Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 3-9, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 3 - 9, 2020


Writer's note: The new Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway attraction opens in the Chinese Theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios tomorrow, March 4, 2020. With our Update publishing today (Tuesday) combined with the quirks of Disney scheduling, however, I have not had a chance to see more than the "Perfect Picnic" short that is the pre-show for the new ride yet. My report on the pre-show and what we have known about the attraction for awhile is in the Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 10-16, 2019, here.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opens Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo ©Disney.

Guests enter the world of the Mickey & Minnie cartoons aboard the Runnamuck Railroad. Photo ©Disney.

Indeed, pretty much only cast members lucky enough to sign up for preview slots have had an opportunity to experience the new attraction in its entirety so far, but that is a particularly appropriate and nice perk for them because cast members have been blocked out of visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios on their main gate passes since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened back in December. Later today—maybe even by the time you read the Update—I will be at the invited media preview for both the ride and the new Mickey Shorts Theater as it debuts its short film entitled "Vacation Fun" collecting together clips from other Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts. Follow along on our Social Media channels, and then I will provide a full re-cap next week. I will provide ample opportunity to avoid spoilers, as I have largely avoided them myself to this point.

Seats in the Mickey Shorts Theater look like…Mickey's shorts. Photo ©Disney.

In the meantime, Disney Parks Blog will present a live stream of the dedication ceremony tonight beginning at 7:20 p.m. Eastern, and you can just come back and watch it here (or keep this page open and refresh your browser tonight around showtime). In our This and That… section below, we have a few more recently released details about the new attraction and, just yesterday, Disney Parks Blog provided a recap of what guests should expect. Of course, for those readers on the West Coast that visit Disneyland regularly, you will need to await the attraction's scheduled debut in Mickey's Toontown in 2022, unless you make a point to visit Walt Disney World Resort before then.

You can watch the live stream of the dedication ceremony for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railroad right here starting at 7:20 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Video ©Disney.

Oh yeah, and Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opens tomorrow, and there are some more items in the local and global news that impact Walt Disney World Resort, so let's get to the Update…

News and Views

Headlines are auto-generated here

Spaceship Earth Reimagining Begins May 26

In recent weeks, we have noted more and more of the changes around Future World as that section of Epcot (which, increasingly but not exclusively is being written EPCOT again in Disney press releases) is being transformed into three new lands: World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration. Since Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim last summer, we have known that Spaceship Earth was due to close at some point for a makeover which Disney describes will "focus on the story of humanity, following our long journey from prehistoric humans to today." We now know when the attraction closes.

According to Disney Parks Blog, the attraction's reimagining begins on May 26. We believe (and are seeking clarification) that this means that the last day to ride the Dame Judi Dench-narrated "thank the Phoenicians" version of the attraction is May 25. We do not yet know who will narrate the next version of the attraction previously narrated by Jeremy Irons, Walter Cronkite, and Vic Perrin. Disney does say that the attraction will feature new narration and will show "how light plays a central role in our shared human journey, coming to life in dynamic ways in a celebration of the magic that's possible when we all come together." At D23 Expo, Disney said there will be an entirely new musical score for the attraction as well.

Spaceship Earth Concept Art
Disney says that the Egypt scene will remain from the current version of the attraction but it will be "transformed through the power of light." Concept Art ©Disney.

Disney has not yet said when to expect the next version of the attraction to open, only that it "will close for a time." We know from D23 Expo (and the Disney Parks Blog post following the Parks presentation) that the new exit of the attraction will provide "a breathtaking view of World Showcase from Dreamers Point," including a new statue of Walt Disney along with "a wishing tree in an enchanted forest and a story fountain celebrating the power and music of iconic Disney storytelling." Those significant changes to the exit suggest that this closure will be substantially longer than the 4-6 month closures of previous major overhauls of the attraction.

New "Disney Dining Plan Plus" Introduced

Last week, Disney Resort hotel guests got another Disney Dining Plan option to consider, the Disney Dining Plan Plus. While the details of all the different Disney Dining Plans gets sort of complicated, the gist remains that every person ages 3 and up on a Disney Resort hotel reservation has to be on the same plan (or everyone has to have no Dining Plan). The new Disney Dining Plan Plus gives guests the option to use their two daily meal credits for table service or quick service meals. Price and options-wise, that places it between the Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

The Walt Disney World Resort website does not make it particularly easy to see what the current dining package prices are. Sometimes packages are offered that discount dining plans or make them free (or just free for kids) when no discount is applied to the room rate.

