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

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

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

You can view a larger version of the individual photos included in the Update by clicking on the photo; the photo will open in a separate tab without a caption. For the Instagram posts embedded in the Update, you can click through the group of photos with the arrow and view larger images on Instagram.

 Writer's Note, News & Views

Happy Thanksgiving!

In case you missed the major Walt Disney Company news over the weekend, on Sunday night, Bob Chapek stepped down as the company's Chief Executive Officer, and the Board of Directors replaced him with former CEO/Executive Chairman Bob Iger on a new two-year contract "with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term." You can read the company's press release and MousePlanet's CEO Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix first report for the handful of other details we know. Social media is full of speculation and wishes about how this change at the top will impact the parks and resorts experience, but in my opinion it's too soon to know, other than the improved morale amongst the fandom, some cast members, and some former cast members that I've seen and heard.

Just last Tuesday, though, I wrote in this space:

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.

On Wednesday, Disney Cruise Line (which is part of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division of the company) announced a major new capital expense: the acquisition of a huge, partially completed cruise ship to serve new-to-DCL global itineraries.

With rough economic times forecast ahead, and an ever-changing media industry landscape, it really is difficult to predict what, if any, short-term changes are in store for folks visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Bob Iger's Day One changes focused on reshaping some of the media giant's internal structure, beginning the process of returning more financial control to the creative executives on the content side of the company. So far, the signs are that Hollywood, Wall Street, and many other fan sites appear excited by the change in leadership, and I'd certainly like to have some new exciting park news to report after quite some time without major news. As I often say in our Walt Disney World Resort Updates, stay tuned.

New WDW Road Signs near EPCOT
Speaking of signs, on the way to visiting EPCOT last week, I spotted this pair of new color scheme road signs on approach to the parking lot. The new blue signs are still a tiny minority of the signs around the Resort, but as I reported following this season's hurricanes, a good number of the older signs were beaten up by the storms. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays to Begin November 25

The 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays runs November 25 to December 30. I was invited to a brief media preview of the event last week at EPCOT and shared photos and video on MousePlanet social media, which are also embedded in this Update.


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Though the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival was still going on last week when I was in the park, the Christmas tree was already in place and some of the holiday decor was already installed around EPCOT well-ahead of the November 25 start of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Food & Wine Festival concluded on November 19. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The shortest of the EPCOT seasonal festivals, this one will be particularly unusual for those Annual Passholders who opted to save $400 or more in exchange for blockout dates by choosing not to buy the IncrediPass, the top-tier, no-blockout-date pass. Sorcerer Passholders, like myself, with 20 blockout dates over the calendar year, are blocked out the last two weeks of the festival (plus New Year's Eve, which technically isn't part of the festival, and this coming Wednesday through Sunday Thanksgiving "weekend," which does include the first three days of the festival). The number of festival days available to other Passholders declines even further by pass type, all the way down to the Pixie Dust Pass, the lowest tier pass that's still available for new purchase by Florida residents. That pass is only valid for a total of 14 weekdays during the the entire run of the festival. Passholders, of course, can opt to purchase day tickets to attend on blocked dates, but that defeats the savings realized by purchasing passes with blockouts.

The Festival of the Holidays places a heavy focus on live entertainment. Holiday storytellers around World Showcase share stories of holiday celebrations around the world. "Joyful! A Celebration of the Season," the gospel choir show also returns to the World Showplace Plaza stage to share Christmas songs and celebrate Kwanzaa. And, the headline event of the festival is the scheduled three-times-nightly presentation of Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre: at each show, a celebrity narrator tells the traditional story of Christmas accompanied by the Voices of Liberty, a full orchestra, and a mass choir of cast members plus, returning this year for the first time since before the pandemic, school and community choirs. The entertainment team says that some musical revisions and lighting enhancements have been made to this year's presentation of Candlelight which has evolved many times since its inception at Disneyland over 60 years ago.

Also new this year will be the Santa Claus meet-and-greet, which has moved from its home in the plaza at The American Adventure to inside the Odyssey building. It will have a new interactive element that the entertainment team seemed rather excited about, but they didn't share particulars beyond mentioning Santa's sleigh. Santa departs the park after Christmas Eve.

Guests have the opportunity to interact with holiday storytellers and meet Santa Claus during the Festival. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Candlelight Processional starts November 25
By this time last week, the stage at America Gardens Theater was already being set for this year's production of Candlelight Processional. Performances begin on November 25 and are scheduled three times nightly through December 30. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

As with past editions of the Festival, this one will feature Holiday Kitchens with seasonal food and beverage offerings at kiosks around World Showcase, including a return of the Holiday Cookie Stroll where guests earn a "completer" cookie after collecting stamps for five cookies purchased around the Festival. Disney Parks Blog has posted its Foodie Guide to the Festival.

