Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 23 - March 1, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 23 - March 1, 2021

 Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

Walt Disney World Resort will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in an 18-month celebration beginning October 1, 2021. On Friday, Disney announced "The World's Most Magical Celebration" will coincide with the actual anniversary of the October 1, 1971 opening of Magic Kingdom and the Walt Disney World Resort. Given that the Resort is still operating in its "phased reopening" mode right now, it should come as little surprise that the announcement is a little thin on details beyond that the "18-month celebratory event will feature new experiences at the resort's four theme parks and beyond, where shimmering EARidescent décor will appear as if by magic."

The logo for the Walt Disney World Resort's 50th Anniversary is an example of the "EARidescent" décor that will be added around the Resort. Logo courtesy Disney Parks.

The centerpiece of the celebration will be Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. Adding to its 2020 "royal makeover," the Castle will receive new gold bunting, "sparkling gold embellishments" and other new enhancements. The renderings released so far show alterations to the Castle far-less drastic than those of us that experienced the pink "Castle Cake" of the "25 Years of Magic" celebration of the Resort's 25th Anniversary experienced.

A 50th logo, bunting, and more gold will be added to Cinderella Castle for the park and resort's 50th Anniversary celebration. Concept Art courtesy Disney Parks.

25 Years of Magic
Way back in 1996, Cinderella Castle had a pink "Cake" makeover as part of the park's 25 Years of Magic celebration. Personal Archive Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

At night, the icons at each of the theme parks will become "Beacons of Magic" with each having its own "EARidescent glow." Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom will have "sparkles with pixie dust." EPCOT will debut its permanent new nighttime lighting scheme on Spaceship Earth (a bit more on this below). The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney's Hollywood Studios will be "awash in a brilliance evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure." The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom will have "magical fireflies" to "usher in the magic of nature."

Imagineer Zach Riddley shared a bit of additional detail about the new EPCOT Spaceship Earth lighting scheme on Instagram. He says that the team working on the project are "keen to preserve" the classic multi-color lighting design and to accentuate it "through new colors and intensity in programmed expressions that extend into the new main entrance fountain and the entire World Celebration area." As a refresher for those that do not recall, as the EPCOT transformation continues, Future World will become a thing of the past, and it will be replaced by World Discovery to the East (the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Mission: Space, and Test Track), World Nature (The Seas, The Land, and the new Journey of Water, inspired by Moana), and World Celebration (Spaceship Earth, Imagination!, the new Festival Center).


The official hosts of "The World's Most Magical Celebration," of course, will be Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. They will have new outfits custom-made for the special occasion. The new "EARidescent" outfits debuted on Disney-owned ABC-TV's Good Morning America on Friday as well.

Mickey and Minnie are the official hosts of The World's Most Magical Celebration which starts on October 1, 2021.Image courtesy Disney Parks.

Minnie Mouse has a new custom-made outfit of "EARidescent" fabric with gold accents and a gold bow. Image courtesy Disney Parks.

Mickey Mouse also has a new custom-made outfit of "EARidescent" fabric with gold accents. Image courtesy Disney Parks.

Capacity limitations, managed by the Disney Park Pass Reservation system, of course, remain in place. In fact, if you have a theme park ticket valid for October 1, 2021, you can now reserve that date in the system (and even beyond). Annual Passholders, however, need to be mindful of their pass expiration date. For example, my Annual Pass now expires in late June 2021 (as a result of the extra time added by the temporary closure and the bonus month offered to those that did not cancel), so I was unable to make a reservation for October 1 (and it is too early to renew my pass). Indeed, now, as of publication time, all of the reservations at Magic Kingdom are already booked in all of the ticket categories: Annual Passholders, Resort Guests, and day tickets guests! Of course, folks can cancel their reservations at any time, so that availability can change, and Passholders can only hold three active reservations at any time.

As you may recall, Park Hopping once again became available as of January 1, but in a modified form (only for those with the benefit, only after 2 p.m., and only after you have made and used a Disney Park Pass reservation at another park that day). We are unaware of reports of Park Hopping becoming unavailable due to capacity, but remember, as we head toward Spring Break, that may become something to stay aware of during park visits.

