Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 8-14, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 8-14, 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.

 Writer's Note, News & Views

March 1 marks the beginning of meteorological spring, and March 2 marked the beginning of “FreshEPCOT” also known as the 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. It really shouldn't have been a surprise, then, that on the first day of the Festival, I spotted this very large new family group of ducklings walking World Showcase Promenade. Because the mother duck is probably well-acclimated to park guests, she didn't seem to care at all that many guests were nearby—but, of course, park guests need remember that not only is it unhealthy to feed human food to the wildlife at the park, but guests can actually put the ducklings at risk of being separated from their mother.

This is one of the largest groups of ducklings I have seen in during my time in Central Florida. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Fortunately, the guests around me let the duck family do their thing with some space. The park itself was rather crowded for the first day of the festival, with substantial queues evident at nearly all of the Outdoor Kitchens I passed during the afternoon. As we head now into the spring break season, I certainly don’t expect the crowd sizes to shrink absent the world’s conflicts and economy steering folks away from traveling to Florida.

With the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser now open to paying guests, and the news cycle for it coming to a close (with many of the reviews of the full experience I’ve seen much like my assessment, which was based solely on the approximately four-hour invited media tour), I expect some other news items will be popping up in the days and weeks ahead. For example, we should be close to an official announcement of an opening date for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which, notwithstanding rumors, is still only vaguely scheduled to open “Summer 2022.” The biggest announcements about the future of Walt Disney World Resort probably will not be made until the D23 Expo in Anaheim this September, and that event will be emphasizing the hundredth anniversary of the Walt Disney Company coming up in 2023.

2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival Is Underway Through July 4

The 2022 edition of the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival got underway last Wednesday, March 2, and it runs all the way until July 4 at Walt Disney World Resort. Since our last Update, the official FreshEPCOT website has been updated to include all of the scheduled performers taking part in the nightly Garden Rocks Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase. For this year's Festival, the more famous name acts (like Starship, Little River Band, Herman's Hermits, Plain White T's, and the like) are scheduled mostly for Fridays through Mondays, while Central Florida performers are scheduled the other evenings of the week. Dining packages with reserved seating is only available for the Friday through Monday concerts, all shows offer standby seating and the concerts may be viewed from the Promenade (and heard just fine even if you are standing or sitting over near the entrance to The American Adventure pavilion itself).

Entering FreshEPCOT
The 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs through July 4. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

As our readers probably know, this festival is best known for its topiary displays. In recent years, the Disney horticultural team has put to use advanced computer modeling to make features of the topiaries closer to their animated counterparts, a few topiaries at a time. To my recollection, the first topiaries that made use of the new techniques were the highly detailed Frozen sisters, Anna and Elsa. Before this year's edition of the festival even opened, we saw and shared photos of topiaries of Winnie the Pooh's friends that are more detailed in the past. In recent past editions of the festival, Snow White and Dopey were highly detailed using the new techniques, and this year, the rest of the Dwarfs also have updated looks. Below are two photo tours showing some of the highlights of this year's collection: those displayed in the former Future World area of the park and those displayed around World Showcase.

The main park entry topiary features a larger-than-life size Goofy topiary holding a 50th Anniversary cake.

Topiary Buzz Lightyear again stands in front of Mission: Space.

Topiaries of Woody and Bo Peep with her sheep, are between The Seas with Nemo and Friends and The Land.

Topiary Figment sits among the flowers in front of Imagination! pavilion’s sign.

Topiary likenesses of Lion King characters are in the vicinity of Imagination! pavilion as well (and, yes, there are more than are shown here).

The central (former Future World) planter includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald, his nephews, and Daisy. The way they have been installed, however, it is difficult to get them all in a single photo.

At the entrance to World Showcase Plaza (where the Christmas Tree is installed during the holidays), topiary Sorcerer Mickey is surrounded by more characters from Disney’s “Fantasia”.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Topiary Tinker Bell stands in a Fairy Garden next to Rose & Crown Pub at United Kingdom pavilion.

