Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 7, 2023by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 7, 2023
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Writer's Note, News & Views
We 'e just weeks away from the end of the 18-month-long celebration of Walt Disney World Resort's 50th Anniversary. The World's Most Magical Celebration ends March 31. In my opinion and that of others I chat with, it has not been a particularly "festive" celebration for the Resort. It was hampered in its planning, preparation, and execution by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and there may have been other reasons for its shortcomings that we can speculate about, but lack substantiation.
The celebration has featured two new nighttime spectaculars—Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT—both of which were introduced as "permanent" replacements for the nighttime spectaculars that came before them. Neither were widely loved, however, and both are ending their runs on April 2. The celebration also saw the start of the "Beacons of Magic" light shows on and around Spaceship Earth at EPCOT, and the undercarriage lighting added to the monorail fleet, both of which I like very much and believe are still intended as permanent; the EPCOT entry area, fountain, and Spaceship Earth lighting, in particular, were designed as part of the ongoing EPCOT transformation project. The other three theme parks also have projection-based "Beacons of Magic," which I have long-stopped going out of my way to see (except for the seasonal projection show at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios this past winter), and it's unclear whether they will continue.
The Walt Disney Company is now celebrating its 100th anniversary. It has centered that celebration, at least from a promotional standpoint, out at Disneyland Resort in California. Disney has said that a new nighttime spectacular in development for EPCOT will be tied to the 100th anniversary, but has provided no additional details so far. Before that show debuts, we know that the "temporary" EPCOT Forever nighttime show that previously ran on and above World Showcase Lagoon after Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was retired in 2019 will "temporarily" return starting on April 3. We also know that an updated version of Magic Kingdom's previous nighttime spectacular, Happily Ever After, will also return that same night, and, indeed, starting at about 1 a.m. on Monday, from my house it sounded and looked like Disney was testing it over at Magic Kingdom, though we neighbors did not get the usual courtesy notice that there would be late night fireworks testing.
As regular readers may recall from my prior writings and appearances here on MousePlanet, I moved just down the block from Walt Disney World Resort back in 2014, having been a Chicagoan who became a Disney Vacation Club member in 2000, and an Annual Passholder most of the years since (I was an occasional visitor before that, going back all the way to 1972). I've been regularly observing Walt Disney World Resort with my camera for MousePlanet since December 2014, and I've been on the keyboard for these WDW Resort Updates since December 2016.
All that leaves me continuing to wonder, "what's next?" Since the millennium, I can't think of many regular operating times that Walt Disney World Resort had no overall celebration marketing umbrella either ongoing or coming soon. Since 2022 was winding down, I've been wondering about when we will hear "what's next" at Walt Disney World Resort in these Writer's Notes, and I'm rather surprised that we're nearing the end of March with no news on that front. We know that Roundup Rodeo BBQ is opening in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios on March 23. We know that TRON Lightcycle / Run is opening April 4. And we know that the competition over at Universal Orlando is building a whole new theme park just a few minutes' drive on I-4 from Walt Disney World Resort (depending on traffic) that is slated to open in the summer of 2025.
Disney has told the media that there will be a virtual news briefing the morning of March 15 as part of the TRON Lightcycle / Run media preview. It's possible that new major projects will be announced there, but that seems out of character for Disney's bigger parks announcements. Disney D23 Expo has tended to be the forum for the biggest announcements, but at Expo 2021 this past September, the Disney Parks presentation for the Florida Resort was mostly "Blue Sky" (projects in development but not yet approved for construction).
Maybe the Resort is going to focus more on "bringing back the magic" for awhile without an overarching theme. There are still plenty of small "pieces of magic" that haven't returned since going on hiatus because of the pandemic that are yet to change from "temporarily closed" to either coming back soon or wiped off DisneyWorld.com and My Disney Experience. Courtesy parking lot trams at EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios? It would sure be nice to see Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. and Citizens of Hollywood return. Maybe we'll learn more next week. Maybe we'll have to wait for the Destination D23 event scheduled for September 8–10. Stay tuned.
I wrote in the Resort Update at the beginning of the year that I may alter the publication of updates away from the usual Tuesday publication if a news week leads me that way. If Walt Disney World Resort news stays quiet heading into next Tuesday, I may hold off on publishing the next one until Wednesday afternoon or Thursday; or there could be two updates next week. In either event, thanks for reading!
