Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 24-31, 2022 by Alan S. Dalinka

Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 24-31, 2022

You can view a larger version of each of the photos included in the Update by clicking on the photo. Each photo will open in a separate tab without a caption.

 Writer’s Note, News & Views

Memorial Day Weekend is just ahead, the start of the Summer Season at Walt Disney World Resort, and, indeed, this Friday, May 27, will mark the official opening of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction at EPCOT.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind previews underway
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens on May 27, 2022. Previews have been underway all month for those that registered or were invited. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Last Tuesday, after we published our weekly Update, Disney Parks Blog shared the details of the attraction’s opening day operation that are probably of most interest to guests: how to get an opportunity to ride Disney’s newest coaster which is EPCOT’s first. Like the last couple of new attractions to open at Walt Disney World Resort—Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance—Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will launch with a virtual queue.

The virtual queue will open daily at 7 a.m. Guests must have both a valid ticket or pass in their My Disney Experience account and a Disney Park Pass Reservation for EPCOT to attempt to get a “boarding group” in the virtual queues section of the app. The 7 a.m. attempt to get a boarding group can be done from the app anywhere you have internet access. Based on prior experience with virtual queues, you’ll want to make sure beforehand that everyone you want to ride with is linked together as “friends” that plan together in the app. You’ll also want to keep an eye on a “World Clock” that includes a second hand or display, as the virtual queue system typically opens right at the stroke of the hour and can become filled within a second or two.

For those not fortunate enough to join the virtual queue at its 7 a.m. opening, another opportunity will open at 1 p.m. daily. For this opportunity, Disney says that guests must be inside EPCOT. At minimum, you will want to be sure that everyone you want to include in your riding party has at least come through the park’s touchpoints (either at the main gate or International Gateway) by 1 p.m. Again, you need to be keeping an eye on the time of day down to the second, as this queue opportunity also can fill in a second or two. Whether all of those in your party need to be physically in the park at the 1 p.m. window’s opening is questionable, but they definitely need to have activated their tickets by visiting the park by then (if some of your party have gone back outside the park gates is probably not a problem). Disney has not said that location services must be enabled to use the app for the 1 p.m. opening, but the park could make this a requirement and use a technological geofence to check if the person making the virtual queue request is actually in EPCOT, so if trying to get in this virtual queue opportunity is important to your party, be sure to check your settings!

Guests with Park Hopper tickets with park reservations for one of the other three parks will not have an opportunity to enter either the 7 a.m. or 1 p.m. virtual queues. However, for those that are staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort or Deluxe Villa Resort (or certain designated other hotels), on nights that EPCOT has extended evening theme park hours, there will be an additional opportunity to join the virtual queue at 6 p.m. For this opportunity, guests do not need to be in EPCOT to make the attempt, but guests need to either have a park reservation for EPCOT for that day or a Park Hopper ticket (including annual pass) that has been used on that date to enter any of the four theme parks with a reservation. The schedule of extended night hours at EPCOT (and Magic Kingdom) is posted on this page of DisneyWorld.com—be sure to check it often, as Disney has said it could change without notice!

Need a refresher on how Walt Disney World runs its virtual queues? If you successfully get an assigned “boarding group” or a “backup boarding group” during one of the openings of the virtual queue, you will see an estimated return time in the My Disney Experience app. No matter your group’s “status,” you are not guaranteed a ride. When your group number is called, you will get notified in the app if you have notifications turned on (otherwise, you can check manually or look at the digital displays listing attraction information around the park). When called, you have a specified amount of time to head over to the attraction to enter its queue (in the past, the return window has been an hour). Your boarding group being called is not like the old FastPass+ (or the new Lightning Lane): you actually enter the standby queue. Since the number of guests assigned to each boarding group are limited, however, the amount of time you will spend in the physical queue after your group has been called will tend to be shorter than a traditional standby. Of course, when Disney uses this method of controlling attraction access, there is no traditional standby queue.

Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue Screenshot
Access the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue from the My Disney Experience app on a supported mobile device. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka.