With that understanding, we took a look at a one night stay at Disney's All-Star Music Resort for July 14-15, 2020, and created this chart of how much adding the various plans adds to the price each night for each adult guest on that reservation as of March 2, 2020 (your mileage may vary):

Deluxe Plus Dining Quick
$119.00 $94.61 $78.01 $55.00
3 meals/night
Table or Quick
2 meals/night
Table or Quick
2 meals/night
1 - Table & 1 - Quick
2 meals/night
2 Quick only

Each dining plan continues to include a refillable mug for each guest and two snacks or non-alcoholic beverages each night. Some table service locations (like Cinderella's Royal Table and dinner shows) continue to require two table credits per person per meal. From a value standpoint, the new Plus offering probably makes the most sense for those that want to use the table service credits during their stay but felt that the Deluxe plan had too many meal credits. Remember, the credits roll over during the length of the stay, so when guests choose not to use them during one day, they will have extra ones to use or lose before the end of the stay.

Of course, no dining plan guarantees a dining reservation, so plan accordingly!

Halloween Parties Start August 13

Tickets went on sale last week for this year's edition of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom which will be held on select nights from August 13 through November 1. The full list of dates is in our list of Resort Events.

Party tickets start at $85 and are available online or by calling (407) 827-7350 (there are advance purchase, Annual Pass and Disney Vacation Club discounts on most nights). Disney has not yet announced whether it will again offer the Party Pass that allowed a limited number of purchasers last year to attend every night of the party except Halloween itself for $299 plus tax.

While the dates have been announced and tickets are on-sale, all the details of this year's party have not yet been published. So far, Disney Parks Blog says last year's new fireworks show hosted by Jack Skellington "telling a Halloween tale about Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy" named "Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular" will return, as will Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the "Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular" show on the Cinderella Castle stage, the Disney Junior Jam, and Halloween Party-only overlays at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and Mad Tea Party. Unlike the Disney Villains After Hours events, the party nights will include character meet and greets, and, of course, trick-or-treating throughout the park.

With the Halloween dates now published, the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party dates should be announced fairly soon too.

Global News Impacting Walt Disney World

There are two major global news stories in the news this week that relate to visits to Walt Disney World Resort. One will have more short-term impact than the other. Both may have long-term impact.

Last Tuesday, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek was immediately named new Disney Chief Executive Officer replacing Bob Iger who had announced quite some time ago he was retiring at the end of his contract in 2021. Bob Iger remains on Disney's Board of Directors and will also act as Executive Chairman until December 31, 2021. He has described his on-going role as overseeing all "creative."

With Bob Chapek's elevation to CEO, it leaves open the question of who will take on the oversight of the Disney businesses previously in his portfolio. Certainly of interest to Walt Disney World Resort guests in the long-term, there is no clearly identified leading candidate for the head of Disney Parks around the globe. Day-to-day, of course, this change should have no effect on a visit to the parks or resorts.

Managing Disney's assets through the travel turmoil caused by the Coronavirus will probably have a more-immediate impact on Walt Disney World Resort Guests. We cannot forecast its long-term impacts either. Disney has direct ownership interest in Disney Shanghai Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, both of which have closed indefinitely in connection with Chinese efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Disney also has financial licensing interests in the Tokyo Disney Resort which has also announced that it will be closed through mid-March (at least initially) as part of Japan's effort to halt the spread of the virus there. Disney also owns of of Disneyland Paris Resort which, at least as of publication, continues to operate. Financial weakness in Disney Parks overseas has led to domestic park cut-backs in the past.

At Epcot's China pavilion, guests can still visit an exhibit highlighting the lands, attractions, and costumes of the Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The virus is a global concern. On Monday, the State of Florida had its first confirmed report of individuals that had tested positive for the Coronavirus. The identified cases were both in the Tampa-area, and one was connected to travel to Italy. Indeed, there are reports that Disney has asked that certain employees of Disney partners that had recently been in Italy refrain from reporting to work at the Resort for awhile. Otherwise, so far, there have been no visible changes to operations at Walt Disney World Resort. While health officials repeat on the local news that masks should be worn only by those with pre-existing respiratory issues or those who are otherwise ill, as has been the case for many years, it does not remain unusual to see some guests wearing masks (Disney still bans full face-obscuring masks). If you want to read a thoughtful look at potential impacts to the theme park business in the region, Orlando Sentinel provided it last week.

