Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 26 - March 4, 2019

by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 26 - March 4, 2019

 

Writer's note: Months ago, when I decided to make a reservation with three friends for the Disney Vacation Club Top of the World Lounge Beverage Tasting Series Mixology session held last Thursday night, I had no way of knowing the amount of news we would have to cover this week. Nonetheless, I have included my visit as the final news item below because, like I last reported in the Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 11-16, 2017 (gosh, over 16 months ago), personally I find these Beverage Tasting Series events to be so much fun and the Lounge itself provides such amazing views. By luck of timing, our Top of the World view this time also included a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket launch at the Space Coast followed by a spectacular moonrise, all following the fun adult beverages and learning opportunities.

Back on the ground, the third annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts is now complete and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival starts next Wednesday, March 6. We will be at a Media Preview tomorrow, so be sure to follow our social media channels, and then come back next week for our full report of what to expect this year.

Let's get on to the news and views.

News and Views

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New "Play" Pavilion and Redesigned Entrance Coming to Epcot

The details of Epcot's evolution continue to emerge. This week, Disney announced the park will open a new play pavilion, overhaul its main entrance, and open an Experience Center showcasing the park's future. Neither the Disney Parks Blog post nor a subsequent press release provided a specific timeline for the completion of the overhaul, but the announcements do provide some more details of the major park transformation that Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, first announced at the Disney D23 Destination D: Amazing Adventures event back in November 2016 and said would create a park more true to its original vision, more Disney, more timeless, and focused on the whole family.

The new, as yet unnamed, play pavilion will be built under the dome of the former Wonders of Life pavilion that in more recent years has been used as a seasonal "Festival Center." Like the pavilion's neighbor, the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster, the project is scheduled to be completed in time for guests to experience it when Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021.

Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, said, "This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we've ever created and is completely unique to Epcot. Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive 'city' where you can explore, create and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation."


The new play pavilion will be created inside the former Wonders of Life/Festival Center domed building in Future World East at Epcot. Concept art ©Disney.

Disney also announced that the park's main entrance will be overhauled to pay homage to the original park entrance, "with fresh takes on classic elements," including new pathways, green spaces, and a "newly reimagined fountain" that, in the concept art, looks like it will pay homage to the park's original fountain and its translucent centerpiece. The "Leave A Legacy" photos (the etched images that guests paid to pose for starting with the Millennium Celebration) will be moved outside the park's gates.


The concept art for Epcot's redesigned main entrance plaza shows more green spaces, a reimagined fountain, and flags with the Epcot "rose" leading up to Spaceship Earth. Concept Art ©Disney.

Later this year, Epcot will open a new Experience Center in the Odyssey Events Pavilion. Probably similar to Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure during that park's major overhaul, this preview center will include interactive exhibits that Disney says "showcase the relentless innovation, energy and excitement driving the future of the park all throughout this unprecedented period of transformation." Among the other changes known to be coming to Epcot but not yet announced with any additional detail yet is "significant redevelopment" of the part of Future World between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase Promenade.

"Epcot has always been, and always will be, an optimistic celebration of the real world that is brought to life through the magic of Disney," said George A. Kalogridis, president, Walt Disney World Resort. "The exciting plans we have on the horizon will honor Epcot's rich legacy of creativity and innovation while continuing to exceed the expectations of our guests for decades to come."


At D23 Expo 2017 Bob Chapek showed a blue sky rendering of a reimagined Future World at Epcot. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka of the Artist rendition ©Disney.

It is interesting to note that in both the newly released concept art for Epcot's entrance that looks at Spaceship Earth from the north, and the blue sky concept art released at D23 Expo 2017 viewing Spaceship Earth from the south, it appears that area between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase Promenade will see major changes. In both pieces of concept art, the buildings that formerly housed Innoventions (originally the Communicore) do not seem to be present. In the older concept art, the post-show building (and upper-level sponsors/VIP lounge), the overhead shade screens added for the millennium, and the Fountain of Nations also do not appear.

When taken together with the announcement about the new play pavilion including character experiences, it seems plausible that the current character spot photo locations in Innoventions West for Mickey and friends, Baymax from Big Hero 6, and Joy and Sadness from Inside Out could all close with some or all of those characters finding new homes in the new pavilion or elsewhere around the park. The concept art for the play pavilion seems to have an image of Joy sleeping in the hotel (and the concept art includes a Disney/Pixar copyright claim too). Things to watch for in regard to Innoventions West also include whether the park announces new character experiences, and closings or new locations for Starbucks (currently in Fountain View) and Coca-Cola (currently in Club Cool).

In Innoventions East, Electric Umbrella is the only quick service food location near the main entrance of the park and Future World's East side (Sunshine Seasons is inside The Land in Future World West), and MouseGear is Epcot's version of Magic Kingdom's Main Street Emporium—the biggest retail location in the park. We should expect announcements about new venues for quick service food and retail either ahead of or in connection with any major changes for this area. There is only one remaining participant operating in Innoventions itself, Colortopia, as The SpectacuLAB appears to have ceased operations in January and it no longer appears in My Disney Experience.

"Epcot is beloved for its focus on imagination, innovation, fun, food and family," said Kalogridis. "It's a timeless place where the real is made fantastic through the magic of Disney. It has a very bright future ahead and the best part is that we've only just begun to dream."

With regard to changes coming to Epcot that have previously been announced, in addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster, Future World East will also become home to the table-service space-themed restaurant next to Mission: SPACE. In World Showcase, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure attraction is under construction at France pavilion (also expected to debut by 2021), and a new Beauty and the Beast sing-along is joining the pavilion's existing film, Impressions de France (no announced opening date). The 360º Circle-Vision films at China and Canada pavilions are being updated, and Japan is adding a new signature dining experience.

As we have reported a number of times, the nearly two-decade-old nighttime spectacular at World Showcase Lagoon, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, will be retired this fall. A temporary show entitled Epcot Forever will be its limited-time nighttime replacement set to classic Epcot tunes, and then in 2020 an all-new nighttime spectacular is scheduled to debut as infrastructure work is completed.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Winner Crowned

Jackie Pirtle-Hall of St. Charles, Missouri, won the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon this past weekend with a time of 1:18:30, which was two minutes faster than last year's winner and more than four minutes ahead of the rest of the field of 25,000 runners. This was Pirle-Hall's first runDisney race victory, though she previously qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials, and finished the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon in second place.