The one new wrinkle to be aware of for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is that it will also offer the opportunity to purchase individual Lightning Lane entry in the My Disney Experience app (with or without the purchase of Disney Genie+). Like the virtual queue, guests must have both a ticket or pass and a Disney Park Pass Reservation for EPCOT for the day they want to ride. The actual price per guest will be set by Disney daily and shown in the app. Disney Resort Hotel guests, guests of Shades of Green, and guests of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort can make their attempt to purchase individual Lightning Lane access at 7 a.m. If there is still availability, all other guests can attempt to purchase access when the park opens. (Guests are limited to two individual Lightning Lane purchases per day, one attraction at a time and only for specified attractions in each park. When a new attraction opens, if you do not prioritize it when your purchase window opens, you are unlikely to get it.)

To summarize: there will be no standby queue when Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens, and the attraction will not be available as a Genie+ Lightning Lane attraction option. To ride, you either must successfully join a virtual queue and get assigned a boarding group that gets called during the day, or you must successfully purchase Lightning Lane individual access. When Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance last used the virtual queue system, if a guest’s boarding group was called when the guest was dining at a Disney table service restaurant, showing the dining receipt at the queue entrance would forgive a late return to the attraction. It is likely that EPCOT will follow this procedure, but be sure to ask at Guest Relations or any of the blue umbrella Guest Experience stations around the park if there is a possibility of overlap. It does not seem likely that Disney wants guests willing to spend on a table restaurant to face the choice of a missed ride or a missed dining reservation.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT will become a Genie+ selection instead of an individual Lightning Lane option on May 31, 2022. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Frozen Ever After, Space Mountain and Expedition Everest–Legend of the Forbidden Mountain are also available as Disney Genie+ selections rather than individual Lightning Lane entry selections until August 7, 2022.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, our next Walt Disney World Resort Update will be next Wednesday, June 1. Oh, and yes, June kicks off the tropical storm season, and, as of this posting, the first disorganized distrubance of the season is being tracked in the Gulf of Mexico and is not considered a threat to Central Florida, home of Walt Disney World Resort.

June 8 Brings changes to Disney Genie+ and 2023 Resort Bookings Open

As this Update has often suggested in the past, if you are planning on visiting Walt Disney World Resort, it is important to stay up to date on the latest changes to the way the parks and resorts work. Last week, Disney Parks Blog shared some critical information for those planning to visit in 2023. Bookings for theme park tickets, Disney Resort hotel stays and packages for 2023 become available on June 8, 2022. Below, you find links to MousePlanet’s sponsor, Get Away Today, for the latest in the hotel stays and packages it can assist with for the balance of this year and next.

Before we get to 2023, though, June 8 will also mark an important change to the Disney Genie+ service. Going forward, it will only be offered for purchase through the My Disney Experience app on the day of a park visit. It will no longer be offered as a pre-arrival ticket add-on for the rest of 2022 or 2023, and it will now only be available for purchase one day at a time, subject to availably. Disney says that this change “will help manage the incredibly strong demand our guests have shown for Disney Genie+. To a more experienced park guest since the launch of Genie+, it appears that Disney is trying to cut back on potential dissatisfaction from those that purchase Genie+ only to find that they can’t get attraction times for preferred rides. Disney says that it expects, “that, on average, guests who purchase Disney Genie+ service will continue to enter 2-3 attractions or experiences each day using the Lightning Lane entrance when the first selection is made early in the day.”

Those that have already purchased tickets including Disney Genie+ service as an add-on for the balance of 2022 can still use the service during their park visit. Disney specifically says that the change is being implemented in Florida only, and will not affect guests at Disneyland Resort.

2022 Eat to the Beat Concert Series Line-up Preview: Series Runs July 14 to November 19

The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival concludes July 4th. Just 10 days later, the park starts the 2022 edition of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, which runs July 14 through 19. In addition to more than 25 Global Marketplaces around the park (also known as food and beverage kiosks), the Festival will return to a rather full slate of Eat to the Beat Concert Series performances on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Disney Parks Blog shared the first batch of announced performers:

  • July 14-15 – Baha Men
  • July 16-18 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • July 29-30 – Taylor Dayne
  • July 31-Aug. 1 – Tiffany
  • Aug. 5-8 – Joey Fatone & Friends
  • Aug. 12-13 – The Devon Allman Project
  • Aug. 14-15 – Christopher Cross
  • Aug. 19-20 – Journey former Lead Vocalist Steve Augeri
  • Aug. 21-22 – Air Supply
  • Sept. 2-3 – Southern Avenue
  • Sept. 4-5 – Kris Allen & David Cook
  • Sept. 9-10 – Hoobastank (NEW)
  • Sept. 16-17 – Los Amigos Invisibles (NEW)
  • Sept. 23-24 – BBMak
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Stokley (NEW)
  • Oct. 2-3 – Sheila E.
  • Oct. 7-8 – Mark Wills
  • Oct. 9-10 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 23-24 – Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 28-31 – Hanson
  • Nov. 4-7 – Boyz II Men

