Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 26 - May 2, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 26 – May 2, 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.

 Writer's Note, News & Views

Just as I thought when I wrote last week's Writer's Note in this space, in the past week we got official word of an opening date for EPCOT's Connections Café & Eatery, a combination Starbucks and quick-serve food location built in the space previously occupied by Electric Umbrella and the temporary MouseGear/Innoventions East space. The venue officially opens tomorrow, April 27, though it already "soft opened" to guests last week. I haven't had a chance to visit yet (I would have on Sunday if there were any Disney Park Pass Reservations, but all four parks were sold out for Annual Passholders), but a few friends have told me that they enjoyed the food and the space was nicer than they expected from the images Disney had previously released. I will visit at some point soon, probably May 4–6 during the invited media event at Walt Disney World.

As I previously mentioned, the media event is also going to include a preview of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction that is now being previewed by cast members and soon will be by Golden Oaks residents, Annual Passholders, DVC members, and others. Buzz about previews that I've heard so far is very positive. This week, Disney shared a behind the scenes look at Terry Crews in costume for his role as Centurion Tal Marik, Commander of the Starcharter and close advisor to Nova Prime.

Oh yeah, since we last were together in this space, the State of Florida passed legislation abolishing the Reedy Creek Improvement District that has served as the special governmental unit controlled by Disney for more than the past 50 years and has provided the Disney-controlled district the sort of taxing authority and infrastructure/administrative services typically provided to county governments across the State of Florida. We do not discuss politics in this space, and, since this act does not become effective until June 2023, and the act should not impact guests before then, this will be the end of the discussion on this page for now. MousePlanet's Jim Korkis has written an article talking about the Reedy Creek Improvement District's history and purpose, and I expect it to be published on MousePlanet later this week. When we learn more about how this state action will impact the Resort's operation, I'm sure we'll have more to say in this space and elsewhere on MousePlanet.

Halfway to Halloween Celebrations Start April 28

As Disney often uses halfway to Christmas as a time to celebrate that season as guests start thinking about their winter travel plans, later this week, on Thursday, April 28, Disney plans to celebrate the halfway point to Halloween with a "full day of #HalfwaytoHalloween fun and spellbinding Disney Parks announcements." To kick off the celebration, yesterday, Disney Parks Blog announced a bunch of special "Halfway to Halloween Eats and Treats" coming to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland for a few days starting April 28.

Given the recent craze over the Figment popcorn bucket at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, the two items debuting on April 28 that may cause a bit of a stir are the Jack Skellington Popcorn Bucket available at the Liberty Square popcorn cart and various outdoor vending carts at Magic Kingdom (April 28 to May 1, limit two per person while supplies last), and the Mickey Mummy popcorn bucket available at various outdoor vending carts on the West Side of Disney Springs (April 28 to May 1, limit two per person while supplies last).

Jack Skellington Popcorn Bucket
Jack Skellington popcorn bucket debuts in Magic Kingdom on April 28 (while supplies last). Photo courtesy Disney Parks Blog.

Mickey Mummy Popcorn
Mickey Mummy popcorn bucket debuts on the West Side of Disney Springs on April 28 (while supplies last). Photo courtesy Disney Parks Blog.

On Wednesday, Disney is encouraging its Twitter followers through @DisneyParks to participate in a watch party featuring "a favorite film" on Disney+ (that seems like it will be Hocus Pocus because Disney Parks Blog does everything but acknowledge that), starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern (5:00 p.m. Pacific). Special Disney Halloween digital wallpaper will be released that day too.

On April 28 itself, Disney Parks promises a bunch of announcements. In the evening, there will also be a "first-of-its-kind" @DisneyParks TikTok Live starting at 10 p.m. Eastern/7 Pacific, live from multiple Disney Parks locations and Disney Cruise Line. So far, Disney has not announced the return of either the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or the Boo After Hours that debuted last year in place of the party. In recent years (and, especially before the pandemic), Halloween celebrations at Magic Kingdom have tended to begin by mid-August.

"Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!" Opens This Summer

As you may recall, the global pandemic that resulted in the temporary closure of Walt Disney World, ended up resulting in the permanent closure of Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Last year, Disney announced that the popular musical based on the Disney-Pixar film would be replaced by Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! at some point this year. This past week, Disney Parks Blog provided some additional details about this "reimagined show" that is now expected to open this summer.

The updated 25-minute show will incorporate live performers, puppets, many of the songs and production numbers from its predecessor, with a new script, new scenic set pieces, and a new LED video wall. The new set pieces will include a 32-foot-long "sunken" submarine and a nearly 15-foot-tall fish tank volcano. Disney describes the overall show's new aesthetic as "inspired by layered, cut paper sculptures."

As for the story, all that Disney has revealed so far is that the group of fish from Dr. P. Sherman's office from Finding Demo have made their way across the ocean to the Marine Life Institute from Finding Dory. Perhaps we will learn some additional details at the upcoming media event for the on-going 50th anniversary of the resort toward the end of next week.

