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

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

Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

It's been kind of soggy and windy in Central Florida these past few days, with squalls hitting my home even as I write the Update. Yes, the 28th named storm of the Tropical Storm Season in the Atlantic Ocean that runs through the end of November decided to pay a visit to Florida this weekend after all, after first visiting Central America last weekend. The good news for Central Florida has been the absence of severe weather. South Florida has experienced some very significant rainfall, with some locations reporting more than 12 inches of rainfall.

In fact, the storm named "Eta" may come back to Florida later this week in some form, or it may dissipate entirely. See, this is why I always say pay attention to the weather forecasts here in Florida, because they change pretty quickly (and, as always, do not forget to check the latest "Know Before You Go" rules of visiting Walt Disney World, including making Disney Park Pass date-specific theme park reservations). As of this Update, the 29th named storm has formed out in the Atlantic, and, according to current forecasts, poses no threat to the United State, but the Season runs through December 1, and, indeed, the storms do not necessarily remain exclusively within the Season.

But, before the weather turned toward the unpleasant, as I visited Magic Kingdom last Tuesday for the first time since its reopening, and then Disney's Animal Kingdom on Wednesday. My experience in both parks was similar to my EPCOT experience on Monday that I reported last week: guest behavior was mostly very good and the new health and safety protocols in place were visible and comforting. My experience in the parks was mostly pleasant, though, as I said last week, not the same as before. My on-the-spot commentary can be found in the "MousePlanet LIVE at…" videos I streamed from the parks (embedded below). I have Disney Park Pass Reservation for Disney's Hollywood Studios before the next Update, which I hope the weather permits me to attend and try out the new Virtual Queue system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Walt Disney World Celebrates the Holidays - 2020 Style

Even though my visits to the parks preceded the official kickoff of the holidays celebrations last Friday (at all the parks except Epcot which doesn't switch from Taste of Food & Wine to Taste of Holidays until November 27), some of the decor was already in place. As usual, Magic Kingdom did its quick transformation of its entrance and Main Street U.S.A. immediately after Halloween. Disney's Animal Kingdom also began installation of some of the holiday decor that debuted last year. Though I have not been there yet, Disney's Hollywood Studios began adding in its traditional decor ahead of time as well. Disney Springs kicked off the holidays on Saturday.

For the Holiday Season, all of the Walt Disney World Resort news (including do it yourself at home experiences) on Disney Parks Blog will be offered in one centralized place. For those heading to the Resort, naturally, there's a Foodie Guide too.

Magic Kingdom

Now that the holiday celebrations are officially underway at Magic Kingdom, the character cavalcades are now Christmas-themed. Some of the Christmas parade floats now appear in the cavalcades, along with characters in their holidays costumes, and Christmastime music. Santa also rides his sleigh down the parade route. Remember, there is no published schedule for the cavalcades, as guests are encouraged to remain physically distanced from guests not in their party.


Magic Kingdom's entrance and Main Street Station were decorated for the winter holidays immediately after Halloween.


The toy soldiers and other holiday decor again can be found throughout Town Square.


Magic Kingdom's Christmas Tree is again installed near the flag in Town Square at the head of Main Street U.S.A. Mickey Mouse head-shaped wreaths again are attached to the light poles.


As we have previously reported, Cinderella Castle received the finishing touches to its new Cinderella-inspired paint scheme by the time it reopened in July.


From inside Cinderella Castle, you can get a view all the way down Main Street U.S.A. which now includes the wreaths and Christmas Tree.


During the brief break between Halloween and Christmas celebrations in the park, Mickey Mouse and friends appeared in cavalcades using the float and music from the "Get Your Ears On" street party launched for his and Minnie's 90th birthday celebration.


The Jingle Cruise returned to Adventureland right after the end of Halloween as well.


Notwithstanding the capacity-limited attendance, Jingle Cruise had a 45 minute posted standby time during my visit, with the extended, physically distanced queue extending well-out into the plaza in front of the boat dock.


Physically distanced Chip and Dale waive to guests from an upper level in Frontierland.


Meanwhile, the Rivers of America has been drained again this fall for refurbishment in the area.


it's a small world is wrapped like a giant present, but the attraction is open.


The Tomorrowland stage has been decorated for the holidays. Buzz Lightyear makes physically distanced appearances on the stage, with guests invited to stand on physically separated dots at the stage's edge to take photos and selfies.


From aboard the Ferryboat heading back to the TTC, it is still possible to see the Christmas Tree in Town Square.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


While in the park last Tuesday, I shared my thoughts about the experience, and took a look at the state of construction over at the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Dapper Dans also continue to perform from time to time, now along with the "Holiday Trolley." The Main Street Philharmonic marches through the park, joined by Toy Soldiers. While there are no holiday dreamlights this year, at night, Cinderella Castle is lit with projections.


