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

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

 

Writer's note: Even more to get to this week. Heck, in the words of the New York Times article by Brooks Barnes of November 16 that Disney Parks Blog retweeted yesterday, "There is nothing small about Walt Disney World." As the headline of that article says, "Disney Is Spending More on Theme Parks Than It Did on Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm Combined."

Limited to Florida alone, the latest round of announcements from Bob Chapek, Chairman Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products, keeps those projects rolling. As he said in his keynote address to the GM and Owners' Breakfast at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo 2018 at the Orange County Convention Center near Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday, "We've made the conscious decision to control our own destiny—to be the disruptor, not the disrupted."

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club held its biennial Destination D event at the Convention Center at Disney's Contemporary Resort this past weekend. Because I was invited to attend, major thanks go out this week to MousePlanet Contributors Donald & Bonnie Fink who were able to get to parts of the Florida resort (which, remember, is bigger than twice the size of the island of Manhattan) to see, photograph, and provide comments about some of the newest offerings while I was attending this event "Celebrating Mickey Mouse" and hearing about many of the new things in the works. So, while Don and Bonnie were able to provide some Views this week, for a rare change of pace for the Update, I will have just a sprinkling of photos (and mostly from Tweets) in favor of the substance of the news announced at Destination D.

Of course, like I promised last week, I have even more information about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for those of you planning to attend or just thinking about attending this year's party or a party in future years. With the resort's Crowd Forecast from Touring Plans at and near the top of the chart for this Thanksgiving week, plus family visits for the holiday, I may not be in or around the parks very much this week either.

So, again, happy birthday Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Everyone save some room to have a good Thanksgiving while you digest all of the announcements Disney made this week too!

News and Views

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Celebrating Mickey & Minnie's 90th Birthday

November 18, 1928, is considered Mickey and Minnie's birthday, as that was their public debut in Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse short released in theaters. At Disney D23's Destination D Celebrating Mickey Mouse over the weekend in the Convention Center at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Becky Cline and other members of the Disney Archives team shared a few documents about how the film debut was selected as the pair's official birthday, and Disney historians and other company representatives discussed the tradition of creating official portraits to mark some of the milestone anniversaries of that day. We will cover all that and more in the near future in a separate article, but we note it here because it was one of the many ways the "Mouse that started it all" had his 90th birthday celebrated at Walt Disney World Resort this past week.

All weekend, Magic Kingdom offered limited-time entertainment, specialty food and beverage options, new merchandise, and more. Since Disney Weekends often include surrounding weekdays, naturally, the festivities began on Friday. Folks that tuned in to Good Morning America during the 8 a.m. hour on ABC-TV on Friday, along with invited cast members and members of the media (including me) were able to catch the final stop in the adventures of GMA's Ginger Zee who brought a "Disney super-fan on the adventure of a lifetime" by taking her to each of the Disney Resorts around the world. GMA's Sam Champion, along with Mickey attired in his new 90th Anniversary costume, greeted the pair. Before the celebration was over, Minnie (also dressed in her new 90th Anniversary costume) led 90 Disney characters on to the Cinderella Castle stage to celebrate with fireworks.


Mickey Mouse made his first Magic Kingdom debut in his new birthday celebration outfit on Friday morning for "Good Morning America." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Minnie "surprised" Mickey, bounding out of Cinderella Castle as one of 90 Disney Characters for his birthday celebration. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Our IGTV presentation of the GMA celebration of Mickey's 90th Birthday, including Minnie's "surprise" for Mickey with 90 Disney Characters. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


Minnie Mouse planned a 90 character surprise for Mickey and the folks from Disney-owned ABC-TV's "Good Morning America." Video © Disney.

After the big celebratory moment at the castle, Bob Chapek, Chairman Disney Parks, Experience,s and Consumer Products, shared with GMA's Robin Roberts and the viewing public that The Walt Disney Company's #ShareYourEars campaign donation to Make-A-Wish Foundation was being raised from $2 to $3 million (the company will now donate up to $3 million by way of $5 donations each time someone publicly posts a photo of Mickey Mouse ears—official or homemade—on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag "#ShareYourEars"). As he then announced at Destination D, the campaign now also continues through November 27. Bob Chapek is now a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors.


This was my reverse-angle view from behind Mickey's ears!

For folks interested in 90th Anniversary-specific merchandise, Passholders were also allowed in the park at the early hour to attend a special pop-up merchandise event on Friday. Separately, Destination D's pop-up shop edition of Mickey's of Glendale also sold limited editions of 90th Anniversary merchandise. We expect more 90th Anniversary merchandise will be unveiled ahead of the January 18 start of the Magic Kingdom's "Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration."

Yesterday, Disney Parks Blog shared additional details which we quote here:

  • Mickey and Minnie will greet guests together inside Town Square Theater, sporting all-new colorful outfits for their special celebration. The new Celebration Station inside Town Square Theater will be a must visit, as you can sign a guestbook to let Mickey and Minnie know, personally, just how much fun you're having during their party.
  • An all-new song, "It's a Good Time," will play several times daily as part of the new "Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party." During this high-energy bash, you will be able to join in the fun with all your pals, including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and many others.
  • Mickey's beloved dog, Pluto, will meet guests under the big top at Pete's Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus.

At Destination D, attendees got to see the full array of special 90th Anniversary Celebration costumes that Mickey, Minnie, and their pals will wear at the celebrations in the parks. The surprise costume was the one for Clarabelle Cow, as she had not previously been shown in any concept art or publicity materials.

Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster Details and More Revealed at IAAPA

Making the most of his time in Central Florida this past week, on Wednesday, Bob Chapek, Chairman Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products, was the keynote speaker at the GM and Owners' Breakfast at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo 2018 in the Orange County Convention Center (which is less than a twenty minute drive away from Walt Disney World Resort and Disney invited us to attend). In addition to discussing the company's desire to be an industry disruptor by continuing to fulfill Walt Disney's wish that a Disney Park never become a static museum, he discussed some of the innovations well-underway.

Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster at Epcot

For Walt Disney World, in particular, Bob Chapek showed the first public concept art and an off-site test run of the new "Storytelling Coaster" ride vehicle guests will board at the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction under construction at Epcot. "On most coasters, the vehicles point straight ahead throughout the ride," Bob Chapek explained. "But on this attraction, each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you. That means instead of whizzing by the action, you'll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch."

Concept Art
Concept Art ©Marvel/Disney.