"When you go through the Magic Kingdom with the castle, it really is just a whole visceral feeling where you just feel overwhelmed with emotion," Pirtle-Hall said. "This is one of those races where you literally just feel grateful to be experiencing such joy (because) everybody is just so happy for each other and supportive, and that's what you feel from the crowd. It's really incredible."


Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in royal attire along with reigning Miss America Nia Franklin were on hand at the finish line of the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon.


More than 25,000 runners participated in the pre-dawn start of the 11th annual Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday, including 214 runners that participated in all of them (called "perfect" Princess runners).


Disney Royalty (Minnie and Mickey), along with reigning Miss America Nia Franklin cheered greeted half marathon winner Jackie Pirtle-Hall as she broke the finish line tape with a time of 1:18:30.

Photos ©Disney.

Bianca Toledo of Bergenfield, New Jersey, finished second with a time of 1:22:53, followed by Elizabeth Conlon of Montgomery, Maryland, who finished at 1:24:26. The weekend of running events also included a 5K, 10K, and several Kids Races plus a health and fitness expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In fact, 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin ran in the 5K race on Friday and participated in the finish line activities during the half marathon on Sunday. The next runDisney race at Walt Disney World is the Star Wars Rival Run, April 4-7.


Banners decorated Disney Springs this past weekend celebrating all of the runDisney races, including the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon also included the inspirational story of Cheri Srour of Brooklyn, New York. She battles paralysis from an autoimmune neurological disease and there was a time when she could neither walk nor talk. Two years ago, her brother-in-law, Solly Elmann, pushed her in a wheelchair for the entire Princess Half Marathon race. Last year, she got out of her wheelchair and pushed Elmann the final 100 yards. In Sunday's race, they stopped about 100 yards from the finish line and she walked to the end unassisted—the first time she has done so in a race in more than 10 years since she was first diagnosed with the autoimmune neurological disease.


Cheri Srour is joined by her family and supporters after walking nearly the final 100 yards across the finish line unassisted. Photo ©Disney.

Star Wars Guided Tours & Dessert Parties Continue

Even while Star Wars fans await the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios late this year, there are still plenty of Star Wars experiences to be found in the park. Disney hosted invited media at the park on Friday (including us) to experience all of it. For those that were following along on our Social Media channels, we provided some live coverage throughout the day—from before the park opened through the conclusion of the night's performance of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.

For those that want to experience just about everything Star Wars-themed the park has available before the new land opens with VIP access and some behind-the-scenes looks and trivia, the park offers a daily (except Sundays) Star Wars Guided Tour, which is currently priced at $99/person (all ages, including tax; Passholder, Disney Vacation Club and Disney VISA discounts available). The park also offers the nightly Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, currently priced at $79/adult (ages 10 and over) and $45/child (ages 3-9) (including tax and gratuity; no discounts available and not eligible for Dining Plan entitlement redemption). Both of these up-charge offerings require guests have their own valid park admission which is not included in the price, and both include VIP viewing of the park's Disney Movie Magic projection show and the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.

Star Wars Guided Tour

The Star Wars Guided Tour starts at 8 a.m., before the park opens to most guests (Hollywood Boulevard does open before the rest of the park for shopping). After entering the park, tour-goers pick up their lanyard and listening device from Guest Relations and then follow their VIP Guides and their lightsabers once all those on that day's tour have checked in. Each day's tour can vary by operational and weather issues, but when those cooperate, the first major stop is at Star Tours–The Adventures Continue. The tour had the opportunity to see and linger in the queue area before park guests were allowed that far into the park, and got to see the indoor portion of the queue with the background music turned off but all of the other special effects running. As the first tour of the day, the tour also got the "behind-the-scenes" opportunity to stand on the loading bridge for the Starspeeder 1000 and see the room the simulator is located within with all of the work-lights turned on. Of course, as a behind-the-scenes opportunity, photos were not allowed there.


Each guest on the Star Wars Guided Tour receives a personalized lanyard at check-in. The badge (written in Aurebesh, the alphabet used in much of the Star Wars universe), was provided to guests on the tour later in the day and it could be translated with a key on the back of the lanyard.


The Star Wars Guided Tour begins before the park beyond Hollywood Boulevard is open to guests.


VIP Guides with lightsabers host and narrate the tour.


As explained on the tour, the exterior construction of Star Tours at the park was purposely incomplete (trees missing their tops; an AT-AT with no finishes on the other side) to reflect a film set that was built according to what the movie camera would see during filming.


While the tour did not reveal why C3PO is currently missing from the queue, the queue was shown on the tour with the regular background audio turned off to let everyone hear all the sounds made by the effects in the queue. Also, both Harrison Ford's and James Earl Jones birthdays are displayed in the queue if you know where to look (but not in this photo).


Guests taking the tour have the opportunity to see the film "Star Wars: Path of the Jedi" even though the attraction is now on seasonal status and not playing daily for park guests. It provides an overview of the storyline of the eight episodes of the Star Wars Saga.


Guests on the tour are invited to join a March of the First Order down Hollywood Boulevard.


As the First Order troops take their positions at the stage in front of Chinese Theatre, guests on the tour are escorted to a reserved viewing area.


The tour includes lunch at Backlot Express that may be interrupted by a few Storm Troopers.


Guests attending the tour receive a certificate, souvenir badge and Darth Vader stein.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


We broadcast our March WITH the First Order Live on Twitter/Periscope. For those of us that have visited the park often since its introduction several years ago, marching with the troops was a unique highlight of the tour. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

 

Star Wars Launch Bay includes three character meet and greet opportunities: Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and BB-8. Guests on the tour have an opportunity to meet all three without waiting in each queue. The tour also provides a VIP viewing area for the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show as well as an opportunity to watch the mini parade of its characters. For "younglings" between 4 and 12 years old, they can participate in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (and the older members of the tour can watch from a reserved viewing area).

The tour did not disclose any new information about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. It did visit the model inside of the Walt Disney Presents attraction and discuss the two attractions and cantina due to open there late this year as well as the hotel that will provide a continuation of the land's emersive experience when it opens in the future. All told, the tour filled over five hours in the morning and early afternoon. As mentioned above, guests taking the tour are invited to return in the evening for special VIP viewing of Disney Movie Magic and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.


Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land provides a nice view of the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party

Whether or not a guest is a Star Wars fan, per se, the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party provides both savory and sweet snacks, adult and non-alcoholic beverages, and reserved viewing of the nighttime shows centered on the Chinese Theatre. Taking a Star Wars Guided Tour is not a pre-requisite for attending the dessert party but, as you might expect, the two parts pair nicely together. After checking in outside Star Wars Launch Bay, party guests get reserved seating inside and the freedom to consume "all that they care to enjoy" from a buffet that includes an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses, sweets themed to the light side and dark side of the force (mostly on their wrappers), the props of the Launch Bay itself, some expedited visits with one or more of the characters in Launch Bay and a visit by some Storm Troopers. In addition to the reserved viewing area, the party also includes a souvenir.


Guests check in for the Dessert Party outside Launch Bay and receive a lanyard for the event that grants access to the buffet and seating inside and the reserved show viewing area outside.


A model of the Death Star sat atop the Dessert Buffet.


Several varieties of mini cupcakes wrapped in Star Wars themed light side and dark side wrappers were among the sweet treats on the buffet.


The dessert options included several sculpted mousse domes.


The dessert most directly tied to the Star Wars universe was blue milk panna cotta with crispy pearls.


The dessert party equivalent of a carving station is where guest could find warm bread pudding with a side of fresh baked cookies and (just out of view) ice cream with several sundae toppings.


The buffet had quite a few savory options, including (not shown here) smoked sea-salted flatbread, roasted red pepper hummus and a very spicy black bean dip with sriracha sauce. There were also several sliced fruits available.


Several specialty adult beverages like the Lightspeed Margarita and several beers and wines were available at the party as well as a selection of non-alcoholic beverages including Coca-Cola products.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

After the food portion of the evening, guests are escorted to the reserved viewing area for the nighttime shows in front of Chinese Theatre. In the past, the reserved viewing area was closer to the projection towers. Now that the center stages used for daytime performances of The March of the First Order and Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away are mobile, they are removed from the area after sunset, and the reserved viewing area is the elevated circle behind where the stages sit during the day closer to the Chinese Theatre—close enough that guests will feel the heat from flame effects.


Reserved viewing of the nighttime shows for both the Guided Tour and Dessert Party is located on the elevated circle between the end of Hollywood Boulevard and the Chinese Theatre.


Disney Movie Magic projection show includes a salute to that other Disney-owned galaxy, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.


Projections in Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular replicate Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre marquee for the May 1977 opening of "Star Wars."


The Spectacular includes fireworks launched from the roof of the Chinese Theatre and the surrounding buildings; some fireworks are launched from behind the park across World Drive, and not completely visible from the reserved viewing area.


The Spectacular includes lasers.


Reserved viewing is close enough to the fire effects that guests can feel the heat.


Lighting creates a lightsaber atop the theatre at the finale of the Spectacular.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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At the time of publication, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is scheduled at 8:30 p.m. nightly through March 9; 9 p.m. nightly March 10-April 27; and 9:30 p.m. nightly April 28-June 30. As always, check the Times Guide or My Disney Experience for changes and, as an outdoor show, weather can also effect scheduling. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

To book reservations for the Star Wars Guided Tour call (407) WDW-PLAY. Check for availability and book reservations for the Dessert Party on this page of DisneyWorld.com, on My Disney Experience or by calling (407) WDW-DINE. As of this publication, Dessert Party availability can be checked through June 30, 2019.

Beverage Tasting at Top of the World Lounge

As regular readers of this Update know, like some of the other members of the MousePlanet team, I am a long time, dues-paying Disney Vacation Club Member. Since the summer of 2016, DVC has been hosting a pre-paid, reservations-required Beverage Tasting Series in the Top of the World Lounge atop Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort featuring beverages and small-plate food pairings. Each session focuses on adult beverages and the sessions are available only to guests age 21-and-over. The sessions debuted at $35/person in 2016, increased to $40/person later that year, and are now priced at $45/person. DVC Members that are eligible for Membership Extras can reserve spots for themselves and up to three guests. My friends and I reserved and paid for the mixology session which was conducted last Thursday, February 21, 2019.

The Top of the World Lounge usually is open only in the evenings to DVC Members (and their guests) staying in a hotel room in a Disney-owned Walt Disney World Resort. During certain extreme peak dates (like New Year's Eve and around Fourth of July), admission is further limited only to DVC Members and their guests staying at Bay Lake Tower itself. The Beverage Tasting Series gives all DVC Members that are eligible for Membership Extras the opportunity to visit the Lounge (whether or not staying on property) from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for a tasting session. An unadvertised additional bonus for attending a Beverage Tasting session is that you are usually welcome to stay in the Lounge (or depart and then return later in the evening) for the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks display, complete with the soundtrack for the show. The latter is precisely what my friends and I did on Thursday so we could see Happily Every After at Magic Kingdom, watch the Space-X Falcon 9 launch in the sky to the east at the Space Coast, see the fireworks finale of Once Upon a Time back at Magic Kingdom, see some of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot, and watch the Electrical Water Pageant on Seven Seas Lagoon.


Mike, a long time Disney Cast Member has been a bartender at Top of the World Lounge for many years. He leads the mixology session that features a drink he contributed to its menu, the Bay Lake Sunset, which is made from Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice and a drop of Grenadine.


Upon arriving at the bar at Top of the World Lounge, each barstool is set with the ingredients and tools necessary to make the first cocktail after enjoying the welcome champagne cocktail. The first cocktail taught last week was a spring version of the Seasonal Discovery Island Fizz featuring St. Germaine and Hendricks Gin with club soda.


Look closely at the window shade panel and see that the autograph of Bob Gurr, the Disney Legend responsible for the look of Disneyland's original monorail and a lot of other Disney Parks icons, is still where he signed it when he visited the Lounge during the Epcot 35th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The published schedule for the Beverage Tasting Series through June is on this page of the DVC Member website. It also includes the details of who is considered an eligible DVC Member. Reservations are required by calling Member Services at (800) 800-9800, with full payment required at the time of booking. Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance to avoid surrendering full payment. DVC also offers other special seminars at Top of the World Lounge, as well as at Reunion Station at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Olivia's at Disney's Old Key West. There are other Member experiences at Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawaii and at other DVC properties.


The Top of the World Lounge is the highest guest-accessible point close to Magic Kingdom. Here, the west patio's view includes the earthwork underway on the Walt Disney World railroad berm at the southeast corner of Tomorrowland.


The west patio also provides a view of the land cleared north of Space Mountain for the construction of the Tron Lightcycle-themed roller coaster expected to open in 2021.