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival started on March 1, and I liked the way the topiary framed the moon when I was there for invited Media Day. I'll be back at EPCOT for another visit (or two or more) to the Festival before our next Walt Disney World Resort Update. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival Is Underway Through July 5th
Last Wednesday, March 1, the 2023 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival began its long 127-day run, which concludes July 5. It's included with park admission (and subject to the park reservation rules, blackouts, and so forth), features lush gardens, sweet and savory bites, "refreshing" sips, and, of course, new merchandise collections—this time featuring Orange Bird, Snow White, and Figment. Like the prior festivals since the resort's 50th anniversary celebration began back in fall of 2021, starting at sunset, Spaceship Earth features Beacons of Magic which, on opening night, included the regular EPCOT beacon that debuted back in fall 2021, the EPCOT 40th anniversary beacon that debuted on October 1, 2022, and the one created for this festival that Disney describes as "set to a fresh and fun new soundtrack" (the song "What Else Can I Do?" from Encanto). As mentioned in last week's resort update, MousePlanet was invited to attend the first day of the festival by Disney as a Media Day.
As with past Flower & Garden Festivals, topiaries greet guests at the park's main entrance and are also located throughout the park. This year, the park debuted three sets of new topiaries: at the park's entrance, the Madrigal sisters and young Antonio (Encanto); at The American Adventure, Princess Tiana topiary (The Princess and the Frog); and, at Canada pavilion, geese.
The Madrigal sisters and young Antonio from "Encanto" are featured in the welcoming topiary display at the park's entrance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival 2023 is underway through July 5. One of its new topiaries is Tiana from The Princess & The Frog at The American Adventure pavilion. #Epcot #freshepcot #topiary #PhotoByASD invited media https://t.co/gQCg2UTEGr @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/Fd3rDCjhb1— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 1, 2023
Also new for 2023 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival - Geese topiaries at Canada pavilion. #FreshEpcot #WaltDisneyWorld #Epcot #PhotoByASD invited media https://t.co/Jmu1Kdwgwf @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/akP3pWHPY9— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 1, 2023
Many familiar topiaries from past festivals are back. The Disney Horticultural and Imagineering cast have continued to enhance some of them with additional details in some, and new color choices for others. A list of where to find the major topiaries around the park is available in the Festival Passport.
The Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog topiaries this year have colors closer to how the characters appear in other places.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
In addition to the many flower beds around the park, there are many specialty gardens to explore during the Flower & Garden Festival, too.
The United Kingdom has a self guided Tea Tour. Pick up a brochure leading to the 12 Twinings teas and planted ingredients with a "delightful surprise" at The Tea Caddy (while supplies last).
The United Kingdom pavilion near the gazebo has gardens featuring original-style Disney Parks topiaries as a tribute to landscape architect Bill Evans who was tasked by Walt Disney with creating Disneyland's first topiaries after first seeing topiaries overseas at Europe's grand palaces and parks.
Purple martins return to EPCOT in spring to nest in the towers between Connections Eatery and the bridge to Odyssey building.
Spike's Pollen-Nation Exploration scavenger hunt is back again this year. Look for Spike the Bee in gardens around the park. Buy a map and complete the hunt for a prize. A limited time Egg Stravaganza Scavenger hunt will also be available around Easter..
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Food and beverage offerings remain a major part of the Flower & Garden Festival. "Outdoor Kitchens" feature specialty items all around the park, including more than 50 new food and drink items. This year's edition of The Citrus Blossom is located inside the Odyssey (and, yes, there's a new Orange Bird sipper available via Mobile Order, and other Orange Bird merchandise is available at this location and at several kiosks around the park). Magnolia Terrace is at The American Adventure, featuring new Louisiana-inspired bites and sips in proximity to the new Princess Tiana topiary. EPCOT Farmers Feast near Test Track features a menu that changes three times during the festival. Be sure to pickup a free Festival Passport for food and beverage locations, including the Garden Graze, "a fresh food stroll highlighting 11 delicious sweet and savory plant-based offerings."
