Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 29 - April 4, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 29 - April 4, 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

This past week, Walt Disney World Resort took another step toward returning its pre-pandemic operations by announcing that the Disney International Programs will bring back the first Disney Cultural Representatives at EPCOT starting in August. According to Disney Programs:

We are reaching out to participants from select countries whose program was shortened, cancelled or waitlisted in 2020, as well as those who had an offer and had not yet arrived, and offering them the first opportunity to reapply. We will then invite others to apply soon.

We are doing this in a thoughtful and responsible way with the safety of our participants and working cast top of mind. With this phased re-introduction, initial recruitment will start in Germany, Norway, Italy, France, UK, and Canada for World Showcase at EPCOT. We look forward to bringing additional countries on board and sharing applications with them once they clear travel restrictions and / or have CDC-authorized vaccine availability.

We’re building on the solid foundation of last year’s relaunch of the Disney College Program. Both programs provide a great pathway for career development as they offer participants the opportunity to learn, grow and develop and as they stay at Flamingo Crossings Village, a new state-of-the-art housing complex.

As I noted in last week's Writer's Note, lately, Disney has taken to a range of social media sources to announce news, just like it did with the return of the International Programs above. This week, Disney also added TikTok as another place to announce news (see the Minnie Vans discussion below).

H2O Glow After Hours Coming to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon on Saturdays this Summer

Since our last Walt Disney World Update, Disney Parks Blog officially announced the return of the now re-named H2O Glow After Hours events "party" at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. The event will run every Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m. from May 28 through August 27; purchasing tickets allow for Typhoon Lagoon entry as early as 6 p.m.

Like its past events, Typhoon Lagoon will have additional decorations during the event, DJ dance parties, exclusive glow-themed menu offerings and more. Capacity is limited and day-of-event tickets may not be available.

Guests of Disney Resort Hotels, Shades of Green, and The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort may begin to purchase H2O Glow After Hours tickets starting today, March 29. The general public may purchase tickets starting on April 1.

Tickets for H2O Glow After Hours are $75 plus tax for ages 10 and up; $70 plus tax for children ages 3-9. Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members that purchase tickets receive a $16/ticket discount (making it $59 plus tax for ages 10 and up; $54 plus tax for ages 3-9).

Minnie Vans to Return This Summer

Also following publication of last week's Update, Disney shared news via TikTok and then, later in the day, on the Walt Disney World Cast & Community Facebook page, that Minnie Vans will return to service at Walt Disney World Resort this summer. The service, connected by the Lyft app, as it last existed at the Resort, allowed guests to have point-to-point service within Walt Disney World property in vehicles decorated in Minnie Mouse polka dots driven by Disney Cast Members, including service to a number of drop-off locations not otherwise available to private cars on Disney Property. In the past, Minnie Vans also could be arranged for private rides to and from Orlando International Airport. As, so far, this announcement was made publicly only on Disney's TikTok and Facebook pages, unfortunately, there are no details on what the service will cost when it returns or whether there will be other changes from how it last ran before the pandemic.

Unused Transport
As noted in last week's Update, Minnie Vans were parked in a row at EPCOT's guest parking lot last week. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Earth Week Celebration Coming To Disney's Animal Kingdom April 18 to 24

Disney's Animal Kingdom first opened its gates on Earth Day in 1998, April 22. In the years before the global pandemic, the park had taken to celebrating all of Earth Week at the park, and this year it will do so again from April 18 to 24. Disney also refers to all of April as Earth Month, but, so far, has only shared special offerings for Earth Week; based on prior years, there likely will be more Disney Conservation Fund activity news forthcoming in April.

Disney Parks Blog has shared a few of the details of the special offerings that week, including: a limited-time Wilderness Explorer Activity that includes an Earth Day Nature Badge, a special Disney Character Cruise on Discovery River, a Disney PhotoPass magic shot outside the park's entrance featuring Wall-E and Eve, a limited-edition Earth Day 2022 pin, and, of course, specialty food and beverage items. Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrates its 24th Birthday on Earth Day, April 22.

Views Around the World

I saw a bit more of the Walt Disney World Resort these past couple of days than I usually have in months since the onset of the global pandemic in the past two years. A few things caught my eye and camera lens this week to share.

