Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 22-28, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 22-28, 2021

 Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)

Well, as I wrote last week, it seems, Walt Disney World Resort likes to make announcements after our Update publishes on Tuesdays, and it did so last week, with news about the return of nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT starting July 1 (a bit more on that news below). We already know that Disney plans to use ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" today to make more announcements about the upcoming "World's Most Magical Celebration" for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, so if you want to be first to know, tune in for that, and/or feel free to come back to this Update in the afternoon and I will provide a brief summary of any major news. As always, I'll have a recap in our next Update too.

UPDATED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Walt Disney World announced additional details this morning and they are recapped on Disney Parks Blog "Harmonious," the new nighttime spectacular will debut at EPCOT on October 1. A new nighttime spectacular "Disney Enchantment" will also debut at Magic Kingdom on October 1, and will include projections all the way down Main Street U.S.A. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, starting October 1, the Discovery River Amphitheater will become home to multiple daytime showings of "Disney KiteTails," featuring windcatchers and kites depicting Disney animal friends, including Simba, Zazu, Baloo and King Louie. New golden character statues will be installed across the four theme parks representing the "Disney Fab 50."


Disney Enchantment debuts at Magic Kingdom on October 1.


Harmonious debuts at EPCOT on October 1.


Disney KiteTails debuts at Disney's Animal Kingdom on October 1.


Disney Fab 50 golden statues will be spread across all four theme parks.


Characters will have new celebration costumes.

Images Courtesy Disney Parks.

 

Following the June 15th easing of resort-wide policies for fully vaccinated guests, by this weekend, face coverings became optional for fully vaccinated cast members in most outdoor roles as well. Disney Transportation remains one place that all guests and cast are still expected to wear face coverings, and, as always, the latest information can be found on this page of resort-wide policies of Walt Disney World. As I have previously noted, the State of Florida does not permit businesses to request proof of vaccination, and Disney is honoring that by stating: "While we do not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation."


Face coverings are still required for all guests inside Disney Transportation and boarding areas/queues, including Disney Skyliner. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Also, the busy Resort is also seeing some of its special offers selling out fast according to our friends and Travel Partners at Get Away Today. Walt Disney World is offering up to 25% off select Resort Hotels for travel through September 28, 2021, but the two extra days free offer at Walt Disney World Resort is no longer available. As they say, it's "more important than ever to book early to get the best offers."


This past week, the My Disney Experience app received some updated graphics on the welcome page and those graphics now change if you have location services turned on, as mine did when I visited EPCOT. Screenshots by Alan S. Dalinka.

Closing the Writer's Note with my usual reminder at this time of year, that if you are headed to Central Florida (or, really, anywhere along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico), it is Tropical Storm season. Some rain daily is almost the norm at this time of year, and the bigger storms that get extra scrutiny from meteorologists, so far, have not been forecasted to head toward Walt Disney World Resort. And, again, if you have not been vaccinated and you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, do yourself and the rest of us a favor: get vaccinated.

Nightly Fireworks Return to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Starting July 1

Put on hold since the temporary closure of the parks on March 15, 2020, Magic Kingdom will resume nightly showings of "Happily Ever After" fireworks on July 1. Over at EPCOT, the "EPCOT Forever" fireworks show (that replaced Illuminations on October 1, 2019, as a "temporary" nightly fireworks show until the new "Harmonious" spectacular is set to debut) will also return that night.


When I posted the Video of the finale of "Happily Every After" from my home on March 15, 2020, I had no idea there would be no more showings for more than 15 months. File Video by Alan S Dalinka.

As noted above, with Disney set to make more announcements on Good Morning America after publication, additional details about when other entertainment may return, or new entertainment like "Harmonious" may debut could be known by the time you read this. Those details are coming, we just do not know when.


The hardware for "Harmonious" on World Showcase Lagoon has been in place for awhile. The tents in the foreground are likely used by the teams that have been conducting tests we have caught glimpses of in the night sky and heard.


Spaceship Earth will be enhanced with beacons of light as part of the World's Most Magical Celebration.


From a distance, it is not easy to see what changes are being made to the exterior of Spaceship Earth.


Zooming in at the junction points on the side of Spaceship Earth facing the park gates, however, does reveal new lights that are being installed.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views of EPCOT

The Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is winding down. It concludes on July 5, and will be quickly followed by the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival starting on July 15 and running all the way until November 20th.


Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival concludes on July 5.


Lots of butterflies can be seen in the Goodness Garden Butterfly House during the Flower & Garden Festival.


Joy still makes occasional socially distanced lawn appearances between the Butterfly House and Imagination pavilion.


Also near the Imagination pavilion, the Lion King topiaries are still on display as the Flower & Garden Festival continues.


Though it is late in the season, a number of purple martins are still making their home in the houses EPCOT constructs for them in Future World East.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The on-going transformation of EPCOT continues as well. The Creations Shop in the former CommuniCore/Innoventions East is expected to open this summer as the new primary merchandise location for the park, along with a new Coca-Cola Club Cool location. No other scheduled openings associated with the transformation have yet been announced.


New glass is being installed in the former CommuniCore/Innoventions East building as it is being transformed into the new Creations Shop and Coca-Cola Club Cool. Imagineer Zach Riddley shared views from inside these windows on Instagram, embedded below.


As physical distancing rules have been eased around the park, some pandemic-related signage remains. Inside Disney Vacation Club Members Lounge, for example, capacity restrictions still remain and guests are asked not to rearrange furniture, but face coverings are no longer required for vaccinated guests.


