The past week was one of the busiest Disney news weeks we’ve seen since D23 in August. While the theme of the week was special events with the release of party dates and the announcement of several new special events (and the accidental leaking of another), there were a number of other stories including the confirmation that a new land is coming to one of the Disney World parks. That and more details below.
1 – Disney Releases Dates for 2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
We’re on record as saying we think the Halloween party is the best special event Disney does. We know a lot of you agree and that you’ve been getting antsy about 2016 dates because we’ve been getting numerous messages asking when dates would be released. Great news, dates were officially release this week. Tickets aren’t on sale yet and prices haven’t been released, but as soon as they are we’ll be sending an alert to our newsletter list so you can be first in line (sign up below if you haven’t already).
2 – Disney Releases Dates for 2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
The very next question we received after posting the Halloween party dates was, “when will dates come out for the Christmas party.” More good news. While not officially announced yet by Disney, reader Eric Reiner from Green Bay, Wisconsin (thanks Eric, go Packers!) noticed that the page was up on Disney’s website with 2016 date and more information on this year’s party. Again, we expect tickets for both parties to go on sale in late spring. We’ll let you know as soon as we know via the newsletter.
3 – New Breakfast Offering Coming with a First of It’s Kind Twist
This is the story that looks like it was accidentally leaked early. While there is no official Disney announcement, a number of people spotted a new breakfast option on the MyDisney site, and then quickly removed, that has the fan communities buzzing. We expect Disney to be announcing a new breakfast buffet coming to Magic Kingdom that will include early access to Fantasyland where guests will not only include a full breakfast at their leisure including famed Mickey waffles, but will also get to ride Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh rides as many times as they’d like before the park opens to other guests.
4 – Disney Announces New “Disney After Hours” Party at Magic Kingdom
Okay, so this one has us scratching our heads. As you know, we are huge Disney fans and love just about everything they come up with. However, this one we just don’t get. Starting in April, Magic Kingdom will be open for 3 extra hours (this is separate from Extra Magic hours for Disney hotel guests) for the Disney After Hours party. Theoretically, this will be a limited attendance event where guests can enjoy shorter lines for a not so low extra fee. It’s sort of like the Halloween or Christmas parties but without the decorations, dressed up characters, special parades and fireworks, additional entertainment options, etc. But there is free ice cream.
5 – Another New Land Coming to Hollywood Studios
We speculated a few months ago when Pizza Planet closed for an unusually long refurbishment that Pizza Planet was closing permanently and would reopen with a new name and theme. Further rumor and speculation revolved around the idea that the Muppets would be seeing a larger role in the rapidly changing reimagined park. Well, it’s true. Along with a new name for the park, the new Star Wars Land (Have you heard about this? It’s been sort of under the radar) and a new Toy Story Land, Hollywood Studios will be getting a new and expanded Muppets Land. The area will be renamed next week to Muppets Courtyard and will include, of course, Muppet Vision 3D, a Muppet themed restaurant in the place of Pizza Planet and also the old Streets of America. That’s where things get interesting.
This is complete speculation and absolutely nothing is official, but the fact that Disney is including the Streets of America area in Muppets Courtyard on the news lands, along with Disney’s renewed investment in the Muppets brand, certainly indicates it is reasonable to expect further attraction announcements.
6 – FastPasses for Magic Kingdom Fireworks Removed
Disney quietly removed the FastPass option for the special fireworks viewing areas starting April 21. Guests will no longer be able to use a FastPass for reserved view areas located in and around the Magic Kingdom Hub in front of Cinderella’s castle. The move is somewhat strange as the special viewing areas were just added last year with the completion of the complete transformation of the Hub area.
While no statement or explanation has been given by Disney, this does eliminate the need for Cast Members to staff and monitor the FastPass areas and is likely related to the ongoing, and much maligned, park budget cuts.
Other sites have been reporting that the FastPass option is being removed for parades as well. This is incorrect. We have confirmed that FastPasses are available for the special parade viewing areas well into May.
7 – More Details Revealed About Animal Kingdom at Night
Anticipation is high for the new Animal Kingdom nighttime spectacular “Rivers of Light”. (For more information on the new show click here). That’s not the only thing you can expect at the new nighttime hours at Animal Kingdom. There will also be a special sunset safari over at Kilimanjaro Safaris, and “enlivened Tree of Life” and new parties and street entertainment in Harambe Villiage and Discovery Island. Up until now, experiencing Animal Kingdom at night was a rare treat few experienced outside of very limited days during the busy holiday times when park operation was extended for Extra Magic hours and the sun set early during winter. We love the parks at night, but none are as special as Animal Kingdom after dark. Expedition Everest is also a ride best done at night. Very exciting developments for Animal Kingdom fans and an opportunity for guests to experience an entirely new side of this special park. Evening activities begin April 22.
8 – runDisney Events Now Covered by Photopass
Disney officially announced that runDisney events will now be covered by Photopass photographers and included in Photopass packages such as Memory Maker and for annual pass holders who have Photopass included in their pass holder benefits. This is significant news for runners participating in the variety of runDisney races throughout the year. Previously, runDisney events have been covered by Finisher Pix, a private company, and photos have been available for separate purchase at fairly steep prices. By bringing photographic coverage in house, it not only lowers the cost of purchasing race pictures, but makes them free for annual pass holders. Details below.
