Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 7 - 13, 2021

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 7 - 13, 2021

 News, Views & Writer's Note

I'm back on the East Coast editor's desk for a couple of weeks to give Alan a well-deserved break from the 50th Anniversary festivities, so this Update will be much shorter than usual. I want to make sure to thank David and Nanette Kent for helping to cover the Epcot International Festival of Holidays media event this past weekend, and sharing their photos with us.

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is an annual tradition at Walt Disney World, and so popular that it's inspired a smaller celebration at the Disneyland Resort in California. As the event began its second weekend, the Resort hosted a number of media for an overview of the food, merchandise, and entertainment from this tradition. Alan noted last week that the 2021 Festival is as close to pre-pandemic scope and scale as he's seen since the theme parks reopened, and the crowd reports from EPCOT seem to bear that out.

Be sure to grab a Festival Passport on your way into EPCOT to help guide your trip through the event. Photo by Dave Kent.

Food is the unifying theme of all EPCOTt Festivals, and the holiday edition is no exception. Many returning favorites are available for fans, but there are some new additions that are worth a look. You've likely sung about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but have you actually eaten one? The new Chestnuts and Good Cheer booth serves up bags of roasted and salted chestnuts, along with cinnamon-spiced nuts. For a taste of the familiar, you can't beat the slow-roasted turkey and trimmings from the American Holiday Table, or the cheese fondue bread bowl from the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen.

Roasted chestnuts and candied nuts are served up at the Chestnuts and Good Cheer booth. Photo by Dave Kent.

The slow-roasted turkey dish is a sample-sized Thanksgiving meal. Photo by Dave Kent.

The cheese fondue bread bowl is a returning favorite from Germany. Photo by Dave Kent.

The Holiday Cookie Stroll is back for 2021, offering a sweet challenge: purchase any five cookies from a participating location, collect a stamp for each in your Festival Passport, and redeem your passport for a sweet treat. While World Showcase seems to be the central location for holiday foods, remember that there are offerings all around EPCOT. Don't miss the return of The Donut Box near Test Track, offering a selection of seasonal treats.

Treat yourself to five cookies from the Holiday Cookie Stroll, and Disney will treat you to a 50th anniversary ornament cookie. Photo by Dave Kent.

If you prefer donuts to cookies, check out these four new offerings at The Donut Box. Photo by Dave Kent.

At some point you're going to need to take a break from eating your way around World Showcase, and that's a perfect time to check out the 2021 Festival of Holidays souvenirs. The 2021 theme is "That Time of Year" from Olaf's Frozen Adventure, and the cheerful snowman and friends adorn much of the collection. The assortment includes clothing for kids, adults and Annual Passholders, as well as home decor and housewares.

Olaf and Friends appear on much of the merchandise from the 2021 Festival of Holidays. Photo by Dave Kent.

Olaf and Sven are featured on mugs, ornaments and pins. Photo by Dave Kent.

It's THAT Time of Year at EPCOT. Photo by Dave Kent.

Alan covered the traditional Candlelight performance in past updates, but Epcot offers a much larger variety of holiday entertainment than just the one nightly show. Back for 2021 is JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season, featuring upbeat performances by a very talented group of vocalists. Check your My Disney Experience app or a sign at the Showcase Plaza Stage for performance times.

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season is a must-see performance during the Festival of Holidays. Photo by Dave Kent.

JOYFUL! is presented on the Showcase Plaza Stage at the entrance to the World Showcase. Photo by Dave Kent.

Alan covered the traditional Candlelight performance in past updates, but Epcot offers a much larger variety of holiday entertainment than just the one nightly show. Back for 2021 is JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season, featuring upbeat performances by a very talented group of vocalists. Check your My Disney Experience app or a sign at the Showcase Plaza Stage for performance times.

You could spend an entire day just watching the World Showcase Storytellers, each with a unique tale about holiday traditions from their native countries. There are 10 performers around World Showcase, and you'll definitely need to use the My Disney Experience app to see them all.

The Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights holiday overlay takes an already-wonderful attraction and adds an extra touch. In addition to the seasonal decor, the audio track for Living With The Land has been updated to include holiday-related details, like the Feast of the Seven Fishes as you enter the fish farm.

