Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 23-30, 2018

by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 23-30, 2018

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

Writer's note: For those expecting to find the Disneyland Resort Update here today, we swapped publishing spots this week to accomodate some scheduling issues. The Disneyland Resort Update will be along tomorrow. But true Disney Parks fans know that there are many tributes to the California Disney Parks to be found around Walt Disney World Resort, including several overt ones at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


A model of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle is on display inside Walt Disney Presents at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


One of the newest billboards on Sunset Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios advertises Paradise Pier which, as our West Coast readers well-know, is currently being transformed into Pixar Pier. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


And, while Disneyland Resort celebrates Pixar Fest this summer, the fate of Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios remains unannounced as we await the June 30 opening of Toy Story Land. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

It was a surprisingly crowded week around the Walt Disney World Resort this past week. Perhaps, "Spring Break Season" continues in some regions, as numerous guests I heard introducing themselves on stage at such places as the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and to the Citizens of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios said they were from Massachusetts and Texas. Of course, as we got toward the end of the week, we also saw an influx of those participating in the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side Weekend.


While Disney California Adventure transformed its "Tower" into Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT, Disney's Hollywood Studios retains the original "Tower of Terror" inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

And, the weekend at Walt Disney World was capped off with the Earth Day celebration yesterday of Disney's Animal Kingdom's 20th Anniversary which also kicks off a two week-long "Party for the Planet" celebration. More on that in the News and Views in a moment. Later today, be sure to check out our Facebook page for the latest information we learn from Walt Disney Imagineering about Toy Story Land from another beyond-the-construction-walls invited media tour.

I will be away from the Update next week. I promise that you will see more Disney stuff from me on MousePlanet social media channels (as West Coast MousePlanet Contributor Todd Pickering has already hinted in an Instagram Live video the other day) in the interim. But, before that, let's get to this week's Walt Disney World Resort Update …


News and Views

Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates 20 Years and Begins its "Party for the Planet" | Toy Story Land Update Coming Today | Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend Complete | Epcot Concert News & Calendar | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd Forecast

Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates 20 Years and Begins its "Party for the Planet"

Yesterday, Earth Day (April 22), marked the 20th Anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World's fourth theme park: Disney's Animal Kingdom. The park celebrated its anniversary with a special ceremony featuring performers and Disney Parks executives discussing the foundations of the park dedicated to conservation. The park also used the day to officially introduce two new permanent features: the Pandora Utility Suit (and pilot) and the new show "UP! A Great Bird Adventure."


Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Earth Day, April 22. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For the next two weeks, the park will celebrate its longest ever "Party for the Planet," which, in addition to entertainment and special offerings, focuses on the park's dedication to conservation. During the media event celebrating the 20th Anniversary, we also got an expanded look at "Donald's Dino-Bash," which will debut in DinoLand U.S.A. with the start of the "Incredible Summer" and is expected to also become a permanent addition to the park.

Celebrating (more) than twenty years

As Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering said:

Disney's Animal Kingdom is more or less the story of my life!! Even though it's…like…twenty years old, there has never been a single day when we were not working on something that was going to go into the park or change the park. It's a living thing, because it is full of other living things.

Joe Rohde, who has worked for The Walt Disney Company for more than 35 years, was the imagineer who conceptualized, designed, and oversaw development of the park. As you probably know, Walt Disney World Resort's fourth theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, is also its largest at more than 500 acres. It was originally announced on June 5, 1995, and construction got underway in August of that year. It is home to about 2,000 animals, representing 300 species.

To commemorate the anniversary of its April 22, 1998, opening, the park held a celebration inside the Harambe Theatre (usually home to The Festival of the Lion King) featuring performers and characters that often appear around the park, as well as some of the park's leadership team and Imagineer Joe Rohde. If you were following on Social Media during the past week, you may recall that the ceremony was to have taken place in front of the Tree of Life, but it was moved indoors Sunday morning due to the threat of rain (which, fortunately for those of us there, never actually hit the park).


Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Earth Day with a special event inside Harambe Theatre, which included speeches by Disney Parks Executives and Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, Joe Rohde who conceptualized, designed and oversaw development of the park. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Disney's Animal Kingdom broadcast its 20th Anniversary celebration live on Disney Parks Blog with hosts Mark Daniel and Jennifer Fickley-Baker. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Watch the full 35 minute replay of the #DisneyParksLIVE broadcast from Disney Parks Blog. Video ©Disney.

After the ceremony, I had a brief opportunity to chat with Joe Rohde about the artistic inspirations for Disney's Animal Kingdom. He said:

If you think about, for example, all of the colorful carving and painting that makes up the center of the park in Discovery Island, all of that draws its resources, for the most part, from New World folk art traditions in Oaxaca, in Peru, even in North America—of using the animal as an inspiration for all of these forms.
When you're walking around Asia, for example, all of that patina, all that crumbling, that's inspired by the same Romantic traditions of painting and sculpture like [Giovanni Battista] Piranesi, like Salvator Rosa, who invented the whole idea that places that are kind of crumbly could be Romantic like that. Not to mention the mountain, which is part of a whole tradition of the art of mountains; and I don't mean the Disney tradition, but this deeper tradition of art and art history of making mountains into a kind of a spiritual symbol. So you can look all over over the place and find art history inside the body this park.


Joe Rohde spent a few minutes with me discussing the artistic inspirations for Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

"Party for the Planet" now through May 5

This year, the park's "Party for the Planet" celebration runs for two weeks, through May 5. It includes not only special limited-time food and merchandise offerings, but some special events this year. For example, on select nights, there will be special hard-ticket dining events called "Tiffins Talks" featuring conservation leaders attempting to help reverse the decline of at-risk animals in projects around the globe.


This year, Disney's Animal Kingdom's 20th Anniversary on Earth Day also marks the kickoff of the two week "Party for the Planet" celebration in the park. Special Adventure Guides are available at guide map distribution locations during the celebration (special park guide maps were distributed on Earth Day). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For example, Dr. Anne Savage, conservation director, Animals, Science & Environment – Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, will speak about her experiences working with cotton-top tamarin in the rainforests of Colombia which are faced with habitat destruction. I had a brief opportunity to chat with her as well, and she described working with kids in Colombia, offering them ways of thinking about not having monkeys as pets. As part of her work, she has led Disney's Animal Kingdom cast members who are particularly good animal trainers to Colombia to teach kids about how to train their dogs as pets instead.

Disney's "reverse the decline" efforts are also celebrated by special Disney PhotoPass photo opportunities around the park. As always at the park, there also are other ways to support the Disney Conservation Fund, including at merchandise locations. (And, yes, there is also special new merchandise inspired by the anniversary and the Party for the Planet.) You can read more about the Party for the Planet on this page of DisneyWorld.com.


The on-going celebration at the park includes special Disney PhotoPass photo opportunities, including some (like this walk-in style display) located outside the front gate. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Limited-time food offerings have been created as well. I tasted the "Impossible Burger" which I found to be as it was described: "meat, made from plants, for meat-lovers." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Pandor Utility Suit and Pilot debut

Pandora-The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrates its first anniversary on Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday, it officially welcomed a new character experience to the highly-themed land.

The new Pandora Utility Suit and pilot are now a regular part of the daily scene in Pandora. At 10 feet high and said to weigh in at 4.2 tons, the new walking suit has articulated hands operated by a human pilot strapped in to the "cockpit." As the pilot explains, although resembling the AMP suits depicted in the film AVATAR, his Utility Suit was designed for restoration and study of the flora and geography of Pandora.

Consult the Times Guide or My Disney Experience App for the times the pilot will be meeting guests during your visit to Pandora.

"UP! A Great Bird Adventure" officially debuts

The long-running Flights of Wonder show at the Caravan Stage in the Asia area of the park closed at the end of 2017. A new 25-minute show, "UP! A Great Bird Adventure" made its official debut yesterday (Sunday) in the same theater (which no longer seems to be named "Caravan Stage" but is in the same location).