DISNEY PHOTOPASS SERVICE JOINS FORCES WITH RUNDISNEY
Runners from galaxies near and far, far away have been preparing to run on Darth Vader’s turf during the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side at Walt Disney World® Resort April 14-17. Meanwhile, an elite team of Disney PhotoPass Photographers has been training to capture every moment of the race!
We are excited to announce that Disney PhotoPass Photographers will now be capturing your runDisney memories – from the spectacular races to the character experiences along the course.
- Disney PhotoPass Photographers will be on the course, at character and backdrop locations, and at the finish line taking your photos during your race.
- To keep things running, all photos taken by photographers during runDisney events will be linked to your bib number—no need to stop to collect PhotoPass Cards or associate to MagicBands! Photo linking instructions will be included in race event guides and on the runDisney Results page.
- You’ll be able to view and purchase your photos at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com or on the My Disney Experience app within 24 hours of the event.
- Want all your race photos and your Walt Disney World vacation memories for one price? Purchase Memory Maker and you’ll receive unlimited digital downloads of all your Disney PhotoPass memories from your visit to Walt Disney World Resort—including all your runDisney photos and your Park memories*. Buy Memory Maker three days or more before your visit and save $20 off of the regular price of $169.
- Have a Walt Disney World Disney Premier Passport or Disney Platinum Plus, Disney Platinum or Disney Gold Annual Pass? Your runDisney photos are included as part of your Annual Pass benefit*!
- During the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side event, Disney PhotoPass Photographers will be at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to answer your questions. If you follow runDisney on Instagram, stop by the Disney PhotoPass booth to receive a complimentary download of your photo with an exclusive Star Wars backdrop available at the Expo.
9 – D-Luxe Burger Opening in May at Disney Springs
Walt Disney was extremely patriotic. He loved America. And since there’s nothing more American that a big juicy hamburger, we’re betting Walt would be thrilled with the latest dining addition at Disney Springs opening in May. We know we are!
Soon to be known for its delicious gourmet burgers and twisted milkshakes, it’s the perfect place to grab a delicious bite in the eclectically comfortable Florida ranch-inspired interior, or in the covered outdoor seating area that overlooks the springs.
There’s something for every burger aficionado, complete with unique toppings, freshly baked buns and a signature blend of beef. Gourmet burgers on the menu include:
- Classic Cheeseburger – Beef patty topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato and pickle
- Barbeque Classic Burger – Beef patty topped with a fried onion ring, smoked Gouda, bacon, barbeque sauce and lettuce
- El Diablo Burger – Chorizo-and-signature-blend patty, fried banana peppers, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayonnaise
- Southern Classic Burger – Beef patty, topped with fried-green tomato, pimento cheese, lettuce and bacon
- Cluck Burger – Ground chicken patty, garlic herb sauce, avocado, lettuce and tomato
- Veggie Burger – house-made patty topped with Tzatziki, green bean salad, lettuce and tomato
Freshly cut fries and your choice of dipping sauces are the perfect complement to your burger. Artisanal gelato shakes with rotating flavors that may include Vanilla, Chocolate, Raspberry, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, S’mores and Cake – sure to tempt your palate. Root beer, Cherry Coke and orange soda floats are also featured, as well as hard sodas, draft beer and cider. For adults, shakes with spirits include Smoked Bourbon and Beer and Godiva Raspberry.
As if gelato shakes weren’t sweet enough, the adorably delicious Red Velvet Burger Macaron is the perfect way for burger lovers to end a meal. Each macaron is lovingly handcrafted to look just like a burger, down to the raspberry ‘ketchup.’
10 – New Boutique Store Opens in Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs
Disney TAG (Travel-Accessories-Gear) is the newest boutique to join the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs. At this travel themed boutique, guests can stylize their vacations with everyday accessories and travel essentials embellished with Disney touches.
Guests will find a variety of Disney-themed luggage and luggage tags along with other travel accessories such as neck pillows, eye masks, tote bags and even toothbrushes.
Here are a few additional details you should check out during your next visit:
- In the animated display window with airplane seats, look for a hidden Mickey Mouse silhouette in the clouds.
- The Departures and Arrivals board above the register is full of iconic Disney-inspired destinations including Duckburg or Kuzcotopia.
- There is an airplane seat photo opportunity outside the changing rooms.
- Look for the classic “Mickey World” logo on displays and mannequins throughout the shop.
11 – Cirque du Soleil La Nouba Adds Two New Acts
La Nouba, Disney World’s Cirque du Soleil, has announced they are adding two new acts. Alexander and Exaterina Abramov are masters of a craft perfected by only a handful of artists around the world – Aerial Bamboo. The act requires extreme trust as for most of the performance, Exaterina is held only by Alexander – his arms, his feet and even his teeth – as he himself hangs by his feet or arms high above the stage. Also, for the first time in the history of Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba has dedicated an entire act to the high-energy dance B-Boying, commonly referred to as breakdancing. This new act brings together three accomplished B-Boy dancers from around the world with the choreography, design, music and costumes of Cirque du Soleil, to offer Guests an experience like never before.