Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 15-21, 2022

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 15-21, 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

On the intensity scale of hurricanes and tropical storms passing through Central Florida as measured by Walt Disney World Resort's closures, Nicole was on the lower end. Disney closed the parks and Disney Springs early on Wednesday and then began a phased reopening at midday on Thursday.

The east coast of Florida took quite the brunt of the storm, with a good amount of damage to roads up in Flagler County, and with beach high-rise building evacuations still in place at publication time around Daytona Beach as a result of sea walls weakened by Hurricane Ian just six week earlier failing under the force of Nicole. As a neighbor of Walt Disney World Resort, I was sort of surprised at how quickly the parks reopened, as rain and winds persisted through the afternoon and into the evening in the area on Thursday. But, as news observers later commented, those storm remnants were akin to prolonged versions of the sort of afternoon downpours that are common around here in the summers. Fortunately, here in Central Florida, Nicole was largely free of lightning strikes, making for safer outdoor conditions. Unlike Hurricane Ian in September, Nicole's rain didn't flood out Reams Road again, as I thought it would.

Regular guests may notice directional signs (on the roads and such) around Walt Disney World in rougher shape than they had been before the storms, and there are sight-lines in places opened up by storm-felled trees and other thinned foliage, but, otherwise, there's little evidence evident to guests of two tropical storms crossing over the resort only 43 days apart. The last time that two storms crossed through during a single tropical storm season was 2004's Hurricanes Charlie and Jeanne, which, coincidentally, took very similar tracks to Ian and Nicole, also occurred 43 days apart, but did substantially more damage around the Resort. If your recent visit was impacted by the storm, be sure to check out DisneyWorld.com/weather for the resources to contact Disney about accommodations (like ticket extensions) offered as a result of the storm.

For those that follow The Walt Disney Company in the financial news or in the entertainment sector more generally, the focus this past week has been on the company's release of its financial performance that disappointed the markets with, on the one hand, record parks revenue, but significant losses in its streaming business, on the other. The financial reporting was followed by a memo issued by CEO Bob Chapek that was circulated within the company (and obtained by mass media outlets) that outlined the company's institution of cost-cutting measures, including a hiring freeze and likely layoffs. The memo did not mention how or whether those measures will impact the parks.

To those of us that observe and follow Disney Parks news, though, the fact that Disney's recently concluded D23 Expo didn't include new major capital projects was rather telling. Likewise, the fact that there are still venues around Walt Disney World Resort that haven't reopened in the over 30 months since the resort began its "phased reopening" following the temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also been telling with regard to the current staffing level at the resort (perhaps, coupled with continued supply chain issues, since some of the closed venues are merchandise locations that were operating regularly earlier in 2020). Attendance and spending seem to remain quite high at the parks, so the question for your crystal ball is how long that will continue and whether global inflation will cut into that, or will price hikes finally curb the number of guests flowing cash into the coffers, or will the competition up I-4 draw more folks away, or will something else happen that slows tourism. Stay tuned.

Views of Disney's Animal Kingdom

After showing off the holiday decor at Disney's Hollywood Studio in our Update last week, I thought it was time to head over to Disney's Animal Kingdom to have a look at its holiday decor this year. While I had seen the park's tree staged for deployment near the Holiday Services building in the days leading up to Halloween, it wasn't yet in place on Sunday. Speculation is that Hurricane Nicole delayed its installation. EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays doesn't begin until after Thanksgiving, but some of its decor is getting into place, and MousePlanet has been invited to a media preview there later this week (that I'll share on social media and in next week's Update).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The “Merry Menagerie” of live performers are back on Discovery Island for the holiday season on the side of Tree of Life nearest the park entrance, and they include roaming musicians and animal puppet-performers. The animal-themed lanterns are once again on the merchandise locations on either side of the main walkway as well.

Visiting Discovery Island at different times during daylight hours may yield encounters with different puppet animals and different musicians.

The Africa section of the park once again has holiday decor that looks hand-crafted from recycled materials.

