Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 8, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 8, 2023

You can view a larger version of the individual photos included in the Update by clicking on the photo; the photo will open in a separate tab without a caption (or, for Disney Parks Blog photos, the article cited will open). For Instagram, Facebook or Twitter posts embedded in the Update, you can click them and view images or videos on the respective sites too.

 Writer's Note, News & Views

So far, August continues this summer's above-average high numbers on the heat index here in Central Florida. So much so that yesterday, we were under another heat advisory, which, to my memory had been pretty rare for the region's hot summer days in this past decade. Sure, Central Florida is always hot in summer, but this summer's combination of heat and humidity has clearly been wel -above where it was in the past.

For me, this continues to mean that I get over to the parks much less often that in the past. As you have probably heard in mass media by now, this summer, Central Florida tourism numbers have even declining from their 2021–22 heights. It's still hit-or-miss whether you find a smaller crowd in the parks on the day you attend, though. Last week, I was at the "limited attendance" Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic Event at Disney's Animal Kingdom immediately following an early evening heavy rainstorm, and the park felt rather crowded—and though attraction wait times were "less than usual," queues for redeeming event vouchers for snacks or the Dinoland games were longer than usual, and some of the character meet-and-greet queues were quite long, too.


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I've been invited to a media event later this week for the first night of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. My past experience suggests that after-hours party will feel rather crowded, too. I hope, at least, the daily rain either misses Magic Kingdom or ends well before the event, as one of the highlights that I look forward to is the ride of the Headless Horseman—which doesn't happen for safety reasons if the weather isn't just so.

As for Walt Disney World Resort news, no major stories to report: no dates announced for the opening of Journey of Water inspired by Moana, Reflection Point, or CommuniCore Hall at EPCOT; and no major projects announced. A month from now is Destination D23 at Disney's Contemporary Resort, and, historically, that has been the setting for announcing at least some new (or returning) things for Walt Disney World. MousePlanet is among the media invited to attend, and I am looking forward to bringing you some news.

Dining Reservations Changes Coming Soon

As the headline above says, dining reservations changes are coming soon. Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix covered it yesterday for both coasts, and I know not everyone reads the updates for both coasts, it is republished here (with just one additional note added for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests). From our MousePlanet Disneyland Resort Update for August 7, 2023:

Disneyland and Walt Disney World are rolling out a big—and welcome—change to the dining reservation system. The upgrades impact the way the resort websites and mobile apps display restaurant reservation availability, and should simplify what has been an unnecessarily annoying process.

For the past many years, searching for a reservation at a Disney restaurant has meant trying to finesse the website or app into showing you the reservation time you really want. For example, it was not at all unusual to be told there were no reservations around 6:00 p.m., only to be offered a 5:50 p.m. reservation when you changed the filter to look for "dinner" reservations.

The opposite was also true. In the screenshots below, you can see that a search for "dinner" returned nothing earlier than 8:30 p.m., but after we changed the filter to 6:00 p.m. the website displayed open spots at 4:40 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.

This search for a "dinner" reservation yielded nothing earlier than 8:30 p.m.

By searching for 6:00 p.m. instead of dinner, a different set of reservation times is offered.

You could run the same search a few times and yield totally different results, which is time-consuming and really just pointless. Worse, we've been told that the time of day you query the reservations system impacts the results. It was late evening when we performed the searches above, which is why our "dinner" search returned only late-night offerings. The system defaulted to showing only reservations later than the current time of day, even though we were searching for a reservation three weeks in the future.

When the new update is fully functional, a reservation search should return a list of all reservations open for the location and time selected, so you'll see a list of every open spot during the meal period you've selected. This should hopefully mean less back-and-forth with the system, and a much faster reservation process.

Another change which should be welcome news to advance planners is the ability to cancel a reservation at most locations up to two hours in advance without penalty, instead of the 24-hour notice currently offered. This also means that visitors should keep an eye on the app for a chance to snag same-day reservations which may pop up due to cancellations.