From his description and the video clip he showed of a test, it sounds as though the individual coaster cars will act much like the classic Disney omni-movers do, only at much higher speeds. Disney has long used vehicles like the Doombuggies on The Haunted Mansion and the Clamshells on Under the Sea-Journey of The Little Mermaid that rotate on their base and direct guests' eyes to the stories being told on one side or the other of the guests' forward (or, sometimes, backward) motion. Adding that sort of behavior to what Disney is describing will be "one of the world's longest enclosed roller coasters" could very well be an interesting innovation.

As has been reported before, the concrete poured for the foundation of the new attraction coming to Epcot's Future World is the largest in Walt Disney World's history. Bob Chapek said the attraction building is so large that it could hold the volume of four Spaceship Earth attractions inside. It is scheduled to open in time for Walt Disney World Resort's 50th anniversary in 2021.

Enhanced Animatronics Developed for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Bob Chapek also discussed Disney's ongoing development of advanced all-electric Audio-Animatronics for installation in the new attractions opening next year in the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands at Disneyland (summer) and Disney's Hollywood Studios (late fall). The attraction involving a battle between the Resistance and the First Order (which he did not name until Saturday), in particular, makes use of seemingly dozens of very life-like Storm Troopers (and, likely other characters) constructed from the newest model Audio-Animatronics named the A1000. He also showed off Disney's development of the "Stunt-tronics," the animatronic characters capable of performing acrobatic stunts (if you recall, we previously have had some discussion of the patent and the Disney-released video that went viral some time ago), but he did not directly tie that to the Galaxy's Edge attractions.

Bob Chapek also confirmed that the Play Disney Parks app released this past summer for iOS and Android will be how a guest's "reputation" will follow them around the new land. As Disney has said a number of times during the construction of the new lands, if you crash the Millennium Falcon during your ride on that attraction, for example, it can have consequences elsewhere in your interactions like, for example, when you visit the Cantina. Details of this are still yet to come.

Disney Skyliner Opening Scheduled

Acknowledging that his appearance in a venue like IAAPA ought to include an official opening announcement of some sort, Bob Chapek announced that the Disney Skyliner gondola transportation system will open in Fall 2019. At Destination D on Saturday he unveiled one of the gondola cars and we will discuss in the Destination D recap below more about the system he announced last year at Disney D23 Expo that will connect Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios to several Disney Resort hotels.

As we reported last week, tower construction for the new transportation system was sufficiently complete that cable installation has begun across the system. Though no exact date was provided, the tiniest nuance distinction between his saying that the system will open in "fall 2019" as opposed to the Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Galaxy's Edge's scheduled opening in "late fall" suggests that the resort hopes that the new transportation will be operating by the time the crowds descend on the Studios park in numbers never seen before.

Mickey's Birthday Celebrated at IAAPA

And, in addition to discussing some of Disney's disruptive plans to the gathered members of the amusement industry, a large cake, the Dapper Dans, Mickey, and a bunch of his pals all gathered to end the breakfast meeting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Dapper Dans and Mickey's Pals celebrate Mickey's 90th birthday at IAAPA. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

New Walt Disney World Additions Announced at Destination D

This weekend at Walt Disney World Resort, the official D23 fan club hosted the Destination D event, at which Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek made quite a few major announcements about future plans for all of the domestic and international theme parks, and Walt Disney Imagineering provided some new details about Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, as we now know, in Fall 2019. I covered the event, and shared the numerous announcements on our MousePlanet Twitter account as news broke both Saturday and Sunday.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge - The Latest Details

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix recapped the biggest Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge news yesterday in the Disneyland Resort Update, as it applies to both coasts (with Disneyland's new land opening in the summer and Disney's Hollywood Studios' new land opening in "late fall"). Disney released the official names of the two attractions inside Galaxy's Edge: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.


Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is coming to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Video © Disney.

In the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction, guests will pilot the legendary Falcon which Hondo and Chewie have "borrowed" for the mission. Each rider will play one of four roles and each rider's actions will have "consequences" for how the ride turns out as well as elsewhere during a visit to Galaxy's Edge if they opt in to using the Play Disney Parks app. In Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, guests are in the middle of an "epic battle" between the Resistance and the First Order, and can come face Kylo Ren. As we have previously reported, full-size AT-ATs have been built, and the scale of the attraction itself is massive (scenes in the video, embedded below, was filmed in side the attraction itself).


Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is coming to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Video © Disney.

Bob Chapek also announced that Oscar-winning composer John Williams is scoring all-new original music for Galaxy's Edge.


John Williams Creating New and Original Star Wars Themes Exclusively for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Video © Disney.

As we reported at last year's D23 Expo in Anaheim (and a bunch of times since), the Florida installation of Galaxy's Edge will also have an addition unlike any other resort experience on earth: a fully emersive resort hotel experience that is still in development (in other words, it will not be completed by the time Galaxy's Edge opens next fall). Situated adjacent to Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney describes the resort experience as "a fully-immersive, multi-day Star Wars adventure aboard a luxury starship complete with high-end dining, space-view cabins and all of the exciting action you would expect from an authentic Star Wars experience." The newest details Bob Chapek shared are that after guests arrive at this new "resort," they will board their own "launch pod" to their cabin and then be able to travel "seamlessly" to Galaxy's Edge or back to Earth (presumably to visit other parts of Walt Disney World).

Disney's Hollywood Studios nighttime cinematic experience

While Bob Chapek announced that Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway will open inside the Chinese Theatre next Fall (more on that below), the building's facade will be used for a new nighttime cinematic (projection) show entitled Wonderful World of Animation, starting May 1 as part of the 30th Anniversary of the park. The show, like Disney's 90 year history of animation, begins with Mickey Mouse. It is not yet clear whether this show will replace or be an addition to the current projection show Disney Movie Magic. The current nighttime spectacular with fireworks, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is on hiatus during the winter showing of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, but it is scheduled to return on New Year's Eve, December 31, go back on hiatus January 1 through 6, 2019, and then return again, at least through March 31 (as always, of course, subject to change).

Epcot's Ongoing Transformation

Bob Chapek recapped the news about the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster discussed at IAAPA for the Destination D audience. He also revealed that the name of the attraction under construction at the France pavilion will be Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. The France pavilion will retain the Impressions de France film and will add a brand-new Beauty and the Beast sing-along show created by "legendary producer" Don Hahn (who told us during a press conference that he is unable to share any further details at this early point in that show's development). Neither Bob nor Don shared when the new show will debut.