Topiary versions of Lumiere and Cogsworth are at France pavilion.

The Beast and Belle topiaries are closer to the theater featuring their sing-along.

Like last year, the dragon topiary is at Japan pavilion.

Miss Piggy and Kermit topiaries are at Germany pavilion, oddly placed with the restrooms as their backdrop.

The detailed Snow White topiary and Dopey topiary are back, this time along the World Showcase Lagoon at Germany pavilion.

In a separate planting area facing Snow White and Dopey, the rest of the Dwarfs are back this year, in more detailed forms.

Panda topiaries are at China pavilion.

Topiaries of the “Frozen” royal sisters are at Norway pavilion, but closer to China pavilion than in the past.

The Norway troll topiary stands where the “Frozen” sisters’ topiaires have been during past editions of the Festival.

Completing the circle around World Showcase, the Three Caballeros topiaries stand near the bridge to Mexico pavilion in World Showcase Plaza.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

In addition to the topiaries, the festival features many gardens large and small. As in the past, the gardens are spread all over the park.

The largest “garden” is the flower bed that lines the (formerly Future World) ponds.

On the lawn between The Land pavilion and Imagination! is where Bambi’s Butterfly House is located, including topiaries of Bambi, Flower and Thumper.

Inside Bambi’s Butterfly House, two dimensional versions of characters seem to look at the butterflies above.

At United Kingdom, the Twinnings English Tea Garden is back this year.

There’s a new garden inspired by the recent Disney animated feature “Encanto.”

And the miniature railroad town at Germany pavilion is celebrating its own version of Flower & Garden Festival.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

On Friday, MousePlanet has been invited to the festival’s Media Day. With MousePlanet’s Gregg Jacobs (temporarily) living in the vicinity, he will join me at the event, so we’ll have more extensive coverage of festival merchandise plus food and beverage offerings than I usually provide. Stay tuned.

FreshEPCOT Merchandise
Spike’s Pollen-nation Exploration scavenger hunt is back: purchase the map and locate Spike the Bee in the gardens all around the park; return the completed map for the merchandise prize (“while supplies last”). Several character-based merchandise collections are part of this year’s Festival, like these Wonderland-inspired tea towels, oven mitts, and more. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

FreshEPCOT Food & Beverage
Outdoor Kitchens (food and beverage kiosks) are all over the park. Some have menus that will change with the seasons. The only item I tried so far was the Boneless Impossible Korean Short Rib (which is entirely plant-based and which I really enjoyed) from Trowel & Trellis in World Showcase Plaza. Spike the Bee Sporks are back and available for purchase at a number of the Outdoor Kitchens. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Though not necessarily tied directly to the Festival, character appearances at the park seem to have increased. They remain socially distanced, at least as of last week.

Minnie Mouse made a distanced appearance at the gazebo at World Showcase Plaza.

Last week, the Royal Sommerhus reopened at Norway pavilion. Anna and Elsa both appear in their Sommerhus setting, but they remain distanced from guests within.

Belle made a distanced appearance along World Showcase Promenade near France pavilion approaching Morocco pavilion.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

If there are details about the Festival that you would like MousePlanet to report on next week (or on social media), be sure to tell us about that in the comments below or in the comments where this Update posts on Facebook or Twitter. (Please do not use the email link above, as it does not send email to my attention.)

Passholder Magnets and More at Disney Springs

As we reported recently, the latest Annual Passholder "complimentary" magnets are now available at Disney Springs through March 31 (or while supplies last). The process for getting this one featuring Mickey and Minnie on an iridescent “D" is way more complicated than anything we've seen before, as it requires passholders to join a virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app. Passholders can enter the virtual queue from pretty much anywhere they have internet access "within approximately 45 miles of Disney Springs." I successfully joined from the parking lot of a post office on Colonial Drive in Winter Garden, Florida, about a half hour's drive from Disney Springs.

