Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 5, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 5, 2023

 Writer's Note, News & Views

It has been a quiet week for news directly impacting guest visits to Walt Disney World Resort in the near-term as far as I can tell. Sure, TRON Lightcycle / Run finally had its official opening at Magic Kingdom yesterday (on April 4, 2023). The evening before, "Happily Ever After" fireworks returned to nightly performances at Magic Kingdom, and, at least temporarily, "EPCOT Forever" fireworks returned to World Showcase Lagoon. The night before that, "Disney Enchantment" and "Harmonious" were retired from Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, respectively, following the March 31 end of the World's Most Magical Celebration, the 18-month-long celebration of the Walt Disney World Resort's 50th Anniversary (yes—the "50" has been removed from Cinderella Castle).

In connection with the opening of TRON Lightcycle / Run, Walt Disney World Resort announced that it will be donating $100,000 to help enhance STEM education in Orange County Public Schools. Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez said, "This generous donation will help our teachers bring STEM to life in the classroom and will help provide our students with experiences they’ll treasure for a lifetime." The donation is part of the Disney Future Storytellers Program to provide "future innovators… the skills and hands-on experiences they need to dream about their futures, build their talents and become who they imagine they can be—which could one day lead them to a career at Disney," according to Disney Parks Blog.

On a different level, the political and legal battle between the governor (and the State of Florida) on the one hand, and The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates on the other, made all sorts of news this past week. The new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which was created last year by the State of Florida to replace the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) with a board selected by the governor for the administration of the land largely owned by Disney and its affiliates, learned that Disney and RCID had entered into agreements and restrictive covenants relating to the land for the next 30 years and, in some cases, in perpetuity (or, at least, until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles IlI, living as of February 8, 2023, the date the agreements were executed). Governor Ron DeSantis, reportedly "very angry" over the actions of Disney and RCID, has ordered investigations. Disney, on the other hand, says it acted within existing Florida law, including holding a publicly noticed, public meeting and, indeed, filed the documents in the public records of Osceola County (at least) on February 8, more than a month before the Board's supposed learning of the agreements.

In the spirit of the Tim Rice-composed lyrics for "The Story of Chess" (from "Chess: The Musical"), can you imagine the players at this table being the Governor and Disney CEO Bob Iger, with the stakes being the governmental administration of the Walt Disney World Resort? Courtrooms will likely be the real venue, and the participants there likely will be many lawyers with expensive hourly fee arrangements. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

To the general public, the reference to the descendants of King Charles III probably seems absurd. To those who went to law school and sat for a bar exam (and there actually are a few theme park writers around town who can say that, including me), the clause referring to the descendants of King Charles III of England immediately brought back memories of the bar exam and mandatory first-year property law class. The infamous "rule against perpetuities" is an old English law concept that made its way across the Atlantic into the American colonies, and, eventually, into the laws of the United States. It prohibits land owners from tying up land "in perpetuity" through restrictions on the property; the rule says that a restriction on property can run no longer than 21 years beyond the death of identifiable "lives in being." The bane of many law students (and those trying to restrict a property well beyond the grave), is always to have identifiable "lives" than can be used to measure the time—and using members of the English royal family has, historically, been useful for this, since English recordkeeping for who are the descendants of the reigning monarch has been considered by courts to be fairly reliable.

Heck, the real fun of this for me is that in the past, a "rule against perpetuities" joke was limited to my lawyer friends, and now it gets a wider audience! Of more interest here in the WDW Resort Update and to theme park fans are some of the developmental rights Disney has under the agreements should they withstand the battle to come. The publicly filed documents can be reviewed and downloaded on Scribd.com at: https://www.scribd.com/document/634713441/Disney-agreements. A chart in the agreement amends the pre-existing RCID Comprehensive Plan for Future Land Use out to 2032 with some interesting rights granted to Disney (noting, of course, that "rights" do not mean that Disney will do something—just that it can):

RCID Comprehensive Plan.

While there are lots of other things to parse in these documents, the above chart is interesting in that it approves thousands of additional hotel "keys" (an industry term almost but not quite akin to guest rooms), nearly 60% more retail and restaurant space, a fifth "major" theme park, and two additional "minor" theme parks (which, based on size described in the documents, currently include Disney's Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and a third approved "minor" park that may not have yet been built or still refers back to the defunct River Country or something else left unspecified). Those rights grants were made further interesting by Disney CEO Bob Iger's question and answer period during the company's 2023 annual meeting of shareholders, which was held this past Monday, and which you can "watch" in its entirety here on Disney's corporate website (and I say "watch" because most of the meeting, including all the question and answer session, is audio-only). Without further specificity of Disney Parks' plans, Bob Iger said, “We are currently planning now to invest over $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years,” which, he said, would result in an estimated 13,000 new Disney jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs.

Again, to be certain, there is a political and legal battle to come—and that battle, no doubt, will impact Disney's capital spending. Bob Iger said as much, as he further framed the issue from Disney's point of view during the shareholders seeting (excerpts follow):

We [at Disney] love the State of Florida.

A company has a right to Freedom of Speech, just like individuals do. The Governor got very angry about the position that Disney took [on the so-called "Don't Say Gay" Florida education legislation], and it seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us... in effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a Constitutional Right. And that just seems really wrong to me – against any company or individual, but particularly against a company that means so much to the state that you live in.

We are the largest taxpayer in the state.