Reservations can still be made up to 60 days in advance of arrival. [Florida's additional comment: for guests staying in Walt Disney World Resort hotels, the 60 days in advance is calculated from hotel check in rather than park visit, giving hotel guests a few extra days' edge in getting desired reservations for later in their stays.]

Views of Disney's Animal Kingdom During DVC Moonlight Magic Event

As regular readers know, I have been a Disney Vacation Club Member since 2000. DVC began offering its Moonlight Magic events back in 2017, following a similar event with a different name offered the prior year during its 25th anniversary celebration. The complimentary events are held after-hours on announced dates in specified theme parks throughout the year and require pre-registration by eligible members (with separate registration windows and group size rules for DVC members with hotel reservations including the date of an event and, subject to availability, to the general eligible membership).

Despite some reservation queue hiccups that I posted about on Twitter (and elsewhere), I was able to secure a general member reservation for a party of five for the August 2 event at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Like other after-hours events, event attendees can arrive before park closing, and I had looked forward to making my first visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom in quite awhile to get a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris before park closing and then, enjoying the event which, like other Moonlight Magic events, was scheduled to include evening entertainment and character meet-and-greets, including "rare" ones.

In Florida, in summer, the weather sometimes has other plans.

Although we arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom at the check in time, and though the weather forecast suggested the afternoon rain would miss the park, I spent half an hour in my car waiting out a heavy downpour. My group met up here at the gate just before official park closing, and did not make very far on Discovery Island before taking cover again at Island Traders for another 45 minute heavy downpour.

After the rain lightened up, my group made our way to Satu'li Canteen in Pandora-The World of Avatar for some food and to wait out the rest of the rain. It finally stopped, and we rode Navi River Passage without a significant wait. Happily, the star of the show was on full display.

With Disney's Animal Kingdom often closing before nightfall, it is now increasingly rare to be able to visit Pandora-The World of Avatar after dark and see its bioluminescence.

Moonlight Magic also afforded us the increasingly rare opportunity to see the Tree of Life lit under the night sky.

Moana, who started regularly meeting and greeting guests along Discovery River several months ago, was meeting and greeting during the Moonlight Magic event. Because of the rain, several groups of the "rare" characters were moved to the theater for Festival of the Lion King, and my group chose not to wait in line to meet characters from Tarzan or Chip and Dale in their Rescue Rangers costumes. We arrived too late to meet characters from A Bugs Life or Darkwing Duck.

This edition of Moonlight Magic was scheduled for the evening following a "Super Moon" and, with the rain clouds finally departed, the moonlight over Expedition Everest was very bright.

The Disney100 photo opportunity for Disney's Animal Kingdom is located in front of the ticket booths in front of the park.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.


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Unfortunately, as noted above, the pre-Moonlight Magic weather prevented my group from exploring the park before closing. For those who haven't visited Disney's Animal Kingdom in awhile, the park has returned to its old pre-Pandora (not just pre-pandemic) pattern of closing before sunset, even in the summer. Daily closings are at 7 p.m., and even when the park offers after-closing events like Moonlight Magic, animal-based attractions, including Kilimanjaro Safaris are all closed. As far as I have heard, the park has not offered nighttime safaris since the temporary closure for the pandemic back in 2020.

Had we had a chance to taken in a Safari, we may have caught a glimpse of the newborn mandrill named Saffron and its mom Hazel.

Though Pride month was back in June, like the other parks, Disney's Animal Kingdom Pride Wall is still in place. Since I had not been to Disney's Animal Kingdom since well-before June, this was the first chance I had to see it.

Disney's Animal Kingdom's Pride Wall is located across from Pizzafari along the walkway to Pandora-The World of Avatar. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…runDisney unveiled its 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon medals featuring Mickey and Friends on the Disney Parks Blog. Marathon Weekend is January 3–7, 2024, and all the races are sold out on the official runDisney website, though opportunities to participate in virtual races remain, as do some opportunities to participate for recognized charitable organizations.


