Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 26 - November 1, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 26 - November 1, 2021

At publication, we continue to experience technical issues with how we usually display photos in the Update. You can view a larger version of each of the photos included here by clicking on the photo, but each photo will open in a separate tab without a caption rather than a slideshow-type gallery.

 News, Views & Writer's Note

Starting November 8, the U.S. is opening its borders to more international visitors who are fully vaccinated. With Walt Disney World Resort historically attracting guests from well beyond North America—especially from Europe and South America—we could see yet a further uptick in attendance in the parks in the coming weeks and months as we head into the holiday season. Remember, Disney Park Pass reservations are required to visit the parks. Keep in mind that unlike Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort has not again paused sales of any of its ticket categories, although it has stated that it may do so in the future.

Speaking of travel, Disney and Southwest Airlines last month showed off one of that domestic carrier's 737 aircraft decorated for The World's Most Magical Celebration. This week, Disney showed off one of Brazil's Azul Linhas Aéreas Airbus A320 jets, also adorned with Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney World logos.

Back at Walt Disney World Resort, as you probably know, the new Disney Genie service launched last, Tuesday, October 19. The service, first announced back at Disney D23 Expo 2019 by then-Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek, is a new part of the My Disney Experience app that now offers complimentary planning features and two different opportunities to purchase the sort of shorter attraction wait times previously provided by the complimentary Disney Fastpass+ service: Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Access. Not surprisingly with new technology the new service got off to a bit of a rough start, and social media reports gave it rather mixed reviews.

As a solo local and fairly frequent parks visitor, the planning service seemed a bit cumbersome. I made my initial choices in the app at home. Once my initial choices were recorded, the service seemed intent all day on showing me the "My Day" information rather than the more useful "My Tip Board" with current and projected wait times. Like all apps, there's a learning curve here, and it will take me a few more visits to the parks to figure out which parts may be more useful to me and which more useful to other guests.  

Once I actually visited Magic Kingdom on Tuesday afternoon, I purchased Disney Genie+ to test it out. Disney hadn't entirely made clear before the release that purchases would require sales tax, although it was not entirely surprising to me. The advertised price of $15 per guest per day for the Genie+ service is currently $15.98. Amusement tax also applies if purchasing Individual Attraction Access (which I haven't attempted to purchase yet). Even with the newest smartphone on the market (an Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max) and the latest version of the My Disney Experience app, I experienced a fair number of technical glitches. Based on a single experience with the new service on its debut day, I think it's too soon to pronounce judgment on it.

Disney Genie+ includes new augmented reality PhotoPass lenses. Some, like the two shown here, are only available when your smart device's GPS indicates that you are in a designated location (for the Castle, near the Castle; for Mickey, at Walt Disney World Resort). It seemed to take quite a few steps to get to the menu selection for the lenses as well; this is part of the learning curve I mentioned above. Photos and videos created with the lenses can be saved to your camera roll. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I experienced quite a few technical glitches with the new Disney Genie service on its debut day. More than once, the app offered to sell me the Individual Attraction Access throughout the afternoon. Remember, individual attraction access prices may vary each day, and become available for purchase at 7 a.m. for resort hotel guests and at park open for the public. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The summary legal disclaimer that was missing from the Disney Genie screens was included later in the week. A full legal disclaimer accompanies the confirmation of purchase in the app, though social media had reports that Disney had provided refunds to guests visiting Guest Relations that encountered various problems with the new services. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Lightning Lane issue that I experienced at the Haunted Mansion was the same sort of chaos I recall happening at attractions in the past with FastPass+. The backup at the return can be caused by any number of factors, including the attraction being down, cast members at the merge point with the standby line not regulating the guest flow, a system error assigning too many return times in the same window, or even other reasons.

Disney on Broadway Concert Series to Return to EPCOT in 2022

As the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort continues, this past week's Disney Parks Blog announcement of the return of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts from January 14 to February 21, 2022, appears to signal the return of a full-fledged EPCOT festival next year. From the beginning of the phased reopening in July 2020 and through the Spring this year, EPCOT held "Taste of" versions of its festivals, which included some aspects of the full festivals (like the food, beverage, and merchandise options), but eliminated those that gathered crowds like the various concert series and special seminars and demonstrations. This Fall, the "Taste of" designation was dropped from the Food & Wine Festival, but the headline entertainment and special events have not returned (except the return of the runDisney Half Marathon).

