonstrations that demonstrate scientific forces, and allow younger guests to volunteer to participate in experiments demonstrating those forces. Rows of benches (with backs!) line the room facing a stage and several video monitors at the front; children are encouraged to sit on the carpet right in front of the stage.
On the upside, it is the first time in a long time, Epcot's Innoventions welcomed a new attraction—and, as we observed upon its announcement several weeks ago, it is a show designed along the lines of good old-fashioned, Epcot-style Disney Edutainment. The science content is well-presented, and the children in the room at the show I attended seemed quite interested. The "intern" character seemed to amuse the kids in the room, but adults (or, at least, the one writing this Update) can find the character a bit annoying probably through no fault of the performer. Unless we hear that the experiments are changed from time to time, it is not a show with a great deal of repeatability, but for parents looking to sit in air conditioning for a half hour while their children learn some science, it can be a pleasant way to spend a bit of time in Future World.
With Thanksgiving coming up in just two days from the publication of this Update, it means that Black Friday is coming up before our next Update. Disney Springs enters its second year of (renamed and expanded) operation with more than 80 retailers participating in offering all sorts of promotions and festivities Friday through Monday. See the full list of Black Friday offerings page on DisneyWorld.com for all the details
The most talked about highlight around Walt Disney World Resort this week of the Black Friday Offerings is the "Cast Costume Collection," which is a special assortment of bags made from the fabric of authentic cast costumes from Tower of Terror, Trader Sam's, Haunted Mansion, and The Great Movie Ride. These items will be sold at Cherry Tree Lane at Marketplace Co-Op, starting on November 24 with the Tower of Terror and The Great Movie Ride pieces; November 25 with the Haunted Mansion pieces; and November 26 with the Trader Sam's pieces.
For folks looking for the latest MagicBands, Disney Springs will be the first place to find the new solid black MagicBand on Friday (though it will be available at other merchandise locations starting next Monday). A limited-release Disney Springs Holiday MagicBand will be available at the World of Disney Store on Friday as well. And, based on the reactions on our Social Media pages to some of the Disneyland offerings, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that several new Dooney & Bourke items will be available (including at the newly renamed Ever After Jewelry Co. & Accessories which was formerly D-Living), and limited edition pins at Disney's Pin Traders, and on and on.
Happy shopping. Disney Springs will open at 8 a.m. on Friday, November 24, which is two hours earlier than usual. Stitch's Holiday Gift Hunt will also help keep kids entertained while you shop and/or await your return time to visit Santa's Chalet along the Christmas Tree trail.
The full list of this year's scheduled celebrity narrators for Epcot's Candlelight Processional during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is available in our Google Calendar of Epcot Events. You can also add it to any Calendar that supports the iCal format (like iPhone and Mac) by copying this link.
The calendar is provided "As is, where is" and without any guarantees, as a courtesy. Given the effort it took to create it, we do respectfully request that you do not post our entire calendar on another site without first asking our permission. We do not know why Walt Disney World Resort has not created this sort of functionality outside of the My Disney Experience app itself.
We were invited by Disney to enjoy this year's Media Night at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade on Friday. The major entertainment offered at last year's edition of the party has returned this year: Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration, A Frozen Holiday Wish, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes, special Disney character appearances, complimentary Holiday Treats, and more. Admission to the party is not included in regular admission to Magic Kingdom or in any Annual Pass. As was true last year, much of the party's major entertainment (though, likely not the holiday treats or special character appearances) will be available to all Magic Kingdom guests from Christmas through the end of the year.
As you continue through the Views Around the World and get to Disney Springs, I was fortunate enough to win an opportunity to attend the Disney Parks Blog meet-up advance screening of the new Disney-Pixar animated feature Coco which opens in U.S. Theaters tomorrow. I loved it and think it is one of the best films yet made by Pixar. Since I was already at Disney Springs for a morning movie screening, I also took the time afterwards to explore this year's expanded edition of the Christmas Tree Trail. Visits to Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom filled out the brief time since I returned from family celebrations in Chicagoland late last Thursday night.