The best advice right now is to be vigilant about washing your hands and to avoid touching your face (and mouth) when you have not recently washed. Of course, that is good advice all the time, not just amidst a particular global health scare.

For those considering making new reservations, check with your providers about what their change and refund policies are. On Monday, American Airlines, for example, announced that travelers may change a flight once without a change fee for tickets purchased directly from the airline between March 1 and March 16 for travel between March 1 and January 26, 2021. Disney has not made a specific policy announcement, but has a history of being very flexible when hurricanes move through the region and close the Parks as well. As of this weekend, at least, the parks remain crowded - on Sunday, for example, we observed high standby times at many Magic Kingdom attractions that do not usually have hour-long queues, like Buzz Lightyear and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

Epcot Festivals News & Calendar

All the latest details about the on-going and up-coming Epcot Festivals are covered in order in this section.

Flower & Garden Festival

Starting tomorrow, it's the 27th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which runs for 90 days, through June 1. This longest running Epcot festival is the one that started them all back in 1994 as "a 38-day celebration of Disney-style gardens and topiaries." The official website for the festival is FreshEpcot.com.

The Festival includes the Garden Rocks Concert Series, three times nightly at America Gardens Theatre. The list of scheduled performers includes both returning and new names including: Peabo Bryson, STARSHIP, Sister Hazel, Rick Springfield, Plain White T's, Don McLean, Herman's Hermits, Tony Orlando, Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Daughtry, and Survivor. The full list of performers (which is subject to change) is shown on our Calendar below. The Festival also sells Garden Rocks Concert Series Dining Packages where booking a breakfast, lunch or dinner package at select Epcot restaurants provides guaranteed concert seating for a 5:30, 6:45, or 8 p.m. show.

The America Gardens Theatre will again be home to the three times nightly Garden Rocks Concert Series starting tomorrow, March 4, 2020. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This is the Festival that features the most topiaries and gardens around the park. New this year will be a Remy topiary that will be unveiled as the centerpiece of Ratatouille Garden at France pavilion. The garden will include vegetables that make up the traditional ingredients of a ratatouille recipe. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure attraction opens at the pavilion during the summer, with a specific date not yet announced. The full list of topiaries and gardens announced for this year's Festival is on this page of the official FreshEpcot website.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Goodness Garden Butterfly House returns in a new location this year. It will be located further west in Future World west than in past years—between The Land and Imagination pavilions. There also will be two playtime areas for kids: Bo Peep's Playtime Training Ground near the Test Track walkway in Future World East, and the Health Full Trail along the Imagination Walkway will again be where you will find the Play Full Garden. The Floating Mini-Gardens, Flower Towers, and more bedded blooms will be planted as well. Behind the scenes tours are available during the Festival from the no-additional-charge 20 minute English Tea Garden tour to the Spring edition of the 3 hour Gardens of the World tour ($85/person plus tax).

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Like the other Festivals, Flower & Garden Festival will include food and beverage kiosks. This year, 16 "Outdoor Kitchens" and other "stops" will include three Florida-centric locations: The Honey Bee-stro, The Citrus Blossom, and Florida Fresh. The full list of Outdoor Kitchens and other special food offerings, along with their menus, is now available on this page of the official FreshEpcot website. Disney Parks Blog has published a Foodie Guide to the Festival as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Spike's Pollen Nation Exploration scavenger hunt also returns for the entire run of this year's Festival. Purchase maps for $6.99 plus tax (Passholder discounts available) at Port of Entry and other marked locations, search for Spike the Bee around the park, and return your completed map to Port of Entry for a prize. The Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt will also return for a limited time during the Festival, from March 27 through April 12, and the $6.99 plus tax (Passholder discounts available) maps for the Easter-themed scavenger hunt will be available at Disney Traders, Pin Central (in its new location under Spaceship Earth on the west side), and World Traveler; completed maps will be redeemed at Disney Traders for its prize.

The new location of Pin Central is under the western legs of Spaceship Earth. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

New to this year's Festival is the expansion of Disneyland's Disney Channel Fan Fest. Guests at Disney's parks in California will have a one-day-only opportunity to mix and mingle with the casts of several popular Disney Channel shows and a cavalcade down Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. will feature many Disney Channel celebrities which will be live streamed on Disney Parks Blog and on Disney Channel YouTube on Saturday, May 9. After that, kids and families at Epcot during three of the Festival's weekends—May 16-17, May 23-24, and May 30-31— will experience Fan Fest events as well. The details and schedule has not yet been announced, but Disney Parks Blog says:

Fan Fest events include stars from "ZOMBIES 2," "Gabby Duran & the Unsittables," "Raven's Home," "Just Roll With It," "Sydney to the Max," "Coop & Cami Ask The World, "BUNK'D," and the upcoming "Disney Fam Jam" and "Upside-Down Magic." The learn-to-draw sessions will feature the creative teams behind "Big City Greens," "The Owl House," "Amphibia" and "DuckTales."

