Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 22, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 22, 2023

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 Writer's Note, News & Views

Spring break season is underway here in Central Florida. The crowds are visible, and, just in time, Magic Kingdom is ready to open TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom on April 4. We also finally have the answer to what's going on with the new attraction between last week's invited media event and the grand opening: a "soft opening" that started Monday, March 20, and will run until April 2.

Although a "soft opening" means that Disney could stop operating the ride at any time during the announced window, this soft opening has the same two methods announced for guests desiring to ride after the official opening: enter the virtual queue or purchase individual access Lightning Lane entry. Operating hours for the attraction likely will not match park hours, and, indeed, I'm aware of other special group ride opportunities on some evenings, such as Disney Dreamers Academy participants and invited media (including MousePlanet) on Thursday evening.

The invited media event last week was billed as #AllTheDisneyThrills. The Disney Parks folks made a point of pointing out the "Disney Thrills" at all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks and gave those invited (including MousePlanet), the opportunity to check out many of them with exclusive preview time aboard TRON Lightcycle / Run and included Lightning Lane access to some of the other attractions around the resort. The included special media access did highlight for me the current Disney Parks reality: without buying Lightning Lane access (individual and Genie+) on the very busy days, those days will be spent by guests in very long standby lines for the post popular attractions, with wait times measured in hours for many attractions.

As I speculated last week, Disney did not use the occasion to make any major announcements about the future of Walt Disney World Resort. I'll go through each of the four parks below and note the new character meet-and-greets, and updates to previously announced projects and events that Disney shared last week. In the Disney's Hollywood Studios section below, I also provide additional information I learned during an invited tour about Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land that officially opens tomorrow (I didn't sample the food there).

Finally, the invited media event also included a late-night emotional preview for cast members of Magic Kingdom's returning (but "enhanced" with additional projections on Main Street U.S.A.) nighttime spectacular, "Happily Ever After." The current "Disney Enchantment" fireworks continue nightly through April 2, and then "Happily Ever After" officially returns on April 3. Over at EPCOT, "Harmonious" also concludes on April 2, with the temporary "EPCOT Forever" show returning on April 3 until the debut "later this year" of an all-new EPCOT nighttime spectacular which Disney has not named but described as follows:

A dazzling display of music, pyrotechnics, lasers and lighting, the show will feature an original composition and evocative selections from the Disney songbook—all woven together to remind us that we are more alike than different.

Yes, it's a very long Update this week, and I thank you in advance for reading!

TRON Lightcycle / Run Debuts: It Officially Opens April 4

With the April 4 official opening of TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom quickly approaching, and the invited media event now concluded, it's a good time to recap the details of Walt Disney World Resort's newest attraction. As the attraction's story goes, park guests, referred to as Users, are "digitally scanned into a mysterious game world," and become members of "Team Blue" to climb aboard "high-speed Lightcycles for a thrilling race through a dark, computerized world, facing off against a fierce group of Programs known as Team Orange."

This new attraction is located in an extension of Tomorrowland adjacent to Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Speedway, and straddles the Walt Disney World Railroad (which travels through a new tunnel under the attraction) along the walkway connecting Fantasyland Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland. Disney says that the "attraction’s 10-acre footprint is the largest expansion of Magic Kingdom since New Fantasyland opened in December 2012." The Magic Kingdom attraction is essentially a copy of the attraction opened at Shanghai Disneyland back in 2016, and Disney says the rides are the "fastest coaster attraction" in a Disney theme park.

The attraction is set in time following events in The Walt Disney Studios 2010 film, TRON: Legacy. Guests enter the digital world via gateways (here at Magic Kingdom and over in Shanghai Disneyland) that Grid creator Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam Flynn, opened. Sam created the Lightcycle / Run competition as a "friendly" way for Users and Programs to interact in a gaming-style, competitive event.

Guests with valid park admission and Magic Kingdom park reservations can request to join the virtual queue to experience the attraction via the My Disney Experience app on the day of their visit. The virtual queue is limited and subject to availability and is not guaranteed. As of publication, the virtual queue opens daily at 7:00 a.m. (Eastern) for all guests with admission and reservations, and again at 1:00 p.m. for those that have actually entered the park with their ticket and reservation. Guests also have the option to purchase individual Lightning Lane entry for the attraction via the My Disney Experience app on the day of their visit (at 7 a.m. for Disney hotel guests as well as those at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, and Shades of Green, or at park opening for everyone else). Lightning Lane purchases are limited in availability. At least for the immediate future, there is no standby queue for TRON Lightcycle / Run.

