Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 26, 2023

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for September 26, 2023

 Writer's Note, News & Views

Disney's ongoing celebration of its 100th anniversary at Walt Disney World is centered at EPCOT, and it kicked up a little notch this week with the new platinum Mickey statue being added to the park and Mickey and Minnie appearing in their new platinum attire now through December 31. EPCOT is also the exclusive place to find the new popcorn bucket for the celebration on the East Coast. There are some additional Food & Wine Festival kiosks now open, with some celebratory food offerings, and, really from what I can tell, that's about it.

Guests can now meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their new platinum outfits celebrating the Disney100 celebration through December 31 at EPCOT. The new platinum Mickey Mouse sculpture is also in place in front of EPCOT's Disney100 photo spot in World Celebration (in the planter opposite where the Future World Fountain of Nations once stood). Photo courtesy Disney Parks.

As we head into October and beyond, I expect that anything that is on-track to open will be tied to Disney100 too—from the mid-October official opening of Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, to the December debut of the Luminous, the new nighttime spectacular on World Showcase Lagoon. In the meantime, we keep waiting for Disney to make some specific announcements about the next decade regarding how it plans to spend the approximately $60 billion in capital at its parks, resorts and experiences around the globe, or the approximately $18 billion CEO Bob Iger previously mentioned specifically for the Florida Resort. Remember, for what it's worth, October 1 is the beginning of the company's fiscal year…

On the ABC television network that Disney still owns, Disney plans to premiere Once Upon A Studio, a brand new short film from Walt Disney Animation Studios at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time on Sunday, October 15, as part of "The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney's 100th Anniversary Celebration." When I was invited to attend the Destination D23 event a few weeks ago, the filmmakers showed the film and it received a spontaneous standing ovation. As a Disney animation fan, I enjoyed it tremendously, and I saw many tears shed around the ballroom. Many of the original voices of famous Disney Characters returned to the studio to lend their voice to the short (and some were voiced by the original actors performances on other projects repurposed for this one).

This & That & Reminders…

…Serena Arvizu and Shannon Smith-Conrad have been selected as the 2024–25 Walt Disney World Ambassadors. The Ambassador Program first began in 1965 when Walt Disney introduced Julie Reihm as the first-ever Disney Ambassador. Now, nearly 60 years later, the program has grown to include a global team of Disney Ambassadors who represent thousands of cast members at our parks, resorts and experiences around the world and play a key role in bringing the magic of Disney out into the community. At Walt Disney World, cast members are selected every two years to become Disney Ambassadors. Serena, who was in the College Program in 2016, comes to the role from the Disney Supplier Diversity team, where she has been a Sourcing Specialist since 2020, and Shannon, who was in the Disneyland Resort College Program in 2012, comes to the role from Professional Recruitment where she has been a coordinator since November 2021. Outgoing Disney Ambassadors, Ali Manion and Raevon Redding, will continue to serve in their role through the end of the year, training the new team and preparing them for a unique experience that only 82 Walt Disney World cast members have had since the resort’s opening.

…Disney PhotoPass service has a whole bunch of new photo opportunities and "lenses," including magic shots available around the Resort with characters from Ahsoka, Encanto, The Muppets, The Haunted Mansion, and more. Some of the highlights of the current opportunities were posted this week on Disney Parks Blog.

…You want to see baby animals? Dr. Mark Penning, Disney Parks' Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, says that more than 300 new animal residents have been born at the resort this year, and in Disney Parks Blog he highlights a number of them that guests can see at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and one over at the Tri-Circle D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground.

…UPDATED REMINDER: EPCOT's Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana is now open for Passholder previews through September 29th, and next week from October 1–4, 2023. Passholders must have a theme park reservation for EPCOT for the preview date they wish to visit the new walk-through attraction, and, as we saw on social media during its first day of previews, if it is too crowded, EPCOT will activate a virtual queue. Park-hopping from another park with a reservation for that other park or otherwise using an Annual Pass to simply enter EPCOT after 2 p.m. will not be sufficient for a preview. Passholders are limited to one preview per person, and be aware that as an outdoor experience, if lightning is within six miles of the park or other severe weather is in the vicinity, the attraction will close until the weather is clear. Note: Disney Vacation Club is also offering the same dates as preview dates for eligible members, but its hours are expressly limited to "from park open through 5:00 p.m.," so it's possible that Passholder hours will be limited as well. Like Passholders, eligible DVC members need to have a ticket to get in the park as well as a theme park reservation for EPCOT for the date of the preview (park hopping or entering the park after 2 p.m. as an Annual Passholder will not suffice). DVC check-in will take place at the Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana entrance, across from the Coral Reef Restaurant in World Nature.

