Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 10-16, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 10 - 16, 2020

 

Writer's note: In the time I have been writing the weekly Walt Disney World Resort Updates these past few years, I have always strived to order presentation of the news stories by starting with the story that affects the most possible Walt Disney World Resort guests first or, at least, the story that may be of the most interest to the most people. In that regard, while I have been on the keyboard, I've created regular sections for Epcot Festivals and Disney Springs, since some of the news there is time-sensitive and I know that not all of our readers catch each and every Update.

This week, I am left with the dilemma of where to put the discussion about the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Last week, I mentioned it in connection with the change in executive leadership of The Walt Disney Company. Adrienne-Vincent Phoenix made it the first item in the Disneyland Resort Update yesterday, in an otherwise fairly quiet news week for the West Coast resort. So, if you want to get right to that discussion with my Florida-focus take on it, go ahead and jump here. But, as she wrote yesterday:

Over the past two weeks we've had several readers ask if we think it's still safe to visit the Disney theme parks, or take a Disney Cruise. This is the point where we have to say, "Look folks, we're bloggers, not doctors." You are the best judge of what's safe and appropriate for yourself and your family, given the specific and unique factors of age, health, underlying medical conditions, etc. in your travel party. If you come, wash your hands, don't touch your face, cover your cough, and keep your kids from licking the handrails. If you decide to stay home, please don't buy all the bottled water and toilet paper from Costco.
Either way, promise that you'll go get your medical information from actual medical professionals, and we'll promise to keep sharing our opinions about new theme park rides, posting videos of new parades, and sampling fancy baked goods.

Readers here know that I am not so much on sampling the fancy baked goods—is cannoli technically baked other than its shell? The rest of that sentiment still applies, and, notwithstanding both genuine health concerns and seemingly irrational panic, this past week was still an otherwise very busy news week at Walt Disney World Resort.

On March 4, the new Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway attraction opened in the Chinese Theatre and the new Mickey Shorts Theater opened nearby, both at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The media preview of the new attraction the day before, included an early preview of a couple of acts of the Disney-Cirque du Soleil collaboration "Drawn to Life" that is scheduled to premiere on April 17. March 4 also marked the start of the 2020 edition of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. So, in keeping with the usual order of things in this space, we will start the News and Views with the new attractions, address what we know about the COVID-19 response, move on to the Festival, and then will get to the Cirque du Soleil news in its usual place in the Disney Springs section.

For a thoughtful discussion of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway (including some spoilers), the executive changes at The Walt Disney Company, and an initial observations on the COVID-19 response, you can listen to my discussion with WGN-TV Chicago anchor, reporter, and self-styled roller coaster bureau chief Marcus Leshock on episode 17 of his podcast "Coastin' the Country" embedded immediately below, as we recorded it on Wednesday, March 4 as well.

News and Views

Headlines are auto-generated here

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway Now Open

Since Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was first announced at 2017 D23 Expo in Anaheim by Bob Chapek, then Chairman Disney Parks & Resorts and now Disney CEO, we have been told to expect that the first-ever Mickey and Minnie ride-through attraction would have a catchy song in the tradition of other classic Disney attractions and would be an experience the whole family could enjoy together. Although not all the lyrics have set into long-term memory just yet, "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" succeeds in sticking in your head and setting the scene for the new family-friendly attraction that opened on March 4 inside the Chinese Theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The exterior and entry to the Chinese Theatre look much as they did when the building was last the home to The Great Movie Ride which closed during the Summer of 2017 to make way for the new attraction. While many fans were upset at the closing of The Great Movie Ride, it was an attraction that was showing its age when it closed, having received only minor updates since its opening with the park (then named Disney-MGM Studios) back in 1989. This Resort Update will leave the debate of whether it was "right" to close rather than update the former attraction to others, but we will note that the new attraction keeps, at its core, a ride inside a movie.

After entering the Chinese Theatre, the changes start mounting over its predecessor. The digital posters on the lobby (queue) walls now advertise Mickey short films. We have been following along with Disney Parks Blog's posting of these the past several months in our Updates (and Disney Parks Blog recapped them here). There are no more film artifacts along the queue itself. The last digital posters in the queue advertise the new Mickey short created for the attraction "The Perfect Picnic." The overall storyline is that guests are entering the doors of The Chinese Theatre for the premiere of the latest Mickey short, and that carries through all the way in to the pre-show.