As I reported last week, and notwithstanding rumors, we still have seen no official statement about whether the parks have increased capacity beyond the previously announced 35% attendance caps. The parks were, in fact, rather busy over this past weekend, and, indeed, no Annual Pass reservation slots were available for last minute-visits to the parks any of the times I checked. I do plan to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom this week, and you can watch for photos and/or video on our social media channels!

And, as I remind you each week, the Walt Disney World Resort's phased reopening has health and safety protocols in place including: mandatory guest temperature checks, limited park capacity managed by requiring guests use of the Disney Park Pass System to reserve date-specific parks visit (plus have a valid ticket - and limited hours for park hopping for those with that benefit), heightened cleaning especially of high-touch areas, physical distancing, and enforced mandatory face coverings (except when eating and/or drinking while stationary and physically distanced from others not in your party). Be sure to check the My Disney Experience or DisneyWorld.com immediately before any planned visit for any last minute changes to phased reopening operations that may impact your visit.

Reminder: for those of you who are considering a visit in the near-term or more-distant future, our travel partner Get Away Today can now help you with reservations up to 500 days in advance. More on that below.

Reminder: 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets Now Available

As the year began, Disney launched its 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket. The $199 plus tax ticket provides four days of park visits. The ticket can be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days through June 18, 2021 (but not at all on March 26-April 11, or May 28-31). The Park Hopper option can be added for $42.50/ticket plus tax.

There is also a 3-Day version (with same blockout dates) available for $179 plus tax (add $42.50/ticket plus tax for Park Hopper).

A 2-Day version is available to purchase and use only through March 11 for $149/tax (add $37.50/ticket plus tax for Park Hopper).

Like other ticket types, guests must also separately make Disney Park Pass reservations for a specific park each date they wish to use a Discover Disney Ticket (and, for Park Hopper, must visit that reserved park and may only Hop when that day's window opens subject to capacity).

This & That…

Disney Parks Blog published its list of February 2021 Best Bites, highlighting the new food items at Disney's Animal Kingdom inspired by the upcoming film Raya and the Last Dragon, the March 22 return of breakfast at Hollywood & Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios (with character waving photo opportunities), new menu items at Tony's Town Square Restaurant and Sunshine Tree Terrace at Magic Kingdom, the return of "Sangria University" at Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (plus a couple of new offerings at the resort's Dahlia Lounge), and new offerings at Disney Springs.

…Reminder: Passholders can save 30% on select merchandise at all Walt Disney World owned-and-operated locations through March 2, 2021. Passholders can also receive 25% off select shopDisney.com merchandise purchases of $75 or more until tomorrow, February 24, 2021.

…Speaking of Passholders, the Passholder Extras page of DisneyWorld.com lists a few extra weekday-only perks for Passholders available now in DinoLand USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom through March 19, 2021 (valid annual pass card and photo ID required):

  • Passholders that purchase 3 game tickets at Chester & Hester's Dinosaur Treasurers for Fossil Fun Games will receive a complimentary retired, non-Disney plus consolation prize (operates one hour after park opening until 4 p.m.)
  • Restaurantosaurus Lounge features 4 exclusive beverages available for purchase: Tyrannosaurus Wreck, Fossil Fuel, Pterodactyl Punch and Triceraberry Pop (open 10:30 a.m. until park close)
  • Dino-Bite Snacks offers an exclusive Donald Duck cookie for purchase (10:30 a.m. until park close)
  • The complimentary Donald Duck magnet, which started to be distributed back when last year's EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival began but got cut short by more than a month when the parks temporarily closed in mid-March, is again available to Passholders from Park Open until 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

The Passholder magnet featuring Donald Duck with Spike the Bee that debuted at EPCOT during last year's abbreviated run of the Flower & Garden Festival is again available to Passholders on weekdays until 4 p.m. in DinoLand USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

No word on whether the Orange Bird complimentary Passholder magnet that was to be distributed starting in mid-April 2020 at last year's Flower & Garden Festival will become available this year. Images ©Disney.

