Tickets for 2022 D23 Expo to Go On Sale in January

D23 announced today that tickets will go on sale on January 20, 2022 for the 2022 D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

In September 2020 D23 announced that the delayed 2021 D23 Expo will be held September 9 – 11, 2022 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

According to the announcement, D23 Expo 2022 will be a celebration unlike any other, and will give fans a first look at plans for the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company.

Terri Schultz, Disney Vacation Club VP Promoted. Bill Diercksen Promoted as Replacement

In an email sent out to Disney Vacation Club members it was announced that Bill Diercksen, a longtime leader with Disney, has been promoted to head up Disney Vacation Club as its new senior vice president and general manager.

Terri Schultz has been promoted to senior vice president of Commercial Strategy for all of our Disney Signature Experiences businesses, including Disney Vacation Club.

Diercksen is a 20-year Cast Member, he most recently served as vice president of finance for our Disney Signature Experiences portfolio of vacation experiences after working for several years as a director at Disney Vacation Club.

Thomas Mazloum, President, Disney Signature Experiences added –

Bill is very passionate about DVC and is absolutely dedicated to delivering the most magical Member and Guest experiences while bringing new perspectives and creativity to our organization. I know that he will continue to chart a course for success at DVC and build on the many strides that Terri and the team accomplished over the past few years.

Walt Disney World to Resume Annual Pass Sales September 8th

Walt Disney World has announced today that it will resume sales of Annual Passes on September 8th.

With this announcement Walt Disney World will be introducing four new Annual Passes, which Disney says will be “offering the flexibility and choice to meet guest needs, each designed based on Passholder feedback.”

Here are some highlights of the new Walt Disney World Annual Passes:

  • Hold More Park Reservations: Depending on their pass type, Passholders may now hold up to five Disney Park Pass reservations at a time. “bonus reservations” will also be added to the calendar from time to time, so Passholders can make an additional park reservation without it counting against their applicable reservation hold limit. Plus, when Passholders stay at Disney Resort hotels or other select hotels, they will also be eligible to make theme park reservations for each day of their stay – in addition to the reservations you can hold based on your pass type.
  • Customize Your Pass: Choose different add-on options based on your preferences – from the Water Park and Sports option to Disney PhotoPass downloads. These add-on options will be available for purchase with any of our four new passes.
  • Access a New Integrated Calendar: Planning will be easier with enhancements to the reservation system, including a new integrated calendar that lets Passholders quickly see blockout dates for each pass type, view available days and make, modify or cancel a reservation all in one place.
  • Enjoy Passholder Perks: Passes will continue to offer benefits including the Park Hopper option, standard theme park parking and discounts on merchandise and dining. And, there will be a few special surprises throughout the 50th anniversary celebration.

It is important to note as Walt Disney World continues to manage attendance, at any time, Annual Passes may be unavailable for purchase. Annual Passholders will also still be required to make park reservations for each day of their visit.

Here’s a visual comparison of the Annual Pass options:

Below are the respective blackout dates –


In an effort to make the reservation program more seamless, on September 8th, Walt Disney World Resort will introduce an enhanced theme park reservation calendar that shows booked reservations, park availability and blockout dates. All current reservations will be maintained with the ability to make and modify additional new reservations as part of the update.

All passes will include theme park parking, but none include any PhotoPass services.

“Water Park and Sports” and Disney PhotoPass Downloads add-ons will cost $99 each.

If you currently are a WDW Annual Passholder, you may continue to use your Annual Pass as you do currently, when it is time for you to renew, you will be able to renew into one of the new passes (at a discounted renewal rate). The amount of the renewal discount or any DVC discount has not been specifically addressed.

Disney also mentioned that beginning September 8th, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus Annual Passholders will also be able to hold more reservations at a time.

Disney also added –

With the Annual Passholder program’s new look and feel, we wanted to honor our past while looking forward to the future. Using a piece of the original Walt Disney World Resort logo as a foundation for bright colors and energetic design, the program’s new look puts Passholders right in the middle of the magic.

Coming soon, current, active Annual Passholders will be among the first to receive the brand-new Passholder magnet featuring our new look. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for being a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. (Two magnets per household. Not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged magnets).

 

Disney Cruise Line Drops Nassau as Port of Call

Disney Cruise Line is dropping Nassau, Bahamas as a port of call on all cruise itineraries in September and October 2021.

The change is likely due to the fact that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently issued a Level 4 travel warning for American travelers visiting the Bahamas.