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is nearly here! 🌸🌼 Take a peek at all the delicious flavors soon-to-be in bloom at the festival this spring that you won't want to miss: https://t.co/xqAXt083UY #DisneyEats pic.twitter.com/YkJAu5e9ge— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) February 23, 2023
Be sure to pick up a Festival Passport for the details about all the Food & Beverage around the park. It also contains highlights of the merchandise collections, where to find the major topiaries and gardens, and more information. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
EPCOT Farmers Feast, located near Test Track, will serve three different menus during the Festival. The Early Bloom menu is available through April 8; that will be followed by the Springtime Menu from April 9 to May 20; the Summer Solstice menu will be available from May 21 until the Festival's July 5 conclusion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney Parks Blog also provided a look at the festival's merchandise collections. Festival merchandise is available at Festival Markets, Odyssey, and Creations Shop while supplies last. Reports on opening day of the festival suggested that some Figment merchandise sold out pretty quickly; it's too soon to tell whether other items will cause a social media stir.
First look! 📣 🌼 Check out the new merchandise that’s blooming for this year’s EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival: https://t.co/YB18XDZrlA pic.twitter.com/QVe83biehN— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) February 27, 2023
Orange Bird is very prominent at EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival 2023. Sipper is at Citrus Blossom inside Odyssey building. Lots of other merchandise (and a big line this morning) too. #freshepcot #Epcot #WaltDisneyWorld #orangebird #PhotoByASD invited media … pic.twitter.com/0oUckLL4xO— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 1, 2023
The Citrus Blossom is located inside Odyssey building. Orange Bird sipper is available inside by Mobile Order. Food and beverage offerings are available at the counter; merchandise is sold inside the building as well.
In addition to Odyssey, Orange Bird merchandise can be found at some of the kiosks around World Showcase.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival 2023 also has a Snow White merchandise collection. #FreshEpcot #WaltDisneyWorld #Epcot #snowwhite #PhotoByASD invited media https://t.co/Ym8sBDD7YH @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/NJWeiqIl02— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 1, 2023
Starting at sunset, the Beacons of Magic rotate through the three different shows ever few minutes until park closing. You can watch the video of the festival's beacon featuring the song "What Else Can I Do?" from Encanto here, on our Facebook Page if the embedded video below is not cooperating.
The Flower & Garden Festival's Beacon of Magic features the song "What Else Can I Do?" from Disney's "Encanto" Beacon of Magic. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Complete festival details are available at FreshEPCOT.com, including the lineup of performers scheduled to take the stage three times nightly at American Gardens Theatre in the Garden Rocks Concert Series (and details of dining packages with guaranteed seating).
The Garden Rocks Concert Series features local acts and headliners (the latter of which are primarily scheduled on weekends or extended weekends). The full list of scheduled performers is available at FreshEPCOT.com. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
This & That & Reminders…
…Disney made official what I assumed recently: Disney's Blizzard Beach water park will be closed for refurbishment beginning March 19, 2023. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park, which is currently closed, will reopen on March 19, 2023. As previously reported, Typhoon Lagoon will also host Disney H2O Glow After Hours events - these separately ticketed events are scheduled on Saturday nights through September 2, and on Monday nights on July 3 and July 31.
Hang loose! 🏄 🌊 🌴 Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park reopens March 19! Dive into 5 can’t-miss ways to enjoy the reopening later this month: https://t.co/9OmwVO1zwW pic.twitter.com/v79fa1ldqT— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 2, 2023
…The Mandalorian and Grogu (a/k/a "Baby Yoda") have started making appearances in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (along with their return for Season 3 on the Disney+ streaming service). Maybe MousePlanet's all things Star Wars reporter Todd King can explain his place in Batuu's timeline.
Us searching for a Ronto Wrap… the new season of #TheMandalorian is now streaming on @DisneyPlus!💫 pic.twitter.com/PQNVamq2nZ— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 1, 2023
…March is Women's History Month. Walt Disney World Resort celebrates in a few ways. Disney Parks Blog has highlights of the women chefs' creations around the resort in a Foodie Guide, and provides more ways to learn about inspiring female cast members and Disney heroines with ways guests can Celebrate HER Story around the resort.
Happy (almost) Women's History Month! ✨ Check out all the tasty creations available at Walt Disney World Resort for this joyous celebration throughout March developed by some of our talented women chefs. Which are you most excited for? https://t.co/Rnye7orZu9 #DisneyEats pic.twitter.com/NgD309u6zp— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) February 28, 2023
You can #CelebrateHERStory at Walt Disney World Resort during Women’s History Month and beyond! ✨ Here are 10 ways you can join the celebration: https://t.co/awxqVV3GTw pic.twitter.com/GgxfpLNQV8— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 1, 2023
…REMINDER: Starting March 20, 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. Attraction photos are taken while in the parks at more than a dozen popular attractions including Space Mountain, Slinky Dog Dash, Test Track, and Expedition Everest.
