Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 25-31, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 25-31, 2022

You can view a larger version of each of the photos included in the Update by clicking on the photo. Each photo will open in a separate tab without a caption rather than a slideshow-type gallery like we had in the past.

 News, Views & Writer's Note

Hello, winter. Yes, the area around Walt Disney World Resort has experienced some actual Florida winter days of late, with nighttime lows around freezing, reports of frost, and some daytime temperatures not topping the 50s. As someone who relocated from Chicagoland, I find that it is rather refreshing, and it gives me an opportunity to pull out my jeans, sweatshirts, and a medium-weight jacket rather than my shorts for a change.

Of course, if you are heading this way from another part of the country or the world and are expecting warm weather, you just have to wait a few days, as the temperatures will bounce back up to the 70s here and there. If you are hoping for a visit to the recently reopened Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park, be aware that it closes for cold temperatures, so be sure to check My Disney Experience to see if it's open: it's listed as closed both today (forecast high temperature: 56°) and tomorrow (forecast high temperature: 62°). Disney's Blizzard Beach water park is closed for seasonal refurbishment.

As we head into this last week of January, the news-front remains rather quiet as of publication. I don't have advance notice of news to come, but it's only a matter of time before we probably see some of the bigger announcements. For example, at Destination D23 back in November, Josh D'Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks (etc.), said that Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade would return "early" this year and that other offerings that had been suspended as a result of the pandemic would be returning as well. We also know that a new 50th Anniversary enhanced version of the "Mickey's Friendship Faire" show will debut at some point at Cinderella Castle, and the new version of the Finding Nemo: The Musical will debut at Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Indeed, at Disney's Animal Kingdom, as I note below, additional live entertainment has recently returned.)

Likewise, the "transformation" of EPCOT continues. Walt Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley shares updates on that project from time to time on his Instagram account, with news this week of construction of the first-ever, full-size Nova Corps ship outside what he's now calling the "Wonders of Xandar pavilion" (formerly, the Universe of Energy), which will be home to the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster later this year. He invites folks to have a look at construction progress from the monorail, so maybe I'll do just that sometime soon.


Jessie's Trading Post Coming to Toy Story Land

Back in 2019, Disney announced that Rodeo BBQ Restaurant would be joining Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios in a new area for the land which, over the ensuing years, we could see was adjacent to Slinky Dog Dash Coaster near the entrance to the land. Delayed by the pandemic from its expected 2020 opening, this past week, Disney Parks Blog announced that the restaurant is now scheduled to open this year. Disney Parks Blog also shared that "Andy discovered Jessie's Trading Post playset tucked away in the attic, and is bringing it downstairs to set up shop—full of the coolest toys and finest souvenirs handpicked by the rootinest, tootinest cowgirl."

When Toy Story Land opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios back in 2018, it did so with neither a table service restaurant nor a merchandise shop. Instead, it debuted with only a quick service window, Woody's Lunch Box, plus a few food and beverage carts and merchandise kiosks. A small merchanise location was added inside the exit hallway of Toy Story Mania around the time Toy Story 4 opened in theaters in 2019. Other than saying it will open in 2022, Disney has not shared further information about the new merchandise location.

More Views of the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (ArtfulEPCOT continues through February 21)

As you probably know by now (and have seen in past updates), 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is underway through February 21 in much of its pre-pandemic form. As I noted in last week's Update, I was invited to attend Media Day at the Festival last week, and provided more coverage on our social media channels, and also in the opening of the Garry Meier Show Cocktail Hour LIVE on Friday (which I also produce).

Festival of the Arts 2022


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This very brief recap of the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts includes views of the arts celebrated at the festival: performing, visual, and culinary. Catch glimpses of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, the Figment Spork, one of the moments that a rainbow appears on Spaceship Earth (while The Muppets sign "Rainbow Connection,"), and more. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Golden Figment statue is part of The World's Most Magical Celebration for the Resort's 50th Anniversary. Figment is also the central "personality" of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.

Figment's Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt places Figment in works of art to be "discovered" all around World Showcase, whether or not you purchase the map to seek out the completion prizes.

Longtime Disney musician, Carol Stein can be found performing at the keys most Mondays through Thursdays at the gazebo at United Kingdom pavilion. During the Festival, she's dressed in a jacket inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Night" painting.

The Disney on Broadway Concert Series is back, three times nightly, at American Gardens Theater, after being on hiatus last year because of the pandemic. Kerry Butler and Telly Leung performed on Media Day and on several other dates. Different pairs of Disney on Broadway performers take the stage on a schedule posted on ArtfulEPCOT.com

Food and beverage during the Festival are presented "artistically" celebrating the culinary arts in their plating and presentation (in addition to flavors). As noted in prior updates, this means that it may take a bit longer to get your food and beverage from the food studios around the park than some of the other festivals.

