Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 28 to October 4, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 28 to October 4, 2021

 News, Views & Writer's Note

The World's Most Magical Celebration gets underway this Friday, October 1, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of The Walt Disney World Resort here in Central Florida. Yesterday, on MousePlanet.com, I provided the rundown of the highlights 18 month-long celebration, including the just-announced opportunities on Wednesday and Thursday nights this week to catch Disney Parks Blog's preview live streams of "Harmonious" at EPCOT and "Disney Enchantment" at Magic Kingdom. We'll also supplement those previews with more news and views on our MousePlanet social media channels on both days from the invited media events.

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The World's Most Magical Celebration will run for 18 months starting October 1. Logo courtesy Disney Parks.

EPCOT Transformation Takes Its Next Step on October 1

The official debut of the new Beacon of Magic lighting package at Spaceship Earth and the official debut of Harmonious at World Showcase Lagoon on October 1 mark not only the start of The World's Most Magical Celebration at EPCOT, but they mark the beginning of these two permanent additions that are remaining beyond the end of the 18-month celebration. As you may recall, Disney previously announced that the transformation of the Future World part of the park would result in three newly named areas. So, the Future World name will be retired, and, starting October 1, Disney says that "EPCOT will be unified with four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. These neighborhoods are filled with new experiences rooted in authenticity and innovation that take guests to new destinations, where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, discovery and the magic of possibility."

World Showcase remains the name for what many guests refer to as "the countries" around the Lagoon. Those that referred to that part of the park as "the World" part, though, may now get a bit more confused, with "World" being part of all the neighborhoods. In any event, the three newly named areas respectively include:

  • World Celebration – offering new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them: the EPCOT entrance plaza including the new fountain with its pylons resembling the originals from the park's early years; the new flags flanking the fountain; Spaceship Earth; the recently opened Creations Shop; the recently opened Club Cool Hosted by Coca-Cola; (at some point in the future) the new "Dreamers Point" and a new statue honoring the "original dreamer," Walt Disney; and new merchandise and dining locations, plus a festival area.
  • World Nature – dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world: The Land pavilion; The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion; and the (now under construction) Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana; a "lush exploration trail" that will invite guests to meet and play with living water that "will have a personality of its own, helping guests learn how to protect the natural water cycle in a fun and engaging way."
  • World Discovery – where stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure come to life: The expanded Mission: SPACE pavilion including the newly opened Space 220 Restaurant; (the now under-construction) Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind; Disney's first "other-world" showcase pavilion at EPCOT with a "family-friendly" adventure starting in the "Galaxarium; a planetarium-like exhibition exploring the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth's galaxy and Xandar; and continuing aboard the new "storytelling coaster" that rotates 360 degrees to focus on the action and includes Disney's first reverse launch.
Main Street Confectionery Reopens Tomorrow, September 29, at Magic Kingdom

Main Street Confectionery reopens tomorrow, September 29, at Magic Kingdom, after its long refurbishment. Now "hosted by" Mars Wrigley, the store will feature a new layout and new interactive opportunities to create customized treats. Guests will still be able to see confections made by hand by the cast, including candy apples and Mickey crisped rice cereals treats.

A colorful candy wall in the new shop features 38 varietes of M&M's and Skittles. Popcorn treats can now be personalized in multiple combinations, including four popcorn flavors—carmel, rainbow fruit, buttery, cheddar—with M&M's or Skittles toppings or chocolate drizzle.

Disney says that there are more than 30 new items available in the new store that won't be available elsewhere. The shop will also offer four new limited-time treats for "The World's Most Magical Celebration," starting October 1.