At D23 Expo last year, Bob Chapek announced that a seamless digital new show is being developed for the China pavilion. While noting that work on that project continues, but not revealing an opening date, he announced that there will be a similar update coming to O Canada!

Earlier this year, we learned that Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show (which debuted back in 1999) will be retired next fall. An "all-new," transformative spectacular is in development to debut in 2020, celebrating Disney music and animation, featuring new floating set pieces, LED panels, choreographed fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, and lasers. While that unnamed show continues its development, starting in fall 2019 after the retirement of IllumiNations, a temporary show named Epcot Forever will feature music from classic Epcot attractions, beginning with "a spark of imagination that quickly grows into an epic spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers, and choreographed, special-effects kites." It is likely that the temporary show keeps the park's tradition of a "kiss goodnight" (with fireworks) alive while the old infrastructure of IllumiNations is upgraded for the new show for 2020.

While Bob Chapek repeated the grand vision for the overall transformation of the park being more timeless, more Disney, more family-friendly, and while he showed the abstract concept art that he first presented at D23 Expo last year, he did not provide any further details or weave together the pieces he and the company have announced so far into that broader vision. We do think there is a story the company will tell, as we know Disney Imagineering these days tries to always have a backstory for everything they do (see, for example, Disney Springs, Toy Story Land, and Pandora-The World of AVATAR for the most recent examples), but we do not yet know what it is.

Disney Skyliner

As Bob Chapek announced at IAAPA earlier in the week, the Disney Skyliner gondola transportation system is scheduled to open next fall. Just last week, as we noted, cable installation is currently underway on this new "skyride" that connects Epcot International Gateway with a turn station in "front" of Disney's BoardWalk on Buena Vista Drive, continues along Buena Vista Drive until eventually crossing it to arrive at a station adjacent to Disney's Riviera Resort (the next proposed Disney Vacation Club property projected to also open next fall). The Riviera Resort station then connects via towers leading to a hub station at (or, more specifically, just beyond the far end of) Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The hub station also connects via towers to a shared station for Disney's Art of Animation and Disney's Pop Century Resorts. A different set of towers connects the hub station to Disney's Hollywood Studios station.


Disney Skyliner is expected to start operating in Fall 2019. Video ©Disney.

During his presentation, Disney unveiled an actual gondola car from the new Disney Skyliner. No further details about its operation were shared (although, in previous releases by Disney, it has been noted that some cars will be capable of being loaded without disrupting the flow of the system for riders needing extra time to board or some assistive devices like Toy Story Mania's switch-track system; it is unclear whether guests will be able to ride in ECVs or wheelchairs, or will be required to transfer). Having personally stood in front of the car, it is clear that the cabin is over seven feet tall and capable of carrying more passengers than the old Magic Kingdom skyway buckets did. The car on display, however, was fully glass-enclosed, and it was not possible to determine how it will be climate controlled or ventilated (and Disney has not shared those details yet).

New Resort

Recently, Disney announced the new combination hotel and proposed DVC villas being built on the former site of River Country near Fort Wilderness. Bob Chapek revealed that this nature-inspired resort will be named Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

In addition to Bob Chapek's announcements on Saturday, an entire presentation during Destination D was devoted to the new attraction now scheduled to open in fall 2019 in the Chinese Theater given by members of the Walt Disney Imagineering team lead by show writer and creative director Kevin Rafferty. Unfortunately for those not there, as a presentation by WDI, photography and recording was not permitted. If you were following along on Twitter, that also served as our "note taking" which we can now supplement a little bit.

As Kevin Rafferty explained, the new attraction's home inside the Chinese Theatre is a natural fit for Mickey and Minnie, as they have had many premieres there, dating back to some of their early shorts. The attraction itself, however, takes its artistic direction from the new Mickey Shorts that appear on Disney Channel and created by the TV Animation team. Various speakers during all of Destination D referred to the style of the new Mickey Shorts as "inspired by" Mickey's appearance in the 1930's and "interpreted" for modern times and audiences.

The overall storyline of the attraction has guests actually entering into a new Mickey short. A newly created Mickey short, named "Mickey Mouse in Perfect Picnic" is introduced in the pre-show area, and it also establishes the new theme song which was composed by Chris Willis who has been (according to his clarifying Tweet directed to us) the composer for all of the new Mickey shorts.

When faced with the honor (or task) of creating a memorable song for the attraction, Chris Willis relied on advice from Disney Legend Richard Sherman (which he, in turn, says he learned from his music-composing father)—use the three esses of songwriting: make it "Singable," "Simple," and "Sincere." The theme music itself is being recorded by a 65-piece orchestra.

Among the details shared by the panel of the new attraction's ties to Mickey's history is its connection with Jimmy Maconald, the second voice of Mickey Mouse (after Walt Disney, himself when he got too busy) and longtime sound effects guy for many of Disney's earliest cartoons. The "soundscape" of the attraction is being created "old school" using some of the very props and devices Jimmy Macdonald had used and Imagineering was able to locate and restore.

The ride vehicle is a train, of course, with Goofy at the controls of the locomotive. Following that "old school" approach to creating the train sounds, even the train's whistle sounds are being created using the very same whistle that was used when Steamboat Willie was made, the first cartoon to use synchronized sound and, of course, the first Mickey Short released in theaters.

The Imagineers say that the attraction uses "every trick we know" and that, like the animated shorts, makes a lot of use of "cartoon logic" and surprises that you would not expect. The only trick the Imagineers disclosed was employing unique paint to the train locomotive itself so that it has a unique look under white light and black light.

More Details: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Events Underway

As we promised in last week's Update, we provided a bunch of additional Social Media coverage from Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, the hard-ticket, select nights event at Magic Kingdom. On Thursday night, we were invited to return to the Party and to conduct interviews overviewing the party, meet a Jingle Cruise skipper, learn about the special merchandise, food and beverage offerings and more.


Walt Disney World Ambassador Brandon Peters provides an overview of all the holiday offerings around the Resort. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


Walt Disney World Ambassador Ken Facey provides an overview of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


Skipper Angie tells us about this year's Jingle Cruise. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


See details about this year's special holiday merchandise, including Party-exclusives. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

As a "hard ticket" (separate admission required) event, Magic Kingdom closes to day guests on nights of the Party at 6 p.m. Guests with Party tickets, however, can enter the park starting at 4 p.m. Guests with Party tickets get wristbands and, for those guests in the park during the regular operating hours, rather than leave the park, there are wristband distribution stations where cast members can scan those Party tickets and provide the wristband.

