Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 12-18, 2017by Alan S Dalinka, contributing writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 12 – 18, 2017
Writer's note: To those who celebrate: Happy Hanukkah! Unfortunately, other than the stage area for Mostly Kosher at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, there really is not much decor to show off for Hanukkah around Walt Disney World Resort. So, as we fry up some latkes and try not to eat too much chocolate gelt, in this week's Views around the World we will continue our tour of the Christmas displays at the resorts we started last week, as well as see the Walt Disney World Ambassador Team's special tribute to Walt Disney's 115th birthday at Disney's Hollywood Studios on December 5, and even enjoy some highlights of Disney Vacation Club's Moonlight Magic event at Epcot last night (December 11).
Before we get to the Views, we have News. As you may recall, last week, Disney Parks Blog teased its first ever "12 Days of Disney Parks Christmas" featuring daily "new details about events, entertainment, attractions and more" at Walt Disney World, as well as Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii (where I really enjoyed my visit as a DVC Member this past spring I really do still intend to write about soon). I started a Twitter Moment to track the daily posts in one place and you can visit at any time. So far, there are some bits of "new" art and information about Walt Disney World Resort, and we will cover those in this and future Updates. One of the posts was the lineup for the Disney on Broadway Concert Series coming to Epcot during this winter's Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which we had already spotted on the Festival's section of DisneyWorld.com and added to our Epcot Calendar even before the "12 Days" story was posted. At least, as of Monday, there have been no really big "reveals" for Florida, but here's to hoping.
More news, including registration news from MouseAdventure presented by Third Gate Games, and the rest of our usual sections are included this week too. Feel the flow? We have a lot to cover, so here we go…
A Few More Disney Skyliner Details Revealed | Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort's Tranformation Continues | Flights of Wonder Show Will Be Replaced by a New Show Featuring Characters from UP | 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival to Begin February 28 | Disney Vacation Club's Annual Member Meeting Recap | MouseAdventure Returns to Walt Disney World March 3 | Epcot Disney on Broadway Concert & Candlelight Processional Narrators Calendar | Views around the World | One Passholder's Tip | This and That | Crowd Forecast
Back in July, at the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, we saw Disney confirm what their publicly-filed permits and local news reports showed: Walt Disney World Resort is building a new skyway comprised of gondolas connecting several resorts along with both Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Specifically, as we reported in our Walt Disney World Resort Update for July 19-24, 2017, the new transportation system will be named the Disney Skyliner, and some of its cabins will have exterior graphics showing Disney characters appearing to ride along with guests. This week, Disney released additional concept art and details.
This past week, as part of its "12 Days of Disney Christmas" posts, Disney Parks Blog shared a few additional details and concept art about the transportation system and its stations. We already knew that the system will include stations at 1) Epcot's International Gateway in (more or less) the location the Epcot Resorts tram loading area once stood; 2) Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort; 3) Disney's Hollywood Studios; and 4) Disney's Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts (shared station). Now, Disney has shared concept art for the first three stations, and has noted that the Disney Skyliner will also feature a turn-station along Buena Vista Drive, where cabins slow down and riders can see the mechanical and aerial components that make up the ride system. For those old enough to remember the Magic Kingdom's skyway, it also included a similar turn station near the speedway as its cabins traveled between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland stations.
Epcot International Gateway's station will be themed in a European Art Nouveau style similar to the existing buildings at the International Gateway, including metal and glass canopies, murals, and visible steel structures. Image ©Disney.
Like the entrance of Disney's Hollywood Studios, which draws its appearance from the original Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angles, the station will be themed to blend in with the entrance and bus stations. Image ©Disney.
The station at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort will serve as a transfer hub between destinations on the system. The waterfront area is being expanded, as discussed in the next news item below, to provide services to the influx of additional guests. Image ©Disney.
Disney has not yet released concept art for the station shared by the neighboring Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts. A number of questions posted by Disney Parks Blog readers also illustrate a number of issues yet to be publicly addressed:
- Will the Disney Skyliner be complimentary for some or all guests?
- Will the Epcot International Gateway entrance itself be expanded to address the additional guests entering the park through what had previously been its "back door?"
- Will Disney's Riviera Resort, the new Disney Vacation Club property being developed on some of Disney's Caribbean Resort's prior footprint, have its own station or will its guests share the Caribbean Beach Resort's station?