The Lightcycle ride vehicle incorporates onboard audio and lighting, as well as specially crafted safety restraints that allows riders to lean forward on the cycles. To experience TRON Lightcycle / Run, individuals must be at least 48 inches tall. Some body types will not be able to ride aboard the Lightcycles (including mine), but more guests can be accommodated (including those who can transfer from mobility devices) in a more traditional, coaster-style seat with a lap-bar restraint at the back of some of the trains that operate on the attraction. I'm disappointed to report that I was unable to find a Disney Imagineer or spokesperson to speak to the ride's accessibility design. Test seats are available well before the boarding area of the attraction. And at least for me, not only was the prone-position of boarding a Lightcycle uncomfortable, but the leg restraints made clear that I would be unable to ride a Lightcycle.


Disney provided on-board ride cameras during the invited media event at both one of the Lightcycle seats and the traditional coaster-style seat at the rear of one of the trains. The video shown here includes two complete rides, one by a friend in the Lightcycle seat, and the other by me in the coaster-style seat, as the leg restraints on test seat demonstrated conclusively to me that I wouldn't be able to ride a Lightcycle. Video by Alan S. Dalinka including ride cam video courtesy Disney Parks.


As Disney says, "With its massive, awe-inspiring 'curved wave' canopy, the new attraction is a stunning addition to the Tomorrowland skyline. Lightcycle trains appear from seemingly out of nowhere, making flowing, high-speed twists and turns beneath the gleaming canopy as they launch onto the Game Grid. The experience is even more dramatic after dark as shifting patterns of light and color create a powerful visual for riders and bystanders alike."

A pair of test seats are located well-before the boarding area of the attraction near the main entrance to the queue. Instructions for boarding the Lightcycle include kneeling on the seat, reaching forward to pull back the handlebars to bring down the back restraint and raise the leg restraints into place. Riders with above-average width legs, like myself, will find that the leg restraints may be uncomfortable and/or will not permit a guest to ride aboard.

The main part of the outdoor portion of the queue is covered by the attraction's canopy. Inside, guests "enter a Digitizer for another powerful preview of what's in store when they join the games. Then it's time to board Lightcycles in the Sync Chamber and prepare for upload."

Inside, the queue provides a view of the coaster's launch from indoors to outdoors. Disney says, "Launching onto the Grid is an unforgettable experience for Users as their powerful Lightcycles arc gracefully beneath the towering attraction canopy and charge into a mysterious game world of light, sound and speed. The quest: Race through eight Energy Gates to defeat the menacing group of Programs known as Team Orange."

At the exit of the attraction, guests pass sponsor Enterprise's Team Green lightcycle display area.

On the "lower level" of the canopy, there is once again a walkway connecting Tomorrowland to the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. Part of it now passes under the canopy in a new park-like setting.

The Fantasyland side of the walkway has a new Tomorrowland sign.

The dramatic attraction canopy covers more than 50,000 square feet, reaches 105 feet high and features more than 1,200 lights. At night during Magic Kingdom fireworks shows, the fireworks reflect off the outside of the canopy. It is possible to see some of the fireworks while standing under the canopy as well.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This is the first Magic Kingdom attraction to require guests store belongings bigger than a cellphone in lockers. As Disney describes it, "To prepare for upload onto the Grid, guests will input bags, purses, hats and other items into double-sided lockers that are opened and locked using a MagicBand, MagicBand+ or ticket media." There is no charge for the lockers. Smaller items such as cellphones, sunglasses or wallets can be placed in a small compartment located on each Lightcycle, or, in the case of the traditional coaster-style seat, an on-board pouch like on many other attractions. Following the race, guests will return to the real world and retrieve their belongings.

