Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 20-26, 2018

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 20-26, 2018

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Resort Events | Refurbishments and Attraction Closures | Discounts and Promotions

Writer's note: I have talked quite a bit about crowds and traffic in these introductions of late, and so this week's news of a parking fee policy change does not come as a shocker. As discussed below, sure the new fees are disappointing, but current indications are that crowds keep coming. We have had days in the parks lately that felt a lot more like the week between Christmas and New Year in terms of attendance than an ordinary (albeit spring break) day in March. If you were following on Twitter, you even saw me post a photo of a 70 minute standby time at Spaceship Earth on Tuesday afternoon.


Standby time at Spaceship Earth on Tuesday afternoon at one point was posted as 70 minutes. Long Exposure Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Yesterday, I also had a chance to see the newest version of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Honestly, I have no strong feelings about it one way or another, so, as you will see in the news item below, I leave most of the words to Adrienne Vincent Phoenix (and those she quotes) along with the before and after videos I shot at the attraction earlier this winter and yesterday.


The redhead is now a heavily armed pirate and is joined by an assorted cast of fellow pirates offering up their plunder at auction on Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

If you have comments to share on the news this week (or, of course, at any time), I just ask that you keep it polite. Remember, constructive criticism and reasoned discussion is more likely to be heard and be persuasive to folks open to making decisions. I know that from my decades as an attorney, there usually are two or more sides to an issue, and, if there were not, it would not be "an issue."

On a more fun note, keep an eye on our social media outlets on Thursday. We have been invited to get an update on the progress of Toy Story Land which is due to open on June 30. I hope to have more details to share in next week's Update, and if there are some details you would like me to ask about, be sure to let me know as soon as possible.


News and Views

Parking Fees Will Be Imposed at Disney Resort Hotels for Overnight Guests | Pirates of the Caribbean Reopens with Reimagined Auction Scene | Pixar Play Zone at Disney's Contemporary Resort Now Accepting Reservations | Disney's Typhoon Lagoon to Host Disney H2O Glow Nights | Magic Kingdom Halloween and Christmas Party Dates Now on Sale | Epcot Concert News & Calendar | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd Forecast

Parking Fees Will Be Imposed at Disney Resort Hotels For Overnight Guests

This past week, Walt Disney World Resort announced a change that has generated quite a bit of (mostly negative) online chatter: no more complimentary overnight Resort hotel parking for most guests. Effective for reservations made March 21, 2018, and thereafter, standard overnight self-parking is available to registered Guests for a fee that will be applied to their hotel folio upon check-out. All parking fees, which vary by resort category, include applicable tax.

Standard Overnight Parking charges per Resort Category:

  • Disney Value Resorts: $13 per night
  • Disney Moderate Resorts: $19 per night
  • Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $24 per night

Valet Parking remains available at select Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villas. Its new rate is $33 per night (sales tax included). Of course, designated parking areas remain available for guests with disabilities with a valid disability parking permit.

Complimentary standard parking is available to guests staying at campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Each campsite provides a parking space for one motorized vehicle.

Disney Vacation Club Members will not be charged for standard overnight self-parking when staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa, regardless of whether they use vacation points or another form of payment. DVC Members also will not be charged to park when using vacation points to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

Standard self-parking will continue to be complimentary when enjoying select dining, shopping, entertainment, and recreation experiences at Disney Resort hotels. We do not yet have details of how the parking lots will distinguish between "day guests" and "overnight guests" at the parking lots.

Certainly, for those that never or rarely travel, these new parking fees come as a shock. For those of us that have traveled extensively, they are unfortunate changes, but they do reflect a great deal of the marketplace. Indeed, even the (Marriott-managed) Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort have long charged even day guests parking fees (some of which are reduced or eliminated by validation after spending a required amount in the Resort's restaurants, bars, and/or shops)

For Walt Disney World Resort visitors used to the notion that the premium Disney charges to stay in its Resort hotels ought to cover something that has been a free benefit of "staying on property" since day one, this writer agrees (even though, as a long-time DVC Member, I am currently exempt from the new charge when I am staying at a resort). My first thought when I heard the news was, like many have written online, "Why didn't Disney just raise the price of the hotel room?" I have not seen official statements on the subject other than third-party accounts of reservations agents saying, in essence, "other hotels do it too." It will certainly be interesting to see how Disney publicly discusses this subject in coming weeks and months, if at all. One real indication may be the terms offered to Florida Residents the next time a hotel promotion is directed that way; will it include free parking the way promotions sometimes offer free food?


