Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 8-14, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 8-14, 2020

Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

The Holidays celebrations are underway around Walt Disney World Resort in the limited ways Disney has reimagined them, incorporating the health and safety protocols in place since the Resort began its phased reopening during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I am aware of no new major announcements for the Resort this week. Remember, if you decide to visit, be sure to check the latest news about travel restrictions, and, if you are planning to visit the parks, be sure to make your Disney Park Pass date-specific reservations in addition to having your tickets before you arrive. You will be required to wear a face covering in just about all public areas (except when stationary while dining) or you will be asked to leave.

While, as I mentioned last week, I chose to remain physically distanced from Disney Springs during the busy Thanksgiving week and the Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping weekend, this past week, I correctly guessed that late Thursday afternoon was going to be a more quiet time to visit the shopping/dining/entertainment district. I have some views to share both of the holiday decor and construction and other changes I noticed since my last visit back in October.


Last week we shared this Disney-provided photo of Santa and Mrs. Claus making their physically distanced appearances at Disney Springs by watercraft. Photo Courtesy Disney Parks.

Disney Springs Holidays Celebrations


When I visited Disney Springs, I just missed Santa and Mrs. Claus' watercraft appearance, but was able to capture a photo of them boarding a Pargo bound for backstage after their sail.


Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar is again the Holiday Bar this season: holiday decor and some holiday-themed food and beverage items are available.


Disney Springs' eclectic holiday decorations are back this year. (I still don't know what these are: some say penguins.)


These holiday creatures that seem to be "nuts" are in a different location in the Marketplace this year, near T-Rex.


The "Waterside Stage" (the signage and name is new to me, including its sponsorship) has a bit of holiday decor and a DJ.


Inside World of Disney store, an entire section is devoted to Christmas merchandise.


One small display in a different part of World of Disney store has this year's apparently entire Hanukkah collection.


B.B. Wolfe's has a souvenir sipper for the holidays, and still has Swen from "Frozen."


AristoCrepes has some holiday-themed food items and a souvenir sipper.


Inside Marketplace Co-Op, all of Twenty-Eight and Main is now filled with Christmas merchandise.


The traditional Mickey and friends Christmas display stands year round in this spot in Marketplace behind the Disney Days of Christmas store.


In the Town Center, the chandelier-style lighting and decor is back for the holidays.


Amorette's does not have a gingerbread display this year, but does have a number of holiday-themed, hand-crafted artistic bakery items on display.


The stilt-walking holiday soldiers make occasional appearances (and they wear face coverings).


The eclectic Disney Springs decor can be found is all of its neighborhoods.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll


Rather than a centralized Christmas Tree Trail this year, to further promote physical distancing, this year Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll spreads out the themed tress throughout the shopping/dining/entertainment district.


In addition to the themed trees, the traditional large tree stands next to Earl of Sandwich in the Marketplace.


The central Disney Springs Christmas Tree in Town Center (in the panoramic photo on the left) is part of the Christmas Tree Stroll as well.


In addition to trees celebrating "Frozen" and "The Lion King," this year there is a "Disney Parks" tree along the Stroll.


The Haunted Mansion themed tree is on display as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

More Views Around Disney Springs


Guests walking to Disney Springs from the area hotels or that arrive at the Marketplace's shared ride drop-off in the former bus loop can enter Disney Springs through the temperature check station located near the pedestrian flyover near the corner of Buena Vista Drive and Hotel Plaza Drive.


As we previously reported, The VOID Disney Springs location has permanently closed. This photo also salutes the hard working cast members that constantly clean high-touch areas at Disney Springs and all over Walt Disney World Resort.


The photo backdrop near the AMC Dine-In Theatres advertises Disney-Pixar's "Soul" which is being released directly to the Disney+ streaming service starting on Christmas Day, December 25.


Construction continues at the M&M flagship store previously announced coming to the West Side.


Exterior construction walls have been removed from in front of the future location of Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew. Meanwhile, some construction walls surround some of the outside of Splittsville near the (currently closed) western pedestrian entrance to the Orange Garrage.


Before entering Disney Springs on foot from the Orange Garage, the security screening station requires guests keep most objects inside their bags/pockets before walking through scanners. This same type of scanner is also in use at some of the the theme park entrances.


Just before reaching the health screening station inside the Orange Garage, guests who need a proper face covering may purchase one (the marked price is $2). Vending machines are located at health screening stations at the parks as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

ICYMI: Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Continues Through Year-End

In case you missed my late-Tuesday additions to last week's Update, this section repeates the full run-down of the scaled down "Taste of" version of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays that is now scheduled to continue through December 31. Disney Parks Blog shared a full "Candlelight Processional" performance narrated by Neil Patrick Harris recorded at EPCOT in 2019 with new additional historical information provided by Becky Cline from the Walt Disney Archives (the video is embedded in the "entertainment" part of this section for your viewing pleasure). With the extension of this year's "Taste of" Festival from December 30th to the 31st, and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we know that the park's New Year's Eve will be celebrations will be limited. Attendance caps are all but certainly not going to be lifted just to ring in 2021, and it is not likely that the park will add a major middnight specular. Indeed, My DIsney Experience lists park hours at EPCOT on December 31 only through 10 p.m. (Magic Kingdom is scheduled only one additional hour until 11 p.m.).