At 6 p.m. cast members strategically placed around the park start watching for guests not wearing wristbands (indeed, they will even ask you to show your wristband to them) to gently start prodding those guests toward the park exit. Days guests that had not entered the Central Plaza (hub area) before 6 p.m. seemed to be turned away from lingering in the park through the first presentation of A Frozen Holiday Wish of the evening at 6:15 p.m. (the stage show in front of Cinderella Castle where Queen Elsa and friends from Frozen light the holiday dreamlights). Most (but not all) of the park attractions are open during the party and, starting at 6 p.m., only guests with wristbands are permitted to enter queues.

As we said last week, the highlights of the party, of course, are right in the name itself - the event is a giant Christmas Party. And, although Christmas is in the name, and reference is made to the "spirit of the season" and the like, the emphasis is on Party for family and friends (in other words, not particularly religious). Mickey and his pals have their Christmas Party on stage several times during the event in performing Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration. They also travel the parade route twice in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.


Get an overview of all of the Live Entertainment at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

The usual nightly fireworks show is replaced by Holiday Wishes during the Party. As we noted last week, it has not been updated with the projection technology added for Happily Ever After, but, like the HalloWishes fireworks and a few other celebrations during the year, it includes perimeter fireworks all launched in sync with a mix of the old "Wishes" theme music, Christmas Carols, and other music of the "Season." Indeed, several folks nostalgic for the old Wishes fireworks show will appreciate that Jimminy Cricket still serves as the narrating "host" of the show.


Enjoy the finale of this year's Holiday Wishes fireworks from Main Street Station. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Rockettower Plaza Stage hosts an "out of this world" Christmas party several times during the Party and that alternates with "The Edge Effect," an a cappella holiday concert. Inside Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe is Club Tinsel, a dance party featuring holiday friends like Disney reindeer and polar bears. Storybook Circus hosts the Disney Junior Jingle Jam featuring Disney Junior characters. And, throughout the park, are opportunities to meet characters that typically are not available for meet and greets during regular operating days (plus plenty that are too). Oh yeah, and there are complimentary holiday treats available around the park too!

As we mentioned last week, for those that want a more comprehensive look at food, beverage and merchandise, Disney Parks Blog has published its Foodie Guide and Holiday Merchandise Highlights from the Party. It also has provided a rundown on some of the special Disney PhotoPass Opportunities during the event.

We were also invited to get a look at this year's new, extra-charge add-on party: Tony's Most Merriest Town Square Party. Guests attending this $99 plus tax (plus admission to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party), receive a second wristband for the evening to enter Tony's restaurant (with in-and-out privileged) between 9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., to "indulge in savory hors d'oeuvres including a selection of artisanal meats and cheeses as well as Tony's famous meatballs, mini hand-tossed pizzas, boursin-stuffed artichoke and more! And if you're wanting to satisfy that sweet tooth, then you can snack on pumpkin tartlets, Yule Logs, cannoli, Christmas cookies, and red velvet cupcakes," plus there will be "complimentary beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages" available. Tony's Party also includes prime Town Square reserved viewing for the 11 p.m. showing of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Reservations and more information are available online or by calling (407)827-7348.

Epcot Candlelight Processional and Concerts News & Calendar

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays also began on Sunday, November 18. Along with the holiday decor and special food offerings, additional entertainment by holiday storytellers and musical acts are now all around the park.


Topiary renditions of Mickey and Minnie are at the front entrance to Epcot, welcoming everyone to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. (DF)


The mariachi band, Mariachi Cobre, is always a treat. They perform at the Epcot Mexico pavilion several times a day. During the holiday season there's an added bonus as they bring with them dancers, who tell the story of Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration where Mary and Joseph travel from inn to inn, looking for shelter along their journey. (BF)


Holiday inspired food and entertainment are all around Epcot as the International Festival of the Holidays is underway. This year's poster features Chip and Dale. (BF)


A snowman topiary stands in the garden facing the walkway to Showcase Plaza. (BF)


The holiday group, Joyful! A Celebration of the Season, is back on stage at Future World. They perform music of Christmas and Kwanzaa, in the style of modern gospel and R&B. (DF)

Photos and captions by Donald Fink (DF) & Bonnie Fink (BF).

This Thursday night, Thanksgiving, November 22, the Candlelight Processional returns to the America Gardens Theatre for the traditional retelling of the story of Christmas with celebrity narrator, live orchestra, and mass choir three times nightly through December 30. Our Candlelight Processional at Epcot Guide lists the dining packages available for breakfast, lunch and dinner around Epcot and its neighboring resorts, and the up-to-date listing of scheduled celebrity narrators. You can also visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for Candlelight dining package information and reservations.


The Candlelight Processional will debut at Epcot this year this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 22, and is scheduled to run three times nightly through December 30. Pat Sajak is scheduled to return as a celebrity narrator again this year. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Looking ahead to 2019, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series will take the stage three times nightly, from January 18 through February 25 during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Also expanded to seven days a week, beginning on March 6, the Garden Rocks Concert Series takes the stage three times nightly through June 3.


The 2019 edition of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series will run three times nightly for the entire 39-days of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

​For the convenience of our readers, all of the 2018 scheduled Candlelight Processional narrators at America Gardens Theatre are shown in our Google Calendar of Epcot Events. With the dates announced for the Disney on Broadway Concert Series and Garden Rocks Concert Series in 2019, we have added entries for the daily schedule and we will update those as performance details are announced. While our Google Calendar of Epcot Events includes a list of the scheduled performers, it is always best to check the My Disney Experience app, Times Guide, and, yes, sometimes even signs posted at the park entrances and at the theater noting last minute changes. You can add the whole Event calendar to any calendar that supports the iCal format (like iPhone and Mac) by copying this link and, indeed, if when we get additional information and update the calendar, the calendar will update on your subscribed device 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.

Views Around the World

With all the events this week, we do not have many "other" views to share. For those that do not follow our social media accounts, here are a few more holiday treats.

This and That…

…Disney Trading Pin Collectors will want to be aware of the release of the 2018 Disney Gift Card Holiday Pin Series: four pins featuring Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald, respectively, in holiday scenes. Buying the coordinated Disney Gift Card "treated with a holiday sparkle that really captures the feeling of the season" by activating it with $100 credit at select merchandise locations at Walt Disney World Resort (and Disneyland Resort) gets you each pin for no extra charge. Read more about the history of the Gift Card Holiday Pin Series and get a look at this year's pins and cards on Disney Parks Blog.

