Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 30 - June 4, 2018by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 30 – June 4, 2018
Writer's note: We have a very long Update for you this week, with lots of photos and videos (each of which I have kept brief so that you can break up your time with the Update as your day demands). As always, I welcome input as to what you, our readers, would like to see in future Updates.
Just after we published last week's Walt Disney World Resort Update, Scott Trowbridge, Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering (also known as the principal Imagineer for the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands under construction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World), announced via a post on Disney Parks Blog, the "Opening Season" for the new lands on both coasts: Disneyland's new land will open in summer 2019, and Walt Disney World Resort's Disney's Hollywood Studios park will see its new land open late fall 2019. The calendar says that in 2019, summer begins June 21, and fall runs September 21 through December 21.
Watch for more precise official news and be wary of rumors if you are making non-refundable plans. We will bring you the official news as soon as we can and will point out the "tea leaves" that we see out there (like blockout dates and ticket price changes) that may provide official clues.
This is the latest official "sneak peek" into Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge posted by Disney along with the "Opening Season" announcement. Video © Disney.
Fortunately, named storm Alberto failed to wash out the latest edition of Star Wars: Galactic Nights on Sunday night (and our thoughts go out to those affected where it made landfall around the Florida panhandle and the other Gulf states). Scott Trowbridge and other members of the creative team behind Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge conducted panel discussions at the hard-ticketed event at Disney's Hollywood Studios (which had added elements from Solo: A Star Wars Story following its weekend theatrical opening too). I was invited to attend and will report on the latest Galaxy's Edge details (along with sharing some highlights of the latest Galactic Nights event) below.
The biggest news coming out of the panel and then posted to Disney Parks Blog is that the largest settlement on the planet Batuu, the setting for Galaxy's Edge, is "Black Spire Outpost," which is the name of the village where guests will begin their adventures in the Star Wars universe at the domestic Disney Parks.
David Collins (right) hosted the "Inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" panel discussion with Imagineers Scott Trowbridge, Eric Baker, Jon Georges, and Margaret Kerrison providing additional details of the lands opening at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios next year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Memorial Day Weekend around Walt Disney World Resort also included the kickoff of "Incredible Summer," the Resort-wide (marketing) theme for summer 2018. Officially, the festivities began on Friday, but, really, only two of the parks—Disney's Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom—have their specific "Incredible Summer" offerings underway.
On Friday, we were invited to see Donald's Dino-Bash at Disney's Animal Kingdom and hear from some of its creative leadership team. Donald's Dino-Bash is a permanent overlay of the Dinoland U.S.A. area that now includes (permanent) character meet-and-greet opportunities for Donald, Daisy, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip 'n' Dale, along with a nightly DJ-hosted dance party.
Over at Magic Kingdom, the "Incredible Summer" festivities are underway with a seasonal decorative overlay of Tomorrowland creating the Incredible Tomorrowland Expo. It includes some Incredibles 2-related Disney PhotoPass photo opportunities, some new foods, some new Expo character-led entertainment, and a new theme for the 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. DJ-hosted dance parties now named "Super Party Time" with appearances by characters from Disney-Pixar's Incredibles, including, for the first time, Edna Mode. Between rain showers on Saturday, I got my first look at the Incredible Tomorrowland Expo, which I share below in the Views Around the World. Later this week, we have been invited to hear from some of the Magic Kingdom's creative team, and we will provide a more complete report on that in an upcoming Update.
The other two theme parks and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon join the festivities as June gets underway. As you may know, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival ended its spring run just Monday night. Epcot's summertime offering, the Guardians of the Galaxy-Awesome Mix Live! Concert Series debuts June 9. Disney H20 Glow Nights begins its select-summer night run at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park starting June 21 (separate hard ticket required). After those debuts, the big summertime event around the Resort will be the Toy Story Land opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios on June 30. This past week, we were again invited on a limited behind-the-construction walls tour of the construction site with the Disney Imagineering team and received a briefing on the food and merchandise to come, and I recap the latest information below as well.
Just as I said last week, keep those umbrellas and ponchos handy if you are visiting the Resort. The early named storm Alberto provided a good, early reminder that the rainy and tropical storm season is just about here—be prepared for bad weather—and then, as I was on Sunday night, be delighted when the weather turns nice and you seem to be dragging around your umbrella needlessly. After all, here in Central Florida, the two weather extremes are sometimes separated only by a matter of minutes.