When the building still contained he Great Movie Ride, the queue then wound into a large theater-type room that showed trailers from some of the "great" Hollywood films of the past. In its later years, the trailers were joined by more clips and hosted segments by Turner Movies Classics host Robert Osborne who also provided some of the narration on the former ride during its final years. (Robert Osborne passed away several months before the former attraction closed in 2017.)

Instead of one large pre-show room, guests are now grouped into into two smaller pre-show rooms that look like small movie theaters (except without seats). Guests enter these rooms to see the premiere of "The Perfect Picnic," and when the lights dim and the picture starts, the movie starts right off with that ear-worm music of "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" composed by Christopher Willis with lyrics by him and his co-lyricist, his wife Elyse Willis. The song is sung by Mickey and Minnie (with a bit of Pluto and Goofy joining in too), and since I was first exposed to it back in December when Imagineering previewed it for media attending the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance preview and dedication, it has not left my ears.

At this point I will spare readers the particular spoiler of "how" you enter what Disney describes as the cartoon world of Mickey shorts "where anything can happen" and "Mouse rules apply." Suffice to say that you have not seen an attraction loading area entered in this way before. Sure there are plenty of spoilers out there now (and I describe it in the podcast embedded above), but I will avoid sharing it here now.

The animation style of "The Perfect Picnic" that then continues through the ride-through attraction, including the look of Mickey and Minnie and the other characters, comes from the 2013-present Disney Channel Mickey shorts. These shorts have a new take on the classic characters that starts with a baseline of the 1930's-era "pie-eyed" Mickey and updates that look for a modern audience. So the Mickey and Minnie in "The Perfect Picnic" are not the Sorcerer Mickey or the corporate icon Mickey, but, rather, more this cartoon character. On a personal level, it was not something I was fond of in the build-up to the opening of the attraction (as I have not been a fan of this new retro-but-modern style of drawing), but I have to say it works in the attraction, especially along with the Christopher Willis soundtrack that was enhanced further by Imagineering's use of archive whistles and sound effects that date all the way back to Steamboat Willie.


Disney's Hollywood Studios rolled out the red carpet for the preview and dedication of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.


Inside the Chinese Theatre, the interior of the entry and indoor portion of the queue looks much the same as it did up to this point when the attraction inside was The Great Movie Ride.


The ride includes a nod to its predecessor with a sign advertising "The Great Moving Ride."


This is the first ever ride-through attraction to star Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and in many scenes they appear in what Disney is calling "two and a half" dimensions, a combination of animatronic figures and projection that creates a three dimension visual without needed to wear glasses.


Walt Disney's love of trains is saluted with a classic photo of him at Disneyland just past the unloading area of the ride.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Tim O'Day, a man with deep connections to Disney history, including being the onetime spokesperson for Disneyland Resort, was on hand to discuss Mickey and Minnie's historical journey that finally brought them from their public debut in "Steamboat Willie" in 1928 to their 2020 debut in their first ride-through attraction, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. He says theirs is the longest running courtship in Hollywood history. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For those that want a more detailed discussion about the attraction itself, I had the opportunity to interview its lead Imagineer, Kevin Rafferty, who worked on the attraction from its "spark" all the way into the park. I also had the opportunity to interview composer Christopher Willis and Imagineer Charita Carter to discuss the music and sounds of the attraction. Both of those interesting discussions are embedded in the video below. Disney Music has released "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" on many platforms, and you can here an official sample and find lots of Disney's authorized sources for the track here.


At the media preview, we chatted with Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty about the creation of the new attraction from "Spark to Park"—including that the team used animators to assist in programming the train cars rather than ride engineers. Then we chatted with Christopher Willis, the composer of "Nothing Can Stop Us Now," the theme song from the attraction, and Charita Carter from Walt Disney Imagineering about how the song and music was integrated into the new attraction. Video hosted and edited by Alan S. Dalinka (courtesy of Disney Parks).