…Last week, Citizen Watch and Disney unveiled their previously announced Citizen branded in-park clocks, plus Citizen launched its newest Disney product with nine Mickey timepieces to mark Mickey's 90th birthday, as Citizen becomes the "official timepiece" of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Spot the newly branded Citizen clocks in Magic Kingdom on Main Street U.S.A., at the Town Square Theater and at the FastPass+ entrances for many attractions around the park. More information about the business alliance and branded products is available at CitizenWatch.com.

…The 15-story tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort's central lake, which is under construction at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort will be named "Gran Destino Tower" and will open in July, 2019. It adds 545 rooms, including 50 suites and concierge level services, and a rooftop dining facility that will include panoramic views of nighttime fireworks shows at the Theme Parks. The new Gran Destino Tower will serve as the new main entrance point for the resort. The resort's more than 1,800 existing rooms have been fully updated with new fixtures, furniture and lighting. A second new restaurant is planned to open on an island in the middle of Lago Dorado with new walkways across the water. Reservations are not yet open for Gran Destino Tower, but much of the rest of the resort has continued to operate around the construction.

…The same Disney Parks Blog post providing details of the Magic Kingdom celebrations starting January 18 for Mickey & Minnie Mouse also noted that the same day, Disney's Hollywood Studios will unveil a new 30th anniversary logo for the park (which was originally named Disney-MGM Studios) which will also open the new meet and greet areas for The Incredibles (formerly PIXAR Place), and Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. (inside Walt Disney Presents in the space which was most recently home to Star Lord and Baby Groot).

…REPEATING FROM LAST WEEK: For college basketball fans visiting Walt Disney World Resort Thanksgiving weekend, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is hosting the AdvoCare Invitational from November 22-25, including three of the teams ranked in the preseason top-25 polls: Florida State, LSU and the 2018 NCAA National Champion Villanova. The other teams competing are Alabama-Birmingham, Canisius College, College of Charleston, Memphis and Oklahoma State. The tournament includes 12 games over the three days, with each team competing in one game per day; the championship game is Sunday, November 25. Tickets are available at this page of ticketmaster.com.

…ALSO REPEATING: Looking to ringing in 2019, reservations are open for the three parties at Disney's Contemporary Resort: Pixar Party: A New Year's Eve Celebration on the second level of the Convention Center featuring characters from Toy Story, Inside Out, The Incredibles, Up, and Finding Nemo, and lots of kids activities ($190/person including tax and gratuity); Disney Countdown to Midnight: A New Year's Eve Celebration in the Fantasia Ballroom, featuring "cheftainment" and cuisine from California Grill, Flying Fish, Jiko and Narcoosee's, an interactive DJ playing music from the 1960's to today and a New Year's Eve Bash Band ($275/person including tax and gratuity); and the Disney Ink & Paint Club which includes everything in the Disney Countdown to Midnight party plus a VIP Lounge experience in The Sorcerer's Apprentice Ballroom, including even more food and live entertainment ($450/person including tax and gratuity). Call (407)WDW-Dine to book or follow each of those links we provided.

…AND A FINAL REMINDER FROM LAST WEEK: Walt Disney World Golf operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management reminds golfers visiting Walt Disney World Resort from afar that their partnership with Ship Sticks allows you to ship your golf clubs directly from your home or office and have them delivered directly to one of the Walt Disney World Resort courses, with an on-time guarantee that they are ready for you to play. Prices start at $39.99 each way for ground-based service. Visit this page of ShipSticks.com for all of the details, including tracking services and details of the included initial $1,000 of insurance coverage included.

…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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New & Coming Soon at Disney Springs

This section collects all of the Disney Springs retail and dining events we are aware of in one place along with our most recent views of the area. Event items NEW to the Update are marked accordingly. Looking for Thanksgiving dining options? We include a bunch of announcements from Disney Springs restaurants below too. In addition, this Disney Parks Blog post highlights even more "limited-time" holiday food and beverage offerings around Disney Springs.


The Haunted Mansion tree is one of the most impressive new additions to the trail this year. The Christmas Tree Trail, located in the old bus loop at the Marketplace, has 27 themed trees to see, plus specialty beverages and foods, and, of course, Santa in his Chalet. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

NEW Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is Now Open

The new venue located next to the Coca-Cola Store and across from Planet Hollywood Observatory and Chicken Guy, is the fourth "Bar & Grill" location from Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck. Disney Parks Blog describes the venue as "[f]eaturing approachable dining with a touch of California elegance ... [in] a dynamic setting inspired by traditional farmhouses and ... a menu designed to suit every occasion - from casual, leisurely meals to lavish, celebratory gatherings." Reservations are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com, but be aware that Dining Plans are not accepted.

Donald and Bonnie Fink had a chance to see Chef Wolfgang and take a look around during the venue's soft opening over the weekend and again yesterday. See the photo captions for their comments.


The new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is open at Disney Springs. (BF)


A unique twist here is that it has a walk-up gelato bar, where guests can snag their favorite gelato or other treats to take with them, or sit at one of the four tables located outside. (BF)


Here you can see the entrance to the restaurant on the left and a walk-up gelato bar on the right. (DF)


Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck was also on hand to greet guests and oversee the soft opening on Saturday night. Here he is at the new Gelato Bar. (DF)


The new Gelato Bar opens to the outside. It was not completely open when we went through on Saturday night, but it appears that the gelato bar will be a place where guests can stop by and grab a quick gelato, coffee, or other treats without having to sit down in the restaurant. (DF)


Here's an inside view of the new Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill at Disney Springs. The rustic, timber frame appearance has a casual, inviting appeal. The food's good too. (DF)


It was a soft opening the night on Saturday when we wandered through the new Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill at Disney Springs, but the kitchen was busy with the new menu. (DF)

Photos and captions by Donald Fink (DF) and Bonnie Fink (BF).

NEW UPDATE Ralph Breaks VR Tickets at The VOID - Opens Tomorrow, November 21

Last winter, The VOID opened at Disney Springs with Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire created by The VOID and ILMxLAB (the immersive entertainment division of LucasFilm). With the Disney Animation Studios film Ralph Breaks the Internet opening in theaters tomorrow, November 21, The VOID, ILMxLAB and The Walt Disney Company debut Ralph Breaks VR, "a new multi-sensory Disney adventure...immersed in the worlds of the internet and online gaming with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope."

