Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 20-31, 2022by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for December 20-31, 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 Facebook or Twitter posts embedded in the Update, you can click them and view larger images on the respective sites.
Writer's Note, News & Views
As I wrote last week, barring major news, this will be our last Walt Disney World Resort Update for 2022. Have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Complete Airing of Grievances and Demonstration of Feats of Strength Festivus, enjoyment of any other winter holidays you celebrate, and Happy New Year!
The story of Hanukkah is told during the entire EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, which concludes December 30. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Only Annual Passholders with the IncrediPass are not blocked out the rest of the year. I am blocked out: I purchased the roughly $400-less expensive Sorcerer Pass, which is blocked out these last two weeks of the year (as well as five days around and including Thanksgiving). Of course, as Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix noted over on the Disneyland Resort Update, at least the Florida Resort still offers an option with no blockouts for those who want to try to get park reservations for those popular dates and then fight the celebratory crowds.
I attended New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World theme parks all but one year from December 31, 2002 to December 31, 2019, and I had already decided before the global pandemic of 2020 that I was going to take a break. The pandemic (limited park hours December 31, 2020), plus the reservation system (December 31, 2021), and now the annual pass tiers (December 31, 2022) have ensured that my break continues for the foreseeable future.
Last week, I gave a short list of questions about ongoing Walt Disney World projects with an open status, and since then, Disney Parks Blog provided an update on one of them: Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the new barbecue-inspired, comfort foods, family-style, table-service restaurant featuring "platters of house-smoked meats," a "roundup of sides," and some miniature "sweet surprises along the way" is now expected to open in Spring 2023. When the EPCOT parking lot trams will return remains unannounced, but a newly installed sign at EPCOT I noticed suggests that they're still likely to return eventually, just as the installation of Minnie Van signage accurately hinted that the point-to-point on-demand transportation service would return.
✨ Andy’s backyard is getting ready for more toys! Roundup Rodeo BBQ will open in Spring 2023 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to welcome you in for delicious barbecue and toy-sized fun! Here’s a closer look at the new family-style restaurant: https://t.co/hf6grrf9zv pic.twitter.com/WegR1piYuq— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 14, 2022
The installation of a new sign that includes the trams suggests that the trams may, in fact, be returning to EPCOT. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
I'm looking forward to the return of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts and its lead into springtime at Walt Disney World, where we will see the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, Rodeo Roundup BBQ at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. With the World's Most Magical Celebration of the Resort's 50th Anniversary winding down on March 31, it will be interesting to see what the resort's next big picture theme will be.
Avatar: The Way of Water Now Playing in Theaters and Trickling into Disney's Animal Kingdom
The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron's film Avatar opened in theaters on December 16, released by Twentieth Century Studios, which was acquired by Disney since the original film debuted back in 2009. Back in 2017, before Disney acquired Twentieth Century Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened an entire land themed to James Cameron’s mythical moon elsewhere in our universe: Pandora – The World of Avatar.
The day before Avatar: The Way of Water debuted, Disney invited MousePlanet to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see some of the new film’s influences in the park and to screen the new film over at the Disney AMC 24 Dine-In Theaters. Disney Parks Blog also shared the new Avatar: The Way of Water celebrations at not only Walt Disney World which will remain for awhile, but at Disneyland Resort which had a December 16th pin release, Tokyo Disney Resort which added food and beverage plus larger-than-life Jake and Neytiri statues, Shanghai Disney Resort which held the December 12 China premiere of the film with fireworks that spelled out “AVATAR” and will host a limited-time touring exhibition “AVATAR: Explore Pandora.”