Annual Passholders can pick two complimentary magnets during the 2020 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The "Donald Duck with Spike the Bee" magnet will be available March 4 to April 19. The first-ever “Orange Bird” magnet will be available April 20 to June 1. Look for signs outside the temporary location of Mouse Gear in Future World East (which may now only be accessed by the walkway on the Guest Relations side of Spaceship Earth if walking from the park's front gates or via the bridge from Odyssey or the walkway next to the flower gardens at the eastern ponds). Passholders must have a valid Annual Pass and photo ID; magnet supply is not guaranteed to last the length of the time periods (though the supply usually does last).

Passholders can pick up two magnets during the 2020 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival by visiting during the specified dates and heading over to Mouse Gear with a valid pass and Photo ID. Images ©Disney.

During the Festival of the Arts, magnet distribution signs pointed to the back door of the current location of Mouse Gear. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Passholder-Exclusive merchandise like t-shirts and pins, will be available for sale during the Festival as well. Passholder 20% merchandise discount available. The discount also applies to purchases of maps for Spike's Pollen-Nation Exploration Scavenger Hunt which will be available at Mouse Gear, World Traveler and select Festival Markets (the marked kiosks around the park).

Passholders are also eligible for 10% discount on dining packages that include guaranteed seating for Garden Rocks Concert Series performances, and for 15% discounts on the Behind the Seeds and Gardens of the World tours.

Food & Wine Festival

The 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival concluded back in November. Disney Parks Blog lists the 25th anniversary edition of the Festival among the 20 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2020, but the park has not yet announced its specific dates. It is a very safe bet that the hugely popular festival will return for a near 90 day run in the late summer/fall. The official website for the festival is TasteEpcot.com.

The runDisney Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend which traditionally takes place during the Festival has been scheduled for November 5-8, 2020.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will be held November 6 to 7, 2020.

Festival of the Holidays

2019 Performances of Candlelight Processional, wrapped up on December 30, along with the park-wide Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. The celebrations, no doubt, will return late in 2020, and, as in recent years, we will probably start getting specific details to share in the summer, probably with a Christmas in July media event or promotion. The Festival's official website is: EpcotHolidays.com.

Festivals Calendar

For the convenience of our readers, the scheduled performers for this year's Garden Rocks Concert Series are shown in our Google Calendar of Epcot Events. You can add the entire Event calendar to any calendar that supports the iCal format (like iPhone and Mac) by copying this link and, as we get additional information and update the calendar, the calendar will update on your subscribed device as well.

While our Google Calendar of Epcot Events lists announced performers, it is still 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 any last minute changes. The calendar is provided as a courtesy "as is, where is" without any guarantees. 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

This week's views are from Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and some of the "in-between." Next week, we will probably be pretty heavy with views from Disney's Hollywood Studios and we will probably get over to Disney's Animal Kingdom since we have not shared views from their in a few weeks. Yes, we will probably get over to Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival too, but, as has been the case lately, new Festival-related photos now appear in the Epcot Festivals section of our Update.

Magic Kingdom

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

With all the talk this week about the new parade at Disneyland, we just want to remind you that Maleficent breathes fire in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom! Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

To mark the start of the Disney-hosted media event for the opening of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway last night, as invited media, I dined at California Grill atop Disney's Contemporary Resort and got this long-exposure photo of a moment in Happily Every After fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Arriving and Departing at Magic Kingdom

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot Transformation

As the transformation of Epcot continues, the entire center of Future World is now surrounded by construction walls. The area has been almost entirely cleared for future construction, from the Fountain of Nations all the way to the former home of Pin Central and all the shades (and the structures supporting them) added to the park for the Millennium Celebration. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That…

…Almost every week for the past few months, Disney Parks Blog has been counting down to the opening of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studios with a look at the digital posters that will appear inside the Chinese Theatre when it reopens, tomorrow, March 4. Each poster pays tribute to an actual Mickey Mouse short; like all the shorts, you can even watch this week's "Wonders of the Deep" short where Mickey and friends voyage aboard a submarine and have to rescue Professor Von Drake from a giant sea creature, here on Mickey Mouse's official You Tube channel. The new digital posters appear on the video screens throughout the queue on the screens that used to show posters for classic movies and The Great Movie Ride. The new attraction itself includes a brand new short, "Perfect Picnic" where "Mouse rules apply," and the digital posters in the halls leading up to the "premiere" (the pre-show for the ride) set the scene.