The ride also features on-ride Disney PhotoPass cameras. Unfortunately, as of publication, I have yet to receive images from my media day rides, which are said to include both photo captures and video—and I haven't visited a PhotoPass service desk to attempt to retrieve them. Just yesterday, more than a month after my preview ride with a cast member friend, I received notice that photos from that preview were available—it included photos taken from both sides of the ride vehicle, but no video. Disney PhotoPass also offers a lens that is unlocked at the location in the MyDisneyExperience app for those with access to the PhotoPass lenses (that's Genie+ purchasers and, soon, Passholders).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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New TRON-inspired Merchandise Goes On Sale April 4

Disney's Steven Miller gives the full first look in Disney Parks Blog at the TRON-inspired merchandise that will be available for sale in the newly renamed Tomorrowland Launch Depot starting April 4. A specially designed pop-up shop area directly across from the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor entrance in Tomorrowland will also feature TRON-themed merchandise when the attraction opens on April 4.

In essence, there are three merchandise collections:

  • Merchandise related to the attraction experience.
  • Merchandise related to the film TRON: Legacy.
  • Merchandise related to nostalgia around the digital world first introduced in 1982 with the release of the original TRON.

The merchandise team is also launching the "TRON Identity Program," an all-new retail experience. It offers guests a customizable "Program" action figure and identity chip that can be used to "re-program" other merchandise such as the interactive Identity Discs and Remote Control Lightcycles that are sold separately. You can make reservations for this interactive experience by visiting this page of DisneyWorld.com.


The Tomorrowland Power & Light Co. will reopen as Tomorrowland Launch Depot on April 4, featuring the various TRON merchandise collections.

The windows of Tomorrowland Launch Depot already show off some of the merchandise.

During the media preview, we had an opportunity to learn about how guests can personalize their own “Program” through the TRON Identity Program that includes a customizable action figure and identity chip that can be used to “re-program” additional merchandise. More details in the video below.

Merchandise for adults includes light-up jackets and other accessories like a backpack that holds a new interactive Identity Disc that doubles as an audio speaker.

The interior of the former Tomorrowland Power & Light Co. building has been completely remodeled and appears that it will again become the exit for Space Mountain next door.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


Preview the TRON-inspired merchandise that are available starting April 4. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Celebrating TRON Lightcycle / Run

Disney Parks held a dedication moment and celebration for the new attraction last week as part of the #AllTheDisneyThrills invited media event. Disney hasn't said whether Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy will make additional appearances in their TRON-inspired attire; it wouldn't be surprising for them to appear in that attire at future special events or hard ticket parties, but it's unlikely that they will appear that way during most regular park hours.

Concept Art Courtesy Disney Parks
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Walt Disney World president Jeff Vahle and The Walt Disney World Ambassadors welcome TRON movie stars Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan, along with other guests during a special celebration of TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by Enterprise. (Photo courtesy Disney Parks.)

Mickey and Minnie walk off, hand in hand, after the ceremony celebrating the debut of TRON Lightcycle / Run.

Nighttime views are impressive from under the attraction canopy as the invited quests queued up for nighttime rides aboard TRON Lightcycle / Run during the celebration event.

All in TRON-inspired attire, Goofy and Donald danced along with a DJ and then, later, posed for photos.

Photo Courtesy Disney Parks and additional Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Magic Kingdom News and Views

In addition to the opening of TRON Lightcycle / Run, there are a few more updates for Magic Kingdom coming out of the #AllTheDisneyThrills invited media event. From the return of the "Happily Ever After" nighttime spectacular, to the upcoming milestone in the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana's Bayou Adventure, and a new character meet-and-greet, I will go through each in turn.

Happily Ever After Returns April 3

Last year, Disney announced that Magic Kingdom's popular the nighttime spectacular "Happily Ever After" would return this year. Starting nightly on April 3, the show replaces its replacement. "Disney Enchantment," which had debuted as a "permanent" new nighttime spectacular—complete with projections along Main Street U.S.A.—back at the September 30, 2021 start of the World's Most Magical Celebration. Enchantment will end its run on April 2, but its projectors will be used to enhance Happily Ever After with new visuals to accompany the otherwise largely unchanged fireworks show.

Members of the media (including myself) were invited to attend the late-night special preview of Happily Ever After for cast members last Tuesday night after park closing. The preview was greeted with much emotion by the cast members I observed and a whole lot of cheers from Main Street all the way to the hub.


Cast members greeted the preview with very loud cheers from the first notes of the Happily Ever After music beginning and the first fireworks shells.

Happily Ever After returns to nightly performances at Magic Kingdom starting April 3, 2023.