Sivako! Disney Parks across the globe are celebrating the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Be sure to see #AvatarTheWayofWater only in theaters! To learn more, visit the Disney Parks Blog: https://t.co/pEG7FRJGTx pic.twitter.com/8twt9yuhae— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 16, 2022
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Satu’li Canteen in Pandora-The World of Avatar has new food items inspired by the new film. At night, for a limited time, the Tree of Life has an additional awakening (projection show) inspired by both the park’s land and the new film. The new awakening rotates with the park’s 50th Anniversary Beacon of Magic and the park’s Holiday Awakenings presentations. Another Disney Parks Blog post shared the details of some of the newest Avatar-themed merchandise now available at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and shopDisney.com.
Return to Pandora: The World of Avatar and immerse yourself in the underwater world of #AvatarTheWayofWater with new merchandise and experiences, including a new Tree of Life projection sequence! 🌊 🌳 https://t.co/H0u8vaJJoJ pic.twitter.com/04hHhO2jrZ— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 9, 2022
Pandora-The World of Avatar is set some years after the events of the first film. Earth expatriates annually decorate Pongu Pongu for the holidays with items brought from Earth and some created on Pandora.
The Shaman of Songs is the audio animatronic star of the final scene of Na’vi River Journey in Pandora - The World of Avatar. The music on the attraction and its visuals are very much in line with what the new film "Avatar: The Way of Water" offers.
The Tree of Life, for a limited time, has nightly awakenings with music and images influenced by Pandora-The World of Avatar as well as the new film where creatures of this species play an important part.
The new beverage introduced at Satu’li Canteen is Ilu Splash Margarita, a mix of kiwi Monin syrup with lime juice, sour mix, Corazon Tequila Blanco, and a floating slice of Kiwi.
Satu’li Canteen’s new dessert inspired by the film is the Metkayina Mousse, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, decorated with raspberry gelee, mango coulis, boba pearls and finished off with a milk and white chocolate garnish. The sample size in this photo from the media-invited preview is smaller than the portion available for sale.
Satu’li Canteen’s new entrée offering inspired by the film is Ocean Moon Bowl made with tuna, blue noodles, watermelon radish, pickled daikon, rainbow carrots, avocado, cucumbers and red cabbage with a miso and sweet soy drizzle. The sample size in this photo from the media-invited preview is smaller than the portion available for sale.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Views Around the World
Since I was invited to Disney's Animal Kingdom for the media event and it turned out to be a day that started with heavy rain that ended right as I arrived at the park, it was a good day to check out some of the sights of the park one last time before the end of the year with much-lower-than-usual crowds and very low attraction standby times.
Since I last visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom earlier this Fall, the park’s traditional Christmas Tree returned to its usual spot in front of the park’s entrance following the delay apparently caused by the hurricanes that came through Central Florida in September and November.
The flamboyance of Flamingos seemed particularly active on Kilimanjaro Safaris in the cool afternoon following the heavy rain.
The Kilimanjaro Safaris pride of lions were also rather active in the cool afternoon, with the male sitting high atop the rocks and the two lionesses nearby.
DinoLand U.S.A. has the most traditional Americana-style Christmas lights of any of Disney's Animal Kingdom's lands.
The Christmas displays in DinoLand, though, do take on some of the Donald’s Dino-Bash elements too. Look closely at this snowman and there are duck-inspired influences.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney also invited MousePlanet to a close-up look at Candlelight Processional with celebrity narrator Gloria Estefan last week during EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. This was likely also my final visit to the park this year, so I took the opportunity to get a few last looks around.
Last week, Disney shared the news that Te Fiti had been installed at her position along the Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana trail, so I went to find her. Disney’s view from the other side of the construction walls was, obviously, better. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
This wider-angle view from a bit closer to The Land pavilion gives you an idea of where guests will encounter Te Fiti at her position along the Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana trail. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Candlelight Processional is presented three times nightly through December 30 featuring not only a celebrity narrator, but a full orchestra, the Voices of Liberty, and a mass choir. An ASL interpreter is also on stage on the right side of the stage from the audience's perspective.