Finally, before we get to the news, don't forget to Tweet @WDWToday when you see something worthy of a #CastCompliment.
Latest Details About Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Follow Release of Solo | Donald's Dino-Bash Debuts at Disney's Animal Kingdom | Toy Story Land Progress Update Ahead of its June 30 Opening | Epcot Concert & Candlelight Processional News & Calendar | Views Around the World | This and That | Crowd Forecast
With the "opening season" announced this week, we can confidently say that we have less than 18 months until the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios (and out west at Disneyland, it should be three to five months sooner). With the May 25 release of Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters, Disney's Hollywood Studios held the latest edition of its Star Wars: Galactic Nights event on Sunday, and Disney invited us to the event to see the first presentation by the "Inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" panel providing the latest public details about the new land(s) and bring them to you. As you know, Disney Parks heavily restricts access to and prohibits (all but its own) photography at its construction sites and does what it can to block guest views, but, from time to time, it shares bits of that behind the scenes with guests; this is one of those times.
We start with the latest details that we now know about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, then provide a general recap of some of the highlights of the latest edition of Star Wars: Galactic Nights, and then conclude with a bit of the hoopla surrounding the May 24 first screening at Disney Springs AMC 24 Dine-In Theatres of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Inside Galaxy's Edge – Black Spire Outpost on Batuu
Hosted by David Collins, the "Inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" panel with Imagineers Scott Trowbridge, Eric Baker, Jon Georges, and Margaret Kerrison provided additional details of the lands opening at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios next year.
By now, you may have already heard what Disney considers the biggest reveal from the event (since Disney Parks Blog posted it very shortly after the conclusion of the panel and, indeed, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix covered it yesterday in the MousePlanet Disneyland Resort Update): the village from where our future Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge adventures begin on planet Batuu is named Black Spire Outpost after its central geological feature. As Disney says, "Off the beaten path, this outpost has become a haven for the galaxy’s most colorful—and notorious—characters."
After acknowledging that guests can see the petrified spires of planet Batuu taking shape at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the panel shared recent views of the the construction of the new land. Video by Alan S. Dalinka (underlying images by Disney).
As at the panel presentation at December's Galactic Nights event, the panel emphasized the unprecedented cooperation between teams from the various parts of the Walt Disney Company that make up Disney's Star Wars universe: LucasFilm, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Disney Parks. The panel revealed that the team creating the new lands (the largest expansions in Disney Parks history) works with some of the same LucasFilm crews at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom for visual aspects of the attractions and the lands. But, since a theme park land is a 360-degree world, unlike a film, the team has to take things more than a step further by actually building elements in the real world that guests will actually experience rather than digital re-creations. In other words, the panel confirmed the "rumors" that actual-sized AT-ATs are under construction and will be part of one of the attractions in the new lands on both coasts.
Speaking of life-sized elements, we already knew that guests at one of the attractions will get to board and fly the Millennium Falcon. The panel revealed that the other new attraction involves an entirely new, life-sized ship that guests will climb aboard. In fact, the panel noted that a model of it was on display at Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim last July, but that little was said about it at the time. They now discussed the work underway to create the full life-sized version.
Finally, the panel explained that due to the popularity among fans of the (minor) character Nien Nunb from Return of the Jedi, the team searched for the original voice actor, Kipsang Rotich. He was a Kenyan student studying in the San Francisco area at the time that film was made and had returned to Kenya after the completion of his studies. (Though not mentioned by the panel, a bit of research shows that he also voiced the character in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, furthering that notion of unprecedented synergy between Disney's business units.) For a refresher on the character (who I did not realize had a name in Return of the Jedi or beyond), be sure to watch the following video:
Galaxy's Edge will include life-sized AT-ATs, a new ship and Nien Nunb, voiced by the original actor. Video by Alan S. Dalinka (underlying images by Disney).
The panel also discussed the efforts underway to both get the craftsmanship of the land right, as well as all the little details. For example, the team has sought out the same sources of props as those used in the films. It has also taken the additional step of working to bring many of the creatures to life in the new lands, such as a loth-cat that appears in the Star Wars Rebels animated series.