Living with the Land received a holiday overlay. Photo by Dave Kent.

Walt Disney World Day

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings last week presided over a ceremony naming Dec. 3, 2021, as Walt Disney World Day.

Mickey Mouse joins (l-r) Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Second Harvest Food Bank Central Florida President Dave Krepcho. Photo courtesy Disney.

The ceremony took place at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which was the recent recipient of a $500,000 grant in honor of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary. Walt Disney World Resort leaders and Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse took part in the event, after which Walt Disney World VoluntEARS took part in a community service project, sorting and packing food for distribution by the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Disney Vacation Club reinstates partnership with Interval International

Disney Vacation Club members have a number of ways to use their vacation ownership, from booking stays at one of the 15 Disney Vacation Club resorts in Florida, California, Hawai’i, and South Carolina, to using their points to book trips aboard the Disney Cruise Line or excursions with Adventures by Disney.

Disney Vacation Club members will soon have a new way to use their points when traveling outside the Disney portfolio. MousePlanet file photo.

But when DVC owners want to explore beyond the Disney portfolio, they have to work through an exchange network, which allows them access to thousands of timeshare properties and hotels around the world. The largest of these networks are RCI and Interval International, and on Monday Disney announced a new partnership that switches affiliation from RCI to Interval International, effective January 1, 2022.

Disney partnered with Interval International from 1995 through 2009, before affiliating with RCI network. Now the company is switching back to the Interval International exchange. In a letter to members William C. “Bill” Diercksen, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Disney Vacation Club and Aulani, said:

At Disney Vacation Club, we know how much you enjoy exploring destinations and experiences beyond your Home Resorts. Our team is dedicated to helping you create unforgettable vacation memories around the world. That’s why we’re thrilled to name Interval International as our exclusive new exchange provider for traditional exchanges, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

This new relationship will offer you a broad range of resort experiences, providing flexible and diverse opportunities in amazing locations across Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, as well as destinations closer to home including the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Through Interval International, you will have access to thousands of resorts including a specially curated portfolio of high-quality properties selected especially for Members. This expanded portfolio includes well-known resorts offered by Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt and Westin, to name a few.

In the meantime, you can continue to book nightly and weekly exchanges in the traditional exchanges through our current program until Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, any confirmed reservations or points that have been deposited to RCI will be honored through 2023. If you have confirmed exchanges with RCI, deposited points with RCI or made a booking with RCI using cash, you can always review your activity on the Member website.

We’re excited to continue to provide you and your family with a whole new world of vacation possibilities!

A joint press release from Interval International and Disney Vacation Club expands on the new partnership, saying:

"Disney Vacation Club Members will enjoy many flexible exchange opportunities and upgraded benefits and services. These include the ability to exchange their points toward ShortStay Exchange, receive discounts on Getaway vacation rentals, and utilize VIP Concierge for personal assistance, 24/7. Interval’s hotel exchange benefit will also be available to eligible Disney Vacation Club Members at a later date."

The Disney Vacation Club advertises the ability to use exchanges in their sales presentation, and some sales guides really push the value of this benefit. However, there are numerous rules and regulations when using DVC points through exchange networks, rules which vary depending on how you purchased your DVC shares in the first place. We always recommend that prospective DVC members make their determination based on how your family would use the points you've purchased at the home resort you've selected, and not based on any perks or benefits which are subject to change from year to year.

Ring in the New Year in Disney Springs

Two Disney Springs locations have sent us details of their New Years Eve celebrations, for those looking for a way to ring in the New Year outside of the theme parks.

The Edison

Ring in the new year at The Edison’s dazzling New Year’s Eve gala, filled with live entertainment, world-class dining, and an open dance floor.

The excitement begins at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 with captivating performances from The Sound Society Radio Show, The Pearls burlesque trio, stilt walkers, an aerialist, DJ, and more. Guests will be privy to signature passed appetizers and food stations featuring everything from buffalo chicken sliders, prime rib, crab cakes, and loaded mashed potatoes to chocolate cake and key lime pie bites for dessert. A selection of The Edison’s premium beer and spirits will also be available via cash bars. When the clock strikes midnight, the evening will conclude with a celebratory champagne toast as we usher in the new year.

