More Live Entertainment and Disney Character Experiences Returning to Walt Disney World Resort

In a post on the official Disney parks blog today, Disney announced that modified character meet and greets will be returning to Walt Disney World as soon as this November.

In the announcement Disney said –

Although the environment is not right just yet for hugs and autographs, you’ll soon be able to have individualized time with some of your favorite characters, getting to visit with them in a themed location and snap a photo or two.

Since re-opening from the COVID-19 shutdown last year, character appearances have been limited to distanced outdoor locations.

Some of Disney’s atmosphere entertainment resumed earlier this month on October 1 with the start of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration. Early birds at Magic Kingdom Park are now starting their day with “Let the Magic Begin” on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. We have also seen the return of the ragtime piano player at Casey’s Corner on Main Street, U.S.A.

Over at EPCOT, World Showcase guests have welcomed back the Canadian rhythms of Alberta Bound, laughing at the antics of Sergio in Italy, and experiencing the majestic percussion of the Taiko drummers of Matsuriza in Japan.

Next week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests visiting Asia can once again enjoy the music of Chakranadi, and Kora Tinga Tinga returns to the streets of Harambe in Africa.  We can also look forward to the Tam Tam Drummers returning to Africa in early November.

Entertainment will also be returning for guests strolling along the waterfront at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.

The inimitable Yeehaw Bob will have his audience in stitches of fun starting October 14th in the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.

Over the past year since the parks re-opened, Disney Characters have been popping up in cavalcades, motorcades, flotillas, and surprise sighting. These will be continuing.

In the announcement Disney added –

Although the environment is not right just yet for hugs and autographs, you’ll soon be able to have individualized time with some of your favorite characters, getting to visit with them in a themed location and snap a photo or two.

The Disney Princesses will be returning to Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom Park. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will soon find Minnie Mouse at Red Carpet Dreams and the stars of Disney Junior in Animation Courtyard. When guests stop in to see Mickey Mouse backstage at Town Square Theater on Main Street, U.S.A., he’ll be sporting his all-new EARidescent look designed just for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration! Each of these locations is planned to start welcoming guests in November.

November 7th will mark the return of “Disney Movie Magic,” the cinematic nighttime experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrating Disney’s live-action film legacy, and when this projection show resumes, it will feature a new sequence from Disney’s “Mulan.”

Finally, on December 19th, we will see the return of “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.”

 

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to Go to Standby Queue

Walt Disney World announced today that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will pause its virtual queue and use a traditional standby line for the first time in its history.

The switch from virtual queue to standby will go into effect on September 23rd.

In the Disney Parks Blog Disney commented –

We know our guests love choice and flexibility when planning their time in a theme park—which is why, starting Sept. 23, we will pause the use of virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may experience this incredible attraction using a traditional standby queue for the first time since it opened in 2019.

Virtual queues continue to be helpful with attraction access, merchandise launches, grand openings and more, and guests should continue to check the My Disney Experience app for the latest on how we’re using virtual queues across Walt Disney World Resort including its potential use at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at a later date, or from time to time.

There is speculation that this pause of the virtual queue has to do with the launch of Disney Genie.  Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be one of the attractions that makes use of Lighting Lane, with paid access to enter the line. It may be happening to prepare for the new system, or to give guests a chance to experience the attraction prior to the upcoming changes.

Walt Disney Confirms Early Entry Attraction Line-Up

It was previously announced that Walt Disney World will begin a new early theme park entry benefit for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests of other select hotels each day at each park beginning this fall on October 1st.  Earlier today Disney announced the line-up of attractions that will be operating during the early entry.

Here is the complete list of what will be operating during Early Theme Park Entry for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests –

Magic Kingdom
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Epcot
  • Beauty and The Beast Sing-Along
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • TriceraTop Spin

Here is the complete list of participating hotels –

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
  • Shades of Green® on Walt Disney World® Resort
  • Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando
  • B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
  • Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
  • Holiday Inn Orlando
  • Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Minnie’s Halloween Dine Returns to Hollywood and Vine

Minnie’s Halloween Dine has returned to Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of the restaurant’s seasonal dining program.

Minnie and her friends will be dressed in Halloween costumes from August 10th through November 3rd. The restaurant is still offering the popular modified character dining experience, with characters not stopping at tables and remaining at a distance.

Characters appearing are subject to change, but in the past it’s been Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald.

Currently the dining experience is priced at $55 per adult, $36 ages 3-9 (plus tax and gratuity), and includes a family-style salad, followed by a choice of entree and dessert.