Starting today, guests can obtain guaranteed concert seating for shows on Fridays through Mondays by reserving an Eat to the Beat Dining Package at Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, Garden Grill Restaurant, or Le Cellier Steakhouse. Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue and Spice Road Table will also both offer same-day dining packages with guaranteed seating. Details, pricing (which is in addition to a valid park ticket and park reservation), and updates to the list of the performers are available on this page of DisneyWorld.com. Guests without guaranteed seating have an opportunity to obtain seating by a separate standby queue, included with EPCOT admission.

Views of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I spent a few hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this past Thursday for the first time in a long time unconnected to an invited media event. The interesting thing of note in this park at this stage of its phased reopening is the number of merchandise and food/beverage locations that remain closed or only operate limited hours. Most of its character encounters remained distanced as well. Before the global pandemic, it was not unusual for a few locations in each park to only be open seasonally, but this number of locations closed on a weekday in May seems unusual. It likely is a sign that there are still a significant number of front-line cast member positions to be filled.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

This & That & Reminders…

…The Harmony Barber Shop at Magic Kingdom will reopen July 31, 2022. A limited number of reservations for this experience will be available in the My Disney Experience app beginning June 28, 2022. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will also open later this year, but no date has been announced.

…Walt Disney Presents at Disney’s Hollywood Studios now offers an early look at scenes from Disney-Pixar’s next film, Lightyear. The new sci-fi action animated feature opening in theaters on June 17, 2022, features Chris Evans voicing Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy featured in the Toy Story films. Disney Parks Blog describes the new film as “the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear.”

Disney Parks Blog announced that starting this Thursday, May 26, California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort will expand its offerings of plant-based dishes. New offerings include the Florida Peach and Raspberry Salad, Vegetable Dumplings, House-made Bucatini Cacio e Pepe, and Peas and Carrots Risotto. New desserts include Peanut and Banana Torte, a new version of the Banana Fritters offering last featured at the restaurant in 2013, and Lavender Sugar Donuts (a special 50th Anniversary item).

…Pandora-The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is now five years old. Avatar: The Way of Water, the much-delayed sequel to the 2009 film Avatar upon which the themed area is based, is due to be released by Disney’s 20th Century Studios to theaters in time for Christmas this year. In the meantime, shopDisney.com (and the park) has new merchandise inspired by the land.


 

…Last week, we shared Disney’s video of the first full-speed launch test at TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom. (When we know a date the attraction is set to debut, we will share it.) This week, MousePlanet’s Gregg Jacobs took a ride on the PeopleMover and got us some new views.


Though ride testing is underway, construction continues on the new attraction located next to the Tomorrowland Speedway.

The covers over the outdoor portion of the attraction appear to be largely complete.

A good deal of heavy construction equipment is still on-site.

The PeopleMover provides good views of the construction progress just before it enters Space Mountain..

Photos by Gregg Jacobs.

…REMINDER: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom tickets are now on sale for select dates in August through October 31. Tickets are also on sale for Disney H2O Glow After Hours at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon for select nights from May 28 to August 27.

…REMINDER: Earlier this spring, Disney announced that Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue would reopen at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort on June 23, after having been closed since the onset of the global pandemic back in March 2020. If you are interested in experiencing this dinner theater offering that has run since the early years of Walt Disney World Resort, get ready to make reservations—they are scheduled to open on May 26. Disney has not posted pricing for the all-you-care-to-enjoy meal and show. Currently, guests can make dining reservations at other operating venues up to 60 days in advance, and that will likely be the reservation window here too, but be sure to keep an eye on the My Disney Experience app or DisneyWorld.com for the latest details.

