Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 29 - December 5, 2022by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 29 - December 5, 2022
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Writer's Note, News & Views
As a Walt Disney World Resort Annual Passholder, I have entered the new era: a time when I face blockout dates on the park's operating calendar.
For the few days this past week around Thanksgiving, my Sorcerer Pass was blocked out for the first time ever—and it will be again for the last two weeks of December. I did know this when my previous Platinum Pass came up for renewal back in the summer, but I decided then to sacrifice the 20 or so days of park visits for the approximately $400 in savings I realized.
Of course, with new Walt Disney World Resort Annual Pass sales frozen for all but Florida residents who wish to purchase the extremely limited Pixie Dust Pass, I'm happy to still have an annual pass at all. And I know those who wish to frequent the Disneyland Resort have faced all sorts of frustrations trying to get the new Magic Key at a tier that they want (if at all). I mention it here, coming out of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, because I've begun to really wonder whether Disney's ticket sales and Genie+/Lightning Lane programs are truly maximizing Walt Disney Company revenue and ensuring brand loyalty.
Last Tuesday, before the blockout dates kicked in on my annual pass, I visited EPCOT after its International Food & Wine Festival ended but before its International Festival of the Holidays began. Had my pass been blocked out on that day (like Pixie Dust passes were), a one-day ticket would have cost me $159 plus tax. Had I chosen to buy Genie+ that day to maximize the number of attractions I visited, that would've added another $29 plus tax (18.2% charge on the ticket, based on their new dynamic pricing format).
In contrast, Sea World, just a few minutes up Interstate 4 from Disney Springs, offered a bunch of Black Friday/Cyber Monday ticket offers. One annual pass offer that caught my eye and then my credit card was a Silver Pass to Sea World Orlando, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Adventure Island. For just over $300 including taxes and fees, I now have a pass to those parks with no blockout dates and no reservation requirements, complimentary parking, and two additional guest tickets over the course of the next year.
To me, the value equation was that Disney had me surrender around 20 days of potential park access for $400 where, even if I paid, I wouldn't have a guaranteed theme park reservation to any park, while Sea World offered a year of park access with no reservations required.
Is Disney leaving my money on the table in this scenario (making it that much easier for me to give mine to a competitor), or do they more than make up for it from the spending of guests at Disney?
Would I have paid the additional $400 for the highest-tier Incredi-Pass if that was the only Platinum Pass replacement Disney offered me, had they not offered the Sorcerer Pass with its 20 blockout dates—making the Sea World offer less attractive (as it had in the past)?
Does it make me think less of the Disney brand each time they choose to offer to sell me a separate upcharge offering of something that used to be part of an all-inclusive service or benefit (for example, losing the free FastPass to the paid Genie+, or PhotoPass, to a lesser extent)?
While I can't definitively answer these hypothetical questions, I increasingly feel that Disney's current direction on admission pricing and policies makes them a follower of the travel industry trend of unbundling, rather than being the industry leader that charges a premium price for a cohesive, premium leisure product.
As The Walt Disney Company undergoes the organizational changes that Bob Iger announced are under consideration as he retakes the reins as CEO for the next two years, what direction will he give to Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products? What changes in corporate direction from the top will cause DPEP Chairman Josh D'Amaro to guide Disney Parks to look at questions like I asked in the previous paragraph, to become an innovator and leader in the travel industry, and to create policies that both maximize profits and enhance the brand by elevating the guest experience? Stay tuned.
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Underway Through December 30
The 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays started on Friday, November 25, while my Sorcerer Pass was blocked from park admission. I made my way over to the Festival yesterday for the first time this year. I will get back to EPCOT at least a couple more times before my pass is blocked for the last two weeks of the Festival, reservations and weather permitting. In last week's Update, I provided an overview of this year's Festival, here, I'll share what I have seen so far of the shortest of the park's seasonal festivals, and, under the current passholder tier system, the one where more passholders than ever will be unable to attend on more days (without purchasing additional day tickets).
As in the past, 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 (depending on the performance, the choir may be cast members or school and community groups). As noted last week, 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); I only viewed a few minutes of the show from the promenade and cannot yet report on the differences from prior years (other than the return of a mass choir).
Candlelight Processional remains the headline event of the Festival of the Holidays; it is scheduled three times nightly and offers dining packages with guaranteed seating, with additional seating available on a standby basis.
Weeks shy of turning 90 years old, Chita Rivera was last night's celebrity narrator of Candlelight Processional.
Near the America Gardens Theatre, the plaza at The American Adventure again has a large Christmas Tree.