Sitting up-close to the musicians of Candlelight Processional also provides an opportunity to see their sheet music which often includes an indication of when the score for a particular song was last revised. This year's show received a few modifications as well, including revised narration introducing the performance of “Silent Night."
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
You never know what fun will ensue when a celebrity narrator goes off script at Candlelight Processional. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
This & That & Reminders…
…Disney-owned ABC-TV continues the annual tradition of broadcasting the "Disney Parks Magical Christmas Parade" on December 25, at 10 Eastern, 9 Central, 7 Pacific. Check your local listings, or stream on Hulu. The television special is pre-recorded, with the Florida segments taped across a few days in November (including some very late-night fireworks launches Disney warned us Magic Kingdom neighbors about ahead of time).
There’s no better place to spend Christmas morning than the most magical place on earth ✨ 🎄 Tune in to the #DisneyChristmasCelebration, Christmas morning on @ABCNetwork and Stream on @Hulu! @Disneyland @WaltDisneyWorld @DisneyCruise pic.twitter.com/2CWDX0qPsX— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 19, 2022
…Following the Disney Vacation Club annual condominium association meetings earlier this month, members can now view and pay their annual dues assessments (operating expenses, reserves, and taxes) in their online accounts. They are due to be paid in full by January 15. Monday morning, the DVC website warned that there could be an online waiting room required to enter the DVC website, and, indeed, that was my experience: it was fairly quick, and the website features all seemed to operate fairly normally.
…FINAL REMINDER: The temporarily increased Passholder merchandise discount of 30% at Disney-owned-and-operated locations concludes on December 23, 2022. Remember, of course:
Discounts are not valid on certain items and may not be combined with any other discount, offer, or promotion. Discounts are subject to change without notice. All merchandise is available while supplies last. Passholder must present their valid Passholder card (or My Disney Experience account showing a linked MagicBand or Disney MagicMobile pass) and government-issued ID at time of purchase to receive the discount.
And, likewise, the Annual Passholders 20% discount off of food and non-alcoholic beverages at select EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Holiday Kitchens concludes on December 23, 2022 when using cashless payment (and, of course, showing a valid Pass). Participating locations Include:
- Mele Kalikimaka Holiday Kitchen near Port of Entry
- Holiday Sweets & Treats near Port of Entry
- Nochebuena Cocina near Port of Entry
- Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen near Test Track
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen Germany
- American Holiday Table The American Adventure
- Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina Morocco
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen Between France and Morocco
- Holiday Hearth Desserts Odyssey
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen Canada
- The Donut Box near Test Track
- Refreshment Port near Canada
- Refreshment Outpost
…REMINDER: Through the end of the year (Pacific time), Disney Movie Insiders (an official Disney loyalty program/website of The Walt Disney Company) is offering a chance to win a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort for four people. The first entry is free; means of entry, rules, restrictions and so forth are available on this page of DisneyMovieInsiders.com.
The magic is calling! 🏰✨ Discover countless ways to celebrate during The World’s Most Magical Celebration.— Disney Movie Insiders (@Disney_Insiders) November 30, 2022
Enter now for your chance to win a magical vacation to @WaltDisneyWorld Resort for 4 people: https://t.co/O5kthb7hbb pic.twitter.com/EXk6UriApK
…Looking ahead to the near-future of Disney's BoardWalk Resort, Disney Parks Blog shared details of its upcoming new food and beverage offerings.
…And, with the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts returning from January 13 to February 20, 2023, Disney Parks Blog also shared a look at some of the new artists that will share their talents at this edition of the Festival along with a first look at some of the new Figment-inspired merchandise that will be available this time. So far, nothing looks like it will generate anything like those multi-hour lines for that crazy-popular popcorn bucket last year, but stay tuned.
…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 and UPDATE: 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 continues 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. Disney also announced that it is providing a grant to the foundation that will result in delivery of another 75,000 toys to children in need this year. Disney cast hosted a first-ever toy distribution event at Typhoon Lagoon.
