Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 14-20, 2021by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 14-20, 2021
News & Writer's Note
Another thanks to Give Kids The World Village for inviting me and guests of MousePlanet to attend the 2021 DIS Family Reunion, a one-of-a-kind expo celebrating all facets of the wonderful world of Disney that raises funds to support the organization's mission of providing week-long, no-cost trips to Central Florida for critically ill children and their families. Here at MousePlanet, we write often about this important not-for-profit organization that's supported by Walt Disney World Resort other major area attractions and businesses, including Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World, and more.
For more information about the organization and to provide support, please visit GKTW.org. In the "This & That & Reminders" section below, I regularly include news of opportunities to support the Village, including its planned return of the "Night of a Million Lights Holiday Lights Spectacular" this upcoming holiday season.
Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter shared stories at the DIS Family Reunion about the many projects he worked on at Disney Parks around the world, including Big Thunder Mountain, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Submarine Voyage with Nemo and Friends, Journey Into Imagination, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, Tarzan Treehouse, Soarin' and more. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Yesterday, social media was filled with the sad news for the cast and fans of "Finding Nemo: The Musical" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Based on the posts, full-time cast members received "End of Run" or "End of Show" notices that the show won't be returning to the park. The show was written for the park and was the first non-musical film that Disney Parks built a musical show around. The songs for the show were written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who subsequently wrote the songs for Disney's animated films Frozen and Frozen II (as well as the Frozen animated shorts and Broadway stage production). Disney has made no official statement about the show or its plans for the Theater in the Wild, where it was performed.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom was home to "Finding Nemo: The Musical" and the building has been closed to guests since the park's temporary closure in March 2020. The previously open-air theater was enclosed in 2006 for show's debut. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15, the Creations Shop and the new Club Cool will open at EPCOT. Oddly, as I noted in a morning addition to last week's Update, this opening was mentioned as an aside to a merchandise announcement, so there's little new information to share. Previous official announcements have shared that the complimentary flavors from around-the-world beverages will be available in the new Club Cool and I have heard from a reliable source that the venue will also have a few ice cream float-type items available for purchase. I'll try to share a few first views on our Social Media channels by afternoon on Wednesday (weather and technology cooperating).
Wednesday night also marks the start of the Jewish High Holy Day Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To those that celebrate, may you have an easy fast; to all, have a good New Year and may you be sealed in the Book of Life.
More Views of EPCOT
With EPCOT's historic transformation on-going, every visit provides some new views. I was in EPCOT twice this week for additional opportunities to preview the new expanded France pavilion and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. My daytime visit was my scheduled Annual Passholder preview; unfortunately, the attraction broke down while I was in the queue for an extended time and I chose to leave. My nighttime visit was courtesy of a cast member friend that was invited to preview the attraction with family and friends along.
The transformation of the former Universe of Energy pavilion into part of the Guardians of the Galaxy-Cosmic Rewind attraction continues. When it was announced, it was expected to be complete "in time for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary" of the Resort. No opening date for the attraction has been announced, but we now know the "Celebration" will last 18 months.
We have heard no mention lately about when the daytime fountains will be activated. The barges for the nighttime show have not improved in appearance since their installation and without any fountain effects, complaints about their appearance continue in abundance.
The former Innoventions East/CommuniCore East building is being readied for the opening of the new Creations Shop and Club Cool tomorrow. Transformation of the area that used to include the Fountain of Nations will continue for quite some time to come.
Creations Shop signage was being installed over entrances to the store this past week. The signs use the lettering style of the reimagined EPCOT logo (that pays homage to the 1982 EPCOT Center logo's font).
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The new Passholder logo now appears on the parking toll plazas along with a reminder that Passholders are required to show photo ID along with the pass to receive standard parking (cast will scan MagicBands and, presumably, can also scan or review the mobile wallet APs).
More Views at the Expanded France Pavilion
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Views of Magic Kingdom
I was long overdue for a return visit to Magic Kingdom. I had not been in the park since before the "50" crest was added to Cinderella Castle. My timing was especially good, as some of the Disney Fab 50 golden statutes for "The World's Most Magical Celebration" had just been installed.
Main Street Station has a new "The World's Most Magical Celebration" sign above the Mickey floral display. Unfortunately, the on-going construction at the TRON Lightcycle Run attraction seems to mean that the Walt Disney World Railroad will not be running at the start of the celebration on October 1.
