Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 4-10, 2022by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 4-10, 2022
You can view a larger version 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
Hurricane Ian hit the state of Florida as a nearly Category 5 severe storm. By now, if you watched any national news coverage, you've seen that this historic storm tore a significant path of destruction from Florida's Gulf Coast to its Atlantic Coast, headed out to sea weakened, built up more energy, and headed ashore again in the Carolinas and points north. Widespread power outages continued throughout the weekend, and, indeed, video footage from barrier islands along Florida's west coast like Sanibel and Captiva reveal major infrastructure devastation.
In pretty much the center of Florida between the coasts, Walt Disney World Resort shut down its theme parks and Disney Springs Wednesday and Thursday, September 28 and 29. Disney Parks Blog detailed and thanked cast member efforts at securing outdoor areas, preparing meal kits for guests at the resort hotels, and for the character greetings, movie screenings and other activities held at the hotels. By Friday, the parks and Disney Springs began a phased reopening, and, by Saturday, October 1, operations appeared fairly normal around the Resort. The major signs that a hurricane had passed through the Resort as of Saturday afternoon were trees down along forested perimeter roads and flooded drainage ditches along roads. As of this posting, the Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground remain temporarily closed.
For guests with partially used multi-day theme park tickets with a validity window impacted by the parks' closure due to Hurricane Ian, Disney has automatically extended ticket validity to allow use of the remaining unused ticket days through September 30, 2023. The extension does not alter the requirement that in order to enter a park, both a park reservation and valid ticket for the same park on the same date are required. Disney has posted this and its other relevant hurricane cancelation policies on DisneyWorld.com/weather.
Impact on the Orlando area around Walt Disney World Resort varied greatly. My neighborhood and the surrounding newer communities just north of Walt Disney World have seemed to have come through this storm largely OK. It was an unpleasant and largely uncertain 36–48 hours or so, as Ian moved across the state at about 8 miles per hour. My experience, though, was not as severe as Hurricane Irma had been back in 2017, and clearly so much better than the devastation reported in many parts of Florida along the storm's path.
My home, my community, and the surrounding ones did not lose power during the storm. Some scattered trees were toppled; some roofs lost shingles or leaked; some water infiltration occurred in other places, but the only noteworthy flooding in my vicinity was Reams Road just before it reaches the northeastern curve immediately behind Magic Kingdom's backstage shops, cast parking, and Disney University. Oddly, that same section of road flooded nearly two weeks before the storm for the first time in my memory since Hurricane Irma back in 2017. That earlier flooding had subsided or been cleared more than a week before the storm, and Orange County preemptively closed the previously flooded portion on September 28 ahead of Ian. As of October 3, that portion of the road remains closed, cutting off direct access to these backstage areas from County Road 535; alternative routes, including Reams Road to the west, remain open.
Reams Road—which runs directly behind Magic Kingdom cast member parking, the backstage shops, and Disney University—has been partially closed since before Hurricane Ian made landfall. Earlier in September, that road had flooded. Orange County closed it preemptively ahead of the storm, and, since it has not reopened as of October 3, it likely flooded again as a result of the storm. This closure most directly impacts access to Walt Disney World Resort from County Road 535 which is a very popular way for cast members and locals traveling to the Resort from the north and east while avoiding I-4. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Beyond my immediate area, there were widespread power outages in the Orlando area, including older nearby communities like much of the nearby town of Windermere. Outage maps from one of the major electric suppliers over the weekend, Duke Energy, also showed outages in numerous communities throughout the region, representing hundreds of thousands of customers at its worst. By this posting, the Duke Energy outage map shows less than 1500 customers still without power across all of Florida (other electric companies numbers vary greatly). Major flooding has effected other fairly close areas, such as Orlo Vista, about 6 miles north of Universal Orlando Resort, about 15 miles from Walt Disney World Resort; on Sunday, the I-4 Central Florida Parkway exit toward Sea World was also closed due to flooding.
FEMA, the United States government agency charged with the mission of "helping people before, during and after disasters" has updated its webpage with links to ways you can help provide relief to hurricane survivors.
EPCOT Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
While Walt Disney World Resort continues to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, October 1 actually marked its 51st Anniversary, and EPCOT's 40th. EPCOT marked the occasion with a small, little-publicized public ceremony at the America Gardens Theater. Apparent throughout the day were numerous former cast members who were welcomed back to EPCOT to mark the occasion. (I met a former cast member from Italy that had been in that first international hosts program on opening day.) As announced before the anniversary, the day included special food and beverage items and new anniversary merchandise. Not surprisingly, the new merchandise created quite a queue which was reported to be up to three hours' wait to gain entry to Creations Shop in the morning, and was still at least 45-60 minutes at midday.
And, the latest in our series of #Epcot merchandise queue hyperlapse videos: Creations Shop for EPCOT40 merchandise. Cast estimate 45-60 min to get in the shop from outside Imagination! #videoasd #WaltDisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/F0ReukoSKA— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) October 1, 2022
A special commemorative edition Park Guide was available to guests just after entering the park. The Park Guide noted that a special Beacon of Magic would be shown on the exterior of Spaceship Earth after sunset (and it also noted the 11 a.m. ceremony noted above). Guests leaving the park were able to get a commemorative EPCOT40 poster marking the occasion too.
The entry plaza music selections on October 1 were the vintage tracks from early in the park's history. Commemorative Park Guides and Posters were available to guests at EPCOT on its 40th Anniversary, October 1, 2022. Social media reports that some copies were still available in the park on October 2.