'Tis the season of giving! 🎁 🧸 To celebrate our 75-year relationship with the Marine Toys for Tots Program, cast hosted the first-ever toy distribution event at @WaltDisneyWorld and welcomed families for some festive fun. https://t.co/2HWSwsoQiG pic.twitter.com/oBrudaB9rB— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 19, 2022
…REMINDER: Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights at Island H2O Water Park continues to run evenings through January 1, with proceeds benefiting the non-profit resort's mission of providing free weeklong Central Florida vacations for critically ill children and their families. More information and tickets for the nights that are not yet sold out are available at https://www.gktw.org/lights/.
…Disney Springs' Wine Bar George now has a second location at Orlando International Airport in the new Terminal C, so if you miss your opportunity for some last sips before leaving Walt Disney World Resort and your flight is departing from Terminal C, pop on over.
…REMINDERS - UPDATED: Christmas and New Year's Eve dining information and offers continued to hit my in box from the Walt Disney World Resort participating partners this past week, including an offering for Three King’s Day in January.
Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs
Here’s the Pub Plan for double the seasonal fun at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs!
- Dancers are decked out in brand new holiday costumes
- Bands are sprinkling Christmas songs throughout their sets
- Culinary team is geared up to make your taste buds happy
- Bars are serving new local craft brews along with holiday cocktails and more
For Christmas Day, December 25: Raglan suggests:Eat turkey. Sip a foamy libation. Kick back and watch the show.
Book a table at Raglan Road for that, or you can order from the All-Day menu if turkey’s not your thing. The Irish Show begins at noon with Men of Aran and continues, with breaks for our bands and dancers, through pub closing.
For New Year's Eve, December 31: ring in 2023 twice—at 7 p.m. (Ireland's New Year), and then again at midnight, Eastern Time. Guests 21-and-older (with I.D.) will receive complimentary bubbly for each toast
Raglan Road is proud to be the only Orlando-area restaurant to make OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in the United States for 2022. The honor is based on reviews submitted by more than 13 million verified Open Table diners in the last year. Slainte! For more information and reservations: RaglanRoad.com.
Jaleo at Disney Springs – UPDATED
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 you can make reservations here.
On January 6, in celebration of Three King’s Day (or Die de Reyes), Jaleo at Disney Springs, will provide guests with slices of Chef Jose’s iconic Roscón de Reyes cake. In Spain, the holiday is inspired by the story of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to baby Jesus after he was born and is celebrated with more excitement than Christmas, as children receive gifts and get to indulge in the sweet delicacy. Chef Jose brings his Roscón de Reyes, flavored with orange blossom, caramelized cherries, oranges melon and almonds to celebrate. It is available with or without whipped cream, and each cake includes a hidden “Rey” (king) figurine baked inside, and whoever finds the King "will have good luck for the rest of the year." Reservations recommended.
Pepe by José Andrés – NEW
Offering delicious Spanish food truck fare from international culinary innovator José Andrés, Pepe by José Andrés features an extensive menu of hot and cold Spanish-style sandwiches like bocatas and bikinis, plus salads, soups, sides and desserts for Disney Springs guests. Red, white and frozen Spanish sangria are also available to-go for those looking to enjoy a refreshing beverage while enjoying the fresh air and holiday cheer at Disney Springs.
The Edison at Disney Springs
Four holiday beverages are now available until December 25th. Last week, Patina Restaurant Group invited me to sample three of them last week (the "Cosmie Poinsettia, High Roller" was not yet ready for sampling but is now available for sale).
The Cosmic Poinsettia was not available for sampling when I visited, but if you did not know, with each "High Roller" drink guests purchase, they receive a gold High Roller Coin; redeem four High Roller Coins for a free fifth beverage. File Image courtesy Patina Restaurant Group.