Parking is often scarce at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Convention Center. We have not yet seen whether guests attending conventions will be charged for parking. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The other indicators to keep an eye on are whether the parking fees change car traffic or guest spending in a noticeable way. Car traffic around the resort, as you often see me report, seems to keep building in volume; if that changes, it will be obvious. Folks who say that the Florida resort hotels have more than enough spaces and then some to park multiple cars per guest room have not been around during the busiest times: I personally have witnessed parking shortages around Easter, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and other times. Even though parking around the resort is not at the same scarcity as Disneyland Resort, it is still an issue, and it likely will get more acute when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens next year. Whether the parking fees will change any of this is speculation on our part.

As for guest spending patterns, The Walt Disney Company reports on guest spending in Disney Parks in the aggregate in its annual report. So, when Disney reports spending is up or down, it is often hard to tell where it changes. Disney makes some official comments on it, but never at the level where we will we be able to notice guests buying fewer souvenirs or spending less on food and beverage. Will Disney's spreadsheets be able to measure such microeconomic changes? Probably, but it will be hard for us to know.

My own point of comparison comes in the form of my personal decisions about visiting Las Vegas where resort fees, parking charges, and other miscellaneous charges have become the norm. From 1991 until roughly 2012, I visited for a few days every year, and sometimes several times in the same year. As those fees crept in over the years and became increasingly unavoidable, I spent proportionally less on entertainment and gaming, keeping my overall spending on those trips fairly consistent year-to-year (at least relative to what I budgeted to spend on vacations). During my most recent Las Vegas visit last May, I felt that the "fees" outweighed the "fun" and decided that I will not be returning again anytime soon. If Las Vegas wants to win back my vacation dollars in future years, it will have to offer some quality or value that was not evident on my trip. Will Walt Disney World Resort head in this direction for some guests, and will we be able to see it? Time will tell.

I will make one final observation based on having recently been introduced in depth to Disney Cruise Line by the media-invited voyage aboard the Disney Dream that I wrote about this winter. DCL distinguishes itself from other vacation options by emphasizing just how much is included in its sailings—from the Disney quality and entertainment all the way down to the fact that it was perhaps the first in the cruise industry to include unlimited fountain beverages. With Walt Disney World Resort breaking out parking as a separate fee, it starts down the path of saying "see what is not included" in this Disney vacation if you choose to visit by your personal car or rental car instead of Magical Express. Where that leads next seems unclear too. (Of course, acknowledging that parking is not included in a DCL sailings either—and Disney does not own the parking lot at Port Canaveral—means that this is not an apt analogy).

All of the Disney-operated parking options at Walt Disney World Resort are discussed on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Pirates of the Caribbean Reopens With Reimagined Auction Scene

As Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix wrote in yesterday's Disneyland Resort Update, "Pirates of the Caribbean fans have just one more month to take in the classic Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene [at Disneyland], before the ride closes on April 23 for refurbishment." At Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, the ride closed earlier this winter for refurbishment and has now opened with a newly imagined auction scene.


As we shared a few weeks ago, Magic Kingdom's version of Pirates of the Caribbean played the classic auction scene for the last time before the most recent refurbishment. File Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

In a change announced last June, the attraction's re-imagined auction scene now features the famous redhead in a brand-new role. No longer satisfied to be a wench for the taking, the redhead is now a pirate. Indeed, she now has a speaking role, a revised costume, and even a good amount of fluid motion as she, like those around her, try to offer up their possessions (and plunder) in an "auction."


The redhead is now armed, has a revised costume, dialogue, and moves (rather fluidly) quite a bit. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The redhead is joined by an assorted cast of fellow pirates offering their plunder at auction. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Ride through the reimagined auction scene now playing at Magic Kingdom. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

As Adrienne wrote yesterday:

This change has been met with strong criticism from die-hard fans who hate to see any changes made to the classic attractions, especially those touched by Walt Disney himself. When the announcement was made last year, Disney Legend Marty Sklar, who worked closely with Walt Disney during the earliest days of Disneyland, said the changes were in keeping with Walt's vision of the parks.

"To me, the Imagineers are simply reflecting what Walt started the day Disneyland opened—making changes that create exciting new experiences for our guests. I can't think of a single attraction that has not been enhanced and improved, some over and over again. Change is a 'tradition' at Disneyland that today's Imagineers practice—they learned it from their mentors, many of them Walt's original team of storytellers and designers—the Disney Legends."

