Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 27 - November 2, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 27 - November 2, 2020

News & Views + Writer's Note (Combined)

After The Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival concludes on November 22, we now know it will be followed by two more "Taste of" Festivals at EPCOT, scaled-down to promote social distancing versions of their bigger namesakes.

Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Presented by AdventHealth, will run November 27 through December 30, 2020, and will include characters in holiday costumes (in continued pop-up, distanced mini-parades rather than meet and greets, including "Frozen Holiday Promenade" with Queens Anna and Elsa, "Mickey and Friends Holiday World Tour" with Mickey Mouse and pals, and Santa Claus on a horse-drawn tour of World Showcase), Holiday Kitchens, Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre (with the "Las Posadas" celebration), JAMMitors on the Canada Mill Stage, and JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season inside World ShowPlace. The Holiday Kitchens will also feature the return of the Holiday Cookie Stroll with provides a "completer cookie" as a reward for buying the designated number of cookies from five different locations around the park plus a special jar that can be purchased at Holiday Markets around World Showcase (along, of course, with other festival-exclusive merchandise). This season's scavenger hunt will be "Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition," with maps on sale at Mouse Gear, Disney Traders, and World Traveler at International Gateway, and Olafs hidden through the World Showcase pavilions (return your completed map for the prize). The other operating parts of Walt Disney World Resort begin their holidays celebrations on November 6, as previously reported in our Updates and posted on Disney Parks Blog back in early September. There are no scheduled performances of Candlelight Processional or the holiday storytellers this year.

The Holiday Cookie Stroll returns as part of the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, November 27 to January 30, 2020.
The Holiday Cookie Stroll returns as part of the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, November 27 to January 30, 2020. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, is scheduled to run January 8 to February 22, 2021. Disney Parks Blog announced that this version of the Festival is expected to include:

  • Over 15 Food Studios serving culinary art all around World Showcase
  • Works of Disney and other invited artists on display in marketplaces encircling World Showcase Lagoon
  • Step into the scene special photo locations scattered around the park
  • A paint-by-number mural that serves as a collaborative art project for all
  • Visiting artists creating "magic right before your eyes"
  • Favorite EPCOT musical artists Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors
  • An "artful" scavenger hunt searching for Figment around World Showcase
  • Festival-exclusive merchandise

Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts runs January 8-February 22, 2021.
Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is scheduled January 8-February 22, 2021. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

The announcement of the January-February festival, however, was silent as to whether any of the Disney on Broadway Concert performers will return in any capacity. Given the social distancing measures in place, it is unlikely that we will see a return of the Concert Series during this Taste of Festival, just as the Eat to the Beat Concerts and Candlelight Processional performances were not included in those Taste of Festivals offerings either. The Festival of the Arts announcement was, however, accompanied by the release of a special discount offer for stays at select Disney Resort Hotels in 2021. Disney continues to wave Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in for arrivals through April 30, 2021. MousePlanet's travel partner, Get Away Today, can assist you with reservation needs and has more information below.

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.

COVID-19 warning signs are prominently displayed at pedestrian entrances to Disney Springs. This photo was taken on the Orange Garage pedestrian bridge after the temperature screening station just before the escalators. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

And, yes, notwithstanding that venues have reopened, Florida guidelines from health experts are still that you should not socialize in groups of 10 or more. Announcements at Disney Springs (and, according to reports on social media, in the parks), reinforce that parties should maintain physical distancing of at least six feet, even when masked. In other words, those that you are not quarantining with, if you are going to "meet up" at Disney Parks or Disney Springs, you are still supposed to remain physically distanced when masked, and, indeed, you definitely may not be unmasked for photos, nor should you be dining (since you'll be unmasked) within six feet of those outside your usual household.

Florida health recommendations can be found at floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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 Hurricane Zeta in the Gulf of Mexico. The current forecast track predicts that the storm will stay well away from Central Florida Gulf Coast and the Walt Disney World Resort area: it is expected to go ashore near New Orleans and the Florida panhandle later this week and it is too early to tell if it will otherwise impact Central Florida weather.

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 reported that the Disney Aspire free education benefits for many of the laid off workers will end in December as well.

New Colors

A couple weeks ago, we noticed that the Magic Kingdom toll plaza was receiving a new, darker shade of blue paint. It now seems that this is part of a larger color scheme change around Walt Disney World Resort.