By way of examples, additional unanswered question categories we can add include: the maximum number of riders allowed per cabin, the cabin climate control or ventilation, the system's usual operating hours and, given that Central Florida experiences frequent electrical storms (and other storms ranging from drizzle to severe), the weather conditions in which the system ordinarily will be open. Granted, it is still early days, as Disney has yet to announce an opening date for the transportation system. Construction appears underway all along its route and, as we show in this and other Updates, some of its structures will be visible from within Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios in order to provide riders with those touted "birds-eye" views.
As regular readers may recall, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort has had a significant, on-going transformation project underway for awhile. From the bulldozing of several of its original buildings, to the closing of its Centertown Market and other venues in its Old Port Royale area, and the on-going building of the new tower that will be Disney's Riviera Resort, the Resort is busy with construction activity. This past week, Disney Parks Blog provided additional details and concept art as part of its "12 Days of Disney Christmas" series.
Rather than Custom House, Old Port Royale will be the reimagined "port of entry" for resort check in. When complete, it will also include an all-new Centertown Market for casual dining, an all-new Shutters restaurant offering waterfront dining adjacent to the new Banana Cabana outdoor bar and lounge, and Calypso Trading Post for shopping.
Centertown Market is being expanded and enclosed to create a "quick-service restaurant with an indoor street market vibe." The venue's entrance under a large palapa-like structure will lead to an enclosed market accented with glowing colored light pendants made from glass bottles. With open shutters, wooden light posts, awnings, and ornamentation, the market will contain "unique" seating areas. Guests will also have access to the Grab n' Go market for a specialty coffee and quick bites.
Shutters, a table-service restaurant, will be located on the waterfront of Old Port Royale with a Caribbean-inspired theme. It will feature large open shutters and "handmade items that appear as they've been found on the islands." Leaves and floral designs celebrate "the natural beauty of the Caribbean."
Banana Cabana will be the poolside bar. Cabana-style drapes will flank seating areas and re-purposed steel drums will illuminate a central communal table made from a wooden boat. Calypso Trading Post will sell Disney merchandise and sundries.
Disney expects enhancements at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort to debut in late Summer 2018. The adjacent DVC project, Disney's Riviera Resort, is not expected to open until sometime in 2019.
Disney's Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Earth Day, April 22, 2018. Yesterday, as part of its "12 Days of Disney Christmas" series, Disney Parks Blog announced that one of that park's opening day attractions, the Flights of Wonder show, will have its final performances on December 31, 2017.
In Spring 2018, a new show will debut in the Caravan Theater in Anandapur village featuring Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his dog friend Dug from Disney-Pixar's animated feature UP. Disney has not said whether Kevin and her offspring (the bird friends from the movie) will make appearances during the show, but, like Flights of Wonder, the show will include Russell and Dug discovering "species of birds from around the world."
The first ever Epcot International Festival of the Holidays runs through December 30. Less than three weeks later, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts makes its second bow January 12 until February 19, 2018 (more details this week in our Epcot Calendar below). Ten days after that, the oldest of the Epcot festivals will begin its 25th annual salute to spring with the opening of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
The 90-day "#FreshEpcot" celebration will include 15 Outdoor Kitchens, Disney topiaries, interactive play gardens, and the Garden Rocks Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre. Some of the 2018 edition of this Festival's highlights are scheduled to include:
- New dishes debuting at the 15 Outdoor Kitchens around World Showcase
- A brand-new Epcot front entrance topiary garden featuring Mickey & Minnie Mouse along with Goofy
- The return of the Figment topiary garden between Future World and World Showcase
- Returning topiaries like Buzz Lightyear in Future World; The Three Caballeros at the Mexico pavilion; Anna and Elsa at Norway; pandas and Bromeliad dragon at the China pavilion; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Germany; Woody at American Adventure; and Belle and Beast at France
- A brand-new Future World interactive play garden featuring a play maze, a sensory garden, an activity zone, and a covered seating area
- A re-designed "Road to Florida 500" garden based on Disney-Pixar's Cars 3, including a highway bingo activity for families
- The return of the Royal Tea Garden Tour (extra fee required, but includes post-tour tea and scones), as well as the complimentary English Tea Garden Tour
- Garden Rocks Concerts featuring acts from the 1960s-1990s with three concerts scheduled each Friday through Monday of the Festival (dining packages will be available)
Each of the Outdoor Kitchens will also feature either a raised-bed or in-ground garden of herbs and produce. "The culture of growing your own food continues to trend, and our guests each year have quite a few questions related to edible gardens," says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. "They get a big kick comparing items in our gardens with the herbs and produce our chefs incorporate into the festival’s Outdoor Kitchen recipes."
