Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 28, 2023by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 28, 2023
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Writer's Note, News & Views
Spring break season continued this past week here in Central Florida and, in particular, at the Walt Disney World Resort. The parks were busy during the week, and when local news was reporting the peak travel day for the season at Orlando International Airport on Sunday, I heard some reports that crowds in the parks eased quite a bit. Passover and Easter are still ahead, so more spring break vacationers are likely on their way in the coming weeks—and with Disney Enchantment and Harmonious ending both their runs on April 2, Happily Ever After returning to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever returning (temporarily) starting April 3, and TRON Lightcycle / Run officially opening at Magic Kingdom on April 4, if you're heading this way, expect that the parks will be busy.
With it being spring break, it's not surprising that, like reported in MousePlanet's Disneyland Resort Update yesterday, it was a fairly quiet week for news about the future of Walt Disney World Resort. Local major media outlets like WFTV.com reported that Walt Disney World Resort and the Services Trade Council Union (which represents approximately 45,000 theme park workers) reached a tentative agreement over historic wage increases last week. WFTV reported that union representatives said that if approved by union members, the agreement will raise covered cast member pay between $5.50 and $8.60 by the end of the contract, with the first $3 in raises arriving this year. The agreement brings the cast member minimum hourly rate to $18/hour minimum hourly rate for the theme park employees beginning this year; some roles' minimum rate will be above $20/hour. Reports are that the agreement makes Disney the highest-paying tourism employer in Orlando; Universal raised its minimum to $17/hour earlier this year.
While the frontline theme park workers get raises, Disney CEO Bob Iger yesterday followed up the February earnings call discussion of a targeted cut of 7,000 employees company-wide with a memo saying that the layoffs will come in three waves, with the first wave of notices being issued starting yesterday and continuing through Thursday. Variety, among others, reports that the job cuts "are expected to hit across the board and hit senior management levels as well as lower-level executives." The next round of layoff notices will come next month, and a final round will occur "before the beginning of summer" to reach the 7,000 target. It's hard to predict how the layoffs will impact the resort, with frontline cast likely not being reduced in number but with higher positions within Disney Parks likely being eliminated or at least reorganized. Stay tuned.
Disney Dreamers Academy 2023 Welcomed 100 Students to Walt Disney World Resort
The 16th year of Disney Dreamers Academy took place at Walt Disney World Resort, last Thursday through Sunday. The four-day, transformational, mentoring program is designed to broaden career awareness and create opportunities for Black high school students and teens from underrepresented communities across the United States of America.
A panel of judges selected 100 students from thousands of nationwide applicants. The once-in-a-lifetime mentoring program is designed to assist young people in identifying and pursuing their dreams, and the students, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World to participate in the program, including career-oriented workshops, leadership seminars and presentations by celebrity guests, community leaders, educators and Disney executives. Disney invited media to attend and observe the event, and I posted some of the highlights on our social media channels throughout the event, include more here, and still have a few more highlights to share later this week.
"Disney Dreamers Academy is an important part of Walt Disney World’s commitment to supporting Black students and teens from underrepresented communities across America, by encouraging the next generation to think big and to carry what they learn back home with them," said Tracey D. Powell, Vice President of Travel Services/Pricing and Revenue Management and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. "We hope to encourage these dreamers to relentlessly pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others."
Disney Dreamers and their chaperones were greeted at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center, and led by Drum Major Mickey Mouse and a marching band into the hall. Lots of celebrities welcomed the Disney Dreamers by pre-recorded messages. The Academy announced that the program's Celebrity Ambassador this year is Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey who plays Ariel in the upcoming live-action movie version of Disney's The Little Mermaid, and she greeted the Disney Dreamers from the stage in person. The Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle also greeted the Dreamers from the stage and offered congratulations on being selected and advice about becoming a good leader. After the Convention Center welcome, the Dreamers got some time to enjoy Magic Kingdom and were welcomed by the park with the opportunity to participate in a pre-parade cavalcade before Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade all the way down Main Street U.S.A. Dreamers also had the opportunity to ride TRON Lightcycle / Run in the evening following the parade.
Halle Bailey is the Disney Dreamers Academy 2023 Celebrity Ambassador. She plays Ariel in the upcoming live action film of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. #ddaDisney #be100 #WaltDisneyWorld #photobyasd invited media https://t.co/etM1eFWDdy @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/V0HKPbAbYr— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 23, 2023
The Disney Dreamers had the opportunity to follow Drum Major Mickey Mouse along the Magic Kingdom parade route through the hub and down Main Street U.S.A.
The parade cavalcade also included Princess Tiana riding along with Disney's Tracey D. Powell, Vice President of Travel Services/Pricing and Revenue Management and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion, as well as Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey, the Disney Dreamers Academy Celebrity Ambassador.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
On the substantive side, the second day of the program included sessions and "deep dives" into career topics including Entrepreneurship/Branding, Graphic Design & Fashion, Imagineering/Engineering, Law/Politics, Media Arts/Communication, Filmmaking & Storytelling, Technology/STEM, Entertainment, and Education/National Geographic. During those sessions, the Disney Dreamers got to hear from and work with experts in their fields of interest, and there were several celebrity surprises for them along the way (both in-person and via video), including:
- Two aspiring teen filmmakers were surprised by Halle Bailey with a personal invitation to join her on the red carpet at the upcoming world premiere of the live-action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Hollywood.
- Three teens interested in music careers got a surprise visit from Grammy award-winning artist H.E.R., who gifted each teen an autographed guitar.
- One student interested in a broadcast career was surprised by ABC’s Good Morning America, which invited the teen to take part in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the show from its New York studios.