From the west patio, looking south provides a view of Spaceship Earth at Epcot and, to its left just rising above the trees, the top of the building that will house the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster expected to open in 2021.


Also looking to the south and a bit further to the west from the west patio, you can see the roofs of Disney's Wilderness Lodge nearby and, in the distance, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, with the Hollywood Tower Hotel (Tower of Terror) on its right and the light standards at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to its right.


The patio at Top of the World Lounge boasts views of all four parks. Here, the peaks of Expedition Everest stand out against the sky to the southwest.


The patio on the east side of the Lounge looks over the Bay Lake Tower Pool, with Discovery Island beyond and, in the distance the Orlando Eye and even a roller coaster at Sea World. Also visible in this direction (but not shown in this photo) are Universal's Volcano Bay (to the left) and the future site of the future Reflections–A Disney Lakeside Lodge (a proposed mixed use hotel and Disney Vacation Club property).

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


A highlight of a visit to Top of the World Lounge is its unique view of Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom, including its full soundtrack. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


Fireworks launched from Fantasyland appear beside Cinderella Castle.


From this perspective, Tinker Bell flies from Cinderella Castle between Big Thunder Mountain and the Tomorrowland's Astro Orbiter.


Magic Kingdom's main fireworks launch point is well behind the castle.


The Lounge's east patio has a direct view of a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket launch over 60 miles away at the Space Coast.


Shortly after the rocket launch, there was a spectacular orange-colored moonrise over the Space Coast in the easter sky as well.


While the music for the Once Upon a Time projection show at Cinderella Castle is not played at the Lounge, you can still watch the fireworks finale on the west patio.


The fire and "chaos" of the conclusion of Act 1 of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth in the World Showcase Lagoon can be seen from the west patio.


And the fireworks of the finale of Illuminations can also be seen.


The Electrical Water Pageant is performed around both the Seven Seas Lagoon (visible here from the west patio with Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in the distance) as well as on Bay Lake (visible from the east patio).


The express and resort monorails glide through Disney's Contemporary Resort and in front of Bay Lake Tower while the Electrical Water Pageant floats in the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

If you are an eligible DVC Member staying at a Disney hotel, try to find some time to visit the Top of the World Lounge. If you are an eligible DVC Member visiting the Resort (or just in the area like me) with an interest in trying some adult beverages and learning a bit about them, reserve a Beverage Tasting Series session. If you are not an eligible DVC Member and are interested, find some friends who are (though the party size for Tasting sessions is 4, and the visiting group at the Lounge may also be limited to the number on the DVC Member's hotel reservation).

Epcot Concerts News & Calendar

The Disney on Broadway Concert Series concluded last night with three one-night-only concerts by Josh Strickland and Ashley Brown with Alton Fitzgerald White and Kissy Simmons. The standby queue for the first show at 5:30 p.m. stretched from America Gardens Theatre's entrance on World Showcase Promenade to the Italy pavilion nearly an hour before showtime. The 5:30 p.m. concert played to a full house and received quite an ovation. The queue at 6 p.m. for the 6:45 p.m. seemed just as long as the first show.


For the final three Disney on Broadway Concerts on the last day of the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts, Josh Strickland and Ashley Brown joined Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White for special one-night-only performances.


The video screens over the stage also advertised the One Night Only concert stars.


On Friday, the signs along World Showcase Promenade at America Gardens Theatre displayed the stars of the One Night Only final Disney on Broadway Concert Series and their biographies.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


For the final night of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series and the conclusion of the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts, Josh Strickland and Ashley Brown joined with Alton Fitzgerald White and Kissy Simmons for three special, one night only concerts. This is the finale of the first show. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

When the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival begins on March 6, the Garden Rocks Concert Series takes over the America Gardens stage three times nightly through June 3. This is the first time the concerts run seven nights a week for the length of the festival. Performers scheduled this year include Wang Chung, Peabo Bryson, Eddie Palmieri, Tony Orlando, Jon Anderson of YES, Ambrosia, Magic Giant, Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX, Steve Auger (Journey former lead vocalist), Air Supply, Rick Springfield, Richard Marx and Starship, starring Mickey Thomas. Returning performers also include The Spinners and Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone, and new to the Festival performers include TobyMac, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sister Sledge, and Colin Hay of Men at Work. For more information or for reserving dining packages with guaranteed concert seating, call (407) WDW-DINE or visit FreshEpcot.com.


Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone has performed many times at the America Gardens Theatre and is scheduled to return again this spring for the Garden Rocks Concert Series. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This summer, Guardians of the Galaxy-Awesome Mix Live! will return from June 14 through August 18. Star-Lord and Gamora (along with an "alien" band) will take a "musical journey" that showcases hits from Star-Lord's Awesome Mix tapes with multiple performances daily.


With Groot remotely patching "Awesome Mix" music into the headphones of of an alien band, Star-Lord tried to teach them how to become the "Galaxy's greatest cover band" during last summer's edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy-Awesome Mix Live! Concerts. Gamora seemed unimpressed. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For the convenience of our readers, all of the scheduled Garden Rocks Concert Series performers at America Gardens Theatre are shown in our Google Calendar of Epcot Events. All of the Guardians of the Galaxy-Awesome Mix Live! dates are included as well. 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 and keep it updated, 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

While visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios, there were some additional views to share beyond the Star Wars-related views we shared above. Yesterday, Disney Parks Blog shared a new video showing off new Disney's Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary logos. The video featuring Larry the Cable Guy, voice of Mater in the Disney-Pixar Cars films, is included below and also highlights the March 31 opening of the new Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy show experience.

We also have a few views of Epcot as it transitions from yesterday's end of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts to next Wednesday's beginning of the Flower and Garden Festival.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


Disney's Hollywood Studios is the only one of the Disney Parks in Florida where guests entering the park in the afternoon and early evening are looking into the setting sun.


Disney Skyliner gondola testing continues on the cables between the park and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort ahead of the transportation system's expected opening this fall. Different gondola colors are apparent under the wraps.


In the park's Skyliner station, the gondola doors open.


Inside the park, between Tatooine Traders and Grand Avenue, new construction walls surround the back of the building containing restrooms and the area that has included a Star Wars Endor Speeder photo opportunity.


On Sunset Boulevard, the Planet Hollywood retail store has closed and the building's exterior theming now shows it to be an extension of the Legends of Hollywood next door. Planet Hollywood Observatory and its retail store continue to operate at Disney Springs.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy is scheduled to open on March 31 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Video ©Disney.