Main Street Station's upper level facing Town Square is used for socially distanced character greetings. These same characters also travled the parade route together as part of a cavalcade during my visit.
Magic Kingdom is decorated for Halloween, with the hard ticket Boo Bash Disney After Hours events continuing on select nights. I did not visit last year when the park was decorated for Halloween, but there seemed to be much less Halloween decor than in years prior.
The walk ways and other common areas of the park seemed quite crowded on Friday, but attraction posted standby queue times were lower than average (for example, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was 40 minutes; Space Mountain was 15 minutes in the early afternoon).
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
First Several Golden Statues Installed at Magic Kingdom
This week, Disney Parks Blog shared a first look at some of the "Disney Fab 50" golden statues installed around Magic Kingdom for the 50th anniversary "The World's Most Magical Celebration" starting October 1. All four theme parks will receive some of the statue installations. Some highlights spotted at Magic Kingdom on Friday are shared below, including a collage of all 17 I saw.
Happy 50th, @WaltDisneyWorld! Check out this compilation video featuring every character sculpture in the “Disney Fab 50 Character Collection” that you’ll find during “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” starting October 1. Find out more: https://t.co/mVlwACrq1h #DisneyWorld50 pic.twitter.com/RZbdqMsCWc— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) September 9, 2021
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
TRON Lightcycle Run Construction
When announced, TRON Lightcycle Run was expected to open "in time for the 50th Anniversary Celebration." From next to the Fantasyland Train Station, you can see that construction has just begun on the loading area for the new ride.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Magic Kingdom Area Resort Views
Cast members working inside Grand Canyon Concourse of Disney's Contemporary Resort say that construction inside the main tower is expected to be completed by October 1. That, of course, is the 50th anniversary of when the hotel opened to guests when Walt Disney World Resort officially opened as well. The new Steakhouse 71, taking the place of "The Wave" restaurant on the first floor is also expected to open on October 1 (see This & That & Reminders)
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Usual Writer's Note
As always, be sure to check the "experience updates" page of Walt Disney World for the latest information you need to know before you visit. We are still in a global pandemic, and Disney's policies remain in flux. With Annual Passes on sale, it remains unlikely the Resort will shutdown again in the near-term, but Disney may very well impose guest restrictions that are stricter than those imposed by the State of Florida. Disney has also reserved the right to suspend the sale of new Annual Passes again in the future.
Disney Parks continue to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. At Walt Disney World Resort, everyone ages 2 and up are required to wear face coverings in all indoor locations. Outdoors, face coverings are optional in most locations for vaccinated guests, and required for unvaccinated guests. All guests continue to be required to wear face coverings on buses, monorails, and on Disney Skyliner. Walt Disney World Resort encourages guests to get vaccinated, and has mandated vaccination for new hires and existing cast members in most roles. With its most recent agreement with its unions, on-site employees must be fully vaccinated and provide proof by October 22.
In case you missed the news, this summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for full licensure. The vaccine, which is one of three approved for use in the U.S., is the first to receive full approval for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
I got vaccinated and the best available information is that it's the best protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19. If you haven't been vaccinated and are eligible to be, I recommended you discuss with a physician the risks to both yourself and those you come into contact with as the global pandemic continues to spread in your community and those places you visit. Flu vaccine for the season is also becoming available, and that is something else to consider.
And, with regard to the weather, as always, if you're heading this way (or live in the regions impacted by storms), please stay informed of the latest weather and tropical forecasts too. Be prepared. Fortunately, as of publication, no tropical systems are forecast as headed toward Central Florida at the moment. My thoughts are with those impacted by Hurricane Ida, those that dealt with its remnants, and, now, those in the path of Hurricane Nicholas on the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisianna.
This & That & Reminders…
…As The World's Most Magical Celebration's October 1 kickoff gets closer, those of us in the neighborhood are hearing more and more late night tests of the new fireworks shows. New bits of decor are going up all the time too. This week, Disney Parks shared a look at the new monorail wrap.
…Disney Parks Blog also shared a behind the scenes look at the recording of "You Are the Magic," a part of Magic Kingdom's upcoming "Disney Enchantment" nighttime spectacular. The new original song was written and performed by Philip Lawrence who got his start as a cast member at Walt Disney World Resort, performing in shows like "Festival of the Lion King" and "Tarzan Rocks!" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Actor and singer Kayla Alvarez, another former Walt Disney World cast member, plus a full orchestra and chorus are part of the recording as well.