As the storyline suggests, the ride vehicles are themed as train cars. There is a locomotive driven by engineer Goofy, and then four cars. Each car has two rows with a single lap bar that pulls down for the up to four adults in each row. The ride vehicles are not traditional omni-mover cars on tracks (like the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies), however. They are actually trackless vehicles, very much like the vehicles at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance but without the individual seatbelts, so that when the namesake Runnamuck Railway goes amuck, each train car can take its own path. It is not a particularly aggressive ride physically, but there are some unexpected movements that can jar you around a bit. In fact, Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said that rather have ride engineers design the vehicle behaviors, the team turned to animators to get their input on how the runaway train cars would behave (seriously, watch the interviews).


There is no specific posted age/height restriction, but those riders age 7 and younger have to be accompanied by a rider of at least 14. Guests must transfer to the ride vehicle; a separate loading area for guests making the transfer is provided. When one of these separately loaded cars is ready to join the train, it becomes the fourth car behind the locomotive. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Interestingly, each of the four separate cars of the train have different experiences on the attraction. While all the cars travel through the same scenes in the same order, some cars spend more time in scenes than others; some cars have different physical actions than others. And, indeed, since the trackless cars themselves are imagineered to feel like they are wandering through the attraction, there is more detail in the scenes themselves than can be taken in by any single ride. In other words, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is highly re-rideable, and no matter how many different spoiler-filled point-of-view videos you watch, it is probably impossible to show off everything on this new ride.


For the media preview, Disney provided an opportunity for media to ride with a camera mounted to a ride vehicle to show off a largely spoiler-free look at the new attraction. Ride Cam Video courtesy Disney Parks.

On the evening of March 3, Disney dedicated the new attraction with a ceremony on the red carpet in front of The Chinese Theatre. Walt Disney World Resort President Josh D'Amaro gave the dedication speech before the invited media and the #DisneyParksLIVE stream audience, surrounded by the usual pomp of glittering-costumed characters and dancers, and capped, of course, with some pyrotechnics. At the end of the evening, I saw Josh D'Amaro invite some of the front-line cast members who had been working at the media event inside the attraction for their first experience (and, as luck would have it, I was in the car just ahead of him and agreed to let us take the photo in the batch that follows).


With the invited media dinner assembled on the "stage" usually occupied by the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Goofy dropped in for some high jinks.


For the dedication of the new attraction in front of the Chinese Theater, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto all were dressed in sparkles.


Walt Disney World Resort President Josh D'Amaro invited several Disney PhotoPass photographers and other cast members that had been working during the dedication event to take a ride with him to conclude the dedication evening.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


The entire dedication #DisneyParksLIVE stream is available for replay. Video ©Disney.

And, for an even deeper dive into the story and creation of the new attraction (which is also coming to Disneyland in 2022), D23 Inside Disney also presented a special episode on opening day of the attraction.

Unlike the recently opened Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway has opened with FastPass+ reservations available. Booking for those reservations opened roughly a month before the attraction. For those that aren't familiar with it, Disney's Hollywood Studios has a two tier FastPass+ selection system (subject to availability): for their three selections for a single day, guests may pick only one "Tier One" attraction and then may pick the balance from "Tier Two." Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway joins "Tier One" along with the recent addition of FastPass+ reservations for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The final attraction in "Tier One" is Slinky Dog Dash. Attractions like Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania! and Fantasmic, have joined Tower of Terror, Star Tours, and others in Tier Two with the changes.

Naturally, with a new attraction, the park has rolled out new merchandise. It is hard to say with any certainty what merchandise will be available for what length of time. Remember, as with many Disney souvenirs, if there is something you see that you like, it may not be available at some future time, whether it is some highly sought-after collectable or not. BoxLunch stores around the country will also offer an exclusive Runaway Railway collection this fall. T-shirts from the new collection are available for pre-sale at BoxLunch.com and the shirts will arrive in stores in coming weeks. The retailer also provides a meal to a person in need through its philanthropic partnerships for every $10 spent from February 2, 2020 through January 30, 2021 (with more details on its website).


During the media preview, Disney showed off some of the merchandise available on opening day of the new attraction. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Kevin Rafferty Nothing Can Stop Us Now "Ears" are from the Disney Parks Designer Collection of previously announced designer ears available at Disney Parks across the country. You may spot them for sale in quite a few places around Resorts on both coasts. More details and the rest of the release schedule are published in Disney Parks Blog. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Mickey Shorts Theater Now Open

For fans of the Disney Channel Mickey shorts, the new Mickey Shorts Theater which also opened on March 4, provides an opportunity to see even more. Akin to a sitcom's clip-show, the new "Vacation Fun" Mickey short which is currently exclusively playing at the new Mickey Shorts Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios brings together clips of several previously-released Disney Channel Mickey shorts with new animation created especially for this new show.


