Walt Disney World Resort Update for April 13-19, 2021
Writer’s Note, News & Views (Combined)
Spring Break “season” is already showing signs of turning the corner into a continued busy Spring and Summer at Walt Disney World Resort. As I have noted in recent Updates, theme park hours are scheduled longer than usual through April 24. Beyond that, there are no remaining Disney Park Pass reservations available for day ticket purchasers or resort guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before July 2. Non-blocked annual passholders can still see availability on most dates right now, but, of course, passholders can only maintain 3 dates reserved at any time. For those thinking about a last-minute visit in May or June, except for May 3, at least one of the other three parks still has reservations available each day for day ticket purchasers and resort hotel guests as of publication time, and Park Hopping is still an option after 2 p.m. (subject to change based on capacity); guests that Park Hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios though, do not have an opportunity enter the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, as its afternoon opportunity window opens at 1 p.m. (and can shut within fractions of a second as I noted last week, and will shut within minutes).
Though Disneyland Resort is finally rapidly approaching its April 30 reopening and the just-announced June 5 debut of Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure, at the moment, California travel restrictions that are part of the rules under which Disneyland is permitted to reopen will mean that Florida will remain the only domestic place for Disney Parks fans that are not Californians to get their fix for some time. For those that have not heard, when Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen, attendance will be limited to 25% capacity and restricted to California residents.
During an invited-media video presentation last week, Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, noted that development of “Disney Genie” continues for an expected rollout later this year. This new digital tool announced back at Disney D23 Expo 2019 has been described as allowing guests to further customize their Walt Disney World Vacation and capable of assisting guests in making suggestions and changes to plans during their vacation. Unfortunately, no further details were provided in the presentation or press releases. Nevertheless, in a vague way, based on the way the tool was described back at the Expo held before the global pandemic and temporary closures, it kind of-sort of suggests that some sort of virtual queues or FastPass or such could be on their way back to the attractions in the parks in connection with the introduction of the tool. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Josh D’Amaro and tools, at the end of the video presentation, while visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, Josh D’Amaro turned on a lightsaber that extended and lit when he held it out away from his body. He then looked into the camera and said it was “real.” While we were not allowed to record the presentation and Disney has not released an image of the lightsaber he demonstrated, our Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix did direct my attention to United States Patent No. US 10,065,127 B1 (September 4, 2018) entitled “Sword Device with Retractable Internally Illuminated Blade” which belongs to Disney Enterprises, Inc. of Burbank, California. A new, expensive “toy” may be available soon. I wonder if our MousePlanet Star Wars reporter, Todd King, has set aside some additional money for one of these.
In the meantime, remember, Disney’s enhanced health and safety protocols remain in place. Attendance remains limited by caps below maximum park capacity (it has never been publicly disclosed whether the announced 35% cap level has been increased or is calculated differently based on operating hours or other factors). Temperature checks when entering the parks and Disney Springs remain mandatory and Disney still requires guests on Disney property, and, particularly in the parks, resort hotels, and at Disney Springs, properly wear face coverings except when eating or drinking while stationary. Be sure to check the My Disney Experience or DisneyWorld.com immediately before any planned visit for any last minute changes to phased reopening operations that may impact your visit.
Indeed, since our last Update, there were some of those last minute changes, as Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix shared in a special report on MousePlanet: here. As of last Wednesday, April 8, guests are now also permitted to temporarily remove face coverings when taking a photo outdoors. Guests must continue to remain stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing when taking unmasked outdoor photos.
New “Creations Shop” and a New “Club Cool” Opening at EPCOT This Summer
The major transformation of EPCOT got underway back in Fall of 2019. Since January 5, 2020, EPCOT’s flagship merchandise location has been a “temporary” MouseGear store located in a portion of the repurposed former Innoventions East building. The old MouseGear location (which was, itself, a reimagination of the store that debuted as Centorium back when the park opened in 1982) was shuttered and gutted when the temporary location opened.
File Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
On Friday, Disney Parks Blog announced that the park’s new flagship merchandise location will be called “Creations Shop” and that it will open this summer. Although the announcement did not expressly say so, the concept art all but makes clear that the new shop will be located in the former location of MouseGear.
Creations Shop will open during this Summer at EPCOT, featuring “huge glass walls that allow sunlight to pour in and make you feel like you’re in touch with nature even while indoors.” Though just released, the Concept Art pre-dates the pandemic and “does not represent current operational guidelines or health and safety measures such as face covering and physical distancing requirements.” Concept Art courtesy Disney Parks.
Disney says that the shop is “using color, materials and light in new ways with some unique EPCOT touches that connect back to this park’s storied past while looking to the future.” One wall will feature a large mural of Mickey Mouse, and there will be “original homages” to Mickey throughout the space: “including large, dynamic murals and new artist expressions that showcase the global, contemporary icon that Mickey has become for generations around the world.”
Interestingly, Disney says that it intends the shop to be “more than a place to pick up a memento of your time at EPCOT.” Disney says that the “products you’ll find here will extend Disney storytelling and allow you to bring that experience home with you, all while encouraging you to explore your own expressiveness and creativity.”