In addition to the nearly 100 festival topiaries, the park will show off at least 70,000 bedding plants around the Future World east and west ponds and 220 mini-gardens on the water. Dozens of "flower towers" and other multi-colored gardens will be on display as well. Later this winter, the Festival's webpages at EpcotInSpring.com will have more details and we will highlight them in due course.
On Thursday, December 7, Disney Vacation Club held its Annual Meeting at the Convention Center at Disney's Contemporary Resort. As a condominium association, the required Annual Meeting is a legal formality that is necessary to approve minutes, resolutions, and budgets for Disney's timeshare and certain other operations. Of course, beyond the required scripted portions of the meeting, Disney conducts these meetings in a way rather unlike your local Condominium/Home/Co-op Owners Association meetings—with a themed stage, multi-media presentations, and a post-meeting reception featuring DVC leadership, holiday cookies, and Disney characters.
Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, addresses a near-capacity crowd of DVC Members and guests ahead of the Annual Meeting. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The stage for the meeting was set to reflect the decor of the Pacific Northwest in keeping with DVC's newest resort, Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (which Donald and Bonnie Fink visited on Opening Day back in July, and I also previously wrote about after a pre-opening Hard Hat Tour this past Spring). Perhaps of most interest to folks staying at Wilderness Lodge, Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, noted that the soon-to-open Reunion Station will include concierge services and will offer beverage tasting sessions like those we previously wrote about at DVC's Top of the World Lounge, plus classes in subjects like photography. We will watch for additional details about schedules and prices to include in future Updates.
Reunion Station is located on the shore of Bay Lake at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Behind it is the tower of the main Lodge building that was transformed into the new DVC Copper Creek Villas. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The designated "Members Voting Representative" and the Board of Directors of the associations within Disney Vacation Club conducted their formal (scripted) business proceedings on a stage set to resemble the Pacific Northwest along with a model train. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Even before the meeting, and, indeed, in time for last week's Update, DVC announced its plan to schedule its very popular Moonlight Magic Events (after-hours events in Disney Parks) in every month of 2018 through November. The January through October events will be held at Walt Disney World Resort, and the dates and reservations windows are now included within our Resort Events section in a subsection dedicated to Moonlight Magic. The November events will be held at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort.
Moonlight Magic and smaller features like the very popular DVC Members Lounge at Epcot which received 300,000 visitors in this past year, and the Beverage Tasting Series (and presumably the photography and other classes coming to Reunion Station), are part of DVC's Membership Extras which means that, particularly for recent purchasers, Members must have purchased their membership interests (points) directly from Disney in order to qualify to participate. These benefits will be advertised within the new "Stay Magical" marketing campaign in this coming year.
DVC Members will be particularly interested to know about the two discount ticket offers now available to Members through January 3, 2018. See this page of DisneyVacationClub.com for details, but, in short, Members can purchase (for themselves or their household) the Platinum Plus Annual Pass at 25% off the regular price, and 7 days for the price of 5 days (single-park-per-day) tickets that Members have 6 months from first use to use (tickets must be first used by December 31, 2018, and final use may be no later than June 30, 2019). From personal experience this past week renewing my Platinum Annual Pass, with this offer, it was less expensive for me to renew at the discounted Platinum Plus DVC rate than it would have been to renew at the standard Platinum Pass for Florida Residents or DVC Members.
Interestingly, DVC says that no Member Dues are used to produce special events like "Moonlight Magic" or the DVC Members Lounge. While Disney uses these "Extras" to distinguish DVC from other timeshare competitors, the benefits are always advertised with the accompanying disclaimer that folks should not buy their timeshare interest relying on the continued availability of the "Extras" which may change or be discontinued at any time. Of course, the legal nicety of the disclaimer does not diminish the fact that the current Membership Extras are being offered and, at least based on this Writer's experience, have been outstanding.