In the brief time between the end of the Halloween celebrations and the holidays celebrations, the Dapper Dans performed from time to time at Main Street Station, with guests dispersed below in Town Square. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christmas is alive at the Magic Kingdom #disneyholidays #disneymagicalmoments

A post shared by Bigfatpanda (@bigfatpandashow) on


Shared here with the permission of John Saccheri of BigFatPanda.com. For a look at the holiday versions of the cavalcades and Santa's appearance, check out his YouTube channel at BigFatPanda.com.

 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

The holiday decor that debuted last year along with the traditional Christmas tree all return to Disney's Animal Kingdom. The character flotillas that have been appearing (without a published schedule) on Discovery River since the park's phased reopening will have a holiday theme and soundtrack. One of the flotillas is "Donald's Dino Bash Festive Flotilla" featuring Chip and Dale with a "jingle through the jungle." Discovery Island Drummers also appear in a flotilla, and Santa Claus appears from time to time as well.


The Christmas Tree and and park entry holiday decor had not been installed at the park as of Wednesday.


There has been no announcement regarding Tree of Life awakenings during the holidays. The park only occasionally has scheduled operating hours beyond sunset.


The animal themed lanterns that debuted last year have returned to Discovery Island.


Each of the hand-crafted lanterns is internally lit, and were most (if not all) were in place during my visit on Wednesday.


Physical distancing aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris is accomplished with physical barriers between boarding rows, and between the rows on the trucks themselves, with only one party loaded per row.


We have reported on quite a number of baby animals board over the past year, this is one of the newest giraffe calfs to join the herd.


As we previously reported, one of the white rhinos recently gave birth at the park and two more are pregnant.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


While in the park last Wednesday, I shared my thoughts about the experience from Pandora-The World of Avatar, which had not yet been decorated for the holidays. Contributor Chris Barry joined the video from his home in New York. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios is also decorated for the holidays. It continues its (no published schedule) character motorcades. Santa riding a red convertible "packed with presents" and led by "an entourage of elves" makes appearances. The Frozen Sing-Along adds the holiday finale featuring Olaf the snowman. At night, projections return to transform the Hollywood Tower Hotel into the "Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel."

As noted above, if weather cooperates, we will share our own views of the park next week!

Holiday Merchandise

As usual, holiday merchandise is available at the major stores around the parks, the reopened resort hotels, and Disney Springs. Some of it is also available online at shopDisney.com as well. I shared several photos from EPCOT last week, and here are a few more from Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Disappointingly, I have not yet spotted a single Hanukkah-themed item in the three parks I have visited, though the Wishes Come True Blue collection comes awfully close to the colors Disney Parks has used for such items in the past.


Many styles of holidays t-shirts are available this year.


Character-themed Christmas stockings are available.


Chip and Dale plush have a holidays look.


Wishes Come True Blue collection, where a portion of the sales will be donated to Make-A-Wish, are the closest colorwise to Hanukkah-themed merchandise I have seen so far this year.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs began its holiday celebrations on Saturday. Instead of the Christmas Tree Trail this year, the "Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth" spreads out the "elaborately decorated, Disney-themed trees" throughout the venue. DJ's play music by day, and in the evening, stilt-walking toy soldiers are back, and there are "skating snowflakes," plus Disney snow "at surprise locations." Later in November, Santa and Mrs. Claus will cruise Lake Buena Vista from "a pair of colorfully decorated pontoon boats."

Recapping my First Walt Disney World Resort Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Regular readers and viewers of our MousePlanet LIVE shows may know that I now also produce the weekly Garry Meier Show Cocktail Hour LIVE, a streaming talk show each Friday. I have appeared as a guest talking all things Disney on quite a few of The Garry Meier Show audio-only podcasts, and I have shared those here before as well. As the producer of the video live streams, I am usually mostly behind the scenes, but this week, I was also a guest. For nearly half of the show, I talked with Garry and his newsperson, Leslie Keiling, about my visits to Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. I showed off nearly 100 photos, including some of the ones shared in our MousePlanet Updates, and a lot that I have not. My appearance begins at 31:30, and while my segment is intended for general audiences, not every moment of Garry's show is suitable for all ages and places. Viewer discretion is advised.


The Garry Meier Show is available live on Fridays on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter/Periscope. New audio podcasts are available every Monday through Friday on GarryMeier.com, with Monday/Wednesday/Friday free audio podcasts, Friday as a live (re-playable) show, and Tuesday/Thursday shows available by subscription.

This & That…

REMINDER: Don't forget all the Thanksgiving Disney Springs dining options we shared last week for those planning a Turkey-day visit.