Epcot


The final paint-by-number Epcot International Festival of the Arts mural for the year, appropriately enough, was Figment amongst a bunch of blooming flowers.


With just over a week until the start of the 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival on March 6, lots of topiaries are already in place around World Showcase.


After entering Epcot through International Gateway or when turning from World Showcase Promenade to head out that way, guests are greeted by several new construction walls.


Construction continues at the site of the future Remy's Ratatouille Adventure behind the France pavilion and some of the construction walls outside the International Gateway have been removed around the Friendship watercraft dock.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That…

…Last Fall, Disney announced that, in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District (the Disney-controlled governmental body that has County-like authority over Walt Disney World Resort) and Origis Energy USA, it was building a new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility capable of generating enough renewable clean energy to equate to powering two of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World annually. Last week, Disney Parks Blog reported that the new solar facility is online and providing power. The solar facility on the west side of Walt Disney World Resort property joins the Mickey-shaped 5-megawatt array near Epcot that opened in 2016 in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of The Walt Disney Company's goal of reducing its emissions in 2020 by 50% compared to 2012.


Some of the new 270-acre solar facility can be seen on the western portion of Walt Disney World Resort property when driving on FL429 near Flamingo Crossing and the Western Way entrance to the Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…With Atlanta Braves final season of baseball spring training underway at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney Parks Blog has a roundup of the food and beverage offerings available for fans heading over to the Champion Stadium for games. In addition to the expected ballpark fare of hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches, the venue has new additions like a Thai Curry Rice Bowl and a Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich. With a nod to fans of the Braves' home state, there are craft beers from Athens, Georgia's Terrapin Beer Company, and with a nod to fans from the visiting teams, rotating tap beers from their home towns and a Specialty Tent featuring food options and concessions from the visiting team. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex even has a special "Shop & Dine Card" offer that gets you a $60 gift card via email for $50, which you can find at offers.disney.com with activation code ESPNWWOS.

…For foodies visiting Magic Kingdom, Disney Parks Blog also has a guide to the latest food additions to Mickey and Minnie's Surprise Celebration and those coming for Mardi Gra and St. Patrick's Day. The full list is in the blog post. For example, at Aloha Isle in Adventureland is a new "hei Hei Cone" with pineapple Dole Whip in a blue sugar cone topped with raspberry soft serve and decorated with sugar eyes and sour candy. Storybook Treats and Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies in Tomorrowland each have new themed cones too. Liberty Square Market will celebrate Mardi for a limited time with Frog Prince Whoopie Pie (with a chocolate frog), and Casey's Corner will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a Corn Beef Hash Dog available all of March.

…In the past few Updates we told you that on February 19, Give Kids The World Village, the non profit resort in Central Florida that provides dream vacations to critically ill children and their families would hold its second speaker series event, An Evening with Ron Logan, former Executive Vice President and Executive Producer for Walt Disney Entertainment who was responsible for creating, casting, and producing live entertainment for Disney Parks worldwide and was the first President of Disney Theatrical Productions (which produced Disney's Beauty and the Beast-A New Musical on Broadway and around the world.). Ron Logan used the occasion to talk in detail about the creation of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth and shared a video showing all of the graphics that appear on the globe during the show. Clearly, he is saddened by the show's upcoming retirement and said he is urging Disney Parks leadership to schedule a final performance featuring a live orchestra. While it seems unlikely that Epcot will do so, we will stay tuned to learn of any news in that regard. For those that appreciate learning about Disney parks history, the GKTW speaker series is becoming a must-attend type event (and, indeed, for example, through the rest of Illuminations' run we will provide additional factual tidbits about the show we learned from Ron Logan). Take a moment to read more about GKTW Village and its important mission at its website GKTW.org and stay tuned for announcements about future programs. (Disclosure: MousePlanet was invited to attend the Speaker Series events and was provided complimentary tickets to give away to readers as well.)


Ron Logan spoke about the $20 million investment Disney originally made in creating Illuminations 2000 for the Millennium Celebration, now named Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, and its success in getting guests to stay at Epcot later (and, to spend more money in the evenings). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka

.

…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.


Some exterior refurbishment appears to be underway at the AMC 24 Dine-In Theaters (note the stars have been removed in several places on the building exterior). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

NEW Disney D-Lish Merchandise

This past weekend, Disney Springs West Side hosted a pop-up event celebrating the new Disney D-Lish merchandise collection which features merchandise that resembles or otherwise celebrates Disney Parks foods and beverages. The pop-up event provided the first opportunity to purchase new apparel presented in food-inspired packaging. As we have posted on Social Media channels and in past Updates, the food-inspired merchandise is available in shops all around Walt Disney World and, indeed, as shown below, the recently reimagined World of Disney store currently features a large section full of the D-Lish merchandise. (Shops around Disneyland also sell the line, as does shopDisney.com.)

You can read more about the development of the Disney D-Lish merchandise line on Disney Parks Blog.


During the pop-up event, guests could pose in front of an "Instagram-able" background and receive some treats.


The pop-up event included live entertainment and the opportunity to purchase the latest apparel in the D-Lish line in the food-inspired packaging.


The pop-up event included food-inspired "Soda Pop Boys" singers.


Inside World of Disney, a large section of the store is filled with D-Lish merchandise.


D-Lish merchandise includes tumblers inspired by Adventureland beverages, to pencil cases, to apparel and more.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Art Corner by Artistic Talent Group (NEW photos)

The newest pop-up store at Disney Springs Marketplace (near Goofy's Candy Co.) is The Art Corner by Artistic Talent Group. Among the offerings here is, as previously seen at the 2018 edition of the Epcot International Festival of Arts and at other Epcot festivals, Artistic Marbling using the ancient art form of Suminigashi to create custom silk scarfs. Florida artist Steven Mikel also presents "Coffee & Canvas" paintings in the shop. They are also joined by caricature artists and Name Works, the provider of personalized artwork featuring hand-drawn names with personalized illustrations.


The Art Corner pop-up store is located in the Marketplace in the space that once was Little Miss Matched and more recently was The Art of Disney Presents Greg McCullough pop-up store.


Steven Mikel also presents "Coffee & Canvas" paintings in the pop-up store.