The main enhancements to the returning show are the new projections on Main Street U.S.A. During the preview, I was standing at the hub where they could not be viewed, but I do not recall seeing projections on the turrets to the sides of Cinderella Castle for the show in the past. Anyone recall if they were there?

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

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"Disney Enchantment" continues nightly through April 2. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Tiana's Water Tower Coming This Summer

While Splash Mountain's complete transformation into Tiana's Bayou Adventure isn't expected to be complete until late in 2024, Disney announced that a tiara-topped water tower emblazoned with the "Tiana’s Foods" logo will be installed at the attraction this summer. Splash Mountain closed earlier this winter at the Magic Kingdom and will close at the Disneyland resort at an as yet unannounced future date.

When completed at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in 2024, the newly imagined attraction will pick up where Disney's The Princess and The Frog left off, as guests join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis on an adventure down the bayou as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration during Mardi Gras season where everyone is welcome. Along the way, guests will encounter familiar faces, make new friends and travel through the bayou to original music inspired by songs from the film.

Concept Art Courtesy Disney Parks
Disney released art showing the attraction's story's version of the placement of Tiana's water tower.

Tiana's Foods logos already appear on the walls surrounding the former Splash Mountain.

While the attraction is being re-themed with a new story centered around Tiana, the log flume ride itself is expected to remain unchanged when it reopens as Tiana's Bayou Adventure in late 2024.

Concept Art Courtesy Disney Parks and Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Mirabel Meet and Greet Coming This Fall

Disney announced that this fall, Mirabel from Disney Animation’s Academy Award-winning film Encanto will greet guests in the Fairytale Garden at Magic Kingdom, which will be "transformed with whimsical décor inspired by la Familia Madrigal." Currently, Merida from Brave does meet and greets at Fairytale Garden, and it's unclear whether she will continue to available to meet guests during or after the area's transformation.

Mirabel
Mirabel from "Encanto" will begin a meet-and-greet with guests this fall at Magic Kingdom. Photos courtesy Disney Parks.

Resort Views Around Magic Kingdom

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The #AllTheDisneyThrills invited media event brought me to California Grill atop Disney's Contemporary Resort, and that is a fantastic place to view a Central Florida sunset across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Contemporary Lobby.
Disney's Contemporary Resort had a small Easter egg display in its main lobby when I visited last week. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Construction of the new DVC tower at Disney's Polynesian Village.
Vertical construction of the new proposed Disney Vacation Club tower at Disney's Polynesian Village has continued quickly in the past week. The monorail provides a great view of the construction site. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios News & Views

Sort of like the slow-cooking process itself, we have been waiting for quite some time for the opening of the Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It was delayed, at least in part, by the temporary shutdown of the resort caused by the global pandemic back in March 2020. The #AllTheDisneyThrills invited media event included a tour of the new table service restaurant which officially opens tomorrow, March 23 (reservations are strongly recommended). Unfortunately, my tour did not include any tastings.

This one-of-a-kind dining experience is the first "Toy Story" table-service restaurant in the world, and is the result of collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney World Food & Beverage. It will serve barbecue-inspired comfort foods, opening with a prix fixe menu: $25 for ages 3–9 and $45 for those older (plus tax and gratuity, and additional charges for specialty and adult beverages).


Roundup Rodeo BBQ is located in Toy Story Land just beyond the entrance featuring Woody, and in the shadow of the Slinky Dog Dash coaster.

House-smoked meats are the main entrée, served family-style.

A plant-based alternative platter is also available.

In addition to salads and sides (covered in more detail in the video below), the meal concludes with Forky cupcakes for kids and mini-pies for adults.

There is an allergy friendly menu for the venue, and, of course, it urges guests with dietary requirements and concerns to raise them with their server so that the proper cast members can assist.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

 


Learn about the food and beverage offerings available at Roundup Rodeo BBQ. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Since the theme of the invited media event was "Disney Thrills," it seemed fitting to be captured by the First Order and watch Mickey triumph over his nightmare Fantasmic!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The recently reopened and updated Fantasmic! glows brightly.

Aladdin does a bunch of rock climbing during the new "heros" segment of the show.