The new show "UP! A Great Bird Adventure" made its official debut on Sunday. As the signs indicate, FastPass+ reservations are available for some performances of the show. The earliest I have seen FastPass+ reservations for the show are for performances in late May. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The new show features Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug from the Disney-Pixar animated film Up who have journeyed to Asia and met up with Anika, a bird enthusiast, to learn more about birds from around the world like their often-mentioned friend (from the film) Kevin. The new show, like its predecessor, features bird experts and close-up encounters with numerous bird species. The show now includes more than 15 species, including toucans, parrots, macaws, an African fish eagle, and (like Flights of Wonder did) a bald eagle.


The new show is led by its "avian enthusiast" host, Anika, who interacts with the cast of bird experts, birds, as well as Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry pal Dug. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Dug and Russell play significant parts in the new show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Russell has an opportunity to feed the crane. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Dug watches as one of the animal experts shows off a bald eagle. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

As any show with live performers and, particularly, animals, sometimes things in the show do not go according to script (and not in a "Disney ride where something suddenly goes wrong" kind of way). That can add to the entertainment of the show. While this show generally is a reasonable successor to Flights of Wonder, at least in my opinion, it still seems to need some tweaking. Unfortunately, both the soft opening preview I saw of the show last week and the official opening day 1:30 p.m. performance I saw were beset with not just birds acting unexpectedly (which, like I said, is rather amusing in and of itself, and even educational), but with technical issues with microphones and audio cues: the interactions between the live performers and their (pre-recorded) character friends was mistimed more than a couple of times.

Finally, now that characters with animated (articulated) faces and mouths seem to be the norm in stage shows around the Resort (including The Festival of the Lion King in Disney's Animal Kingdom), I was disappointed to see that Russell's face is not animated. It is, in theory, possible that this choice was made due to interactions between the characters and the animals, but now that I have gotten used to seeing characters blinking and moving their mouths, Russell's not doing those things just seems off.

Special Animal Encounters and Educational Opportunities

In addition to the Tiffins Talks discussed above, I have previously written about the special complimentary (and paid) backstage tours being offered for, at least, the next few weeks. The knowledgeable guides and cast members you will encounter on these tours do an excellent job discussing not only the park's efforts to care for its inhabitants but the park's overall inspiration of and participation (through Disney Conservation Fund) conservation efforts around the world.

Rafiki's Planet Watch Conservation Station is the center for "Party for the Planet" educational opportunities. That is where the backstage tours depart, for example. It also is home to some special animal encounter opportunities (and, yes, character meet and greets too).


Special animal encounter opportunities are available at Conservation Station (in addition to character meet and greets and the free backstage tours I wrote about earlier this month). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Even if you do not visit Conservation Station, when you visit Gorilla Falls Nature Trail or the Maharajah Jungle Trek, you should do yourself the favor of taking some time to talk to the guides stationed along the trail. They provide guests with a wealth of infuormation (not just during the "Party for the Planet"), as they are also part of the Animal Sciences cast, trained to educate guests about the animals along those trails.

Donald's Dino-Bash coming Memorial Day weekend

As the story goes, when Donald Duck discovered that he was related to dinosaurs, he decided to get some of his relatives and friends together and throw a party. So, starting with the Memorial Day weekend kickoff of the Resort-wide "Incredible Summer," Donald's Dino-Bash will become a permanent addition to Chester & Hester's Dinorama in DinoLand U.S.A.


Disney Parks Live Entertainment leaders showed off some of the concept art for Donald's Dino-Bash coming this summer. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Starting this summer, this new permanent overlay for this part of the park will become the largest character meet-and-greet area in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and even Scrooge McDuck will have their own locations. Chip 'n' Dale will appear here, and Goofy will also continue to appear. Pluto will appear nearby in the Bone Yard (of course).

As night falls each day, the DJ-hosted parties begin. Some of the characters will join in the nightly revelry as well. Even more details likely will be released as the summer approaches.