Joyful: A Celebration of the Season has returned to the stage set up in World Showcase Plaza at the Lagoon's edge. This gospel group performs traditional Christmas songs with gospel and rhythm and blues influences, and pays homage to Kwanzaa (shows will highlight Kwanzaa more extensively December 26-30).
Live musical performers take the stage at Germany pavilion several times each day; they began their performances ahead of the Festival.
The Canadian Holiday Voyagers have returned to The Old Mill Stage at Canada pavilion for the Festival.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Santa Claus meet-and-greet has moved from its prior home in prior festivals in the plaza at The American Adventure to inside the Odyssey building. Guests can board Santa's sleigh for photos with him. Santa's meet-and-greet times are posted on one of the walls inside the pavilion and continue only through December 24. Odyssey building also includes a holiday kitchen featuring desserts.
As with past editions of the Festival, this one features 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. As in the past, a complimentary Festival Passport is available just inside the park entrances which list all the specialty food and beverage offerings.
Nochebuena Cocina near Port of Entry is a new Kitchen offering an Impossible brand plant-based chorizo, as well as a pork-based peril; and an Aifajores vanilla shortbread cookie on its menu.
L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions features deli-inspired foods, like pastrami on rye as well as Hanukkah staples: potato latkes on its menu.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Holiday merchandise is available at kiosks and shops all over the park. Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt maps can be purchased at marked retail locations around the park, and then guests search for Olaf "hidden" around World Showcase, sometimes even amid other holiday decor, and then turn in the completed map for the prize.
The World Celebration popcorn stand next to Creations Shop sells the musical holiday popcorn bucket and the World's Most Magical Celebration version of the Mickey popcorn bucket. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Though all guests can spot Olaf "hidden" around World Showcase, by purchasing a scavenger hunt map and turning it in, guests receive a prize.
Olaf is "hidden" with holiday-related items all over World Showcase, sometimes in the decor and sometimes atop a holiday kitchen.
Though a lot of the merchandise at this year's Festival is focused on Olaf and his Frozen friends, this kiosk near The American Adventure featured PIXAR themed holiday items.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
After sunset, Spaceship Earth continues to display its Beacons of Magic. During the Festival, there are three shows which rotate every 10 minutes: the show that debuted when Walt Disney World began its 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2021; the return of the special EPCOT 40th Anniversary display; and a Festival of the Holidays display accompanied by the song "When We're Together" from "Olaf's Frozen Adventure." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
While the Festival runs for a limited time, EPCOT's on-going transformation also remains on display.
As construction continues on The Journey of Water Inspired by Moana walk-through attraction, the "Heart of Te Fiti" on rock-work rising above the construction walls can be seen from the World Nature area of the park (formerly Future World West). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka
This & That & Reminders…
…Giving Tuesday is at hand! Giving Tuesday (follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday) is the day named for a global generosity movement that unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform the world. It gives you the power to deliver the most precious gift of all to those who need it most: hope. There are many worthy charities out there to choose from, and some have matching challenges on Giving Tuesday. Give Kids The World Village, the not-for-profit Resort in Central Florida that provides critically ill children and their families from around the world with magical weeklong, cost-free wish vacations, has a giving challenge today. Thanks to some generous folks, donations made to the Village today, on this Giving Tuesday, will be matched up to
$32,000 $100,000! [Updated in the morning of November 29.] You can contribute at GKTW.org/GivingTuesday.
…As I mentioned last week, Christmas dining information and offers are hitting my in box, and now New Year's Eve too. I'll share the announcements from the Walt Disney World Resort participating partners here and if you want to know more about more around Central Florida, please let me know, and I can share more details too.
Jaleo at Disney Springs
On Christmas Day, Jaleo at Disney Springs will offer a limited-time menu of Spanish cuisine specialties:
- Ensalada de Invierno ($12)
Persimmon, Endive, Pomegranate, Orange, Cana de Cabra and Toasted Walnuts
- Conejo al Ajillo ($24)
Rabbit with Garlic, Oloroso, and Fried Potatoes
- Canelones de Pollo, Cerdo y Foie con salsa Bechamel ($18)
Stuffed pasta of chicken, pork and foie gras with Bechamel Sauce
- Estofado de Cordero ($16)
Spanish Stew of boneless lamb shoulder, white beans, and tomatoes
- Chuletón a La Parilla (MP)
Confit Piquillo Peppers
This New Year’s Eve, Jaleo at Disney Springs will offer a variation of its Tasting Menu, including 14 different tapas, featuring some elevated elements like Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Royal Ossetra Caviar, Ciglas and Pantera Rosa (Pink Panther Dessert) for guests to indulge in while celebrating the end of the year. The New Year’s Eve menu will be priced at $125 per person, and guests can make reservations here.