"Pirates of the Caribbean has always represented great Disney Park storytelling; it has set the standard for the theme park industry for half a century! But it's a story you can continue to add fun to, with great characters in new 'performances.' That's what the Imagineers have done with this new auction scene—it's like a theatre show with a new act."

The popularity of the theme park ride inspired Walt Disney Pictures to launch a wildly successful film franchise, beginning in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Three years later, Disney brought the story full circle, adding characters from the film franchise to the attraction. Disneyland spokesperson Suzi Brown told MousePlanet:

"From introducing characters from the film saga, to the technology and story enhancements, changes to our attractions are done in the spirit of moving forward that Walt Disney inspired. We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene, consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction."

Kathy Mangum, vice president and executive producer with Walt Disney Imagineering, explains what Imagineers hoped to accomplish with this update:

"Our team thought long and hard about how to best update this scene. Given the redhead has long been a fan favorite, we wanted to keep her as a pivotal part of the story, so we made her a plundering pirate! We think this keeps to the original vision of the attraction as envisioned by Marc Davis, X Atencio and the other Disney legends who first brought this classic to life."


The auctioneer tries to auction off the hens offered by the larger woman next to him. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disneyland Paris previously debuted a similar version of the auction scene following last June's announcement. So, for die-hards out there, California is your last chance to see the prior version of the auction scene, and Disneyland has not yet released the reopening date for the attraction there.

Pixar Play Zone at Disney's Contemporary Resort Now Accepting Reservations

Updating last week's announcement of the April 13 debut of the new pilot project Pixar-themed nightly play area for fully toilet-trained kids ages 4-12 at Disney's Contemporary Resort, reservations are now open for the newly named Pixar Play Zone. As we mentioned last week, the $65/child (plus tax) four and a half hour program includes games, dinner, and dessert, and, in many ways, sounds similar to how kids aboard Disney Cruise Line ships are "checked in" to the kids-only Oceaneers Club that frees up parents to enjoy other forms of entertainment for awhile.


Pixar Play Zone at Disney's Contemporary Resort will include several different themed spaces. Image ©Disney.

Just like on the Disney Cruise Line ships, as Disney Parks Blog explained, parents will be required to be physically present to check children in and out of the experience at the welcome desk (check-in opens at 5 p.m.). Kids first stop at the Monsters, Inc. handwashing station, and then they can store their belongings at Boo's closet door. Programming will run from 6-10:30 p.m.

The Pixar Play Zone is divided in to several areas:

  • Bonnie’s Play Room – children will find a variety of toys.
  • The Living Room – "Space Ranger Training" will teach kids how to become a Jr. Space Ranger of Star Command, including identifying enemies, like Zurg, and learning the call of the Space Ranger, “To infinity and beyond!” Then, Woody and Jessie will show kids "the ropes of the Wild West" during Woody’s Roundup and a sing along.
  • Radiator Springs Racetrack – kids build their own racecars and take turns sending them down a soapbox derby racetrack for Piston Cup Derby Races.


Woody and Jessie will join the kids in the Living Room. Image ©Disney.


Kids take turns racing their creations down a soapbox derby racetrack. Image ©Disney.

Guests can make reservations for their kids at Pixar Play Zone by calling 407-824-KIDS.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon To Host Disney H2O Glow Nights

As part of the "Incredible Summer" theme tying together the special offerings around Disney Parks this summer, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon will host a new hard ticket nighttime party on Thursday and Saturday evenings from 8-11 p.m., June 21 to August 11. The brand new Disney H2O Glow Nights imagines the Disney-Pixar Toy Story "pals" throwing "glow parties" inspired by the Pixar short, Partysaurus Rex.


Disney H2O Glow Nights are inspired by Pixar's "Partysaurus Rex" short. Video clip ©Disney.

Disney H2O Glow Nights will feature special lighting effects around the park. All attractions will be open and there will be special food and beverage offerings, including an adults-only private bar, entertainment and seating area named "The Wharf." A DJ dance party will be held on the beach and the event will offer party games. The highlight for many may be the chance to meet up with Toy Story characters Buzz, Woody and Jessie.

Tickets are $55 plus tax for guests ages 10 and over; $50 plus tax for children ages 3-9. Like other hard ticket events, the party is not included in daytime admission. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (407) 939-1872.

