Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 17-23, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 17–23, 2021

 Writer's Note & News (Combined)

On the global pandemic front and its impact in Central Florida, I have no new encouraging news to share. As was true last week, Florida continues to be among the leaders in the counts of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations spurred by the Delta variant. The number of young people becoming seriously ill and requiring hospitalization continues to rise as well.

Disney Parks (on both coasts) continue to follow the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control: everyone ages 2 and up are again required to wear face coverings in all indoor locations, attractions, and queues regardless of vaccination status. Outdoors, face coverings remain optional in most locations for vaccinated guests; face coverings are required outdoors for non-vaccinated guests. The wearing of face coverings continues to be required for all guests on buses, monorails, and on Disney Skyliner. Walt Disney World Resort encourages getting vaccinated, and has mandated vaccination for new hires and existing cast members in many roles.


Know before you go. Screenshot from My Disney Experience.

I've been vaccinated, and, indeed, first discussed it with my personal physician. If you haven't been vaccinated and are eligible to be, I recommended you discuss with a licensed physician the risks to both yourself and those you come into contact with as the global pandemic (with Delta and other potential variants) continues to spread among those in your community and those you visit.

No matter your vaccination status, always be sure to check the "experience updates" page of Walt Disney World for the latest information you need to know before you visit. The policies are in flux, and while it remains unlikely that the Resort will shutdown again in the near-term, Disney may very well impose guest restrictions that are stricter than those imposed by the State of Florida. If emergency and hospital services become too scarce, I would expect Disney to curtail some activities, as safety is its paramount operational key.

Turning to weather, here in Central Florida, we're getting into the most active part of tropical storm season, and there are three storms being monitored in the Central Florida area: Tropical Storm Fred, which is in the Gulf of Mexico heading toward the Florida panhandle; Tropical Depression Grace in the Caribbean bringing rain and flooding to Hispaniola (particularly Haiti), and currently forecast to intensify back into a tropical storm heading toward the Gulf and toward the Cancun, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula; and recently formed Tropical Storm Henri in the Atlantic, forecast to remain off the U.S. East Coast, possibly headed toward Bermuda. If you're heading this way (or live in the regions impacted by storms), please stay informed of the latest forecast and get prepared.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Tickets Go On Sale on Friday, August 20

The Christmas Disney After Hours events taking place on 24 select nights from November 8 through December 21 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. will look a whole lot more like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party of years before the global pandemic, but with a Disney After Hours price tag. Disney Very Merriest After Hours will include the nighttime spectacular "Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks" and "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade," the first bona fide parade presented at Walt Disney World Resort since the parks temporarily closed in March 2020. The parade will include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, characters from Frozen, the Toy Soldiers, and, of course, Santa Claus, among others.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Guests who purchase tickets to the four-hour After Hours event may enter Magic Kingdom as early as 7 p.m. on event night and don't need to make a separate Disney Park Pass reservation to enter the park. By entering as early as 7 p.m., ticket holders will be able to see the new "Disney Enchantment" fireworks and the transformation of Cinderella Castle into a "Beacon of Magic" before the event begins (of course, weather permitting).

During the limited-capacity event, the Jingle Cruise will operate and the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor will have its holiday overlay with season-appropriate jokes. More than 20 attractions will be open with "less" waiting time, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, and others. Club Tinsel dance party will return to Tomorrowland, and characters will be "throughout the park" in their "holiday best" and Main Street, U.S.A. will have Disney's version of snow from time-to-time.

Like other Disney After Hours events, snacks like ice cream novelties and popcorn, as well as select bottled beverages are complimentary. There will also be seasonal treats included, while specialty holiday food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Event dates are:

  • November: 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 28, 30
  • December: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21

Tickets go on sale this Friday, August 20 online or by calling (407) 939-7947. Guests of select Disney Resort hotels, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, as well as Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Resort can book their tickets as early as today, August 17.

Here is the part that is quite different than past holiday parties: Tickets range from $169 to $229 plus tax for select November-December nights, and $249, plus tax on December 19 & 21.

Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of a $10 discount on select event dates in November.

Space 220 Restaurant at EPCOT To Open Mid-September

Space 220 restaurant at EPCOT expects to begin service in mid-September. Announced back at D23 Expo 2019 and originally expected to open last Spring or Summer before the global pandemic put a damper on that, the new table service restaurant developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and to be operated by Patina Restaurant Group (operators of dining locations at Italy pavilion, Disney Springs, Disneyland Resort, and other locations), will provide an immersive experience that begins when guests check in to the Space 220 Departure Lounge in Future World adjacent to Mission: SPACE.

From the Departure Lounge, guests will board one of two "Space Elevators" to take them to the Centauri Space Station which appears to be 220 miles above Earth. During the ascent, guests will be able to look down through a viewport to see EPCOT "shrink away" and will be able to look up to see the Space Station come into view.