New lanes bypass the Magic Kingdom parking toll plaza for guests heading to Magic Kingdom-area resorts and Disney transportation. On Friday night, this new traffic pattern caused significant back-ups on World Drive. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Guests attending the hard-ticketed party, are routed to the Main Street by-pass on the east side of the park where they receive their first cookies and Disney PhotoPass opportunities. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
We presented A Frozen Holiday Wish "Live" on our Facebook page during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on Friday. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Jingle Cruise has returned for the holiday season, complete with holiday-themed puns and some additional holiday theming. (The Jingle Cruise is available at all times, not just during the Party.) Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Holiday Wishes is presented during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and will be performed for all guests during the final week of the year. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe's exterior renovations are complete, and the restaurant now has an new outdoor seating area. Folks may recall that a few years ago, the restaurant enclosed all of its former outdoor seating areas that face Cinderella Castle. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The central Future World planter box includes an opportunity to step in amongst the topiaries for a Disney PhotoPass Photo, as it has for many festival's since last year's Festival of the Arts. In the distance, the main Epcot Christmas Tree stands in its usual spot in World Showcase Plaza. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Special Mickey's Birthday merchandise was available all over Walt Disney World Resort this weekend. It likely will not be on shelves, like these at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Friday, very long. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom is now the only one of the Four Parks at Walt Disney World where the Christmas Tree remains outside the park gates. (If you missed it a couple of weeks ago, Disney's Hollywood Studios moved its Christmas Tree to the middle of Echo Lake this year). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The benches and shade structures are again standing along the trail from Discovery Island past Pizzafari and Tiffins to Pandora-The World of Avatar. Signs in the area suggest that the park expects that it will become necessary to queue to enter the land during the busy holidays season. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
This section of the Update provides our MousePlanet readers with the benefit of my years of experience as a longtime Walt Disney World Four Parks Annual Passholder, and lots of personal trial and errors, one (often weekly) tip at a time.
One Passholder's Tip #36 really will be here next week
Given all the news this week, One Passholder's Tip is taking another week off.
…The 24th Annual Themed Entertainment Association's Thea Awards, this year dedicated to the late Disney Legend Marty Sklar, honored Pandora–The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom for excellence as a "Theme Park Area Development." The Avatar Flight of Passage attraction was recognized as an "outstanding attraction," and Frozen Ever After at Epcot received recognition in the "Attraction Reimagining" category." Disney California Adventure's Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT! was also honored for its reimagining.
…The Tour de Turtles race we have been reporting on since Disney's Vero Beach Resort released two female loggerhead sea turtles, Cruz and Sally (named for the characters in Disney-Pixar's Cars 3, into the Atlantic Ocean back on July 29 has ended. Cruz finished the migration marathon second, logging 2,550 kilometers (more than 1,500) miles in the waters around the Florida peninsula.
…According to Orlando Sentinel, folks visiting Central Florida from Northern States that use the E-ZPass system for some toll roads will get to use the transponder to get the same discounts as SunPass users. For those that do not know, different toll roads are managed by different authorities across Florida and, at least for now, only those managed by the Central Florida Expressway Authority are included: State Roads 408, 414, 417, 429, 451, and 528. The Florida Turnpike, on the other hand, is managed by the Florida Department of Transportation and is not included. Our best advice is to use the attended lanes on your first drive on a Central Florida Toll Road with an E-ZPass transponder to be sure it is compatible and have cash on hand in case it is not. Be aware that some roads in Central Florida have no attendants (they use electronic toll collection only, and you will be fined if your transponder does not register). Orlando Sentinel says that Central Florida transponders will not yet work on E-ZPass roads in other states.