The Mickey Shorts Theater is the exclusive place to see the new short "Vacation Fun," a collection of clips of existing Mickey Shorts plus new material.


Mickey Shorts Theater's exterior is decorated in classic Mickey colors and is located in the Echo Lake area between The Hyperion Theater home of the Frozen Sing-along and the Olaf meet and greet.


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


The post-show area includes photo opportunities inspired by some of the short films in "Vacation Fun," including "Potatoland".

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka except as noted.

The theater itself was last regularly used for the "Path of the Jedi" film, and was the long-time home of Sounds Dangerous. It has been extensively refurbished with all new seats that look like Mickey's shorts. The exterior of the theater has also received elements of Mickey's classic color design. The post-show room includes several photo opportunities inspired by the Mickey shorts that are part of "Vacation Fun."

The Play Disney Parks app has a new trivia game available. During the media preview, we noticed it became available when visiting the new Mickey Shorts Theater. It may be available elsewhere as well, but we have not investigated as yet.

Addressing COVID-19 Concerns Worldwide

As we noted last week, managing Disney's assets through the travel turmoil caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will probably have an impact on Walt Disney World Resort Guests, as Disney Parks addresses the situation worldwide. Disney has direct ownership interest in Disney Shanghai Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, both of which closed 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 (currently scheduled to reopen March 16) as part of Japan's effort to halt the spread of the virus there. Disney also owns the 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.

Somewhat encouraging news was released yesterday, March 9, as Shanghai Disney Resort announced its first step of a phased reopening. According to its website, it has partially resumed operations with a limited number of shopping, dining, and recreational experiences available in Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. Each of these resort locations now are operating with limited capacity and reduced hours of operation, and the Disney Car and Coach Park and the Disneytown Parking Lot have reopened. Guests entering the Shanghai Disney Resort are required to undergo temperature screening upon arrival, will need to present a Health QR Code when entering dining venues, and will be required to wear a mask during their entire visit (leaving open the question of how guests in masks are to dine). Guests are being asked to maintain "respectful social distances at all times while in stores, queues and restaurants."

According to Orlando Sentinel, the number of confirmed cases of Florida residents testing positive for the virus as of Monday is 13, with two reported deaths. None of the confirmed cases have been connected to Orange or Osceola Counties or residents, which includes the location of Walt Disney World Resort and the city of Orlando. The Sentinel also reported that the Florida Department of Health has posted a travel advisory asking anyone who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea to stay home for 14 days following their return.

Over the weekend, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that travelers avoid cruises. So far, there are no reported cases of the virus being detected aboard Disney Cruise Line or other ships at Port Canaveral, the closest port to Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Cruise Line has responded by posting Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) on its official website, which includes the measures DCL is taking (including regular temperature checks and extra cleaning), new rules about who may sale based on health and recent travel (both by DCL and those imposed by Bahamian ports of call and Jamaica). It has also made temporary adjustments to its cancellation policy to provide for more flexibility for guests.

Last week, Disney released a statement on Disney Parks Blog from Dr. Pamela Hymel Chief Medical Officer of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, concerning measures the company is taking in light of the situation. The statement says, in part:

As part of our commitment to the health and well-being of our cast, guests and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance. Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, are welcoming guests as usual and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies.

Like Adrienne reported at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort has published a new FAQ specifically about coronavirus preparations at the Resort, and a second page about sanitation practices at the theme parks and water parks. These practices include the addition of hand sanitizer stations around the Resort, with the locations now listed on the DisneyWorld website and in the My Disney Experience smartphone app. As always, you can ask a Cast Member to help you find the nearest hand sanitizer or restroom.