2020 Epcot Holidays
Festival of the Holidays runs through December 31, 2020. Logo courtesy Disney Parks.

The highlights of the 2020 Festival include:

  • Holiday Kitchens located throughout World Showcase, including three inside World ShowPlace (enter between United Kingdom and Canada).
  • Characters "dressed in their holiday best" traveling through World Showcase (no published schedule):
    • "Frozen Holiday Promenade" with Anna and Elsa
    • "Mickey and Friends Holiday World Tour"
    • Santa Claus aboard a horse-drawn sleigh
  • Voices of Liberty at America Gardens Theatre
  • Mariachi Cobre celebrating Mexican holiday customs with Las Posadas
  • JAMMitors play percussion at the Mill Stage at Canada
  • JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season on stage in World ShowPlace
    (we are aware that at other times, pianist Carol Stein performs on another stage inside World ShowPlace as well)
  • Holiday Cookie Stroll, with a complimentary "completer" cookie for buying the requisite cookies from five locations
    (special jar available for purchase at Holiday Markets while supplies last)
  • "Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition" - a scavenger hunt to find the hidden Olafs throughout World Showcase
Holiday Decor


In the center of the park where Future World leads to World Showcase Plaza is a holiday photo opportunity.


The main EPCOT Christmas Tree once again stands in World Showcase Plaza.


As usual, the main EPCOT Christmas Tree can be seen from all the way across World Showcase Lagoon.


It can also be spotted from inside the DVC Member Lounge, which is open to Members and their guests with reduced capacity and seating assigned by a cast member to ensure physical distancing. Snacks and beverages are also provided by a cast member (rather than self-service).


Detailed holiday decor appears throughout World Showcase, like here at Norway pavilion.


The tiny village in the model train display at Germany pavilion is celebrating the Festival too.


The Holiday Tea Pot display is again at U.K. pavilion.


The corporate sponsor, AdventHealth, is also the Disney operating partner that provides guests temperature checks and health screen when entering all of the parks and Disney Springs..

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

World Showplace pavilion


World Showplace, located between United Kingdom and Canada pavilions, includes several food and beverage "Holiday Kitchens," a merchandise location, live entertainment, photo backdrops, plus lots of physically distanced tables (though limited seats).


The entrance to World Showplace includes holiday soldiers.


The Freeform network also has a photo opportunity outside World Showplace.


Inside World Showplace are a few photo opportunities, including this one inspired by "Frozen."


The U.S. Capitol and other monuments gingerbread display usually constructed and installed at The American Adventure lobby is inside World Showplace.


Unlike its usual installation location, this location allows guests to walk all the way around the Washington D.C. monuments made by the bakery team.


Joyful! performs several times each day on the large stage in World Showplace. Starting December 26, performance sets will include Kwanza celebrations as well.


Musician Carol Stein performs several times daily (usually five days a week) at the Grand Piano all the way at the far end of World Showplace (alternating with Joyful).


Merchandise is available inside World Showplace. Chip and Dale have a prominent role.


They also adorn the special cookie jar that guests can purchase for storing the Cookie Stroll cookies collected (purchased) throughout the park.


A very small selection of Hanukkah merchandise is also available.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Character Cavalcades and Physically Distanced Appearances (No published schedule)


A "Frozen" cavalcade features Queen Elsa on foot around World Showcase Promenade.


Anna rides a horse-drawn carriage in the "Frozen" cavalcade.


Mickey & Friends Cavalcade includes Pluto and Goofy on foot..


Mickey and Minnie Mouse ride in an open air car.


Santa rides a horse-drawn carriage around World Showcase (only until December 24). Photo courtesy Disney Parks.


Joy from "Inside Out" makes physically distanced appearances on the lawn between Imagination and The Land with a bit of Christmas decor added to her shoulders.


At other times, Winnie the Pooh dons a Santa hat when making physically distanced appearances.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka (except as indicated).


Creative Director Tom Vazzana provides an overview of the socially distanced Holiday entertainment offered all around Walt Disney World Resort, which now includes the #EPCOTHolidays (recorded during the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays invited media event). Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

More EPCOT Holiday Entertainment


Mariachi Cobre and Voices of Liberty both have daily scheduled performances at America Gardens Theatre where the seating areas are marked for physically distanced audience viewing.


