Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 20-26, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 20-26, 2020

Writer's Note & News (Combined)

While the Walt Disney World Resort began its phased reopening with Disney Springs back in May, some of the hotels in June, and the parks in July, I still have not gotten over there for health and weather-related reasons (except for the brief drive on World Drive I wrote about last week). With the cooler and drier season getting underway in Central Florida, I expect the absence of Disney Parks in my life may transition into the "new ways" of experiencing the magic that Disney promotes. Nevertheless, I recognize that the vast majority of our followers will not be traveling in the short-term or even longer because of health and economic uncertainties, and that, in particular, a sizable part of our West Coast-focused audience are extremely frustrated with the continued closure of all of the Disneyland Resort except the Downtown Disney District.

So, with that in mind, I have a few questions for you, our loyal readers and followers, as I prepare to produce MousePlanet's 29th consecutive week of the "Fun at Home" show, the MousePlanet LIVE stream available Wednesday night on Facebook, Periscope/Twitter and YouTube, starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m Pacific. In short: are there other resources or entertainments you would like to see us provide during this unprecedented time?

As you may know, we started the "Fun at Home" show not long after the Disney Parks temporarily shut down as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold on the globe. Like you, we had no idea we'd be going so long (at least, with a focus on "at home"). Indeed, for the MousePlanet contributor regulars, many of our special guests, and, indeed, me, the show has become a fun weekly Disney-themed distraction. But, as fun as the show is for those of us on-screen, it is a lot of work behind the scenes to produce a new episode each week. Could or should that energy be directed elsewhere? Do you have thoughts? Now is the time to share them: below on this Update, publicly or privately on our social channels, including in the comments on the shows themselves.

On the past few Fun at Home shows, I have talked about presenting the show less often than weekly. Should we do that? Is there some other time and day for the show that would be better for you, our followers? Are there other guests (someone we skipped) that we should reach out to include on an upcoming show? Do you want to be on the show too? More prizes and contests? Write us, because, to paraphrase Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, we are theme park bloggers not mind readers.

Here, at MousePlanet, we avoid unsubstantiated rumors and wild speculation. We don't post click-bait. We publish the best-available Disney-related news we can find, and we add our experience and product knowledge to provide our followers with guidance, information, and entertainment. Those things won't change with me at the keyboard of this Update or on the controls of the "Fun at Home" shows, but it would sure be great to hear from you! After all, social distancing doesn't include avoiding electronic communications, especially constructive and/or friendly ones.

Okay? Just a bit of news this week for Passholders, with several "This and That" items around the Resort below.

Last Thursday, EPCOT opened a pop-up merchandise shop for Passholders. Now scheduled to be open weekdays only through November 17, 11:30 a.m. until park close, the shop is Der Teddybar in the Germany pavilion of World Showcase. Guests entering the shop will need to show a valid annual pass card and government-issued photo ID. The shop includes exclusive merchandise, new World Showcase products and more.

Passholder discounts apply, and, in fact, they apply even on some of the already discounted merchandise available. Be aware, of course, the Passholder Extras webpage of DisneyWorld.com notes that "Discounts are for personal use only and may not be used to purchase merchandise with the intent to resell the merchandise." Passholders may only purchase 10 units of a single item per transaction.

Germany pavilion is located along World Showcase lagoon at the southern end of EPCOT (almost as far as you can walk from EPCOT's main parking lot and gates). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Speaking of Passholder discounts, the 30% merchandise discount for Passholders at Walt Disney World Resort owned-and-operated locations has been extended until October 29. The same discount is also available for Passholders on shopDisney.com and at Disney Store locations. Not all merchandise is eligible for the discount.

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 Tropical Storm Epsilon in the Atlantic, the 26th named storm of the season. It is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches Bermuda on Wednesday. The current forecast track predicts the storm to stay well away from the Atlantic Coast of Florida and the rest of the East Coast of the United States for the balance of this week.

Reminder: 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 the Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 6-12, 2020. As we mentioned last 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. Orlando Sentinel reports that the Disney Aspire free education benefits for many of the laid off workers will end in December as well.

Jibe With Us On MousePlanet LIVE! Fun at Home

Do you tune in to our "Fun at Home" shows? We always cover news that we become aware of between publication of our Updates and the Wednesday night shows. On last week's "Fun at Home" Show #28, the MousePlanet LIVE! Stream we showed video of the new Passholder pop-up shop at Germany pavilion, EPCOT, courtesy of John Sacchari of BigFatPanda.com. We also showed video highlighting Walt Disney World Resort teaming up with A Gift For Teaching to help Orange County Florida teachers welcome new wave of students back into classrooms.

And, of course we played our game show, Jibe Time too. Our own CEO Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix managed a narrow victory over our multi-time champion Shelley Caran from OnTheGoInMCO.com. Even Adrienne's victory, though, was assured by Shelley because, well, she picked the question for Adrienne where she racked up the most points. Have a look at last week's episode here.

Watch a replay of Show #28 of "Fun at Home" our MousePlanet LIVE stream from October 14, 2020.

Tune in again tomorrow night, Wednesday, for the latest Disney News to to play along with our Jibe Time game, as your answers during the LIVE show help the players score points! Tune in and 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 how many times she has won)!

Show #29 begins LIVE streaming with a pre-show just before 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m. Pacific. If you load this page before showtime, you may need to reload to see the stream. A replay will be available here after the show concludes.

This & That…

…The third 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. This week, you even have an opportunity to build your own (paper) version of the portrait room that stretches. Parental supervision and participation is advised.

…And, as Halloween approaches, Disney Parks Blog shared a special "Ride & Learn" from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios. For those who have missed having a chance to ride lately, or for those who never have, this video provides a very good point-of-view perspective of the entire ride.

"Ride & Learn" details about The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in this edition of #DisneyMagicMoments from Disney's Hollywood Studios. Video ©Disney.

…On Friday, Disney Parks Blog announced a special offer for Disney Photo Pass Service Memory Maker product. Purchase and activate a new Memory Maker (excluding the One Day product) any time through November 30, 2020, and you can download all Disney PhotoPass photos and videos through the end of 2020 (rather than just for 30 days). Note, however, photos and videos still expire in 45-days, so they must be downloaded before expiration.

…For the first time ever, those that own Florida-registered cars will have an opportunity to have a specialty Walt Disney World Resort license plate honoring the Resort's upcoming 50th anniversary with proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida. Florida has numerous specialty license plates that car owners can choose from, for an additional fee with the fee benefiting various charitable causes. The specialty Walt Disney World Resort license plate design has not yet been revealed, but $25 pre-sale vouchers (plus applicable state administration fees) are available through local County Tax Collector's officies and license plate agencies across the state. For information about Florida specialty license plates, visit flhsmv.gov.

…The Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has an official final date: November 22. Hat tip to Orlando Sentinel to noting it before we noticed the official posting. The scaled-down Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will begin one week later, on November 27, the day after Thanksgiving.

…Though it remains unclear when health officials and the cruise industry will agree it's the right to start sailing again, Disney Cruise Line is looking ahead to early 2022 itineraries, with sail dates for voyages to Hawai'i, The Caribbean, The Bahamas, Baja, the Pacific Coast, and a passage through the Panama Canal departing from New Orleans. Booking opens to the general public on October 22, 2020 (and some Disney Guests have early access too). Visit DisneyCruise.com, call DCL at (800)951-3532, or contact your travel agent.

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 last week on Facebook. 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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You can get a vacation quote from Get Away Today here. Checkout Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.