…REMINDER: Starting March 20, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will receive access to Disney PhotoPass lenses and one complimentary Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories experience (age restrictions apply).
…REMINDER: Beginning April 18, 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 will continue to apply like they do today.
…REMINDER: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith has closed temporarily for refurbishment. It is expected to reopen this summer according to My Disney Experience. Normally, I don't note these temporary attraction closures, as there are too many too often to keep up with and the My Disney Experience app is your best source for finding out which attractions may be closed during your visit, but for some reason, this one was reported on WFTV.com and I have to wonder whether it really has been this slow of a news week around Central Florida.
…REMINDER: Narcoossee's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will reopen on April 1, 2023. The signature dining restaurant with panoramic views of Seven Seas Lagoon has undergone a reimagination creating an enhanced interior space and a refreshed menu by Chef Noah Estabrook and Pastry Chef Kristine Farmer. Disney Parks Blog describes the new space as incorporating the concept of "land and sea" and the culinary teams drew inspiration from that when developing the new menu. New dishes have been created specially for this location, and the wine list has been updated as well. Reservations open on March 1.
Disney Foodies! 🍽️ We’ve got some exciting news - Narcoossee’s will be reopening on April 1 over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! Check out the new dishes and returning favorites coming back to this beloved location: https://t.co/Iy0x21cTwG pic.twitter.com/exwRaUWGS1— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) February 20, 2023
…As Annual Passholder previews are underway at TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom, and we get closer to the invited media preview next week, followed by that unknown period the couple of weeks before the April 4th official opening, Disney Parks Blog shared a bit of news about a part of the new attraction previewers have not yet seen: the post-show area presented by the attraction's sponsor, Enterprise. As the story goes, the attraction's queue passes through the "Hall of Opponents" showcasing previous victorious race competitors: Team Yellow and Team Red – and of course, the riders' opponents, Team Orange. After guests join Team Blue to compete against Team Orange in their race across the Grid to capture all eight energy gates, the post-show space will introduce Team Green (not coincidentally the color of sponsor Enterprise's logo), featuring "its state-of-the-art Lightcycle – the latest and most-advanced iteration to join the competition" and offering up a photo opportunity. Disney Parks Blog says, "stories about the twelve Team Green members will rotate through the display, providing returning Users an opportunity to enjoy even more Team Green stories on future visits to TRON Lightcycle / Run."
>◎//: Users, as you prepare to enter the grid, learn more about Team Green and their powerful, state-of-the-art Lightcycle in the TRON Lightcycle / Run post-show space, presented by @Enterprise: https://t.co/f8NUQ381wE pic.twitter.com/0Gl4471pR7— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 6, 2023
…REMINDER: Disney Parks Blog shared the news that new dates have been added for Disney After Hours events, and that EPCOT is now among the parks offering the events. The hard ticketed experiences take place after regular park operating hours and, like the various "parties," allows entry into the park before closing (6 p.m. at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, and 7 p.m. at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, - and for the remaining dates at Magic Kingdom through the end of March, the times vary), and then three additional hours in the park after closing with limited attendance and lower wait times for some favorite attractions. Ice cream novelties, popcorn, and select beverages are also included in the cost of this ticketed event—available at carts throughout the park during the event hours. Ticket prices range from $75 to $149 (plus tax). Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can begin purchasing Disney After Hours tickets for EPCOT and Typhoon Lagoon as early as February 28. The advance-purchase window is available to guests at Disney Resort hotels and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, as well as Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Vacation Club members and Walt Disney World Annual Passholders can also purchase specially priced tickets for select dates. The full Disney After Hours event schedule is posted and tickets are available at: DisneyWorld.com/AfterHours.
