Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 2-8, 2021

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 2-8, 2021

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 News, Views & Writer's Note

With the passing of Halloween on Sunday, Walt Disney World Resort is now moving into full-blown Holidays 2021 mode. Christmas decor in Magic Kingdom replaced Halloween decor on Main Street U.S.A. after the last guests departed the Halloween revelries and before the gates opened on November 1.

Magic Kingdom Decorated for Holidays 2021
Not long after the end of Magic Kingdom's last Boo Bash After Hours, crews began the seasonal transformation of Main Street U.S.A. for the 2021 Holidays Season. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

As you can see down in the This & That section below, holiday foods and merchandise are starting to make their presence (or is it presents?), and the gingerbread displays are beginning their returns as well. As usual, Thanksgiving gets pretty short shrift, but Raglan Road provided us with its all-day menu to share below too.

November may see more Walt Disney World Resort news, with the IAPPA trade show returning to Orange County Convention Center and Disney Destination D23 event coming to Disney's Contemporary Resort in coming weeks. This week was otherwise pretty quiet in terms of news. In the meantime, I had my first ever visit to The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Food and Wine Classic and got first look at the "Vue" atop Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, the new tower expected to open at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort later this year.

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Returned

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic returned this past Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30, after a one-year pause due to the global pandemic. According to folks who have been to several editions, it was a bit smaller than the more recent offerings. The all-outdoor festival featured live entertainment, unlimited food tastings from the resorts' culinary team, plus wine, beer and other beverages from around the world.

Featured live entertainment was on stage in front of the fountains at Walt Disney World Dolphin. Projections decorated the fountains all night as well.

The restaurants of Swan & Dolphin Resort featured tasting-sized versions of some of their menu offerings.

Korean-style BBQ chicken wings was one of the many foods I sampled.

Beverages mixed by an antique hand-cranked shaker were available as representing the new Mediterranean restaurant Amare which will debut when Walt Disney World Swan Reserve opens later this year.

Hard seltzer poured through a block of ice was one of the beverage offerings as well.

Of course, desserts, assembled at the event by the Resort's team were available as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve

My friend, John Frost at The Disney Blog, invited me along join him along with the other members of the media invited by the Resort's publicity team. After the Classic concluded for the evening, we were invited to preview the new event space named the "Vue" atop The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, the new hotel tower expected to open before year-end. The Vue offers both indoor and outdoor areas, including views of EPCOT and its nightly presentation of Harmonious.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is located across Epcot Resorts Boulevard from Walt Disney World Swan, next to Disney's Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf.

The new hotel tower is expected to open before year-end.

The Vue, an event space atop The Reserve, provides both indoor and outdoor views of the Swan & Dolphin Resort, as well as EPCOT, and, Downtown Orlando and The Wheel at IKON Park (formerly known as Orlando Eye). (Not shown here, it is also possible to see Disney Springs and some of Disney's Hollywood Studios.)

The Vue provides an excellent view of the new lighting at Spaceship Earth, including its Beacon of Magic. In the distance, you can also see The Wheel (which is actually farther away than a zoom lens makes it seem).

It is also possible to see the fireworks of Harmonious from the Vue, but its digital screens and water fountains are more difficult to see, especially from the outdoor terrace.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


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This & That & Reminders…

…runDisney will be hosting a sort of After Hours at EPCOT following the 2021 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon this weekend. The "runDisney Post-Race Party" will provide admission to the park on Sunday, November 7, 2021, as early as 5 p.m. and will include after-hours access to select attractions (including Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After), villainous character sightings, and specialty food and beverage until 12:30 a.m. Some of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplaces will be open for the event, which will also offer some event-exclusive food and beverage options for purchase too. Party admission is included in Half Marathon or Challenge registration. Friends and family (the public) are welcome to purchase $89 tickets (tax included) for the after-hours festivities as well on this page of runDisney's website.

…With Halloween falling on Sunday this past weekend, Disney Parks Blog posted long time cast member Steven Miller's latest Walt Disney World Memories article honoring the more-than-50-year history of the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom. Because Imagineers produced props, set pieces, and Audio-Animatronics for both the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions of the ride at the same time, the show building for the attraction at Magic Kingdom was one of the first buildings completed at the park in the spring of 1971.

…And with the long Halloween season quickly transforming to Walt Disney World Resort's celebration of the winter holidays, Disney Parks Blog provided two separate Foodie Guides this past week to let guests know about lots of the speciality items appearing on various dates between yesterday, November 1, and year end: For Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs, this is the Foodie Guide; for the Resorts, it is here; the Holiday Kitchens for the upcoming EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays are posted on the official EPCOTHolidays.com webpages, and a full Foodie Guide, no doubt, will follow soon too. Most noteworthy since it also comes from the work of the cast of pastry chefs, yesterday, the life-size spinning carousel has returned to Disney's Beach Club Resort's lobby with the holiday village featuring a miniature train returning next door at Disney's Yacht Club's lobby. On an even larger scale, on November 10, the life-size storybook gingerbread house will again be complete at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort's lobby, and over at The American Adventure Rotunda at EPCOT, the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and The American Adventure building will all be created in miniature edible versions on display from November 26 to December 30.

…Of course, with less than 4 weeks until the start of Hanukkah, and less than 8 weeks until Christmas, Disney Parks Blog has also shared a look at this holiday season's merchandise offerings coming to Disney Parks and Resorts (even beyond North America) and shopDisney.com.

NEW Thanksgiving will be here even before we get to Hanukkah and Christmas. Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs has released its all-day 2021 Thanksgiving Menu: Butter & herb roast turkey, roast garlic mashed potatoes, duck fat roasties, honey glazed carrots, bacon braised Brussels sprouts, sausage meat & walnut stuffing, red wine jus with cranberry sauce. It is $35/adult and $17.50/kids 9 and under (plus tax and gratuity), or guests can order from the all-day Raglan Road menu as well, and its usual live Irish music and dance entertainment will be performed during the evening dinner hours (no entertainment charge or cover). For more information and menus, visit RaglanRoad.com, and reservations are suggested by calling (407)938-0300. (Christmas Day menus are also available now.)

NEW Before we even get to Thanksgiving, The Edison at Disney Springs will be offering a new mixology series on Wednesdays in November for guests at least 21 years old. Featuring Horse Soldier Bourbon and bites on November 3, 10, and 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the $65/person (plus tax and gratuity) event will provide two mixed Horse Soldier Bourbon cocktails with fall-inspired flavors, paired with two tasty and savory small plates, such as candied bacon, calamari, and guacamole. Menus for each Wednesday and "extremely limited" tickets are available on this page of Patina Restaurant Group's website.

…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.

NEW Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter has reopened.

…This week's update about Disney Cruise Line's new ship launching in 2022, Disney Wish, is that Oaken will host "Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure," during the themed dining experience featuring the engagement celebration for Queen Anna and Kristoff.

…And, following last week's news of Disney Cruise Line's new float, "Magic Meets the Sea," in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, Disney announced that Jordan Fisher will perform an original Disney Cruise Line song, "Together We Sail" as part of the parade. It airs on NBC-TV on November 25, from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones.

…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 I noted last week, starting next week, the U.S.A. opens 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. In terms of visiting the Resort, 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.

Though Central Florida's and much of the U.S.A.'s COVID-19 testing results have fallen to below 5% positivity, we are still in a global pandemic, and Disney's policies remain in flux. Annual Passes are on sale, and have not paused in any categories, though Disney reserves the right to do so. 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 Park Pass reservations are still required to visit the parks in addition to valid admission.

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.

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.

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