Artistic Marbling creates unique silk scarfs right in the pop-up store.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Ron Jon Surf Shop (NEW Photo)

Disney Parks Blog announced that Ron jon Surf Shop plans to open a 10,000 square foot store later this year in the Town Center area near the entrance to the Lime Garage and The Polite Pig (most recently the Kingdom Hearts III pop up shop and The Disney Corner temporary retail store). Ron Jon also has a store at The Florida Mall in Orlando. Its headquarters is Cocoa Beach, Florida, to the east of Orlando International Airport.


A sign is in the window of the future Disney Springs location of Ron Jon Surf Shop.

The Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick's Festival

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant has announced the lineup for its 2019 Mighty St. Patrick's Festival, March 15-17. Headlined by the Young Dubliners, nine bands join Raglan Road's troupe of Irish dancers for entertainment from morning into late night. On March 17, St. Patrick's Day, guests will be seated on a first-come, first served basis with a $10 cover charge for each guest age 18 and over. Reservations for March 15-16 can be made without cover charge by calling (407)938-0300. Festival hours: March 15–3 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.; March 16-17–11 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (Pub opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday). Complimentary face painting available March 15 from 3-9 p.m. and March 16-17 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The full entertainment schedule will be available at RaglanRoad.com. Published highlights include:

  • Young Dubliners – One of Celtic rock's hardest working bands, the Young Dubliners play hundreds of shows to thousands of fans across the United States and Europe every year. Young Dubliners are known for their hearty rock and Irish-infused live performances.
  • Ben Gunnery – Irish music superstar and multi-instrumentalist Ben Gunnery, who studied at prestigious music conservatories, has toured since age 14. Now 39, he has been soloist for high-profile productions like Riverdance and films including "Lord of the Rings" and Harry Potter movies. Ben will appear on Raglan Road stages for his first Mighty Festival.
  • Briste - This inspiring all-female duo includes Emma Robinson (flute, whistle) and Joanna Boyle (banjo, vocals). Blending their rich musical backgrounds, Briste creates a fresh and exciting mix of country, folk and Irish traditional music.
  • The Byrne Brothers - An exceptionally talented traditional Irish music family from Donegal. They are Luca, 14 (button accordion); Finn, 12 (banjo, mandolin and whistle); Dempsey, 9, (whistle and bodhran); and father, Tommy (guitar, Uilleann pipes, fiddle, whistles, bagpipes and bodhran). Their show combines exciting Irish tunes with modern dance beats, and they love to interact with every audience.
  • The Raglan Roots Coalition – This edgy house band is known for its soul-rockin' Celtic bluegrass with hip-swingin', knee-shakin' funky roots beats. Emily Furlong (guitar, vocals, banjo); Blain Curtis (guitar, vocals); Ben Roe (percussion); Keelan Kelly (bass); and Ellen Daly (fiddle) will get everyone in the St. Paddy's spirit.
  • Reel Republic – Hailing from the four corners of Ireland, Aisling Egan-Sage (fiddle); Liam O'Keefe (box, vocals); Niall McIlroy (guitar, flute); and Eleanor Roe (keyboard, vocals, bodhran) are Reel Republic 2.0, seriously talented musicians always pushing to make the next gig better than the last.
  • Trad Gad – Three talented musicians from Kerry, Dublin, Colin Foley (guitar, vocals); Fionn Morrison (Uilleann pipes, whistles); and Ciara Ni Bhrian (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, tin whistle, banjo and bazouki, charm Raglan Road audiences with their vibrant performances.
  • Maca – Three Irish sister-musician-songwriters dubbed "Ireland's next big thing" are rocking Raglan Road Pub stages with their extraordinary talent. Saoise Carty (guitar,vocals); Naoise Carty (Fiddle, vocals); and Ciara Carty (Bodhran) are from Wexford, Ireland.
  • High Road - Three talented musicians hailing from Galway, Kilkenny and Glasgow meet in the middle to play a crowd-pleasing symphony of traditional Irish tunes and songs. Hannah NcNeil (fiddle, banjo, vocals); Aidan Byrne (guitar, vocals); and Roisin Broderick (concertina) rock the stage.
  • The Raglan Road Irish Dancers – Plucked from the cast and stages of the world's greatest Irish dance shows, the Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform throughout the Mighty Festival. You can even learn some traditional Irish dance steps – no experience necessary!

While Raglan Road's brunch, lunch, dinner and bar menus will be available, including its new Guinness-infused Bangin' Bangers and Mighty Mash, Raglan Road does not serve green beer because it says its an American invention. Raglan Road also asks that you not call the holiday "St. Patty's" – it's either "St. Patrick's Day" or "St. Paddy's" – and to remember that a shamrock has three leaves not four!

NEW We have been invited to a Media Preview of the Mighty Festival. Watch our Social Media channels for highlights and more in the afternoon on March 14.


Raglan Road is located in The Landing neighborhood of Disney Springs and is one of the few venues that has continued operating in the same place since the latter days of Pleasure Island.


Raglan Road's retail store is all decked out in Irish green.


It is also stocked with St. Patrick's Day merchandise.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Jaleo & Pepe by José Andrés (NEW photo)

Chef José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup has not yet announced an opening date for its table service restaurant and first-ever "brick-and-mortar location" of its Spanish food truck grab-and-go concept restaurant. Opening is expected soon.


Jaleo looks largely complete on the outside. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Edison

The Edison's February Burger of the Month is its Mozzarella Madness Burger, a beef blend of sirloin, short rib and brisket topped with fried mozzarella and marina sauce. It is served with tater tots for $24.


Mozzarella Madness Burger is The Edison's February Burger of the Month. Image courtesy Patina Restaurant Group.

Maria & Enzo's Ristorante (NEW photos)

Carnevale, the traditional winter festival famous in Venice (and known as Mardi Gras in many places outside of Italy), is a spectacle of glamorous costumes, culinary delicacies, and riotous celebration kicked off on February 22 and runs through March 5. Guests who visit Maria & Enzo's Ristorante at Disney Springs will get a front-row seat to nightly live entertainment including singers, stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes, face painters and folkdancers, while indulging in the restaurant's signature Italian cuisine. As the Italians say, "a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale!" (Anything goes at Carnevale!) Reservations are recommended. Visit MariaAndEnzos.com or call (407) 560-8466 for reservations and more information.

NEW Guests who make an advance reservation to attend Carnevale will receive a complimentary bottle of Piccini Chianti wine for every two entrees purchased. Guests can raise a glass at the table or bring the bottle home!

Patina Restaurant Group Invited us to experience the Carnevale celebration yesterday, February 25, and you can see highlights from our Instagram Story.