Screenshots of virtual queue for AP Magnets at Disney Springs
Note that when you tap “Join Virtual Queue” all of the Annual Passholders you have in your “Friends and Family” list are selected to join by default and you need to unselect any who are not joining you for your journey to Disney Springs to pick up the magnet, as each Passholder must be personally present with their pass and photo ID to obtain a magnet. Screenshots by Alan S. Dalinka.

Like the attraction-based virtual queues we've seen before, when your Virtual Queue group number is called, you will get a push notification (if enabled) on your device. You have an hour to get to Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories at the east end of the Marketplace neighborhood (next door to Art of Disney, across from Disney Days of Christmas and fairly close to Rainforest Cafe and the old Disney Springs bus loop). When you get to the physical queue outside Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories, you will need to show the QR code generated by the app when you tap “View Entry Code.”

AP Magnet pickup
Cast members outside Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories scan the QR code generated by My Disney Experience app to confirm that it is your turn to pick up your magnet. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

AP Magnet
Once inside the shop, another cast member will ask to scan your Annual Pass (card, Magic Band, etc.) and then check your photo ID before handing you a magnet. I took this photo after walking back to Orange Garage to drive back home. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Elsewhere at Disney Springs…

Disney-Pixar’s Turning Red is being released on March 11 on the Disney+ streaming service rather than in theaters. (It will be available to all subscribers and does not require an additional fee - and, by the way, Disney+ will offer an ad-supported tier of subscription in the near future.) Though it won't be playing at the theater, outside the AMC Dine-in Theaters at Disney Springs, the photo backdrop features characters from the film. Disney Parks Blog detailed this week, some of the specialty food items available around the Resort celebrating the film too; a preview of the film is also playing inside Walt Disney Presents at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

March is Women’s History Month. Disney Springs is again saluting it by featuring female Disney characters and cast members.

A “HER Story” photo spot is available opposite the AMC Dine-in Theaters’ main box office near Jaleo. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Displays saluting some of the legendary women of Disney Imagineering, like Mary Blair, are on display inside the Marketplace Co-Op.Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Finally, while walking past Disney Style, I noticed a (new-to-me) hoodie featuring Animal from the Muppets. Yesterday, Disney announced that an all-new original series "The Muppets Mayhem" starring the band for which Animal plays drums, “Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem,” is in production for the Disney+ streaming service. Coincidence?

The “Wild Animal” hoodie in the window of Disney Style caught my eye as I was walking to Orange Garage at Disney Springs. A few days later, Disney announced that Animal will be part of a new Disney+ original series. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…UPDATED REMINDER: The Mighty St. Patrick's Festival returns to Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs for a week-long celebration this year, starting on Friday, March 11, and running until St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Top Irish bands have flown in for the celebration that Raglan calls "The most authentic Irish festival in America." On the street outside Raglan Road, there will be five outside bars, St. Paddy's merchandise, and more. According to Raglan Road:

This year's Mighty Festival musical lineup will shine with top bands flown in from Ireland including Jig Jam, known for their captivating brand of CeltGrass; and the Lisa Canny Band, blending pop and hip-hop with traditional Irish rhythm. Rounding out the lineup will be: Emerald Shore, rocking the house with their vibrant trad music; Men of Aran, charming audiences with electric energy and sublime musicianship; and Blain Curtis, a talented Dublin songwriter/guitarist mixing Irish ballads and modern Irish songs. The Raglan Road Irish Dancers, plucked from the casts and stages of the world's greatest Irish dance shows, will perform throughout the festival.

Raglan Road Festival Banner 2022
To see the full 2022 Festival line-up, click the above image courtesy of Raglan Road.

Reservations are encouraged for guests who plan to celebrate at Raglan Road. On St. Patrick's Day only, March 17, Raglan Road will open at 10 a.m. with a $20 cover charge for guests 18 and older; (first-come, first-served—no reservations on this day only); younger patrons may enter free of charge. Raglan Road has invited MousePlanet to sample some of the highlights of this year's Festival this coming Saturday afternoon, March 12, so be sure to follow our @MousePlanet on Instagram posts as we share the experience.