The "Underneath the Mistletoe" is served that way. The Cup O'Cheer mocktail (not shown on this tray), is sort of an apple pie-flavored beverage appropriate for all ages. File File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
You can also 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.
- Jingletini – Tito’s vodka, midori, Licor 43 Horchata, peppermint schnapps, and glitter.
Morimoto Asia Street Eats – NEW
Providing guests with gourmet Pan-Asian cuisine on-the-go from legendary Japanese Master Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Morimoto Asia Street Food’s fast-casual menu features Morimoto’s iconic ramen selections, small plates, rice bowls and more. Savory dishes range from the Morimoto Baby Ribs and BBQ Pork Buns to the famous Spicy Chashu Ramen and Chicken Chimaki. Guests may pair these authentic offerings with refreshing Popping Boba Tea or Morimoto Easycup Junmai Sake.
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, and cheddar.
- Holiday Turkey ($8.99) – Turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and mayonnaise.
Even a few days after Thanksgiving, it is nice to enjoy Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs. #earlofsandwich #worldsgreatestsandwich #disneysprings #WaltDisneyWorld #PhotoByASD https://t.co/2nbvQxrEWl @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/45KIL6siVX— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) November 29, 2022
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 Merry Melon – Absolut Vodka, Midori, and lemon lime soda.
- Cranberry Limoncello Spritzer – Limoncello, white cranberry juice, and prosecco.
- Blood Orange Negroni – Blood Orange Malfy Gin, Italicus, and Antica.
- Sazerac – Knob Creek Rye, Courvoisier, bitters, sugar cube, absinthe, and a lemon peel.
*Suggestion: Try White Christmas Bourbon Smash, The Merry Melon, and Cranberry Limoncello Spritzer together 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.
- Gingerbread and Bourbon* – Bulleit bourbon, Combier liqueur, and gingerbread syrup.
- Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark* – Bailey's, pepperment simple, dark chocolate syrup, and vanilla vodka.
- Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle* – Screwball peanut butter whiskey, Pinnacle whipped vodka, Baily's and peanut butter syrup.
*The three cocktails are available to sample together as a "Babbo Natale Flight."
Pizza Ponte – NEW
A perfect place for quick-service, Italian specialties, Pizza Ponte provides an assortment of house-baked sweet-and-savory pastries and handmade sandwiches, plus Pizza al Taglio and Sicilian-style pizza by the slice, ranging in toppings from tomato, cheese and basil to spicy salami or forest mushroom. Fan-favorites include the Big Roman, the biggest slice of pizza on Disney property. Italian beer and wine are available for guests, as well.
Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf, Kandy Kane, return for their annual holiday vacation to Santa’s favorite resort as part of the resort’s 2022 holiday season celebration. The full slate of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort holiday activities include:
- Santa and Mrs. Claus Meet and Greets
On select nights throughout December, Santa’s Hangout will give the young and young-at-heart a chance to experience the sights, scents and sounds of the holidays. Playful elves will share their favorite North Pole bedtime stories, take part in holiday cookie decorating and meet and take pictures with the big man himself. Event dates: December 21–23.
- Cookie Decorating
Fun has never tasted so sweet! Families can participate in a favorite holiday tradition – cookie decorating. Kids and parents alike can unleash their creativity on frosted sugar cookies from the hotel’s award-winning food and beverage team, then devour their delicious creations. Located at Santa’s Holiday Hangout area at the Swan pool on select nights from 6 – 8 p.m. (December 21, 22 & 23). Cookies will be available while supplies last.
- Life-Size Chocolate Holiday Santa Scene
Visitors can stop by the Swan lobby near Il Mulino New York Trattoria to marvel at a spectacular chocolate Santa sculpture made from more than 1,000 lbs. of chocolate.
- Dancing Lights Show
A dazzling musical light show transforms the outdoor causeway each evening into a holiday spectacle with dancing illuminated palm trees and favorite holiday tunes. The performances occur regularly from sunset through 10 p.m.