Disney Springs Bus Sign
Evidently guests at the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser have dedicated Disney Bus service to and from Disney Springs. Having had only an invited media tour, I'm not clear on when in the schedule those planning to travel aboard have time to head over for the Earth-bound shopping, dining and entertainment district. Of course, after boarding the Galactic Starcruiser, guests are free to take the transport pod (elevator) back to Earth whenever they please, though time away from the Starcruiser (or Batuu) is time away from the elaborate storytelling that's built-in to the high-priced experience. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Although Disney Vacation Club provided no more public details this week about the new addition to Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, it was apparent while walking around Disney's Polynesian Village Resort that the signage for the "Spirit of Aloha" luau are gone and the part of the stage visible from the walkway along Seven Seas Lagoon had what appeared to me to be newly posted "no photos or videos" signs at the walkway. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Viewing Magic Kingdom from between Polynesian and Grand Floridian
Although the exact layout of the new DVC addition to the Polynesian is not yet clear, it promises views of Magic Kingdom. The walkway's current view in the vicinity shows the changing skyline of Tomorrowland as construction of the cover of the outdoor portion of TRON Lightcycle / Run continues. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
Next door, at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, visible exterior construction is underway in the building that is being converted from part of the hotel to new DVC studio accommodations, which are now available for sale as part of Disney Vacation Club memberships. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


From the World Nature part of the park (formerly Future World West), it is possible to see the new Connections Café sign at one of its entrances over in World Celebration (formerly Innoventions/ CommuniCore East).

Meanwhile, The EPCOT Experience presented by Walt Disney Imagineering in the Odyssey pavilion has closed, as Imagineer Zach Riddley announced earlier this month on his Instagram page.

The EPCOT Experience was billed as a preview of the on-going transformation of the park, and, while the nighttime show "Harmonious" has debuted, there is still no word on when (or whether) the announced daytime fountains using the show's hardware in World Showcase Lagoon will become part of the park's future. Occasionally, the fountains are tested during daylight park hours.

On Sunday night, I viewed Harmonious from Canada pavilion along World Showcase Lagoon - viewing the show from this angle limits the view of the projections in the center ring, but provides other views of the screens on the Lagoon and a different perspective of the scope of the show.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

And speaking of Imagineer Zach Riddley and his Instagram posts, he shared details this week about the retail location inside the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction that opens this summer in the World Discovery section of the park (formerly Future World East's Universe of Energy pavilion).

Indoor character greetings are increasingly common at the parks. Mickey continues to make distanced appearances in his meet and greet area inside the entrance to the Magic Eye Theater at Imagination pavilion; inside the exit area of the Journey Into Imagination attraction, I also spotted Joy from Inside Out and Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-it Ralph making distanced appearances.

As noted earlier this month, Frozen's Anna and Elsa again are making appearances inside the Royal Somerhaus at Norway, though they remain distanced and, at least during my visit on Sunday, there were no PhotoPass photographers and the new automated photo system was not operational.

Meanwhile, the 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival continues through July 4.

One of the topiaries of the Seven Dwarfs has a detail that I had failed to spot when I took a wide-angle shot earlier this month.

On my prior visits to 2022 FreshEPCOT I had failed to notice that Bonsai are displayed all along the paths of the Japan pavilion, not just along World Showcase Lagoon.

No longer appearing on the America Gardens stage, Mariachi Cobre again performs at its spot at Mexico pavilion along World Showcase Lagoon. (Voices of Liberty likewise no longer appear on the America Gardens stage, but, instead, have returned to performing in the rotunda inside The American Adventure lobby.

This photo included here only as a reminder that Central Florida sunsets can be quite pretty, even while traveling over 60mph aboard Test Track.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Easter Eggs at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Cinderella's Coach is one of the largest Easter Egg displays made by the chefs in this tradition returned to the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.

With this year's set-up of Easter Egg displays, some are easily viewed from both front and back; this one, inspired by a window on Magic Kingdom's Main Street U.S.A., has Cinderella Castle on the other side (in the next photo).