…Reminder: Raglan Road at Disney Springs will host its annual St. Patrick's Day celebration as "a festival like no other." The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival – Unplugged! will run March 12-17, 2021. Reservations are available at RaglanRoad.com or call (407)938-0300.

Think more acoustic than electric. More intimate than boisterous. The same great live entertainment, with all bands imported from Ireland. The same delicious Irish food and drink. It's the most authentic Irish celebration in America, and it's putting safety first for guests with a reservation-only event.

"Everyone can enjoy the usual lively happenings and practiced hospitality, which includes gift competitions and loads of giveaways," says pub co-owner John Cooke. "And it remains the best Irish hospitality experience in America."

On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, Raglan Road will open at 10 a.m. with a $10 cover charge for guests. Reservations are strongly recommended due to limited space. Guests can book a two-hour slot to join the Raglan Road Irish Pub festivities at Disney Springs, with numbers strictly managed to guarantee social distancing is respected. This year, gathering around bars or stages will not be permitted. The pub requests that guests respect their two-hour booking to ensure that as many of Raglan Road's loyal fans have the chance to enjoy America's finest St. Patrick’s festival.

Raglan Road guests can sip from a huge range of Irish whiskeys, local craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails while choosing from the chef’s selection of authentic Irish dishes, including fresh-caught fish with chips. Those authentic fish & chips also are available to go at the adjacent Cooke's of Dublin counter.

The Mighty Festival – Unplugged! entertainment lineup will begin with the Raglan Road Irish Dancers, plucked from the casts and stages of the world’s greatest Irish dance shows. This troupe of extraordinary dancers will perform throughout the festival.

…Overseas, Hong Kong Disneyland reopened on Friday, February 19. The resort continues to implement enhanced health and safety measures, including requiring face coverings and physical distancing, and those measures will continue to be reviewed and adjusted based on the latest government regulations.

…Finally, recently retired Imagineer Joe Rohde is now the Experience Architect for Virgin Galactic, the commercial space venture founded by business "magnate" Richard Branson that aims to fly large numbers of "non-professional astronauts, safely and enjoyably, in high accelleration and micro-gravity environments." The Virgin Galactic website states that company's vision:

In time, we expect to be operating a variety of vehicles from multiple locations to cater for the demands of the growing space-user community. Whether that be transporting passengers to Earth orbiting hotels and science laboratories, or providing a world-shrinking, transcontinental service – at Virgin Galactic we will always be striving to open space to change the world for good.

In naming Joe Rohde to this new role, Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic said, "As soon as I joined Virgin Galactic, I knew there was one person we just had to work with to help shape the incredible experience we are developing – and that person was Joe Rohde. Joe has a methodology that is unique, inspired, and truly effective. His track record for keeping authenticity central to the design and creating deeply transformative experiences aligns perfectly with our mission. I couldn’t be more pleased to see Joe choose Virgin Galactic for his first encore!" If Michael Colglazier's name sounds familiar to Disney Parks fans, that's because before joining Virgin Galactic, he was President and Managing Director of Disney Parks International, and, before that, President of The Disneyland Resort.

Virgin Galactic intends to fly its first missions from Spaceport America, New Mexico.

Joe Rohde has been retained by Virgin Galactic as a strategic advisor to help design and guide the overall experience journey for future astronauts, friends and family. Video posted by Virgin Galactic.

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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.

Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages can now be booked up to 500 days in advance on a rolling calendar. That's right, you can now book packages for travel through early July 2022, and a package can be held for just a $200 downpayment with final payment due 30 days prior to travel.

Our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages, and include its complimentary Concierge Services. Get Away Today can also assist you with the new Walt Disney World Resort offer that became available January 5: two free theme park days when you purchase at least a 4-night Disney Hotel stay and 3-Day Walt Disney World Resort tickets (the new offer is valid for vacation packages for travel through September 25, 2021, and does not apply to ticket-only orders). For all theme park ticket holders (day guests, resort guests, and Annual Passholders), though, for the foreseeable future, all guests are required to use the Disney Parks Pass System to reserve dates for guest park visits in addition to having a valid admission.