During the budget presentation, DVC confirmed that Hurricane Irma did have both direct and indirect impact on the associations. Like last year's Hurricane Matthew, both Vero Beach and Hilton Head were required to close for a time because of damage sustained by Hurricane Irma, and Irma also inflicted damage at Saratoga Springs at Walt Disney World. The loan from Walt Disney Company to Disney Development obtained last year for repairs at Hilton Head was extended by a year to reflect the additional damage sustained under DVC's self-insured retention (owner repair obligation like a deductible) of $1 million in combined damage per named storm.
The indirect effect of the Hurricanes on DVC properties (and, by extension on Walt Disney World itself) is that, in the wake of the storms, construction costs increase to reflect the increase in demand for rebuilding and otherwise. Those increased construction costs effect not only repairs, but the scheduled refurbishments scheduled at the DVC properties themselves.
Even with the hurricane, DVC remains committed to the more robust refurbishment in seven year cycles introduced this year. The major refurbishment of Disney's Vero Beach Resort is now complete. Old Key West will be the next to undergo the full, scheduled rehab. As was done with Old Key West, prototype models will be assigned to some guests at Saratoga Springs during 2018 to gather feedback for the full refurbishment scheduled there for 2019-20.
Approximately two thirds of membership dues are comprised of operating expenses, with the rest coming from ad valorem (property) taxes, and reserves for future capital projects. The estimated assessments per point for 2018 run from $5.86 for Disney's Saratoga Springs up to $8.53 at Disney's Vero Beach. Excluding Copper Creek, the increases over 2017 vary by location and range from 1.1% (Polynesian) to 7.1% (Aulani).
Going forward, DVC committed to finally "getting the sofa beds right" and for providing two firm and two soft pillows on every bed. A new emphasis on improving housekeeping began at Bay Lake Tower and, after feedback, DVC will bring it to the rest of the properties. Other amenities also will be improved and/or enlarged at the resorts (also accounting for some of the increase in dues). Enhanced and expanded wi-fi bandwidth (though without a specific timeframe) is also coming to DVC resorts.
Writer's note I have personally been a DVC Member since 2000.
MouseAdventure returns to Walt Disney World this spring on March 3, 2018 with MouseAdventure: Tails, presented by Third Gate Games with media sponsor MousePlanet. Teams will explore the nooks, crannies, nests, and burrows of Disney's Animal Kingdom Park to solve a series of puzzles, gathering clues from among its residents, both real and imaginary. See the park in a whole new way as you discover patterns and details you never noticed before. You can read about this past spring's event, The Florida Project, which was held at the Magic Kingdom and its resorts on MousePlanet.
Registration will open on January 9 at 9 a.m. Pacific Time at mouseadventure.com, so set a reminder and make sure you are registered in the Third Gate Games forums. Join us and unearth the tales hidden in MouseAdventure: Tails at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Are you game?
The America Gardens Theatre on the shore of World Showcase Lagoon opposite the entrance to The American Adventure is home to numerous shows throughout the year. The nightly Candlelight Processional continues its performances there through December 30, and then, starting January 12, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series takes the stage Fridays through Mondays during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
This past week, Walt Disney World updated its Epcot International Festival of the Arts webpages with the complete list of Disney on Broadway Concert Series performers scheduled during the Festival. The concerts, which were very popular during their debut in 2017, are scheduled to include top-notch Broadway performers singing songs from Disney Broadway shows. New to the Festival this year is Kara Lindsay; the rest of the performers appeared last year as well.
January 12-15 and January 19-22, 2018
- Performers: Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- Songs from: Tarzan, Aladdin, Newsies and Frozen
January 26-29 and February 2-5, 2018
- Performers: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
- Songs from: Tarzan, The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid
February 9-12 and February 16-19
- Performers: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland
- Songs from: Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Newsies and Frozen
For the convenience of our readers, we have added these performances to the scheduled celebrity narrators for Epcot's Candlelight Processional during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 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.
