My Take on What's Happening in Disney News and the Disney Community
I am a lifelong fan of everything Disney. My first trip to a a Disney park was to Disneyland as a child in 1970, but didn't make to Walt Disney World until I went with my wife and first child in 1990. A year doesn't go by with out at least one trip to either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. My wife and I are Disney Vacation Club members and also Charter Members of D23.
Starting next month, Walt Disney World guests will no longer be able to buy Genie+ ahead of their visits, the company announced today.
In the announcement, Disney stated that beginning June 8, the service will only be available for purchase for guests on the day of visit via the My Disney Experience app. It was previously offered for pre-purchase as a park ticket add-on.
Guests who have already made an advance purchase of Genie+ for 2022 dates will not be affected.
In the announcement made on the Disney Parks Blog the Disney said –
We’re focused on delivering the best possible guest experience, and this adjustment will help manage the incredibly strong demand our guests have shown for Disney Genie+.
Why is Disney doing this? Your guess is as good as anyone’s, because Disney has not officially stated why.
There is speculation though from Disney observers.
One possible reason could be that this update raises the possibility of Disney offering variable date-based pricing for Genie+ and giving them more flexibility in managing sales of the Genie+ service. Though from a practical standpoint, having advance sale does not preclude this, though by not having advanced sales, Disney does have more flexibility of when having to decide on any variable pricing.
It was noted that a notable change in language today indicates that Genie+ is “subject to availability.” Limiting sales of Genie+ would give Disney help with improving attraction availability for those guests who purchase Genie+.
Some Disney observers have heard that Disney has been exploring the possibility of offering discounted Genie+ to some categories of guests. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Members have been a couple of groups who have felt that they should have some level of Genie+ included with their pass, or at least offered at a discount.
In part of a press release today, Walt Disney World has provided a few more details on what we can expect from the Fantasmic! re-launch later this year.
In the press release –
The iconic “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will make its much-anticipated return later in 2022 with a new show sequence featuring Disney characters – Mulan, Elsa, Aladdin, Pocahontas and Moana – in heroic moments, as well as new technical enhancements. Guests won’t want to miss this spectacle set on a canvas of water where the forces of good and evil battle it out in Mickey’s dream. The extravagant, open-air nighttime musical boasts more than 50 live performers, massive sets, stunning effects, rousing music and dazzling pyrotechnics.
Work has been underway on refurbishing nearly all areas of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. This work includes new lighting system, new fountains, and a rebuild of Steamboat Mickey.
Disney has not offered an opening date other than saying that we will see Fantasmic! this summer. Some observers have suggested that this possibly means July 2022.
Walt Disney World confirmed today what the Genie queue options will be for EPCOT’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” rollercoaster that is opening on May 27th at Walt Disney World.
When “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” opens, a virtual queue will be in place. I think to most observers, this was expected. Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction’s virtual queue. What might not have been expected, though probably suspected by observers, Disney announced that a standby queue will not be available.
Each Guest will only be available to enter the virtual queue no more than once per day. Boarding groups for a virtual queue will be limited, subject to availability, and are not guaranteed. As with previous virtual queues, not all boarding groups may be called to return, based on availability of the experience.
Guests will be able to purchase Individual Lightning Lane entry for this attraction when it opens, although pricing is not yet available and Cosmic Rewind will not be included with the standard $15 Genie+ option.
Currently, the highest price Lightning Lane queue at Walt Disney World is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at $15, which would seem to be what we can probably expect Cosmic Rewind.
Based on experience with previous virtual queues, we can likely expect availability for Cosmic Rewind to reach capacity within seconds of opening each day, essentially making experiencing the ride somewhat of a lottery.
Beginning May 2023, families will be able to explore even more of the world when they travel with Adventures by Disney on two, brand-new itineraries to Sicily and the British Isles. Also in 2023, 11 Private Adventure vacations return, providing families and friends with the convenience of traveling with their preferred party of up to 12 guests to some of the world’s must-see destinations.
If you are a Disney Vacation member, save the date for May 12. As a special member of the Disney family, you can be among the first to book, one day before the general public.