The Edison at Disney Springs
Ring in the new year at The Edison, where they're pulling out all the stops to dazzle eyes, ears and of course, tastebuds. The extravaganza features lavish food and drink, including passed appetizers and a decadent dinner and dessert buffet, as well as handcrafted cocktails and premium beers at a cash bar. Live performances will also be enjoyed, including from the world famous Pearls dance trio and 1920s-infused music from The Sound Society Radio Show, as well as a DJ, open dance floor, stilt walkers and aerialists. Plus, enjoy special toast at midnight to ring in 2023!
For guaranteed seating, tickets range from $145 to $175 per person. Entry starts at 8:30 p.m. Reservations include passed appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, dinner & dessert buffet, a bottle of bubbly and a toast at midnight. A limited number of general admission tickets will also be available for purchase at a later date, which include entry at 9:00 p.m., passed appetizers and hors d'oeuvres, desserts, a midnight toast and access to the electrifying entertainment lineup for $55 per person. Get tickets and more information HERE.
Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs
Morimoto Asia will offer a few carefully crafted holiday cocktails. See full menu HERE.
- Gingerbread Manhattan
Gingerbread cookie infused knob creek, lazzaroni amaretto, carpano antica, new England spiced cranberry and orange bitters
Tito’s vodka, midori,Licor 43 Horchata, peppermint schnapps and glitter
Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs
Earl of Sandwich will provide seasonal offerings this year, including its Holiday Ham and Holiday Turkey.
- Holiday Ham ($8.99)
- Ham, cinnamon sweet potato mash, cranberry sauce & cheddar
- Holiday Turkey ($8.99)
- Turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce & mayonnaise
Chicken Guy! at Disney Springs (and its Winter Park location)
Chicken Guy! launched two new flavors of hand-spun milkshakes available throughout the holiday season.
- Frozen Peppermint Cocoa Shake
- Vanilla soft serve, hot cocoa mix, peppermint and crushed candy cane pieces, topped with marshmallow whipped cream, mini marshmallows and a chocolate drizzle.
- Holiday Cookie Shake
- Vanilla soft serve, blended with sugar cookies, marshmallow whipped cream, mini M&M's & holiday sprinkles, topped with a special holiday cookie.
Shakes are $6.49 for a regular and $6.99 for a large at Winter Park, and one size for $6.99 at the Disney Springs location.
Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs
The speakeasy-inspired restaurant will serve a collection of signature holiday cocktails. See full menu HERE.
- White Christmas Bourbon Smash
- Jim Beam Black bourbon, rosemary simple syrup, lime juice, with a splash of seltzer
- The Oogie Boogie
- Absolut Vodka, Midori, and lemon lime soda
- Cranberry Limoncello Spritzer
- Limoncello, White Cranberry Juice, and prosecco
*Suggestion: Try all three cocktails mentioned above by ordering a Babbo Natale Flight*
Maria & Enzo’s at Disney Springs
The Italian restaurant will offer autumn cocktails, plus a fall-inspired pasta dish. See full menu HERE.
- Holiday Cookie Flight
- Gingerbread Man, Peppermint Bark and Shortbread Crumble
- Gingerbread Twist (Mocktail)
- Gingerbread syrup with ginger ale, whipped cream and a mini gingerbread man
- White Chocolate Peppermint Iced Cocoa (Mocktail)
- Chocolate milk with peppermint syrup and a mini candy cane
- Red Velvet Cupcake (Mocktail)
- Red velvet Cake syrup, milk and a vanilla frosting rim
…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: 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).
…Beyond Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line will celebrate its 25th Anniversary next summer aboard all five ships and with a new loyalty level for Castaway Club members that have sailed 25 or more times aboard DCL ships.
To commemorate our 25th anniversary, we’re thrilled to share a new wave of special “Silver Anniversary at Sea” entertainment, merch & celebratory experiences will be featured during select sailings onboard all 5 ships from May through September 2023. https://t.co/TkgQwlDNtY pic.twitter.com/2TwBzUMIw0— Disney Cruise Line (@DisneyCruise) November 28, 2022
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 past summer.
Finally, the active tropical storm wraps up tomorrow as we end the month of November; we have had two such storms roll through the region this year, causing some temporary closures around Walt Disney World Resort, and more significant damage elsewhere in the region. Of course, storms do not have to observe any particular dates on the calendar, so please stay informed if you live or plan to visit Florida (or, really, any other place on the planet impacted by severe weather).
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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.
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