When the transformation of Future World got underway back in September 2019, Club Cool in the former Innoventions West building also closed with Disney saying that it would return in some fashion in the future. In announcing the opening of Creations Shop, Disney Parks Blog also announced Club Cool Hosted by Coca-Cola will open this summer adjacent to the new merchandise location. The “fan-favorite experience that invites you to explore tasty drinks from around the world” will return in this new space along with “new magic to bring the global experience of Coca-Cola to life for you.” In other words, those of you that enjoy “treating” your friends to a complimentary sample of “Beverly” probably will have the opportunity once again later this year, though the details of how sample beverages will be “handled” during this era of enhanced health and safety measures and physically distancing have not yet been announced. (Over at the Disney Vacation Club Members Lounge at EPCOT, the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines are now operated by cast members rather than Members and their guests, so protocols may already be in the works).
Reminder: 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets Now Available
Walt Disney World continues to offer its 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket. The $199 plus tax ticket provides four days of park visits. The ticket can be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days through June 18, 2021 (but it is blocked out May 28-31). The Park Hopper option can be added for $42.50/ticket plus tax.
There is also a 3-Day version (with same blockout dates) available for $179 plus tax (add $42.50/ticket plus tax for Park Hopper).
Like other ticket types, guests must also separately make Disney Park Pass reservations for a specific park each date they wish to use a Discover Disney Ticket (and, for Park Hopper, must visit that reserved park and may only Hop when that day’s window opens subject to capacity).
This & That…
…The “Capture Your Moment” Disney PhotoPass experience may now be booked online or in the My Disney Experience App. This is the 20-minute personalized photo session with a Disney PhotoPass photographer at Magic Kingdom during regular park hours. Reservations may be made up to 60 days in advance; limited same-day reservations may be available in the app or by visiting the PhotoPass Center inside Town Square Theater. Sessions are $50 plus tax for up to eight guests per session and do not include copies or downloads of the photos themselves – for that you either need to purchase a Memory Maker product or have the download privileges as an Annual Passholder. Additional time must also be booked in advance (at $50 plus tax/20-min. session) and guests must abide by attire and park policies on this page of DisneyWorld.com and which also prohibit wedding attire or any other clothing that “drags on the ground.”
…A few weeks back, we noted that several Disney on Broadway Stars would be performing “The Music of Disney on Broadway” in downtown Orlando at one of the outdoor concerts at Dr. Phillips Center. Not surprisingly, Michael James Scott, Ashley Brown, Kissy Simmons and Josh Stickland, each of whom has performed numerous times in the Disney on Broadway Concert Series during the EPCOT International Festical of the Arts in the past several years, stopped by EPCOT this week for a visit.
…As Earth Week approaches at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, artisans got to work transforming 40 tons of sand into a sculpture celebrating National Geographic’s “Secrets of the Whales” series which begins streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day, April 22.
…The first of Disney Cruise Line’s three new ships entering into service in the next several years reached an important milestone this past week. Disney Wish had its traditional keel laying ceremony where the first block (section of the ship) was lowered into the building dock, with a newly minted coin placed under the keel for good fortune. The specially minted coin for the Disney Wish ceremony featured Captain Minnie whose image will also appear on the bow of the ship which is now expected to set sail in the Summer of 2022. During an invited media video presentation last week (which mainly focused on the upcoming opening of Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure), Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, noted that development continues at DCL’s new private Bahamian destination Lighthouse Point, but he provided no new details about the destination or its expected completion date.
…Also of interest to our readers in Florida, LEGOLAND Florida Resort will reward one Florida family with a four-year University Plan scholarship from their partners at Florida Prepaid, worth approximately $28,000 in celebration of the Theme Park’s 10th birthday. Through April 22, families with children born on or after the Theme Park’s original open date, October 15, 2011, can enter the drawing for a chance to win. The winning family will also receive a special invitation to participate in the Theme Park’s “brick-tastic birthday event” later this fall. The scholarship-winning family will be selected at random after the contest closes at 5 p.m. on April 22. Parents, grandparents, or guardians must be 18 years of age or older and legal Florida residents to enter the contest. The winning family will be notified on Friday, April 23. Full program details are available at LEGOLAND.com/scholarship.
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Resorts Availability, 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.
Florida Residents can now save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights 4/18 to 7/10/2021. Modify or cancel reservations with extra flexibility for arrivals through April 30, 2021. More information is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.
Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages can now be booked up to 500 days in advance on a rolling calendar. That’s right, you can now book packages for travel through early July 2022, and a package can be held for just a $200 downpayment with final payment due 30 days prior to travel.
Our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages, and include its complimentary Concierge Services. Get Away Today can also assist you with the new Walt Disney World Resort offer that became available back in January: two free theme park days when you purchase at least a 4-night Disney Hotel stay and 3-Day Walt Disney World Resort tickets (the new offer is valid for vacation packages for travel through September 25, 2021, and does not apply to ticket-only orders). For all theme park ticket holders (day guests, resort guests, and Annual Passholders), though, for the foreseeable future, all guests are required to use the Disney Parks Pass System to reserve dates for guest park visits in addition to having a valid admission.
Get Away Today can also help you book other discounted Disney hotel stays for travel in 2021. With Get Away Today’s complimentary Price Monitoring, any time a special comes out, it will automatically price check it for each of its guests. If the new special is better, it will automatically apply the new savings and let the guest know. If it’s not a better deal, they will leave everything as is, and keep their eyes peeled for future promotions that could save guests more.
Now through April 30, you can even cancel a reservation up to 24 hours before check-in for free.
You can get a vacation quote from Get Away Today here. (Responses provided in 1 to 3 business days.) You can also call 855-GET-AWAY during regular business hours (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm MT) and tell them MousePlanet sent you!
Be sure to check out Get Away Today’s Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.