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…Looking for some of the Disney Resort experience at home? This summer, the "Hey Disney" service finally debuted in Amazon's Alexa Skills store for purchase as an annual, auto-renewing subscription for use on a supported Amazon Echo device. Disney Parks Blog posted its top five tips for using the service at home.

…REMINDER: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party gets underway on select nights starting this Friday, August 11, so if you are planning to visit Magic Kingdom, be aware that the park will end its regular operating hours early on those nights for those without a ticket to the after-hours event, and, indeed, mix-in with party guests will start bringing more folks into the park as official operating hours draw to a close. (Disclosure: MousePlant has been invited to Media Night at the Party.) For those planning to visit Magic Kingdom during its two and a half month Halloween celebration, Disney Parks Blog has published its Foodie Guide for the event, which lists treats available to purchase exclusively during event nights, as well as those available to purchase during regular park operating hours. Commenters have noted both on Disney Parks Blog and elsewhere on social media that the Halloween treats do not appear to include any specifically identified plant-based options this year.

…REMINDER: Disney H2O Glow After Hours events are now underway on select nights through September 2 at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.

…REMINDER: The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom is closed for "routine refurbishment" through tomorrow, August 9. The new Disney Haunted Mansion film is now playing in U.S. theaters, but, as we have noted in recent weeks, the rumored near-term installation of the "Hatbox Ghost" in the Mansion turned out to be premature. Disney has provided a bit of additional detail about the character's addition to the attraction "later this year"—it will "appear to guests as they pass the Endless Hallway," but, in the meantime, "Guests will soon see temporary barriers materialize as we await his apparition."

…FINAL REMINDER: Through August 13, 2023, Passholders can get 20% off regularly priced food and non-alcoholic beverages at D-Luxe Burger at Disney Springs for themselves and up to 3 guests with proof of a valid pass in their My Disney Experience app and a photo I.D.

…REMINDER: Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic details and registration for the remaining complimentary events at Walt Disney World Resort are 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 Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – August 23. General registration is TOMORROW, August 9 (early registration has closed).
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – September 13. General registration is August 31 (early registration has closed).

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 the early registration period, 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.

For all of these DVC events, "eligible" member generally means that the member bought their points directly from Disney rather than a third-party resale.

…REMINDER: Speaking of DVC members, for a limited time, eligible DVC members can save 20% on a Disney VIP Tour at Walt Disney World Resort during select dates in August & September 2023. A VIP Tour Guide with customizable experience is available for groups of up to 10 Guests. For more information about the VIP Tours, visit DisneyWorld.com/VIPTours. Booking opens August 15, 2023, and members must call (407)560-4033.

NEW The Edison at Disney Springs announced that its Mixology Sunset Dinner Series continues with offerings August 24 and 31, at 5:30 p.m. & 8 p.m. As of this posting, the August 31st 8 p.m. event has seats available. The $90/person three-course menu and craft cocktail pairing event requires guests to be at least 21 years old and to purchase tickets in advance.

…REMINDER: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic has announced the line-up of interactive food and beverage seminars taking place during this year’s event, Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11, 2023. During the educational seminars, guests can expand their knowledge of wine, beer, spirits, or pasta-making through hands-on learning experiences led by the resort’s award-winning food and beverage team. Updates for this year’s seminars include Craft Cocktails offered both Friday and Saturday and Wine Blending adding a bottling component in which guests will leave with their own bottled custom Meritage blend to take home. The 2023 seminar line-up includes:

  • Craft Cocktails – Friday and Saturday
  • Wine Blending – Friday and Saturday
  • Pasta Making – Friday
  • It’s Better to Wine in Italian (Italian Wines) – Friday
  • Base to Bubbles (Champagne) – Friday
  • Beer, Please! – Saturday