"Vault Collection" Merchandise Coming to Disney Springs and Magic Kingdom

Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs will receive a special overlay inspired by the new "Vault Collection" merchandise taking guests back to the 1970s with a museum-like display about the original Walt Disney World Resort attractions and resorts. There will be photo opportunities with vintage props like carousel horses from Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, replicas of the Orange Bird and Tiki sculptures, and more. There will be historical displays about The Preview Center, original attractions, and the 1971 opening year's resorts.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Magic Kingdom's shops, The Emporium and Main Street Cinema will also feature Vault Collection items. The Cinema itself will feature a retro-inspired overlay with vintage photos, colors, and details with photo backdrops and props inspired by attractions from Walt Disney World Resort history.

Views of Disney Springs

Since I had not visited Disney Springs in quite some time, and since yesterday was probably the last very quiet day the Resort will see for awhile, I took a look and now share the latest views.

50th Anniversary Merchandise at World of Disney Store

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Around Disney Springs

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Amorette's Patisserie Pays Homage To the Season

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

West Side Views

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

FINAL 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.

…Steven Miller continued his series on Walt Disney World Memories on Disney Parks Blog by sharing memories of the March 1998 cast member previews of Disney's Animal Kingdom ahead of its April 22, 1998 opening.

…As we mentioned last week, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has "paused" its use of the Virtual Queue system at Disney's Hollywood Studios and, as of publication, offers only a traditional Standby queue. It is expected to offer paid access to "Lightning Lane" with dynamic pricing when the Disney Genie service comes on line at some point this Fall. Over at EPCOT, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, which officially opens on October 1, will use the Virtual Queue system with the same 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. opportunities to attempt to join.

Find Virtual Queue information in the My Disney Experience app. Screenshots by Alan S. Dalinka.

…The new "Un Poco Loco scene from Disney and Pixar's Coco will debut in Mickey's PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom on November 12. Its score was produced by Coco's original composer, Germaine Franco, and will feature Miguel and his friends joining in on the fun.

…With the new Cirque du Soleil-Disney collaboration, "Drawn to Life," scheduled to premiere on November 18 at Disney Springs, Cirque has launched a weekly web series with unprecedented behind-the-scenes looks at the show's creation on the show's Facebook page.

…REMINDER: 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…

…REMINDER: 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.

…For those that venture beyond Walt Disney World resort looking for family dining and grocery options, the Cross Roads shopping center across FL-535 from Hotel Plaza Blvd. at Disney Springs finally closed this summer as part of a plan to reconfigure the Lake Buena Vista exit on Interstate 4 (Exit 68). The shopping center, originally developed by Disney but sold to third party investors and de-annexed from Walt Disney World Resort many years ago, was home to such businesses as Goodings Grocery Store, a McDonald's, TGI Fridays, and other dining and retail stores. A new shopping area, O-Town West is under construction a bit further north on FL-535, where, so far, White Castle and Portillo's restaurants have opened, and a Publix grocery store is under construction, among other businesses.

Cross roads has closed across from Disney Springs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…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. Menus for the event are now available here.

The Swan Reserve, the new tower at The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, joins the Swan as a visible sight in EPCOT's skyline. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…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.

…Also beyond Walt Disney World Resort, another Central Florida Resort is celebrating an anniversary this fall too. LEGOLAND Florida Resort commemorates ten "awesome years" with a month-long party-packed October featuring a new attraction opening, a birthday celebration day, the reopening of MINILAND, and the return of fireworks at Brick or Treat. Brick or Treat is celebrated Saturdays and Sundays all month long. The new attraction and new version of MINILAND with shade structures open and the birthday bash will be celebrated October 15. More information and tickets are available at LEGOLAND.com/florida.

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.

Know before you go. Screenshot from My Disney Experience.

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 again this week, as of publication, while there are tropical systems being monitored in the Atlantic Ocean, none are forecast as headed toward Central Florida. It's the height of the tropical storm season, so it is very important to stay informed.

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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.

Annual Passholder and Florida Resident offers are now available for stays most nights from December 12-24, 2021.

We have not heard whether there will be more offers this Fall/Winter.

This page of DisneyWorld.com features all the offers the Resort has publicly announced.

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.