Video courtesy Disney Parks.
…Also scheduled to debut on October 1 is the new Steakhouse 71 which takes over the space at Disney's Contemporary Resort most recently home to the restaurant named "The Wave." Right now, like most of the main tower of the Resort, the area is behind construction walls, but Disney Parks Blog shared a first look at the menus for the new venue this week.
Steakhouse 71, located on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, will open its doors on Oct. 1 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we are excited to give you the first look at all the menus: https://t.co/PcLG3ZEeQ3 pic.twitter.com/CT4Q8WCDQ2— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) September 13, 2021
…Steven Miller continued his series on Walt Disney World Memories on Disney Parks Blog by sharing memories of the queue of Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
…Yesterday, Disney Parks Blog shared the news that, through October 31, teachers can enter to win a trip to Walt Disney World Resort to attend the Disney Imagination Campus 50. Yes, there is an essay writing requirement…
Calling all teachers! Do you inspire imagination in your classroom? Enter to win a 4-Day, 3-Night stay at @WaltDisneyWorld Resort for an inside look at the reimagined Disney Imagination Campus & experience all the magic of the 50th anniversary celebration: https://t.co/VC0f2yQRkF pic.twitter.com/1eRZHMIg1g— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) September 13, 2021
…Visit Orlando's Magical Dining program is back and has been extended through October 17. Guests at popular Orlando restaurants can enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $37/person with $1 from each meal served benefiting Pathlight HOME and IDignity, combatting homelessness in Central Florida. Disney Springs restaurants participating in the program this year include JALEO, Paddlefish, STK, Terralina Crafted Italian, and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. For more details and more participating restaurants, visit MagicalDining.com.
…REMINDER: Patina Restaurant Group announced that, by "popular demand," the fourth annual Ramen Rumble will return this year hosted by Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs in partnership with event founders, Jason & Sue Chin of Seito Sushi (Good Salt Restaurant Group) on Tuesday, September 28 with two sessions from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. "Six of Orlando's best and brightest chefs will compete for the championship title, bragging rights, the coveted 'Broth Belt' trophy, and a sizable check to donate to charity partner, Give Kids the World. Each contestant will man their own soup station, presenting their unique style of ramen filled with creative toppings and interesting textures for guests to sample and vote on in order to crown the next Ramen King or Queen of Central Florida." The participating restaurants are Morimoto Asia, Seito Sushi, Susuru, Ichicoro Ramen, Ramen Takagi, and Yugiri Ramen Project. Tickets are $80++ per person and include six steaming bowls of tasty ramen (one from each chef's entry), one beverage, and a traditional Asian dessert. A cash bar will also be open and souvenir t-shirts will be for sale. Visit this Patina Restaurant Group webpage for information about available private dining as well as to purchase tickets to the event.
…REMINDER: Disney-owned ABC News is teaming up with Disney Parks to present "The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World," hosted by Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg, airing on Friday, October 1, from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern on ABC-TV, and (thankfully, for those of us without an active DVR or Cable-TV subscription), the next-day on-demand and on Hulu, and later in the month on Disney+. The show will musical performances from Christina Aguilera and Halle Bailey in front of the legendary Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom accompanied by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, interviews with iconic actors, actresses, and athletes, Walt Disney World cast members, Disney Imagineers and executives past and present who have all been part of the Resort. Celebrities including Anthony Anderson, John Stamos, Marsai Martin, Gary Sinise, Melissa Joan Hart, and Candace Cameron Bure; NFL athletes Tom Brady, Phil Simms, and Doug Williams, and creative forces Kevin Feige, Pete Docter, and James Cameron; Walt Disney World Imagineers including Bob Weis, Mark Kohl, and Ann Morrow Johnson; and Disney executives past and present including Bob Chapek, Bob Iger, and Michael Eisner, are all scheduled to appear.
…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. NEW Menus for the event are now available here.
…REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village announced the 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.
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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.
The Summer hotel rate offer for Florida Residents ended on September 4. The Summer Florida Resident ticket offer expires this Friday, September 17.
Keep an eye out for Fall/Winter hotel offers which could be announced any day (but, no, we have no insider information as to when or what offers may be coming).
This page of DisneyWorld.com features all the offers the Resort has publicly announced.
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.
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.
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.