Just announced! ✨ Additional dates for our Disney After Hours events at Walt Disney World Resort have been added, plus we’ve added a new theme park to the magic! https://t.co/zQIsza2wvX pic.twitter.com/t6RRpihGhS— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) February 21, 2023
…REMINDER: St. Patrick's Day is coming up quickly, and that means it's almost time for the Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival. The Disney Springs restaurant and pub will celebrate this year March 16–19, 2023, before, during, and after the Irish Holiday, at what it calls "the most authentic Irish festival in America." Indeed, Raglan's co-owner John Cooke says, "You won’t find Irish talent like this anywhere else in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day. Our festival is for everyone—bring the family and enjoy good times together. We'll have gift competitions and loads of giveaways. The Mighty Festival has earned its reputation as the best Irish hospitality experience in America." Revelers can enjoy Raglan Road’s Signature Brew Flight, Whiskey Flight, or craft beers, wines, and hand-crafted cocktails of their choice while choosing from the chef’s selection of authentic Irish dishes, including the dry-aged prime short rib and brisket beef OMG Burger, Shepherd’s Pie (beef and lamb version or the popular plant-based option), and fresh-caught fish with chips (which is also available to go at the adjacent Cooke’s of Dublin counter).
The 2023 Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival runs March 16-19 at Disney Springs. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Reservations are encouraged for guests who plan to celebrate at Raglan Road on March 16, 18, or 19. On St. Patrick's Day only, March 17, Raglan Road will open at 11 a.m. with a $20 cover charge for guests 18 and older: first-come, first-served—no reservations (younger patrons may enter free of charge). Please note: MousePlanet has been invited to preview this year's festival on March 16, so keep an eye on our Instagram stories that evening for some highlights of this year’s celebration.
…NEW Another St. Patrick's Day option is being served up over at The Edison at Disney Springs. The 1920s-themed restaurant, bar, and entertainment destination, celebrates St. Patrick's Day throughout March with a specialty cocktail: The Irish Goodbye is $19 and includes coffee-infused Teeling Irish Whiskey, Benedictine, black walnut bitters and salted caramel.
…REMINDER: Drawn to Life by Cirque du Soleil and Disney at Disney Springs has introduced new segments to its show, including an all-new acrobatic act, aerial artists, and a "flying" guitarist. As its press release says, "Cirque du Soleil has a tradition of shows serving as living, breathing works of art through creative enhancements and evolutions, a legacy which continues with Drawn to Life." New musical compositions accompany the new acts. Florida residents can now purchase tickets up to 15 percent off on select seating categories through March 12, 2023 for performances through May 7, 2023. Tickets can be purchased from Cirque du Soleil or at the Disney Springs box office.
…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic registration details for the six remaining events at Walt Disney World Resort have been posted on this page of the DVC website. Early Registration occurs once for each park hosting a Moonlight Magic Event, where DVC Members with Disney Resort hotel reservations falling on the day of an event may register for the event; General Registration takes place on specified dates for each event. The remaining complimentary but registration required after-hours events in the parks for members and their guests are:
- Disney's Hollywood Studios – May 11, September 13
Early Registration will be on April 4, 2023 (Resort reservations with party size finalized prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 2, 2023)
General Registration (pending availability) opens May 3 for the May 11th event, and August 31 for the September 13 event.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom – July 11, August 2
Early Registration will be on June 14, 2023 (Resort reservations with party size finalized prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern on June 11, 2023)
General Registration (pending availability) opens June 21 for the July 11th event, and July 19 for the August 2 event.
- Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – May 23, August 23
Early Registration will be on April 26, 2023 (Resort reservations with party size finalized prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 23, 2023)
General Registration (pending availability) opens May 11 for the May 23rd event, and August 9th for the August 23 event.
For "Early Registration," an eligible DVC Member must have Resort reservations at a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort—with party size modifications finalized prior to the respective deadlines. Eligible DVC Members are those that are eligible for member extras. Any eligible DVC Member (regardless of hotel reservation status) may attempt to register for an event during "General Registration" pending availability. Members can register up to a party size of five (including the Member) or, when registering during Early Registration, up to the number of guests on the Resort reservation finalized by the applicable deadline. Modifications to a hotel reservation's party size after the deadline will not change the party size for the event. Children under age 3 do not need to be registered for the event.
…REMINDER: 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.