The panel discusses getting the details right, creating creatures (like the loth-cat), and introduces the name of the village on Batuu: Black Spire Outpost. Video by Alan S. Dalinka (underlying images by Disney).
As mentioned in the writer's note at the beginning of this Update, we will keep an eye out for official news and clues about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge as the year continues. As Adrienne has observed in an earlier Disneyland Resort Update, when we see changes to Disneyland Resort's annual passholder program in coming weeks, that likely will be the next official clue, as passholder renewals start to include "Summer 2019" as we rapidly approach summer 2018. Indeed, if you recall, the last time the park ticket prices changed on both coasts, we were told that more date-specific ticket prices changes lie ahead and we have not seen those implemented… yet. Stay tuned.
Star Wars: Galactic Nights – the Solo Edition
Like the prior editions of the hard-ticketed Star Wars: Galactic Nights event at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the park took the opportunity to make the event the first occasion guests could see the latest changes to the existing "Star Wars Experiences" that all guests will see as a result of the theatrical release of Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Earlier in the day of the party, even day guests could see some of those changes, like the newest movie showing at the Star Wars Launch Bay relating to Solo). The event also included a number of exclusive "one night only" experiences, merchandise, and food.
Warwick Davis, best known for his role as Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi and his numerous cameos in nearly (or all) of the Star Wars films since, including Solo, returned again as the event host. Actor Ashley Eckstein, also a veteran of prior Star Wars projects, including hosting duties at some of the old Star Wars Weekends at the park, was also on hand for a book signing and meet-and-greet session. Finally, special appearances were made by Joonas Suotamo, the actor who plays Chewbacca in Solo (and previously played Chewbacca in many scenes in The Last Jedi).
Disney Parks hosts Mark Daniel and Jenny Dudek introduce the celebrities on-hand for the latest edition of Star Wars: Galactic Nights, Warwick Davis, Joonas Suotamo, and Ashley Eckstein. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
One of the "one night only" features of Galactic Nights is the "Star Wars: Galactic Destinations" projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. With the opening of Solo, a new scene inspired by the movie was added to the show since its last presentation back at the December event.
The "one night only" showing of "Star Wars: Galactic Destinations" projection show had a new scene inspired by "Solo: A Star Wars Story." Video by Alan S. Dalinka (underlying images by LucasFilm Ltd./Disney).
As has been true as each of the other new Star Wars movies have debuted since 2015, the "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" show received a few minor changes to include additional video from the latest film and other enhancements. For example, Chewbacca's scene during the show now features a few Porgs flying about (on the screen behind him) on the Millennium Falcon (granted, the Porgs appeared in The Last Jedi and not Solo, but, nevertheless). The changes to the stage show can now be seen during the daily showings as well.
During this edition of Galactic Nights, the park debuted the newest additional video changes to the "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" stage show, including the addition of Porgs to Chewbacca's appearance in the show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The pyrotechnics of the finale of the "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" stage show light the sky in front of the Chinese Theatre more dramatically during a nighttime presentation. (The stage show is usually only shown during the day, with occasional twilight shows during the winter early sunsets.) Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Other "one night" only features of the event include an Imperial officer-led march of Stormtroopers and other special character appearances. Quite a few Star Wars-themed special Disney PhotoPass backgrounds were also available, though most of them were previously seen at the prior Galactic Night events. Likewise, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster had its usual Aerosmith soundtrack and lighted scenery turned off ,and riders saw projections from the Star Wars universe on the walls of the ride while they listened to Star Wars music.
The daytime March of the First Order is replaced during Galactic Nights with an Imperial officer-led March of Stormtroopers. The Stormtrooper who was shorter than the others was a park guest (as the costume policy is a bit different for a Galactic Nights event). Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
After a final address from the Disney Parks hosts, Mark Daniel and Jenny Dudek, a video montage clip from celebrity event host Warwick Davis, and a video greeting from Solo director and acknowledged Star Wars fan Ron Howard, the final event of the event night was the debut of the newest version of the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular projection and fireworks show. As a large majority of event guests stay until the end of the fireworks, exiting the park proved very challenging for many guests with significant parking lot congestion resulting from (at least to this attendee's and others on social media's eyes) poor planning by the parking team leadership, and there were reports on social media of delays with Disney transport buses as well (which, of course, faced the same traffic jam getting out of the parking lot as those of us in cars).