This announcement comes spite of the fact that Disney Cruise Line is now requiring all passengers over 12 years of age to have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

With this change, the itineraries that involved a port of call at Nassau will now have a day at sea or an additional stop at Castaway Cay.

Here is the updated itineraries –

On the 3-night sailings Nassau will be replaced by a sea day, and the 4-night will add a second stop at Castaway Cay. Emails are being sent to guests booked on the following sail dates to inform guests of the itinerary modification.

Disney Dream 3-night Sailings with an Itinerary Change
Friday September 10, 2021  3-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Friday September 17, 2021 3-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Friday September 24, 2021  3-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Friday October 1, 2021 3-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Friday October 8, 2021  3-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral

Disney Dream 4-night Sailings with an Itinerary Change
Monday September 13, 2021  4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Monday September 20, 2021  4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral 
Monday September 27, 2021  4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral
Monday October 4, 2021  4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral

‘The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World’ to Air on ABC October 1st

Earlier today Disney announced that “The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World” television special will air on ABC October 1st, and later on Disney+.

The special will be hosted by Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg.  The show will take us on a journey spanning half a century and beyond at Walt Disney World in Florida. The show will also feature visuals and musical performances from Christina Aguilera and Halle Bailey in front of the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park. Throughout the special, we will see exclusive interviews with iconic actors, actresses and athletes, Walt Disney World cast members, Disney Imagineers and executives past and present who have all played their unique part in sprinkling pixie dust over “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”

This event will take viewers through Walt Disney World’s beginnings in the swamplands of Florida tot its evolution into a cultural phenomenon. Through an expansive look into the past, present and future of the vacation destination, footage never before seen on television will give fans a glimpse into the journey to bring Walt’s vision to life and a look at plans for the future. The special will also spotlight some of Walt Disney World’s most memorable pop-culture moments, from the many sitcoms that filmed episodes in the theme parks to the conception of the ubiquitous “I’m going to Disney World!” campaign. Plus, viewers will get a heartwarming look at how Disney and Make-A-Wish foundation have worked together for over 40 years to make kids’ Disney dreams come true.

Celebrities including Anthony Anderson, John Stamos, Marsai Martin, Gary Sinise, Melissa Joan Hart and Candace Cameron Bure; NFL athletes Tom Brady, Phil Simms and Doug Williams, and creative forces Kevin Feige, Pete Docter and James Cameron; Walt Disney World Imagineers including Bob Weis, Mark Kohl and Ann Morrow Johnson; and Disney executives past and present including Bob Chapek, Bob Iger and Michael Eisner, will all share their favorite memories of Walt Disney World.

“The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World” airs Friday, Oct. 1 8-10 PM ET on ABC. It can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu, and later in the month on Disney+.

Disney Announces Disney Genie Service for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort

Ever since Disney’s Genie project was announced at the 2019 D23 Expo, Disney fans have anticipated and speculated about what it would be.  Yesterday Disney finally took the wraps off and revealed how it plans to reshape the Walt Disney World theme park experience.

Disney announced that Disney Genie will be part of the My Disney Experience app and will arrive at Walt Disney World and Disneyland in this fall.

Disney Genie will include a personalized itinerary feature that will quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day. From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more,  just tell Disney Genie what you want to do and it will do the planning for you.

Here are some key features –

  • Get Itinerary Updates from Morning to Night: Disney Genie will continue to update your itinerary throughout your day, so you can be more spontaneous and go with the flow.
  • Find Your Favorites at a Glance: Create your very own personal tip board to instantly see your favorites. It will display current AND forecasted future wait times, helping you predict when you might experience quicker entry to attractions.
  • Enjoy More Flexibility and Fun: Disney Genie brings existing planning features together in one place. Join a virtual queue at certain attractions, make dining and experience reservations, mobile order food at many locations, get help from a virtual assistant and more.

There will be two other options for enjoying the theme parks, through a queue that Disney is calling Lightning Lane (formerly the FastPass queue) that is designed to save guests time in line.

Genie+ will be available at Walt Disney World for $15 per person per day ($20 per day for Disneyland Resort), and will include access to the Lightning Lane (previously the FastPass line), for one attraction at a time, with a designated arrival time. In addition, top tier attractions not included in Genie+ will be available for individual purchase at a price not yet announced. Speculation is that Disney could be charging between $4 and $24 per person, per ride, depending on the category of attraction.