This & That & Reminders…

…Disney PhotoPass service announced a new product this week that sounds a lot like it is a digital cousin of EPCOT's "Leave a Legacy" product. In the My Disney Experience app, for $9.99, you can select one of your "portrait-oriented" Disney PhotoPass photos from your gallery and digitally "pin" it to Cinderella Castle, which will be available to be viewed by you and other guests during visits to Magic Kingdom during the 50th anniversary celebration and beyond (which, right now, is described as "at least three years"). You also get a downloadable, shareable video of your photo flying from the castle and a download of the high-resolution version of your digital photo in its original form and in a version with a special border that includes your first name and some enhancements if you're a cast member, Passholder, DVC member, or Club 33 member. More information is available on Disney Parks Blog which also shared that cast members will receive "a complementary entitlement for this offering."

…With Mother's Day rapidly approaching (May 8), Disney Parks Blog shared its latest holiday themed Foodie Guide.

…Speaking of food, last week I neglected to mention that the AristoCrêpes kiosk in the Marketplace neighborhood of Disney Springs was replaced by Swirls on the Water, a brand-new "DOLE Whip experience" with treats such as a DOLE Whip flight, Sangria Float, DOLE Whip Nachos and more.

Swirls on the Water at Disney Springs
Swirls on the Water is now the place to find Dole Whip treats at Disney Springs in the Marketplace neighborhood. It is located near Rain Forest Café in the former space last occupied by AristoCrêpes. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Since we published our last Walt Disney World Resort Update, Salt & Straw's new ice cream shop also opened at Disney Springs next door to the box office for the AMC Dine-In Theaters on the West Side (before the global pandemic, this location was slated to become AmpleHills Creamery). Our West Coast readers probably already know that Salt & Straw has been at the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland for quite a few years. This is the chain's third Florida location (with two shops in the Miami area), and, in addition to Disneyland Resort, the chain has shops in Oregon, the L.A. area, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle. You can view the menu for the Disney Springs shop online.

Salt & Straw ice cream shop
Located on the West Side of Disney Springs, Salt & Straw has opened its newest ice cream shop. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…The former Chicagoan in me is excited to mention that Portillo's announced that it's building a second location near Walt Disney World Resort in West Kissimmee. More Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches in the neighborhood!

…And before we leave the subject of food and beverage for this week, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, scheduled for Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, will see the return of its interactive food and beverage seminars for the first time since 2019. During the educational seminars, guests can expand their knowledge of wine, beer, spirits, or pasta-making through hands-on learning experiences led by the resort’s award-winning food and beverage team. The 2022 seminar line-up includes:

  • Pasta Making
  • Wine Blending
  • It’s Better to Wine in Italian (Italian Wines)
  • Base to Bubbles (Champagne)
  • Beer, Please
  • Craft Cocktails

The seminars will take place prior to the nightly outdoor festival. Beverage seminar tickets are $75 per person, excluding tax. Pasta Making tickets are $95 per person, excluding tax. Seminars require separate tickets and space is limited. Specific dates and times of each seminar are available at FoodAndWineClassic.com.

…REMINDER: General eligible Disney Vacation Club members may attempt to register for one of the upcoming Moonlight Magic Events scheduled for May 24, June 16, and July 14 at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 10 starting at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (pending availability).

…Speaking of Disney Vacation Club, the approximately 200 new "Resort Studio" villas being converted from hotel rooms to DVC accommodations at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are now available for sale and are scheduled to open in June. This new DVC room-type features two queen-size beds, and a day bed with room for up to five guests.

…REMINDER: 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.

Views of Disney Springs

While I was unable to find available Disney Park Pass reservations on days I was interested in going over to the parks this past week, I did get over to Disney Springs for the first time in about a month. In addition to purchasing a scoop of ice cream at the newly opened Salt & Straw and walking past the new Swirls on the Water DOLE Whip "experience" kiosk (shown above), here are a few more views that caught my eye.

The next film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is promoted on the photo backdrop board outside the AMC Dine-In Theaters near the Orange Garage escalators.

Across from the main box office for the AMC Dine-In Theatres, the photo backdrop promotes the newest documentary now available on the Disney+ streaming service.

If you haven’t noticed, the windows behind the M&M’s in front of the M&M Store on the West Side, get seasonal changes for your latest selfies.

With the Fourth of July not too far off, the Vault Disney collection inside Marketplace Co-Op now includes merchandise tributes to “America on Parade” from early in the Resort’s history.

And speaking of vintage-tribute merchandise, the Coach store has quite the higher end collection. I stepped into the store (at the urging of and) with MousePlanet’s Gregg Jacobs who may have more to say on the subject in an article in coming weeks.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Usual Writer's Note

Face coverings are now optional across all of Walt Disney World Resort. Remember to check this page of DisneyWorld.com for the latest requirements, as they can change at any time. Disney asks unvaccinated guests to wear masks at indoor locations and on enclosed transportation, but guests are on their honor. 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 blocked enforcement of municipal and county-imposed restrictions. 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. Local news reports that the latest regional COVID-19 positivity rate is 8% and rising (while 5% and below is considered a low level of disease transmission).

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.

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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.

Disney+ subscribers that link their Disney+ account to their My Disney Experience account can also save up to 25% on select Disney Resort hotels for select night stays July 8 to September 30, 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.