Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 13-19, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 13-19, 2020

Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

This week, we have just a quick run-down of the news and then a few views, as I took my first (albeit brief) drive through Walt Disney World Resort along World Drive since March.

Sunday night, following the Los Angeles Lakers' victory in the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Magic Kingdom lit up Cinderella Castle in the Lakers' purple and gold colors as a saulte. The NBA Finals marked the conclusion of the the resumed 2019-2020 basketball season, which brought 22 NBA teams to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to compete for a spot in the NBA Playoffs. In what became known as the "NBA Bubble," the teams, league officials, support, and broadcast crews spent three months and held 205 total games at Walt Disney World Resort. If you want to read about the monumental amount of work that went in to producing just the broadcasting side of that endeavor, Orlando Sentinel reported on it.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom was lit up in Los Angeles Lakers gold and purple to salute the team's victory on Sunday night in the NBA Finals which were held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

For those heading to Magic Kingdom to celebrate Halloween, through October 31, guests of all ages may wear Halloween costumes during regular park hours. The pop-up character cavalcades done along the parade route will continue to be Halloween-themed: Mickey Mouse and pals, Disney Villains, and Jack Skellington may appear. The Cadaver Dans, provide socially distant a cappella performances from time to time as well.

On November 6, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf will reopen to guests at Walt Disney World Resort. The neighboring Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, however, is not scheduled to reopen this Fall. Meanwhile, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf (located near the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort) will close for the season on November 5. It is scheduled to reopen on January 31, 2021.

As a reminder, wherever you plan to visit, be sure to check the latest requirements of the venue. For those planning to visit Walt Disney World Resort while it is operating during the pandemic (and until further notice), remember, that the theme parks require Disney Park Pass advanced date-specific reservations plus valid park admission tickets. You can review all of Disney's requirements for visiting the Resort here. If you are traveling from out of state, be sure to check your home area's self quarantine restrictions applicable to those that travel to and from Florida.

Also, don't forget to check the weather, especially if you are visiting Florida during the tail-end of hurricane season. This week, the National Hurricane Center is tracking a Tropical Wave in the Atlantic that has a significant chance of forming into a more powerful storm. As of Monday night, it is too early to have a forecast for whether Central Florida will be impacted.

World Drive runs through most of the length of Walt Disney World Resort, from I-4 in the south to Magic Kingdom in the north. The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, the new tower under construction at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, can be seen in the distance.

The original main auto entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios which closed to guests last year with the opening of the new toll plaza is being replaced by landscaping.

Construction is pretty far along at the future site of The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, the addition to the Swan and Dolphin Resort operated by Marriott. It can be seen towering over World Drive just north of the exit at Buena Vista Drive.

The toll plaza at Magic Kingdom's parking lot was receiving a new, darker blue shade of paint last Wednesday afternoon (see the left-most lanes of the toll plaza).

Last winter, the forested area in the middle of Magic Kingdom's parking lot had been cleared. Now, from World Drive, large mountains of dirt can be seen in that former forested area. It is common to see dirt piled this way when drainage construction projects are underway, though we have not seen official announcements about this project.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

For those looking for ways to help out the cast members that are permanently laid off as part of the Disney Parks, Experiences & Products division's 28,000 reduction in force due to the COVID-19 pandemic, see last week's Walt Disney World Resort Update. Over this past week, Disney and some of its employee unions reached agreement regarding impacted unionized cast members which will give those laid off union members certain priority rights through October 2022 for rehiring, with their seniority intact. At Walt Disney World Resort, over 8,000 unionized cast members are being laid off in addition to over 6,800 non-union cast members.

Jibe With Us On MousePlanet LIVE! Fun at Home

As usual, I will provide the latest Disney Parks news on "Fun at Home" Show #28, the MousePlanet LIVE! Stream that starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 Pacific tomorrow night, Wednesday, October 14. We again invite you to play along by filling in the blanks in our next rounds of MousePlanet LIVE! Jibe Time, our game show. Yes, Shelley Caran from OnTheGoInMCO will be back again, along with other familiar faces and MousePlanet contributors.

Join us LIVE at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday or watch a replay at any time after the show. You may need to reload this page to see the live show if you loaded the page more than just a couple minutes before show time.

That's right, playing at home can be your fun too: your answers during the LIVE show help the players score points! Type your answers in the comments on Facebook or Twitter/Periscope, or YouTube (along with the question number you are answering), and see them shown on all our streaming platforms! If your answers jibe with a player, that player gets a point that counts in the score, and we even sometimes like to award points to those who comment! Our points and usual game prizes, unfortunately, have no retail value, but there are bragging rights (just ask Shelley)!

This & That…

…City Works Eatery & Pour House at Disney Springs tells us that National Cheese Curd Day is celebrated this Thursday, October 15, and that the venue has them on the menu, along with kung pao cauliflower, The Impossible Burger, other unique twists on American foods made-from-scratch that can be paired with selections from the 90 beers on tap.