Guests can make one selection at a time, throughout the day, from classics like Haunted Mansion to thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and newer favorites like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (attractions subject to limited availability). If you have visited Disneyland Resort in recent years, this option is the next evolution of the fan-favorite Disney MaxPass service. Disney Genie+ will also include Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photo features to capture your memories, augmented reality lenses for those visiting Walt Disney World Resort and unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day if you are visiting Disneyland Resort.

Most attractions that were previously part of FastPass+ will be included in the flat-rate Genie+, but top-tier attractions and new attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will require an individual purchase for Lighting Lane access.

Our friends at WDWMagic were nice enough to put together a list of FAQ’s regarding Disney Genie, here are some of the key questions –

1. What is Disney Genie?

Disney Genie is a new digital service that is part of the My Disney Experience app available at no additional cost. The service is designed to plan your day at the Walt Disney World theme parks, including a personalized itinerary that maps out the entire day based on your preferences. Disney Genie will display current AND forecasted future wait times.

2. What is Disney Genie+?

Disney Genie+ is an option within the Disney Genie service that makes the former FastPass line available at select attractions, now called Lightning Lane. At Walt Disney World, the introductory pricing is $15 per ticket per day. Certain headline attractions are not part of Genie+, and Lightning Lane access at those attractions will require an Individual Attraction purchase.

3. What are Individual Attraction Purchases?

Attractions not included as part of Genie+, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, will require an individual attraction purchase for access into the Lightning Lane. Pricing for this option will vary by date, attraction and park and is still to be announced. We have heard reliable speculation that puts pricing between $4 and $24 depending on date, attraction and demand.

4. If I don’t want to buy Genie+ or individual attraction purchases, can I still ride?

All attractions will still have a standby queue or a virtual queue. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will feature a virtual queue and Lightning Lane access only.

5. When does Disney Genie and Genie+ launch at Walt Disney World?

Disney Genie+ will launch in fall 2021; no specific date is available.

6. What is the difference between Genie and Genie+?

Disney Genie is the planning service that creates itineraries and is free for all visitors. Genie+ is a paid option to provide Lighting Lane access to certain attractions.

7. What is a Lightning Lane?

The Lighting Lane is the new name for the FastPass queue, and can be accessed via Genie+ at participating attractions, or via an Individual Attraction purchase at a limited number of high-demand attractions.

8. How much does Disney Genie cost?

The basic Disney Genie service is free to all guests visiting Walt Disney World.

9. Is Disney Genie a new app?

Disney Genie will be accessed via My Disney Experience, the existing Walt Disney World app available for iOS and Android.

10. When can I add Genie+ to my ticket?

Once launched in the fall, you will be able to purchase Genie+ for $15 ahead of your visit as an add-on or purchase on the day of your visit.

11. What attractions are available for Lighting Lane access via Genie+?

Disney has not yet provided a complete listing. However, from material released so far, the following will have Lighting Lane access as part of Genie+:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • it’s a small world
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
12. How many Disney Genie+ selections can I make?

You can make one selection at a time throughout the day. Once you use one, you can make another.

13. How many Individual Attraction purchases can I make?

You can schedule a time to arrive at up to two highly demanded attractions each day using the Lightning Lane entrance.

14. What attractions will not be part of Genie+ and require an Individual Attraction purchase?

Disney has confirmed that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will not be part of Genie+ and will require an Individual Attraction purchase for Lightning Lane access.

Although not yet confirmed, it is expected that the full line-up of Individual Attraction purchases to be Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Test Track, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Flight of Passage and Kilimanjaro Safaris.

15. Do I have to buy Genie+ before I can make an Individual Attraction Purchase?

No. Individual Attraction purchases can be made via Disney Genie without needing the Genie+ add-on.

16. When can I purchase Individual Attractions for Lightning Lane access?

Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests can purchase up to 2 individual attraction selections for Lighting Lane access at 7am on the day of visit. Non-resort hotel guests can make a purchase when the park opens.

17. When can I make Genie+ selections?

At Walt Disney World, all guests can make the first Genie+ selection at 7am on the day of the visit via My Disney Experience.

18. Will Genie+ and Individual Attraction purchases be available during Extended Evening Hours and Early Entry for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests?

No, only standby lines will be in use during these times.

19. Do I have to purchase Genie+ for the entire length of my trip?

If purchased as part of a vacation package ahead of your visit, Genie+ is purchased for the entire length of the stay at $15 per ticket per day.
If not purchased ahead of time, Genie+ can be added on a day-by-day basis.

20. Can I pay to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure?

Yes. There are two options to access these attractions. You can join the virtual queue, which has no cost, beginning at 7am, or purchase a Lighting Lane entrance if available at the time.