Wonders of the Deep
Posters inspired by Mickey & Minnie cartoon shorts have been created for the lobby of Chinese Theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios to set the scene for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway which opens March 4. Image ©Disney.

…The Play Disney Parks app will also debut a new Mickey & Minnie's Trivia Time game featuring the "zany cartoon world" that is the inspiration for the new Disney's Hollywood Studios attractions.

…"Disney Movie Magic," the former nighttime projection show at Disney's Hollywood Studios, will be making a temporary return engagement starting March 13. It will include a new sequence featuring images related to Disney's upcoming new live action film Mulan. The show, appropriately enough to the synergistic subject matter, is shown on the facade of the Chinese Theater. Then, starting March 20, Walt Disney Presents (the attraction a bit behind the Chinese Theatre) will start running sneak peeks of the new live-action film as well. For those out in California visiting Disneyland, starting March 20, the sneak peek will also run at Tomorrowland Theater. It will also be shown on select Disney Cruise Line sailings in late March.

…Disney's Animal Kingdom will offer a new "A Path Less Traveled Tour" as part of its Earth Month celebration from March 29 to May 2, 2020 (except April 21). The $69/person (plus tax) tour requires guests to check in at 7:45 a.m. for the tour that runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. which Disney Parks Blog describes as an onstage walking tour showing off "the authentic details, clever construction and imaginative design throughout the park." Tour guests will also meet animal care experts to learn about the park's animal care programs and Disney's worldwide wildlife species conservation programs. Guests must be at least 10 years old and a valid theme park ticket for park admission is required but not included in the tour price. Call (407)WDW-PLAY to book the tour or visit the Curiosity Animal Tours kiosk across from Kilimanjaro Safaris. Fine print details on this page of DisneyWorld.com. A 15% discount is available for Passholders and DVC Members.

…Speaking of animals, back at Epcot (or EPCOT), guests can now pick up a complimentary new "Fin-tastic Scavenger Hunt Adventure" inside the first floor of The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The new booklet includes a map through the pavilion with rhyming puzzles and "clues to help Dory remember and locate her marine friends."

…REMINDER Interested in a chance to win a stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite in Magic Kingdom? Interested in additional bonus chances to win by making donations that benefit Orlando Magic Youth Foundation? Omaze has a sweepstakes (with lots of fine print on its site that you need to read and we have no affiliation with or responsibility for it) with a grand prize offering of a two-day, one-night vacation that includes a night in the Suite for up to four people, plus park tickets, a VIP tour guide for a day, and dinner at Narcoossee's. Donation or purchase not required for the single entry, but bonus entries are included with different donation levels. The deadline to enter is April 7, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific (which is April 8, 2:59 a.m. Eastern) with the winner to be announced on or around April 22, 2020.

…And through March 31, 2020, Disney Junior is also offering a chance to win a 5-day/4-night Walt Disney World vacation for 4, including Park Hopper tickets, a Deluxe Resort Hotel room, and a $500 Disney Gift Card. Visit https://parks.disney.com/discover-the-magic-sweepstakes for all the rules and the chance to enter. MousePlanet has no affiliation or responsibility for this sweepstakes.

Disney Parks Blog reports that Jr. NBA Global Championships are returning to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from August 11-16, 2020. These games feature top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls basketball players from around the world. 32 teams will qualify for the Championships by winning in regional events starting soon. This will be the third year in a row Walt Disney World Resort hosts the Championships.

…We would be remiss if we failed to report that one of the Jungle Cruise boats took on water with guests aboard this past Thursday, February 27. Yes, indeed, the jokes seemingly wrote themselves, with guests getting to experience the wet side of water and what-not. If you would like to read a collection of them, Orlando Sentinel has republished some good ones. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries and the attraction reopened in less than an hour.