…NEW Literally next door to Walt Disney World Resort (very close to Disney Springs), the redevelopment of the former Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort is continuing to move forward with the new Evermore Orlando Resort and Conrad Orlando now accepting reservations for stays beginning February 5, 2024, ahead of their expected grand openings. The 1,100-acre resort complex will offer what its developer describes as "an entirely new hospitality category that will forever change the landscape of luxury vacation homes." Evermore's reservation system uses a "Heads in Beds" visualization tool and offers a split payments feature to allow groups traveling to gather to independently manager their stay. Evermore will open with nearly 1,500 bedrooms, with 69 houses ranging in size from five to eleven bedrooms, 206 four-bedroom flats, and 41 two and four-bedroom villas. Conrad Orlando will offer 433 rooms, with 51 suites and 10 family suites. Guests of any of those properties will have access to a 20-acre tropical beach and surrounding area feature zero entry swim areas, bars, cabanas, private fire-pits and an aquatic adventure area with a waterslide, rope swing and watersports of all kinds. Other amenities will include a food hall and gourmet market, a casual resort restaurant featuring views overlooking both the golf course and bay and a two-story Boathouse that will serve weddings and private events. The famed Scottish Links Course, Jack Nicklaus' signature 18-hole Grand Cypress golf course will continue to challenge golf enthusiasts along with a newly reconfigured 18-hole Nicklaus Design course that will open with the resort and continue to pay homage to the legacy of golf excellence at Grand Cypress. Reservations for vacation rental accommodations can be made directly on Evermore Orlando Resort’s website at evermoreresort.com. Reservations for stays at Conrad Orlando can be made at conradorlando.com.
…REMINDER: The not-for-profit Give Kids The World Village will feature two chats with Disney Legend Tony Baxter in April. Give Kids The World Presents: Tony Baxter will take place April 7th and 8th at the Village! He will share behind-the-scenes stories of the creation of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on April 7 at 7 p.m. and about EPCOT on April 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $34.99 (+$1.87 Fee) for general seating or $149.99 (+$4.75 Fee) for a V.I.P. meet and greet reception plus reserved seating for each event; $59.99 (+$2.50 Fee) tickets for general seating for both days is also available. Ticket sale proceeds will benefit the Village that provides memory-filled moments for wish kids from all over the world with no-cost weeklong vacations for the kids and their families. More information and tickets are available on Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/give-kids-the-world-presents-tony-baxter-tickets-524707814197.
Disney Legend Tony Baxter will speak at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida. Image courtesy Give Kids the World Village.
…NEW Speaking of charitable works, Disney donated $100,000 to help expand, renovate, and transform The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida's space with new furniture, technology, and murals. According to WFTV-9 Orlando, Disney has a twenty year history with the organization. Natasha Yeung, the youth program coordinator at the Coalition for the Homeless, said their program has helped empower young people to reach their potential in a family environment. "The youth overcome their fears, doubts and insecurities, allowing them to live with purpose, passion and hopefully ending generational homelessness," she said. "Disney’s continued support helps make these goals a reality; our program would not be what it is without them."
Disney partners with Coalition for the Homeless to transform Central Florida youth center!— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) March 4, 2023
Disney donated $100,000 to help expand and transform the space with new furniture, technology and murals.
This renovation is part of the 20-year legacy between the https://t.co/JF42aZwL25… https://t.co/rOfsQQ4ohY
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. We continue to see no official words from Disney about its plans to resume sales of new passes for the Florida parks, but it seems increasingly likely during 2023.
Disney recently 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, at this late point in February, it is starting to become Spring in Central Florida. You can tell by some of the flowering trees that always seem to bloom just ahead of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Some of the region's best weather happens at this time of year, but temperatures can still vary greatly (from hot to Florida "cold" in the same day). The usual Tropical Storm season is still more than a couple of months ahead, but Central Florida can have rainy days. 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. As I put the final touches on the Update, a weather alert on my iPhone says fog and "smoke from prescribed burns" may decrease roadway visibility. In other words, have a look at the forecasts, be prepared, and, if you are driving, be extra alert.
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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.
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).
The official Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels have a bunch of special offers available with weekday rates starting at $120/night (plus tax). These "on-property" resorts enjoy many of the same perks (though not all of them) as the Disney owned-and-operated resort hotels, and offer complimentary transportation to and from the parks. For more information and rates, visit: disneyspringshotels.com. The family owned-and-operated Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando is now officially open in this category, and, as it reaches its targeted completion this Spring, it will feature 604 rooms including 78 two-room suites, in-room amenities including 55” smart flat screen televisions, mini refrigerators, microwaves, alarm clocks with Bluetooth and charging stations, executive work spaces, and in-room safes. The Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando is within walking distance to Disney Springs and will also offer 17,000+ square feet of meeting and event space for up to 250 people.
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.