Festival of the Arts returns in 2022
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts returns January 14 to February 21, 2022. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Last week we were able to provide further details about the modified return of Candlelight Processional featuring Celebrity Narrators to this year's upcoming EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays and the return of other storytellers around World Showcase. Now we know that the Disney on Broadway Concert Series will return to the America Gardens Theatre as part of the next Festival of the Arts. While the schedules and entertainers have not yet been announced, this is a further resumption of "normal" EPCOT operations, included with valid admission (and the still-required reservation or the usually available Park Hopping option) to the park. As in the past, the Festival of the Arts will includes "Food Studios," chalk artists, walk-in photo opportunities, a paint-by-number mural, scavenger hunt, performance and visual artists, merchandise, and so forth.

Disney on Broadway Concert Series
Disney on Broadway Concert Series returns as part of the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. Performers and schedule to be announced closer to the Festival. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views of Magic Kingdom

As noted above, I visited Magic Kingdom on Tuesday afternoon to get a sense of the debut of Disney Genie+ and, honestly, hoping to get to experience a less-crowded park than the week before. Unfortunately, with last Tuesday being a "Boo Bash Disney After Hours" night (all of which are sold out), the crowds built steadily ahead of the nightly presentation of the new Disney Enchantment fireworks.

I had not previously seen the 50 mixed-in with the Main Street Station landscaping. Based on reviewing my earlier photos, it had not been there before The World's Most Magical Celebration got underway.

A 50th Anniversary flag flies high atop Main Street Station.

An un-advertised surprise awaits in Frontierland: the "Shootin' Arcade" is now set for "Free Play" rather than being an extra charge.

Mickey's Celebration Cavalcade includes Mickey's pals dressed in their new The World's Most Magical Celebration outfits.

Cavalcade times can now be found in the My Disney Experience app. Cavalcades start in Frontierland, head to Liberty Square, cross into the Central Plaza hub in front of Cinderella Castle and head up Main Street U.S.A. to Town Square.

Chip & Dale wave to guests from the Cavalcade float.

Construction continues on TRON Lightcycle Run in Tomorrowland.

At just past 6 p.m., crowds already gather in the Central Plaza hub and along Main Street U.S.A. for the nightly presentation of Disney Enchantment. At 7 p.m., guests with "Boo Bash After Hours" tickets are allowed to start entering the park as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Monorail Gold is partially wrapped with The World's Most Magical Celebration decorations as it glides around Seven Seas Lagoon. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A post shared by MousePlanet (@mouseplanet)

For those that saw my photo of Monorail Silver gliding above the moon on social media, you might also enjoy seeing just how large in the sky the moon appeared to be as I walked through the TTC parking lot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…Yesterday, October 25, was the 50th Anniversary of the official dedication of Walt Disney World Resort. Long time cast member and Disney Parks Blog author Steven Miller continued his Disney Parks Blog Memories series by honoring the occasion and noting the current Magic Kingdom tributes to Roy O. Disney, who postponed his retirement to fulfill Walt Disney's dream of building the Central Florida Resort. Walt Disney's brother, Roy, personally dedicated the Resort on October 25, 1971, as "a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney" and to those that made it possible:

May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn – together.

WDW Dedication 1971
Walt Disney World Resort officially was dedicated October 25, 1971, by Roy O. Disney. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

…FINAL 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: 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. Mickey's PhilharMagic is now closed for refurbishment until then.

…As next year's launch of Disney Cruise Line's new ship, Disney Wish approaches, Disney Parks Blog continues providing details about the adventures planned for guests aboard. Disney previously shared that Disney Wish will offer a first-of-its-kind "epic" interactive dining experience, "Avengers: Quantum Encounter," that will have Ant-Man and the Wasp hosting "a presentation of the most powerful Super Hero technologies in the world, including a hands-on demonstration of the latest and greatest Pym Tech," well, that is until Ultron shows up with "an army of robot sentries eager to take control" of the technology and some of The Avengers will be called upon, along with the diners, to save the day. Disney has confirmed that stars from the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be "lending their talents" to the show, including: Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp, Anthony Mackie as Captain America, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Kerry Condon as the voice of F.R.I.D.A.Y., and Ross Marquand as the villainous voice of Ultron.

To further excite folks ahead of the launch of Disney Wish, Disney Cruise Line will have a new float, "Magic Meets the Sea," in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

…FINAL 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. For remaining package and ticket availability, visit FoodAndWineClassic.com. Event-only ticket options are $165 per person (including tax and service fees). Menus for the event are now available here.

UPDATED 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 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. Note: some dates already sold out, including December 5 and 12. 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.

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 were required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof by October 22.

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. I got mine.

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 we head toward the tail end of the usual storm season, none are forecast as headed toward Central Florida, but stay aware that some of the strongest storms of the past have struck in November. Please 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.