Spoiler alert: Mickey Mouse, of course, wins the day against all the forces of evil conjured by his imagination.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

EPCOT

From the weekly updates you can probably tell that I have been to EPCOT more than the other parks in recent months. The festivals really make repeat visits appealing to locals like me, and, indeed, park reservations there tend to be available, even on the same day, except on the busiest of days. Last week, Disney announced that the World Celebration and World Nature neighborhoods created out of former Future World during the multi-year transformation of the park "will all be completed later this year!" In the fall, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana will debut its "self-guided exploration trail" through the natural water cycle—"from the skies to oceans and all the way back again.

If you would like to meet Moana, she will be meeting and greeting over at Disney's Animal Kingdom (more on that below), but Disney says that for the new attraction at EPCOT, "Just like Moana, you're encouraged to become a protector and friend to our natural resources."

The nearby CommuniCore Hall will also open in World Celebration later this year, becoming the new center of the park's festival programming. It will also be the home of new character greeting location called Mickey & Friends, where Mickey Mouse and his pals will appear. Before then, this summer, guests finally will get the chance to meet Figment at the Imagination! pavilion.

Late this year, EPCOT will be The Walt Disney World Resort's center of the Disney100 celebration. Vaguely, Disney says only that "there will be even more magic." As noted above, a new nighttime spectacular that will permanently replace Harmonious will debut at EPCOT later this year, after the temporary run of EPCOT Forever. Right now, though Disney uses colorful language to describe the new show, and notes that it will feature a new musical composition, Disney remains rather light on specifics:

A new nighttime spectacular will debut at EPCOT later this year, inviting everyone to gather around World Showcase Lagoon for a show that will unite us through commonalities of the heart in a dazzling display of fireworks, lasers, music and light. Featuring an original composition along with select songs from the Disney songbook, this new spectacular will remind us that we’re more alike than different, connecting our hearts together as one.

In the meantime, the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival Continues through July 5. Visit FreshEPCOT.com for all the updated details and Garden Rocks Concert Series performers.


For a limited time, EPCOT's version of an Easter Egg hunt is underway. Eggs are "hidden" all over World Showcase.

Maps with clues to finding the eggs can be purchased at several merchandise locations around the park for $9.99 and redeemed for a prize when completing the hunt. Spike's Pollen Nation scavenger hunt continues as well with its separate map and prizes for the entire duration of the festival (or while supplies last).

The fragrance garden is back this year between the World Celebration ponds.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

And since the theme of last week was #AllTheDisneyThrills, I decided to revisit Space220 for dinner (and secured a reservation with the assistance of the team at Patina Restaurant Group since this was a fairly last minute decision once my event schedule was finalized). This visit marked my first time in the restaurant where I saw the Earth below pass from daytime to nighttime in sync with Central Florida's sunset.


A visit to Space220 requires "riding" in a space elevator to 220 miles above EPCOT (well, that's the restaurant's story).

I arrived at the restaurant before sunset, and the Earth below was lit by sunlight.

My meal took me through sunset and I saw the terminus cross the portion of the globe visible in the window. When I left, it was nighttime below.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Animal Kingdom to Celebrate its 25th Anniversary

On April 22, Earth Day, Disney's Animal Kingdom will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its opening. The park usually marks Earth Day with several in-park celebrations, and, last week, Disney reiterated that the park will have "new sweet and savory treats, specialty merchandise and limited-time character sightings in the park." Apart from saying that there "will be more surprises on April 22," Disney has not provided specifics other than that Moana will begin to "greet fellow voyagers on Discovery Island for the first time, starting April 22 when the park officially turns 25."


Moana will meet and greet guests on Discovery Island starting April 22. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

Of course, talking about #AllTheDisneyThrills requires a visit to Pandora-The World of AVATAR. And, while we know that Disney intends to add AVATAR experiences to Disneyland of some scale, Disney has not said what if any new additions will be made to Disney's Animal Kingdom following the success of the sequel film released this winter AVATAR – The Way of Water. Stay tuned.

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The floating mountains of Pandora remain an impressive sight. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This & That & Reminders…

…FOLLOW-UP: The new food kiosk opening in Tomorrowland that Disney Parks Blog announced last week named Energy Bytes is, in fact, located right next to the new TRON Lightcycle / Run attraction along the walkway to Fantasyland. During last week's invited media event, I had a chance to see the kiosk, but not to sample the food or beverage offerings.

