Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 16 – 22, 2021
Writer’s Note, News & Views (Combined)
Spring Break “Season” is clearly underway in Florida. There is more traffic, gas prices are up (nationally too), and, Disney Park Pass Reservations are growing scarce. Heck, I decided to go for a visit to Disney Springs yesterday, as it was what I considered to be just a random Monday afternoon in March, and found it so crowded that even World of Disney store had a standby queue with a posted 20 minute wait just to enter.
Disney Park Pass availability is rather scarce as the end of March approaches. It is likely that only Annual Pass blockouts for the Gold and Silver passes for the last week of the month have left availability for Platinium passholders. Screenshots from DisneyWorld.com
At mid-afternoon yesterday, March 15, World of Disney store had only one entrance open for arriving guests (on the southeast side of the building facing Buena Vista Drive), and a posted 20 minute standby wait to enter the store to maintain its capacity limitation. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
As I have observed in recent years, the unofficial but very flexible Spring Break “Season” runs more or less from Presidents Day in February through Easter (which is April 4, this year). Remember also that schools will start ending their year in some places as May gets underway, and with vaccination numbers increasing and positivity rates declining, we really are starting to see more people heading to The Most Magical Place on Earth. Hopefully, folks will stay mindful of the cautions of health experts and these good trends will hold (I say hopefully because, to my eyes, more guests were not properly wearing face coverings at Disney Springs yesterday, and I saw more than one guest flagrantly ignore a request from a cast member to mask-up).
In any event, 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. Enhanced health and safety protocols remain in place. For those of you considering a visit in the near-term or more-distant future, our travel partner Get Away Today can help you with reservations up to 500 days in advance. More on that below.
With the Disneyland Resort out in California heading toward a spring reopening, and with Walt Disney World Resort’s continued phased reopening heading toward the 50th Anniversary Celebration starting this October, it’s time to join our MousePlanet regulars in discussion on “Fun at Home” MousePlanet LIVE! Show #34. For a change of pace, we’ll stream live TONIGHT, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific.
You may need to refresh the page to stream along. There will be a brief pre-show countdown starting just before 7 p.m. Eastern./4 p.m. Pacific.
Join us LIVE if you can, because it’s more fun to be socially together virtually than physically distanced! Of course, you can also feel free to enjoy a replay on your schedule on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter/Periscope!
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to Open October 1
Back at D23 Expo 2017, then-Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek (now Disney CEO) announced EPCOT would open a bunch of new attractions “in time” for 50th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of Walt Disney World in 2021. As we headed in to 2020, the first of those attractions that was to debut was Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at some unspecified date in Summer 2020. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has made schedules unclear: the Resort itself is operating under its “phased reopening” plan which includes more restrictive attendance caps than ever before imposed in the parks and, indeed, is requiring all guests, even the highest-tier Annual Passholders, to have Disney Park Pass date-specific reservations to visit a park (and, since January 1, Park Hopping privileges after 2 p.m. subject to capacity constrains too).
The good news is that the seemingly successful phased reopening of the Parks and Resorts has gone smoothly enough and, perhaps, the road to recovery from the pandemic has become clear enough, that EPCOT has scheduled the Grand Opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for October 1, 2021, in honor of Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary (which is also EPCOT’s 39th Anniversary). The currently bad news for Annual Passholders, however, is that there are no more Disney Park Pass reservations available for EPCOT on that date (which is also true for Magic Kingdom), while there are still EPCOT reservations available for day ticket holders and hotel guests. Of course, conditions could change and the availability of reservations could as well. (Disney Park Pass availability also is updated as guests cancel, so it does pay to check multiple times if there is any date you are interested in visiting a particular park.)
The attraction is designed to be family-friendly and will open without a height restriction. Based on this press-released photo, it appears that the attraction will also require guests wear 3D glasses. Photo courtesy Disney Parks.
Based on the Disney-Pixar film Ratatouille, the new attraction is a part of an extensive expansion of the France pavilion. Turning the corner into the new part of the France pavilion, guests are “transported into a fanciful version of Paris that feels straight out of the animated film.” Also taking inspiration from a prior attraction at Disneyland Paris, guests are shrunk to the size of Ratatouille‘s star, Chef Remy (a rat), to scurry through Gusteau’s restaurant on a family-friendly adventure with no height requirement.