The dining room's "windows" will provide a panoramic view of Earth and activities in space. Lunch offerings will be a two-course prix fixe menu; dinner will be a three-course prix fixe menu. The "upscale, contemporary fare" created by Executive Chef Marc Kusche will be offered with unique beverages as well. Reservation booking and prices have not yet been announced.

The World's Most Magical Celebration Begins in Less Than 50 Days

As Walt Disney World Resort counts down the days to October 1, its 50th anniversary and the start of the 18-month-long salute it has named "The World's Most Magical Celebration," Disney Parks Blog has revealed that Platinum-selling songwriter/music producer Alana Da Fonseca and Nashville-based songwriter/producer Bobby Studley-created "The Magic Is Calling," an original anthem for the 50th anniversary created in collaboration with award-winning composer Emily Bear and singer Journi. Different arrangements of the anthem will accompany the park icon as each transformations into a different "Beacon of Magic" on select nights. The anthem will also be included in live entertainment, including during Mickey's Celebration Cavalcade featuring the "EARidescent 8," at Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Philharmonic, the Dapper Dans, the Discovery Island Drummers, and the Voices of Liberty.

In conjunction with announcing the new anthem, Disney released updated concept art for how the "Beacon of Magic" will look at each of the theme parks. Imagineer Zach Riddley revealed on his Instagram page that the lighting changes created for the EPCOT Beacon will remain a permanent addition for the park beyond the celebration.


Cinderella Castle will transform with "EARidescence" into a Beacon of Magic at night during the park's anniversary celebration.


Spaceship Earth's EARidescent transformation will remain a permanent part of the EPCOT entry plaza beyond the anniversary celebration according to Imagineer Zach Riddley.


The Tower of Terror will make its EARidescent transformation on select nights at Disney's Hollywood Studios during the anniversary celebration.


Some Tree of Life Awakenings at Disney's Animal Kingdom will include its EARidescent transformation into a Beacon of Magic during the anniversary celebration.

Images courtesy Disney Parks.

Stores around Walt Disney World Resort began early sales of some of the 50th anniversary merchandise on Friday, August 13. EARidescence and Cinderella Castle's dark blue are rather prominent features of the collection.


The World's Most Magical Celebration merchandise collection has begun appearing in stores across Walt Disney World Resort ahead of the October 1 start of the 50th anniversary's 18-month-long event.


The "EARidescent" Cinderella Castle with the 50th logo is prominent on the anniversary merchandise collection.


Gold trim is also prominent in the merchandise collection.


Of course, Mickey Mouse also makes appearances in the merchandise collection.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

October 1 is also the 39th anniversary of the opening of EPCOT. The next landmark in its ongoing transformation will be that night's scheduled debut of the new nighttime spectacular "Harmonious." This past week, Disney Parks Blog shared details about the creation of this new show's soundtrack, which will be a "journey through new interpretations of familiar Disney songs, performed in more than a dozen languages." At least in part because of the global pandemic, the soundtrack was produced remotely by more than 100 separate recording sessions with performers in nine different countries and five states. Nearly 240 musicians, artists, composers, arrangers, cultural consultants, and vocalists provided contributions.

Disney Parks Blog provided a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the new soundtrack.

The new soundtrack also includes the melody of composer Pinar Toprak's new EPCOT anthem that debuted back at D23 Expo 2019. Arranger Mark Hammond and Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Music Producer and Creative Director Yaron Spiwak are responsible for creating what Disney calls "a magnificent cultural symphony unlike anything heard before." Imagineer Zach Riddley also confirmed on his Instagram page that the torches around World Showcase Lagoon that were added back in 1999 for the Millennium Celebration will remain in the park and will be part of the new show.

This & That…

…Boma—Flavors of Africa will reopen at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge on Friday, August 20. Reservations reopen tomorrow, Wednesday, August 18.

…The reimagination of the entrance to Disney's Polynesian Village continues and the monorail station there is not yet reopen.


The porte cochere at Disney's Polynesian Village appears nearly complete, as work continues on the monorail station behind it.


Bell and Valet services are available at the porte cochere, but the entrance to the lobby is still around the sides of Grand Ceremonial Hall.


Inside the upper level of the lobby, enjoy a view across Seven Seas Lagoon all the way to Cinderella Castle.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Well, I thought we had good news when Cirque du Soleil published on Facebook on Friday that its new collaboration with Disney, "Drawn to Life" would debut in November at Disney Springs and that tickets were on sale. Unfortunately, over the weekend, the show's status changed back to "Coming Soon" and tickets are not yet on sale. As you may recall, I had the opportunity to preview a few scenes from this new collaboration in early March 2020 just before the global pandemic temporarily closed down Walt Disney World Resort and Cirque shut down its Central Florida operations. You can keep an eye on the show's page on Cirque's website and on the show's page on the Disney Springs website. While the latter still shows a link to purchase tickets, at our publication time, the link generates an error message.