For those that have never visited The VOID at Disney Springs Marketplace (or Downtown Disney in Anaheim or elsewhere), the physical space guests explore itself is pretty much a "black box" where the players wear equipment and a helmet that immerses them into a virtual world rather than the place itself. Guests must be at least 48 inches tall and 10 years old. Disney Parks Blog confirms that Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will continue to operate: check the schedule and get tickets for either (or both) at TheVOID.com.

Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'

NEW DETAILS! Very Merry Saturday Night Shine Party from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, December 1, is a "downhome celebration of ugly holiday sweaters!" Guests are encouraged to join the fun wearing their best "ugly" holiday sweaters and enjoy festive beverages and bites. All December, guests who dine at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in a Disney-themed "ugly" Christmas sweater receive a complimentary slice of Chef Art’s signature hummingbird cake with green and red sprinkles with the purchase of an entrée or appetizer (but limit one per table).

NEW Sake & Shine 2.0 teams Homecomin' with Morimoto Asia for a progressive dining event featuring Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Chef Art Smith on November 30 at 7 p.m. Guests 21 and over start with a three-course Pan-Asian feast complete with sake and beer pairings on the second-story Forbidden Lounge balcony at Morimoto Asia and then continues across the promenade at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ with a variety of dessert options including a build-your-own-Florida-strawberry shortcake bar plus slices of Chef Smith’s signature Hummingbird and Shine cakes, and a variety of moonshine-based cocktails. Both Chefs Morimoto and Smith will be there throughout the evening overseeing the meal, mingling with guests and available for photos and autographs. Tickets are $180.72 (plus tax and gratuity) on this page of Patina Restaurant Group's website.

Morimoto Asia

For Thanksgiving, Morimoto Asia is serving up a celebratory Peking Turkey Dinner that it describes as "Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside," along with roasted pork fried rice "stuffing," Japanese style candied yams, cranberry-litchi chutney, and Szechuan peppercorn gravy. Dinner is $48 per person. For reservations visit MorimotoAsia.com.

On December 2, from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto will serve as host of the first annual "12 Beers of Christmas" featuring multiple stations of holiday-themed beers from local breweries paired with Pan-Asian bites. He will also be autographing his newest cookbook Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking which will be available for purchase with all of the proceeds of the book sales donated to Give Kids The WOrld Village, the nonprofit resort built to serve critically-ill children and their families by providing them week-long Florida dream vacation "wish trips." For more information and to purchase the $55/person (must be at least 21 years old) plus tax and gratuities, visit this page of Patina Restaurant Group's website.

The Edison

For Thanksgiving, The Edison is serving traditional holiday fixings with a full turkey dinner. For $25 per person, guests can dine on classic oven roasted turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes with gravy, savory house-made stuffing, sweet baby carrots, and cranberry chutney. For reservations visit TheEdisonFla.com.

Maria & Enzo's and Enzo's Hideaway

Maria & Enzo's and Enzo's Hideaway at Disney Springs are now offering 40% off to Disney Annual Passholders during lunch through December 31. Not valid with any other offer or during brunch.

For Thanksgiving, Maria & Enzo's is serving a three-course Italian holiday dinner for $39 per person and $19 per child nine and under. Starters include Roasted Apple and Winter Squash Soup, Forest Mushroom Arancini, and Marinated Goat Cheese with Roasted Baby Beets. Guests can dine on entrees such as Braised Turkey Meatballs, Pasta al Forno, or Grilled Wild Salmon. A tasting of desserts with mini house-made cannoli, seasonal pumpkin cheesecake, gelato, and sorbet will be available too. For reservations visit MariaAndEnzos.com.

NEW DETAILS! Groups of Sunday Brunch diners at Maria & Enzo’s during December that wear matching holiday pajamas receive a complimentary commemorative photo. Plus, kids age 9 and under eat free with purchase of adult entrée! Call 407-560-8466 for full details and to reserve a table.

At neighboring Enzo's Hideaway for Thanksgiving, you can also find a similar offering. For reservations visit EnzosHideawayFla.com.

…All of the Patina Restaurant Group restaurants are offering a $20 bonus card when you purchase a $100 gift card during the holiday season. The bonus cards must be redeemed January 2, 2019-March 31, 2019, and cannot be combined with other offers, promotions or discounts. Visit PatinaGroup.com/bonuscard for more information. NEW FLASH SALE Until November 21 at noon Eastern Time, if you buy the card online, the bonus card will be $30!

Paddlefish

Rooftop Wine Experiences are available on the second Tuesday every month through January on the third "deck." The experience and discussion lead by its Sommelier team features wine flights from around the world and light bites. For more information and tickets, visit its EventBrite webpage. Guests must be 21 or older to attend.

Earl of Sandwich: Holiday Sandwiches and More

Reminder: Earl of Sandwich holiday offerings are now available at all of its locations (including its re-opened location at Disneyland Resort). This year marks the debut of the Holiday Ham (available through December 31) which is a sandwich of ham, cheddar, yams, and cranberry sauce on freshly toasted artisan bread. The mainstay Holiday Turkey is available too, a sandwich of turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and mayonnaise on freshly toasted artisan bread. Earl also has a Peppermint Brownie available for dessert.


At Walt Disney World, Earl of Sandwich is located in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs.


Earl's holiday menu features two sandwiches and a dessert.


For the National Sandwich Day media event, the "Earl" himself appeared with one of the restaurant's chefs.


Earl of Sandwich also has a gift card offer: receive a $5 Holiday Reward Card with the purchase of every $25 Gift Card.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Status of Parking Availability at Disney Springs

Those who visit Disney Springs during the weekends or during busy times of the year at the Resort know that the two parking structures often fill to capacity during those peak times. Even the flat lot on the West Side can fill up during very busy times, which we will certainly see as Black Friday approaches! Construction continues across Buena Vista Drive at the site of the new "Lemon" garage that will connect to Disney Springs by a series of pedestrian bridges. We have not yet heard whether the new structure will be open in time for the first wave of the holiday shopping rush, but stay tuned and, if you are driving on Buena Vista Drive, observe the overhead signs directing cars to the garages and lots with availability.


The new "Lemon" parking structure is on the opposite side of Buena Vista Drive (next to the Speedway Gas Station) and is connected by a series of pedestrian bridges to Disney Springs. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant

Cooke's of Dublin, the counter-service counterpart to Raglan Road, now offers its own mobile ordering; choose from either direct on its website or its mobile app (available in the App Store or Google Play).