Magic Kingdom Halloween and Christmas Party Dates Now On-Sale

As the Spring Break season rolls along, and we learn the details of the new Typhoon Lagoon hard ticket summer party events, it is already time this week to look ahead to Magic Kingdom's fall and winter Celebrations. Both Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will return to the park for their after-hours, hard ticket seasonal celebrations.

Starting even earlier than last year, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party gets underway on August 17 and runs on 34 nights through Halloween October 31. The party line-up looks to be the same as past recent years with the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular led by the Sanderson sisters from the Cinderella Castle stage, Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, and Happy HalloWishes fireworks all returning. Ticket prices start at $75 for advance purchase and $85 for on-site purchases (if any same-day tickets remain). Information is available and tickets may be purchased by phone: (407) 939-1872. As of publication, neither DisneyWorld.com nor the My Disney Experience App show date-specific pricing, available discounts, or an option for online ordering (though that will be available as the event dates approach).


The Sanderson Sisters are scheduled to return on select nights starting on August 17 in their Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular shows during Mickey's Not So Scarry Halloween Party. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

During the week after Halloween, Magic Kingdom very quickly will be transformed to the Christmas season for this year's 22 nightly celebrations of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The first one will be on the night of November 8. Like Halloween, the announced line-up also appears to be the same as recent years: Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, A Frozen Holiday Wish with Queen Elsa freezing Cinderella Castle, and the Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration stage show taking over the castle stage. Ticket prices start at $95 in advance and $105 for on-site purchases (if any same-day tickets remain). Like the Halloween party, information is available and tickets may be purchased by phone: (407) 939-1872. As of publication, neither DisneyWorld.com nor the My Disney Experience App show date-specific pricing, available discounts, or an option for online ordering (though that will be available as the event dates approach).


Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration is scheduled to return for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party again in 2018. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

All of the party dates are now included in our Resort Events listing below. Disney says the entertainment options are, of course, subject to change. Be aware too that it is not unusual for rain to change performance schedules during the parties and, as we saw during more than one Halloween Party last year, rain can roll in during a show and shut it down pretty suddenly.

Epcot Concert News & Calendar

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival's Garden Rocks Concert Series takes the stage at the America Gardens Theatre three times nightly on Fridays through Mondays through May 28. For the convenience of our readers, we list all of the performances 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.


Garden Rocks Concert Series runs Fridays through Mondays during the 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views Around the World

This week, I visited Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs. The crowds and blooms seem to be all over the Resort. As usual, photo captions provide you with bits of news too.

Magic Kingdom


Large crowds are common in the parks during spring break season, even on a Wednesday. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


When guests are backed up on to the entry bridge for Swiss Family Treehouse, as they are here, you know Magic Kingdom is busy. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With spring break season underway, the seasonal Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant is again open. Its entree menu is limited: an Angus Bacon Cheeseburger, Dipped Chicken Strips, and Chef Salad are its three choices. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Even when the park is busy, it usually is not a very long wait for a relaxing ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot


The 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues through May 28. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Local residents of Epcot help make Epcot even more "fresh" during the 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Blossom Always and Mother Nature were driving around World Showcase in their flower-covered cart on Friday. Mother Nature is often armed with the water spray bottle for that extra bit of "#freshepcot." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The popular Egg-stravaganza scavenger hunt is back, but only through April 1. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With Norway pavilion's Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe closed for refurbishment, a few of its popular menu items are now available at the Midnattssol Bakeri kiosk along World Showcase Promenade. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Disney Skyliner construction outside the International Gateway can sometimes be spotted around World Showcase Lagoon. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction cranes working on the new Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster in Future World East appear above the former Wonders of Life pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


2018 graduation ear caps are on some of the sales racks at Epcot this week. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


The parking entrance road from Buena Vista Drive has been re-routed yet again. Be sure to follow the signs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction on Disney Skyliner's station for the park continues between the waterway and the parking lot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Pieces of the future Disney Skyliner infrastructure can be seen in the parking lot awaiting installation. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction in the parking lot has resulted in a new route for the walkway from the park to Disney's BoardWalk. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Sorcerer Mickey topiary stands outside the park's gates. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The flowers surrounding the Sorcerer Mickey topiary are as striking as those in some of the gardens of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