For guaranteed seating, tables can be reserved to accommodate 2-10 guests, or individual bar seating can be purchased, for $150++ per person. Reservations include entry at 8 p.m., access to food stations, passed appetizers, and champagne at midnight. A limited number of standing-room-only tickets will also be available for purchase, which include entry at 10:30 p.m., desserts, the champagne toast and access to the electrifying lineup of lavish entertainment for $25++ per person. Both ticket types can be purchased at the restaurant website.

Raglan Road

Join us at Raglan Road on Dec. 31, when we’ll raise a complimentary glass of bubbly to ring in the Irish New Year at 7 p.m. E.T. (midnight Irish time). We’ll do it all over again when the pub clock strikes midnight. Book now and plan for a fun New Year’s Eve at Raglan Road. We’ll serve our all-day menu and lots of tasty libations for pairing while our house bands and the Raglan Road Irish Dancers usher you into the new year. Book a reservation at the restaurant website.

This & That & Reminders…

…Guy Fieri's Chicken Guy! opened its first-ever stand alone location and drive-through in Winter Park, Florida last week. This second location joins the brand's flagship restaurant in Disney Springs. If you'd like to work for Chicken Guy!, the new location is also hiring.

…Before he was a rising star on the All Elite Wrestling circuit, professional wrestler QT Marshall waited tables and tended bar at Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs. Last week the AEW veteran returned to Planet Hollywood for a ceremony in which a pair of his autographed boots were added to the restaurant's collection of pop culture memorabilia.

…Enzo's Hideaway in Disney Springs is expanding its operating hours, and is now open for lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. View the new lunch menu and book your table through the restaurant's website.

…Wine Bar George is out with another custom Corksicle design, this time a festival holiday sweater motif. Customers receive a complimentary glass of mulled wine or frozen beverage with purchase, while supplies last. The Disney Springs restaurant is also offering a $10 bonus card with every $100 gift card purchased.

…Another celebrity chef is making a name for themselves in Orlando. This time, it's Chef Richard Blais, who last week opened his first Florida restaurant, Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress near Walt Disney World. The Top Chef star says, "Four Flamingos was inspired by a lot of nostalgic elements from when I was young, like peering into a lobster tank or watching the action in an open kitchen." You can view the menu and make reservations at the restaurant's website.

…REMINDER: On Christmas Day (Saturday, December 25), the Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade will air on ABC-TV from 10 a.m. until noon (Eastern and Pacific Time), with Derek and Julianne Hough from Walt Disney World Resort, and Trevor Jackson and Sherry Cola from Disneyland Resort. It will also be available for streaming the next day on Hulu. In addition to the musical acts (which are listed in this Disney Parks Blog post), Disney says that the specials will provide peeks at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the Disney Cruise Line ship Disney Wish, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Encanto (which opened November 24), and Steven Spielberg's new film, West Side Story.

…REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village's highly popular "Night of a Million Lights Holiday Lights Spectacular" has returned for its second annual showing. Last year's edition attracted over 90,000 visitors to the Village and USA Today named last year's event as the "Number One Thing To Do In Orlando In December." Night of a Million Lights enables guests to immerse themselves in an exquisitely decorated fairytale neighborhood which wish families call home during their stays. Guests can enjoy a 360-degree dancing lights show set to music; explore a sparkling tree trail; view larger-than-life holiday displays; take photos at one-of-a-kind step-in frames and backdrops; visit Santa in his elaborately decorated summer house inside a holiday marketplace; and enjoy a guided storytelling tour of dozens of magnificently lit villas from the comfort of a tram, included in the price of the ticket. A majority of the lights were donated by Walt Disney World. For those that miss the Osbourne Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, this display is very reminiscent of that, especially back in the time that Residential Street was still standing on the park's Backlot. Night of a Million Lights runs through January 2, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, with entry times staggered to prevent crowding. Tickets are available at www.gktw.org/lights Note: some dates already sold out, including December 5 and 12. 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.

Join Our Networks

Follow MousePlanet on Facebook:

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.

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. to 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.

Get Away Today Logo

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.