Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 4-10, 2021 by Alan S. Dalinka

Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 4-10, 2021

 Writer’s Note, News & Views (Combined)

Now, more than ever, it is important to pay attention to official statements from Disney about the requirements for visiting Walt Disney World Resort and, in particular its theme parks, water park, and Disney Springs. Last week, the CDC issued new health and safety guidelines for folks that have have received the COVID-19 vaccine (and achieved its full effect two weeks after full dosage). Yesterday, Florida’s Governor rescinded state-wide virus-related emergency orders with (as of publication) unclear impact on the public.

But, as I cautioned last week, be aware that Walt Disney World is private property and has not yet announced any policy changes. In my experienced opinion, Disney likely will be slower to change, and when the Resort does announce changes, the changes likely will have effective dates in the future (to allow time for Cast Members to be informed and/or trained on new policies). As was true last week, and, as of publication, until further official notice, Disney’s enhanced health and safety protocols remain in place: park attendance remains limited by caps below maximum park capacity; temperature checks are mandatory when entering the parks, Disney Springs, and certain other locations; guests on Disney property, and, particularly in the parks, resort hotels, and at Disney Springs, must properly wear face coverings except when stationary while eating, drinking or posing for an outdoor photograph.

Disney Park Pass reservations are still required for visiting the theme parks, and they can be scarce. Last night when I took a look, they seemed a bit less scarce for Passholders than they had been during the heart of what I call “Spring Break Season,” but even for Day Ticket holders and Resort Guests, park admission is not guaranteed, especially if you are considering a visit without much advance planning. Spots do open back up as cancellations occur. Park Hopping is still an option for those with that benefit, but remember that it begins at 2 p.m. daily (subject to change based on capacity).

As I have been saying, it looks to be a busy Summer at Walt Disney World Resort, and stay tuned for official announcements regarding changes to park capacity limits: we, at MousePlanet, will only pass along that news from official channels. There are hints that Disney is expecting even more guests at the Resort, as we turn to our first official piece of news…

The Disney College Program Restarts in June at Walt Disney World Resort

The Disney College Program will return to Walt Disney World Resort in June. The Program which provides college students (and those that have graduated within 24 months of applying to the Program) with work experience and on-the-job training in positions around Walt Disney World Resort, was one of the early casualties of the pandemic when it was suspended indefinitely last spring and its participants sent home.

Participants whose participation in the Program was suspended in 2020 or ended early because of the pandemic should have received exclusive communication by email yesterday about rejoining the Program starting in June or July. Disney will be opening more hotels this summer, and expects that sports and convention groups will be returning along with additional “guest-favorite offerings.”

As with the rest of the Resort, the resumption of the Program includes new enhanced safety measures, including measures that promote physical distancing, required face coverings in common areas, and a new contactless, curbside move-in experience for those living in the program’s new housing complex at Flamingo Crossings Village. Fully vaccinated participants will have the opportunity to live with other fully vaccinated participants. At this time, however, neither the Disney International Program nor the Disney Culinary Program have announced resumption dates.

Views of Magic Kingdom

I made my first visit to Magic Kingdom in several weeks on Wednesday. Yes, the park felt crowded, and I made my Disney Park Pass Reservation to visit weeks in advance. I also took the opportunity to renew my Annual Pass at City Hall, as my 60-day renewal window recently opened; that renewal allowed me to make a Park Pass Reservation for EPCOT on October 1, 2021, should park reservations remain necessary that far out.

Cinderella Castle decorations for the 50th Anniversary “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” are quite evident now. (Panoramic photo.)

Each side of the castle has new decorations.

Look closely at the sold “golden” circles on the center decoration here to see the “50” marking.

The crane was still parked on-site, and blocks the walkway to the Tomorrowland/Fantasyland West side of the castle.

The moat has again been drained and construction equipment is visible.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

As noted last week, the PeopleMover has reopened, and it again provides views of the on-going construction at the future TRON LightCycle Run attraction. Hyperlapse Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

At the edge of Storybook Circus next to the Fantasyland Railroad station, you can get another view of the exterior construction at the TRON attraction. Also note here that the railroad tracks have not yet been reinstalled for Walt Disney World Railroad. (Panoramic photo.)

The Main Street U.S.A. Railroad Station is now covered in a construction scrim (in the distance). In this character cavalcade, Moana waved from atop the float.

As noted earlier this Spring, the Main Street Confectionary and The Chapeau (next door) have closed for a major refurbishment. Some of the items usually found in Confectionary are now available down the block at Main Street Cinema.

We have been writing quite a bit lately about changes coming to The Jungle Cruise. It remains quite busy most days; the posted wait was 45 minutes Wednesday afternoon and, because of physical distancing in the queue, stroller parking is now located here near the attraction’s sign.

An assortment of Jungle Cruise themed merchandise is available in Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar (yes, I had to look that up: it’s the merchandise location at the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean).

The extended, physically distanced queue for The Haunted Mansion includes the old Mike Fink Keelboats dock which provides a unique view of “Liberty Belle” on Rivers of America as it passes Big Thunder Mountain.

Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.

It’s just a “short” ride aboard a Ferryboat from Magic Kingdom back to the Ticket & Transportation Center. Timelapse Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Reminder: 2021 Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets Remain 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…

…Walt Disney World Resort opens its applications to eligible and interested Cast Members for the 2022-23 Walt Disney World Ambassadors program this Friday, May 7. The Ambassadors serve as the representatives and of the Resort at numerous functions during their term, and the next team will represent the Resort during its 50th Anniversary festivities, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” which kicks off on October 1. The current team of Marilyn and Stephen were selected to serve during 2019-20, and had their service extended through 2021 due to the Resort’s closure during the pandemic.

