Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 24-30, 2020by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 24-30, 2020
Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)
I hope you enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving! By this Friday, when the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays gets under way, all of Walt Disney World Resort will be celebrating the season in the scaled-down ways that its venues fit within the phased reopening necessitated by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
As we approach the end of 2020 and what has historically been the busiest time of year at Walt Disney World Resort, it continues its phased reopening. As noted last week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted in the company's earnings call that the Resort has increased capped attendance numbers to 35% (of its undisclosed maximum capacity), as it continues to follow the advice of health and safety experts in its various protocols.
Although there is no "Holiday Parade" or Very Merry Christmas Party this year, the cavalcades at Magic Kingdom introduced as part of the park's phased reopening, now include elements seen in prior years. The Toy Soldiers, for example, march with the Main Street Philharmonic.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Tomorrowland stage is decorated for the holidays, but, unlike during Very Merry Christmas Party nights (or the last days of each year), it is not hosting shows or dance parties that gather crowds. During the day, some characters may make physically distanced appearances on stage, as we showed last week with Buzz Lightyear. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
I shared some of my second visit to the Magic Kingdom in its "phased reopening" status LIVE just after the sunset at Magic Kingdom last Tuesday night. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
The projections are very detailed and appear even more vibrant than some of the projection shows (like "Once Upon A Time") or the projections that accompanied recent nighttime castle stage shows during the various hard ticket after-hours parties we have reported on in the past.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
As I also noted last week, Disney's Hollywood Studios "felt" crowded when I visited last Monday following that attendance increase. Indeed, last Tuesday afternoon and evening, I visited Magic Kingdom, which also felt crowded, particularly during character cavalcades when guests often seemed so excited to see the characters that they did not always mind their physical distance from fellow guests (which is not particularly obvious from the photographs). Of course, be mindful that because of reduced ride capacity, fewer open attractions (no character meet and greets or dining, almost no live shows, etc.) and physically distanced queues spread out into walkways and plazas all over the parks, it is not surprising to see a lot more guests when walking around than would have been true in the past if the parks were only 35% of their maximum capacity.
Often, photos tell the story a photographer wants to tell. The above photo that I took and posted to MousePlanet's Instagram account, provides a view that looks like there is no one else in the park because of where I shot this photo, with a zoom lens, and how I cropped it. While it has some light and color edits applied, it has no Photoshop-type retouching to eliminate the other guests.
Disney Parks fans (like you, our readers,) know that the parks have been designed with all sorts of optical illusions. One of the best known techniques is forced perspective which causes some things to appear larger than they physically are. I mention this because I wanted to note how difficult it is to judge the crowds in the parks right now based on appearance. As I mentioned above, when the cavalcades were on the parade route, some guests seemed to ignore physical distancing (in their excitement or otherwise). I had chosen spots away from other guests when the cavalcades approached, but often was surrounded by other guests by the time the units and characters approached. It was not the sort of nearly body-to-body close of pre-pandemic parades and such, but it was closer than the recommended six feet of our current circumstances.
On the other hand, while the hub and Main Street USA seemed very crowded in the evening when viewed from a distance, as I experienced and moved into those areas, there were actually reasonable distances maintained from group to group in most of them. The following photos illustrate my observations (and, of course, individual experiences will vary).
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Of course, a good optical zoom lens, like the 40x on the point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot camera I often carry, can also make things appear closer together than they are. This photo was taken from the ferryboat dock across the Seven Seas Lagoon from Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Each park's capacity cap continues to be maintained by the Disney Park Pass Reservation System. All guests must not only have a ticket to enter the park, but a date-specific, park-specific reservation. FastPass+ service is not available for attractions, so all attractions now have queues. The resort continues to update its Know Before You Go page on DisneyWorld.com with the latest operational changes, so it is recommended that you review it both when planning a visit and on the day of your visit.