The toll plaza at Magic Kingdom's parking lot was receiving a new, darker blue shade of paint back on October 7, 2020 (see the left-most lanes of the toll plaza). The paint job was still on-going this past week. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This week, Disney Parks Blog announced that the "Walt Disney World gateways—those grand arches stretching over the roadways" will also be receiving "a new color palette that complements the recent royal makeover of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park." The announcement confirms that the Magic Kingdom toll plaza's new paint scheme are these colors as well.

Disney released this artist rendering of the new color scheme for the Walt Disney World gateways. Image courtesy Disney Parks.

The gateways span the main roads into Walt Disney World Resort and each is accompanied by signs warning that stopping is not permitted. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

New Views

For the first time since the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort began with Disney Springs back in May, I ventured over to the shopping, dining and entertainment venue to have a look around. The 16-photo tour below (remember, you "slide" to the right to see them all) are some of the changes I observed during my hour-long visit. I am monitoring weather forecasts to decide when to make my first visit to one of the Theme Parks (it will not be this week, as we have lots of hot days forecast). As someone who sweats easily and profusely, after an hour wearing a face mask, moving between outdoor areas where the heat index was above 90° and air conditioned spaces, I reached the point where I was ready to hit the showers. I could have swapped out my face mask for a dry one and gone another 30-60 minutes, but I had also seen everything I wanted to see in an hour, and, for those wondering, my breathing through the face mask was not labored in any way.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That…

…The final set of printable activity sheets designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in the "Happy Haunts Edition" are now available on Disney Parks Blog. The last installment of this new, four-part series of Disney Paper Parks "inspired by Halloween and the Haunted Mansion" includes more exterior and interior details for your paper model of Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion. All of the activity sheets require scissors, glue, and folding along dotted lines in specific directions. Parental supervision and participation is advised.

…Over the weekend, Disney's Animal Kingdom announced the birth of a baby white rhinoceros. A male calf weighing approximately 150 pounds was born to Kendi after a 16-month pregnancy. Kendi, herself, was the first rhino born at Disney's Animal Kingdom back in 1999. This new, as yet unnamed white rhino, is the. 11th born at Walt Disney World Resort. The calf is expected to join the "crash" on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna in the coming weeks. Two other rhinos are expected to give birth during 2021.

White rhinos are an endangered species with a near-threatened status. Mother Kendi was paired with dad Dugan through one of the Species Survival Plans overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the responsible breeding of endanger species. The male calf born as a result, is the 11th white rhino born at Walt Disney World. Photo courtesy Disney.

…Disney Parks' Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel has been honored for her work as a leader in health and well-being. While she has been a part of Disney's leadership team for nearly a decade, she has been very much part of Disney Parks' messaging since the global pandemic started to be felt in North America back in March.

…This week,Disney Parks Bloghighlighted Disney's employee-led commitment to deepen its relationship with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The article was posted by Courtnee Collier, herself a graduate of an HBCU, and a member of the Disney communications team we hear at MousePlanet have the privilege of working with and getting to know quite a bit.

…To honor the 40-year relationship between Disney and Make-A-Wish, Disney is launching three all-new product offerings – each with a charitable component – over the next few months. The first, is the latest color collection, Wishes Come True Blue, which went on sale at select Disney Parks around the world, the Disney store and online at shopDisney.com on October 22. With the purchase of any item in the Wishes Come True Blue Color Collection now through World Wish Day 2021, April 29, 2021, in the U.S., Canada, and across Europe, Disney will donate 25% of the purchase price (up to U.S. $500,000) to Make-A-Wish.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Disney recently announced the introduction of over 60 new Disney Gift Card designs on shopDisney.com. You can select from card designs ranging from classic Mickey and friends, Disney princesses or villains, Pixar stars, as well as Marvel & StarWars characters. Disney is providing a token of consideration for this mention.

Over 60 new Disney Gift Card designs are available on shopDisney.com. Images courtesy Disney.

REMINDER The limited-time 30% Merchandise Discount for Passholders at Walt Disney World Resort at Disney owned and operated locations and on shopDisney.com ends October 29, 2020. Discount exclusions apply.

NEW Passholders can shop the new limited-release Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction Haunted Mansion collection at Sir Mickey's in Magic Kingdom early on October 28 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. before it's released to all Guests (while supplies last). This limited-edition collection includes a Minnie Mouse Ear Headband, Plush, Mug, Pin Set and Hip Pack by Loungefly—and all items are eligible for the Passholder merchandise discount.

…Today, October 27, is National American Beer Day. City Works Eatery & Pour House at Disney Springs is celebrating by updating its already 'lager' than life beer menu of 90 beers on tap. It has added 17 new beers to its menu, including six options brewed here in Florida.