The week since we last published an Update kicked off with a small special event celebrating Walt Disney's 115th birthday with the Walt Disney World Ambassador Team and the folks on Disney's Guest Services team who run @WDWToday. We also have views from Magic Kingdom, Epcot (with additional ones embedded via Twitter from last night's DVC Moonlight Magic event), and Disney Springs. We then pick up where we left off last week with our look around at the holiday decor around the Resort. As always, bits of news are amongst the photo captions too.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
As a special celebration of Walt Disney's 115th birthday, the folks that tweet on behalf of Walt Disney World's guest relations team (@WDWToday), held a meet-up on December 5 with the Walt Disney World Ambassador Team at Walt Disney Presents in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The 2017-18 Walt Disney World Ambassador Team of Brandon and Ken conducted two tours for guests inside Walt Disney Presents celebrating the life of Walt Disney on the anniversary of his birth. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Opened as One Man's Dream to celebrate Walt Disney's 100 birthday and recently renamed Walt Disney Presents, Disney's Hollywood Studios continues to be home to a mini-museum display about the life and work of Walt Disney. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
On nights when Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Main Street U.S.A. balloon vendors include holiday themed balloons with the more traditional Disney Parks balloons. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The fountain near First Aid on the west side of Main Street has been removed. It is likely that these renovations will assist with traffic flow on this side of Main Street as the eastern backstage overflow route probably will not be available during construction of the new Broadway-caliber theater construction behind the west side of Main Street. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
If assigned to park on the eastern side of Epcot's parking lot and walk toward the park gates, on the left, beyond the tramway that crosses in front of the park, lots of evidence of construction can be seen in the backstage areas of Future World. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Last week we showed photos of the same black structure from the Disney's Hollywood Studios side of Buena Vista Drive; here, it seen here behind Morocco pavilion when viewed from Future World. It appears to be related to construction of the Disney Skyliner. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Enjoy the processional part of Epcot's Candlelight Processional and the introduction of Celebrity Narrator Pat Sajak. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Epcot Moonlight Magic - December 11, 2017
Highlights from last night posted by @AlanDalinka on Twitter, including Disney Legend Kurt Russell as Celebrity Narrator at Candlelight Processional.
It is holiday season number two of the reimagined Disney Springs and these characters are back. (Seriously, does anyone know what they are supposed to be?) Photo (and genuine question) by Alan S. Dalinka.
Continuing where we left off last week with holiday decorations around the Resorts...
Over in the Epcot Resorts area, at Disney's BoardWalk, last week we showed this sign in the lobby of Disney's BoardWalk Resort announces the opportunity to build your own Gingerbread House with the Pastry Chef Team at the resort. For reservations, call (407)939-5175. The cost is $125 for a party of up to four guests. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Continuing our tour around the Epcot Resorts, the lobby of Disney's Beach Club once again includes the pastry team's creation of a carousel. This season, like Disney's Polynesian Village Resort does year round, the lobby celebrates "Ohana," which means "family." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Continuing around to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, a large tree stands near the new chandelier. This Thursday through Sunday (December 14-17), Mrs. Claus and Kandy Kane will host a Christmas Tree lighting at 6 p.m. They will return December 21-23. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Santa and Mrs. Claus appear for photos and other holiday "surprises" under the "Santa's Favorite Resort" sign this Thursday through Sunday (December 14-17) from 6:15 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on the causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. (They will return December 21-23 as well.) Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Michael Graves Causeway, dedicated in April 2015 to the memory of the architect that designed the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, connects the Swan and Dolphin hotel buildings. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The 5,180,176 calorie Holiday Chocolate Santa Display at the Swan was created by Laurent Branlard, Executive Pastry Chef of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and the only two-time winner of the World Pastry Team Championship. 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 #38: I Really Have To Say This Edition #2?
Save money at Walt Disney World: Don’t Throw it Away!
So often, I hear folks complaining about how much money everything costs at Walt Disney World Resort. Nevertheless, so often, I see fellow guests actually throwing money away. Yes, that is right: we are talking about all those coins folks throw and encourage their kids to throw into scenery and waterways around Walt Disney World.
I was privileged to see Pandora–The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom during its dedication and media preview ahead of its opening day. Its beautiful streams and ponds looking exactly as the Imagineering team and creators intended. Likewise, inside the queue for Avatar Flight of Passage, the highly detailed laboratory room, full of visual eye candy and "science" experiments linked to the story of the attraction, looking like a place scientists work.
On recent visits, I've seen coins in all those places. Indeed, in the lab, I have also seen dollar bills (of several I denominations) thrown into the displays. Ruining the look–the purposeful illusion created so that we suspend our disbelief–and, at least to some degree the theming of the environment all for the momentary amusement of the folks that tossed the money into the scene.