Toy Story Land Update Coming Today

Later today (well, depending on what time you read the Update), we have again been invited behind the construction walls for a (no photos or video permitted) update on the new Toy Story Land opening on June 30 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We expect to learn some new information during the brief tour and we will post it to our Facebook page.


Inside Walt Disney Presents at Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests can view a model of Toy Story Land. The actual Toy Story Land opens on June 30. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction of a new structure continues immediately next door to Walt Disney Presents at the future entrance to Toy Story Land. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


During our previous visit beyond the construction walls inside Toy Story Land, we stood in one of Andy's footprints near the Slinky Dog Dash coaster. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Resort guests with room reservations for June 30 and beyond are now able to make FastPass+ ride reservations for Toy Story Land attractions. We have seen reports that the "tiers" at Disney's Hollywood Studios will change in anticipation of the new attractions, but we do not yet have personal experience trying to book FastPass+ reservations for June 30 or beyond. Right now, Toy Story Mania continues to operate (but with reduced capacity when both sets of tracks are not in use) and we do not see any FastPass+ reservations available for the next 30 days.


My Disney Experience now shows Toy Story Land on the park map. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka.


FastPass+ may not be available at Toy Story Mania before the opening of Toy Story Land on June 30. At least when this photo was taken on Thursday, there was no FastPass+ entrance open at the attraction. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend Complete

More than 17,000 runners participated in the 13.1-mile Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon race yesterday (Sunday, April 22), during the third-annual Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side weekend. Vanilson Neves of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the overall winner, finishing in 1:09:55. 2020 Olympic Trial qualifier Brittany Charboneau of Denver, Colorado, won the women's division with a time of 1:21:39.


The Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side began before dawn on Sunday, April 22, at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo © Disney.

In the men's division, Neves, was followed by Dicson Peixoto Falcao of Fortaleza, Brazil (1:14:38) and Zane Grabau of Gainesville, Florida (1:15:27). Charboneau was followed in the women's division by Katherine Burkowski of Windermere, Florida (1:26:09) and Jennifer Barron of Paradise, Canada (1:26:09).


Vanilson Neves of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the overall winne of the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side in 1:09:55; 2020 Olympic Trial qualifier Brittany Charboneau of Denver, Colorado, won the women's division. Photo © Disney.

In addition to the half marathon, the weekend included the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, Kids Races, the Star Wars Dark Side 5K, and the Star Wars Dark Side 10K. Runners who completed both the Star Wars Dark Side 10K and Half Marathon on back-to-back days participated in the 19.3-mile Star Wars First Order Challenge.


Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side Weekend activities took over parts of the parking lots and roads around the Resort this past week. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot Concert News & Calendar

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival's Garden Rocks Concert Series continues to take 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.


Passholder reserved seating requires a wristband distributed in the Future World West hallway behind Fountain View (Starbucks) and Club Cool. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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.

Remember, while supplies last during concert days, Passholders can request wristbands for guaranteed seating in the corridor behind Fountain View and Club Cool in Future World West. Unfortunately, the wristband distribution shares a queue with Passholder complimentary magnet distribution, so your wait for a wristband can be awhile (though you may ask a cast member near the queue whether wristband distribution is completed for the day before you get in line).

Views Around the World

Except Disney's Animal Kingdom which I covered extensively in the News above with photos, the Views this week are from the other three parks and Disney Springs. There is a bit of all sorts of things to see, from a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch over on the Space Coast (but viewed from Magic Kingdom), fireworks photos following up on last week's One Passholder's Tip (long hand-held exposure shots and discussion), construction updates, merchandise, and more. As usual, photo captions provide you with bits of news too.

