Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 1-7, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for February 1-7, 2022

 News, Views & Writer's Note

As fast as they came, it seems that Central Florida's days of winter weather are wrapping up as I type this week's Update on Monday night. We nearly touched freezing before dawn on Sunday (and some areas just north of Orange County reportedly did get down or below freezing), but by this Friday, our forecast highs are back up into the mid 80s. Of course, I remind our out-of-region readers that if you're heading this way from another part of the country or the world and are expecting constant warm weather, be prepared for daily temperature swings of up to perhaps 30 degrees in a given February day. As I said last week, as a former Chicagoan, I find having a few days of winter refreshing, and I get to go back to finding it odd that I'm wearing shorts in February again by the end of this week.

And, right on cue after I wrote this last week:

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.

Disney Parks Blog announced the dates of the new and returning entertainment offerings at Magic Kingdom:

  • February 11 – The new "Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade!" featuring nearly 30 Disney and Pixar characters, including Nick and Judy from Zootopia, Baloo and King Louie from The Jungle Book, José Carioca and Panchito from The Three Caballeros, Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and (for the first time at Magic Kingdom) Miguel from Coco. (Mickey's Celebration Cavalcade will continue and, we expect, the cavalcade of princesses.)
  • March 9 – The "Disney Festival of Fantasy" parade (often referred to as the "3 o'clock character parade," although its step-off schedule varied in the past from time to time) returns from its long hiatus on the anniversary of its original 2014 debut, complete with the fire-breathing Maleficent Dragon float.
  • February 25 – The Cinderella Castle stage show returns several times daily, newly renamed, "Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire" and with some changes as part of The World's Most Magical Celebration of the park and Resort's 50th Anniversary, including a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and friends in their EARidescent fashions and a new, original song entitled, "Where the Magic Feels Like Home."

Stay tuned in the days and weeks ahead, with more announcements likely to trickle out here and there. Last week, Walt Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley shared the first photos of EPCOT's installation 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), the future home of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster later this year. This week, friends of MousePlanet, David and Nanette Kent, share a look at the new Starblaster from the public side of the the construction walls.

Starblaster at EPCOT
The first-ever, full-size Nova Corps ship, a Starblaster, has been installed outside what Imagineer Zach Riddley calls the "Wonders of Xandar" pavilion at EPCOT. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction is expected to open this summer. Photo by David & Nanette Kent.

There have also been reports this week that Walt Disney World Resort has begun replacing the purple (plus red and yellow) road signs around the resort (first installed back in the mid-1990s) with new ones in shades of blue similar to the makeover of the Resort's entry landmarks and Magic Kingdom parking toll plaza, and inspired by the current shade of Cinderella Castle blue at the center of Magic Kingdom. The photos I have spotted most often on social media, not surprisingly, is the one that now includes the exit for the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, which is due to open in March. For those of us that drive around Walt Disney World Resort, there remains a good amount of road construction and detours, including the construction of a new flyover near Magic Kingdom's parking lot (on the Speedway gas station side), with no public statements from Disney as to when we can expect the projects to be completed; the installation of new signs may be our next clues.

Finally, speaking of shades of blue, I don't know about you, but I'm thoroughly confused about the fan uproar over the new pantsuit Minnie Mouse is getting at Disneyland Paris for that resort's 30th Anniversary Celebration, and, perhaps, at other places she appears. Each of the characters has numerous outfits—more than I can count. Am I missing something?

"Celebrate Soulfully" Returns During February in Honor of Black Culture and Heritage

Returning to Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate Black History Month in February, Celebrate Soulfully presents experiences honoring Black heritage and culture including music, food, art and more. Highlighted offerings will be available at Disney Springs, EPCOT, and Disney's Animal Kingdom, and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels will hold viewings of films including Soul, Remember the Titans, and others as part of their respective Movies Under the Stars nights.

Disney Springs

The full list of offerings at Disney Springs is available on this page of DisneySprings.com.

Highlights include featured musical acts on the stage in the Marketplace neighborhood performing Motown favorites, jazz, R&B and pop hits. New murals and art displays throughout Disney Springs have been inspired by favorite characters from The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series on Disney+. House of Blues Restaurant and Bar, features a permanent collection of Southern Vernacular Art.

"Cooking with Soul"-featured menu items are available at dining destinations across Disney Springs, including Wine Bar George, House of Blues, City Works Eatery & Pour House, STK and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin'. Flavors from the Caribbean, Africa, and the Southern United States are featured on new menu items at Polite Pig, Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar and D-Luxe Burger. The Ganachery has "Soulfully Sweet Pralines" inspired by Joe Gardner from Disney and Pixar's Soul. Guests can support Black-owned businesses at Vivoli il Gelato by ordering Coffee Pot Gelato, a limited-edition flavor made with coffee stout sourced from Green Bench Brewing Company, a Florida-based, Black-owned brewery.

Inside Art of Disney, the "Artist Spotlight" features Floyd Norman, Bruce Smith, Carole Holliday and others, the talented animators who have worked with the Walt Disney Animation Studios in films ranging from The Jungle Book to The Proud Family and beyond. On select dates, artist, painter and operator of the Three Masks Art Gallery, Timothy Adebule, will be available to meet and greet.