So, if you would like to give your money away, no matter your beliefs or religion, there are plenty of charities and organizations that will be happy to have it. Plenty of politicians too, of every stripe imaginable. There is no need for you to add to Disney's carefully designed scenery (except, of course, during events like Epcot International Festival of the Arts where guests last year were invited to paint squares of a mural, for example). While Disney tries to collect and donate the money thrown into the likes of the it's a small world boat ride, there are much more direct places to make those donations: from the Disney Conservation Fund to Make-A-Wish.
I truly hope I did not need to say this for the sake you, our readers, but do please spread the word: avoid paying this uninvited extra "fee" at Disney Parks. Be governed accordingly.
…With colder weather possible in Central Florida in winter, watch for closings of the water parks. Just yesterday, for example, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon was closed due to the low temperatures. Disney's Blizzard Beach is currently closed for its seasonal refurbishment. Beyond Walt Disney World, be aware that other area water parks also may close on colder days; Universal's new Volcano Bay, for example, has closed during the past week as well.
…There is still time to #ShareYourEars on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter! Photos can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram between now and December 25, 2017. Note that the images must be publicly shared for Disney to count them toward the campaign.
…Speaking of Instagram, Magic Kingdom ranked #6 on its "Top 10 Most-Instagrammed Locations" around the globe list. Not surprisingly, Disneyland (in Anaheim, California), ranked #1. Tokyo Disneyland at #5 nudged out Magic Kingdom, and even Disney California Adventure came in at #9, above the other Walt Disney World parks.
…The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will return in 2018 for its ninth year Friday, October 26, Saturday, October 27, and the Sunday Bubbles Brunch on Sunday, October 28. More details, overnight packages, individual tickets are all now available online, including seminars and beer garden tickets, by visiting SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com. Overnight and multi-night packages can also be booked by phone at (888)828-8850. Additional information is available on the Swan & Dolphin Facebook page or by calling (800)227-1500.
…Around the greater Walt Disney World Resort area this week, Paddlefish Restaurant at Disney Springs is hiding VIP golden tickets with a value of $150 each. The restaurant gave away two last Friday (one each in Kissimmee and Winter Garden, FL), after first teasing their locations on social media with the hashtag #Paddlefishing4VIP. You can follow along and watch for clues on Paddlefish’s social media accounts (@PaddlefishORL) on Twitter, Facebook, and with extra clues at Instagram. Whether or not you find a VIP golden ticket, Paddlefish is also serving up holiday specials: For Christmas (December 25), guests can enjoy Prime Rib Eye with king crab mash, baby carrots and red wine demi-glace for $44; for New Year’s Eve (December 31), Paddlefish will be serving Surf & Turf with filet, cold water lobster tail, crab hollandaise and herb roasted potatoes for $49. Reservations are not required for these specials, but reserations are available at paddlefishrestaurant.com.
…While we expect tomorrow to get our long-awaited first-hand look inside Patina Restaurant Group's new concepts at Disney Springs (The Edison, Maria & Enzo's Ristorante, Enzo's Hideaway Tunnel Bar, and Pizza Ponte), we have learned that PRG announced Theo Schoenegger as the Executive Chef of Maria & Enzo's and Enzo's Hideaway. Chef Theo, described by Patina Restaurant Group as "one of the most influential Italian chefs in New York history," comes to Orlando from Las Vegas where he most recently was Executive Chef at Sinatra, an Italian fine dining restaurant located at Wynn Las Vegas (he originally cooked dishes for the legendary singer when living in New York, including spaghetti with clams and ossobuco). Prior to his work in Las Vegas, he spent four years at the helm of Patina Restaurant Group's signature location, Patina, located at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. There, he received rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times, received a Michelin star and a Relais & Châteaux rating (one of only two restaurants in Los Angeles have received this honor).
…Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg hosts the holiday special, Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic on the Freeform TV network, premiering December 18 at 8 p.m. EST, with special co-hosts Disney Channel's Descendants star and recording artist Sofia Carson and Dancing with the Stars winner and recording artist Jordan Fisher. The one hour show features the seasonal transformation of Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks for the holidays.
