Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 22-28, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 22-28, 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

You may have seen news items this week about the Walt Disney Company placing it under strain from its political decisions here in Florida as folks weigh them vis-a-vis Disney's Inclusion "Key" (one of its core principles for doing business), or the outside marching band that had a performance along Magic Kingdom's parade route that ran in contravention to Disney's Inclusion Key, or maybe on some other topic. I don't mean to pay those subjects short shrift, and I would be more than happy to talk about them in depth and what I view is the right thing for the company to do, but these weekly Updates are really devoted to talking about what may impact, enhance, or detract from a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. Sure, for some, opinions about Disney and its place in the nation or world may do that, but this page is not the forum for talking about corporate citizenship.

Now, some of the company's decisions are leading to cast member demonstrations and walkouts. Those have the potential to impact the guest experience. At publication, we haven't heard of a planned walkout that might impact guests visiting the parks and resorts, but if you're visiting during this busy spring break season, keeping an eye on the local news couldn't hurt to alert you of a change.

On a broader level, though, what I will use the Update to speak out about is Disney Parks' current choices regarding distributing news about the Resort—because those decisions impact those planning to visit, locals/Annual Passholders, and those of us who cover the resort. As regular readers of this Update know, MousePlanet does not traffic in rumors. We look to official sources and accredited news organizations to determine whether something is news, and we also report on our first-hand observations, verifiable sources, and educated estimates based on official sources and observations. I view my job in each Update as to try to gather and synthesize resort news for our readers, placing it in the context that my five decades of visits and my nearly eight years of being a Disney neighbor provide.

Unused Transport
At EPCOT last night, numerous Minnie Vans and courtesy trams were parked in the guest parking lot. Disney has said that courtesy tram service will resume at EPCOT, but hasn't said when (it has resumed at Magic Kingdom). Disney has not said whether Minnie Van service will return, having suspended it when the global pandemic caused the resort to temporarily close back in 2020. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For most of the years that I have written the Walt Disney World Resort Update, the most reliable sources for Walt Disney World news have been the resort's official press website, DisneyWorld.com, Disney Parks Blog, D23.com, and the various emails and media kits that Disney and its operating partners provide in connection with various announcements and media events. Lately, however, there are news items that Disney doesn't provide in those places.

Sometimes, Disney now only provides news via the Instagram feed of Imagineer Zach Ridley, or Resort President Jeff Vahle, or the Resort Ambassadors. Other times, it provides information only through more obscure but still official Walt Disney World Facebook pages like its "Cast & Community" page.

You'll see in the This & That section this week, there's a news item that I've found no official Disney source for—the expansion of Disney Vacation Club units at Disney's Polynesian Resort—yet major news outlets (and others) have a piece of Disney concept art and quotes from Disney representatives. It looks like it's legitimate, but why there's not a mention of it in any of the usual official places is a mystery. Heck, as a 20-plus-year Disney Vacation Club Member, it's a big mystery.

Oh yeah, one more news item that's not included below. Lots of sites reported this week of the upcoming return of H2O Glow Nights, the after-hours ticketed "party" at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park that originated a few years before the pandemic shutdown the resort. The problem with those reports is that there's no mention of it on the official WDW Resort news site; none on Disney Parks Blog; and, indeed, even the H2O Glow Nights page of DisneyWorld.com, Disney says, "There are currently no event dates available or on sale at this time." If Glow Nights information has been made available on "The HUB," the cast members' internal website, I am unaware, as I do not have access to that site and, last I heard, cast members are not supposed to share information from "The HUB" with the public without permission.

I don't know why Disney has decided to decentralize its news distribution. It sure makes it easier for me to miss news items, and makes it more difficult for those of you thinking about or planning to visit to find relevant accurate information. I wonder whether Disney's news distribution decisions are at all related to any of the other public relations problems the Company has experienced lately. I doubt there will be an official statement about that either.