- Tales of the North Pole
Santa and his elves will be sharing some of their favorite holiday stories for families to enjoy. They even brought some presents from the North Pole. Stories will be told select nights (December 21, 22 & 23) at 8:30 p.m. Fees apply.
- In-Room Christmas tree delivery
Hotel guests can complete their holiday visit with a 6ft Christmas tree delivered by Santa’s elves to their guest room, featuring all kinds of Christmas décor from the North Pole! Guests will also receive one Santa’s Stocking. Available through December 25. Fees apply.
- Magic Keys for Santa on Christmas Eve
How will Santa deliver presents to each guest room without a chimney? With a magic key of course! Children can hang a magic key on their door to help Santa find his way on Christmas Eve. Magic keys are available on December 24 at the concierge desk.
- Winter Wonderland Bag
While visiting Santa’s favorite resort, guests can have a wintery themed bag delivered to their room, filled with Frosty’s winter favorites. Available through December 25. Fees apply.
- Santa’s Stocking
Guests can have a holiday stocking delivered to their room, filled with the elves favorite toys and Rudolph’s favorites treats! Available through December 25. Fees apply.
Guests can join all the holiday excitement with rates starting at $279 per night. And, if they are on the nice list, they can also enjoy a special bonus: up to 25% off a second room. Just use the code: SANTA. For more details about all the holiday excitement, including a full schedule of activities, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort or to make room reservations, visit SantasFavoriteResort.com or call 1-800-227-1500
The Usual Writer's Note Plus Be Aware of Sub-Freezing Temperatures in the Forecast
Face coverings remain optional across all of Walt Disney World Resort. Remember to check this page of DisneyWorld.com for the latest requirements. Having said that, the Centers for Disease Control has begun urging the public to wear face masks indoors once again with the onset of what is being called a “tripledemic” as we head into the end of the year: the flu, RSV and COVID-19. News reports like this one are becoming more frequent, with number of major cities mulling a return to masking measures. News outlets are reporting that medical centers across the U.S.A. have seen higher rates of hospitalizations, including for for RSV which poses the greatest risk to children 6 months and younger.
Based on experience over the past three years, it is unlikely that the State of Florida will impose new requirements. Disney may impose more stringent requirements than the State, so, again, be sure to pay attention to updates to the policies around Walt Disney World Resort.
As has been true throughout, 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, but 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).
Disney Park Pass reservations continue to be required for admission to Walt Disney World theme parks 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, as Disney reserves the right to do so at all the parks. As we head into the historically busy Christmas-to-New Year's period, park hopping restrictions may arise. Of course, the big difference this year is that the only Passholders that are not blocked out during the historically busy last two weeks of the year are those guests that have the IncrediPass; many Passholders that previously held Platinum Annual Passes (like me) opted to downgrade to the Sorcerer Pass when the new tiers debuted with about $400 between the two top pass levels but only 20 blockout dates imposed on the new Sorcerer Pass.
Speaking of Annual Passes, sales of new ones 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. Notwithstanding rumors, we have seen nothing further about when Disney plans to resume sales of new passes.
As Central Florida is now past the Tropical Storm season, it is the time of year where the brief winter sets in. While it is always wise to be mindful of weather forecasts because severe storms do not have to observe any particular dates on the calendar, it is the time of year to dress for a big range of temperatures in a short span of time if visiting outdoor destinations like the Disney theme parks: the seven day forecast at publication of this week's Update includes temperatures from 25° to 76°, with more than a 30° swing in one day possible more than once. Neither Christmas Eve nor Christmas Day are currently forecast to even reach 50°, and if Friday's forecast rain drifts into those subfreezing temperatures forecast for Saturday, well there could be more than Disney-created snow in the region! A White Christmas in Central Florida? Doubtful, but 2022 saw some really strange weather.
Join Our Networks
Follow MousePlanet on Facebook:
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.