Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 2-8, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 2 - 8, 2021

 Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

Meteorological Spring is underway now that it's March, and here in Central Florida and around Walt Disney World Resort, lots of vibrant blooms are all around. Of course, THE Walt Disney World location for the season is "Fresh EPCOT" which starts this year's Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival tomorrow, March 3. I expect to be over at the park a couple of times this week, and I'll share views on our social media channels and in next week's Update.

Since I had not been over to Disney's Animal Kingdom since November, I also made a visit there this past week. As you'll see in the views below, the colors there are quite vibrant too. And, by shear luck, I was there on the day that four-month-old white rhino Ranger made his savana debut on Kilimanjaro Safaris. The not-so-little little guy seemed to capture the attention of all the big cats who are always well physically distanced from both guests and other species on the savana.

This past week, Walt Disney World updated its face coverings policy as it pertains to dining. The general policy statement since the parks began their phased reopening has been that guests (ages 2 and up) must wear face coverings at all times except when eating or drinking while stationary. The updated policy now makes it clear that guests in dining areas must wear their face coverings "while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations" and that they can only be removed "while actively eating or drinking." For the latest "KNOW BEFORE YOU GO" dining information, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Capacity limitations, managed by the Disney Park Pass Reservation system, remain in place. Rumors that the caps have been increased are rampant, and the parks are feeling more crowded, but there have been no official statements on the subject. Park Hopping is available daily 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.

And, as I remind you each week, the Walt Disney World Resort's phased reopening includes enhanced health and safety protocols beyond the capacity restrictions: there are mandatory guest temperature checks, and heightened cleaning especially of high-touch areas, physical distancing, and cast members do enforce the mandatory face coverings requirements. 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.

Views of Disney's Animal Kingdom

I was overdue for a visit to Walt Disney World's newest park. Sure, on Earth Day next month, it will reach its 23rd Anniversary, but at a Resort coming up on it's 50th Anniversary celebration, it's still the new kid. And, speaking of new kids...

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The sun sets behind the floating mountains of Pandora-The World of Avatar. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views of EPCOT's "Harmonious" Construction Plus Live Entertainment & Festival Updates

Harmonious, the next nighttime spectacular being developed for EPCOT, continues to have its new hardware get seen in World Showcase Lagoon. This week, the six-story-tall central ring structure was floated out on to the Lagoon to its permanent location. The ring supports a high-density water curtain, moving lights, fountains and more.

With all the complaints on social media (and even in the comments section on Disney Parks Blog) about changing the sight-lines of World Showcase, folks seem to be forgetting that during the day, the hardware installed for Harmonious will be used for a fountain display in the Lagoon. In other words, we don't yet really know what this is going to look like when activated (so, I am reserving forming an opinion since its just another part of the park under construction right now). At night, it will be part of what Disney says is "one of the largest nighttime spectaculars" Disney Live Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering have ever produced. No debut date has been announced, and, indeed, it is possible that the daytime fountain effects could be activated before the nighttime show debuts.

Work continues on the development of Harmonious for EPCOT, but no debut date has been announced. As part of the phased reopening of the Resort, none of the parks have hosted nighttime spectaculars. Video courtesy Disney Parks.

Photos Courtesy Disney Parks.

EPCOT will feature more live entertainment during the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival — March 3 to July 5, 2021. The updated entertainment offerings listed on EPCOT's entertainment page of DisneyWorld.com are below (check Times Guide and signs for showtimes):

Jammin' Gardeners (Canada Mill Stage)
Tap your feet to the syncopated sounds of the funkiest gardeners around.

Voices of Liberty (America Gardens Theatre)
Get swept away by inspiring vocal performances celebrating America’s spirit and beauty.

Mariachi Cobre (America Gardens Theatre)
Enjoy an exuberant performance of world-famous, traditional folk music.

Pianist (World Showplace)
Relax and enjoy a selection of songs of the season.

NEW City Beautiful Bandstand (America Gardens Theatre)
Watch bands from Orlando— known as "The City Beautiful"—perform the songs of yesterday and today. Performances are on Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday only.