Connections Café & Eatery to Include New EPCOT Starbucks Location

Those of us who report on the Walt Disney World Resort suspected that the Starbucks location at EPCOT—which opened when the Fountain View location closed to make way for the demolition of Innoventions/CommuniCore West—was temporary. This week, an Instagram post of Imagineer Zach Riddley more or less confirms that. He wrote, "Connections Café… will be the future home of Starbucks at EPCOT when the location opens this spring! Like other Starbucks locations inside our theme parks, this Starbucks will be designed to fit the theme of its surroundings—but more of those details to come later on."

Other than Zach Riddley's Instagram post, no other new information about the quick service location that replaces Electric Umbrella has been announced by Disney. On the outside of the building, it appears that a tall vertical sign is being added—though that's just speculation, based on its shape.

Near the new restaurant at EPCOT
A new vertical attachment to the former Innoventions/CommuniCore East building was visibly under construction in the park yesterday next to Guest Relations and adjacent to a former entrance of Electric Umbrella. It looks a lot like it could be a sign. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Inside the future home of Connections, a mural covers an entire wall visible from the entrance to the breezeway.

Views Around the World

Spring break season is in full swing. The parks and Disney Springs are crowded, and lots of folks are visiting from lots of places near and far.

FreshEPCOT - 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

Kool & The Gang at EPCOT
I finally had a chance to watch part of a Garden Rocks Concert: Kool and The Gang performed at EPCOT yesterday. Unfortunately, the sound department had the audio level and bass turned up so high that I personally found it physically unpleasant and I walked out before the end of the group's first set of the night. Before I left, I opened a sound meter app on my iPhone that recorded peak audio levels over 100db and sustained average levels in the mid-'90s. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The garden around the topiaries of six of the Seven Dwarfs continues to grow as the Flower & Garden Festival continues through July 4.

The central "World Celebration" topiary display (the former center of Future World) cannot be photographed all at once from the ground. In a previous Update, we showed Mickey and Minnie with some of the ducks behind them; from this angle you can see Donald, Daisy, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

The new Spaceship Earth lighting is striking against the Central Florida twilight sky.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

50th Anniversary Logo
Walt Disney World Resort continues to celebrate its 50th Anniversary for more than another year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Desserts at Disney Springs

A new dessert inspired by Disney-Pixar's "Turning Red" (now streaming on Disney+) is available at Amorette's in the Marketplace neighborhood at Disney Springs.

Amorette's also has added a 50th Celebration Petit Cake to its pastry line-up.

Over at The Ganachery in The Landing neighborhood, Annual Passholders have an exclusive opportunity to purchase a chocolate treat featuring Mickey and Minnie.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…Another recently born rhino has joined the crash at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

…As of yesterday, Space 220 Restaurant at EPCOT (adjacent to Mission: Space), has added some new dishes to its menu:

  • Short Cake – Matcha Air Cake, Mascarpone Mousse and Strawberries. Available as a Supernova Sweets (dessert) option for three-course prix fixe dinner, or $14 add-on to two-course prix fixe lunch.
  • Steak Salad – Marinated Filet Tips, Iceberg Wedges, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives, Blue Cheese Crumble and Horseradish Dressing. Available as a Star Course (Entrée) option for lunch only.
  • Quinoa Burger – Quinoa-Vegetable Burger, Baby Arugula, Tomato, Yellow Beet Citrus and Mayonnaise. Available as a Star Course (Entrée) option for lunch only.
  • Shrimp Cocktail – U 10 Shrimp and Classic Horseradish Cocktail Sauce. Available on the Flight Bites lounge menu.

Space 220 has also updated some of its menu items with new flavors and ingredients:

  • Space Glazed Duck Breast – Fried Jasmine Rice, Asparagus, Pineapple and Orange Hoisin Sauce. Available as a Star Course (Entrée) option for dinner only.
  • Florida Red Snapper – Pan-Seared Red Snapper, Fennel Barigoule and Potato Stew. Available as a Star Course (Entrée) option for dinner only.
  • Space Greens – Bibb Lettuce, Compressed Watermelon, Spiced Pecans and Apple Cider Dressing. Available as a Lift-Off (appetizer) option for lunch and dinner.
  • Supreme Chicken Breast – Seared Chicken Breast, Polenta Parmesan Cake, Petite Balsamic Lentils and Basil Oil. Available as a Star Course (Entrée) option for lunch and dinner.