…If you want to catch Mickey and Minnie Mouse and some of their Walt Disney World friends lighting up Michigan Avenue in Chicago for the season, visit abc7chicago.com to catch an on-demand rebroadcast of Saturday night's 26th annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. In Chicagoland, you can catch rebroadcasts on ABC-7 at 4 p.m. December 2, 11 p.m. December 9, and 1 p.m. December 10.
…Reservations are now open for Ale & Compass Restaurant at Disney's Yacht Club for dining on November 26 and beyond. The former Captain's Grille has been redeveloped into Disney's take on a New England Gastropub, featuring an on-stage "heath" oven, around which there are a few seats, in a room that Disney Parks Blog describes as "reminiscent of an off-shore lighthouse with rich, salvaged materials that are the decorative finishes." The expanded re-imagined Ale & Compass Lounge next door opens at the same time as the restaurant.
…If you are looking for special dining and event opportunities around Walt Disney World Resort on New Year's Eve, Disney Parks Blog has the rundown. From a New Orleans themed bash in the Sorcerer's Apprentice Ballroom of Disney's Contemporary Resort, to Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney's BoardWalk, to Dinner and Dancing Under the Sea also at Flying Fish at Disney's BoardWalk, and to a more family-type affair called Mickey's New Year's Eve BBQ at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, you can read all the details and find relevant phone numbers there.
…Speaking of dining, although we do not yet know the dates Patina Restaurant Group's new Disney Springs venues will open, Patina is offering a chance to win "Sneak Peek Preview Tours" of Maria & Enzo's Ristorante, Enzo's Hideaway Tunnel Bar, The Edison, and Pizza Ponte. Preview tours will be scheduled for December 6, 7, and 8, from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. EST, showcasing all four venues and lasting approximately 25 minutes. Visit patinatours.com for more information and to enter the contest. Winners will need to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to their scheduled tour and will need to have a valid photo ID that matches the name of the winner. Winners will be notified by Tuesday, November 28, 2017.
…With the Winter Holidays Season now underway all around Walt Disney World Resort, the details of Epcot's next festival - the Epcot International Festival of the Arts (January 12-February 19, 2018) - are starting to be published. While the specific Disney on Broadway performers have not yet been announced, dining packages are now available, as are reservations for many of the seminars and workshops. Read more and make reservations starting on this page of DisneyWorld.com. Disney Vacation Club Members that are eligible for Membership Magic can get a 15% discount off of paid workshops' regular price of $39 plus tax (park admission required but not included).
…The 2017 Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association Annual Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 7, 2017, at Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center. If you are a Member and wish to attend, be sure to RSVP to DVC (and you will need to have your Member Number handy) along with the number of guests you will bring. It will be interesting to see what effect Hurricane Irma had on the operating and maintenance expenses for the Florida and Hilton Head Island Resorts. Last year, Hurricane Matthew caused significant enough damage at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort that owners were charged a special assessment (which was amortized over the next 10 years by a no interest loan from Disney corporate to Disney Development for the benefit of DVC Members). On a more pleasant note, past Annual Meetings have included holiday treats and character appearances following the legally-required highly scripted proceedings. If you plan to attend, please send us a note and look for yours truly.
…While we are talking about DVC, Members can now buy personalized merchandise available exclusively online at shopDisney.com/dvc. The new collection includes unique logos and colors for each of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts, and personalization allows buyers to add their "Member Since" year to most designs. Luggage tags, water bottles, t-shirts, bags, mugs, polo shirts and more are all there now, just in time for your holiday shopping.
…Looking ahead to the NFL Pro Bowl which returns to Orlando's Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018, ESPN Wide World of Sports will again be open to the public from Wednesday, January 24 through Saturday, January 27, to celebrate Pro Bowl Week with viewings of AFC and NFC practices, NFL FLAG championship games, USA Football National Conference games, and an interactive football zone called the Pro Bowl Experience featuring activities for the whole family. Disney Vacation Club Members can get reserved access to player practices by showing their valid Membership Card and photo ID, and can receive a $5-10/ticket saving on 2018 NFL Pro Bowl tickets at nfl.com/probowlonsale using promo code: DISVACAY.