Cirque at Disney Springs

…Near the idle Cirque du Soleil theater, Orlando Sentinel reports that the NBA Experience, which has been shuttered since the temporary closure of Disney Springs last March at the onset of the pandemic, will not reopen. According to the report, Disney and NBA jointly made the decision to permanently close the interactive attraction that debuted in August 2019 on the former site of DisneyQuest on the West Side. The attached NBA Experience retail store also has not operated since last March. Plans for the space and its retail store have not been announced. The City Works Eatery and Pour House, which is part of the same building, reopened during the phased reopening of Disney Springs and continues to operate during normal business hours.

…Speaking of Disney Springs, Joffrey's Coffee has a food truck serving items inspired by (Disney-owned) Twentieth Century Studios' new adventure-comedy Free Guy now playing at AMC Theatres at Disney Springs and other theaters. The Joffrey's Free Guy Coffee Truck is located on the West Side and will be open from 4-11 p.m. today and tomorrow, August 18. Joffrey's location in The Landing (across from The BOATHOUSE also is offering a selection of specialty items.

Joffrey's Free Guy
Joffrey's "Free Guy" Coffee Truck operates on the West Side of Disney Springs through tomorrow, Wednesday, August 18 (4 p.m. until 11 p.m.). Image courtesy Disney Parks.

…A new Alice in Wonderland by Mary Blair Collection is now available on shopDisney.com and will be coming soon to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

…With Halloween celebrations underway at Walt Disney World, and coming soon to Disneyland, resorts on both coasts and shopDisney have a new Halloween merchandise collection.

…REMINDER: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic returns 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 per person (including tax and service fees). Reservations are also available in the resort's new tower, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

…REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village announced a return of its highly popular "Night of a Million Lights Holiday Lights Spectacular" for its second annual showing, November 12, 2021 through January 2, 2022. Tickets are already available at www.gktw.org/lights for timed entry for the 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. nightly opportunity to visit the 89-acre nonprofit resort with a sparkling tree trail, larger-than-life holiday displays, one-of-a-kind step-in frames and backdrops, as well as a guided storytelling tour of 100 lit villas from the comfort of a tram. Enhancements this year will also include a 360-degree dancing lights show encompassing 21 buildings set to music with six three-minute holiday vignettes playing each hour, a holiday marketplace with upgraded food and beverage experiences, holiday merchandise, and an opportunity for children to meet Santa in an elaborately designed Florida home. VIP packages are available, as are discounts for groups of 25 or more. Proceeds support Give Kids the World Village (located at 210 South Bass Road in Kissimmee, Florida), which provides critically ill children and their families with weeklong wish vacations at no cost.

…FINAL REMINDER: Masquerade Ball returns to The Edison at Disney Springs Friday, August 20, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Live entertainment will be accompanied by trays of passed appetizers, food stations, and a dedicated menu of exclusive masquerade-themed cocktails. Tickets are $150 per person (plus tax and gratuity) and guests must be 21 or older to attend. VIP booths and couches are also available for an an additional $250 for guaranteed seating and a dedicated server. VIP information is available by emailing OrlandoEvents@patinagroup.com or calling (407) 560-8155.

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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.

Summer Florida Resident ticket options available through September 17 allow Florida residents to visit the parks for $54/day (plus tax) with the $215 (plus tax) 4-day Florida Resident Summer Fun Ticket. The ticket is one park per day and Florida proof of residency is required. Specially priced two and three-day Florida Resident Summer Fun Tickets are also available. All tickets can be used either on consecutive or non-consecutive days. Add-ons, like Park Hopper are also available. Park reservations are also required to visit a park in addition to a valid ticket.

Florida Residents hotel rates for bookings through September 4, 2021, are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

For everyone, 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 to Friday 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 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.

 

Comments

  1. By wdwchuck

    "I have been vaccinated, and, indeed, first discussed it with my personal physician. If you have not been vaccinated and are eligible to be, I recommended you discuss with a licensed physician the risks to both yourself and those you come into contact with as the global pandemic continues, and the Delta Variant, Delta Plus Variant, and others spread in your community and those you visit."

    Thanks Alan for the revised vaccine advice. I have been to my doctor and his advice was to wait and see if the FDA approves it. He said that he got it but his wife who is also in the medical field did not and would not until more information was available. Interesting that President Biden said yesterday that people would need booster shots soon. And I wonder if there is going to be any push back by Disney employees about being forced to get the vaccine or lose their jobs? I definitely think we are getting new data every day and it is important to not just get news from one or two sources.
    On another very Happy note, BOMA is opening again!!! Awesome news! Might just have to make a special trip for dinner.

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