The Gusteau’s sign is lit at night above the entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and it can be seen from the small portion of the expanded France pavilion that recently opened (as well as across the waterway at the International Gateway). File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
La Crêperie de Paris, the new table- and quick-service restaurant featuring crepes, buckwheat galettes, and “authentic French hard cider,” will also open on October 1. As “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” kickoff approaches, we may hear more Grand Opening dates announced for projects still in various stages of completion, from the Space 220 restaurant adjacent to Mission: SPACE, the PLAY pavilion, and Guardians of the Galaxy:Cosmic Rewind in Future World East, to Harmonious, the new nighttime spectacular at EPCOT, to TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom. Stay tuned, but, as always, watch out for the rumor-mill: until Disney announces an opening, it is not official, and, as we have all learned going through this global pandemic, no schedules are guaranteed.
Disney MagicMobile Service Coming Soon
Starting later this year, guests’ personal smart devices will start to be able to do some of the technical things MagicBands are able to do through the new Disney MagicMobile service. Guests will create a Disney MagicMobile pass in the My Disney Experience app and then add it to their device’s digital wallet. Guests will be able to hold their smart device near an access point (like the touch points at the park entrance, and, assuming it’s coming back, FastPass+ attraction entrances) for features just like the MagicBands offer. The service will first be available on Apple devices including both the iPhone and Apple Watch.
As you may recall, last year Disney announced that hotel guests would no longer receive complimentary MagicBands for arrivals starting January 1, 2021. MagicBands remain available for purchase (and old ones continue to work for their original owners as long as the battery inside one holds up). Guests will be able to use both Disney MagicMobile Service and a MagicBand, and alternate between them. The digital room key feature will continue to be available within the My Disney Experience app, and hotel guests may still request a Key to the World card at the front desk of their hotel.
Views of Disney Springs as it Celebrates HER Story and Women’s History Month
During March, Disney Springs is honoring Women’s History Month by celebrating “HER Story” and some of the women that have contributed to the Walt Disney Company’s greatest works.
Inside Marketplace Co-Op, celebrating HER Story in honor of Women’s History Month, the WonderGround Gallery features displays saluting women that have contributed to the Walt Disney Company’s greatest works. (The exhibits change during the month.)
Disney Legend Mary Blair is celebrated in one of the current displays. Among her many contributions over nearly 30 years: the distinctive design of “it’s a small world” and the murals in the Grand Canyon Concourse in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Disney Legend Ruthie Tompson is celebrated in another of the current displays. Over nearly 40 years, she worked on virtually every Disney animated feature from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” through “The Rescuers.” Currently 110 years old, she retired in 1975.
Disney Legend Retta Scott is also honored in one of the current displays. She was Disney’s first woman animator, receiving her first screen credit on “Bambi.” She also worked on “Dumbo,” “Wind in the Willows,” “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” and even made an appearance in “The Reluctant Dragon.”
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Reminder: 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets Now Available
As the year began, Disney launched 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 not at all on March 26-April 11, or 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).
A 2-Day version is available to purchase and use only through March 11 for $149/tax (add $37.50/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 first bits of 50th Anniversary celebratory bling were added to Cinderella Castle last week. The “EARidescent embellishments” are being added on top of last year’s “Royal Makeover” that brought the castle to its current color palette that includes a pinkish shade of grey and deeper blues. The “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” will officially kickoff on October 1 and is scheduled to run for 18 months.
…And, speaking of that new color palette for Cinderella Castle, you may recall that the new color scheme is also being applied to the entry monuments on the roads leading into Walt Disney World Resort.
…For a more complete rundown of the highlights of Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Merchandise than I provided last week, Disney Parks Blog has you covered. See the highlights of the Orange Bird Collection, the Minnie Wildflowers Collection, the Spike The Bee Collection, and The Figment World of Nature Collection.
…Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts announced that it will hold a Spring version of its Food & Wine Classic. On Saturday, April 17, The Swan and Dolphin Spring Food & Wine Classic will be a one-night, limited-ticket event featuring unlimited food and beverage tastings and live music. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., and includes 12 food stations and more than 50 beverage selections, including themed stations: Beer Garden, Chinatown, and the luau-inspired The Pig & Poke, plus dessert from executive pastry chef and world pastry champion Laurent Branlard. Tickets are $125/person. Overnight packages starting at $400 include event access for two adults. More information and tickets are now on sale at FoodandWineClassic.com or call 1-888-828-8850. Health and safety protocols will be followed, including mandatory temperature checks, plexiglass walls for food service, touchless menus, mandatory face coverings (including those who have been vaccinated) except when eating or drinking while stationary, and more.
