Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 23 – 29, 2021
Writer’s Note, News & Views (Combined)
Spring Break “Season” continues in Florida. While the public schools in my neighborhood next door to Walt Disney World Resort had their spring break last week, plenty of others are having their breaks this week and beyond. Park operating hours extend later into the evenings than they had in previous months too (Magic Kingdom is open until 9 p.m. and EPCOT until 11 p.m., for example).
As I said last week, there is more traffic and Disney Park Pass Reservations remain scarce for the balance of March. Having said that, though, there is good news here: there have not been reports in Central Florida from Disney or any of the other attractions around town of the sort of disorderly spring break crowds that news reports have shared from many beaches around the state or Miami. To almost all of those traveling this way, thanks for behaving!
Disney Park Pass availability remains rather scarce as the end of March approaches. Annual Pass blockouts for the Gold and Silver passes in the last week of the month probably has left some additional availability for Platinium passholders. Screenshots from DisneyWorld.com.
As I wrote last week, our unofficial but very flexible Spring Break “Season” usually runs more or less from Presidents Day in February through Easter (which is April 4, this year). But, on the heels of that, schools will start ending their year in some places as May gets underway. The question remains: when will things open up further on the capacity side? With Europe facing new lockdowns over the coming days and through Easter weekend, it is hard to say. It’s all but certain that Disney will take a slower approach to broadening its phased opening than the Stae of Florida itself. In my view, the more folks heed the cautions of health experts in the near-term, the sooner good trends can result in better conditions for everyone. In other words, in public places, please continue to properly wearing face coverings; Disney is going to continue enforcement until it perceives its safe to do otherwise. Enhanced health and safety protocols remain in place at The Most Magical Place on Earth.
As always, 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. 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.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates Earth Day April 18-24
Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates its 23rd anniversary on Earth Day, April 20. While all of April is considered Earth Month, and, indeed, much of the park is focused on wildlife, conservation, and other Earthly concerns, from April 18 to 24, the park will offer some special character experiences, learning opportunities, a new Wilderness Explorer activity, specialty food and beverage options, and more.
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station during April will teach drawing Dumbo, Terk, Squirt, Shere Khan, Simba and Scar to celebrate their real-life counterparts and conservation efforts.
- Discovery River Character Cruises (the socially distanced character viewing opportunities at this park) will include “special characters” joining other Disney favorite pals.
- Wilderness Explorer will offer self-guided, nature-themed challenges offering a limited-time Earth Day Nature badge.
- Disney PhotoPass Service will offer special in-park Earth Day backgrounds, Magic Shots, and an all-new photo opportunity. Earth Day screen savers and Zoom backgrounds will also be available for download in the My Disney Experience PhotoPass gallery.
- Earth Day food and beverage limited-time specialty offerings like cupcakes and cocktails will be available for purchase.
- An Earth Day 2021 limited-edition Te Fiti Moana trading pin is something guests can “hunt” for (but no explanation of what that hunt means has been released as of yet). There will also be “cuddly plush inspired by species that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home” that support Disney Conservation Fund and other merchandise.
Starting on April 2, a new sand sculpture will be created in the park from 40 tons of sand to celebrate National Geographic’s “Secrets of the Whales,” an original series streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. The sculpture will be located on the Discovery Island Stage through April 30.
More Jungle Cruise Enhancement Story Details Released
Earlier this year, Disney announced that the Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom would be updated with some revised scenes and a more cohesive story. This week, Disney Parks Blog provided a little bit more detail about the attraction’s new backstory promising that skippers will “continue to share the unique adventure and interactions guests expect” and that the “[u]nexpected scenarios along the way will give the jungle and animals the last laugh!” For the previously released details, see the Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 26-February 1, 2021.
In further detailing the new backstory, Disney Parks Blog published the (imagineered) 1938 issue of The Daily Gnus with an interview given by Alberta Falls, the owner, manager, bookkeeper, and head mechanic of the Jungle Navigation Company, operator of the World-Famous Jungle Cruise. You can read the entire “interview” here on Disney Parks Blog. Walt Disney World Resort guests that have dined at the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Navigation Co. LTD. Skipper Canteen, have had an opportunity to learn about here from the menus and decor of that table service restaurant for several years.
Indeed, this additional story layer fits in with the bigger picture that I wrote about way back in 2016 following D23 Destination D: Amazing Adventures here. At the 2016 Destination D, then Disney Parks Chairman (now Disney C.E.O.) Bob Chapek told the audience that the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (“S.E.A.”) would play an increasingly large role in the parks. The S.E.A. story ties together the stories of Pleasure Island’s old Adventurers Club, the Jungle Cruise and Skippers Canteen, the Tower of Terror in Tokyo Disneyland, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, the Oceaneer Clubs on Disney Cruise Line ships, Aunty’s Beachhouse at Aulani, and more. As the overall story goes, Alberta Falls is the granddaughter of Dr. Albert Falls, one of the founders of S.E.A.
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 long-awaited Orange Bird Passholder-Exclusive Magnet will be mailed to active Passholders in early summer as the celebration of the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival continues into the season. Passholders need to confirm or update the address for each adult Passholder by March 31 (but there is a limit of 2 magnets per household). To check or update your address on file, log in to your My Disney Experience account and go to your account Profile page, and then click on Contact Information (repeat for each adult Passholder).
…Foodies got two guides this week from Disney Parks Blog. First, the new Disney’s Hollywood Studios Edition, includes both the latest foods offered in the park and news of the return of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge spork at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo: it can even be purchased by mobile order with the My Disney Experience app while placing your meal order, is limited to one per person, and comes with a travel pouch. Second, the Foodie Guide to Easter at Disney Parks covers the treats available at Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, the Disneyland Resort, plus Tokyo Disneyland Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (with most available, for just a limited time).
…Reminder: The last day to book Disney Springs Area Hotels’ special rates for stays through June 18, 2021, is this Sunday, March 28. The six Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels are offering special rates starting at $76/night (plus resort fees, taxes, gratuities, and parking, if applicable). Visit DisneySpringsHotels.com/magic21 for information and reservations.
…Disney Cruise Lines announced its Summer 2022 itineraries, including Caribbean and Bahamian cruises (including Summer Sailings from Miami), plus a return to Alaska and European ports in the Greek Isles, Italy, Norway and the British Isles. Bookings open to the public this Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 8 a.m. Eastern. Visit DisneyCruiseLine.com for more information. Call DCL at 1-866-784-1592 or your Travel Agent (like our travel partner at Get Away Today) to book.
…Specialty retailer BoxLunch is launching a new fashion collection dedicated to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. That collection will be supplemented with a limited series of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway pins featuring Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck and Pluto, exclusive to BoxLunch. shopDisney.com will launch additional pins from the collection on April 5 featuring Minnie Mouse, Pete, and Donald Duck. Read more details on Disney Parks Blog.
…Unfortunately, the Portillo’s Lake Buena Vista location has had to postpone its planned March 23 Grand Opening. Its representative provided us with a statement that says, “As the first building to open on a brand-new development, there are a few more items on our to-do list before we can welcome everyone to our beautiful restaurant.” So, stay tuned for those Chicago-style Hot Dogs, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Chocolate cake and more.
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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.