Park icons are represented in Easter Eggs this year. Spaceship Earth stands next to a "model" of Walt Disney (appearing as he did in the 1966 film introducing "The Florida Project") with an Easter Egg displaying the front of Cinderella Castle partially as a blueprint and partially completed (and the reverse side of the casting window mentioned in the prior photo) .

The Avengers appear on an Easter Egg (though, of course, not in the Disney Parks in Florida).

As with past years, the Easter Eggs are displayed in groups around the lobby; my favorite was the "Photo Spot" created for Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head (in the middle here).

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…On April 4, celebrate National Ramen Noodle Day at Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, which offers a variety of flavor-packed bowls to fit any ramen appetite, including Chef’s signature Tonkotsu Ramen, featuring wheat noodles, roasted pork, wood ear mushroom, pickled ginger and soy marinated egg in a rich pork bone broth. Morimoto Asia also offers a signature Sapporo Spicy Miso Ramen, featuring thick temomi noodles, roasted duck, chashu pork belly, beansprout, sesame, scallions and soy marinated egg in a pork bone broth. Reservations are recommended.

…As part of Women's History Month, Disney Parks Blog shared information about Gwendolyn Rogers, the president and owner of Cake Bake Shop, which expects to open a new table service restaurant and bakery at Disney's BoardWalk in 2023.

…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club is again running 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 a park 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.

…Benefiting Give Kids the World Village, an Aladdin 30th Anniversary Reunion will headline DIS Con 2022, a one-of-a-kind expo celebrating all facets of the wonderful world of Disney—from Disney, Marvel and Pixar animation to film, television, theme parks, music and memorabilia, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort September 30 through October 1. The event will feature more than 50 iconic Disney personalities participating in presentations, panels and meet and greets on two stages. There will also be an exclusive After Hours Party sponsored by Yogibo held at EPCOT on October 1, EPCOT’s 40th anniversary. Tickets are on sale now at GKTW.org/discon.

Scheduled panels and personalities participating in the event include:

  • Aladdin 30th Anniversary Reunion featuring Linda Larkin and Jonathan Freeman
  • Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak
  • Phineas & Ferb Panel with Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Dan Povenmire, Dee Bradley Baker, Vincent Martella and Jaret Reddick
  • Walt Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter
  • Screenwriter, producer, and director John August
  • Bear in the Big Blue House Panel with Noel MacNeal, Vicki Eibner, Tyler Bunch, Peter Linz and James Kroupa
  • Tom Nabbe, the original Tom Sawyer at Disneyland
  • Show writer Brian Collins
  • American artist Shag
  • Special guest Mark Daniel, host of Inside Disney Parks

The After Hours Party at EPCOT is an additional ticket. That event will take place from 10:30 pm to 12:30 am on October 1, and includes admission to Remy's Ratatouille Adventure; exclusive entertainment at the France, Morocco and United Kingdom Pavilions; rare character meet-and-greets; and enhanced dessert offerings. Yogibo is a worldwide lifestyle retailer of next generation furniture and gift accessories.

Give Kids The World Village’s mission is to create the happiness that inspires hope for wish families. More than 30,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with a critical illness each year, and half of those who are eligible for a wish choose to visit Orlando. Give Kids The World is the nonprofit that fulfills these wishes—providing every wish family with transportation; accommodations; all meals and snacks; nightly entertainment; donated theme park tickets; and more. Since 1986, more than 177,000 wish children and their families from all 50 states and 76 countries have been welcomed to the Village.

Disney Parks Blog shared its 2022 Easter Gift Guide, featuring seasonal merchandise available at Disney Parks around the globe (and, of course, some items also available at shopDisney.com too).

The Usual Writer's Note

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. When you book a Walt Disney World Resort Package with Get Away Today with a minimum 3-night stay at a Disney Resort Hotel plus tickets, you receive its complimentary concierge service which includes:

  • Free Price Monitoring - if a special comes out after you book, we'll automatically apply it!
  • Dining Reservation Assistance - we wake up early and snag those hard to get dining reservations so you don't have to.
  • The GAT expert team is available to you! Contact them any time for extra assistance with your vacation planning; transportation, theme park recommendations, etc.

You can get a free Walt Disney World Resort vacation quote by calling 855-GET-AWAY (and tell them MousePlanet sent you) or, you can find sample prices and submit a free quote request here.

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.