City Works Eatery & Pour House opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It's open until 10 p.m. every night; 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Beer Name


Brewery & Region

La Trappe Quadrupel


Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven, Netherlands

Barn Light Saison


Playalina Brewing Co., Titusville, FL

Banana Bread

Fruited and Sour

Eagle Brewery, Bedford, UK

Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge

Fruited and Sour

Brouwerij Bockor NV, Belgium

Rubaeus (Nitro)

Fruited and Sour

Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI

ACE Pineapple

Ciders and Seltzers

California Cider Co., Sebastopol, CA

Crisp Apple

Ciders and Seltzers

Angry Orchard Cider Co., Walden, NY

Brut Dry Cider

Ciders and Seltzers

Virtue Cider, Fennville, MI

Pineapple Beach

Golden, Amber, Browns

Funky Buddha Brewery, Oakland Park, FL

Sunshine State Florida Lager

Indie Lagers

Florida Beer Co., Cape Canaveral, FL

Sailfish Lager

Indie Lagers

Sailfish Brewing Co., Fort Pierce, FL

Amber Ale

Goldens, Ambers and Browns

Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI

Maduro Brown Ale

Goldens, Ambers and Browns

Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL

Next Coast IPA

IPAs and Pale Ales

Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL

Lost Palate

IPAs and Pale Ales

Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL

Swamp Ape

Strong and Imperial IPAs

Florida Beer Co., Cape Canaveral, FL

…Congratulations to Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant for celebrating its 15th anniversary this past week at Disney Springs. It is open daily at 4 p.m. and, with social distancing measures (and enhanced safety protocols) in place, advance reservations (available on its website) are recommended. Live Irish entertainment continues daily as well.

…While Wine Bar George is open at Disney Springs (with social distancing and enhanced safety protocols), it is also offering custom planning for remote virtual holiday parties for this holiday season. For more information, visit its website.

NEW Beyond Walt Disney World Resort, Adventures by Disney announced the introduction of its new "Private Adventures" which will be offered alongside its traditional group Adventures. Specially designed itineraries will accommodate private travel parties up to 12 people and include many Guest-favorite activities from our guided group vacations as well as a Private Adventure Guide. Introductory Private Adventures include itineraries to Costa Rica, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Peru. Bookings open today, October 27, 2020, for travel starting in April 2021. Call your travel agent or Adventures by Disney at (800) 543-0865.

MousePlanet LIVE! Fun at Home is on Hiatus

We are taking a break from our weekly run of "Fun at Home" shows. We will have another at some point in the not-too-distant future, In the meantime, you can see all 29 prior shows on Facebook or Twitter/Periscope, or the most recent 11 episodes on YouTube. 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. Do you have thoughts? If there's something you'd like to see us cover by video in the future, or a preferred day and time for a future show, let us know - there's an email link at atop this page, and a comment section at the bottom and either are fine for that.

You can watch a replay of Show #29 right here.

Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular Begins November 13

Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular starts in just a couple of weeks. Earlier this month, the Village shared a video update of the progress on Facebook. Date-specific tickets are on-sale, and only a limited quantity are available. 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.

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Get Away Today can help you book the newly released 35% discounted Disney hotel stays for travel in early 2021! One of the HUGE benefits of booking with Get Away Today is its price monitoring that comes automatically when anyone books their Walt Disney World Resort vacation with Get Away today. Once this new rates became available, for example, they automatically applied it to all of its guests with qualifying packages. Some guests saved over $2,000 - just like that!

Here is an idea of what to expect for pricing:

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort (moderate)
November 15-20, 2020
Tickets: 2 Adults and 3 Child (ages 3-9) 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $3,581.97 with 'Magic is Here' Offer (regular price $3,933.53 - $351.56 savings)

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (moderate)
Dates: January 25 - 31, 2021
Tickets: 4 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $3,029.60 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $3,303.76 - $274.16 savings)

Disney's All-Star Movies Resort (value)
Dates: February 10-16, 2021
Tickets: 2 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $2,018.58 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $2,217.86 - $199.28 savings)

Disney's Yacht Club Resort (deluxe)
Dates: February 10-16, 2021
Tickets: 2 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $4,019.42 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $5,407.60 - $1,388.18 savings)

You can see more examples on its website.

When you know what price range you are thinking about, call 855-GET-AWAY during regular business hours (Monday - Friday 9am-5pm MT) and tell them MousePlanet sent you!

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.

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