Park Hopping Returns January 1, 2021 (With Modifications and Subject to Capacity Limits)
Since our last Update, Disney announced (and posted to Disney Parks Blog) that a Park Hopper Option returns starting January 1, 2021, but with new modifications and limitations within its phased reopening health and safety scheme. Specifically, guests must still make a Disney Park Pass Reservation for the first park they wish to enter and they must enter that first park. Then, as the option becomes effective on January 1, a reservation will not be required to visit a second park, but "Hopper" admission to the second park is only available starting at 2 p.m. each day and then runs through the end of the park's operating hours. Disney notes that Park Hopper hours could start earlier or later each day and that guests should check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience app. Because each park's capped attendance numbers remain unchanged, admission when Park Hopping is not guaranteed, and, of course, you must either have purchased the Park Hopper ticket option or have an Annual Pass which includes Park Hopper benefits.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Walt Disney World Resort and Brightline Enter Into Agreement To Construct A Train Station At Disney Springs
A train line connecting Walt Disney World Resort with Orlando International Airport and, perhaps, other destinations has long been discussed and debated in Central Florida. Yesterday, Walt Disney World Resort and Brightline, "the first privately funded passenger rail system in America in over a century," announced that they entered into an agreement to build a train station at Disney Springs. Though suspended due to the pandemic, Brightline already has stations and high speed rail service in South Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. It has additional stations planned in Aventura, Boca Raton, and Port Miami, and has an expansion project already underway between West Palm beach and Orlando International Airport which is expected to be completed in 2022.
According to the announcement, the proposed Disney Springs station would include a ground level lobby, passenger facilities, and an upper level train platform. No specific time frame was announced for the opening of the Disney Springs station. In 2018, Brightline obtained the right to execute lease agreements with the Florida Department of Transportation and Central Florida Expressway Authority to connect Orlando International Airport and Tampa (on Florida's West Coast). Walt Disney World Resort is located geographically between those points. Engineering and design work for Brightline's Central Florida expansion to the west got underway in February of this year.
Media reports have long-noted that, historically, Disney objects to any stations between the airport and Walt Disney World Resort. The "tourist corridor" of International Drive lies between the airport and Walt Disney World, and speculation has already begun as to whether another station will be constructed along the line. The Mayor of Orange County Florida, Jerry Demmings, was shown on local news last night at a press conference discussing the prospects of a station serving I-Drive and he noted the complexity of funding such a station, particularly without government/public financing.
Brightline to build train station at Disney Springs - current track construction from South Florida to Orlando Int’l Airport expected to be complete in 2022; no date for #WaltDisneyWorld https://t.co/v8Kr8xi47z— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) November 23, 2020
This & That…
…Likely future Disney Legend, Imagineer Joe Rohde, who began his Disney career working with models in the development of EPCOT, and who oversaw development of The Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Aulani (the Disney resort in Hawai'i), Pandora-The World of AVATAR, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (just to name a few projects), yesterday announced that he is retiring from Walt Disney Imagineering after 40 years in January.
…The #D23FantasticWorlds virtual sessions presented by D23-The Official Disney Fan Club included a nearly one hour presentation recapping the ongoing transformation of EPCOT, from the new "neighborhoods" that will replace Future World, to the new entrance plaza (including the pylons installed in front of Spaceship Earth that are reminiscent of the originals and a new lighting scheme for Spaceship Earth that will be in place before year-end), to the status of construction at Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, to the status of construction of the new nighttime spectacular "Harmonious" which will include daytime fountains in the World Showcase Lagoon, and some details of the architecture of the expanded France pavilion as it will become home to Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (which is now scheduled to debut at some point in 2021).
A replay of the "EPCOT-The Magic of Possibility" presentation is available to view. Video ©Disney.