You never know quite where Mickey Mouse may appear. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With many attractions closed during the ongoing land construction inside the park, lots of hula-hoops are available for guests to entertain themselves (and each other). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Cast members also set up some word scrambles for guests to solve. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Easter 2018 pins are available around Walt Disney World, including at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


More than one style of Easter 2018 pin is available. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With Mickey's 90th Birthday coming up this fall, it is not surprising that one of the "purchase with purchase" options prominently features Mickey. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Disney's Hollywood Studios also has an assortment of Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Infinity War" merchandise available. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


As the June 30 opening of Toy Story Land approaches, the construction walls near the land's entrance have been rearranged allowing for a new view of its main entry path. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With the Toy Story Land construction walls in their current position, additional details of Andy's backyard and a little bit of the Slinky Dog Dash coaster are visible. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Further down the pathway in Pixar Place, trees and an earthen berm make very little of the future Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land visible, even with its opening not slated until 2019. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Over at the end of Grand Avenue, the large concrete wall that marks the future entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is topped with an interesting crest. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Behind the Grand Avenue Theatre (at the exit of MuppetVision 3D, trees and a new concrete wall also block most of the view of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Springs


Construction continues at the new garage next to the casting building across the Buena Vista Drive from Disney Springs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


From atop the Lime Garage at Disney Springs, you may be able to spot a spectacular Central Florida sunset (and, if you look toward the right side of the photo, you will also spot Spaceship Earth at Epcot). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Raglan Road

St. Patrick's Day was last Saturday and Raglan Road at Disney Springs held its Mighty Festival all weekend. Before it began on Thursday, I was invited to a media preview of its three days of "non-stop live Irish music, family fun and late-night revelry." The Raglan Road Irish Dancers regularly perform at the pub, and musical entertainment is a regular feature of the venue all year round.


The Maguires, a musical family from Ireland, were one of the featured acts during the Mighty Festival. They performed "The Bare Necessities." during the media preview on Thursday during one of their sets. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Raglan Road Irish Dancers performed during the Mighty Festival as they do year round. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That

Disney Parks Blog continued the celebration of National Women's History Month this March by saluting the talented women who are Disney pastry chefs at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

…The Easter Bunny is now making appearances in the Town Square Courtyard for photo opportunities until Easter Sunday, April 1. On March 31 and April 1, a special Easter-themed pre-parade will run down Main Street U.S.A. featuring Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny, Daisy Duck, Thumper & Ms. Bunny, White Rabbit, Rabbit, Clara Cluck, hippos, ostriches, dancing chicks, and the traditional appearance by the Azalea Trail Maids from Mobile Alabama. The Times Guide and My Disney Experience are your source for scheduled times and any changes.

…Speaking of Easter, Maria & Enzo's at Disney Springs is serving up a brunch featuring its Italian specialty dishes, chef attended, made to order frittatas, carving stations, and more. For the full menu and reservations for the $35 per guest over age 10, $15 per child 10 and under buffet, visit this page of Patina Restaurant Group's website.

…A new walk-up quick service location named Spyglass Grill is now open near the pool in the Trinadad South section of Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner options include "American foods infused with classic Caribbean flavors." The beverage options include wine, beer, and specialty cocktails, plus Joffrey's Coffee, specialty coffee, hot cocoa, hot tea, and a Lava Smoothie. You can see photos of some of the new menu items on Disney Parks Blog.

…In May, the West Side of Disney Springs will become home to the new DisneyStyle shop. It will feature what Disney Parks Blog describes as "fresh and stylish apparel and accessories inspired by beloved attractions at Disney Parks and timeless Disney characters." The merchandise will include spirit jerseys, headwear, and accessories like handbags, hats, socks, and more. It will be next door to Star Wars Galactic Outpost (likely in the space formerly occupied by the Harley-Davidson Orlando shop before it moved to the Town Center neighborhood earlier this winter).


DisneyStyle is expected to open in May at Disney Springs. Image ©Disney.

…Walt Disney World Golf (which is operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management) now offers its own gift cards available in $50, $100, and $200 increments. The gift cards may be used toward rounds of golf, pro shop purchases, and golf instruction. For more information, including online and other ways to order, visit this page of GolfWDW.com.

…The episodes of the Steve Harvey daytime show STEVE recorded earlier this month at Epcot air this week. Check stevetv.com/local-listings for time and station information.

…If you are looking for a little complimentary photo fun and souvenir while visiting Disney Springs, UNIQLO now has a free photobooth which provides you with a print of your session as well as a digital copy (and links to share).

…Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs continues its month long Sakura Festival celebrating the arrival of spring and cherry blossoms through April 15. In addition to special menu items and decor during the festival, a number of special ticketed events are scheduled including:

  • Late night whiskey pairing and bites with Suntory - March 23: 9-11 p.m. ($32)
  • Taste From the Seas of Japan - March 30: 4-6 p.m. ($45)
  • Morimoto Asia's Guest Chef Series - April 3: 7-9 p.m. ($120)
  • Ramen Seminar and Tasting - April 7: 12-3 p.m. ($36)
  • Matsuri Festival - April 15: 12-4 p.m. ($45)

More information about the Sakura Festival, its special events and tickets are available on this page of the Patina Restaurant Group's website.

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Crowd Forecast

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Date Overall
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 7 / 10
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 6 / 10
Thursday, March 22, 2018 6 / 10
Friday, March 23, 2018 8 / 10
Saturday, March 24, 2018 8 / 10

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Resort Events

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.

2018 Resort Events

  • 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – February 28 - May 28, 2018
  • Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side Weekend – April 19 - 22, 2018.
  • Dapper Day (unofficial events) – Spring: Magic Kingdom: April 28, 2018; Epcot: April 29, 2018;
    Fall: Disney's Animal Kingdom (until 3-5 p.m.) and Magic Kingdom (eventing): November 17; Epcot: November 18, 2018
  • Star Wars: Galactic Nights event at Disney's Hollywood Studios – May 27, 2018
    Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for more information and to purchase tickets.
  • Gay Days at Walt Disney World 2018 ("#RedShirtDays" – unofficial events) – Disney's Animal Kingdom: May 31;
    Disney's Hollywood Studios: June 1; Magic Kingdom: June 2; Epcot: June 3
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom – August 17, 24, 28, 31; September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30;
    October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 1-4, 2018
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – August 30 - November 12, 2018
  • Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 26-27, 2018
      –Sunday Bubbles Brunch – October 28, 2018.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom – November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30; December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21
  • Holidays at Walt Disney World – TBA
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – TBA
  • Candlelight Processional at Epcot – TBA

2019 Resort Events

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)

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.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

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.

Magic Kingdom

  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment.
  • Stitch's Great Escape – My Disney Experience lists as "available seasonally throughout the year."

Epcot

  • Stave Church Gallery at Norway pavilion – closed for refurbishment.
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe at Norway pavilion – closed for refurbishment through summer 2018.
    A few Kringla favorites will be available at Midnattsol Bakeri, a kiosk on World Showcase Promenade at Norway during the refurbishment.
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure at Universe of Energy – Permanently closed on August 13, 2017.
    Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster-type attraction opens in approximately 2021.
  • Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable – closed February 3, 2018. Theater to be repurposed.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The Great Movie Ride – Permanently closed August 13, 2017. The new "Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway" attraction to open in Chinese Theatre in 2019.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Flights of Wonder (Caravan Stage) – Show Closed on December 31, 2017. "UP! A Great Bird Adventure" starring Russell and Dug and their bird friends opens April 22.

Blizzard Beach

  • No known closures at this time.

Typhoon Lagoon

  • No known closures at this time.

Disney Springs

  • World of Disney – phased store closings for refurbishment underway. The Disney Corner now open in Town Center offering select merchandise during refurbishment.
  • DisneyQuest – Closed as of July 3, 2017. The NBA Experience expected to open Summer 2019.
  • Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – Closed April 24, 2017. Terralina Crafted Italian expected to open in Spring 2018.
  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – Show closed on December 31, 2017. A new Cirque du Soleil show is now in development with its premiere date to be announced.
  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Café – closed August 1, 2017. Location is being transformed into Jaleo, a restaurant featuring Spanish cuisine, expected to open 2018. A new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is under construction next door to the Coca-Cola Store, expected to open 2018. Wolfgang Puck Express continues to operate in its existing location in the Marketplace.

Resorts

  • Caribbean Beach – Centertown, the resort's marketplace, will be expanded with new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in Summer 2018, with the overall project completed 2019-20. Due to the work, the following food service and retail locations are currently 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.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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.

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

Get Away Today Logo

Be sure to move the calendar to at least seven (7) days out, to see what ticket options and discounts are available for your planned visit.