Jungle Cruise operations appeared normal this weekend following last week's underwater voyage for one crew. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…And, speaking of voyages, Disney Cruise Line bookings for Summer 2021 are now open with destinations including Greece, the Mediterranean, Europe, Alaska, the Caribbean and The Bahamas. Visit DisneyCruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at (800)951-3532, or contact your travel agent (even the one that sponsors MousePlanet.com).

…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.

Join the MousePlanet Newsletter

Disney Springs News & Views

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 (including those immediately under this paragraph). Some items are repeated week to week until they occur, while other items NEW to the Update are marked accordingly. For even more of the latest news around Disney Springs, follow its official Twitter Feed: @DisneySprings.

"Drawn to Life" by Cirque du Soleil & Disney

NEW As we continue to get closer to the April 17, 2020, world premiere of "Drawn to Life," the new collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Disney at Disney Springs, Disney Parks Blog continues to provide some behind-the-scenes glimpses into the production. This week, the video released by Disney shows some of the construction inside the theater on the West Side of Disney Springs (transforming it from its prior use as long-time home of Cirque du Soleil's "La Nouba"), along with the reaction of some of the artists who will perform in the new show. Although ticketed public previews are scheduled to begin on March 20, we have been told that today's media event will include an invited "sneak peek" of the work-in-progress (which probably means that electronic devices will not be permitted and we will not be able to share much more than first recollections on social media and in next week's Update).

Here is a first glimpse of the theatre where "Drawn to Life" will premiere on April 17, 2020. The new show is a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Disney. Video ©Disney.

Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant

Raglan Road's Might St. Patrick's Festival will run Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17, 2020. It is complimentary March 13-16 (and reservations are accepted); on March 17, seating is first-come, first served, and there is a $10 cover charge for guests 18 years old and above. The full Festival entertainment schedule will be posted at RaglanRoad.com, and the highlights will include: Strings & Things, TradGad, MACA, Fia Rua, Mike Waters, and Emily Furlong.

Raglan Road has St. Patrick's Day merchandise in stock. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


On Saturday, March 21, from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., Jaleo is holding a Paella Block Party in celebration of its one-year anniversary. Taking over the sidewalk on the West Side and inside the restaurant, the ticketed event features four Festival Paellas, unlimited tapas, flamenco dancers, a DJ, a photo booth, and more. Visit this EventBrite page for more information and tickets. All-Inclusive Tickets (age 21 and over) is $99 plus $7.66 fee; Food and non-alcoholic beverage ticket (all ages) is $55 plus $4.98 fee; children 10 and younger are free.

NEW Onward at Disney Springs

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Join Our Networks

On Facebook:

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).

2020 Resort Events
  • Disney After Hours: (hard ticket required; park entry at 7 p.m., event hours vary by published date and park)
    …at Magic Kingdom:
    • March 9, 16, 23 & 30
    • April 5, 13, 20 & 27
    • May 5, 11, 18 & 25
    …at Disney's Animal Kingdom
    • March 5, 12, 19 & 26
    • April 1, 7, 14 & 22
    • May 2, 9, 16, 19 & 26
  • Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic: (Eligible Member reservations required for wristband entry)
    • Magic Kingdom: March 3, April 21 & 28
      Registration subject to availability. The March 3 event is sold out.
    • Epcot: May 4 & June 29, 2020
      Registration for Members with Resort reservations opens: March 11, 2020
      General Member Registration: March 18, 2020
    • Disney's Typhoon Lagoon: July 27 & August 10, 2020
      Registration for Members with Resort reservations opens: June 17, 2020
      General Member Registration: June 24, 2020
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios: September 15 & 22; October 6, 2020
      Registration for Members with Resort reservations opens: July 15, 2020
      General Member Registration: July 22, 2020
  • Disney Villains After Hours: (hard ticket required; park entry at 7 p.m., event hours vary by published date)
    • March 6, 11, 18 & 27
    • April 3, 10, 17 & 24
    • May 1, 8, 14, 22, 29
    • June 5, 12, 19, 26 & 29
    • July 6 & 10
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – March 4 to June 1, 2020
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios – March 4, 2020
  • "Drawn to Life" (by Cirque du Soleil and Disney) – previews begin March 20, 2020, premiere April 17, 2020
  • Star Wars Rival Run Weekend – April 16 to 19, 2020
  • Earth Day Celebrations at Disney's Animal Kingdom – April 18 to 22, 2020
    April 22 itself is the 22nd Anniversary of the park's opening; it is also Earth Day's 50th Anniversary
    & it is the 25th Anniversary of Disney Conservation Fund
  • Dapper Day – Spring Weekend (unofficial events) May 1 to 3, 2020
    ♦ May 2 - Disney's Hollywood Studios ♦ May 3 - Epcot
  • Gay DayS #RedShirtDays (unofficial events) – June 4 to 7, 2020
    ♦ June 4 - Disney's Animal Kingdom ♦ June 5 - Disney's Hollywood Studios
    ♦ June 6 - Magic Kingdom ♦ June 7 - Epcot
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – 7 p.m. to Midnight – Ticketed Magic Kingdom Events
    • August 13, 18, 21, 25 & 28
    • September 1, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27 & 29
    • October 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29 & 31
    • November 1
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 5 to 8, 2020
  • Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – November 6 to 7, 2020
  • D23 Destination D: Fantastic Worlds – November 20 to 22, 2020