The festival also includes specialty merchandise. This year's collection is centered around Olaf from Disney's Frozen and some of his friends, particularly Sven. You can read more on Disney Parks Blog, though the merchandise team shared more items at our media preview (photos below) than are included there. The merchandise opportunities also include Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt where guests buy a map, locate the "hidden" Olaf stautes around World Showcase and return their completed map (or just return the map without doing the hunt) and collect the merchandise prize. There are three to choose from this year, while supplies.


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The Festival includes specialty merchandise and the opportunity to go on a scavenger hunt. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Meanwhile, back in the former Future World area of the park, the future CommuniCore Hall continues to take shape (probably in the "World Celebration" neighborhood of the park). It will become the park's new festival center when complete. No new information has been shared by Disney about the multipurpose facility that will include an outdoor entertainment area and indoor spaces for exhibits and presentations, nor are we aware of its estimated timeline for completion.

CommuniCore hall
In the not-too-distant but still unspecified future, EPCOT festivals will make use of the new CommuniCore Hall currently under construction on a site about where some of the the former CommuniCore West building stood. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Views Around Magic Kingdom

As soon as Halloween ended, Disney's Holiday Services team began the Magic Kingdom's quick transformation over to the winter holidays so that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (after-hours events that require separate admission) could begin November 8. I finally had a chance to get over during regular operating hours to see how the park is decorated for this year's holiday season and to see the current state of construction of TRON Lightcycle Run in Tomorrowland, which is due to open in the spring.


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Magic Kingdom is decorated for the winter holidays from its entrance all the way down Main Street U.S.A. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

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At night, Main Street U.S.A.'s usual lights are joined by Christmas lights, and Cinderella Castle is lit with projections celebrating the season from time to time (listen for the jingle bells to know when the projections on the castle are about to change). Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

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Jingle Cruise is back for the holiday season at Magic Kingdom, complete with holiday-themed puns along its waterways. The attraction operates both during regular park hours and during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party events. The posted standby time was 95 minutes during a regular park operating day on Saturday afternoon, so I skipped it. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

While riding the PeopleMover, I spotted that TRON Lightcycle Run was testing its trains.

The PeopleMover also shows the state of the exterior of the Tomorrowland Power & Light Co. building, as it is renovation continues; its exterior change has widened the walkway guests will use to get to and or from the new TRON Lightcycle Run when it opens next spring.

From Tomorrowland, with the TRON Lightcycles testing and good optical zoom, I could spot test figures “riding” aboard.

During my visit to the park, the Lightcycles continued testing into the night, though the attraction’s exterior lighting was not being tested.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

More Views Around Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney invited media, including MousePlanet, to return to Disney's Hollywood Studios for another viewing of Fantasmic, since the media preview at the beginning of the month was interrupted by rain. This visit gave me another chance to see the park's holiday decorations, including the Sunset Seasons Greetings projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

Echo Lake includes the park’s main Christmas tree on its island, with additional ornaments floating about.

The Grand Arts Theater, home of MuppetVision 3D includes additional Christmas trees out in front of the entrance.

I had not previously noticed a Green Army Man figure supporting the “Hamm” holiday “cookie.” Some friends and I were questioning whether it was new or had been here in previous years but we missed it.

Over on Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Seasons Greetings shows are projected on the Hollywood Tower Hotel and video billboard after dark.

Disney "snow" falls on Sunset Boulevard from time to time between Sunset Seasons Greetings shows.

The Muppets are featured in one of the Sunset Seasons Greetings shows.

A little further in this direction in the park, the new lighting effects enhancing the long-existing scenes in Fantasmic are particularly noticeable in this early scene featuring animals.

Sorcerer Mickey’s appearance atop the mountain as Fantasmic reaches its finale includes additional new lighting and laser effects.

Some imagination, huh?

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…Walt Disney World dining reservations at most locations can now be cancelled up to two hours before their scheduled time on the same day. This policy change does not apply to venues with specific cancelation policies like Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Victoria & Albert's, and Monsieur Paul. As always, read the fine print when you make an online reservation so that you are not surprised by cancelation penalty charges on your room or credit card account if you do not make it to your dining reservation.

…Speaking of dining, Christmas dining information and offers are starting to trickle in. Want to see more? We’ll share more as we close out November. Terralina Crafted Italian (a Levy Restaurant) is already offering a gift card promotion: buy $100 gift card online (that does not expire) and receive a bonus $25 gift card valid from January 1 to May 31, 2023. Through November 28, Patina Restaurant Group is offering for every $100 spent in a single transaction on one or more gift cards, the purchaser will receive an additional $35 bonus card redeemable only one time January 3 to March 31, 2023 (except February 14 and not combinable with other discounts or promotions and not valid for alcohol, tax, tips, delivery, catering or special events).