Any action that thwarts those efforts [to invest over $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years], simply to retaliate for a position the company took, sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida.

My guess is that the next public move we will hear about will be from or at the direction of the governor or the state. In the meantime, theme park fans, let's hope we hear some "what's new, what's next" stuff for the months and year ahead, as the legal and political battles probably will not be resolved before Tiana's Bayou Adventure is due to open at Magic Kingdom in "late 2024" which, by coincidence or not, is around the time of our next presidential election.

In the pre-recorded portion of the shareholders meeting, Bob Iger did provide a slightly closer look at the new Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana walk-through attraction opening at EPCOT later this year. It seems the resort's goal is to consider the EPCOT "historic transformation" complete by the time the new attraction opens.

Well, that is about it for Walt Disney World Resort news this week. Regards to those celebrating Earth Month, Ramadan (on-going through the evening of April 20), Passover (April 5–13), Holy Week including Good Friday, April 7, through Easter Sunday, April 9, and/or Orthodox Easter Sunday, April 16, or just the upcoming U.S. April 18 tax deadline. This & That & Reminders follow, along with the rest of the usual notes and the latest discounts and offers we have spotted and those from our sponsor Get Away Today. See you real soon!

This & That & Reminders…

…REMINDER: April is Earth Month, and April 22 will be Disney's Animal Kingdom's 25th anniversary. Disney has not released full details of how the park will celebrate the milestone, but Disney Parks Blog has shared a Foodie Guide for the month.

…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 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...

…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 for those with hotel reservations was yesterday, April 4, 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: 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.

…Beyond Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line held the keel-laying ceremony for Disney Treasure at the shipyard in Germany where the next new "Wish-class" Disney ship is being built. Overseas, DCL also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Tourism Board to home port the recently acquired partially completed ship there for five years when that new ship joins the DCL fleet to serve the Southeast Asia market starting in 2025.

…ONE LAST 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. 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 quite a bit, though we are starting to get to the time of the year where that is less so. Forecasts for the next two weeks sees high temperatures from the mid-70s up to the low 90s and lows from the high 50s into the high 60s. We are not yet at the oppressive heat and humidity of a Central Florida summer, but if you are from somewhere that has not yet started regularly experiencing those temperatures above 70, you may feel the daytime heat: so stay hydrated! Huge Spring Break crowds are a thing too, along with Disney's surge pricing—Disney Genie+ service yesterday was $35 per person (plus tax)! The usual Tropical Storm season is just ahead in May (and storms do not know how to read a calendar), and Central Florida's share of rainy days should start increasing as we head toward summer, but, until then, we also have periods of drought: you may see no rain for quite a few days or weeks in a row, and then a rainy day or two or three. Daily summer thunderstorms probably will start popping by June or July, but, even before then, 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.

The Walt Disney World Resort website lists current offers, deals, and discounts on this page.

The 2023 Florida Resident Weekday Magic Ticket offer remains available through April 27, but is blocked out now through April 14 -- which means, in essence, it is available only April 17-21, and April 24-27. With this offer, Florida Residents can get Disney Weekday magic Tickets for 2 days of theme park admissions during any combination of those dates. There are 3 and 4 day discounted tickets available as well with those same date of use restrictions, but none of the tickets have to be used on consecutive days, but all days have to be used by April 27. Park reservations are required for all tickets. Park Hopper and/or Water Parks and Sports options available for additional fees.

Proof of residency is required for all Florida Resident ticket offers. 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 still 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.

NEW Discounted stays are available on most nights from April 10 to July 10, 2023, of 10% to 25% depending on Disney Resort hotel selected for stays between 1 and 14 nights. Details and availability are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com. There are additional offers for Passholders (up to 35%), Florida Residents (up to 30%), and everyone else (up to 25%) now posted through September 28, 2023. Scroll through the full list on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

NEW For those Passholders interested in the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser "Voyages," select dates from April 15 to June 28, 2023 are now available for up to 30% off too.

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:

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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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  1. By asdhollywood

    Oops, and I failed to mention that registration for the 2024 runDisney Marathon opens April 11th! Sorry runners, but those among you that are avid probably are already aware!


  2. By wdwchuck

    And the most bizarre part about all this legal fighting and loss of revenue and control for Disney is that they won't say no to grooming young kids. It is so sick and twisted. There is no such thing as a "Don't Say Gay" bill in Florida.
    People are just sick of our beloved Disney using its massive forum to sexualize children. It is sick, sick, sick. And they would rather have a prolonged legal battle instead of just saying, we will back off and not try to groom children. It is that simple.

  3. By currence

    Quote Originally Posted by wdwchuck View Post
    People are just sick of our beloved Disney using its massive forum to sexualize children. It is sick, sick, sick. And they would rather have a prolonged legal battle instead of just saying, we will back off and not try to groom children. It is that simple.

    I think Disney has gotten better about not trying to "sexualize children." 10 years ago, the Disney sold Princess Jasmine costumes showed a lot of midriff. Now, it's a one piece costume (or possibly two pieces but without a skin gap). I used to make my kid wear a flesh colored leotard underneath, because that's how we roll.

    Acknowledging that not all families look the same and trying to be inclusive of all possibilities is not the same as grooming children. Grooming is real, sexual abuse is real, and I think we belittle survivors of abuse when we act as though one is a mere precursor to the other. If Disney was trying to help groomers, a catchy tune about keeping secrets would be far more beneficial than what they're actually doing.

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