Some Purell dispensers had been in the parks for quite some years, but in light of the COVID-19 response, more can be found throughout the parks, like this one at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the dispensers seem to be refilled more regularly than they had been until recently. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

While there are numerous reports of conventions cancelling both at Walt Disney World and at the Orange County Convention Center, and rumors of the reservations phone lines receiving individual cancellations, the parks themselves seem to have remained fairly busy this past week as we are already in the early days of the "Spring Break" season. Posted standby times for attractions remain high and, if we had not shared so many other photos this week, we certainly have plenty of photos of large crowds gathered in the parks last Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, at least. As I mentioned on the podcast with Marcus Leshock embedded in the Writer's Note atop this week's Update, I have not noticed an increase in the number of people wearing masks around the resort, and, indeed, local officials have urged those who are healthy not to wear masks. As we reported last week, as has been the case for many years, it does not remain unusual to see some guests wearing masks (Disney does still ban full face-obscuring masks).

You have probably heard it before but it repetition of this point seems right: 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 current or future reservations, check with your providers about what their change and refund policies are. Both American and United Airlines, for example, have announced changes to their policies. 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.

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

The 27th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is underway and it is scheduled to run 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 2020 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival began on March 4 and is scheduled to run through June 1. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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: 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.


Singer Peabo Bryson took stage at the America Gardens Theatre as the opening act of this year's Garden Rocks Concert Series on March 4-5, 2020. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This is the Festival that features the most topiaries and gardens around the park. New this year is a Remy topiary that is the centerpiece of Ratatouille Garden at France pavilion. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure attraction is scheduled to open at France pavilion during the summer, but a specific opening date has 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.


A Pluto topiary stands among the flowers just inside the park gates to the left. The main entry planter box still remains behind construction as the park's transformation continues.


Another Pluto topiary stands near Chip and Dale at the bridge to Odyssey (home of The EPCOT Experience).


Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy topiaries are in the planter box in the remaining plaza at the center of Future World that is not surrounded by construction walls, and share garden with nods to their construction surroundings.


The Donald Duck topiary (with Spike buzzing about) stands in World Showcase Plaza, along with Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.


Donald Duck also appears as part of "The Three Caballeros" topiary display near Mexico pavilion.


The Tinker Bell topiary has an updated look this year and it stands in a fairy garden near the band gazebo toward the back of the United Kingdom pavilion.


As we showed last week, the new Remy topiary stands among the hedges along World Showcase Promenade at France pavilion. (File photo.)

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Goodness Garden Butterfly House returned in a new location this year. It is located further west in Future World West than in past years—between The Land and Imagination pavilions. There are also two playtime areas for kids: Bo Peep's Playtime Training Ground is near the Test Track walkway in Future World East, and the Health Full Trail along the Imagination Walkway includes the Play Full Garden. The Floating Mini-Gardens, Flower Towers, and more bedded blooms are back 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).


The Goodness Garden Butterfly House is located near the butterfly topiary outside The Land pavilion in Future World West.


Health Full Trail is located along the walkway between Imagination pavilion and World Showcase.


Tea Garden tours highlight plantings and traditions of tea on display around the United Kingdom pavilion.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Like the other Festivals, Flower & Garden Festival includes food and beverage kiosks. This year, 16 "Outdoor Kitchens" and other "stops" 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 available on this page of the official FreshEpcot website. Disney Parks Blog has published a Foodie Guide to the Festival, and published more suggestions to "Taste Your Way Around" the Festival when it opened on March 4. There is also a new "Garden Graze Stroll" (like the Holiday Cookies and Arts stroll varieties) where guests purchase five festival dishes from select locations, receive Passport stamps, and then, rather than more food like the other strolls, there is a keepsake for completion.


The Honey Bee-stro Garden decorates the area near The Honey Bee-stro outdoor kitchen along the walkway from World Showcase to Future World West.


Honey-Peach Freeze is available in a Souvenir Spike the Bee Sipper Cup (while supplies last).


A Spike the Bee reusable spork is available from Outdoor Kitchens this year as well ($2.50 plus tax).


As usual, spring merchandise, including Flower & Garden Festival exclusives, are available at Mouse Gear and at other locations around the park.