After sunset, in addition to the standard EPCOT Beacon of Magic, and the special EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival Beacon of Magic, a special EPCOT 40th Anniversary Beacon of Magic was shown periodically until park closing.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The first showing of the special EPCOT 40th Anniversary Beacon of Magic received quite a positive response from the large crowd gathered in the park's entry plaza. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
On October 1, EPCOT showed no major signs of Hurricane Ian's having passed through not even a couple days earlier. Hurricane Irma back in 2017 left many more long term and/or permanently noticeable marks on the park than Ian did. The park's on-going "transformation" continues, with no new news since D23 Expo last month.
While the parks have reintroduced traditional character meet and greets, some of the socially distanced ones, like Winnie the Pooh on the lawn near Imagination! pavilion remain.
Construction of the Journey of Water Inspired by Moana (walk-through attraction expected to open in the World Nature neighborhood of the park in 2023) continues to rise above construction walls in the center of the park.
Based on the various renderings of the plans for the new CommuniCore Hall (Festival Center) in World Celebration, it appears that portions of it are also starting to rise above the construction walls near the existing but currently closed restroom facilities that were formerly adjacent to CommuniCore/Innoventions West before that building was razed.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
FURTHER UPDATE: DIS Con To Reschedule to February or March 2023 Because of Hurricane Ian
Because of Hurricane Ian, DIS Con (formerly DIS Family Reunion) is transitioning its scheduled panels and meet-and-greets at Disney’s Coronado Resort last weekend. It plans to reschedule the event in February or March 2023.
Convention tickets will be refunded on October 7. For those that wish to donate the tickets’ value to Give Kids the World Village, the beneficiary of the proceeds of the event, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org before then to receive a donation receipt. Give Kids the World Village, is the not-for-profit Central Florida Resort that provides week-long cost-free stays to critically ill children and their families. More information about the organization and donation opportunities can be found on its website, gktw.org.
This & That & Reminders…
…REMINDER: On Thursdays and select Sundays in October, Annual Passholders can get early entry, special menu offerings, complimentary towel rental, and more at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. (Park admission is required, and park capacity is limited, so entry is not guaranteed, but reservations are not required.)
…REMINDER: The Annual Passholder merchandise discount temporarily increased from 20% to 30% at Disney owned and operated locations at Walt Disney World through October 14. As always, valid Passholder ID and matching photo ID are required.
…REMINDER: Disney Skyliner will be closed for refurbishment January 22–29, 2023. Disney bus service and FriendShip boats will operate (the latter, of course, weather permitting).
…REMINDER: Give Kids the World Village is also hosting Gingerbread Run: Valentine’s Day Edition on Saturday, February 11, 2023. This event “will enable fundraisers of all ages to run, roll or stroll a 5K or family fun run through the 89-acre nonprofit resort - past snoring trees, an enchanting castle, the world’s largest game of Candy Land, and other whimsical attractions. For more information and to register visit gktw.org/gingerbreadrun.
…REMINDER: Planning for the holidays around Walt Disney World Resort? If you’re planning a gathering between November 28 and December 30 (though not on Christmas Day, December 25), Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs is offering a “Mingle All the Way” promotion: if you use code HOLIDAY and book your event (signed contract and deposit) by September 30, you will receive a $50 digital bonus card for ever $1,000 spent on food and beverage. Bonus cards delivered after the event and are valid January 2 through March 31, 2023. More details and contact form available on this page of Patina Restaurant Group’s website.
…REMINDER: And, speaking of the holidays, Maria and Enzo's Ristorante will host its first annual Breakfast with Santa dining series this winter. The experience will include a breakfast of classic menu items, a visit with Santa Claus, family-friendly holiday activities, take-home treats, and a keepsake photo souvenir. Adults (21 and over) will get complimentary Prosecco mimosa while kids enjoy take-home treats. Platinum and gold seating categories are available: seating category determines table location and the order in which guests meet Santa; Platinum will feature the best views of Lake Buena Vista and will be first in line to see Santa. Pricing will vary by category, date, and time, starting at $30 for children (no charge for children age 2 and under) and $50 for adults (plus tax and gratuity). Breakfast experiences are an hour and a half long. More information and reservations are available on this page of the Patina Restaurant Group's website.
The Usual Writer's Note
Face coverings remain optional across all of Walt Disney World Resort. Remember to check this page of DisneyWorld.com for the latest requirements.
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). The United States dropped the requirement for COVID-19 testing for entering the country.
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 seen nothing further about when Disney plans to resume sales of new passes following their brief surfacing this summer.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to monitor the cases of the monkeypox virus in Florida and elsewhere. We will include more information here in future Updates should it relate to visiting Walt Disney World Resort.
Finally, just a reminder that the active tropical storm season runs all the way until the end of November and, indeed, the storms themselves do not have to observe any particular dates on the calendar: they can occur at anytime. Please stay informed if you live or plan to visit Florida.
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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.
Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Florida residents can save up to 30% off regular rates on their stays at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Seniors, 62 and older, can also save up to 25% on stays. Visit swandolphin.com/offers/ for more information and reservations.
Walt Disney World Annual Passholders can save up to 25% on select Disney Resort Hotels during the holiday season, most nights from October 23 through December 25, 2022. More information and availability is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.
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.
Looking to go beyond Walt Disney World Resort when visiting Central Florida? Check out Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.