…Orlando Sentinel reports that Brightline train passenger service from Orlando International Airport to the recently announced Walt Disney World Disney Springs station is expected to start in five years. The privately-owned company is constructing high-speed rail connecting South Florida to Orlando and then on to Tampa. (Existing service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach has been suspended over the past year during the pandemic.) Currently, the company is finalizing plans to build its route from the airport to Disney, considering following portions of State Road 417 rather than State Road 528 because of approximately $1 billion in cost savings despite bypassing the International Drive/Orange County Convention Center area.
…Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. Raglan Road at Disney Springs is hosting its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration as “a festival like no other.” The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival – Unplugged! began March 12 and runs through tomorrow, March 17, 2021. Reservations are available at RaglanRoad.com or call (407)938-0300.
Think more acoustic than electric. More intimate than boisterous. The same great live entertainment, with all bands imported from Ireland. The same delicious Irish food and drink. It’s the most authentic Irish celebration in America, and it’s putting safety first for guests with a reservation-only event.
“Everyone can enjoy the usual lively happenings and practiced hospitality, which includes gift competitions and loads of giveaways,” says pub co-owner John Cooke. “And it remains the best Irish hospitality experience in America.”
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Raglan Road will open at 10 a.m. with a $10 cover charge for guests. Reservations are strongly recommended due to limited space. Guests can book a two-hour slot to join the Raglan Road Irish Pub festivities at Disney Springs, with numbers strictly managed to guarantee social distancing is respected. This year, gathering around bars or stages will not be permitted. The pub requests that guests respect their two-hour booking to ensure that as many of Raglan Road’s loyal fans have the chance to enjoy America’s finest St. Patrick’s festival.
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Raglan Road will charge a $10 cover charge, and guests are limited to a two-hour visit to celebrate The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival –Unplugged! Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Raglan Road guests can sip from a huge range of Irish whiskeys, local craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails while choosing from the chef’s selection of authentic Irish dishes, including fresh-caught fish with chips. Those authentic fish & chips also are available to go at the adjacent Cooke’s of Dublin counter.
The Mighty Festival – Unplugged! entertainment lineup will begin with the Raglan Road Irish Dancers, plucked from the casts and stages of the world’s greatest Irish dance shows. This troupe of extraordinary dancers will perform throughout the festival.
…Last Chance Reminder: the Passholder Extras page of DisneyWorld.com lists a few extra weekday-only perks for Passholders available now in DinoLand USA at Disney’s Animal Kingdom through March 19, 2021 (valid annual pass card and photo ID required):
- Passholders that purchase 3 game tickets at Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasurers for Fossil Fun Games will receive a complimentary retired, non-Disney plus consolation prize (operates one hour after park opening until 4 p.m.)
- Restaurantosaurus Lounge features 4 exclusive beverages available for purchase: Tyrannosaurus Wreck, Fossil Fuel, Pterodactyl Punch and Triceraberry Pop (open 10:30 a.m. until park close)
- Dino-Bite Snacks offers an exclusive Donald Duck cookie for purchase (10:30 a.m. until park close)
- The complimentary Donald Duck magnet, which started to be distributed back when last year’s EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival began but got cut short by more than a month when the parks temporarily closed in mid-March, is again available to Passholders from Park Open until 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.
…Disney Vacation Club Members should be on the lookout for the latest edition of Disney Files magazine and/or the “Member Insider” email. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club, there’s a new experience available for Members when visiting the parks, with places to take selfies with exclusive digital stickers and a commemorative button. (As usual for an in-park experience, guests must have their own Theme Park admission.)
Speaking of DVC, its newest resort property, Disney’s Riviera Resort, is now celebrated in a new LEGO brick sculpture at the Disney Vacation Club kiosk in the Disney Springs Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
…Reminder: Just beyond Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Portillo’s Orlando now plans to open its doors on March 23. Stay tuned for those Chicago-style Hot Dogs, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Chocolate cake and more.
…Final reminder: In downtown Orlando, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts “Frontyard Festival” will feature “The Music of Disney on Broadway” with Michael James Scott, Ashley Brown, Kissy Simmons and Josh Strickland, all of whom performed at past editions of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. Those concerts were not held this year as part of the “Taste of” Festival, but the performers will sing Disney favorites on March 20 at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on March 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets for these outdoor, physically distanced concerts, start at $25 at drphillipscenter.org.
…Finally, while we have no news about when the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser may first welcome guests to the immersive hotel/experience under construction adjacent to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, since it has been awhile since we shared what folks see when driving past the site…
It is interesting to note that the outside of the building that will welcome guests to the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience includes windows. The guest sleeping quarters themeselves all have views of space. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
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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, including the continuing 35% discount on Disney Hotels for travel through April 17, 2021, which may be the better option for some guests traveling this spring. 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.