In front of the park’s main entrance, Disney PhotoPass has a walk-in photo opportunity that appears inspired by one of the nighttime Winter Awakening scenes from the Tree of Life.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s main Christmas Tree has been installed in front of the park’s ticket booths and main entrance in years past. It was not present this past Sunday.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

I departed the park before sundown (though barely, given the early sunsets at this time of year), so I didn't have a chance to see the Winter Awakenings on the Tree of Life or to see whether Pandora – The World of Avatar had any of the ex-pat's holiday decor of years past (items I recall being displayed at Pongu Pongu in the past, including a nutcracker and a Hanukkah menorah were no where in sight). As we head into the holiday season, the park continues to use flotillas on Discovery River for socially distanced greetings around the park, including Santa.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Mickey & Pluto
Mickey and Pluto float under one of the Discovery Island bridges, waiving to guests. Pluto was wearing some winter holiday-themed decor.

On my two prior Sunday visits to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the standby time exceeded 75 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris each time I checked it. On Sunday, the posted time was 40 minutes, so I finally decided to wait. I was rewarded with a brief rain shower in the exposed part of the queue, but, after the full 40 minutes of waiting, a safari with lots of animal sightings, including the male lion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Gorillas
At Gorilla Falls, one of the newest members of the family group of lowland silver back gorillas was climbing around its mother. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views of Disney Springs

Yesterday, I decided to get my daily steps done at Disney Springs, and take in the sights of its installed holiday decor, merchandise, and ongoing construction projects (I may have also enjoyed The Original 1792 at The Earl of Sandwich at some point). The Christmas Tree Stroll is back, with the themed trees deployed across all of the neighborhoods of Disney Springs, with free scavenger hunt-style maps with stickers and buttons available at locations marked with signs. Santa meets and greets guests at Once Upon a Toy, and to visit him, you have to enter a virtual queue (there are QR codes posted on signs around Disney Springs to help you get in the queue).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Signs around Disney Springs help guests get in the virtual queue to meet Santa at Once Upon a Toy. The Christmas Tree stroll includes trees in all of the neighborhoods of Disney Springs, including right at the foot of the Orange Garage escalators.

Most of the trees are themed to various Disney-owned intellectual property, like this one for Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.”

The Holidays at Disney Springs is celebrated with Christmas decor and music (plus, at least, two Hanukkah songs).

The permanent Mickey Mouse topiary outside World of Disney has a winter holidays floral arrangement around it.

The peanut dogs are back again this year (not to be confused with Snoopy the dog in “Peanuts” who hasn’t officially appeared at Disney World since Metropolitan Life sponsored the Wonders of Life pavilion at EPCOT and had a blimp with Snoopy on it).

The steampunk holiday sculptures some have called penguins are also back again this year.

More Christmas trees and holiday decor are in the Marketplace building arcade of shops (not to be confused with Marketplace Co-Op).

The chandeliers and holiday garland hang over the Town Center neighborhood again this year.

Disney Springs’ biggest Christmas Tree is in Town Center too. Photo tip: those you want to photograph with the entire tree would look best at this distance from it for the same reason Disney PhotoPass sets its photographers quite some distance down Main Street U.S.A. to capture you and Cinderella Castle.

Disney Style shop has a selection of holiday-themed merchandise, though not as large as the collections at World of Disney or Disney Days of Christmas stores.

Santa’s meet and greet is inside Once Upon a Toy and, as in the past, expect that he will be gone starting around Christmas Day.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Jock Lindsey’s is once again the Holiday Bar, with interior decor and menu items.

Jock Lindsey’s usual eclectic collection of memorabilia has additional holiday bling during its time as the Holiday Bar.

Even the pressure chamber got some holiday touches inside and out.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

In addition to the holiday decor, Disney Springs continues to change. These are my additional observations.


Earlier this fall, Disney Springs added an Art Walk featuring murals on some of the exterior walls of Town Center that highlight works of local and international artists.

AMC Theatres has a black carpet entrance display saluting the opening of Marvel Studios’ “Wakanda Forever” which opened this past weekend.