…Starting on Thanksgiving Day (November 23) and running through Cyber Monday (November 27), Westgate Resorts is offering everyone the opportunity to book rooms "with employee discount rates" at all 27 of its properties nationwide, including the Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in Orlando, FL (as low as $76/night). More information is available on its sale website: westgateblackfriday.com.
…Congratulations to Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs on being named by Open Table to its list of "Top 100 restaurants nationwide for groups to gather and enjoy a first-rate dining experience." Earlier this year, Raglan Road was also named one of Open Table's "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America."
…And, finally, Major League Baseball Spring Training will return to ESPN Wide World of Sports in February and March, with the return of the Atlanta Braves. Defending World Series Champion Houston Astros play the Braves on March 8, for example. Spring training game tickets go on sale on December 11 at espnwwos.com/braves, as well as through Ticketmaster outlets, calling (800)745-3000, and the Box Office at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Spring training games include Disney character appearances and opportunities for kids to run the bases after games.
…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, just enter your email in the box below.
"Do more. Wait less."
Check here to see if a park event might fall during your next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you know of any in-park events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, please send us an email.
2017 Resort Events
- Star Wars Experiences – Opened December 1, 2015 (ongoing)
- Holidays at Walt Disney World –Started November 9
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 26, 28; December 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22
- Star Wars: Galactic Nights – December 16, 2017
- Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (formerly known as Holidays Around the World) – November 19 to December 30
- Candlelight Processional at Epcot – November 24 to December 30
2018 Resort Events
- 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 3-7, 2018.
- Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom – January 19, 26 & 30; February 8 & 15; March 1 & 8.
- Epcot International Festival of the Arts – "January 12 - February 19, 2018
- 10th Anniversary Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 22–25, 2018.
- MouseAdventure (unofficial event) – March 3, 2018. See mouseadventure.com for more information.
- 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – February 28 - May 28, 2018
- Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side Weekend – April 19-22, 2018.
- Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – TBA
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – TBA
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – TBA
If you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events, visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff. For current information on runDisney registration dates and capacity, see Lorree Tachell's runDisney Race Capacity Updates in the Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board.
Note: Not all attraction closures have been officially confirmed by Disney, and are all subject to change at any time. All refurbishment schedules are estimates only. We recommend checking for updates as you plan your visit. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, visit DisneyWorld.com or use the MyDisneyExperience App on your iOS or Android device.
- Splash Mountain – will close again for refurbishment scheduled early January through early February 2018.
- The Hall of Presidents – New show opening "Late 2017."
- Stitch's Great Escape – closed a "seasonal" basis.
- Ellen's Energy Adventure at Universe of Energy – Closed August 13, 2017, to make way for a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction in approximately 2021.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- The Great Movie Ride – Closed August 13, 2017, to make way for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway at a date to be announced.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- No known closures at this time
- Closed for Seasonal Refurbishment through January 6, 2018
Note: closure includes Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
- Seasonal Refurbishment scheduled to begin January 7, 2018
- Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – Closed April 24, 2017. Will reopen as Terralina Crafted Italian in Fall 2017, a new concept from James Beard award-winner and Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano and Chef Justin Plank.
- DisneyQuest – Closed as of July 3, 2017, to make way for The NBA Experience.
- La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – ends its run on December 31, 2017. Next use of the theater on the West Side TBA.
- Wolfgang Puck Grand Café – closed its West Side location on August 1, 2017. Its location is being transformed to Jaleo, a restaurant featuring Spanish cuisine. A new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is under construction next door to the Coca-Cola Store and is expected to open in 2018.