Maria & Enzo's Ristorante celebrates Carnevale from February 22 to March 5 with live music, singers, jugglers and, of course, its authentic Italian cuisine. Image courtesy Patina Restaurant Group.


Carnevale stilt walkers greet guests outside of the restaurant.


The special Carnevale menu discusses the 12th Century origins of the festival.


Carnevale entertainers sing and welcome guests in the restaurant.


Carnevale entertainment also includes musicians, dancers and jugglers.


An artist hand-paints festive Carnevale masks for guests.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

NBA Experience and City Works Eatery & Pour House (New photos)

Due to open this summer, the entertainment complex and restaurant/bar is located at the former site of DisneyQuest on the West Side.


Construction continues at the future City Works Eatery & Pour House and NBA Experience which are expected to open this summer at Disney Springs West Side. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Looking closer at the panels installed on the building housing NBA Experience and City Eatery and Pour House reveals lots of tiny holes that seem to form the shapes of people. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Status of Parking Availability at Disney Springs (NEW photos at Orange Garage)

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! Construction continues across Buena Vista Drive at the site of the new garage that will connect to Disney Springs by a series of pedestrian bridges. We have not yet heard when the new structure will be open, but the trend of the name discussion for it has shifted from "Lemon" to "Grapefruit," and you can keep an eye on the overhead signs along Buena Vista Drive directing cars to the garages and lots with availability.


At the Orange garage, the electronic system that indicates parking space availability is being upgraded.


The system upgrades in the existing garages can result in sections of parking being unavailable to guests.


Construction continues at the new garage along Buena Vista Drive next to the Speedway gas station. (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, February 26, 2019 6 / 10
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 6 / 10
Thursday, February 28, 2019 6 / 10
Friday, March 1, 2019 7 / 10
Saturday, March 2, 2019 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).

2019 Resort Events
  • Disney After Hours:(hard ticket required)
    …at Magic Kingdom:
    • March 7: 9 p.m. – midnight
    …at Disney's Hollywood Studios (entry at 7 p.m.):
    • March 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30
    • April 6 & 13
    …at Disney's Animal Kingdom (entry at 7 p.m.):
    • February 26
    • March 5, 20 & 27
    • April 3
  • V.I.Passholder Night (registration required)
    …at Magic Kingdom: February 26: 10 p.m. - midnight
    …at Epcot: March 21: 9 p.m. - 11 p.m.
  • Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic:(registration required)
    …at Disney's Hollywood Studios
    • March 20 & 27, 2019 (registration filled)
    …at Epcot
    • May 13 & 20, 2019
    • Registration opens for Members with Resort Reservations: April 3, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
    • Registration opens for all Members: April 10, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
    …at Disney's Animal Kingdom
    • July 18, August 8 & 22, 2019
    • Registration opens for Members with Resort Reservations: June 5, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
    • Registration opens for all Members: June 12, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
    …at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
    • September 18 & October 16, 2019
    • Registration opens for Members with Resort Reservations: August 14, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
    • Registration opens for all Members: August 28, 2019 at 9 a.m. Eastern
  • Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom – January 18 – September 30, 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
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – March 6 – June 3, 2019
  • Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine – March 21-24, 2019
  • Star Wars Rival Run Weekend – April 4–7, 2019
  • Dapper Days at Walt Disney World (Unofficial Events) - April 26-28 and November 16-17, 2019
    April 26: Disney Springs; April 27: Magic Kingdom; April 28: Epcot
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary – May 1, 2019.
  • Disney H2O Glow Nights at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon (hard ticket required)
    Thursday & Saturday nights from May 30-August 24, 2019.
  • Gay Days at Walt Disney World (#RedShirtDays - unofficial events) - August 15-18, 2019
    Disney's Animal Kingdom: August 15; Disney's Hollywood Studios: August 16;
    Magic Kingdom: August 17; Epcot: August 18
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom (hard ticket required)
    • August 16, 20, 23, 27, 30
    • September 2, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29
    • October 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31
    • November 1
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Late Summer/Fall 2019 (Dates to be announced)
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – October 31 - November 3, 2019
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – Late Fall/Winter 2019 (Dates to be announced)
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom (hard ticket required) — Late Fall/Winter 2019
    (Dates to be announced)
2020 Resort Events
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - January 8-12, 2020
  • MORE EVENTS COMING SOON!


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.

Magic Kingdom
  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station – Closed for refurbishment.
  • 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 – Not scheduled.
    Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party" is scheduled to debut January 18, 2019, featuring new arrangements of classic "Mickey Mouse Club" songs
  • 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 – Closed as of December 3, 2018 to accomodate TRON construction (reopening to be announced).
    • Guests can visit a Walt Disney World Railroad train at Main Street Station.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Closed as of January 2, 2019 for track adjustment to accomodate TRON construction (expected reopening mid-May).
Epcot
  • The SpectacuLAB presented by Murata (in Innoventions) – no longer open or listed in My Disney Experience
  • 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 – Ending during the second half of 2019 for new nighttime spectacular.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi – Currently only available during Star Wars Guided Tours
  • 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.
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage – Closed.
    Disney Junior Dance Party debuted in its place on December 22, 2018.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Kali River Rapids – Closed for refurbishment through late March, 2019.
  • 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 Typhoon Lagoon

  • Closed 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 soon.
    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. The resort's new lobby, restaurants and other amenities, including Sebastian's Bistro, Centertown Market, and Banana Cabana are all now open.
  • 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. Reservations are now open. 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.
  • 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.

 

Get Away Today Logo

 

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

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

For Everyone

4-Park Magic Tickets

On January 18, Disney introduced a new four park ticket that provides one admission per theme park each day that must be used within 7 days of first use or by an expiration based upon price category, whichever comes first (Value: March 1; Select or Summer: September 30). To purchase, call (407)939-7646 or visit this page of DisneyWorld.com

Value Select Summer
Adult: $85/day ($340 plus tax)
Child: $80/day ($320 plus tax)
Adult: $89/day ($356 plus tax)
Child: $84/day ($336 plus tax)
Adult: $95/day ($380 plus tax)
Child: $90/day ($360 plus tax)
Valid only through 3/1/2019 Valid through 3/14/2019,
3/27 to 4/9/2019,
4/27 to 5/27/2019
and 8/19 to 9/30/2019
Valid through 3/14/2019,
3/27 to 4/9/2019,
4/27 to 9/30/2019

Note that tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable, do not include admission to hard ticket events and activities. If you purchase the 4-Park Magic tickets for higher-priced dates but use them on lower-priced dates, there will be no credits or refunds issued.