Discovering the Old-World Charm of Sicily and Enchantment of the British Isles
The two distinct Land Adventures celebrate the storied legacy, diverse culture and world-renowned traditions of their respective regions with curated experiences sure to appeal to the history buff, foodie and adventure-seeker alike. Led by a team of specially trained Adventure Guides, these itineraries will be brought to life with immersive, authentic experiences marked by signature Disney service.
An Unforgettable Tour of Sicily – Ancient Sites, Local Charm and Natural Wonders
Offering a diverse lineup of activities with something for every member of the family, the Adventures by Disney Sicily Land Adventureinvites families to explore the ancient wonder, breathtaking landscapes and culinary delights characteristic of this captivating Mediterranean island.
With tailor-made experiences designed to connect families with the people and culture of the region — and stops at five out of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Sicily — the eight-day, seven-night itinerary takes guests on a grand tour through Palermo, Monreale, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Caltagirone, Siracusa, Mount Etna and Taormina.
Families traveling on the Sicily Land Adventure will discover:
The vibrant culture and history of the 2,000-year-old province of Palermo with a privately guided tour of the 12th-century Monreale Cathedral; a behind-the-scenes visit to the largest theater in Italy — the Teatro Massimo — and sampling of mouth-watering delicacies.
The old-world charm of a small Sicilian village, visiting artisan shops and sharing a traditional village-style lunch alongside locals.
Ancient Greek and Roman wonders, including visits to the famed Valley of Temples, Villa Romana del Casale, Neapolis Archaeological Park and Teatro Greco.
A hands-on ceramic painting activity in Caltagirone, learning about this time-honored Sicilian tradition and getting a chance to channel their inner artisan.
The art of puppetry at Teatro dei Pupi, with a private show, a backstage look at the master puppeteers at work and a rare workshop visit where guests will be able to customize their own puppet.
The grandeur of Mount Etna, taking in the impressive terrain surrounding Europe’s highest active volcano by off-road vehicle.
The beauty of Isola Bella, embarking on a privately charted boat ride through the Ionian Sea to swim and snorkel in the sparkling crystal waters and discover the blue cave of Taormina.
Adventures by Disney will offer 10 Sicily departures in 2023, three of which are reserved for adult guests. Adult-Exclusive departures feature a scenic sunset cruise around the Island of Ortigia.
The Best of the British Isles – Celebrating History, Folklore and Tradition
Combining all-time guest favorites from England, Ireland and Scotland adventures with brand-new experiences thoughtfully curated by the travel experts at Disney, the 10-day, nine-night British Isles Land Adventure offers a one-of-a-kind tour through Dublin, Belfast, Antrim Coast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London — and marks the first time Adventures by Disney takes guests to Northern Ireland.
Surrounded by history and tradition at every turn, guests will be immersed in the rich storytelling of the isles.
Ireland: During their two-day adventure in Dublin, guests explore the story of the Irish people through an interactive museum experience, observe the art of crafting Irish whiskey at a local distillery and enjoy traditional fare at one of the oldest family-owned pubs in Dublin.
Northern Ireland: Families try their hand at making traditional Irish soda bread, take a panoramic tour of the famed sites of Belfast, and enjoy a scenic drive along the Antrim Coast where they find mythical legends, picturesque seaside villages and the geological wonders known as the basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway.
Scotland: After crossing the North Channel via ferry, guests discover the important heritage of the bagpipes and try their chanter-playing skills in Glasgow. A royal welcome awaits in Edinburgh as families enjoy private access to the Royal Yacht Britannia; explore the historic Royal Mile; and visit the resplendent Edinburgh and Floors Castles.
England: After a scenic train ride through the English countryside, families arrive in London where they take part in one of Britain’s famous pastimes, afternoon tea. Later, they embark on a high-speed boat ride along the River Thames. On the final full day of the adventure, guests visit some of city’s must-see attractions, including a private viewing of the Royal Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and a tour of Westminster Abbey.
Adventures by Disney will offer nine British Isles departures in 2023, four of which are reserved for adult guests. Adult-Exclusive departures include a privately guided tour through the underground vaults of Old Town Edinburgh, exploring the underground labyrinth filled with spine-tingling tales and mystery.