21. How does Genie+ and individual attraction purchases work for Annual Passholders?

Genie+ can be purchased by Walt Disney World Annual Passholders on the day of the visit for $15 per day. No discounts are available.

Annual Passholder Previews for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to take place in September

Walt Disney World has opened registration for Annual Passholder previews of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure that will take place throughout September at EPCOT.

The dates listed for the Annual Passholder preview include September 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 27, 28. It is important to note that Disney Park Pass reservations are not required for the previews.

Annual Passholders should have gotten an email with a link for the registration. If not, here is a link to the Walt Disney World event page at https://event-registration.disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyworld

Walt Disney World Adds Dates for ‘Disney After Hours Boo Bash’

Walt Disney World announced today that due to popular demand during the early-purchase period for guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Disney will be adding five new dates for the event: 
 
Sunday, September 5
Sunday, September 12
Sunday, September 19
Sunday, October 10
Sunday, October 17
 
These dates will be available when tickets go on sale June 15th.

Walt Disney World to Eliminate Mask Policy in Theme Parks June 15th

Beginning June 15th, Walt Disney World will no longer require masks to be worn at the its hotels and theme parks for guests who are fully vaccinated.

Face masks will still be required for all guests on Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner.

Also, Walt Disney World has stated that it will continue to reduce physical distancing in queues, shops, restaurants, attraction boarding areas, transportation and theaters.

It is important to note that the new policy does specify that guests who are fully vaccinated may go mask-free.  This does mean that Disney will be relying on the honor system as there is no way for Disney to verify the vaccination status of its guests or employees.

Here  is the Walt Disney World policy in full –

FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings will be optional for fully vaccinated Guests in most areas. Face coverings will still be required of all Guests on Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner. While we will not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation. Guests must observe current policies on face coverings until June 15.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

We will be relaxing physical distancing guidelines for Guests. This will be visible in places like queues, shops, restaurants, attraction boarding, transportation and our theaters. It’s important to remember that some experiences and entertainment may still be operating with limited capacity or may remain temporarily unavailable. We’re not quite ready to bring back everything yet, but we are optimistic and look forward to the day when Disney pals and princesses are able to hug once again.

 

Disney Cruise Line Announces Test Cruises

According to sources, Disney Cruise Line has received approval to start test cruises at the end of June.

In the article, Thomas Mazloum who is President of Disney Signature Experiences shared an update with the news that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the line permission to do test cruises.

The announcement of test cruises means that Disney Cruise Line does not want to attempt to comply with the mandate of having at least 95% vaccinated passengers and 98% vaccinated crew members in order to bypass test cruises.

With the amount of children onboard this means too many guests would be unvaccinated, and as a result, test cruises are required.

Disney said that the test cruises will begin on June 29th from Port Canaveral and include only volunteers acting as passengers. The cruise will run through July 1st.

Here is what was shared by Thomas Mazloum:

I have some great news to share, team.

We received word that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved our application to conduct a simulation cruise in advance of resuming normal operations.

This is a critically important milestone for Disney Cruise Line – and I want to thank everyone who has been supporting our return-to-service plans with such dedication and hard work.

We now have the green light to conduct our two-night simulation cruise aboard the Disney Dream from June 29 to July 1, sailing from Port Canaveral. The ship will sail with volunteer passengers and test our newly developed health and safety protocols, which have been meticulously tailored to the current public health environment. All of these protocols are essential to cruising responsibly, and Disney Cruise Line couldn’t be more committed to making vacation dreams come true as it prioritizes the wellbeing of all who step aboard our ships.

Today, as we move closer to restarting our U.S. cruises, I want to spotlight the tremendous resilience and positivity of the team. Your collaboration and continued enthusiasm throughout the pandemic have been nothing short of amazing, as we’ve researched, drafted, revised and refined our comprehensive roadmap for cruising again. It has been no small feat – and I’m extremely proud of everyone.

We will continue to evaluate our health and safety protocols, working closely with the CDC, and make adjustments as we work toward a full resumption of cruising. In the meantime, we can all take pride in the approval of our application with the CDC – a milestone that reflects the incredible talents of our entire team.

The ship that will be conducting the test cruise will be the Disney Dream.

At this time, Disney is the second known cruise line to get approval to start test cruises, following Royal Caribbean’s announcement last week.

It is important to note that volunteers must be at least 18 years old.  If they are not vaccinated, the CDC says they must have written documentation from a health care provider or must self certify that they aren’t at a heightened risk for COVID-19.