Vertical construction is finally apparent beyond the construction walls surrounding the future Summer House by the Lake restaurant from Chicago’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant group on the site of the former Bongo’s.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Give Kids The World Village Night of A Million Lights Is Underway

As we have been reporting this fall, Give Kids The World's popular "Night of a Million Lights," is be back for its third edition—but, this time, at the Island H2O Water Park in Kissimmee, Florida, rather than at the not-for-profit Village's resort as it had been since its debut. The site is at the Island H2O Water Park, 3230 Inspiration Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34747, just a few minutes down U.S. 192 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom near FL 429.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The start of the nightly event was delayed slightly by Hurricane Nicole, but it does not seem to have caused any problems for its run through January 1, 2023. At night, the water park is "transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland featuring millions of lights, luminous displays, festive family activities and live entertainment for a one-of-a-kind, fully immersive holiday experience." The park's pools, rides, and other water activities are not available to guests during the event, though some are utilized for decor too.

The event’s nightly entertainment include performances by Dueling Pianos Jingle and Jangle and the strolling a cappella group Santa’s Dancing Reindeer, with DJ Jack Frost Ice Block Party leading an interactive holiday hits dance party. Tickets are on sale at gktw.org/lights/. MousePlanet was invited to attend as guests of Give Kids the World Village on Saturday, November 12, and encourage those looking to enjoy a holiday lights display in the Disney-area to consider a visit, especially since the proceeds benefit the not-for-profit Village that provides cost-free week long Central Florida vacations to critically ill children and their families.


Wish Kid stars shine among the lights near the entrance.

Water features of Island H2O Water Park are not open to guests during the event, but they add to the decor.

Festive photo opportunities are decorated in lights.

Reliable sources say that some of the holiday decor was donated by a large theme park in Chicagoland that is no longer operating during the winter holiday season.

The park’s water slide features a dancing light show that runs every seven minutes during the event and there are three different shows.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…REMINDER: Walt Disney Presents at Disney's Hollywood Studios now shows an extended preview of the Thanksgiving Disney animated feature film Strange World. Previews will also be available at Disneyland Paris and aboard Disney Cruise Line ships. The film opens in theaters November 23, 2022.

Walt Disney Presents
Walt Disney Presents currently includes an extended preview of “Strange World”. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Strange World billboard
"Strange World” is also featured on the photo backdrop outside the Disney Springs AMC Theatres. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…REMINDER: Disney Parks Blog highlights the 2022 holiday gingerbread displays around Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Noteworthy for the Florida Resort this year: Disney's Contemporary Resort's display has returned. Jambo House at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge will have a new lobby display including a life-sized baby zebra joining a life-sized baby giraffe of gingerbread on November 23. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort's gingerbread house has returned with "clouds of cinnamon billowing out the chimney" and 25 hidden Mickeys to be spotted among the 85-pound chocolate Santa, nutcrackers, toy soldiers, and snowmen. Disney’s BoardWalk’s display will return November 17. Disney's Beach Club's life-size carousel will be back too. The American Adventure at EPCOT's display will be available starting November 25.

…For those that want to decorate their own cake, Amorette's Patisserie at Disney Springs is restarting its cake decorating experience starting tomorrow, November 16. For $199 plus tax, up to two guests get to decorate one cake and enjoy beverages like specialty coffees, teas, water, and select alcoholic beverages for those of legal age with valid ID. Reservations are required for the 90-minute hands-on experience creating a Mickey Mouse Dome Cake. Check availability and book on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

…REMINDER: Going back to Walt Disney’s time, when Walt Disney and studio artists personally designed the Toys For Tots train logo, and for 75 years, Disney has supported Toys for Tots to bring toys to children in need at this time of year. The Disney Ultimate Toy Drive takes place now through December 24, with opportunities to donate on shopDisney.com, Disney Springs (World of Disney, Marketplace Co-Op, Star Wars Galactic outpost, and the Disney Springs Welcome Center), Disneyland locations, and (with varying dates) Disney Outlet locations, and Disney stores.

…REMINDER: The Disney Eats section of the Disney Parks Blog has this season's Foodie Guide featuring some of the specialty Holiday food and beverage offerings around the Walt Disney World parks and Disney Springs. Of course, we expect we'll see a Foodie Guide for the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays as Thanksgiving gets a bit closer.