Living with the Land welcomes back guests. Last week, though the queue still had barriers between the switchbacks to promote physical distancing, there were no longer floor markers, and the boats themselves no longer had plastic sheets between rows.


Rather than Mickey or the word "EPCOT," the lettuce in The Land pavilion has been planted in the shape of the EPCOT "rose" logo.


At Morocco pavilion, refurbishment work is underway in its entry courtyard outside the former location of Tangerine Cafe. There will be a Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplace at the pavilion.


Further along World Showcase Promenade, The new Gelateria Toscana at Italy pavilion appears to be popular.


With the opening of Gelateria Toscana, the kiosk on the other side of Italy pavilion that previously sold desserts including gelato has been removed.


And, finally, Disney Skyliner shows off the new Paris addition to the France pavilion, home of Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, which is scheduled to open October 1.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

As noted above, Imagineer Zach Riddley provided views of the glass installation from inside the new Creations Shop and discussed the team's design choices and challenges.

Views of Disney's Hollywood Studios

While park capacity is still managed by the Disney Park Pass reservation system, Disney's Hollywood Studios' operating attractions are increasingly returning to their pre-pandemic operations. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, for example, no longer groups parties for separated viewing of the various briefings or aboard the transport; barriers no longer separate guests on ride vehicles. Over at Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, the pre-show "Perfect Picnic" short has been restored and the ride vehicles again are loaded full without physical barriers between guests.


Disney's Hollywood Studios, like the other three Disney Parks in Florida, requires a Disney Park Pass reservation to enter as well as a ticket (or a Park Pass reservation for another park that has been entered with a valid hopper ticket for guests arriving here after 2 p.m.).


At Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, parties are no longer separated for viewing the pre-show briefings.


Aboard the transport, guests are again free to select where they view the crew and monitors and are no longer separated by physical barriers.


Most of the physical separation ground markings have been removed from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.


Kylo Ren and the stormtroopers still make only physically distanced appearances at the First Order Tie Fighter (stage).


Guests are no longer separated by physical barriers aboard Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.


While the artist rendering appears on the construction wall outside, no date has been announced for when guests may be able to dine at the new Toy Story-themed BBQ restaurant in Toy Story Land.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That…

…Yesterday, June 21, was International Yoga Day. Disney Parks, Experiences and Products cast members participated in special exclusive events at locations around the world, including pre-sunrise yoga at Magic Kingdom. See more views of the event on Disney Parks Blog

International Yoga Day was June 21
Image Courtesy Disney Parks Blog.

…This week, Disney Parks Blog shared the news of the June 10th birth of a male Masai giraffe calf at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The six foot tall, 183 baby boy is healthy and bonding with its mom, Lily, backstage. They will join the herd on the savanna of Kilimanjaro Safaris in coming weeks.

…The website Delish.com has teamed up with Disney to present a 100 glossy page special magazine featuring iconic Disney Parks recipes. Delish Loves Disney, available exclusively at Amazon.com on Demand for $13.99, features 50 recipes from Disney parks and resorts around the world, including 15 never-before-published.

…REMINDER: Starting July 16, Disney+ subscribers can view all ten episodes of "Behind the Attraction," a new original series looking behind the scenes of attractions and destinations at Disney Parks and Resorts around the world. The series, narrated by Paget Brewster, promises "archival and never-before-seen footage and photographs" of the development and refinement of attractions over the years from The Jungle Cruise to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The series also includes rare interviews with Walt Disney, Disney Legends, and past and present Imagineers including Bob Weis, Jeanette Lomboy, Kim Irvine, Scott Trowbridge, Tom Fitzgerald, Scot Drake, Carmen Smith, and Joe Rohde.

Disney+ Behind the Attractions
The full 10-episode "Behind the Attraction" series debuts on Disney+ on July 16. Image Courtesy Disney Parks Blog.

…The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will return Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30 offering an outdoor festival featuring unlimited food tastings from the resorts culinary team and wine, beer and other sips from around the world. Overnight packages and event-only tickets are now available at FoodAndWineClassic.com. Overnight packages start at $580; event-only ticket options are $165/person (including tax and service fees). Reservations are also available in the resort's new tower, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

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Resort Reservations, 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 continues to offer Florida Resident ticket specials with savings up to 40% on 4-day, 1-park tickets. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for more information and availability (which varies by date). Florida proof of residency required, and there is now a way to provide it electronically.

Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels are recognizing educators and first responders by offering them special hotel rates. To honor their hard work, the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels which include B RESORT & SPA, DOUBLE TREE SUITES BY HILTON, HILTON ORLANDO BUENA VISTA PALACE, HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA, HOLIDAY INN, and WYNDHAM GARDEN INN LAKE BUENA VISTA, are giving them an exclusive offer starting at $79 per night for travel between now and July 14, 2021, if booked by July 10. The special rates include Bus Shuttle to the parks, a "Passport to Savings" booklet with discounts and specials from Disney Springs merchants, and advance tee times at Walt Disney World Golf Courses. For more information, restrictions, and to book, visit the Disney Springs Hotels official website.

Walt Disney World Resort Summer Room Offer for Select Disney Resort hotels provides savings up to 25% on rooms for stays most nights through September 29, 2021.

Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages can now be booked up to 500 days in advance on a rolling calendar, 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. More details are here. 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.

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!

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

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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.