While, admittedly, the park's parking lot is in the process of being redesigned to attempt to accommodate the expected surge in park-goers with Galaxy's Edge's opening next year, hopefully the parking team's leadership is taking a good look at the processes in place for parking cars in what has always been the smallest of the four parks' parking lots with the least guest-friendly layout.
The latest version of the Star Wars-themed fireworks show includes images related to the latest film: "Solo: A Star Wars Story." Hyperlapse video by Alan S. Dalinka with music (a bit more reflective of the difficulty of exiting the parking lot) by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com).
Solo: A Star Wars Story Debuts at Disney Springs
As has been true for many blockbuster movies from the studios of the Walt Disney Company lately, Solo: A Star Wars Story had its first public showing at Walt Disney World at the AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatres the night before its official opening. On Thursday, invited media (like me) and guests, plus two hundred Disney Parks Blog readers (that were quick enough to respond to the announced screening), attended the first show. The 501st Legion members, fans that dress up in their (often intricately hand-crafted) Star Wars finest costumes, were on hand to pose for photos as well. As the Update writer, I leave movie reviews to others (except to say that I had fun seeing the latest film); you can see the Disney Parks Blog sizzle reel from that night too which, admittedly, includes only the favorable guest comments and excitement.
"Solo: A Star Wars Story" had its first public showing on Thursday night for invited media and guests (muself included), Disney Parks cast and executives, and readers of Disney Parks Blog that were quick enough to respond to the announcement of the showing earlier in the week. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Like the old "Star Wars Weekends" at Disney's Hollywood Studios, members of the 501st, a fan group that dresses as characters from the Star Wars universe, were on hand for photo opportunities outside the Disney Springs AMC 24 Dine-In Theatres before the show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
For more scenes from around the first showing, visit this post on our Instagram feed.
With the start of "Incredible Summer" at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the further celebrating of the 20th anniversary of its opening, Dinosaurland U.S.A. debuted its new permanent "Donald's Dino-Bash" overlay on Friday. As Walt Disney Entertainment show director Mark Renfrow describes it, when Donald Duck discovered that scientists have determined that ducks evolved from dinosaurs, Donald decided to celebrate that news by getting his Uncle Scrooge McDuck to (largely) fund the party. Donald called upon his longtime girlfriend Daisy to design the fashions—so now you can meet Donald, Daisy, Uncle Scrooge, and their Duck Tales pal Launchpad McQuack all in new, permanent, meet-and-greet locations throughout the land.
Indeed, as Mark Renfrow explained, when Pluto heard about the party going on in Dinoland where there were lots of bones, he decided to hang out in the Boneyard. Goofy came along to manage the midway (carnival) and, Chip 'n' Dale, well, they decided to stow away by dressing in their own (pajama-like) "Chipmunk-o-saurus" costumes at the end of Cretaceous Trail. Chip 'n' Dale also come out to play at the nightly DJ-hosted dance parties just outside of Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama.
Practically speaking (away from the Disney storytelling inherent in the new offering), Mark Renfrow also explained the park's practical need for a new permanent character greeting area, due to the closure of the old Camp Minnie-Mickey a number of years ago to make way for Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Mark Renfrow, a Walt Disney Entertainment show director, discusses Donald's Dino-Bash at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Donald’s Dino-Bash DJ hosted dance party at Disney’s #animalkingdom runs nightly in Dinoland—the farewell audio mix here includes Walt Disney and lots of attractions (including extinct ones like Ellen’s Energy Adventure). #incrediblesummer Video by @AlanDalinka pic.twitter.com/i5jDVaYflE— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) May 26, 2018
For the third month in a row, we were invited to a behind-the-construction-walls-look at Toy Story Land ahead of its June 30 opening. Since our last visit, there has been a lot of visible progress but, unfortunately, (and you can guess the next part), we were not allowed to take photos or video in the construction site.
The marquee for the new entrance to Toy Story Mania inside Toy Story Land is in place. That entrance will replace the existing one in Toy Story Land, and, as we noted in Refurbishments and Attraction Closures below, the change-over will require the attraction to close briefly, June 11–18, according to My Disney Experience.