Updated menu item at Space 220 at EPCOT
Supreme Chicken Breast at Space 220 was updated with new flavors and ingredients. Photo courtesy Patina Restaurant Group.

…Another Patina Restaurant Group option at EPCOT is Gelateria Toscana at the Italy Pavilion. Patina recently reminded us that every March 24, Europeans "celebrate the creamy and delicious taste of gelato with European Artisanal Gelato Day." Gelateria Toscana opened in May 2021, and serves authentic old-world gelato and sorbet, hand-scooped into a cup or cone or featured in dessert creations. The gelateria also offers serves pastries, soft drinks, Italian coffee selections, beer, wine, and more.

…REMINDER: Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort has announced that its Food & Wine Classic returns on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12 in 2022. Tickets are now on sale at FoodandWineClassic.com. The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is "a street party festival" with unlimited tastings of culinary selections from the hotel's award-winning restaurants plus bottomless wine, beer, and beverage samplings from around the world. It all takes place amidst a backdrop of live entertainment on the hotel's causeway featuring several themed areas such as a beer garden, carnival corner and bubble lounge. The 2022 event will also feature the return of the interactive food and beverage seminars lead by the hotel's expert team.

Swan & Dolphin Resort
The Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, a ticketed event, takes place around the the hotel's causeway on November 11-12, 2022. Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.

…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 remaining 2022 announced events are:

  • EPCOT: March 31 – registration filled.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios: May 24, June 16, July 14 – registration details to be announced.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: July 26, August 31, September 28 – registration details to be announced

For those visiting the parks hosting a Moonlight Magic Event on the night of an event, be aware that the parks tend to get busier in the hours approaching closing, as those that have registered for the event start to mix in to the park. Guests without wristbands during an event will be asked to leave.

For those DVC members interested in attending the Disney's Hollywood Studios or Disney's Animal Kingdom events, be aware that the EPCOT events filled very quickly.

…In the odder news department, legitimate news outlets like WFTV.com and Forbes reported this week that Disney Vacation Club plans a new addition at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort between the existing buildings and Disney's Wedding Pavilion along Seven Seas Lagoon (often noted to be the location of the "Spirit of Aloha" show which closed with the onset of the pandemic back in 2020 and now no longer listed on DisneyWorld.com). I place it in the "odd" department because I cannot find a single official reference to the plan on the Disney Vacation Club website (general or member's section), the Disney Parks Blog, or Walt Disney World's official site for news/press releases. Nonetheless, an artist rendering accompanies the news pieces as well as quotes from Disney representatives about the popularity of the Monorail Resorts.

…In the more traditional DVC-news department, the new villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World Resort are now on sale to members (since March 3) and go on sale to the general public on March 31. This expansion of The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa includes 200 proposed resort studios, a Disney Vacation Club room type unique to this property. The new accommodations (which are a conversion of one of the existing hotel buildings of the Resort) are expected to open in late June 2022.

…Oh, and speaking of Forbes, it had a report this past week that Walt Disney World Resort was rated the most popular tourist destination on TikTok, based on a new study from travel booking website Next Vacay.

The Usual Writer's Note

This past week, Walt Disney World Resort removed the face covering requirement for Disney Skyliner. For vaccinated guests, the only places that face coverings remain mandatory (per Federal directives) are on the monorails and buses. Unvaccinated guests are expected to wear masks in all indoor locations. Of course, since the health and safety protocols in the State of Florida remain unchanged: they're on their honor. 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, but they are not permitted to require proof of negative COVID-19 test or vaccine status. Walt Disney World Resort encourages eligible guests to get vaccinated.

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).

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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.

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

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 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.

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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.