2021 Resort Events
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 6-10, 2021
  • 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
  • The Muppets Present...Great Moments in American History – its final scheduled shows were performed October 5, 2019
    Given its brief re-appearances during the final days of 2019, it may reappear "seasonally."
  • Royal Majesty Makers – no longer has scheduled appearances in Fantasyland as of October 2019.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial – Final show was September 29, 2018.
  • Stitch's Great Escape – My Disney Experience lists as "available seasonally throughout the year"
    It is unlikely it will ever reopen; the attraction's lobby is used for greeting Stitch
  • Walt Disney World Railroad – Closed as of December 3, 2018 to accommodate TRON construction (reopening to be announced).
    Guests can visit a Walt Disney World Railroad train at Fantasyland Station.
  • Reflections of China – the film will be retired and will be replaced with "Wondrous China" presented in a seamless 360° digital format.
  • Future World "transformation" closings – Major transformation announced at D23 Expo 2019.
    Closings and relocations include:
    • Future World itself will become three new lands: World Discovery, World Nature & World Celebration
    • Spaceship Earth will close for a major renovation starting May 26, 2020
    • Innoventions - all exhibits now permanently closed, effective September 8, 2019
    • Club Cool closed September 8, 2019 (to reopen in "a new capacity at a future merchandise location")
    • Fountain of Nations closed September 8, 2019
    • Fountain View featuring Starbucks closed September 8, 2019 (new temporary Starbucks location now open near Refreshment Port)
    • Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot - closed September 8, 2019 (check guide maps for character locations)
    • Electric Umbrella (quick service restaurant) closed February 16, 2020. (New dining options to be announced)
    • Mouse Gear closed its original location for refurbishment January 4, 2020. (It moved to a temporary home nearby)
    • Art of Disney has relocated to the former Heritage Manor at The American Adventure
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure at Universe of Energy – Permanently closed on August 13, 2017.
    Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to open in its place in approximately 2021.
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – Show retired: September 30, 2019.
    Epcot Forever debuted October 1 for a limited run which will be followed by a new nighttime spectacular "HarmonioUS" in 2020
  • Liberty Inn - the fast-casual restaurant closed for reimagining starting July 8, 2019.
    Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue is now open in its place.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away – final performances on Saturday, February 22, 2020.
  • March of the First Order – concluded parades down Hollywood Boulevard on July 6, 2019.
    First Order Stormtroopers have "redeployed" inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi – Permanently Closed.
    Theater to reopen showing Mickey Mouse Shorts on March 4, 2020.
  • The Great Movie Ride – Permanently closed August 13, 2017.
    The new Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway attraction to open in Chinese Theatre on March 4, 2020.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Kali River Rapids – closed for seasonal refurbishment January 6, 2020 through late March 2020.
  • Primeval Whirl – is now listed as "Operates Seasonally"
    My Disney Experience shows the attraction closed as of publication of this Update
    No FastPass+ service is available for the attraction through at least March 19, 2020.
Disney Water Parks
  • Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
    daily operating hours are published, but be aware that cold weather closures can occur.
  • Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is closed for seasonal refurbishment during the winter
    daily operating hours are published starting Monday, March 29, 2020.
Disney Springs
  • Bongo's Cuban Café– Closed in August 2019
    Beatrix restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises coming to the site at a date to be announced.
  • DisneyQuest – Closed as of July 3, 2017.
    The NBA Experience opened on the site on August 12, 2019.
  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – Show closed on December 31, 2017.
    A new Cirque du Soleil, "Drawn to Life," begins previews March 20, 2020, and will have its world premiere April 17, 2020.
Disney Resorts & Vicinity
  • McDonald's restaurant near Disney's All-Star Resorts – closed October 30, 2019, for an extensive renovation; expected to reopen in March, 2020.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House – Due to Resort construction, the Disney Vacation Club Value category accommodations are not available for stays from December 2019 through early spring 2020
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort – The Big Blue Pool will close for refurbishment beginning in approximately Fall 2020.
  • Disney's All-Star Music Resort – The Calypso Pool will be closed for refurbishment from mid-September 2020 through mid-December 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.