Get Away Today can help you book Disney's latest promotional offers

Get Away Today can also help you book other discounted Disney hotel stays for travel in 2021, including the continuing 35% discount on Disney Hotels for travel through April 17, 2021, which may be the better option for some guests traveling this spring. With Get Away Today's complimentary Price Monitoring, any time a special comes out, it will automatically price check it for each of its guests. If the new special is better, it will automatically apply the new savings and let the guest know. If it's not a better deal, they will leave everything as is, and keep their eyes peeled for future promotions that could save guests more.

Now through April 30, you can even cancel a reservation up to 24 hours before check0in for free.

You can get a vacation quote from Get Away Today here. (Responses provided in 1 to 3 business days.) You can also call 855-GET-AWAY during regular business hours (Monday - Friday 9am-5pm MT) and tell them MousePlanet sent you!

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Only purchase Disney theme park tickets directly from Disney, an authorized seller, or a travel agency like MousePlanet travel partner Get Away Today!.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). 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.

Be sure to check out Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.



  1. By wdwchuck

    I am really curious what the real attendance figures are? 50% I have not been for awhile but it sure was getting crowded the last time I was there. I sure hope they open BOMA soon. We sure miss that place. Haven't been able to get into the California Grill the last few times we have gone either. But BOMA is such a treat. So many different flavors and textures. So many memorable meals there.
    Thanks again for the Tuesday escape Alan. Keep up the great work.

  2. By Dave1313

    Curious about the capacity and also how it may evolve as we get closer to October here as well.

    When all this started, I initially said to myself I would hold out for another trip until things return to close to normal (life in general and Park offerings - fireworks, shows, etc.). Well, that could still be a while, it seems . I have started to think about an October 2021 trip.

    Back in 2016 I (sort of accidentally) started a tradition of attending some of the parks on their Anniversary days when they happened during the rough timeframe I had been scheduling my trips (pretty much around the beginning of May and October, plus/minus a couple of weeks).

    On 10/1/16 I flew down for one of my trips, sort of being conscious of the date being MK's 45th anniversary, but not enough that I actually planned much of the trip based on it (or I would have arrived a day or 2 earlier to spend the whole day in MK). I went to MK that evening basically to pick up my AP I had purchased prior to my trip and while there, I was lucky to get one of the "I Was There" buttons as well as the special map they had for the occasion. Since it was late in the day, pretty much all of the special limited merchandise was already sold out(I could have bought one of the last tee shirts, but it was several sizes too small for me, so I passed -no one needs to see that! ). I still considered the button and the map a neat set of souvenirs for the event.

    So after that "accidental" attendance at MK 45th, I did Epcot 35th 10/1/17, and DHS 30th 5/1/19 so far. (I missed DAK 20th in 2018 since it's April date conflicts with another hobby event I participate in regularly. - but I did buy one of the special maps after the fact on ebay) Now actually planning my trip dates better for this aspect, I bought an item or 2 of the merchandise for the date and also sought the button and map when applicable/available for the EPC and DHS dates. (I'm not sure if there were DHS ones with the "I Was There" text and the date(if so, I managed to not see anyone wearing one), but there was a nice 30th Button with Mickey on it that I think was for the date itself only, most likely).

    So 10/1/21 was in my sights for a while pre COVID, as it was for many thousands of others, I am sure! . With the MK booked for all ticket types as of right now, I guess there is the hope it could open up with cancellations as Alan suggested, or even better, COVID cases decrease enough by then for the parks to go back to a much higher attendance levels. The thought of trying to hop from another park to MK right at 2 PM also crossed my mind, but I'm sure everyone with a valid hopping ticket at any park will be thinking this too (so could easily not work). Of course that assumes some level of MK attendance that day might even be open to hopping, maybe Disney opened all availability (at this time) to full day tickets and that will be it - obviously no one can accurately guess how that was done.

    Sorry for the long story. I guess even if October doesn't work out for being closer to normal yet, I'll hold out hope that the "delayed start" will hopefully allow some dates during the 50th celebration in 2022 into early 2023 to be back to close to normal.

    I guess I'll start to keep an eye on the other parks availability and MK on days other than 10/1 and decide soon if I want to buy a ticket for 4-5 days in late September/early October and hope for the best.

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