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 MagicMobile Launches on Apple Devices for All Guests

Today Walt Disney World announced on the Disney Parks Blog that beginning today, all guests with Apple devices will be able to enjoy  the new convenient and contactless option for entering the theme parks and more, as part of the rollout of Disney MagicMobile service!

The new service is now available on the iPhone and Apple Watch and coming soon to other smart devices.  Disney MagicMobile service will be an easy-to-use new way for guests to experience Walt Disney World.

It is important to note that the new service will not be replacing the MagicBand, but will offered in addition to other options such as the MagicBand.

Disney put out a few helpful tips to get started with Disney MagicMobile service:

  • Create A Customized Digital Pass: Guests can create a Disney MagicMobile pass through the My Disney Experience app and add it to the Wallet app on iPhone or the digital wallet on other smart devices. You can customize your pass by choosing from several Disney-themed designs that animate upon use (including special designs just for Annual Passholders and DVC Members)! For added ease, you may also store multiple passes on a single device, a great option for families.
  • Easily Enter the Parks and More: Simply hold your iPhone, Apple Watch, or other smart device near an access point when entering the parks or using other available features, just like you do with a MagicBand. With Express Mode on iPhone and Apple Watch, guests do not even need to wake or unlock their Apple device, or open up the app, to use their Disney MagicMobile pass. As a reminder, valid park admission and a park reservation are required for park entry and must be linked to your account.
  • Discover Other App Enhancements: We’ve also added a new feature in the My Disney Experience app that allows you to automatically link your Disney PhotoPass attraction photos and videos to your profile through your smartphone. Just confirm your settings in advance of riding at participating attractions. The My Disney Experience app also enables Disney Resort hotel guests to unlock their room door using our current digital room key feature.

Guests may use Disney MagicMobile service, a MagicBand or a card interchangeably.

MagicMobile is not currently available at the parking lot entry booths, but it is anticipated that it is going to happen in the near future.

Play ‘n’ Dine Character Breakfast to Return to Hollywood and Vine

Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be resuming its Play ‘n’ Dine Character Breakfast on March 22nd.

The breakfast will feature favorite Disney Junior characters in what is becoming the norm with the return of character dining, the characters will be available for distanced waves and photographs.

The breakfast will feature a new á la cart menu –

  • All-you-care-to-enjoy pancakes made with our signature house-made batter.
  • French toast stuffed with chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  • Toasted open-faced salmon bagel.
  • Four-egg scramble.
  • Four-egg cheese omelet.
  • Plant-based egg frittata.

Reservations will be available beginning on February 26th.

Walt Disney World to Replace Extra Magic Hours with Early Theme Park Entry

Walt Disney World announced today that they will be discontinuing Extra Magic Hours.  Disney will replace EMH with Early Theme Park Entry.

Early Theme Park Entry will debut later in 2021. The new early entry program will give Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests 30 minutes early access to any theme park, every day. Disney has stated that the change will allow a better spread of visitation across all four theme parks and will give guests better flexibility.

When it was running prior to its suspension following the COVID-19 shutdown, Extra Magic Hours offered 3 hours of extended operating hours in the evening, and an hour in the morning. However, the option was restricted to a specific theme park on a specific day.

Walt Disney World Adds Three Quick Service Eating Options at Magic Kingdom, Adjusts Operating Hours of Three Eating Options at DHS

Walt Disney World has opened two more quick service options at the Magic Kingdom as the park continues it’s phased re-opening from the COVID-19 shutdown.

In Fantasyland the Friar’s Nook has re-opened along with the Advetnureland Spring Roll Cart.  Both re-opened yesterday.

In Tomorrowland, The Lunching Pad will also re-open on October 9th.

Meanwhile at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney announced new operating hours at three restaurants.  These new hours will go into effect on October 4th.

Disney will be changing the closing time for Backlot Express from 4 PM to 5 PM.

PizzeRizzo will reduce hours to 11 AM – 5 PM from the previous 11:30 AM – 6:30 PM.

Ronto Roasters will get it hours reduced to 9:30 AM – 3 PM (currently 9:30 AM – 8 PM). Ronto Wraps will still be available at Docking Bay 7 after Ronto Roasters closes each day.

Walt Disney World Shortening Theme Park Operating Hours Starting September 8th

Today Walt Disney World announced that they will be shortening the operating hours of all of their theme parks beginning September 8th. Here are the updated hours:

Magic Kingdom – 9 AM to 6 PM (previously closed at 7 PM)

EPCOT – 11 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 9 PM)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 8 PM)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9 AM to 5 PM (previously opened at 8 AM and closed at 6 PM)*

This announcement comes after Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted that there was less demand at Walt Disney World for vacations than expected, during a third quarter earnings report.

* – This is a correction. It was earlier reported as open at 8 AM