The seminars will take place prior to the outdoor festival. It’s Better to Wine in Italian and Beer, Please! seminar tickets are $75 per person, excluding tax. Base to Bubbles, Wine Blending, and Craft Cocktails seminars are $85 per person, excluding tax. Pasta Making seminar tickets are $110 per person, excluding tax. All seminars require separate tickets and space is limited. Specific dates and times of each seminar are available at foodandwineclassic.com. The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers guests unlimited tastings at creatively spaced, outdoor stations featuring culinary and beverage selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants amidst a festive backdrop of live entertainment on the hotel’s scenic causeway. The event runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on November 10–11, 2023. For more information, visit swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com.

Ahead of the Food and Wine Classic, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels are now offering Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Florida residents the opportunity to save up to 30 percent off regular rates on hotel stays this summer. Visit swandolphin.com/offers/ for more information or to book.

FINAL REMINDER: Give Kids the World Village, the non-profit resort that provides week long, no cost Central Florida vacations to critically ill children and their families, will host "An Evening with Pat Sajak," the television personality (and regular Candlelight Processional narrator) who just announced his retirement at the conclusion of his 41st season as host of TV's "Wheel of Fortune." The event will be Saturday, August 12, 5:30 to 9 p.m., at Give Kids The World Village 210 South Bass Road Kissimmee, FL 34746. Parking is free. Tickets start at $34.99 (with a VIP experience also available) at this EventBrite page. Ticket proceeds benefit Give Kids The World Village.

UPDATE Give Kids the World Village informs us that a few VIP packages remain (start time of 5:30 p.m. with a meet and greet), and general admission tickets are also available (start time of 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.). You can now purchase tickets for 50% off by entering code GKTW50 via this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-pat-sajak-tickets-647137915927.

The Village's speaker series continues on August 26 with an evening with Linda Larkin and Jonathan Freeman, the voices of Princess Jasmine and Jafar from the classic Disney animated film Aladdin. Tickets start at $59.99 (with a VIP experience also available) and are available at this EventBrite page.

UPDATE Give Kids the World informs us that VIP packages are available (start time of 5:30 p.m. with a meet and greet), as are general admission tickets (start time of 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.). You can purchase tickets for 50% off by entering code GKTW50 via this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-linda-larkin-and-jonathan-freeman-tickets-652055494537.

…REMINDER: Applications and nominations for the 2024 Disney Dreamers Academy are open through October. Students looking to achieve their dreams can apply and, for the first time this year, be nominated for the program at DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. A panel of judges will select 100 students from the thousands of nationwide applicants to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime mentoring program designed to assist young people in identifying and pursuing their dreams. The selected students, along with a parent or guardian, will receive 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. Over the years, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired more than 1,500 students from across the country. Each year, graduates have gone on to become doctors, engineers, performing artists, entrepreneurs, Disney Cast Members and more, and some have transitioned into mentors to the Disney Dreamers who followed them.

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. It remains unlikely that the State of Florida will impose new requirements. As always, 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 when purchasing undated tickets or an annual pass (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. Passholders are no longer required to make reservations to visit parks after 2 p.m. except for Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of Annual Passes, sales of new ones resumed back in April. All Passholders may continue to purchase renewals in all tiers, and, now may upgrade pass type before renewal by paying the difference in price. As Disney reserves the right to limit quantities of passes available, sales may pause at any time, so be sure to check https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/passes/ for the latest availability. Logging in to the site with existing MyDisneyExperience credentials can direct you to purchasing opportunities for Florida Residents and Disney Vacation Club Members if those details are already tied to your account.

Note Disney now has a "Courtesy" section included in 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.

It is Tropical Storm season for those of us near the Atlantic Ocean. As always, keep an eye on the weather alerts for the region you plan to visit, especially if that involves flying into Central Florida. Disney typically only closes the parks when a significant storm is tracking toward Walt Disney World Resort itself, but your airline may have other thoughts about the forecast.