…Back in the This and That section of the Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 11-16, 2017 we wrote, "Beyond the Walt Disney World Resort, a personal recommendation from your Update Writer: if you like Star Wars (or just its music) and you get a chance to see a live symphony orchestra perform the musical score along with a screening of the film, go!" Well, another of those great opportunities is coming to the Walt Disney Theater in Orlando's downtown Dr. Phillips Center on Thursday, February 1, when the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - in Concert. More information and tickets are available on this page of drphillipscenter.org. (Writer's note: I already bought my ticket and see that much of the center section on all levels appears to already be sold out!)
…And, finally, speaking of that "galaxy far, far away," a reminder: Star Wars: The Last Jedi has its U.S. theatrical release this week, and, as a production of Disney-owned Lucasfilm, Ltd., there are at least three things associated with the Star Wars franchise that can create higher-than-usual crowds and extra traffic around Walt Disney World Resort this week:
- AMC DINE-IN Disney Springs 24 Theatres begins screenings of the film this Thursday, December 14 (with a special marathon of all 8 Star Wars "Episode" movies starting on Wednesday). Expect higher-than-usual crowds, and full parking structures at Disney Springs starting Thursday and, probably, continuing all weekend as a result. MousePlanet has been invited to attend a screening of The Last Jedi on Thursday evening and we will report on Disney Springs crowd levels on Social Media in the afternoon. We also promise that our posts will remain spoiler-free.
- On Saturday, December 16, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a brand new hyper-reality experience from ILMxLAB and The VOID will debut in the Marketplace neighborhood of Disney Springs between the Once Upon a Toy store and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon near the Earl of Sandwich restaurant. MousePlanet has been invited to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7 a.m. EST and a walk-through tour ahead of its 9 a.m. opening to the public. (Writer's note: I have personally purchased a ticket to try the experience in the afternoon.) We will provide spoiler-free reports on Social Media in the morning and afternoon and in next week's Update(s).
- Also on Saturday December 16, Disney's Hollywood Studios presents the second edition of the Star Wars: Galactic Nights after-hours, hard ticket event (meaning, of course, that the park will be cleared of day guests without the special admission tickets; more information and tickets that may be remaining are available at this page of DisneyWorld.com. From 7 p.m. until Midnight, celebrating the entire Star Wars saga, the night will be filled with themed entertainment, fireworks, special character experiences, a special "Star Wars: Galactic Destinations" projection show on Sunset Boulevard, special guest appearances from Warwick Davis, and the one-night-only panel discussion about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the new lands under construction and scheduled to open in 2019 at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park, hosted by voice actor David Collins and featuring Scott Trowbridge (Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering), Robin Reardon (Executive Creative Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering), Chris Beaty (Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering), and Doug Chiang (VP/Creative Director at Lucasfilm). MousePlanet has also been invited to attend this event and will provide reports on Social Media and in next week's Update(s) (and we will attempt to avoid The Last Jedi spoilers, but may post the publicly disclosed details we learn about Galaxy's Edge which, in our experience, all but certainly will not contain spoilers about the attractions and experiences to come).
…Post Script: as an alternative to going to a screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Thursday night, the animated short Olaf's Frozen Adventure will join ABC-TV's "25 Days of Christmas" programming on December 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central, and will be followed by the return of the Emmy Award winning holiday special first aired in December 2009, Prep & Landing. The animated short has concluded its limited theatrical release in front of Disney-Pixar's Coco, and includes four new original songs. When searching for the show on a DVR, it may be listed under "The Wonderful World of Disney" title, as it was for your truly.
…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 – December 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Screenings begin at AMC DINE-IN Disney Springs 24 Theatres on December 14, 2017 (expect crowds)!
- Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire – The VOID at Disney Springs (Marketplace neighborhood) opens on December 16, 2017 (expect crowds)!
- Star Wars: Galactic Nights – After-hours, hard ticket event at Disney's Hollywood Studios on 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: Tails (unofficial event) – March 3, 2018 at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. 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
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 26-27, 2018
–Sunday Bubbles Brunch – October 28, 2018.
|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.|
2018 Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic Events (Including Event Reservation Opening Dates)
- Moonlight Magic at Magic Kingdom – January 11 & 28; February 6, 2018
Members with Resort Reservations: Now open!