Projects students worked on in their deep dive sessions were presented to all the Dreamers, chaperones, media, and other guests during "Be 100 Café for the Senses Showcase and Dinner" on Saturday night. During the day on Saturday, Disney Dreamers learned about creating their personal brand and image via their attire from fashion industry experts, and Saturday's lunch featured actress Marsai Martin talking with Disney Dreamers Academy Celebrity Ambassador Halle Bailey about her career and upcoming movie.
Actress Marsai Martin and Disney Dreamers Academy Celebrity Ambassador Halle Bailey talked about their entertainment careers and Halle's upcoming movie.
Fashion designer Jerome Lamaar, Alicia Richardson VP of Sales at Essence Communications, Inc., and fashion designer Misa Hylton helped several Disney Dreamers with make-overs and presented them at a fashion show, along with a discussion about the importance of finding and making your brand. They also offered practical advice of dressing appropriately for the circumstances: board meetings, church, or going out on the town all have different traditions to be aware of, and there are still ways to respect them while also adding some personal style, like a “pop of color.”
Music producer Questlove (top center) was among the celebrities that attended and provided mentorship (and acted as celebrity DJ at a party for the Dreamers). Here, he poses with the Grammy-nominated gospel music group The Walls who also performed during the commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.
Projects students worked on during the Imagineering Deep Dive session were on display during the Saturday night "Be 100 Café for the Senses Showcase and Dinner". Throughout the evening other students presented on their Deep Dive sessions, including original poetry recitals, "immersive" performances, law/politics discussions, and more.
Former Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis (who in 2019 was named Disney Segment Development and Enrichment President) was recognized by the Academy as a "Hero" and, in turn, he was called upon to recognize Maria Malone who was selected by her fellow Disney Dreamers as "Dreamer of the Year" in recognition of her passion and advocacy on behalf of the deaf community.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
For more information about Disney Dreamers Academy, visit its website DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. Applications for the Class of 2024 will be available this summer, along with the complete rule of entry.
Views Around the World
I was over at Walt Disney World Resort quite a bit this past week, and I saw a few noteworthy things to share here beyond the Disney Dreamers Academy. As always, keep an eye on our MousePlanet social media channels if you like views around the Resort, as not everything I share there ends up in the Walt Disney World Resort Update.
The ongoing refurbishment at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort keeps the walkway between there and Magic Kingdom closed to guests (at the far right of this photo view from the Monorail). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The new proposed Disney Vacation Club addition to Disney's Polynesian Resort continues to rise along Seven Seas Lagoon. The large concrete forms arrive by trucks and there are signs along Floridian Way warning of possible traffic delays. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
For perspective on where the new Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant is located, it is right behind Woody and the Toy Story Land sign at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Bonus appearance in this photo above the Roundup Rodeo sign: a crescent moon and Venus. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Finally, while we know that over at EPCOT, the lights on the exterior of Spaceship Earth and the associated nightly "shows" over are a permanent addition that are part of the park's "historic transformation," the nightly "Beacons of Magic" at the other parks have been described as part of the World's Most Magical Celebration that ends on March 31. Projections for different occasions at The Hollywood Tower Hotel have been done since, at least, the Star Wars: Galactic Nights and Holiday Seasons Greetings presentations began a few years before the global pandemic. Disney has not yet shared what projections will take place here (if any) starting April 1.
Tower of Terror lit as a Beacon of Magic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. #DisneysHollywoodStudios #HollywoodStudios #WaltDisneyWorld #PhotoByASD https://t.co/F93lFDnD2t @alandalinka pic.twitter.com/W0sseQTECy— MousePlanet (@MousePlanet) March 25, 2023
This & That & Reminders…
…April is Earth Month, and April 22 will be Disney's Animal Kingdom's 25th anniversary. Disney has not yet released full details of how the park will celebrate the milestone, but Disney Parks Blog has shared a Foodie Guide for the month.
It's almost Earth Month, and you know what that means - the Earth Month Foodie Guide is here! 🌎 🍃 Explore the delicious eats and sips honoring the world around us in our latest #DisneyEats Foodie Guide: https://t.co/qZWLu3ORz8 pic.twitter.com/Yo0XEiIvSr— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 27, 2023
…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...
Once you set your eyes on these egg-cellent treats, you'll be hopping over to Disney Parks! 🐰 This year's Easter Foodie Guide is filled with delicious eats and sips blooming with flavor. Take a peek: https://t.co/7XIW0ibLqK #DisneyEats pic.twitter.com/DQNomhWN25— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 20, 2023
…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.
…FINAL 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.
…REMINDER: 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.
…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.
…FINAL 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.
…NEW Disney Cruise Line announced summer 2024 itineraries, including the first sailings to visit Lighthouse Point, DCL's new private destination in The Bahamas, starting in June.
🚢 ✨ Disney Cruise Line’s new island destination in The Bahamas at Lighthouse Point will welcome families for the first time in June 2024, headlining a season full of new and popular itineraries around the world! Details: https://t.co/cee9iXCtfu pic.twitter.com/I89GqS173D— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 23, 2023
…NEW Also beyond Walt Disney World Resort, the very first Storyliving by Disney community, Cortino, continues development in Rancho Mirage, California. This past week, Disney Parks Blog shared more details about the community's opportunity for individuals to purchase a membership for the "Artisan Club" and its amenities "infused with unique Disney and Pixar touches." The clubhouse itself is designed to look like a familiar home from The Incredibles.
📣 We’ve got the latest update from Cotino, the first Storyliving by Disney new home community! Check out some of the unique elements that will bring Disney adventures to life: https://t.co/TbT0XrXLZ1 pic.twitter.com/IubUZpyQBq— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) March 24, 2023
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. After April 18, Passholders will not be required to make reservations to visit parks after 2 p.m. except for Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday (and, it remains unclear how the rule change will impact park hopping).
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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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.
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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