Energy Bytes
The new Energy Bytes kiosk is located next to the entrance to TRON Lightcycle / Run along the walkway between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…REMINDER: As of Monday, guests purchasing Disney Genie+ service 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: Also as of Monday, 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: Disney's Blizzard Beach water park is now closed for refurbishment. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park is now scheduled to be open daily (though, as was true on Monday, it may close due to a Central Florida "cold" snap or other bad weather). 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 31.

…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.

NEW Disney Parks Blog has published its Foodie Guide for Easter for Disney Parks around the globe. If you celebrate something else, like Passover or Ramadan, so far there's no corresponding guide...

NEW Speaking of food and beverage, Disney also shared that the restaurant under-construction at Disney Springs, Summer House on the Lake, will open later this year. It will feature a California-inspired menu featuring simple, sustainable ingredients – from pizza and pasta to fresh salads and sandwiches. It will also include The Cookie Jar, a dessert-focused market serving up freshly baked cookies and house-made pastries. Disney Springs will also become home to a Corkcicle kiosk this spring, the local Orlando business' first-ever retail location.

…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 11 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 11 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 23 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 who 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. Earlier this month, I visited Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, which includes Disney's Lake Buena Vista Golf Club, so I have included some photos showing how easy it is to access the Pro Shop there plus one of the on-going main pool refurbishment nearby.


Perhaps the easiest Walt Disney World Golf Pro Shop to visit is at Disney's Lake Buena Vista Golf Club. It is located at Disney's Saratoga Springs, with parking nearby

The Pro Shop is located on the lower level of the building at Saratoga Springs that includes the resort's front desk and the Turf Club.

The Pro Shop can also be accessed via a dor on the other side of the building, fairly close to the boat dock for those arriving by boat from Disney Springs.

The main pool (located outside the building containing the front desk at Disney's Saratoga Springs) is being refurbished.

File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

NEW On April 15 at noon, The Edison at Disney Springs will host its “Whiskey & Wonder” event, inviting guests to discover the smooth, bold and mysterious character of whiskey. The event will feature beverage demonstrations by The Edison’s team of expert mixologists and various whiskey tastings, accompanied by savory and sweet bites. Guests will enjoy pairings like Woodford Reserve julep with Woodford BBQ-glazed ribs, and Johnnie Walker scotch with smoked whiskey chocolate truffle. Tickets are available starting at $85. VIP tickets are $125 and include guaranteed seating, early admission at 11:30 a.m. and an exclusive bourbon tasting. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve now. Ages 21 and older only. To purchase tickets, visit this page of The Edison's website.

NEW The Edison also shared new menu items now available at Disney Springs:

  • The Prodigious Pretzel: Impressively large, sharable pretzel topped with coarse sea salt served with signature beer cheese sauce and Dijon mustard. $15
  • Prohibition Chili: Impossible beef made from plants, black beans, pinto beans, onions and white cheddar. $15
  • Prohibition Chili Burger: Impossible chili, a roasted portobello mushroom grilled like a burger, lettuce, tomato, pickle and vegan cheese on a kaiser roll, served with fries. $25
  • High-Voltage Chicken Sandwich: Fried chicken breast, sweet and spicy Korean gochujang sauce, jalapeño lime crema, frisée, tomato, and pickles on a kaiser roll, served with fries. $24
  • The Edison Flat Iron Steak: Tender marbled Certified Angus Beef (CAB), garlic-herb salt rub, blistered tomatoes, caramelized onions and truffle potato wedges. $38
  • Bright Lemon Deep-Dish Meringue Pie: Graham cracker crust, vanilla meringue and blueberry compote. $18
  • Lights-On Dulce De Leche Cheesecake: Served with whipped cream, crunchy caramel pearls and caramel sauce. $18
  • In-The-Dark Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake: Chocolate mousse, crunchy ganache and salted chocolate sauce. $18

…And thanks to Raglan Road for having us out for the St. Patrick's Day Mighty Festival Preview. Of course, even if you missed the Festival, Raglan Road celebrates Ireland every day with authentic food, beverage, and live entertainment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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…REMINDER: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, returns Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11 in 2023. Tickets are now available at FoodandWineClassic.com, and include the street party festival with unlimited tastings of culinary selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, including its newest restaurant, Rosa Mexicano, set to open this spring. The food-filled event also includes bottomless wine, beer, and beverage samplings from around the world, and also features live entertainment on the hotel’s causeway. The VIP Champagne & Dessert Party returns as well, offering fireworks views from the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve top floor event space, The Vue, paired with desserts and sparkling wine pairings. More details about the 2023 event will be released soon.