From a distance, we could see that lots of the finishing details of Alien Swirling Saucers are already in place, and Woody's Lunchbox, the quick-service food location in the new land, actually does look like a lunchbox. The additional foliage planted since our first visit back in March plus the additional Tinker Toy lighting and other thematic elements really show a lot of attention to detail in telling the story that guests have shrunk down to the size of Andy's toys in his backyard.
In terms of ride details, the park's leadership says that both new attractions—Slinky Dog Dash Coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers—will be very family-friendly. The height restriction for Slinky Dog Dash coaster will be 38 inches, the size of an average height 4-year-old. The height restriction for Alien Swirling Saucers will be 32 inches, comparable to the average 2-year-old. Toy Story Mania has no height restriction whatsoever.
Woody's Lunch Box will feature a menu of items inspired by the new land. The following video provides the most complete description so far:
Woody's Lunchbox in Toy Story Land will feature a host of comfort foods and snacks. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
A great deal of new Toy Story-inspired merchandise will also be available in the park to celebrate the new land. Some of the newest merchandise will celebrate the opening summer of the new land, and there will also be Passholder-exclusive selections.
See a brief demonstration of the new wearable, light-up Slinky Dog. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
With "Incredible Summer" now underway, it is already time to turn to the Holidays around Walt Disney World Resort. As you know from previous Updates, our Resort Events section has had the dates for Magic Kingdom's celebrations of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for awhile. Now we also know the dates for the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and the Candlelight Processional.
Starting November 18 and running through December 30, the Festival of the Holidays will return to the park. For the first time ever, the Candlelight Processional will begin its seasonal run on Thanksgiving Day itself, November 22, and will run through December 30. Narrators for the three-times-nightly retelling of the traditional Christmas story accompanied by a massed choir and live orchestra have not yet been announced, and dining package information is not yet available.
With Monday's finale of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Garden Rocks Concert Series, we await June 9 at The America Gardens Theatre Stage for the park's participation in the Incredible Summer festivities "Guardians of the Galaxy-Awesome Mix Live!" shows featuring tunes from Star-Lord's Awesome Mixtapes (also known as the two movie soundtracks). Published showtimes are: 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. daily.
Earlier this month, Disney Parks Blog released a partial list of scheduled acts for this year's Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The series runs three times nightly from August 30 until November 12 on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Among the new acts this year are Sheila E and Glass Tiger. 98 Degrees, which performed during the Disney Parks Holidays tapings at Magic Kingdom last winter, will also be part of this year's Eat to the Beat Concert Series, and Jim Belushi brings his R&B band The Sacred Hearts to the stage. Contemporary Christian music artists MercyMe and Tauren Wells join the lineup as well.
For the convenience of our readers, we list all of the scheduled acts in our Google Calendar of Epcot Events. You can also add it or any events on it to any calendar that supports the iCal format (like iPhone and Mac) by copying this link. When the Candlelight Processional celebrity narrators are announced, we will add the events to our calendar as well.
The calendar is provided as a courtesy "as is, where is" without any guarantees. 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. Walt Disney World Resort does provide schedules in the My Disney Experience app, but does not allow you to add dates to calendars outside the app itself.
With all of the news so far, there is even more in the Views Around the World. Be sure to read the captions.