Magic Kingdom


On Thursday, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, just over 60 miles east of Magic Kingdom's "Partners" statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A decorative construction scrim now hangs outside the Main Street U.S.A. fire station. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A decorative construction scrim is also above Tony's Town Square Restaurant (which remains open). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Even some of the residents of Magic Kingdom seem to enjoy posing in front of the Purple Wall. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Of course, do not be surprised if the residents of Magic Kingdom think your camera is edible. As the signs say, "Please do not feed the wildlife." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Exterior construction continues at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Pavement refurbishment is underway in Fantasyland. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction continues next to the entrance to Adventureland (at what is expected to become the Club 33-style private club in the park). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


From the Swiss Family Treehouse, the new roofline of the building under construction next to the entrance to Adventureland can be seen. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Swiss Family Treehouse also can provide excellent views of sunset over Adventureland. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With large crowds continuing to visit Magic Kingdom, the Central Plaza (hub) can become quite full of guests for the nightly showing of the "Happily Ever After" fireworks and projection show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Following last week's "One Passholder's Tip," this week enjoy this hand-held, 1.0 second exposure photo of some of the "Happily Ever After" fireworks show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


In contrast to the previous photo, the iPhone 7 Plus on its automatic setting while simultaneously shooting video is sufficient to capture Tinker Bell in flight during "Happily Ever After." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Enjoy the final two minutes of "Happily Ever After" fireworks and projections at Cinderella Castle. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


For the post-fireworks projection on Cinderella Castle and the surrounding lights, the iPhone 7 Plus set to use its High Dynamic Range (HDR on) mode does a great job of capturing the view. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A "point-and-shoot" camera (like the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS), may produce unexpected results during pyrotechnics, like shown here during the "Once Upon a Time" projection show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


As suggested in a previous "One Passholder's Tip," setting a "point-and-shoot" camera's focus manually in advance when shooting at night, like shown here during the "Once Upon a Time" projection show, often yields the clearest results. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Enjoy the final minute and a half of "Once Upon a Time" at Cinderella Castle. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


The World Passport collection merchandise is now available at Main Street Emporium (and elsewhere at the Resort) - it has a complimentary line of merchandise at Disneyland Resort as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot


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


As the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues, Purple Martins are plentiful at the birdhouses on the east side of Future World. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction of the future Disney Vacation Club property named Disney's Riviera Resort is now tall enough to be seen behind the Germany pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Vertical construction of the future Ratatouille-themed attraction at the France pavilion can now be seen from a number of places around World Showcase. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Much of the construction of the future Ratatouille-themed attraction appears to be located between the Morocco pavilion and the existing France pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


It can even be seen in perspective with the back of Tower of Terror over at Disney's Hollywood Studios (which was built to appear as an extension of the Morocco pavilion). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


On the other side of the France pavilion, a tower for the Disney Skyliner transportation system has been installed. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


With all the trees removed around the Disney's Hollywood Studios parking lot for roadway changes and construction of the future Disney Skyliner transportation system, there are now many places to clearly view Spaceship Earth all the way over at Epcot's main entrance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


In the Disney's Hollywood Studios parking lot, the leg of the future Disney Skyliner route across the parking lot (including the tram lane) is now marked by towers. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Also from the parking lot, some of the rockwork of the future Star Wars Galaxy's Edge area of the park rises among the construction cranes. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Beyond Walt Disney Presents and Pixar Place, construction cranes continue to operate over the future Star Wars Galaxy's Edge area of the park. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Over on the Grand Avenue side of the future Star Wars Galaxy's Edge area of the park, new directional signs point the way to Mama Melrose's, PizzeRizzo, and the Restrooms in the Muppets Courtyard now called Grand Avenue Park. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A little bit of the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge construction remains visible from just outside the exit of MuppetVision 3D. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Additional new merchandise related to the upcoming movie "Solo - A Star Wars Story" is now available in the Star Wars Launch Bay in Animation Courtyard. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Like a mini-parade, Star Wars characters march from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the Center Stage in front of Chinese Theatre for presentations of the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


On Sunset Boulevard, The Citizens of Hollywood continue to entertain guests. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


But, on Sunset Boulevard, Sweet Spells inside the Beverly Sunset building has closed likely to expand retail space for Toy Story Land and other Pixar-related items (like those in the attached Reel Vogue shop). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