Travel Discounts for Everyone

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 for the discount. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund. Both the immediate and discount version of Memory Maker can be purchased at this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Travel Discounts for Annual Passholders

THE 45th ANNIVERSARY OF WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT DINING DISCOUNTS ENDED ON DECEMBER 23, 2017. BE AWARE THAT THE PASSHOLDER (GOLD) CARD AND PHOTO I.D. MUST BE SHOWN TO RECEIVE A DISCOUNT AND OTHER BENEFITS.

For the most up-to-date list of locations offering dining discounts to Annual Passholders, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Many dining locations offer Passholders 10% discounts during some or all meal periods (also excluding alcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity).

The latest information on this page of DisneyWorld.com lists discounts at many merchandise locations across Walt Disney World Resort, including locations that continue to offer 20% discounts off regularly priced merchandise.

The latest information on this page of DisneyWorld.com lists discounts for special events and tours at locations around Walt Disney World Resort.

The latest information on this page of DisneyWorld.com lists discounts for sports, recreation, and spas around Walt Disney World Resort.

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 WDWAP18 to arrange your rental. It is listed on the "Passholders Extras" page of the Passholder website with the updated code as of February 19, 2018.

Visit the DisneyWorld.com Special Offers page (filtered for Passholders) and log in with a My Disney Experience account linked to your Annual Pass for information, or call (407)939-4232 to book by phone.

Additional information about available "Passholder Extras" are available here, including a discount of $30 on tickets to one of the remaining Disney After Hours events at Magic Kingdom, a new $35 Sunrise 9 golf offer (including 9 holes of golf, a hot breakfast and 2 beverages between 7 and 8:30 a.m., subject to availability at Disney Golf courses), a new $29 Sunset 9 golf offer (including 9 holes of golf, a light snack and a beer or soft drink, subject to availability in the late afternoon at Disney Golf courses), 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.

Away from the Resort, Passholders can use code DANCEPARTY to get 20% off of tickets to the new Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour in Jacksonville, Melbourne, Clearwater, and Sarasota Florida, for house seats while supplies last. Visit disneyjuniortour.com for more information and tickets.

Very far away from the Resort, Passholders staying 3 or more consecutive nights at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, can save up to 30% for rooms booked most nights from April 2 through June 7, 2018. Reservations must be made by May 9, 2018. The Passholder must present the annual pass at check-in and must stay in a room on the reservation. (Also applies to Disneyland Resort annual passholders.)

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

REMINDER TO MAGICBAND USERS: YOU MUST STILL SHOW YOUR DISNEY VISA CREDIT CARD TO RECEIVE DISCOUNTS AND OTHER PERKS; DISCOUNTS ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED EVEN IF YOU HAVE LINKED YOUR DISNEY VISA CREDIT CARD TO YOUR MAGICBAND.

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: 12/31/17, 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:

  • Carriage Rides at Disney's Port Orleans Resort and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Horseback Trail Rides at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

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

2018 Armed Forces Salute Tickets

January 1 through December 19, 2018

  • Four-Day Park Hopper Tickets: $226.00
  • Four-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets: $266.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Tickets: $246.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets: $286.00

NOTE: Tickets must be used by December 19, 2018.

U.S. Military personnel can also purchase the Memory Maker product for $98.00 through December 19.

Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets by Eligible Service Members (as defined on Disney World.com) or their spouses (but not both), for use by themselves and only family members and friends, as provided by Disney's rules. These Tickets may not be otherwise transferred, distributed or resold. Limit six (6) tickets purchased by the military personnel (or spouse), and one ticket must be used by that member of the military (or spouse).

U.S. Military personnel can enjoy discounts at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels when booking by December 19, 2018, for stays most nights from January 1 through March 24, 2018, and April 6 through December 19, 2018. Offer excludes moderate and deluxe resorts. Call(407)939-5684 for information and reservations.


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

Discover Disney Tickets

Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets are back: $159/person plus tax for the Discover Disney 3-Day Ticket; $179/person plus tax for the Discover Disney 4-Day Ticket. Tickets must be purchased by June 20 and may be used on any day until June 24, 2018. Park Hopper Option is available for an additional $30/ticket plus tax for the 3-Day Ticket; $37.50/ticket for the 4-Day Ticket. Further information is available and tickets may be purchased on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Disney Select Tickets

At a higher price, but with a whole lot more flexibility that came along with the price increases of February 11, 2018, Florida Residents can also save with the 4-Day Disney Select Ticket (compared to the price of a 4-Day Magic Your Way ticket). There is a smaller discount for a 3-Day Select Ticket, and there is also a discount for 1–Day Tickets with the Park Hopper Option only. For more information visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