Ireland's Lisa Canny, the ginger-haired vocalist-harpist-banjo player, continues to appear on the Raglan Road Irish Pub stage through December 6.

Raglan Road's traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, November 22, has a menu that includes butter and herb roasted turkey with gravy, duck fat potato roasties, bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts, apple, sage & sweet onion stuffing, and cranberry and plum chutney. The prix fix meal is $28 for adults, $14 for children. The restaurant will also offer its full regular menu on Thanksgiving. Call (407) 938-0300 to make a reservation.

Wine Bar George

NEW For holiday shopping for the wine enthusiast on your list, check out Wine Bar George's holiday gift offerings, including "the world's best wine tools to books and gift baskets." On Black Friday when you shop you'll receive 25% off your retail purchase (some restrictions apply). The Coravin is on sale from 11/23-11/25 for $199. From November 23 - January 1 receive an $15 additional gift card for $200 spend, $50 for $500 and $125 for $1,000.

NEW A Toro Wine Dinner, Join Victor Ordóñez of Bodegas Ordóñez and Master Sommelier George Miliotes for the venue's first wine dinner featuring Tempranillo from the Toro region of Spain. Start the evening with a vertical tasting of 2015, 2016 and 2017 Avancia Godello paired with the first course. Dinner continues with six different Tempranillos from Toro from two distinct families, the Egurens and Ordóñezs. Each course will feature one wine from each family in ascending order of vine age. The evening will conclude with dessert and 2007 Málaga N°3, Old Vines sweet Muscat from over 100-year-old vines by Bodegas Ordóñez - November 28, 7 p.m. - $150. More information and links to tickets at WineBarGeorge.com.

A traditional Thanksgiving turkey plate will be available for $32/person ($16/kids 9 and under). Pumpkin pie will be available for $10/person. Thanksgiving Day, November 22, opening at 11 a.m.

Retail

NEWWalt Disney World Resort would like you to do all of your holiday shopping at the Resort this year. To further that, Disney Springs has launched its special Disney Springs Gift Guide: From Holiday Dreams to Wishes Granted.


The Disney Springs Stitch's Holiday Gift Hunt clue book can be picked up at numerous locations around Disney Springs, especially Disney-operated locations like the Star Wars Galactic Outpost. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Disney Style store on the West Side remains open. It now has a stock of "Ugly" Disney Christmas sweaters and features a new animated photo backdrop of the Magic Kingdom's Holiday Wishes fireworks surrounding a Dreamlights-covered Cinderella Castle. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Art of Disney Presents Greg McCullough

On November 3 artist Greg McCullough (who has previously been featured at other Art of Disney stores and at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts), began daily residence (except Mondays) from 1 to 7:30 p.m. in a new pop-up shop located in the shop formerly operated by Little Miss Matched in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs scheduled to be open through January 1, 2019. The shop features McCullough's art, including original works, limited-editions and prints. Guests will have a chance to interact with him and have artwork signed.


Greg McCullough poses with some of his works featured in the shop.


The new pop-up shop featuring artist Greg McCullough is located in the former Little Miss Matched shop.

(file)


The pop-up shop is scheduled to be open through January 1, 2019.

(file)

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

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 Disney Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 5 / 10
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 10 / 10
Thursday, November 22, 2018  9 / 10
Friday, November 23, 2018  9 / 10
Saturday, November 24, 2018  8 / 10
 

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Resort Events

Check here to see if a park event might fall during your next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you know of any in-park events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, please send us an email

Just click the year you want to expand (or close).

2018 Resort Events
  • Holidays at Walt Disney World – began November 8
    • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom:
      • November 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 – December 30
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios Flurry of Fun – November 8, 2018 - January 6, 2019
      • ​Includes nightly presentations of Sunset Seasons Greetings and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
      • Toy Story Land now includes special holiday songs on Alien Swirling Saucers and more
    • Disney's Animal Kingdom – began November 8
      • Diwali, the holiday Festival of Lights in India, celebrated as part of the UP! A Great Bird Adventure show.
  • Disney After Hours
    • …at Magic Kingdom: December 3 & 10: 10 p.m. - 1 a.m.
    • …at Disney's Hollywood Studios: December 8, 15 & 22 (park entry at 7 p.m.)
    • …at Disney's Animal Kingdom: December 4, 12 & 18 (park entry at 7 p.m.)
  • Disney Vacation Club Members Annual Meetings – at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center
    December 13, 2018, doors open 1:30 p.m. (Member online RSVP or telephone (407)566-3844 required). -
2019 Resort Events
  • Disney After Hours:
    …at Magic Kingdom:
    • January 7, 17, 24, & 28: 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.
    • February 14, March 7: 9 p.m.– midnight
    …at Disney's Hollywood Studios (entry at 7 p.m.):
    • January 5, 12 & 19
    • February 2, 9 & 16
    • March 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30
    • April 6 & 13
    …at Disney's Animal Kingdom (entry at 7 p.m.):
    • January 8, 16, 22 & 31
    • February 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 26
    • March 5, 20 & 27
    • April 3
  • 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 9–13, 2019
  • Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom – January 18 – September 30, 2019
  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts – January 18 – February 25, 2019
  • Party with Pixar Pals at Disney's Hollywood Studios – January 18 - September 30, 2019
  • 25 Years of The Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom – January 18 – September 30, 2019
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 21–24, 2019.
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – March 6 – June 3, 2019
  • Star Wars Rival Run Weekend – April 4–7, 2019.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary – May 1, 2019.

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.

View the different areas of the Resort by scrolling horizontally and selecting the one you want to read about. If the menu bar does not work on your screen, please let us know by email (include which Browser and Operating System you are using)!