Private Adventures Return – Even More Ways to Adventure Together
Offering yet another way to visit popular destinations with Adventures by Disney, Private Adventures return with 11 itineraries in 2023: Australia; Costa Rica; Egypt; England and France; Greece; Ireland; Italy; New Zealand; Peru; South Africa and Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Led by a Private Adventure Guide, these trips are designed for a smaller group of guests and offer flexible booking dates.
When traveling on a Private Adventure, guests experience:
A private group vacation alongside their select family and friends (up to 12 guests).
More time to discover destinations at their own pace.
Flexible booking dates giving them the choice of when they want to travel, pending seasonality and availability.
A dedicated Private Adventure Guide connecting them with the culture and bringing each destination to life through engaging storytelling.
Unique experiences designed for small groups, such as a guided tour of Te Puia geothermal park in New Zealand, a full-day sailing excursion along the outer reef in Australia or a privately guided tour of Robben Island in South Africa.
Fans of a galaxy far, far away will discover additional, new, limited-time experiences, character encounters, photo opportunities and more this May and June throughout Disneyland Resort. These experiences all add to the galactic adventures already found at both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Tomorrowland in Disneyland park year-round.
In Tomorrowland, Hyperspace Mountain is back for a limited time through July 4th. Guests can once again hurtle through hyperspace while dodging furious dogfights during this high-speed adventure.
Guests can also make the jump to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and hop aboard a Starspeeder 1000 for an unforgettable flight to legendary destinations across the Star Wars galaxy. It should be noted that Star Tours is celebrating 35 years of galactic adventures this year!
Over at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests can also live their own adventure as they join a climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and take control of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
Star Wars fans will be excited to know that Captain Phasma and a detachment of Stormtroopers have returned for a limited time to patrol Tomorrowland, seeking out Resistance sympathizers and reinforcing the will of the First Order. Plus, stay tuned for new visitors approaching on the horizon.
And a trip to planet Batuu would only be complete with a visit to see everyone’s favorite Wookiee, a selfie with R2-D2, and encounters with Kylo Ren and Rey.
For a limited time, Tomorrowland will be showcasing special photo spots celebrating the Disney+ original series’ set in the Star Wars galaxy. Guests will be able to take their picture sitting on a replica of the palace throne from “The Book of Boba Fett.” Nearby, recreate the moment in season two of “The Mandalorian,” when Grogu connected with the Force at the ancient Jedi temple on Tython.
Also, be on the lookout for Disney PhotoPass photographers offering limited-time Magic Shots featuring Stormtroopers and K-2SO in Tomorrowland. Another, featuring Grogu, is located on the outer edges of the galaxy, on your way to Batuu!
Disney Cruise Line will be offering families a variety of enchanting vacations in summer 2023, including cruises to new and favorite ports of call around the world. From the majestic glaciers of Alaska to the sun-kissed Greek isles, pink sand beaches of Bermuda and picturesque fjords of Norway, these summer destinations will sparkle with adventure and excitement. Plus, for the first time ever, families will have the opportunity to sail around the Mediterranean and British Isles on the Disney Dream during its first season in Europe.
“We are thrilled to have five ships at sea in summer 2023 with a wide array of destinations for families to enjoy,” said Sharon Siskie, senior vice president & general manager of Disney Cruise Line. “These Disney Cruise Line sailings will take families on summer adventures in ways that only Disney can do, delighting guests of all ages with dazzling entertainment, world-class dining, unique character encounters, the ease and indulgence of carefree days at sea and the uncompromising guest service that defines a Disney vacation.”
Bookings open to the public May 9, 2022. For more details, visit the Summer 2023 itineraries page of disneycruise.com.
For its first-ever summer season in Europe, the Disney Dream will call on a wide variety of destinations among the most treasured in the world. With sailings anywhere from four to 11 nights, the Disney Dream will sail from Barcelona and Rome to picturesque ports of call throughout the Mediterranean, including a first-ever seven-night sailing to the Greek Isles with stops in the ever-popular ports of Santorini and Mykonos.