As further incentive to purchase park tickets in advance, for other ticket types, you can save $20 when you buy a 3-day or longer Disney Theme Park Ticket online compared to the price of the same ticket purchased at theme park ticket windows. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com official ticket purchasing options.


Sun & Fun Room Offer

  • Save up to 25% for stays most nights April 28 through May 27, 2019 when you book through May 27, 2019
  • Save up to 30% for stays most nights May 28 through September 30, 2019 when you book through March 24, 2019

The Soak Up the Sun and Fun Offer varies by resort category and the savings depend upon dates which may also have length of stay requirements. In addition to the link, you can call (407)827-7393 for more information and availability, or you can contact your travel agent.


Save Up to 20% on Rooms

If your travel dates do not line up with the Sun & Fun Room Offer, you may still be able to save up to 20% on rooms for stays most nights through April 27, 2019, at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Get more information and check availability this page of DisneyWorld.com, or call (407)939-2769 or your travel agent.


Memory Maker pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $199 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests can digitally download any photos associated with their Memory Maker account, including photos taken on attractions. The advanced purchase price is $169, a $30 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.

Purchase must be made more than three days prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort 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 most up-to-date list of locations offering dining discounts to Annual Passholders, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. (You may need to sign in to see the full list applicable to your pass.) 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% discounts during some or all meal periods (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. Remember, not all merchandise locations at Walt Disney World are owned and operated by Disney, but some of the non-Disney participants (including restaurants) offer discounts between 10 and 20% to Passholders as well. Note, the current terms and conditions include, "Discount is for personal use only and may not be used to purchase merchandise with the intent to resell the 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.

For the current list of Passholder Extras visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. Passholder Extras include information about V.I.Passholder Perks, discounts on Disney After Hours events, Animal Encounter and tour discounts, Water Park discounts, Golf discounts, and more.

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 (last checked February 4, 2019).

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.

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 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 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

2019 Military Promotional Tickets

January 1 through December 19, 2019

  • Four-Day Park Hopper Tickets –$241.00
  • Four-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets – $291.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Tickets – $257.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets – $307.00

Prices do not include tax and tickets must be used by December 19, 2019.
Prices may be lower at U.S. military base ticket offices.

U.S. military personnel can also purchase the Memory Maker product for $98 through December 19, 2019.

For more information, definitions and details, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets by eligible service members 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). Each ticket must be used by the same person on any and all days.

Special pricing for Memory Maker is available at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows when purchased by eligible service members or their spouses. No more than two Memory Maker products can be purchased by an eligible service member or their spouse. Usual Memory Maker restrictions apply and a MagicBand is required to receive some digital content.

Special Rates at Resort Hotels

U.S. military personnel can enjoy discounts at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels when booking by December 19, 2018, for stays most nights through April 13, and from April 26 through December 19, 2018. Offer excludes suites in Moderate and Deluxe Resort hotels, 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort, and Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Call (407)939-4249 for information and reservations. Eligibility details are listed on this page of DisneyWorld.com.


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

Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket

Walt Disney World Resort continues to offer Florida resident discount ticket programs. For the first half of 2019, the Discover Disney Ticket offer has returned. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for more information and purchasing options. Proof of Florida residence will be required at park entrance

  • 3-Day Discover Disney Ticket – $175 plus tax
  • 3-Day Discover Disney Park Hopper – $207.50 plus tax
  • 3-Day Discover Disney Park Hopper Plus – $232.50 plus tax
  • 4-Day Discover Disney Ticket – $195 plus tax
  • 4-Day Discover Disney Park Hopper – $232.50 plus tax
  • 4-Day Discover Disney Park Hopper Plus – $257.50 plus tax

Discover Disney Tickets are valid for admission to one park per day (unless Park Hopper is added) and can be used anytime through June 30, 2019, with no blockout dates. Tickets must be purchased by June 27, 2019. Proof of Florida residency required. Tickets exclude activities and events separately priced (i.e. "hard ticket" events and such).

The Park Hopper Plus Option permits visits to Disney Water Parks, select Disney Golf courses, and select other opportunities. The 3-Day Plus Option permits 3 visits; the 4-Day Plus Option permits 4 visits.

All tickets and options expire June 30, 2019. A wholly unused ticket can be applied to the purchase of a new ticket with an equal or higher price after the expiration date of the original ticket.

Other Florida Resident Offers

For special tickets, passes and offers available to Florida Residents, visit 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.

Disney Cruise Line is offering eligible Members a 30 percent discount off original points chart values for select Bahamian sailings aboard the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral, Florida: 5-night sailings departing June 28, and July 7 and 12, 2019, each featuring two stops at Disney’s private-island paradise, Castaway Cay, as well as select Mexican Riviera sailings aboard the Disney Wonder out of San Diego, California: 7-night Halloween on the High Seas voyages departing October 20 and 27, 2019. More information and eligible itineraries are on this page of the DVC website. The offer is only valid on reservations made through DVC Member Services.

Adventures by Disney is offering eligible Members 20 percent off original points chart values for select river cruises and land-based trips including Danube River Cruises (featuring eight destinations in four countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary) departing June 6, July 12 and December 15, 2019, and Rhine River Cruises (featuring six destinations in four countries – Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands) departing July 15, 22 and 29, 2019. This Adventures by Disney discount is also available for short escapes in the U.S. (with options in Boston, New York City, the American Southwest and more), and lengthier explorations of Europe, Asia, Central America and South America. Discount applies to reservations made entirely with vacation points, or through a combination of vacation points and cash. More information and eligible trips are on this page of the DVC website. The offer is only valid on reservations made through DVC Member Services.

Call DVC Member Services at (800) 800-9800 to take advantage of these offers.

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

For New England Residents

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort celebrates February's big football game victory by the team from New England by offering the "Champions Package" to residents of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. For stays through December 24, 2019 (minimum stay of three nights required), the Champions Package includes $100 meal credit, which can be used at Shula's Steak House (named for NFL's winningest coach, Don Shula) or any other restaurant at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. It also includes a "one category complimentary room upgrade that does not include suite upgrades." Guests must have valid state identification at check-in from an eligible state. More information and details of the offer are available at this page of SwanDolphin.com. More information and reservations are available by calling (800)227-1500 and mentioning "CHAMPS."

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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