With throngs of Passholders showing up for Journey of Water on its first day of previews, EPCOT instituted a virtual queue. That queue will only be used as necessary. Screenshot from MyDisneyExperience app.

…REMINDER: Speaking of Passholders, the newest Passholder magnet featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is now available at Creations Shop at EPCOT through October 23, 2023 (regular rules apply for getting in to the park with a Park Pass Reservation before 2 p.m. or park hopping or Passholder entry after 2 p.m.). Limit one magnet per Passholder. Sunshine Seasons over in The Land pavilion is also be selling Passholder-exclusive Oswald-themed treats during these same weeks.

New Passholder magnets featuring Oswald will be available at EPCOT's Creations Shop through October 23 (or while supplies last). Image courtesy Disney Parks.

…REMINDER: Walt Disney World Resort is now celebrating Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month through October 15. Mirabel, from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto has begun Magic Kingdom meet-and-greets (and she will continue beyond the end of the celebration). Mirabel’s uncle, Bruno, has joined the park's Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade. Disney Parks Blog published a profile of three Hispanic and Latin American cast members that have brought their work experience to the upcoming November 11 debut of Disney's Hollywood Studios after hours parties named Disney Jollywood Nights (select nights; separate ticket required).

…FINAL REMINDER: Paddlefish at Disney Springs is offering a Florida Resident Discount! Show proof of Florida residency to receive 25% off your food and non-alcoholic beverages through the end of September!

…Speaking of Disney Springs, on November 28, 2023, Wine Bar George is offering a new Sparkling Wine Experience: Learn How to Taste Wine with a Master Sommelier. Guests will learn to taste wine like a professional with a "blind" tasting of six different sparkling wines and hear firsthand from George about his journey through the wine world and what it takes to become a Master Sommelier. The 90 minute event led by George with the selection of sparkling wines hand-selected by him includes cheese and charcuterie. Doors and the event open at noon, and the event begins at 1:30 p.m. Tickets, including fees are $126.97/person are non-refundable and are available on this page of eventbrite.com.

…FINAL REMINDER: The 2023 edition of Visit Orlando's Magical Dining event is underway through October 1. Enjoy three-course, prix-fixe dinners at many of Orlando’s most popular restaurants—including Jaleo and STK at Disney Springs—with tiered pricing set at just $40 or $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. Up to $2 from each meal served will benefit one or more local nonprofits that help people in need. The full list of participating restaurants and their special menus is available at MagicalDining.com.

…REMINDER: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is now underway on select nights at Magic Kingdom through November 1. The hard-ticket event runs after the park closes early, at 7:00 p.m., and runs through midnight. Party ticket holders can enter the park as early at 4 p.m. on event night (no additional ticket or park reservation required) and may come in costume subject to the park's published guidelines. Many dates are sold out, so if you want to go, be sure to book your tickets in advance.

…As have already marked a month of the Resort's three month long Halloween celebration, Disney Parks Blog has shared more food and beverage offerings for the season and a new Foodie Guide.

…REMINDER: Speaking of Halloween, Disney Vacation Club will hold complimentary "Meet & Treat" events inside the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk including Disney Characters and treats from 2-4 p.m. today (Tuesday, September 26, 2023), Monday, October 9, 2023, Tuesday, October 10, 2023, Monday, October 30, 2023, and Tuesday, October 31, 2023. There is no registration for this event (though it is subject to capacity limits); DVC Members eligible for Member Extras who have a qualifying Disney Resort hotel reservation (including at Vero Beach) that includes a party date may attend with up to 4 additional guests. No RESORT PARKING is available specifically for this event. Check DisneyVacationClub.com for eligibility and other important information.

…REMINDER: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic has released the menu for its upcoming Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, taking place Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11. The menu for the 14th edition of the event includes more than 20 items, with both new dishes and returning favorites from the hotel’s resident restaurants and lounges, and festival-exclusive pop-ups. Over the course of the two-night event, guests will explore a wide range of cuisines with Mexican, Italian, sushi, steak, seafood and barbecue all available throughout the event’s food stations, with different menus each night. In addition, guests will be able to choose from a selection of more than 150 wine and beverages from around the world. The full menus are available at swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com/eat/menus/. For those not already familiar with the event, the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers guests unlimited tastings at outdoor stations with live entertainment on the hotel’s scenic causeway from 5:30-9 p.m. on November 10 and November 11. For more information and the add-on seminars available, visit swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com.

…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, is offering an opportunity to win a stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite inside Magic Kingdom. The prize vacation package includes a 1-night stay in the suite for up to four guests (including the winner), two more nights in a Deluxe Resort, three day hopper tickets, and more! Visit GKTW.org/castle for all the details and entrance opportunities. All proceeds benefit Give Kids The World. Open to U.S. residents. Note: Contest ends October 16, 2023.

…FINAL 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.

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