…The second set of printable activity sheets designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in the "Happy Haunts Edition" are now available on Disney Parks Blog. The new, four-part series of Disney Paper Parks is "inspired by Halloween and the Haunted Mansion," and each one requires scissors, glue, and folding along dotted lines in specific directions. Parental supervision and participation is advised.

UPDATE & REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village to Host Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular

Lights installation is well-underway for the Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular. The Village shared a video update of the progress this week on Facebook. As we noted last week, date-specific tickets are now on-sale, and only a limited quantity will be sold. Visit GKTW.org/lights.

Give Kids the World Village installation of Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular is underway. Video courtesy Give Kids the World Village.

Give Kids the World Village, the nonprofit resort near Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida that provides critically ill children and their families weeklong, cost-free vacations, but has temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The press release about the event which runs from November 13 until January 3 is below.

Give Kids the World Village will celebrate Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular for 53 nights, from November 13, 2020, until January 3, 2021. Artist rendering courtesy Give Kids the World Village.

For 34 years, the non-profit Give Kids The World Village has been brightening the lives of critically ill children and their families from around the world; and now, local businesses led by Presenting Sponsor Dreams Unlimited Travel will have the chance to illuminate the Village – literally. For 53 nights from Friday, November 13, through Sunday, January 3, 2021, the Village will come alive with Night of a Million Lights, a walk-through holiday light spectacular that is sure to warm the hearts of Central Florida residents. More than one million lights will adorn the 84-acre whimsical Village, including a 150-foot lighted tunnel leading to 33 decorated villas; more than 50 larger-than-life holiday-themed wireframes, some spanning more than 40 feet; an enormous incandescent gingerbread arch; and out-of-this-world space-themed decorations showcasing the Village's newest centerpiece, Henri's Starlite Scoops. Adding to the fully immersive lights and sounds experience, Santa Claus will greet guests from the balcony of Towne Hall, with Give Kids The World's beloved ambassadors, Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry, on hand to lend some holiday cheer.

Corporate and community partners can get into the holiday spirit by adopting a villa, with the creative freedom to decorate it however they'd like for display throughout the 53 nights of the event. A friendly contest among the villas is guaranteed to bring some added fun and excitement, with long-time Village supporter Dreams Unlimited Travel already planning on ways to outshine the competition.

"We can't think of a better way to celebrate the season than by shining some light on the wonderful work Give Kids The World does to bring happiness and hope to critically ill children and their families through this event," said Dreams Unlimited Travel CEO Pete Werner.

Beginning on October 1, guests can purchase tickets on the Give Kids The World website at www.gktw.org to walk among the brilliant lights, vote on their favorite villas, and take part in a variety of family activities in a socially distant manner. Most of the Village's wheelchair-accessible attractions will be available at no cost, including The Enchanted Carousel, Marc's Dino Putt, Kelly's Sunny Swing, and Lori's Magical Flight – all elaborately decorated for the holidays. Complimentary hot cocoa and ice cream will also be served throughout each evening. In addition, guests can visit the Village's most iconic venue, the Castle of Miracles – featuring a mysterious forest, a wishing well that burps, a magic tree that makes pillows, and more. The Castle is highlighted by thousands of stars that fill the ceiling and the adjoining Star Tower, each placed in honor of a wish child who has visited the Village.

Proceeds from the event will support Give Kids The World's mission to provide wish vacations for critically ill children and their families. When wish-granting organizations receive a request from a critically ill child who wants to visit any of the world-class theme parks Central Florida has to offer, Give Kids The World fulfills the wish – providing each child and his/her family with a magical week-long stay at absolutely no cost. Each family receives transportation, accommodations in one of the Village's 166 storybook villas, all meals and snacks, nightly entertainment, tickets to Orlando's world-class theme parks and attractions, and priceless experiences at the Village. Since 1986, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 176,000 families from 50 states and more than 76 countries.

"Children with critical illnesses face countless appointments, treatments and hospital stays, and they are often told ‘no' due to the limitations of their illness. We feel privileged to give wish children and their families a week of ‘yes' where they can forget their worries, experience joy, and spend priceless time together," said Give Kids The World President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. "We look forward to sharing some holiday joy with the community while making it possible for future wish children to have their wishes fulfilled."

Give Kids The World Village closed to wish families in mid-March due to the global pandemic, delaying more than 4,000 wishes. The Night of a Million Lights is designed to raise funds to ensure that wish trips can return bigger and better than ever before once the time is right reopen.

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Resorts Availability, Ticket Advice & Special Offers

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.

With Disney now accepting Resort Hotel reservations for 2020 and 2021, our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages. Disney has resumed new park ticket sales, but, at present and for the foreseeable future, requires guests to use the Disney Parks Pass System to reserve dates for guest park visits in addition to having a valid admission.

As always, we remind our readers that 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. Historically, 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. When available, only purchase Disney theme park tickets directly from Disney, an authorized seller, or a travel agency like MousePlanet travel partner Get Away Today.

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