Spike's Pollen Nation Exploration scavenger hunt also returns for the entire run of this year's Festival. Purchase maps for $7.99 plus tax (Passholder discounts available) at Port of Entry and other marked locations, search for Spike the Bee around the park (like one we showed in the photos of the English Tea Garden above), 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 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 have 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 through 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 now pick up the Donald Duck with Spike the Bee magnet through April 19 by visiting Mouse Gear with a valid pass and Photo ID. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Look for the magnet distribution signs pointing to the back door of the current location of Mouse Gear. The Orange Bird magnet will be available April 20 through June 1. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Passholder-Exclusive merchandise like t-shirts and pins, is available for sale during the Festival as well. Passholder 20% merchandise discount is 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

Disney Parks Blog lists the 25th anniversary edition of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival among the 20 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2020, but the park has not yet announced its specific dates. The hugely popular festival ought to 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

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, including its three times nightly presentation of Candlelight Processional should also return late in 2020. In recent years, we have started getting specific details to share in the summer 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

Last week, I noted that I hoped to get over to Disney's Animal Kingdom since we had not shared views from there in a few weeks. Mission accomplished, and a good ride aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris yielded some nice animal pictures, including the baby zebra that recently joined its mother on the savanna. While the latest Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival views again are located in the Epcot Festivals section of the Update, and both the Mickey Shorts Theater and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railways photos and videos are included in the news above, there are some additional construction and other views from both parks here too.


The Na'vi flying aboard a banshee Disney buses have been around Walt Disney World Resort for awhile, but this week we finally found it at a spot where a nice photo was possible (and, appropriately enough, at the Disney's Animal Kingdom bus loop which is just outside the park's berm from Pandora-The World of Avatar. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Animal Kingdom


In front of the park, construction continues on the new arrival experience, including the shelters for the new security and bag-check area and the new boarding area and route for the courtesy trams.


Springtime at Disney's Animal Kingdom is as green for the natural plants as the Tree of Life.


On the right, the recently born zebra has started grazing the Kilimanjaro Safaris savana with its mother and other members of the herd.


New to us: the tower of giraffes were eating foliage around the outskirts of the elephants' red clay pits enclosure.


The safari driver did not mention it, but it appears that Stella, the elephant born at the park just over a couple years ago, now stands nearly three quarters as tall as other members of her herd.


One of the lionesses was doing what she seems to do during most safaris: sleep.


At Donald's Dino-Bash this weekend, Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack were greeting guests together.


Though the park's celebration of "The Lion King" has ended, some outdoor carts are still selling a pretzel shaped like Rafiki's drawing of Simba.


And, with St. Patrick's Day just ahead, several outdoor carts are also selling a "Lion Paw Cookie" that celebrates the holiday by...well, by being green and white.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


On March 4, opening day for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Hollywood Boulevard bustled with activity with the new neon sign at Chinese Theatre lit in the distance. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.


Exterior refurbishment concluded on the side of Legends of Hollywood facing Hollywood Boulevard.


Exterior refurbishment continues on the side of Legends of Hollywood facing Sunset Boulevard.


Many ducks at the park seem to fear very little, not even the Tower of Terror.


Slinky Dog Dash Coaster speeds around the track at sunset, still with typical standby queues over an hour notwithstanding the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot


The new eastern security bag-check area opened in time for the Flower & Garden Festival last week.


The eastern restrooms near the "legs" of Spaceship Earth also reopened in time for the Flower & Garden Festival's start.


Though Spaceship Earth will close near the end of May for its (likely lengthy) reimagining, Mouse Gear has light-up souvenirs of Epcot's icon.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

McDonald's


Refurbishment continues at the McDonald's near Disney's All Star Resorts on Osceola Parkway. The signs say the restaurant will re-open in 2020.

This and That…

…The Walt Disney Company annual meeting of shareholders could provide some news and clues about how the company plans to address the global travel slowdown in light of the COVID-19 situation. A live audio stream will be available tomorrow, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 10 a.m. Eastern/7 a.m. Pacific at disney.com/investors.

…REMINDER: "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.

…REMINDER: 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.

…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.

…REMINDER: 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.

…Portillo's, the Chicago-style fast casual restaurant building its first Orlando-area location just off property near Disney Springs, changed its Beef Bus (mobile food truck) plans for its Orlando-area visits this month. Its remaining area visits are now planned for Edna's on the Green located at 5227 Marsh Bend Trail, The Villages, FL 32163, March 14-16 and March 18-20, each day from 11 a.m., while supplies last. Unlike the previously announced visits on I-Drive, The Villages is roughly an hour's drive from Walt Disney World Resort (traffic permitting), so it is not likely we will be making a visit and will have to wait for the new location to open near Lake Buena Vista.