…An all-female traditional Irish band, Cailíní Lua, debuts a fresh new sound at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs, tomorrow, May 25 through the summer. The multi-instrumentalist band members–Laura Donoghue, Sarah Fox, Tara Brady and Katie Donoghue—sing and play trad music and folk songs, and even kick up their heels with some Irish dance. There’s no cover charge for Raglan Road guests to enjoy live entertainment daily. Guests can order from a wide range of Irish whiskeys, Guinness and local craft beers, Irish coffees, 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 Cookes of Dublin eatery.

Cailini Luna

All-female traditional Irish band, Cailíní Lua, debuts at Raglan Road at Disney Springs, May 25 through the summer. Photo courtesy Raglan Road.

…Over on the I-4/International Drive corridor in Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort is adding a new “larger-than-life outdoor art display” to the Hollywood Plaza garage. The new digital art display will initially feature Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and other of the Fab 50 golden sculptures celebrating the Resort’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Other Disney characters, celebrations and more will be featured over time. The building, opening May 31, will also include a new Walt Disney World Store with merchandise, ticket sales, and the first-ever interactive Disney Vacation Club Virtual Discovery Station.

Art on I-Drive
New digital art and a Walt Disney World store are coming to I-Drive on May 31. Concept Art Courtesy Disney Parks.

The Usual Writer’s Note

Face coverings are now optional across all of Walt Disney World Resort. Remember to check this page of DisneyWorld.com for the latest requirements, as they can change at any time. Disney asks unvaccinated guests to wear masks at indoor locations and on enclosed transportation, but guests are on their honor. The health and safety protocols in the State of Florida remain unchanged. There is no statewide vaccine mandate, COVID-19 testing, face covering requirements or business capacity restrictions. The State blocked enforcement of municipal and county-imposed restrictions. Private property owners, like Walt Disney World Resort, set requirements for visiting their property that you must be aware of if you decide to visit, but they are not permitted to require proof of negative COVID-19 test or vaccine status. Walt Disney World Resort encourages eligible guests to get vaccinated.

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 the United States government loosened international travel restrictions for entering the U.S.A. at the end of 2021, 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).

As for visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Park Pass reservations are required for admission 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, and Disney reserves the right to do so at all the parks.

Sales of new Walt Disney World Annual Passes continue to be paused in all categories except the Florida Resident Pixie Dust Pass. Disney reserved the right to pause those sales when it reintroduced its new Annual Passes. Current Passholders may continue to purchase renewals in all tiers regardless of the pause in new sales. We have not heard any suggestion, as yet, that new pass sales will resume.

If we did not have enough pandemic news to share, local news now reports two confirmed cases of the rare Monkeypox virus in South Florida. The cases are believed related to international travel.

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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.

This page of DisneyWorld.com features all the offers the Resort has publicly announced.

Everyone can save up to $500 on a 5-night stay at select Disney Resort Hotels in Spring and through July 7, 2022.

Florida Residents can save 40% on a 4-Day Ticket and 30% on 3-Day Tickets compared to the non-Florida Resident price of a 3-Day or 4-Day Ticket. One-day, one-park tickets start at $109, depending on the date and the theme park. Florida Residents can save on 1-Day Tickets with Park Hopper Option, which offers 1-Day admission to multiple theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for details and purchase options (plus an opportunity to provide digital proof of Florida residency). Remember, park admission requires both a ticket and a reservation; tickets expire, so be sure to do your homework before purchasing.

Annual Passholders can save up to 25% and Florida Residents can save up to 20% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights through July 7, 2022.

Disney+ subscribers that link their Disney+ account to their My Disney Experience account can also save up to 25% on select Disney Resort hotels for select night stays July 8 to September 30, 2022.

Our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages. When you book a Walt Disney World Resort Package with Get Away Today with a minimum 3-night stay at a Disney Resort Hotel plus tickets, you receive its complimentary concierge service which includes:

  • Free Price Monitoring – if a special comes out after you book, we’ll automatically apply it!
  • Dining Reservation Assistance – we wake up early and snag those hard to get dining reservations so you don’t have to.
  • The GAT expert team is available to you! Contact them any time for extra assistance with your vacation planning; transportation, theme park recommendations, etc.

You can get a free Walt Disney World Resort vacation quote by calling 855-GET-AWAY (and tell them MousePlanet sent you) or, you can find sample prices and submit a free quote request here.

NEW Walt Disney World Resort 2023 packages go on sale on June 8. Check out Get Away Today’s instagram post for details.

 

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.

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By Harriet