…The 15th Disney Dreamers Academy concluded over the weekend at Walt Disney World Resort. 100 high school students and teens from underrepresented communities across the United Staes were chosen by a competitive application process to be immersed in career workshops, mentoring sessions, and educational events designed to teach leadership skills, effective communication techniques, and networking strategies at Walt Disney World.

…The planDisney panel (at one time in the not-too-distanced past this was known as the “Mom’s Panel”), will debut its new podcast starting on March 16.

…Disney’s Hollywood Studios has some new “Sweet Treats” for spring.

… UPDATE: In the way that Walt Disney World parses out tiny bits of information about its new attractions, last week, we noted that Walt Disney Imagineer Zach Ridley shared a first look at the boarding area for Guardians of the Galaxy-Cosmic Rewind attraction scheduled to open this Summer at EPCOT. Since then, the (official) Walt Disney World Cast & Community Facebook page took it a step further and showed off some video. As you may recall, we have previously shared looks at the ride vehicles themselves (and I even got to sit in one at the Destination D23 event at Disney's Contemporary Resort and found it quite comfortable and at the media event for the Resort's 50th Anniversary, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix and I got to stand inside the "gravity building" under some of the tracks to take in the mammoth scope of this new attraction (and shared Zach Ridley's official views of that at the time too).

…REMINDER: The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade is scheduled to make its return to Magic Kingdom’s parade route for the first time in almost two years (since the temporary closure of the park back in March 2020) tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9. As you may recall, in recent weeks, a new huge character cavalcade was added to the park’s entertainment line up, and the updated Cinderella Castle stage show, "Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire" started making multiple daily performances. Weather and crowd permitting, I hope to share some photos and video on our MousePlanet social media channels on Wednesday and in next week’s Update.

…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club announced the return of its Moonlight Magic events in 2022. Like before the pandemic, eligible DVC Members can get complimentary after-hours access to these in-park events on select nights by advance registration. Eligible DVC Members with resort reservations get earlier registration access and the possibility of more complimentary admissions based on the number of guests on a qualifying resort reservation. In the past, the balance of the eligible membership has had an opportunity to register as well though capacity sometimes filled quickly. The 2022 announced events are:

  • EPCOT: March 17, 2022 and March 31, 2022
    Registration opened last week for DVC Members with resort reservations; subject to availability, registration opened to all eligible Members this morning, March 8
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios: May 24, 2022, June 16, 2022 and July 14, 2022
    Registration details to be announced
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: July 26, 2022, August 31, 2022 and September 28, 2022
    Registration details to be announced

…REMINDER: The Walt Disney Company's annual meeting of shareholders tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9, and it will be streamed via webcast at disney.com/investors. The annual meetings don't often address new offerings for the parks and resorts (those usually come at D23 EXPO or, to a lesser extent, Destination D events), but there may be interesting viewing (at least of the portions that they do not have to blockout because of streaming-related copyright licensing issues).

The Usual Writer's Note

The health and safety protocols in the State of Florida remain unchanged: there is no statewide vaccine mandate, COVID-19 testing, 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 winter 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).

As of publication, face coverings are optional for all guests in outdoor locations around Walt Disney World Resort. As of February 17, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests in most indoor locations; non-vaccinated guests are expected to wear face coverings indoors (though, as previously noted, Florida does not permit businesses to ask customers to prove their vaccination status). Face coverings remain required on enclosed transportation such as buses, monorails, and Disney Skyliner per Federal mandates. Walt Disney World Resort encourages eligible guests to get vaccinated.

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.

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

New Everyone can save up to $500 on a 5-night stay at select Disney Resort Hotels in Spring and through July 7, 2022.

Updated 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 March 11 through July 7, 2022.

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.

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.