Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 24, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 24, 2023

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 Writer's Note, News & Views

Yesterday, January 22, was the last day of operation for Magic Kingdom's Splash Mountain attraction. It is now closed for its nearly two-year scheduled transformation into Tiana's Bayou Adventure. Splash Mountain remains open at Disneyland, though it will also close on a date to be announced to make way for its transformation into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure there as well. The version at Tokyo Disneyland continues to operate, with no announcement about its future.

Honestly, as I don't like to get wet and then trudge home in my own car (rather than Disney Transportation to a hotel), I haven't ridden the Song of the South-themed log flume ride at Magic Kingdom in quite some years, and I didn't join the throngs of fans, bloggers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the like yesterday (or at all since the announcement of its closing) at the park for a last ride. I got my last look inside from aboard the recently reopened Walt Disney World Railroad on January 2, and I'm curious whether the Imagineers will allow any peeks inside from the trains or media tours before the new attraction opens late next year.

The recently reopened Walt Disney World Railroad provided my last look inside Splash Mountain back on January 2, 2023 (file photo).

Splash Mountain often closed around this time of year for seasonal refurbishment. I took this photo five years ago on this date (January 24, 2018).

Splash Mountain underwent its last seasonal refurbishment last winter, as this photo is from February 2, 2022.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Meanwhile, there have been no additional details to report following the announcements I reported on last week on the updated policies for Passholders, hotel guests, and Genie+ purchasers at Walt Disney World and the media roundtable I attended with Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro. So, with that said, I'll take a moment here to recap the various things to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks and months, including the additional entertainment and live character offerings at Magic Kingdom that Disney has announced in recent weeks:

  • Beginning in the next few months, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom park. Pass blockout dates continue to apply.
  • Self-parking is again complimentary for guests staying at Disney Resort hotels.
  • Beginning in the next few months, guests purchasing Disney Genie+ service will also receive digital downloads of their Disney PhotoPass attraction photos taken in the park on the day of their purchase, at no additional charge.
  • At a date to be announced, Passholders will receive access to PhotoPass lenses and one complimentary Cinderella Case Mural of Memories experience.
  • "Disney Enchantment" at Magic Kingdom and "Harmonious" both end their nightly performances on April 2; on April 3, the new version of "Happily Aver After" debuts at Magic Kingdom and the 2021 version of the temporary show "EPCOT Forever" returns until a new permanent show in development for EPCOT debuts at an unspecified date later this year..
  • TRON Lightcycle/Run opens at Magic Kingdom on April 4. Cast member, Disney Vacation Club, and Passholder previews are all expected in the weeks leading up to the long-awaited attraction's grand opening.
  • Ariel's Grotto reopens on January 22, and Enchanted Tales with Belle returns on February 19.
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow has returned to Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, including meet-and-greets with “Circus stars” Minnie Magnifique, Daisy Fortuna, The Astounding Donaldo, and The Great Goofini under the Big Top.

EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival Returns March 1 through July 5, 2023

With the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts now underway through February 20, Disney has released some of the details of the park's next festival, the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival which returns March 1 and runs through July 5. One of the best-known highlights of the "spring” (and first half of summer) festival are its topiaries, and Disney Parks Blog has shared that new ones this year will feature Mirabel, Antonio, Isabela, and Luisa from Disney's animated film Encanto at the park's main entrance. A new Princes Tiana topiary will be located at The American Adventure, and returning topiaries will include Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, Tick Tock Croc, Figment, Anna and Elsa, and more.

The Garden Rocks Concert Series also returns to the America Gardens Theatre during the Festival, but the concert lineup has yet to be announced. Fifteen Outdoor Kitchens will offer specialty food and beverages around the park, including Citrus Blossom, which will be inside Odyssey building during this Festival. Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration scavenger hunt (buy the map, get a prize) will return as well, along with plenty of other merchandise offerings, like the 1970’s inspired Orange Bird apparel, headwear, drinkware, and more.

Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh continues to make socially distanced appearances with his butterfly net outside Imagination! pavilion near the site where the butterfly house has been during recent editions of the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Neither Disney Parks Blog nor the FreshEPCOT.com website have yet mentioned whether the butterfly house will return this year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

With the amount of time the landscaping team usually needs to get all the gardens planted and topiaries out on display in the park, expect to see the first plantings of the spring festival as February gets underway and while the Festival of the Arts winds down. EPCOT usually saves a few items for installation the night or two before the debut of the Festival, and, of course, with the Flower & Garden Festival now running from the cooler days of March to the hotter days of late June and July, plantings will change during the Festival itself.

Views of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts and Parking Updates

As just mentioned, the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts runs through February 20, and it celebrates the visual, performing, and culinary arts in a number of different ways. Each visit to the Festival can bring about new views, and though I only made a brief visit to the park this past week, I have some more to share.

Some of the construction walls around the park are used to display works of visual art, like these pieces on the wall along the walkway between Imagination! pavilion and World Showcase.

Performance artists take stage in World Showcase Plaza. This weekend, the featured musician was Nicholas Marks (shown here). Art Defying Gravity also performed on the stage, as did Trevor Carlton & Stephen Fishwick. A sign at the base of the stage provides the daily performance schedule.

Beef Wellington is available at The Craftsman’s Courtyard (between Creations Shop and Test Track).

Flan de Coco is available at El Artista Hambriento (approaching Mexico pavilion from World Showcase Plaza).

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Unlike last year, Figment popcorn buckets seem to remain in good supply. Figment's Inspiration Station is located at Odyssey building, and that is where popcorn buckets are distributed after guests purchase them using mobile order in the My Disney Experience app.

Figment popcorn buckets
Figment popcorn buckets remained in good supply this weekend. Guests may only order them through mobile order in the My Disney Experience app (limit two per guest per day). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Figment's Inspiration Station
Figment's Inspiration Station is located inside Odyssey building. Popcorn bucket pickup is inside, as are tributes to the original Imagination! pavilion attraction and Figment-themed food and beverage. Merchandise is also sold inside the building. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The newest Annual Passholder complimentary Passholder magnets are also available during the Festival. This version features Dumbo and are available at Creations Shop from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the Festival (or while supplies last).

Passholder magnet distribution
There is no virtual queue for Passholder magnet distribution: just look for signage at the doors to the shop and be prepared to show a valid pass to scan and have matching government-issued photo ID available to receive a magnet. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Before leaving the subject of EPCOT this week, I should also note that EPCOT has given new names to the sections of its parking lot as part of the park’s ongoing transformation. While tram service has not yet returned (and there's still no word on when it will), the signage project I noted in recent weeks and now provided character names to the different sections of the lot that's now divided into two themes: the “Earth” side and the “Space” side. Earth consists of Crush, Dory, HeiHei, and Moana; Space features Rocket, Gamora, WALL-E, and Eve. Disney Parks Blog says that the auto plaza marquee will also be updated later this month.


The EPCOT auto plaza will soon feature a new marquee as part of the ongoing transformation of the park.

The parking lot’s signage update also incudes some reminder markers on poles throughout the lot for the first time in memory. In the past, the only indications of the rows were at the ends, with occasional ground markings in between the ends of rows.

The old numbering and naming scheme has been painted over throughout the lot.

Signage along the tramway has been updated with the new section names and number ranges as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Passholder magnet distribution
The EPCOT transformation continues both inside the park and its parking lot. The flags next to Spaceship Earth and the pylons were installed upon the completion of the update to the park's entry plaza in time for the start of the Resort’s 50th Anniversary celebration back in 2021. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…Disney has launched a pilot program at Fort Wilderness Resort using a glass pulverizer to turn recycled glass into gravel and sand for roads and horse trails.

…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club announced eight Moonlight Magic complimentary event nights at Walt Disney World Resort in 2023 for eligible members and their guests. As with past events, members with qualifying Disney Resort hotel reservations on the event nights get a first shot at making reservations. Pending availability, eligible members without reservations get their chance to register after that. The first two events are at EPCOT on February 8 and 15, 2023. Eligible members with hotel reservations can register on the DVC member website beginning on January 25, 2023. If space remains available, registration for the February 8 event opens on February 2, and registration for the February 15 event opens on February 9. The additional event nights (for which registration details have not yet been published) are:

  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – May 11, September 13
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – July 11, August 2
  • Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – May 23, August 23