Wine Bar George is offering a virtual event via Zoom on Tuesday, December 8, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, teaching participants to "taste wine like a professional with a 'blind' tasting of six different wines along side Master Sommelier George Miliotes and Edible Orlando's Katie Farmland." To participate, after purchasing tickets, guests pick up their six wines at Wine Bar George on Monday December 7 or Tim's Wine Market in Ivanhoe Village (approximately two ounces of each of the six wines which will be revealed during the virtual event). Wine questions may be submitted by email before the event. The $75 tickets (plus $6.20 EventBrite fee) with the pick-up options and more information is available on this EventBrite webpage. Ticket sales end December 3.

…Through December 11, 2020, Walt Disney World Golf is offering "additional magic bonuses" when purchasing gift cards. Get an additional $10 in value when purchasing a $100 card; an additional $30 in value when purchasing a $200 card; and an additional $60 in value when purchasing a $300 card. Gift cards can be used for rounds of golf on any Walt Disney World Golf Course (which remain available on their regular schedule), as well as pro shop purchases and golf instructional programming. Payment and shipping options are available, including shipping directly to the recipient. Visit Walt Disney World Golf Blog for more details and purchasing contact information.

…2020 Annual Meetings for Disney Vacation Club Condominium Associations will be held starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 10, 2020, at Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center. The notice on DisneyVacationClub.com says that "Details are subject to change." As of this Update, those wishing to attend in person must register and complete a COVID-19 waiver by November 20, 2020 (access it from the DVC Member Condo Association News webpage which may require Disney Vacation Member log-in). For those not attending, Members may also submit comments and questions electronically in advance of the meeting, and DVC says it will post video highlights soon after the meeting. With The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa beginning a phased reopening on December 6 (even though the California Disney Parks will not be), and Aulani having begun its phased reopening at the beginning of this month, by the end of the year, all of the DVC Resorts will again be open with new health safety, distancing, and cleaning regimines.

…Though Disney Cruise Line will not be sailing for the rest of 2020, you can catch a pre-recorded presentation of its "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular" on Disney Parks Blog. Having seen this show in person, I can say the truly "spectacular" moment of this show is when Queen Elsa realizes her freezing power and transforms her appearance in a costume change done on stage with Disney theatrical magic. I have not watched the video yet, so I can't say whether it is fully captured there, but, at the show I attended, that moment itself received a loud round of applause from the audience.

…Those looking to journey about an hour's drive from Walt Disney World Resort to LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven, will find this year's "Holidays at LEGOLAND" included in the price of general admission and celebrated on select dates November 27 through December 31 at the "theme park built for kids." According to the press release:

NEW in 2020! Mrs. Claus' crew of holiday helpers find themselves in a delicious dilemma as they sing, dance, and work together through some frosty fun in the new, original musical stage show, The Very Merry Mix-Up. Families can explore the all-new Holiday Village Postal Service where children can handwrite letters to LEGO Santa himself. At this interactive post office, children will watch through digital screens as their special letters travel directly to the North Pole! Then, the whole family can hop aboard Fun Town's multi-level carousel and join in a new holiday singalong!

Colorful characters are around every holly-packed corner with socially distanced selfie spots with LEGO Santa, LEGO Gingerbread Man and LEGO Toy Soldier. Unikitty will also don her jolliest attire for festively fun photos to delight guests of all ages. All character and performer interactions will be staged using generous spacing, of six feet or more.

Families can grab a brick and help build a themed LEGO mosaic to celebrate the holidays from around the world, or journey to DUPLO® Valley, where iconic holiday symbols have been sprinkled throughout the farmland. Grab the scavenger hunt clues to solve the riddles and find each one!

Returning guests will delight in the return of Holidays at LEGOLAND's favorite traditions, including the LEGO Sleigh and Reindeer photo spot. Dancing lights and music bring your perfect holiday visit to a festive close “Rockin' Around,” a 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree spectacular that comes to life with dazzling lights and sounds to celebrate the season. North Pole Nonsense will also return to LEGO City Stage with holiday hijinks featuring some of Santa's silliest elves and their wacky juggling and slapstick fun.

We're ready to welcome 2021! Say goodbye to 2020 with our Kids' New Year's Eve fireworks! Guests can ring in 2021 at the kid-friendly time of 8 p.m. as fireworks transform into bursts of LEGO bricks right before their eyes, only on December 31, 2020!

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

We have been invited to a media preview hosted by Jodi Bensen (best known as the voice of Princess Ariel) tonight (November 10) of the Holiday Spectacular set to begin November 13. Weather and technology permitting, watch our usual social channels after dark Eastern Time (roughly 6:30 p.m.) for another possible "MousePlanet LIVE at…" stream.

Last month, the Village shared a video update of the progress. 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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