The usual Florida daily summer thunderstorms are now quite common, they often occur in mid-afternoon, but that's just a guide, as there is no fixed schedule, let alone a pattern I've been able to rely upon. Severe weather can occur in Central Florida at anytime, even when the forecast says 0% chance of rain (and there are occasional times when there is a forecast 100% chance of rain and it does not rain in some places). Have yourself a regular look at the weather forecasts, and be prepared for heat, humidity, and rain; and have a plan for taking cover for when something severe pops up. If you are driving, be extra alert. I've said it before, I'll say it yet again: it's very hot and muggy around here this summer!

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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.

Summer ticket offers are available — Disney has a four day/park offer for all guests, and new 3- and 4-day offers for Florida Residents.

For All Guests – 4-Park Magic Ticket for $396 (plus tax)
The $99/day per park (plus tax) tickets are on sale. The 4-Park Magic Ticket includes one admission to each of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks—Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios—for a total of 4 admissions, on 4 separate days. Limit one admission per theme park, and one theme park per day, theme park reservations are not required. Ticket is valid for theme park admission until September 29, 2023, except blockout dates from September 1 to September 4, 2023, but the ticket expires within 7 days of first use or on September 29, 2023, whichever occurs first. For full details, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

For Florida Residents – 4-Day Disney Summer Magic Ticket for $229/3-Day for $209 (plus tax)
The $58/day per park (plus tax) four day or $69.67/day per park (plus tax) three day tickets are on sale. Tickets are valid through September 29, 2023, subject to blockout dates: September 1 to September 4, 2023. These tickets require theme park reservations for one theme park per day, but they do not need to be used on consecutive days, so long as they are used by September 29, 2023. For full details, including add-on options, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com.

NEW Disney also announced a $159 (plus tax) 2-Day Florida Resident Disney 2-Park Explorer Ticket that is valid only at EPCOT and Disney's Animal Kingdom on consecutive or non-consecutive days through September 29. Be sure to read up on all the details to see if the ticket matches your expectations before purchasing. Proof of residency required, and, yes, Park Pass reservations are required to visit the parks too.

MousePlanet’s travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages.

REMINDER Now Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages can now be booked completely on its website! No cumbersome quotes needed! Simply compare all your favorite Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Get Away Today's hand selected off-property hotels in a few clicks, and then customize for your included tickets for your vacation.

Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages now have the option to add Layaway Plans, which allow you to pay the total balance up to eight days prior to travel. You can also add their popular "Peace of Mind Plan" when booking a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, which allows any reschedules and cancellations up to five days prior to travel with no penalty.

When booking with Get Away Today, all Walt Disney World Resort on-site packages include Get Away Today’s e-concierge, which includes its Best Price Guarantee, Dining Reservation Reminders, access to their Concierge Team email for help before and during your vacation, and more.

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)

Summer brings longer park hours, nightly fireworks, exciting entertainment and a NEW special offer!

Walt Disney World Resort has released a 4-Day/4-Park ticket that allows guests to visit each theme park once this summer at an amazing price - roughly $150+ LESS than a regular 4-Day Base Ticket! We’re thrilled to let you know that we are selling that special ticket offer at an even lower price than Disney. No theme park reservations are required for these tickets, but there are two sets of blackout dates around the 4th of July and Labor Day.

Get a day at each Walt Disney World Resort Park for even less with huge savings on a 4-Park Magic Ticket from Get Away Today! Through September 29, you can spend a day at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and save big! No theme park reservations required; blackout dates September 1-4, 2023 apply. Save even more when you book your 4-Park Magic Ticket with Get Away Today. Buy your tickets now or call the travel experts at Get Away Today at 855-GET-AWAY (and tell them that MousePlanet sent you).

For those guests who want a more leisurely vacation, you will have more time to experience the Walt Disney World Resort with our 2 Days FREE Walt Disney World tickets! Get a full week of theme park admission for the price of a five day ticket. You can find those tickets here.

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