…As mentioned earlier this Spring, Walt Disney World Resort is mailing current Passholders Orange Bird themed Annual Passholder magnets, maximum of two per household.

Disney Parks Blog shared its “Best Bites” selections focusing on Walt Disney World Resort’s May the 4th offerings (which, naturally, honor Star Wars). Quite a few of the highlighted foods are available only through tomorrow, May the 5th, but some are available indefinitely. The post also notes that Gelateria Toscana a new walk-up window offering gelati, sorbetti, gelati floats and more is opening at Italy pavilion at EPCOT this month.

…May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Walt Disney World Resort is celebrating the cultures, experiences, and contributions of its cast and communities in a number aways around the resort throughout May and beyond. At Magic Kingdom, Moana and Mulan now appear in character cavalcades and on the upper level of Main Street Railroad station (and the will continue to appear beyond May). At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Mira, the royal detective from India has joined the Disney Junior Motorcade (through June). At Disney’s Animal Kingdom starting mid-May, there will be a Moana-themed Sand Sculpture on Discovery Island and The Animation Experience at Conservation Station will include Tuk Tuk from Raya and the Last Dragon and Pua from Moana. Mulan is once again visiting EPCOT as part of the Princess Processionals along World Showcase Promenade. Disney Parks Blog highlights more art and cultural activities, merchandise, and food and beverage offerings available around the Resort.

…Ahead of Pride Month 2021, Disney has launched the new Rainbow Disney Collection of apparel, accessories, pins, plush and more. The Walt Disney Company is also donating funds to organizations that support LGBTQ+ communities. Some products are now available on shopDisney.com and in Disney stores in North America and Japan, as well as at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Later this month, it will also launch in Disney stores in Europe and on shopDisney.co.uk. This is the first time the Pride collection has extended beyond Disney themed items to its other brands, including Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel themed items. See some of the merchandise and read more on Disney Parks Blog.

…Disney Cruise Line held its grand reveal of the Disney Wish last Thursday, April 29th. In the 30-minute virtual presentation entitled “Once Upon a Disney Wish,” members of the ship’s creative team and Walt Disney Imagineers highlighted many of the first-of-their-kind features being created for the fifth ship in the DCL fleet. For example, Disney Wish will feature the first-ever adults-only Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge, a Marvel cinematic dining experience, a “Frozen” themed interactive dining experience, and the first ever “attraction at sea” named the AquaMouse. The ship’s inaugural sailing to Nassau and Castaway Cay is scheduled for June 9, 2022, with genreal public bookings opening May 27, 2021 (and Castaway Club members getting earlier privileges based on the number of their prior DCL sailings, with those having 25 or more sailings getting to book as early as May 17, 2021). Disney Vacation Members can book an exclusive 3-Night Bahamian cruise aboard Disney Wish sailing from Port Canaveral on June 14, 2022, starting May 17, 2021 at 8 a.m. Eastern (though it is not designated as a “Member Cruise,” it will include a day at sea and a day at Castaway Cay with no other port calls before returning to Port Canaveral); point charts for the cruise to be released May 13; cash pricing will be released May 17.

…Along with the grand reveal, Disney also announced a $1 million donation to Make-A-Wish.

…REMINDER: May 15 is World Whiskey Day and, to celebrate, from May 12-15, our friends at Raglan Road at Disney Springs will feature a $25 special flight ($45 value) of small-batch, premium, limited-release whiskeys from Ireland, Japan, Scotland, and the United States. We have been invited to a preview on May 12, and we’ll share more details that day on social media. Of course, Raglan Road always features a long list of whiskeys on its menu as the Irish claim to have invented it.

Raglan Road will offer a special $25 Whiskey Day flight from May 12-15. Photo courtesy Raglan Road.

…With Mother’s Day coming up, Patina Restaurant Group would like to remind you that reservations are available. Here’s what they’ve asked us to share:

Pamper the leading lady in your life this Mother’s Day with an elegant night out on the town at Disney Springs during a chef-inspired dinner she’ll be talking about for years to come. Available May 7-9 at Enzo’s Hideaway, Maria & Enzo’s, and The Edison, celebrate your family’s matriarch with an indulgent menu of signature dishes paired with a bottle of Cakebread Cellars’ finest Cabernet or Chardonnay for a special price. To elevate the evening’s festivities further, guests are invited to raise a glass to the woman of the hour with a limited time featured cocktail, a classic French 75 for a bit of bubbly to commemorate the occasion. Over at Morimoto Asia, specialty Passionfruit Mimosas topped with orchid flowers will be flowing all weekend long for mom to enjoy. With an inviting ambiance and unparalleled hospitality only matched by the world-class cuisine, the dining experiences at Enzo’s Hideaway, Maria & Enzo’s, The Edison, and Morimoto Asia are truly fit for a queen. Claim your status as mom’s favorite by booking your reservation today.

…Not far from Disney Springs, the Lake Buena Visa Area just welcomed what is billed as the World’s Largest Freestanding White Castle restaurant. Friend and frequent guest of MousePlanet LIVE!, Shelley from OnTheGoInMCO was there and gave us permission to share the Instagram highlights of her visit. It is located in the same development with the Portillo’s restaurant we have been writing about for the past several months, but, as of publication, we do not have an update on when it will open for business.

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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 through 7/10/2021. 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, 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 help you book Disney's latest promotional offers

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.

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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.

Be sure to check out Get Away Today’s Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.