…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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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

UPDATED 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, media from around the world (including MousePlanet) were invited inside the theater on the West Side to preview the first two acts of the show and hear from members of the creative team. This 50th original production of Cirque du Soleil, and the first to include collaboration with both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. The show, written and directed by Michel Laprise, with with Fabrice Becker as Director of Creation, a new set designed by Stephane Roy, and costumes by Philippe Guillotel, includes acrobatic acts accompanied by projections of Disney Animation (from pencil drawings and more). Live performers and characters inspired by Disney Animation are accompanied by music composed by Benoit Jutras (who previously composed the score for "La Nouba") that blends melodies from the Disney classics with the new score.


Construction walls were pulled back a bit and new "Drawn to Life" signs were posted in time for a media preview of the new show coming to the West Side of Disney Springs.


Inside the theater, the stage and seating have been reimagined. The set has lots of visual references to animation and the tools of animators; the seating is new but in a similar configuration to when the theater presented "La Nouba."


Disney Animator Eric Goldberg who joined Disney in 1990 to work on "Aladdin," appeared on stage during the media preview to discuss with host (and long-time Disney performer) Mary Thompson Hunt the collaboration between Disney Animation, Disney Imagineering and Cirque du Soleil in the creation of "Drawn to Life."


The "Drawn to Life" creative team and Cirque du Soleil performers and musicians previewed the first two acts of the show for invited media and then took to the stage for a group photo (and, yes, both the animator's desk and the person-size hand are performers in the show).

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

While recording and photography was not allowed during the media preview of the first two acts of the show, Disney released video highlights of the acrobatic performers from the first act and the "aerial pencil" acrobat from the second act. Previews for the public begin on March 20 and the premiere is scheduled for April 17. Tickets for shows can be purchased on CirqueDuSoleil.com/drawn-to-life. The Cirque website also shares behind the scenes looks at the costumes and creation of the new show.

Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant

UPDATE Raglan Road's Might St. Patrick's Festival will run Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17, 2020. There is no charge at the door March 13-16 (and reservations are accepted: call (407)938-0300); 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. NEW Follow our Instagram on March 13 (and, particularly, our Instagram Story) for the media preview. Then, on Monday, March 16, Raglan Road offers its special one-day $60 (plus tax and gratuity) Whiskey Dinner Pairing prix-fixe menu on Monday, March 16, which lets you “take delight in the juice of the barley” and indulge in a whiskey-pairing taste treat. Raglan's regular menu will also available on March 16.


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

Jaleo

NEWIt's Cava Discovery Week at Jaleo, now through March 15. Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine, and the restaurant is offering different unique cava from across Spain by the class, porrón, and bottle.

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.

The Edison

NEW Spring cocktails are on the menu for a limited time. They include: Two Purple Petals – featuring EG Rosemary & Lavender Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower, Liqueur de Violettes, lemon juice, hibiscus cordial, and fee foam topped with an edible flower; Honey in the Sun – made with Absolut Elyx Vodka, Solerno Blood Orange, Campari, orange juice, and honey; Water-Cooler – composed of Ketel One Botanicals Cucumber & Mint, St. Germain Elderflower, lime juice, honey, watermelon juice, and a splash of ginger beer; Tropitini – featuring Malibu Rum, Gifford de Banana, orgeat, and pineapple juice; and Daytime Smash - made with Bols Genever Gin, Carpano Bianco, lemon juice, honey, raspberries, and blueberries.

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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).

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 16, 23 & 30
    • April 5, 13, 20 & 27
    • May 5, 11, 18 & 25
    …at Disney's Animal Kingdom
    • March 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: April 21 & 28
      Registration subject to availability.
    • 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 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 – Runs through June 1, 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.
Epcot
  • 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 reopened as the Mickey Shorts Theater on March 4, 2020.
  • The Great Movie Ride – Permanently closed August 13, 2017.
    The Chinese Theatre reopened as Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway on March 4, 2020.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Kali River Rapids – closed for seasonal refurbishment January 6, 2020 through late March 2020. FastPass+ reservations are available for adventures starting March 22, 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 April 29, 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 collaboration with Disney, "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 later in 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.


Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Through May 21, save up to 20% on campsite stays Sundays through Thursday nights between March 29 and May 21.

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.

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Comments

  1. By wdwchuck

    Thank you Disney for doing something for people that love Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Thank you for throwing us a bone.

  2. Discuss this article on MousePad.