- Caribbean Beach – Centertown, the resort's marketplace, will be expanded with new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. The project is expected to be completed 2019-20. Due to the work, the following food service and retail locations are closed:
- Old Port Royale Food Court
- Shutters at Old Port Royale
- Banana Cabana Pool Bar
- Calypso Trading Post
- Coronado Springs – A new 15-story tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort's central lake, will add 500 rooms featuring suites and concierge level services, and a rooftop dining facility that will include panoramic views of nighttime fireworks shows at the Theme Parks. The resort also plans to refurbish current resort rooms and transform some of its landscape. The project is expected to be completed 2019-20. DisneyMeetings.com now offers an extended look at concept art for the re-imagined convention facilities and hotel.
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. For your convenience, we have grouped the discount offers based on the intended audience. Check out the category that best matches you, and pick the offer that works best for you. And keep those tips coming—let us know if you find a better or different offer, so we can share it with other readers.
Travel Discounts for Everyone
Ultimate Disney Christmas Package
Walt Disney World Resort is offering a special package for guests wishing to enjoy the "Ultimate Disney Christmas" vacation. The packages require arrival on December 21 and departure on December 26, and includes a full itinerary, including exclusive experiences. Booking is available through December 10, and includes a 5-night stay at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort hotels, 4-day theme park tickets with Park Hopper Option, and the following "unique Yuletide offerings" such as:
More information is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com and at (407)939-7886 or by calling your travel agent.
Memory Maker pre-arrival discount
Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $199 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests can digitally download any photos associated with their Memory Maker account, including photos taken on attractions. The advanced purchase price is $169, a $30 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.
Purchase must be made more than three days prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.
Travel Discounts for Annual Passholders
NOTE: ONLY SOME DISCOUNTS FOR THE 45th ANNIVERSARY OF WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT HAVE BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 30, 2017. OTHER DISCOUNTS AND BENEFITS HAVE EXPIRED OR CHANGED AS OF OCTOBER 1.
For the most up-to-date list of locations offering dining discounts to Annual Passholders, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. Be aware that dining locations that previously were participating in the 20% discount celebrating the 45th Anniversary (excluding alcoholic beverages, tax, and gratuity), have announced that they will continue to do so through December 23, 2017. Many other dining locations offer Passholders 10% discounts during some or all meal periods (also excluding alcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity). The special 30% discount offered at several dining locations during limited hours has ended.
The latest information on this page of DisneyWorld.com lists discounts at many merchandise locations across Walt Disney World Resort, including many locations that continue to show 20% discounts off regularly priced merchandise.
We cannot confirm whether Magic Strollers, "a Disney featured stroller provider," is continuing to honor its $5 discount on stroller rental when staying at a Disney Resort Hotel and using coupon code WDWAP17 to arrange your rental. It is no longer listed on the Passholder website. Check directly with the provider.
Visit the DisneyWorld.com Special Offers page (filtered for Passholders) for information, or call 407-939-7676 to book by phone.
Additional information about available "Passholder Extras" are available here.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA Credit Card Holders
20 percent off Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks
Disney Visa cardholders receive 20 percent off their entire purchase at Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks throughout Walt Disney World, including Tea Traders Café by Joffrey's, and online at Joffreys.com with code: VISABEANS
15 percent off select guided tours
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of selected guided tours for up to 10 people. The cardholder must participate in the tour, and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Tours included:
10 percent off select restaurants
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off the check when you pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Discount excludes alcohol.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas:
Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas:
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort:
Disney's Contemporary Resort:
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
Disney's Old Key West Resort:
Disney's Port Orleans Resort:
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
Disney's Wilderness Lodge:
Disney's Yacht Club Resort:
Disney's Hollywood Studios:
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex:
10 percent off merchandise
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off at participating Disney-owned retail location when you spend a minimum of $50 and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Read all of the restrictions on the Disney Visa website.
Cardholders also receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at the following Walt Disney World® Resort Operating Participant merchandise locations including Basin®, Basin White®, Chapel Hats, Good Fortune Gifts and House of Good Fortune, kidsHeritage and Marrakesh Emporium Arts & Crafts.