…Looking ahead to Valentine’s Day, several of the Disney Springs operating partners have given us a heads-up about their specialty offerings to share with you here. As always, reservations are recommended:

  • Jaleo – Special Valentine’s Day menu featuring a variety of Spanish tapas and desserts to share
    • Cono de higado de pato con membrillo ($8 each)
      Tartelleta de coliflor y caviar ($18)
    • Tartelette of cauliflower purée and Royal Ossetra Caviar
      Foie gras and quince paste cone
    • Carpaccio de Vieras con frambuesas y pétalos de rosa ($28)
      Scallop carpaccio with raspberries and rose petals
    • Lubina a la pobre ($38)
      Branzino with sliced potatoes and onions
    • Chuletón a la parrilla ($158)
      32 oz. Josper grilled ribeye served with confit piquillo peppers
    • Sorbete de fresa y Cava con espuma de chocolate blanco ($16)
      Strawberry Cava sorbet with white chocolate foam
    • Sopa de frutos rojos ($15)
      Cold berry soup with olive oil yogurt ice cream
  • Morimotto Asia – Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s pan-Asian special Valentine’s Day only menu
    • Appetizer: 5 spice candied Ice fish “SHIRAUO AMEDAKI” ($18)
      Japanese ice fish , 5 spice powder, Tobanjan and Ginger
    • Entrée: Whole lobster lo mein noodle XO sauce ($50)
      Whole lobster, lo mein noodle, Bok choy and Seafood XO sauce
    • Entrée: Red Miso Glazed Faroe Island Salmon ($39)
      Bok choy, Shaoxing gastrique, grilled rice cake and Morimoto duck broth
  • The Edison – nostalgic 20’s special menu on Valentine’s Day only
    • Entrée: Butter poached lobster linguine ($42)
      Sauteed broccolini, blistered, maine lobster, pistachio cream sauce
    • Dessert: Chocolate covered bacon ($22)
  • Maria & Enzo’s and Enzo’s Hideaway – special Italian menu on Valentine’s Day only:
    • Arancini al Tartufo ($19)
      Black truffle risotto, fior di latte mozzarella, parmigiano crema
    • Short Rib Lasagna ($36)
      Fresh egg pasta, red wine braised short rib, besciamella, ricotta, fior di latte mozzarella, parmigiano, stracchino, extra virgin olive oil
    • Torta di Pane al Cioccolato ($16)
      Brioche, dark chocolate custard, fresh raspberries

…Reminder: Drawn to Life, the show from Cirque du Soleil and Disney, is now running its new 2023 schedule at Disney Springs, including new matinee show times on Sundays. The family-friendly show tells the story of the love between a father and a daughter, drawing inspiration from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 100-year heritage of storytelling. It recently celebrated its first anniversary of its debut, and now has two performances daily, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets and more information are available at cirquedusoleil.com/drawn-to-life.

…Walt Disney World Golf, until March 31, 2023 or until supplies last, is offering its 50th Anniversary celebration merchandise at a special 50% OFF discount! Visit the Pro Shops to see and purchase the collection items.

…Over at Port Canaveral, Disney Cruise Line has launched its first sailings of Pixar Day at Sea voyages aboard Disney Fantasy and they continue through March. These themed sailings have replaced the Star Wars Day at Sea voyages. This summer, all five ships in the DCL fleet will celebrate the line’s 25th anniversary during its “Silver Anniversary at Sea” from May through September, including a new fireworks show on most Bahamian, Caribbean, and Mediterranean cruises and more.


…Reminder: Give Kids The World Village's 2023 Gingerbread Run is Saturday, February 11th at 7 a.m. Run in person or in the virtual event. More information and registration is at this page of GKTW.org. Proceeds benefit the not-for-profit organization that provides week long cost free Central Florida vacations to critically ill children and their families.

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.

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 the past several years, 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 most requirements have been relaxed or removed, 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.

Speaking of Annual Passes, sales of new ones continue to be paused in all categories except the Florida Resident Pixie Dust Pass. Current Passholders may continue to purchase renewals in all tiers regardless of the pause in new sales. Notwithstanding rumors, we continue to see no official words from Disney about its plans to resume sales of new passes.

Disney has added a "Courtesy" section to its "know before you go" webpage on DisneyWorld.com which states:

Be the magic you want to see in the world. You must always remember to treat others with respect, kindness and compassion. Those who can't live up to this simple wish may be asked to leave Walt Disney World Resort.