The highlights of the Super Party Time are the appearances by characters from Disney-Pixar's "Incredibles" and the upcoming "Incredibles 2." Edna Mode is one of the characters who appears on stage and, briefly, mingles with guests. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Tomorrowland also includes Disney PhotoPass backdrops inspired by "Incredibles 2." This is "The Omnidroid!" which a nearby sign tells us was built by the villainous Syndrome to make himself look like a hero. The movie opens June 15, so we will have a better understanding then. HDR photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
As you would expect at an Expo, Super Super Fans (who are all Disney cast members) engage in a little costume play (and perform a few times each day). Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
A new remote Guest Relations desk has opened outside Discovery Trading Company. Cast members working here may be able to assist with the same sorts of things as the main Guest Relations location at the park entrance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Since the debut of the new show "UP! A Great Bird Adventure" last month, the creative team tells us that they have been continually fine-tuning the show and adding in additional birds to the show. Some moments in the show may feature different species at different times depending on each species (and individual bird's) natural behaviors. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
From the ascent on Expedition Everest, the new hotel tower rising at Disney's Coronado Resort appears to have reached its highest point. When completed, it will boast excellent views of fireworks displays at Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, and likely will also offer a view of Magic Kingdom's fireworks as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Epcot Resort Area
Disney Skyliner station construction at the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios continues. As we have mentioned in recent weeks, Friendship boat service to Epcot and the Epcot Resort Area is currently unavailable from this location. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Friendship boat service to Disney's Hollywood Studios is unavailable due to maintenance under the bridge from Disneys's BoardWalk to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (shown at left in the photo). The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin boat dock is also undergoing refurbishment (at the center of the photo). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Inside Yacht Club, the Ale & Compass recently debuted a new menu. We were invited to sample a few items (and posted photos of several on our Instagram feed). The Smoked Short Rib with Roasted Vegetable Mash and Barbecue Demi was my personal favorite; your results may vary. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Friendship boat service to and from Epcot's International Gateway dock continues to operate. In the distance over the top of ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk, you can see construction cranes work on the future "Ratatouille"-themed attraction at Epcot's France pavilion, as well as a Disney Skyliner tower. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
From a slightly different angle, visible to the left of ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk, is the vertical construction of the future "Ratatouille"-themed attraction building at Epcot's France pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Last week, we noted the opening of Wine Bar George in the Landing neighborhood. We had just a moment to visit on Thursday night, and, as is often the case, Master Sommelier George Miliotes was on hand to welcome guests. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge (and vicinity)
Disney Vacation Club members who pay an additional fee per night for each guest on their reservation for the length of their stay at either DVC resort at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (Boulder Ridge or Copper Creek), enjoy breakfast service in the morning and an enhanced wine-and-cheese service in the evening at the new venue. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Several days a week, Disney Vacation Club offers members and their guests (whether or not staying at the resort) an opportunity to pay to attend beverage-tasting sessions, photography classes, animation classes, and more at Reunion Station. As the venue is rather small, attendance is limited. Check with Member Services for the latest offerings, schedule, and prices. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Though closed long ago, parts of Disney's River Country water park may still be spotted when traveling by watercraft service on Bay Lake from Disney's Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
…We will have more about the Incredible Summer next week, but, in the meantime, if you would like to read more about some of the specialty foods rolled out for the season, take a look at Disney Park Blog's SUPER INCREDIBLE Foodie Guide to Incredible Tomorrowland Expo.
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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
- 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
- Disney H20 Glow Nights at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
- Every Thursday and Saturday, June 21 to August 11; 8–11 p.m.
- Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom:
- June 28, 30, July 7, 9, 14, 21, 28, August 4 & 11; 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
- August 30, September 20; 9 p.m.– midnight
- 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
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – August 30 to November 12
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 1–4
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 26–27
- Sunday Bubbles Brunch – October 28
- Dapper Day (unofficial events)
- November 17 – Disney's Animal Kingdom (until 3-5 p.m.) & Magic Kingdom (evening);
- November 18 – Epcot
- 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
- Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – November 18 to December 30
- Candlelight Processional at Epcot – November 22 to December 30
2019 Resort Events
- 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 9–13, 2019.
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 21–24, 2019.
- Star Wars Rival Run Weekend – April 4–7, 2019.
|If you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events, visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff. For current information on runDisney registration dates and capacity, see Lorree Tachell's runDisney Race Capacity Updates in the Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board.|
2018 Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic Events (including event reservation opening dates)
- Moonlight Magic at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon – May 30; June 11
All members (filled to capacity; check for cancellations)
- Moonlight Magic at Epcot – July 16, August 15 (note date change)
Members with resort reservations – June 6
All members (pending remaining availability) – June 20
- Moonlight Magic at Disney's Hollywood Studios – September 19, 26; October 3
Members with resort reservations – August 30
All members (pending remaining availability) – September 13
|Introduced in 2017 as part of Membership Magic Ever After, complimentary Moonlight Magic events invite Disney Vacation Club Members (that are eligible for the Membership Extras benefits) and their guests to visit Disney Parks at the end of their regular operating hours and after the park has closed to the public. Members (and their parties) with reservations find shorter-than-usual wait times on popular attractions, meet rare characters, enjoy complimentary refreshments, have dance parties, and more. Please note that, in order to allow as many Members as possible to enjoy Moonlight Magic, only one event date for each participating park is available per Membership. Visit disneyvacationclub.com during specified reservation windows to (attempt to) secure access to the event as well as to find additions to the Moonlight Magic event slate, updated party hours, and transportation information.|
Note: Not all attraction closures have been officially confirmed by Disney, and are all subject to change at any time. All refurbishment schedules are estimates only. We recommend checking for updates as you plan your visit. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, visit DisneyWorld.com or use the MyDisneyExperience App on your iOS or Android device.