Beyond the now sold out Figment popcorn bucket, and the seemingly plentiful Figment Sporks, the festival offers a wide assortment of themed merchandise. Around World Showcase, fine art works are also available from artists, including signed works.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Deconstructed foods and beverages are a highlight of ArtfulEPCOT. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views of Disney's Animal Kingdom

I made a visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom on Sunday for the first time since the holiday season ended. The afternoon started out grey and in the 40s, but became clear with temperatures rising up to the mid-50s. While the crowds were lower than during the holiday season, it was by no means a "quiet" Sunday in the park.

Kevin from Disney-Pixar's film "Up" is again making appearances at Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time since the temporary closure of the park back in March 2020. Currently, she does not roam, but makes distanced appearances on Discovery Island near the bridge to DinoLand U.S.A. (which had been the entrance to a traditional meet and greet in the past).

Live area entertainment has returned to Disney's Animal Kingdom, like the drummers in Harambe.

Expedition Everest is closed for refurbishment through mid-April. Based on the fairly short length of this closure, it is not likely that this refurbishment will include repair of the legendary "Yeti" animatronic.

Exterior refurbishment is underway at Dinosaur. The attraction remains open.

This is the first time I spotted this new assortment of separated trash cans in a Disney Park. These cans are in DinoLand U.S.A. outside Restaurantasaurus, requesting guests separate trash from recyclables and compostable waste.

I closed out my visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom with a stroll through Pandora: The World of Avatar just ahead of sunset. At the time of my stroll on Sunday, Flight of Passage sported a 145 minute standby time; Navi River had a posted 70 minute standby time.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Lots of baby animals can be spotted on Kilimanjaro Safaris these days. Several giraffe have been born at Disney's Animal Kingdom over the past year.

The African Painted Dogs were surprisingly quite active on a day where the temperatures barely reached the middle-50s.

The lions tend to be active in cooler weather, but they do sleep about 20 hours a day.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats sought out the sunny spot in their area on the safari.

Unlike the Greater Flamingos of the Safari, the Lesser Flamingos on Discovery Island near the Tree of Life are very bright pink.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…New strollers featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse have rolled out around Walt Disney World Resort. The new strollers have additional storage pockets with bottle holders, a canopy bar that provides additional stability when placing items on top, and drain holes in the footrest. The new strollers are available at all rental locations around the Resort at the same prices as the more generic ones they have replaced.

…runDisney's 2022 Springtime Surprise weekend, March 31 to April 3, "celebrates yestermorrow," with familiar courses inspired by fan-favorite races of the past. The 2022 edition will include races inspired by Expedition Everest 5K, Race for the Taste 10K, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, all with "added twists and turns." As of publication, the 5K and 10K races are both shown as sold out on the runDisney website, while availability remains for the 10-Miler and Virtual Races. Yesterday, Disney Parks Blog shared a first look at the medals for those completing the races.

…Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs celebrates National Irish Coffee Day, TODAY, Tuesday, January 25, with a special guest offer for the pub's traditional Irish Coffee: "You buy the coffee, the whiskey is on us!" Three coffee-based cocktails are served daily at Raglan Road: the Traditional Irish, a mix of coffee, whiskey, sugar and cream; the Iced Irish, Bailey's Salted Caramel with iced coffee, Paddy's Irish Whiskey, and butterscotch schnapps topped with whipped cream; and the Irish Espresso Martini, Slane Irish Whiskey, Miami club coffee liqueur, Guinness simple syrup, and fresh espresso.

…REMINDER: With Valentine's Day right around the corner, the folks at Patina Restaurant Group have some special offerings at their Disney Springs locations to share:

Enzo’s Hideaway Specialty Cocktails:

  • Bourbon – Cherry Crush Knob creek bourbon, grenadine, lime juice and club soda ($18)
  • Kiss Me Quick – Absolut vanilla vodka, raspberry sauce, pineapple juice and simple syrup, garnished with fresh raspberries ($17)
  • Cherry Bomb – Solerno Blood orange liqueur, black cherry juice, orange juice and lemon-lime soda ($18)

Morimoto Asia Valentine’s Day Chef’s Tasting Menu 8 courses including amuse bouche and dessert

  • Offerings include oysters, sushi, A-5 wagyu, lobster and Szechuan-spiced Colorado lamb
  • “Finger-food friendly” – courses are intended to be eaten without utensils
  • $555 per couple plus tax and gratuity

Maria and Enzo’s Specialty Cocktails:

  • Red Mask – Makers Mark, sour mix and Nero D' Avole ($18)
  • Baciami – Bacardi, simple syrup, lime juice and raspberries ($18)

The Edison Specialty Cocktails and Food

  • Love Potion #1 – Herradura Silver Tequila, house-made raspberry-mint cordial, watermelon and lime juice ($17)
  • Love Potion #2 – Tito’s Vodka, house-made raspberry-mint cordial, watermelon and lime juice ($17)
  • Love Potion #3 – Segura Viudas Brut Rose, house-made raspberry-mint cordial, watermelon and lime juice ($17)
  • Specialty Appetizer – Chocolate-covered bacon
  • Specialty Entreée – 6 oz. Petite sirloin, grilled U12 shrimp, demi glaze, mashed potatoes and chef’s selection vegetable

And, before Valentine's Day arrives, The Edison is holding a Mixology Series featuring Maker's Mark bourbon cocktails and paired bites on Thursday January 27 and February 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. Each event is $65/person (plus tax and gratuity). Space is limited. More information and tickets are available on this page of the Patina Restaurant Group's website.

The Usual Writer's Note

Like the rest of the State of Florida, and most other parts of the United States, numerous cases of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus continue to be reported here in Orange County, Florida, where Walt Disney World Resort is located. Hospital beds continue to be rather filled with COVID-19 patients, and the death toll has risen. The good news, however, is that the trend is toward a lower number of new cases.

As of publication, there have been no changes in health and safety protocols announced by the State of Florida, which has no vaccine, COVID-19 testing or face covering requirements or business capacity restrictions. The State repeatedly has blocked enforcement of municipal and county-imposed restrictions as well during the course of the pandemic. Private property owners, like Walt Disney World Resort, set requirements for visiting their property that you must be aware of if you decide to visit.

If you're traveling to or from overseas, be sure to check with the places you're visiting and traveling from or through for the latest rules. Though the United States government loosened international travel restrictions for entering the U.S.A. at the end of 2021, it remains important to check on and abide by the most up-to-date COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements for entering the United States whether as a citizen, permanent resident, or visitor (and be aware of who needs a visa).

As for visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Park Pass reservations are required for admission in addition to a valid ticket. If your tickets have the Park Hopper option, Park Hopping only becomes available after 2 p.m. daily, and only after you have first visited the park for which you have made a reservation that day. There have been instances where Magic Kingdom has reached capacity and paused admission of Park Hoppers, and Disney reserves the right to do so at all the parks.

Sales of new Walt Disney World Annual Passes continue to be paused in all categories except the Florida Resident Pixie Dust Pass. Disney reserved the right to pause those sales when it reintroduced its new Annual Passes. Current Passholders may continue to purchase renewals in all tiers regardless of the pause in new sales. We have not heard any suggestion, as yet, that new pass sales will resume. As we noted earlier this month on MousePlanet.com, Florida Residents can purchase discounted two, three, or four day tickets for weekday theme park visits (with additional restrictions and, yes, reservations are not included but still required).

It remains unlikely that the Resort will shut down again in the near-term. Disney Parks continue to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. Disney imposes guest restrictions that are stricter than those imposed by the State of Florida, and it may impose further restrictions even if the State of Florida does not. 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. All guests are 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.

Here in Central Florida, at this time of year, we often get some of our best weather.  As I mentioned in the Writer's Note above, we also get occasional "Florida Winter Days." It is not unusual for temperatures to range by more than 30 degrees in any given day or two, so be prepared. Weather predictions of rain tend to be more reliable at this time of year than summer, but your mileage may vary. This winter is turning out to be a bit more rainy than recent ones.

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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.

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

Annual Passholders can save up to 25% and Florida Residents can save up to 20% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights through March 10, 2022.

Thinking about Hawaii? Walt Disney World Annual Passholders also can save on stays on select rooms over at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, from January 4 through April 8, 2022: up to 30% for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights, and up to 25% for stays of 4 consecutive nights (from my personal experience, even as a repeat visitor to Oahu, a week is a good amount of time to spend on the island, particularly if you have a rental car or other transportation arranged).

Aulani is located in Ko Olina, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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. And, yes, Get Away Today has the Florida Resident ticket offer available too.

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. Right now, if you buy 3 days, you can get 2 days FREE at Universal Orlando Resort! By May 5, purchase a select promo 3-day ticket for travel by December 15, 2022, and you'll get 2 extra days free! The ticket usage must occur on or before December 15, 2022 when the ticket will expire in full and any unused days will be forfeited. Ask Get Away Today about additional restrictions which apply.

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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.