Bowes Signature Candles, founded by Jamaica native and artisan Dave Bowes, offers special discounts off candle making inside Marketplace Co-Op and Disney's Days of Christmas. Sephora has a "company-wide commitment to dedicate substantial shelf space in-store to diverse companies." Sugarboo & Co. offers items featuring writings from members of the Black community like Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou. Under Armour has a Black History Month Collection for men, women and youth in apparel and footwear silhouettes. Disney-owned locations at Disney Springs feature classic and new characters and films, including Soul, Princess and the Frog, and Black Panther.


The evolution of jazz is on display at "The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure" exhibit in The American Adventure at EPCOT. Since its debut last year, the exhibit has traveled to museums across the country and expanded to include histories from Kansas City and Harlem.

Refreshment Outpost offers the Nairobi Coffee Porter, infused with Kenyan coffee and featuring "subtle" berry and stone fruit notes. That quick service location also offers plant-based Bratwurst inspired by the flavors of Eastern Africa, served with spicy turmeric aioli, Kachumbari slaw and coffee barbecue jackfruit. At Fife & Drum, the Half Note Float is named in honor of the jazz club frequented by Joe Gardner in Disney and Pixar's Soul and features layers of Fanta Strawberry, Minute Maid Lemonade, Fanta Blue Raspberry Slushy and vanilla ice cream.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Black cultural influences celebrated at Disney's Animal Kingdom include the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe performing rhythms from the Congo to Mombasa Marketplace in Africa. "A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King," the Broadway-style show filled with pageantry puppetry and classic songs from Disney's The Lion King, is performed in the Africa area of the park numerous times daily.

The Peach Cobbler Rum Cake at Tiffins Restaurant is inspired by a "beloved recipe from chef James Hemings, celebrating his lasting creative and culinary legacy." Next door, at Nomad Lounge & Cocktail Bar offers Mandazi, a fried dough dessert with Swahili origins. Creature Comforts Coffee Shop (aka Starbuck's), Flame Tree Barbecue and Restaurantosaurus all offer the "Celebrate Soulfully Cupcake," a colorful "homage" to Disney-Pixar's Soul. Locations around the park, including Nomad Lounge, Dawa Bar, Restaurantosaurus Lounge, and Thirsty River Bar offer a Mint Julep flavored with pineapple and orange to honor the inspirational story of the drinks' creator, John Dabney.

During February, Bowes Candles will also be available on the porch of the Discovery Trading Co. facing the Tree of Life. African artisans and their unique craftworks are available in Mombasa Marketplace.

This & That & Reminders…

Disney Parks Blog shared a few more details of the upcoming EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival which runs March 2 to July 4, 2022.

…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 the final session of its Mixology Series featuring Maker's Mark bourbon cocktails and paired bites on Thursday, February 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. The 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.

Finally, this week, the folks at Patina Restaurant Group provided us an exclusive opportunity to have a Q&A with Chef Takeshi Ikeuchi, celebrating his seventh year of culinary service at Morimoto Asia. Chef Ikeuchi, originally from Osaka, Japan, is the restaurant's Executive Sous Chef. A graduate of Kansai University, he began his career focusing on perfecting bowls of ramen in addition to traditional Asian appetizers, and went on to specialize in Chinese cuisine, including the "flawless execution of a tender roast duck and flavorful dim sum offerings." Before coming to the United States and joining the team at Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, he was Chef de Cuisine at Ten Miyazawa, and Assistant Chef at Seventh Son Restaurant.

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs
Morimoto Asia is located at Disney Springs in The Landing neighborhood. File photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Q: What are the main day-to-day responsibilities of the Executive Sous Chef at Morimoto Asia?
A: My main responsibilities as Executive Sous Chef are to manage the cook’s shifts, to keep the quality of food and to coach the sous chef.

Q: What surprising challenges have you faced being a Chef at an acclaimed restaurant at one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world that your years of training before traveling to the United States did not prepare you for?
A: I never imagined I would be a chef in the United States, so I wasn’t ready for the language and culture.

Q: What differences would a world traveler find between dishes you and the team serve at Morimoto Asia and the ones you mastered in China? Please elaborate on your training and experience overseas and the additional training necessary to prepare foods in the United States in general, in Florida, at Walt Disney World and/or for Patina Restaurant Group.
A: I think the food at our restaurant is arranged with a sweeter and spicier seasoning than traditional Chinese food, but Szechuan food is preferred by the guests here. The most important thing I had to learn here was to understand how local employees approach their work. More people call out from work or quit their jobs more immediately than Asian people.

Q: What is your favorite dish to participate in preparing at Morimoto Asia? If you sat down at a table in the restaurant and ordered off the menu (and you weren’t involved in the preparation), what would you order?
A: I like to prepare and make Dim Sum (Wonton, Lumpia, etc.). I order Peking Duck and sushi if I sit down at a table.

Q: For those that do not enjoy/do not eat fish or seafood, what Morimoto Asia offerings do you recommend? 
A: I recommend Peking Duck and Sticky Ribs.

Q: What new offerings are coming up from the restaurant in 2022, and what’s your role in developing them?
A: I would like to serve dishes that aren’t offered at nearby restaurants, while adding arrangements to make it easier for everyone to eat. I think my role is to not over arrange and lose the original food.

The Usual Writer's Note

In the State of Florida, the spike in new infections of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus seems to be abating. The health and safety protocols in the State of Florida remain unchanged: there is no statewide vaccine mandate, 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. Yesterday, Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine received full FDA approval for use in people ages 18 and older; it had previously been authorized for emergency use. It is the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive full FDA approval, following the Pfizer vaccine which recieved approval for use in people 16 and up back in August; it is also authorized for use in individuals ages 5 to 15.

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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.

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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.