15 percent off all Disney spa and salon services
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of any salon treatment valued at $45 or greater or any 50-minute or longer spa service most days at the spas and salons at Walt Disney World Resort listed below:
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
10% off select recreation experiences
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of the recreation experiences listed below:
Free character photo at a private meet and greet location at Epcot
Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a private character meet and greet at Epcot for the cardholder and up to five guests. The event is hosted daily from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot (enter near the jumping fountains near the exit to the Magic Eye Theater). You'll receive one free character photo download per day.
Travel Discounts for Military Personnel
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil
Active and retired U.S. Military personnel presenting valid ID can save to 25% on tickets to La Nouba through December 16 for tickets purchased at the theater box office located on the West Side of Disney Springs.
2017 Military Salute – 4-Day or 5-Day Military Promotional Ticket discount
Through December 19, 2017, active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses can purchase:
Walt Disney World Resort tickets may be used January 1 through December 19, 2017. Thanks to our reader Dr. Smith who alerted us that the website militarydisneytips.com notes that April 9-23 are no longer listed as blockout dates for Disney's Armed Forces Salute.
Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. No more than six Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or spouse) pursuant to this offer. All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by December 19, 2017.
Military Salute – Hotel discount
Disney does not publish the actual discounted rates offered to service members under this program, and instead asks eligible U.S. military personnel to call 407-939-7830 to check pricing, availability and to make reservations. The website Military Disney Tips.com says the offer is 30-40 percent, based on room category.
Travel Discounts for Florida Residents
Florida Residents can enjoy room rates starting as low as $85/night (plus tax) for standard rooms at Disney's All-Star Resorts, most Sunday through Thursday nights through December 9, 2017. Discounts are also available at other resorts through December 9. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for availability and pricing, or call your travel agent.
Florida Residents can save on 4 days at the theme parks with a 4-Day Disney Select Ticket. This $55.75 plus tax per day ticket gives you access to one theme park per day for up to 4 days (which do not have to be used consecutively). A 3-Day Disney Select Ticket is also available for $66.34 plus tax per day. Tickets expire 6 months after first use, with the first use on or before December 31, 2018. Proof of Florida Residency is required. More information is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.
The La Nouba "Florida Resident Family Fun Pack" is back. As its final performance of La Nouba approaches on December, Cirque du Soleil is offering Florida resident ticket deals for its least expensive seats: $96.75 for 3 tickets; $129 for 4 tickets. Offer expires on December 16, 2017 and resident ID is required. Discounts may also be available for premium seat categories. Tickets and information on Cirque Du Soleil's La Nouba webpage.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
Travel Discounts for Canada Residents
Canadian Residents can now receive special pricing on theme park tickets to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida until February 10, 2018. Save 20% on advance purchase of 4-Day or Longer Magic Your Way Tickets
Savings compared to the price of the same ticket sold online at Disneyworld.ca. Tickets are valid for one Theme Park per day unless Park Hopper option is purchased. Tickets and options must be used within 14 days of first use. First use must be on or before December 31, 2018. Proof of Canadian residency required. Offer not valid at Theme Park ticket window.
All adult Guests who will use Canadian resident tickets or passes must present valid proof of Canadian residency that includes government-issued photo ID to exchange the certificate for a valid ticket at the Theme Park ticket window or Guest Relations prior to first use. Tickets and options are nontransferable, nonrefundable and exclude events/activities separately priced. Admission is subject to capacity closures and to other restrictions.
Check disneyparks.ca for the latest offers from Disney.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
Travel Discounts for U.K. Residents
The website GetWestLondon.co.uk has an updated list of some of the offers available to folks planning ahead to holiday at Walt Disney World Resort from the United Kingdom.
You can see the latest offers for U.K. residents on Disney World's U.K. packages website.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!