Finally, as for the weather, it is winter in Central Florida too. Some of the region's best weather happens at this time of year, but as we have seen again this winter, a Central Florida winter day can see temperatures vary by 30° or more in any given day. And, while the usual Tropical Storm season is still months ahead, Central Florida can have rainy days that are more akin to what northern states see in spring or fall; in other words, the rainy may last for hours rather than the hour-or-so typical Florida afternoon summer thunderstorm. Central Florida can also see drought this time of year, so you may see no rain for quite a few days or weeks in a row. In other words, have a look at the forecasts and be prepared.

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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.

With the new year, Disney announced its resort hotel offers for the spring and summer of 2023 at Walt Disney World Resort. While many folks expected Disney to return the Disney Dining Plan, the package offered to start off the year does not go quite that far.

Guests that purchase non-discounted 5-night, 4-day vacation packages that include a room at select Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts and theme park tickets for arrivals most nights from July 1 to 10, and August 1 to September 14, 2023, can get up to a $750 digital Disney Dining Promo Card. The Dining Promo Card can be used to purchase meals, snacks, treats and beverages at select participating dining locations across all of Walt Disney World Resort (from table service, to quick service, food carts, and more).

On other dates and at other Disney Resorts, lower value Disney Dining Promo Cards may also be available when purchasing a package. The top values are:

  • Up to $150 per room per night at Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts
  • Up to $100 per room per night at Disney Moderate Resorts
  • Up to $50 per room per night at Disney Value Resorts

As always, there is a lot of fine print and exclusions to study so as to know what you are getting. For example, campsites, 3-bedroom villas, and Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are not eligible; gratuities are not included. The Dining Promo Card cannot be used at merchandise locations or candy kitchens, and cannot be used at the non-Disney hotels on or around property (like Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, Four Seasons, Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Bonnet Creek, and Walt Disney World Gateway hotels). The digital Dining Promo Card is not valid after September 30, 2023, and will be emailed to a guest when checking in at their Disney Resort hotel.

Read more about the details of the offer and check availability on this page of DisneyWorld.com. You can also contact your travel agent, including MousePlanet’s sponsor GetAwayToday.

With the start of the year, Disney also announced its first round of 2023 Florida Resident and Annual Passholder Offers. Through April 27 (subject to blockout dates), Florida Residents can get Disney Weekday magic Tickets for 2 days of theme park admissions (one park per day) for $175 plus tax. Blocked dates include all Saturdays and Sundays, as well as March 13-17, April 3-7, and April 10-14, 2023. Tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days; park reservations are still required; Park Hopper and/or Water Parks and Sports options available for additional fees.

Florida Residents can also save 30% on a 3-day ticket or 40% on a 4-day ticket. A one-day, one-park Florida Resident Ticket is also available starting at $109 plus tax, and Park Hopper Option can be added for an additional fee to all of the ticket types. Tickets are only valid for admission on specific dates selected.

Proof of residency is required. Disney now allows that to be done online when purchasing tickets from DisneyWorld.com. More information about all the tickets and verification requirements is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Florida Residents can also save up to 20% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights January 2 to February 28, 2023, and most nights March 1 to April 30. The amount of discount varies by hotel and does not correspond to the usual Deluxe-Moderate-Value breakdown. For more information, details, and availability, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

Annual Passholders can save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights May 1 through July 10, 2023. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for details (and you may be required to log in with your My Disney Experience account to see the rates and availability).

MousePlanet’s 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.



  1. By wdwchuck

    I just got an e-mail from Disney offering us a very significant discount for the newer Star Wars Immersive Hotel. We were surprised out how steep a discount it was but then we went to find out how much it would cost after the discount we laughed and laughed and laughed. No thank you.

  2. By wdwchuck

    Quote Originally Posted by wdwchuck View Post
    I just got an e-mail from Disney offering us a very significant discount for the newer Star Wars Immersive Hotel. We were surprised out how steep a discount it was but then we went to find out how much it would cost after the discount we laughed and laughed and laughed. No thank you.

    Well, it seems it actually wasn't for the Star Wars portion, it was for the stay after or before in a WDW resort. Interesting.

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