As regular readers know, 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. 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.

Get Away Today Logo

For more discounts and offers we know about, click the category below that you want to expand (or close).

For Everyone

4-Park Magic Ticket

The 4-Park Magic Ticket is once again available for purchase at Disneyworld.com/4ParkMagic. For $356 plus tax (ages 10 and up; less for ages 3-9), it provides one visit to each of the four Walt Disney World Theme parks (one park per day). Guests must select a start date on or before September 30, 2020, and the ticket expires seven days after the selected start date. (Certain start dates will lower the price of the Ticket further.)

For an additional $40 plus tax (ages 10+; less for ages 3-9), the ticket will also provide admission to one water park and one visit to NBA Experience at Disney Springs.

Mid-Day Magic Tickets

Disney has introduced a new park ticket that provides one admission per theme park each day after 12:00 p.m. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for more information.

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.
Discounts and Benefits

The updated list of PASSHOLDER benefits and discounts is located at DisneyWorld.com/PassBenefits. (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. For the 2019 Holiday Season, many of the Disney Springs and Bonnet Creek hotels are offering special room rates to Passholders from this page too.

Passholders can save up to 35% on select Rooms at Disney Resorts through April 25, 2020. See this page of DisneyWorld.com for details.

The Passholder version of the "Sun & Fun" offer lets guests save up to 35% on select Rooms at Disney Resorts on most nights though July 9, 2020. See this page of DisneyWorld.com for details.

With the recent changes to stroller and ECV delivery policies around the resort, the Magic Strollers Passholder offer is no longer listed among the available Passholder benefits.

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 (U.S. orders only)

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, including blockout dates. Note that a 20% gratuity will be added to each spa service.

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

2020 Military Promotional Tickets

January 1 through December 18, 2020

  • Four-Day Park Hopper Tickets –$265.00
  • Four-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets – $315.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Tickets – $283.00
  • Five-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets – $333.00
  • Six-Day Park Hopper Tickets – $301.00
  • Six-Day Park Hopper Plus Tickets – $351.00

Prices do not include tax. Six-Day Tickets must be purchased by December 13, Five-Day Tickets by December 14, Four-Day Tickets by December 15. Tickets may be used from January 1 through December 18, 2020.
Prices may be lower at U.S. military base ticket offices.

U.S. military personnel can also purchase the Memory Maker product for $98 from January 1, 2020, through December 18, 2020.

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. No more than two Memory Maker products may be purchased at the special price by the service member or 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. For 2020, discounts are available most nights January 1 through April 4, and April 19 through December 18, 2020, when booked by December 18, 2020. 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. For more information and details, visit this page or call (407)939-7825.

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
Expect to be required to show proof of Florida Residency for discounts and benefits.
Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket

Florida Residents that want to visit the parks in the first half of 2020 may purchase the new Florida Resident Discovery Disney Ticket The 4-Day Ticket is $195/person plus tax ($49/day) and the 3-Day Ticket is $175/person plus tax ($59/day) for one park per day admission on any dates through June 30, 2020, with no block-out dates (Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus upgrades available for extra charges). Tickets must be purchased by June 27, 2020. Details and on-line purchasing via this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Other Florida Resident Tickets and Room Offers

Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for all current Florida Resident theme park ticket offers, including a link where Florida Residents can save 40% on 4-Day Tickets and 30% on 3-Day Tickets compared to the non-resident prices of the same tickets when selecting specific visit start dates.

Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for Florida Resident room rates at select hotels, including the opportunity to save up to 30% on rooms for most nights through April 25, 2020.

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.

Call DVC Member Services at (800) 800-9800 to take advantage of most other available 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 Canada Residents

Canadian residents are eligible for some specials that are similar to residents of the U.S.A. See the current listing on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

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.

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. For bookings by 1st April 2020, the site advertises a package including free dining, $100 gift card, and 14-Day Ultimate Tickets for the price of a 7 Day Ticket with Memory Maker.

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

Share, Links, Comments & More