…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.

Give Kids the World Village Speaker Series.
Disney Legend Tony Baxter will speak at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida. Image courtesy Give Kids the World Village.

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 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.

Spring in Central Florida can see temperatures vary greatly: Monday's high was only in the mid-60s while this coming Friday is forecast to approach 90. We do tend to see some of the best weather of the year around now, along with the huge Spring Break crowds! The usual Tropical Storm season is getting closer, as it starts in May (and the storms do not know how to read a calendar anyway), and Central Florida can have rainy days intermixed with drought: you may see no rain for quite a few days or weeks in a row, and then a rainy day here and there. The daily summer thunderstorms usually do not star popping until June or July, but, as always, have a look at the forecasts, be prepared. If you are driving, be extra alert, and expect lots of traffic during Spring Break.

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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 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 most nights through 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.

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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.

A Further Word From Our Sponsor (For full offer details and disclaimers, visit GetAwayToday.com)

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Comments

  1. By wdwchuck

    "The invited media event last week was billed as #AllTheDisneyThrills. The Disney Parks folks made a point of pointing out the "Disney Thrills" at all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks and gave those invited (including MousePlanet), the opportunity to check out many of them with exclusive preview time aboard TRON Lightcycle / Run and included Lightning Lane access to some of the other attractions around the resort. The included special media access did highlight for me the current Disney Parks reality: without buying Lightning Lane access (individual and Genie+) on the very busy days, those days will be spent by guests in very long standby lines for the post popular attractions, with wait times measured in hours for many attractions."

    This is just perfect. A perfect description of "#AllTheDisneyThrills." Pay through the nose or "...wait times measured in hours..."

    And Alan, did you have dinner at the California Grill you lucky dog. We haven't been able to get in there for years...

  2. By carolinakid

    Iím still absolutely shocked that the Mary Poppins attraction in Epcot was gonna be a freakiní INDOOR TEACUP SPINNER ride????? Based on that FLOP Mary Poppins Returns and not the 1964 Julie Andrews classic AKA Walt Disneyís Greatest Achievement?????

    Man, do I DESPISE current Disney management!

  3. By Dave1313

    Instructions for boarding the Lightcycle include kneeling on the seat, reaching forward to pull back the handlebars to bring down the back restraint and raise the leg restraints into place. Riders with above-average width legs, like myself, will find that the leg restraints may be uncomfortable and/or will not permit a guest to ride aboard.

    Not to get too personal here, but can you say whether the limitation seems to be more upper leg/thigh or lower leg/calf? From the description it sounds like something swinging up to hold your calves up against the vehicle due to the leaning forward position. Sounds sort of like its similar to the FoP seats, less the moveable handlebars part.

    Sounds like maybe Disney should/could publish some sort of guide (at least as a start point, understanding the real proof in the pudding is being able to fit in the seat itself) of leg circumference that may give potential guests a feel for whether they may have any chance at all of fitting before being in the park and trying the seat out. I'd consider any clue a benefit before trying to arrange a trip, schedule a MK park pass and then consider trying to get a spot in the VQ or pay for a LL.

  4. By carolinakid

    Man , I miss those days when any body type could ride...

    I canít even begin to understand those boarding instructions...🤦🏻*♂️

  5. By Dave1313

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    I’m still absolutely shocked that the Mary Poppins attraction in Epcot was gonna be a freakin’ INDOOR TEACUP SPINNER ride????? Based on that FLOP Mary Poppins Returns and not the 1964 Julie Andrews classic AKA Walt Disney’s Greatest Achievement?????

    Man, do I DESPISE current Disney management!

    I just watched a video covering that now (had no idea what you were referring to when I commented earlier on the leg restraint question for TRON).

    That would indeed have been a bit anti-climactic since the original Mary Poppins announcement was so vague (and played up).

    I guess it could have been something worse. It could have been another Dumbo/Aladdin/TriceraTop Spin type of ride, maybe with some big umbrellas mounted on the vehicles to make it seem Mary Poppins based.

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