All Members (pending remaining availability): December 21, 2017
- Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom – March 21; April 17; May 16, 2018
Members with Resort Reservations: February 8, 2018
All Members (pending remaining availability): February 22, 2018
- Moonlight Magic at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon – May 30; June 11, 2018.
Members with Resort Reservations: April 19, 2018
All Members (pending remaining availability): May 3, 2018
- Moonlight Magic at Epcot – July 16; August 13, 2018
Members with Resort Reservations: June 6, 2018
All Members (pending remaining availability): June 20, 2018
- Moonlight Magic at Disney's Hollywood Studios – September 19 & 26; October 3, 2018
Members with Resort Reservations: August 30, 2018
All Members (pending remaining availability): September 13, 2018
|Introduced in 2017 as part of Membership Magic Ever After, complimentary Moonlight Magic events invite Disney Vacation Club Members (that are eligible for the Membership Extras benefits) and their guests to visit Disney Parks at the end of their regular operating hours and after the park has closed to the public. Members (and their parties) with reservations find shorter-than-usual wait times on popular attractions, meet rare characters, enjoy complimentary refreshments, have dance parties, and more. Please note that, in order to allow as many Members as possible to enjoy Moonlight Magic, only one event date for each participating park is available per Membership. Visit disneyvacationclub.com during specified reservation windows to (attempt to) secure access to the event as well as to find additions to the Moonlight Magic event slate, updated party hours, and transportation information.|
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 on a "seasonal" basis - My Disney Experience currently says "an expected re-opening [is] scheduled in late 2017."
- 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
- DisneyQuest – Closed as of July 3, 2017, to make way for The NBA Experience.
- Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – Closed April 24, 2017. Will reopen as Terralina Crafted Italian, a new concept from James Beard award-winner and Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano and Chef Justin Plank. Its website, terralinacrafteditalian.com now says the restaurant is "Coming This Winter."
- 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.
- La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – ends its run on December 31, 2017. Next use of the theater on the West Side TBA.
- 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
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.
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 once again listed on the Passholder website.
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, including discount game tickets to the NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, an Orlando Magic Jersey Offer for purchasing or renewing an Annual Pass at Amway Center in Orlando, a 15% discount on the Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Spa & Salon Discounts around Walt Disney World Resort, Amphicar Tour discounts at Disney Springs, runDisney Early Registration discounts, Best Friends Pat Care discounts, Children's Activity Centers discounts, and more (including discounted stays at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii).
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
To conserve space, we have eliminated some of the participating location details of the Disney Visa Rewards offers from this section. Visit Disney Visa Rewards website for the latest participating location information.
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. Discounts are not available on Premium VIP tours, programs exclusive to groups, or group team building programs.
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). Offer excludes alcoholic beverages, merchandise, tobacco, room service, holiday buffets, tax and gratuity. Discount does not apply to the following dates: 12/24/17, 12/25/17, 12/31/17, 1/1/18, 2/14/18, 4/1/18, 5/13/18 and 7/4/18, and may not be available at all meal times. Visit this page of disneyrewards.com for the latest list of restaurants and restrictions.
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 this page of disneyrewards.com.
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, Luxury of Time, Marrakesh Emporium Arts & Crafts, Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks and Tea Traders Café by Joffrey's, Sperry and Volcom.
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. Visit this page of disneyrewards.com for participating locations and restrictions.
10 percent off select recreation experiences
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of the recreation experiences listed below:
Free character photos 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 complimentary downloads of your photos (one time per day), which may be accessed in the MyDisneyExperience App (or website).
Free character photos at a private meet and greet location at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a private character meet and greet at the Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the cardholder and up to five guests. The event is hosted daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. You'll receive complimentary downloads of your photos (one time per day), which may be accessed in the MyDisneyExperience App (or website).
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, 2017, for tickets purchased at the theater box office located on the West Side of Disney Springs.
Thanks to our reader Dr. Smith who alerted us to the website militarydisneytips.com.
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.
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 militarydisneytips.com says the offer is 30-40 percent, based on room category.
2018 Armed Forces Salute Tickets
January 1 through December 19, 2018
NOTE: Spring Blockout Dates have not yet been announced! Tickets must be used by December 19, 2018.
Read more information at militarydisneytips.com, visit your base ticket office, or when at Walt Disney World, visit Shades of Green.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
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!