Magic Kingdom
  • Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial – no longer listed in My Disney Experience (final show was September 29, 2018).
  • Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play It! Street Party – shows are scheduled multiple times daily through only December 1.
    Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party" is scheduled to debut January 18, 2019, featuring new arrangements of classic "Mickey Mouse Club" songs
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment (return date is still unknown)
  • Tom Sawyer Island – closed for refurbishment
  • Stitch's Great Escape – My Disney Experience lists as "available seasonally throughout the year"
    Be aware that it is increasingly unlikely it will reopen; the attraction's lobby is usually used for greeting Stitch
  • Walt Disney World Railroad – scheduled closure beginning in December 2018 to accomodate TRON construction
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – scheduled 2019 closure for track adjustment to accomodate TRON construction (expected Summer reopening)
Epcot
  • 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.
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – closing during the second half of 2019 for new nighttime spectacular.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away (stage show) – On refurbishment hiatus. My Disney Experience lists next shows on November 18.
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi – My Disney Experience lists as closed with no further information.
  • The Great Movie Ride – Permanently closed August 13, 2017.
    The new "Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway" attraction to open in Chinese Theatre in Fall 2019.
  • Pixar Place area – Closed since just after the opening of Toy Story Land
    New entrance to Toy Story Mania! and character encounters now inside Toy Story Land
    Starting January 18, will become home to Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, Frozone & Edna Mode.
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage – Closed.
    Disney Junior Dance Party scheduled to debut December 22, 2018..
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.
  • Conservation Station – Rafiki's Planet Watch – Wildlife Express Train - now closed - planned reopening Spring 2019
Disney Water Parks

Disney's Blizzard Beach

  • Closed for seasonal refurbishment from October 28, 2018, through January 5, 2019.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

  • Closing for seasonal refurbishment January 6 – March 16, 2019.
Disney Springs
  • 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 has opened in its place.
  • 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 now open next door to the Coca-Cola Store
    Wolfgang Puck Express continues to operate in its existing location in the Marketplace.
Disney Resorts
  • Caribbean Beach – The overall construction project at the Resort is expected to be completed 2019–20. Disney Parks Blog reported on the October 8, 2018, opening of the resort's new lobby, restaurants and other amenities, including Sebastian's Bistro, Centertown Market, and Banana Cabana.
  • Coronado Springs
    • The new 15-story "Gran Destino Tower" overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort's central lake, will open in July, 2019, adding 545 rooms, including 50 suites and concierge level services, and a rooftop dining facility that will include panoramic views of nighttime fireworks shows at the Theme Parks. The Gran Destino Tower will serve as the new main entrance point for the resort. The resort's more than 1,800 existing rooms have been fully updated with new fixtures, furniture and lighting. A second new restaurant is planned to open on an island in the middle of Lago Dorado with new walkways across the water. Disney Parks Blog posted the latest renderings of the project in an article on October 16, 2018.
    • Iguana Arcade is closed for refurbishment.
    • Siestas Cantina poolside quick service dining location is closed for refurbishment
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Uzima Springs Pool Bar is closed for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort - The Big Blue Pool will close for refurbishment beginning in Fall 2020.
Walt Disney World Golf
  • No known closures.

Current Discounts and 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.

 

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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.

Just click the category you want to expand (or close).

For Everyone

Play, Stay, Dine and Save

You can Play, Stay, Dine and Save up to $500 for a family of four on a five-night/six-day Walt Disney Travel Company room, theme park ticket and dining plan package at a select Disney Resort hotel, for arrivals most nights January 1 through March 9, 2019. he number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited and may be booked through January 2, 2019. Read more about it on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Gift of Magic Offer

You can save 25 percent on rooms for stays most nights January 1 through April 27, 2019, at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels with the Gift of Magic offer. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited and may be booked through January 2, 2019. Get more information on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

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.

For Annual Passholders
Expect to be required to show your Passholder Card and matching photo ID to receive a discount and other benefits.

For the latest offerings during the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and more, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.
Passholder benefits during the Festival include:

  • Passholders can obtain a new Goofy Passholder holiday design magnet (with their Pass and Photo ID) on their first visit to the Festival at Mouse Gear or Port of Entry.
  • An exclusive Passholder Goofy Gingerbread Cookie will be available for purchase at Taste Track on November 18 only (while supplies last).
  • An exclusive Passholder Festival of the Holidays Chip & Dale ornament, T-shirt and other merchandise are available at locations around the park (while supplies last).
  • The Passholder 20% merchandise discount applies to the all-new Cookie Jar (that can be filled up during the Holiday Cookie Stroll) as well as the Chip & Dale's Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt.

For the most up-to-date list of locations offering dining discounts to Annual Passholders, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. Don't forget about the dedicated V.I.PASSHOLDER SUPPORT service for questions about Passholder benefits and recommendations. Call (407)WDW-PASS or on-line chat (via chat button on this page of DisneyWorld.com) daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, by email (via a web form), or in-person at Liberty Square Ticket Office in Magic Kingdom, Ticket Central at Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Ticket Corner at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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

Maria & Enzo's and Enzo's Hideaway at Disney Springs are now offering 40% off to Disney Annual Passholders during lunch through December 31st. Not valid with any other offer or during brunch.

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 $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 $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.

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 benefits. 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 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 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).

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 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.

For Florida Residents

Park Tickets

Walt Disney World Resort continues to offer Florida resident discount ticket programs. Disney sweetened the offer of saving 30% on a 3-day ticket or 40% on a 4-day ticket by including the Park Hopper option at no additional charge for tickets purchased by December 16, 2018, with a selected start date on or before December 16, 2018. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for more information and purchasing options. Proof of Florida residence will be required at park entrance

For other currently available park tickets, passes and offers visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Florida residents can check out the latest hotel package offers on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

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

For Disney Vacation Club Members

Member Benefits and Discounts may be found on this page of DisneyVacationClub.com. Note: some benefits and discounts are only available to those with a valid Disney Vacation Club Membership Card which is only available to Members owning at least 75 Vacation Points purchased directly from Disney Vacation Development, Inc.

MORE DETAILS WILL BE LISTED HERE SOON!

If you know of an offer that you think most Members do not know about, please drop us an email with the details.

For Canada Residents

Canada residents can purchase an adult 4-day or longer base theme park ticket for as low as $316 (that is $79/day; US Dollars not including tax). Upgrades to the Park Hopper Option are also available. Tickets may be purchased on this page of DisneyWorld.com for Canada residents or by phone at (407)939-7648. This offer is available through March 15, 2019, and they may be used through September 27, 2019 (but are blocked December 24, 2018, to January 1, 2019). Tickets must be used within 14 days of first use or by September 27, 2019, whichever is earlier.

All adults using Canada resident tickets or passes must present valid proof of Canada 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. The offer itself requires advanced purchase; it is not available at Walt Disney World Resort theme park ticket windows. 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.

For U.K. Residents

You can see the latest offers for U.K. residents on Disney World's U.K. packages website. It now features an offer where everyone on your booking dines for FREE during their entire stay when you book a Disney Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort Hotel and Ticket package for a minimum of 5 nights in 2019; also enjoy FREE Breakfast if you stay in a Value Resort Hotel! Plus, enjoy speciality non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages during your stay!

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

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