With Sweet Spells closed, The Trolley Car Café (Starbucks) nearby remains an option for some of the treats previously available. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is one of the few attractions remaining in the park that date back to nearly its opening back in 1989. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs


Wine Bar George in the Landing neighborhood recently had its sign installed. The new venue is expected to open this Spring. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That

…The Stave Church Gallery at Epcot's Norway pavilion has reopened with a new exhibit celebrating Norse gods and goddesses that inspired the ancient Vikings of Scandinavia. Disney Parks Blog has more information and a few photos of the artifacts now on display.

Disney Parks Blog also shared news about the ongoing development of a new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar power facility under construction at Walt Disney World Resort near Disney's Animal Kingdom. Once online, the new facility's million solar panels in conjunction with the existing solar facility constructed near Epcot are expected to provide enough electricity to power up to 25% of the power needs at Walt Disney World Resort during the hours the sun is at its beak brightness. All told, the solar facilities are expected to generate enough "renewable clean energy" to power two of the four Disney Parks at the Resort.

…Golfers may want to get their hands on the new limited edition, Callaway Walt Disney World Golf stand bags that include "11 Swinging Mickey and Walt Disney World Golf" logos. Available in black or blue, they are now available for $179.95 (plus tax or $159.95 each plus tax when purchasing two or more). You can get more information at the pro shops or contact the Arnold Palmer Golf Management's Retail Sales Manager, Sean Clarson, by email.

…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.

 

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Crowd Forecast

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Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 6 / 10
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 5 / 10
Thursday, April 26, 2018 5 / 10
Friday, April 27, 2018 6 / 10
Saturday, April 28, 2018 7 / 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
  • Party for the Planet - Disney's Animal Kingdom - April 22 to May 5, 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 (cast say until at least June/July).
  • Stitch's Great Escape – My Disney Experience lists as "available seasonally throughout the year."

Epcot

  • American Heritage Gallery at The American Adventure – closed for refurbishment
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe at Norway pavilion – closed for refurbishment through summer 2018.


A few Kringla favorites are now available at the Midnattssol Bakeri kiosk along World Showcase Promenade. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

  • 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 opened in its place on April 22, 2018.

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

Characters in Flight Tethered Balloon Ride by Aerophile

Once again, for a limited time, Groupon is selling individual rides for $11.50 and two person rides for $23. The Groupon certificate cannot be redeemed until 24 hours after purchase, is valid for 90 days, but only on flights from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. (weather permitting). This offer was still available last night (April 22), but could end at any time.

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," offers a $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.

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 specially priced 1-Day Water Park Tickets for $49 plus tax (must be purchased in-person at the water parks and not available online; must be used on or before December 31, 2019), 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 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

Canadian residents can save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Villas and Resort hotels for stays most nights June 11 through August 1 when booked by May 22, 2018. For details and other summer promotions, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com and you must provide a Canadian billing address for your credit card when booking.

Remember, 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

You can see the latest offers for U.K. residents on Disney World's U.K. packages website. It currently includes an offer for UK and Ireland guests: 2018 Disney's 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7-day ticket when purchased pre-departure by July 31, 2018, for arrivals up until December 31, 2018. Memory Maker is included with every 2018 Adult Ultimate Ticket purchased.

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

 

Comments

  1. By Dave1313

    Great update, thanks for all the Animal Kingdom details. I am looking forward to doing the Path Less Traveled Tour in a little over a week.

    The new show "UP! A Great Bird Adventure" made its official debut on Sunday. As the signs indicate, FastPass+ reservations are available for some performances of the show. The earliest I have seen FastPass+ reservations for the show are for performances in late May. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

    I have no idea if any would still be available, but I have a FP+ for the new show on May 6, so at some point they were available earlier.

    Also, neat shot of the Space-X launch from Partners. While it's obvious that the launches are to the East of the parks, knowing exactly what angle to be ready for at the exact launch time is a pretty good feat!

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