Mariachi Cobre performances include tributes to Mexican holiday celebrations at this time of year.


Voices of Liberty appear in the Dickens Carolers costumes and sing both Christmas and Hanukkah medleys.


Voices of Liberty are not appearing inside The American Adventure, but the lobby is decorated for the holidays.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


With Candlelight Processional on hiatus for the 2020 season due to the park's measures to enforce physical distancing, Disney Parks Blog re-released one of the Neil Patrick Harris-narrated performances from 2019 with additional new material by Becky Cline from Walt Disney Archives. Video courtesy Disney Parks.

More Holiday Merchandise and Food


Several varieties of Holiday ornaments are available at merchandise locations around EPCOT.


A $15 holiday-themed tote bag is available for purchase with qualifying purchases.


Although not for sale, this "hidden" Olaf is part of this Holiday season's "Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition" scavenger hunt. At least one other "hidden" Olaf appears in our food and beverage video. Did you spot it?


Holiday Kitchens serve specialty food and beverage all around World Showcase. The video below, highlights some of the new options for 2020.


The Cookie Stroll is again a part of the Festival. The "Completer Cookie," the one guests get for free when purchasing the other required cookies, is available at the kiosk in World Showcase Plaza on the Canada pavilion side.


The Mickey Mouse and Christmas Tree popcorn bucket is available at several locations around the park, including inside Odyssey.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Several new menu items are available during the 2020 Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays (recorded during the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays invited media event). Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Living with the Land - Merry & Bright Nights (More Holiday Decor)


The greenhouses of Living with the Land have again been decorated for the holidays.


Many of the Mickey-themed plants have holiday-themed additions.


Do you think Gaston would approve of the antlers?


The biotechnology lab is decorated as well.


The lights in the tunnels connecting the greenhouses to the pavilion are but a fraction of the lights that are visible during nighttime rides on the boats.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


For even more #EPCOTHolidays, watch a Replay of MousePlanet LIVE! Fun at Home Show #30 which we presented last Wednesday night, December 2. The pre-show countdown includes video of character cavalcades and physically distanced appearances. During the show, we also discussed the recently announced membership changes coming to D23-The Official Disney Fan Club (the elimination of Gold Family and the introduction of Gold Duo).

This & That…

Disney Parks Blog has published a 2020 Holiday Gift Guide which highlights Disney merchandise, including many parts of its family of businesses, from Marvel, to PIXAR, and Star Wars (including The Mandalorian) and beyond.

…Wine Bar George at Disney Springs is once again offering a $10 bonus gift card for each $100 gift card purchased at the restaurant through December 31.

…REMINDER: Patina Restaurant Group, which operates Morimoto Asia Orlando, The Edison, Maria & Enzo's Ristorante, Enzo's hideaway Tunnelbar, and Pizza Ponte at Disney Springs, is offering a $30 digital bonus card with the purchase of every $100 e-gift card purchased through December 31, 2020. Terms and Conditions, plus a full list of participating locations (which include Downtown Disney District locations but NOT EPCOT restaurants), is available on this page of its website, where you can also purchase the e-gift cards.

…REMINDER: Through December 11, Walt Disney World Golf is offering "bonus magic value" when purchasing gift cards. A $100 card gets an additional $10 in value; a $200 card gets an additional $30; and a $300 card gets an additional $60. Cards may be used toward rounds of golf, pro shop purchases, and golf instruction. For more information and to purchase, visit this page of the official Walt Disney World Golf Blog.

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.


Town Hall, the Village's central building, is elaborately decorated with lights for the holidays.


Stilt-walking entertainers are also decorated in light.


Sea World participated in decorated one of the Resort's Villas.


Ripley's Believe it or Not included some oddities in its holiday decorations.


Crayola Crayons decorate and help decorate one of the villas.


LEGOLAND Florida Resort has some brick sculptures decorating a villa (including that wreath which we saw last year at a media-invited event at LEGOLAND).


Amberville, home to some of the Village's attractions, is covered in holiday lights.


Keep an eye out for Stormtroopers bearing gifts.


Disney decorated two villas, including this one with a Beauty & The Beast theme.

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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Comments

  1. By wdwchuck

    We just got back and were disappointed with the scaled down decorations. Especially at some of the resorts that are family traditions for us to visit. Also, we think it is STUPID to increase crowds at the parks and not have Fast Pass back in place.
    Making everybody wait in looooonnnnnnggggg lines is a stupid way to manage Covid 19. It seems to us that Disney is really scaling back on cast members and that is one of the reasons it is hard to get into the limited amount of restaurants that are now open.
    Quite a bit of difference in our visit in August and last week. And don't even get me started on the idiotic Skyliner process at Caribbean Beach. I guess Disney doesn't really need our business. It used to be such an awesome place to visit this time of year.

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