…A campaign is underway on Indiegogo to raise funds to support the production of Billy Flanigan: The Happiest Man on Earth Film, An intimate journey into the life, loves, and career of Walt Disney World Legend, Billy Flanigan. According to the post, the campaign funds "are not going to anyone you see on screen, the director, or the producers," and "100% of the Producer's Profits from distribution of this film will be donated to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in memory of Billy's Type 1 Diabetic sister, Gail, and in honor of his T1D daughter, Lexi." Contributions over $75 receive indicated perks plus a link to view the film when completed.
OFFICIAL TEASER - BILLY FLANIGAN: THE HAPPIEST MAN ON EARTH from 12th Angel Productions on Vimeo.
…Walt Disney World Golf has a special offer for those looking for golf instruction: Pre-purchase a package of four, one-hour, private golf lessons with Michael Schlager, its PGA Director of Instruction, any time, between now and December 22, 2020, and receive a complimentary on-course playing lesson to put your improved skills to the test and to take advantage of Michael’s on-course playing strategies. The cost for this package is $349, which represents a savings of $175 off of the regular retail price of the lessons. The lessons may be scheduled at any time, with no time limit on when the lesson credits can be redeemed. For more information, contact Michael Schlager directly at (407)454-5096, or by email.
…And, for those that are looking to enjoy "frequent and affordable access" to Walt Disney World Golf facilities and PGA instructional staff, there are three Players Club membership levels available with associated levels of benefits. For more information, visit the official Walt Disney World Golf Blog.
…Disney Parks Blog has posted the Foodie Guide of the Holiday Treats available at Magic Kingdom through December 31.
…Speaking of food, The Crystal Palace will reopen at Magic Kingdom starting December 13, as a family-style dining experience (without characters) featuring individually plated entrées. Reservations open December 1. On December 17, on the other side of the Hub, Tomorrowland Terrace will reopen (as this quick service venue often does seasonally), this time featuring seafood.
…Woody's Lunch Box reopens tomorrow, Wednesday, November 25, in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
…For Thanksgiving Disney Parks entertainment you can enjoy at home (or wherever you watch TV), the Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration will be on ABC-TV at 9 p.m. on Thursday featuring highlights of past holiday specials.
Join the Disney Parks family on Thanksgiving night for a look back at the Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration on @ABCNetwork!— Walt Disney World (@WaltDisneyWorld) November 23, 2020
…Disney Springs has Thanksgiving week shopping specials, promotions, and discounts already underway.
Shopping is magical Thanksgiving week at @DisneySprings with new @dooneyandbourke releases, specially-priced Disney merchandise, and more promotions and discounts at many brands you know and love! ✨ 🛍️ Get the details here: https://t.co/oBlNgyzZEa pic.twitter.com/uDswErr9fP— Disney Springs (@DisneySprings) November 20, 2020
Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular Runs Nightly Through January 3, 2021
The Give Kids the World Village Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular continues nightly through January 3, 2021. As we have noted in recent weeks, Walt Disney World Resort donated over 3 million lights to the non-profit resort that provides wish-granting, no-cost stays to critically ill children and their families. Because the resort had to close to wish families when the pandemic began, the organization decided to create this immersive, walk-through holiday light event to raise funds for its mission while brining the spirit of the season to visitors.
The Village is located near Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida, roughly a half an hour drive from Magic Kingdom (and less time from the Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort area). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka
Walt Disney World Resort donated over 3 million lights to Give Kids the World Village. As now decorated, the Village now brings to mind the former Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but on an even larger scale (though without the programmed, synchronized "dancing"). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Local businesses, including several of the other Central Florida attractions, decorated 33 individual villas around the Resort. The display opened to the public on Friday, November 13. Date-specific, timed entry tickets are available on the Give Kids The World website at GKTW.org/lights. Most of the Village's wheelchair-accessible attractions are also 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 are 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 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.
File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Give Kids the World Village Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular is underway. During the Media Preview night, we steamed live from Give Kids the World Village. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
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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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November 15-20, 2020
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Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (moderate)
Dates: January 25 - 31, 2021
Tickets: 4 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
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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!
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