Late summer/early fall departures of the Disney Dream from Southampton will feature cruises to a wealth of destinations including Spain, France, the British Isles, Norway and Iceland. New ports of call include the postcard-worthy La Rochelle, France and two new ports in Norway – Skjolden, home to a wealth of natural attractions, and Sandnes, a small city just outside the metropolis of Stavanger known for its outdoor activities.
The breathtaking natural beauty of Alaska will combine with the magic of Disney on five, seven and nine-night sailings on the Disney Wonder from Vancouver, Canada. Beginning in May, cruisers will be invited to discover exciting ports like Ketchikan and Skagway, with their prehistoric glaciers, gold mining relics and spectacular land- and sea-life. Three Alaskan itineraries call at Icy Strait Point, home to a coastal rainforest, wilderness tours and for thrill-seekers, ziplining above the treetops.
Sun-splashed tropical isles throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean will await guests on three Disney Cruise Line ships from Florida in summer 2023.
For its first full summer of sailing, the Disney Wish will homeport in Port Canaveral near Orlando for a series of three- and four-night Bahamas cruises to Nassau and Disney’s private island oasis, Castaway Cay. The Disney Wish will feature exciting new additions including Disney’s first “Frozen”-themed theatrical dining experience and AquaMouse, a wild water adventure and first-ever Disney attraction at sea.
Port Canaveral will also be the departure point for the Disney Fantasy for sailings ranging in length from five to 10 nights. In addition to seven-night cruises to popular ports in the eastern and western Caribbean, guests will also be able to experience a five-night Bahamian sailing with back-to-back calls at Castaway Cay, a 10-night southern Caribbean itinerary to the islands of Aruba and Bonaire and an eight-night cruise featuring two days on the beautiful pink sand beaches of Bermuda.
The Disney Magic will make its summer home in Miami for an assortment of exciting destinations. Starting May 27, the Disney Magic will sail four-night Bahamas cruises and five-night western Caribbean voyages, followed by two seven-night sailings in July to the eastern and western Caribbean. Select summer voyages aboard the Disney Magic will include double days – for double the fun – at Castaway Cay.
Halloween on the High Seas will be returning to Disney Cruise Line with more sailings than ever before and new one-of-a-kind experiences for families in September and October 2022. Guest-favorite entertainment and activities, including trick-or-treating, spooky parties, elaborate décor and themed food and beverage items, will await guests on these limited-time voyages as each ship transforms into a ghoulish wonderland.
Disney Cruise Line guests will be the first to experience an all-new character meet and greet opportunity across the fleet during Halloween on the High Seas sailings. While all of the Disney characters on board will adorn Halloween costumes as part of the festivities, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Clarabelle Cow will debut a never-before-seen look as they dress up as their favorite Halloween sisters, the Sandersons from the movie “Hocus Pocus.”
During its inaugural season of Halloween cruises this fall, the Disney Wish, the newest Disney Cruise Line ship, will introduce a unique twist on a Halloween on the High Seas hallmark.
The centerpiece of every ship during Halloween sailings is the signature magical Pumpkin Tree towering over the atrium lobby, each with sprouting Jack-O-Lanterns and flickering lights.
Aboard the Disney Wish, guests will witness the debut of an all-new Pumpkin Tree in the “Cinderella”-inspired Grand Hall. Featuring lighter bark, graceful branches and a mystical face, this enchanted tree that grew perfect gourds with the help of a Wishing Star at night produced the perfect pumpkin that became the coach that carried Cinderella to the Prince’s Ball.
Other special experiences on Halloween on the High Seas sailings include:
• Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party: Beloved Disney characters in Halloween attire will join guests for a fun-filled costume party.
• Halloween Isn’t Just For Kids: Adult-exclusive venues across the fleet will become a ghoulish setting for costume contests and a Villainous Takeover on the dance floor.
• Spooky Movies: To get guests into the spirit of the season, Halloween-themed movies will be shown on Funnel Vision by the family pool and in staterooms.
• Ghoulish Delights: Guests will enjoy special themed food and beverage items.
• More spooky fun includes mask-making and a ghostly takeover of ship announcements.