 
  1–Day Ticket+
Park Hopper Option
Florida Resident General Admission  
  Ages 10+ Ages 3-9 Ages 10+ Ages 3-9  
  Value Day

$136.50

$130.50

$164.00

$158.00

 
  Regular Day

$146.50

$140.50

$174.00

$168.00

 
  Peak Day

$156.50

$150.50

$184.00

$178.00

 
 
 

Florida Resident
Select Tickets

3-Day Select Ages 10+

3-Day Select Ages 3-9

4-Day Select Ages 10+

4-Day Select Ages 10+

 
 

1 Park Per Day

$209.00

$197.00

$229.00

$215.00

 
 

Park Hopper

$241.50

$229.50

$266.50

$252.50

 
 
  • Florida Select tickets expire 180 days after first use. First use must be on or before December 31, 2019.
  • Florida Select tickets do not need to be used on consecutive days.
  • All adults who will use Florida resident tickets must show an acceptable form of proof of Florida residency at a theme park ticket window, or at any Guest Relations location, prior to first use. Pass certificates can be exchanged for valid passes at the same locations.

Spring into 2018 rates for Florida Residents are available for most nights through April 14, 2018. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for information or call (407)939-2752.

If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!

Travel Discounts for Canada Residents

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 https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/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. It currently includes an offer for a 14-day ticket for the price of a 7-day ticket and up to four free resort nights on a two-week holiday (valid most school holidays) when booked by 28th March. Package includes Memory Maker and is valid for residents of the U.K. and Ireland only. On select arrivals for stays at Disney Hotels, guests also receive a $100 US Disney Gift Card.

If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!

 

Comments

  1. By indyjones

    I feel that if I'm paying $500 a night for a hotel room that I should not have to pay for parking. It's just another nickle-and-dime the customer thing. The excuse that "other places do it" doesn't hold. Other places are NOT Disney and if that is your excuse that means Disney is becoming just like other places which should not be the case.
    On another note, we recently ate at Maria & Enzo's at Disney Springs and everyone's overall impression after we left was "well we don't need to go there again." The food was acceptable but not great, but VERY overpriced. If we were paying about 1/3 of what we did we could have said it was great. The service was not good and on numerous occasions during attempts to see how we were doing it simply felt like an advertisement for other restaurants owned by this company. Our advice, save your money and go elsewhere.

  2. By davidgra

    Excellent update as usual! Thanks for all the detailed information about the new parking fees. While they won't affect us -- DVC members who always stay at DVC Resorts -- it's nice for Disney to separate out the parking fee, rather than just up their prices by that amount. If you don't bring a car, you don't have to pay for a parking space. That's the way it is where I work, and that's the way most upscale hotels operate.

    Even if we weren't DVC members, though, this wouldn't bother us; we almost never have a car when we're on property. We certainly don't need one, since Disney transportation takes us everywhere, and, on the rare occasion that we need to go someone off-property, an Uber is cheaper than a rental car for almost everything we do. Why pay for a rental car for a week just to make a trip or to the grocery store or some restaurant? I know those who live close enough to drive don't have those costs involved, but I think the majority of visitors to the resorts come in on airplanes, so I thank Disney for not making me pay for other peoples' parking spaces.

  3. By blubell

    FYI, the "crest" that is at the end of Grand Avenue is the central part of the seal of the City of Los Angles. The upper left corner is for the original 13 colonies, the upper right corner is the flag of California (aka the Bear Flag Republic), the lower left represents Mexico, and the lower right represents Spain.

  4. By schnebs

    Excellent update as always, Alan. Honestly, the way you feel about Las Vegas pretty much matches how I'm feeling about visiting Disneyland these days; I let my family's APs expire this year after personally having APs for almost 20 years, and Disney's really going to have to work to convince me to come back. Both the World and the Land have been mastering the art of offering less and finding new and creative ways to nickel and dime you to pay for it. The days when Disney would offer a bunch of perks to Guests to make their experience a little more special and to justify their premium prices are long gone; these days, as long as the rest of the hotel and theme park world is doing it, that means Disney can do it, too. But the crowds keep coming, so Disney has no incentive to change its ways, and short of something causing tourism numbers to crash and burn, I don't see it happening anytime in the near future.

  5. By asdhollywood

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Regards,
    Alan

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