- 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."
- American Heritage Gallery at The American Adventure – closed for refurbishment
- Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe at Norway pavilion – closed for refurbishment through summer 2018.
- 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
- Toy Story Mania– Closed June 11–18, 2018, for work related to new attraction entrance and queue in Toy Story Land.
- 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.
- No known closures at this time.
- No known closures at this time.
- World of Disney – phased store closings for refurbishment underway.
The Disney Corner now open in Town Center offering select merchandise during refurbishment.
DisneyStyle now open on the West Side offering additional Disney-themed merchandise.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 when we last checked (May 30, 1:30 a.m. EDT), 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
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 percent 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 percent 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 nine holes of golf, a hot breakfast and two beverages between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m., subject to availability, at Disney Golf courses), a new $29 Sunset 9 golf offer (including nine 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 percent 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 percent 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.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details.
Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA Credit Card Holders
To conserve space, we have eliminated some of the participating location details of the Disney Visa Rewards offers from this section. Visit Disney Visa Rewards website for the latest participating location information.
20 percent off Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks
Disney Visa cardholders receive 20 percent off their entire purchase at Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks throughout Walt Disney World, including Tea Traders Café by Joffrey's, and online at Joffreys.com with code: VISABEANS
15 percent off select guided tours
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of selected guided tours for up to 10 people. The cardholder must participate in the tour, and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Discounts are not available on Premium VIP tours, programs exclusive to groups, or group team building programs.
10 percent off select restaurants
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off the check when you pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Offer excludes alcoholic beverages, merchandise, tobacco, room service, holiday buffets, tax and gratuity. Discount does not apply to the following dates: 12/31/17, 1/1/18, 2/14/18, 4/1/18, 5/13/18 and 7/4/18, and may not be available at all meal times. Visit this page of disneyrewards.com for the latest list of restaurants and restrictions.
10 percent off merchandise
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off at participating Disney-owned retail location when you spend a minimum of $50 and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Read all of the restrictions on the this page of disneyrewards.com.
Cardholders also receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at the following Walt Disney World Resort Operating Participant merchandise locations including Basin, Basin White, Chapel Hats, Good Fortune Gifts and House of Good Fortune, kidsHeritage, Luxury of Time, Marrakesh Emporium Arts & Crafts, Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks and Tea Traders Café by Joffrey's, Sperry and Volcom.
15 percent off all Disney spa and salon services
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of any salon treatment valued at $45 or greater or any 50-minute or longer spa service most days at the spas and salons at Walt Disney World Resort. Visit this page of disneyrewards.com for participating locations and restrictions.
10 percent off select recreation experiences
Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of the recreation experiences listed below:
Free character photos at a private meet and greet location at Epcot
Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a private character meet-and-greet at Epcot for the cardholder and up to five guests. The event is hosted daily from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot (enter near the jumping fountains near the exit to the Magic Eye Theater). You'll receive complimentary downloads of your photos (one time per day), which may be accessed in the My Disney Experience smartphone application (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 My Disney Experience smartphone application (or website).
Travel Discounts for Military Personnel
2018 Armed Forces Salute Tickets
January 1 through December 19, 2018
NOTE: Tickets must be used by December 19, 2018.
U.S. military personnel can also purchase the Memory Maker product for $98 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 per person plus tax for the Discover Disney 3-Day Ticket; $179 per 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 per ticket plus tax for the 3-Day Ticket; $37.50 per 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.
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details.
Travel Discounts for Canada Residents
All adults using 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.