Having attended both I have to agree that the “festivities” surrounding WDW’s 50th Anniversary have been disappointing (my real feelings is they’ve been a bust!) compared to Disneyland’s 50th in 2005 which seemed like a true celebration. To me at WDW the magic and true love othe place was missing. I blame much of it on the company’s woke philosophy taking precedence between these 2 anniversaries.
Kid, you are right on the money as usual. I would love to see Disney get very vocal about jettisoning that whole groomer/woke ideology and focus on what we all grew to love and cherish about WDW.
"Maybe the Resort is going to focus more on "bringing back the magic" for awhile without an overarching theme. There are still plenty of small "pieces of magic" that haven't returned since going on hiatus because of the pandemic that are yet to change from "temporarily closed" to either coming back soon or wiped off DisneyWorld.com and My Disney Experience. Courtesy parking lot trams at EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios? It would sure be nice to see Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. and Citizens of Hollywood return. Maybe we'll learn more next week. Maybe we'll have to wait for the Destination D23 event scheduled for September 8–10. Stay tuned."
And Alan, thanks again for my weekly fix and I can't agree more about "bringing back the magic" and getting rid of the agenda. Staff better, pay the staff better, and focus on your customer, which is anybody paying to walk through the turnstiles that day. Disney made a ton of money by being an extra special place to visit, now it just feels like a place to strip me of my money.
Whatever you decide to do Alan, thank you for what you have done.
I would say my somewhat limited experience with the 50th ( I was there for 4-5 days in Oct 2021, right after they started it due to the COVID delay) was not awe-inspiring either. As mentioned, of course some of that aspect is due to COVID related things. (i.e., we were still having to wear masks when indoors then, etc... so that probably detracted a little from the overall experience, though at the time seemed necessary/reasonable). I will say I liked the Beacons effect on Space Ship Earth, but that was possibly driven a lot by my room at the Dolphin facing towards the park and I could see the patterns to some extent at night. I don't know if they continued throughout the celebration, but the light effects on SE seemed to go on long past park closing when I was there. (possibly they were testing, since it was still sort of new when I was there?)
I can't compare WDW 50th to DL's 50th, since I was not in the habit of visiting parks at that time, but I was at DL for a few days at the tail end of it's 60th Anniversary celebration, and that seemed fairly well done.
The park celebration that still sticks in my mind to great extent was DL's 35th. The "35 Years of Magic" theming, special 35th Anniversary parade, other special features (I seem to recall there were prize give-aways selected for random guests upon park entry - I recall my grandmother was a winner of a small prize one day, but I forget what it was), as well as my first experience of the relatively new at the time Splash Mountain and Star Tours rides made that a great visit. I will admit my memory may be biased as I was only around 18 at the time (it also was only my second visit to DL), and long before some of the general park "awe" possibly became a bit less of an impact as I started making more frequent visits to DL and WDW around 12 years or so ago.
Hopefully the "restoring the magic" becomes more prevalent. The changes that remain unfortunately still deter me from getting excited about future visits. I can't judge true crowd levels over time since I've only been back that one time since the shutdowns, but if the parks really are consistently so busy every single day that reservations continue to be required from a safety/capacity perspective, then maybe I am just not interested anymore. I have noting against attending on an occasional busy day, but I also was used to having free will/options (with park hopper or AP) if the particular park i started in seemed too busy for my liking (not that I regularly recall that happening). It seems Disney is not shy about admitting it's more that it's a management control thing at this point, probably meaning they can try to juggle staff assignments based on reservations. Maybe they are still having problems hiring people post-COVID? (and while I did not follow closely, seems like there is some major disagreement with some of the unions at the moment, unless that has recently been resolved)
A lot of the things that are gone/changed seem to be approached with the attitude of "well, it's not stopping people from coming, so why spend the money to change?" (the trams and street performers Chuck mentioned, etc.)
Even if not restoring things in the regard of reservations/hopping hoops to jump through, hopefully they continue with completion/clean-up/re-imagining of the mess that is still Epcot. I know it occurred in the middle of the 50th Anniversary of the resort as a whole, but if you had told me 5 years ago that Epcot would be so messed up in the front for it's own 40th Anniversary, I would not have believed it (fully realizing that was largely due to delays/modifications to plans driven by COVID). I still think of the new neighborhood names as Construction World East, West, and South . (though I guess I should give credit to East and maybe start calling it its real name since Guardians successfully opened and seems to be doing it's part for that section of the park )