  • EPIC! - (Pop)— March 5 to 8, April 16 to 19, & May 28 to 31
    Get ready for a true multi-generational "SuperBand" who continues their run of success—making appearances all over the world with their Concert Style high-energy show!
  • Motown in Motion (Motown / R&B)— March 19 to 22, April 30 to May 3, & June 11 to 14
    Get moving to the sounds of this power-packed, live Motown musical tribute to some of the greatest American artists of all time.
  • Vintage Vinyl Band (Vintage Pop)— March 12 to 15, April 23 to 26, & June 4 to 7
    Drop in for a spin with this unconventional top 40 cover band that specializes in retrofitting today's hits into yesterday's sound, while weaving in classics from the American Songbook.
  • The Hooligans (Pop)— March 26 to 29, May 7 to 10, & June 18 to 21
    Rock the night away to classic tunes ranging from the British Invasion to ‘80s pop to ‘90s alternative.
  • The Spazmatics (‘80s Pop)— April 2 to 5, May 14 to 17, & June 25 to 28
    Go wild for this band that recaptures all the best of the ‘80s. Outstanding musicianship combined with creative flair and styles make for an evening of pure energy and entertainment.
  • Latin Ambition (Latin/Pop)— April 9 to 12, May 21 to 24, & July 2 to 5
    Discover why this bilingual Latin American Party Band has received accolades and honors industry-wide for over a decade—and earning their reputation by promising energy, showmanship and diversity.

And Disney Parks Blog has published its Foodie Guide to the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival too.

Disney Parks Celebrates Women's History Month Including Special Offerings at Disney Springs

Disney Parks Blog started Disney Parks' celebration of Women's History Month by honoring several of the women who were instrumental "trailblazers who shaped the theme park industry and paved the way for the women and girls who followed in their footsteps" at Walt Disney Imagineering. The tributes run from Mary Blair (probably best known for her work on it's a small world), to Harriet Burns (the first woman hired by what is now Imagineering), Alice Davis, Dorothea Redmond, Doris Woodward, and Kathy Mangum. There will be a special feature published by Disney Parks Blog on March 8, International Women's Day.

Disney Springs will celebrate the contributions of women by "spotlighting the talented women who showcase their super powers as entrepreneurs, to the business-savvy role models and artists behind-the-scenes," according to Disney Parks Blog. The "Celebrate HER Story at Disney Springs" will include special "treats" created by women, female-led entertainment, and other unique offerings. The Art of Disney and WonderGround Gallery will focus, on a rotating basis, on female filmmakers, artists, and directors who have been a part of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Visiting artists will appear on select dates at both locations. Fabiola Garza Villalobos (who created the pattern on the newest Dooney & Bourke collection featuring favorite characters from "Robinhood") will appear on March 8 at 10 a.m. until noon at Ever After Jewelry Co. & Accessories and will sign purchases. New entertainment will appear on the Waterside Stage on Wednesday nights from 5-9 p.m., including Just Imagin3 and Skillzmatic Band "SMB". Specialty food and beverage offerings and merchandise will be featured as well.

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…

…Last week, we noted 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.

The sand sculpture honoring the upcoming debut of the film "Raya and The Last Dragon" is located on Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom and it should remain on display through the middle of the month. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Seasonal limited time food and beverage offerings at Disney's Animal Kingdom are also joined by special limited time "Raya" themed offerings. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Reminder: Passholders can save 30% on select merchandise at all Walt Disney World owned-and-operated locations through today, March 2, 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.

Donald Duck with Spike the Bee Passholder magnet is available in DinoLand U.S.A. on weekdays until 4 p.m. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

To find magnet distribution, follow the cast members with Passholder signs past the posted signs (have your photo ID handy). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Walt Disney World Golf is offering a series of four weekly Junior Golf Camps in March. More information is available on the official Walt Disney World Golf Blog.

…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.

…And while at Disney Springs, Disney Channel is promoting "Disney Secrets of Sulphur Springs" with an interactive poster on the exterior wall of Disney Days of Christmas (facing Art of Disney store). Just scan the scan the QR code when visiting the display "to watch the mystery unfold!" The first five episodes of the show are available for streaming on Disney+.

…And, in the Marketplace, the DVC kiosk has been refreshed with a model of Disney's Riviera Resort built out of LEGO bricks.

…Just beyond Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Portillo's Orlando now plans to open its doors on March 23. Stay tuned for those Chicago-style Hot Dogs, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Chocolate cake and more.

…In downtown Orlando, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts "Frontyard Festival" will feature "The Music of Disney on Broadway" with Michael James Scott, Ashley Brown, Kissy Simmons and Josh Strickland, all of whom performed at past editions of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. Those concerts were not held this year as part of the "Taste of" Festival, but the performers will sing Disney favorites on March 20 at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on March 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets for these outdoor, physically distanced concerts, start at $25 at drphillipscenter.org.

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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.

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 back in January: 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.