…The Animation Experience at Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom now teaches drawing Judy Hoops, Nick Wilde, or Flash from "Zootopia+" now streaming on Disney+. Disney Parks Blog says the 25-min class in Rafiki's Planet Watch includes "little-known fun facts about the world of Zootopia and the real-world animals these characters are inspired by." The session also includes clips featuring "Zootopia+" directors Trent Corey and Josie Trinidad, behind-the-scenes footage of research trips the animation team took at the park for inspiration for the original film, and Disney's conservation efforts. Remember that when you get off the train at Conservation Station and walk to Rafiki's Planet Watch itself, be sure to follow the signs to the entrance for the experience: the time I visited the building earlier this month, the front door was being used only for access to its restrooms.

…With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, and those of us in the neighborhood having been warned of and then heard some very late-night/early morning fireworks for holiday special recordings in Magic Kingdom, it's time for "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration" with co-hosts Derek and Julianne Hough on ABC-TV, Sunday, November 27, from 8-10 p.m. Eastern. It will be available for streaming the following day on Hulu and Disney+. That special will be followed up on ABC-TV and Hulu streaming for all subscribers with the "Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade" on Sunday, December 25, 10 a.m. to noon Eastern (7-9 a.m. Pacific). Featured performers are listed on Disney Parks Blog. Disney also teased that the special will include a sneak peek at James Cameron's long-anticipated sequel to Avatar, the new film Avatar: The Way of Water, which will be released in theaters December 16.

…At Magic Kingdom on Saturday, I spotted the Toy Story holidays popcorn bucket for sale in Frontierland and I was surprised that the Mr. Toad popcorn bucket was still being sold in Fantasyland (at the popcorn cart near Gaston's).

There are quite a few different popcorn buckets for sale around Walt Disney World Resort right now, including these two at Magic Kingdom. Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

…For those with MagicBand+, the Fab 50 golden statues now have some holiday greetings integrated into their activations for a limited time. Courtesy of a MagicBand+ I recently received from Disney PR, I tried activations around Magic Kingdom on Saturday and heard some of the greetings, but given how busy the park was, it often was hard to tell whether I was successful triggering the activation or whether it was other nearby guests or whether the activations were working at all. Your mileage may likewise vary and it was well-too-noisy for me to capture a video demonstrating a successful activation during my attempts.

…Disney PhotoPass service has new photo props, opportunities, and Magic Shots available for the holiday season. Disney Parks Blog has some of the details, and, as always, it never hurts to ask a PhotoPass photographer what shots they have available at their location.

…Disney recently shared the news of the gingerbread displays returning around Walt Disney World Resort, so this week I went and saw the displays at Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney's Contemporary Resort. Given the parking restrictions at the various resorts, my afternoon of resort hopping was tacked on to my visit to EPCOT for the Festival of the Holidays media preview I mentioned above. With my car parked at EPCOT, I walked to Disney's Beach Club via the International Gateway, circled to all of the other EPCOT resorts on foot around Crescent Lake, then took Disney Skyliner over to Disney's Hollywood Studios, where I took a Disney bus over to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, then the monorail over to Disney's Contemporary Resort, and then, after learning that the water transport to Disney's Wilderness Lodge wasn't running, took the monorail again (via the TTC) back over to my car at EPCOT. If you don't have a park reservation, you can start a similar tour by parking at Disney Springs and taking a resort bus to somewhere like Disney's Grand Floridian or Beach Club, where parking without a room or dining reservation is usually not permitted.

Beach Club carousel 2022
The Jasmine-themed carousel horse created by the bakery team stands apart from the gingerbread carousel at Disney's Beach Club Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


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The life-size gingerbread house is back this year at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House shop
A shop is located inside the Grand Floridian's gingerbread house. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


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The Cinderella Castle gingerbread display is located on the 4th Floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort in the Grand Canyon Concourse. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


…New Pandora Jewelry customizable gifts for the holidays are coming in December, including the "Classic Characters BFF" charm set, and the "Disney Parks 2023 Mickey Mouse Pennant" charm. According to Disney Parks Blog, Urban Jewelers at Magic Kingdom and Legends of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios will host "holiday calligraphy events" on December 9 and 10 (as will two locations at Disneyland Resort), where every Pandora Jewelry purchase will include a holiday tag with customized calligraphy drawn by a professional artist "right before your eyes!"

…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: [UPDATE DETAILS AND DATES] 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.

…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).

…New affordable housing will be built on nearly 80 acres of land just north of Flamingo Crossings Town Center west of State Road 429 (fairly close to Magic Kingdom) on land donated by Walt Disney World Resort. Disney selected The Michaels Organization to build, own and operate the property, developing over 1,300 housing units. The development is expected to be privately financed and housing units are to be limited to applicants within a certain income range, including Disney cast members. Disney Parks Blog has some additional details, and notes that negotiations with The Michaels Organization on a definitive agreement are underway, so there are not yet specifics published for applications.

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, the active tropical storm season runs all the way until the end of November and we have had two roll through this year. The storms themselves do not have to observe any particular dates on the calendar, so 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.

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!
  • 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.

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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.