Disney Parks Blog provided an additional “Festive Foodie Guide” for the Resorts this past week. And if you want even more goodies, Disney Parks Blog highlighted the best caramel treats in another post, particularly those made with participating partner Werther’s Original Hand-Crafted Caramel.

Holiday treats at Disney's Candy Cauldron
Some of those Disney Parks Blog-highlighted treats, including the caramel ones, are available at Disney’s Candy Cauldron at Disney Springs, among other places around the Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Further to the food and beverage offerings around Walt Disney World Resort, I spotted the holiday popcorn bucket and Santa Mickey sipper at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Your mileage may vary as the holiday season rolls along.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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…REMINDER: Looking ahead to Thanksgiving, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs will be serving up its special Thanksgiving dinner all day—11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Guests who prefer to order lunch or dinner from the restaurant's all-day menu are also welcome to do so; Raglan's plant-based Shepherd’s Pie (This Shepherd Went Vegan) is a popular vegan option too. Live Irish music and dance begins at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and continues through pub close.

Raglan Thanksgiving
Considering Thanksgiving dining at Raglan Road? Reservations recommended: RaglanRoad.com.

…Speaking of holiday food, earlier this fall we shared the news that Maria and Enzo's Ristorante will host its first annual Breakfast with Santa dining series this holiday season. 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.

Breakfast with Santa at Maria & Enzo's
Breakfast with Santa is available at Maria & Enzo's on select dates. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Jaleo at Disney Springs will host a Chef’s Dinner at Jaleo Academy on December 1 and 15, where guests are invited to immerse themselves in the authentic flavors of Spain with an intimate four-course dinner led by Jaleo’s team of expert chefs and mixologists. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., guests will be greeted with drinks and an assortment of Jaleo’s award-winning tapas before enjoying an hour of chef demonstrations with savory recipes easily replicated at home, including Gazpacho Remolacha, Butifarra Casera and Tarta de Queso Vasca. As guests indulge in the spirit and rich flavors of Spanish cuisine, Jaleo’s team of mixologists will act as the group’s personal bartenders for the evening, while performing a variety of cocktail and spirit demos for guests. These personalized experiences will take place in a private dining room located on the second floor of Jaleo. Tickets are limited to 16 guests per event and can be purchased here on Jaleo’s website, starting at $250 per guest and include all beverages, food and gratuity.

Jaleo at Disney Springs
Jaleo is located on the West Side of Disney Springs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…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: 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).

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, though this week, Florida media has reported a decrease in new cases. We will include more information here in future Updates should it relate to visiting Walt Disney World Resort.

Finally, another reminder (because maybe you skipped the Writer's Note and the discussion of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole): 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. Please stay informed if you live or plan to visit Florida.

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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.

Our travel partners at Get Away Today shared the details of the new discount packages Disney announced this Fall for those planning to visit the remainder of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration through March 30.

Disney Parks Blog also has the highlights of the Resort's 1) Winter and Spring Travel Packages, 2) Current Florida Resident Discounts, and 3) Passholder Deals, and provides additional links to offers for Disney+ subscribers and Disney Visa cardholders. features all the offers the Resort has publicly announced.

Remember, 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!
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  • 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.

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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.

 

Comments

  1. By wdwchuck

    Thanks again Alan! Glad to hear you are getting daily steps in.
    And it is awesome to see that Disney is paying a heavy price for their "Woke" garbage. Now with an ever-increasing bad economy, I hope they reconsider the damage they have done to the brand.
    But I doubt it, money is nothing to them compared to advancing their agenda.

  2. By carolinakid

    Strange World looks like another woke mess with a gay teen romance to boot. All the boxes look carefully checked. Letís see if it does better than Lightyear. 💣

  3. By wdwchuck

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    Strange World looks like another woke mess with a gay teen romance to boot. All the boxes look carefully checked. Let’s see if it does better than Lightyear. ��

    Hey Kid, I imagine they have a ton of this stuff in the pipeline, we will see how much money they can lose before the shareholders clamp down. Disney is a HUGE prize in their fight. I doubt if they let go until it is irreversible. Hope I am wrong.

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