Halloween on the High Seas voyages will be offered aboard select sailings in September and October. Departing from ports in Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida, San Diego and New York City, each cruise will take families to fascinating destinations including the Bahamas, Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico. All sailings from Port Canaveral and Miami will include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise outfitted for family fun and relaxation and brimming with special Disney touches.
Recently Disneyland Resort announced another new look at the exciting shopping and dining coming to the west side of the Downtown Disney District. Disney recently began work on the latest transformation to introduce more innovative shopping, dining and entertainment experiences.
Drawing inspiration from Southern California mid-century modern architecture, the west-end area will become a beautiful blend of vibrant color palettes, design elements and patterns influenced by the region, and will include an open lawn for relaxation and future events, and an even broader and diverse collection of dining and shopping.
Disney will be diversifying their offerings to meet the needs of today’s guests.
The world-renowned restaurant Din Tai Fung will join the district to offer guests their soup dumplings hand crafted right on site. This family-run restaurant will bring flavorful Chinese cuisine to Downtown Disney, where guests can enjoy dishes served family style in a creative space near the new lawn pavilion.
Michelin-starred Chef Carlos Gaytan will bring his inclusive vision of Mexican cuisine to Paseo and Centrico in the locations currently occupied by Catal & Uva Bar, brought to life by Patina Restaurant Group. The restaurant and central courtyard bar and dining area will offer guests a multi-sensory journey to the heart of Chef Gaytan’s homeland.
Disney is also working with Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen to finalize an evolution that incorporates vibrant California energy and a fresh approach to the menu, while staying true to the heart of New Orleans for this guest-favorite location.
Even more exciting news, the fan favorite Earl of Sandwich will also pop into the district in a special sandwich walk-up location, offering guests the classics they know and love for a limited time beginning later this year.
Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland park is undergoing a reimagining of its own, and will debut with new experiences and more play for guests, with a focus on families and young children, in early 2023.
On Wednesday, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock met with community leaders about upcoming plans for magical new experiences coming to the Disneyland Resort.
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is getting an all-new theme, new shopping and dining is coming to Downtown Disney District, Mickey’s Toontown has extra kid-friendly fun in store, and more!
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel will soon begin a transformation to an all-new theme. The re-theming of the hotel will weave the artistry of Pixar into its comfortable, contemporary setting. Through carefully curated artwork and décor, guests will gain a new perspective on some of their favorite Pixar worlds and characters.
In the announcement Disney stated –
Guests will be welcomed into whimsical character moments, like the iconic, playful Pixar Lamp balancing atop its ball in the lobby.
Beginning later this summer, guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort’s hotels will be able to enjoy several new and returning uniquely Disney benefits.
A walkway is currently under construction which will soon give Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel guests a convenient entrance to Disney California Adventure park.
Guests will also look forward to “Hey Disney!” a new kind of voice assistant which works alongside Alexa on Amazon Echo devices in Disneyland Resort hotel rooms that can make stays more convenient, engaging, and enjoyable.
Something that I’m excited to see is that later this summer, guests of the Disneyland Resort hotels can look forward to the ability to send select theme park purchases back to their resort hotel.
Something else that is great to see is that Disneyland Resort is getting ready to offer early entry access return. As you may recall, this where guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels can be among the first to enter and begin enjoying select theme park attractions and experiences beginning later this summer.
Walt Disney World has just announced that it has dropped all requirements for guests to wear masks when on its transportation systems. This effectively makes Walt Disney World mask-free for the first time since summer of 2020.
The new Walt Disney World mask-free policy goes into effect immediately. Even with this change in policy, Disney continues to recommend guests who are not fully vaccinated continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters and on enclosed transportation.
Masks have been a requirement at Walt Disney World in some form or another since the parks reopened from the COVID-19 shutdown in mid-July 2020. This change in policy is another move towards normality for Walt Disney World guests
The parks have gone through various stages of masks requirements, including at all locations, indoors only, to most recently only required on enclosed transportation.
I checked Disneyland Resort’s website prior to publishing this article and their website does not indicate any change in their masking policy as of this time.