Home / News / NEWS ROUNDUP – Surprise Free Dining Offer, Lots of New Details on Holiday Parties, New Attractions, New Resorts, Skyliner Opening Date, Fan Favorite Character Returns & More

NEWS ROUNDUP – Surprise Free Dining Offer, Lots of New Details on Holiday Parties, New Attractions, New Resorts, Skyliner Opening Date, Fan Favorite Character Returns & More

The biggest news of the week was a surprise Free Dining offer for this fall and winter, but that was only the beginning. We also got a lot of additional details on new resorts, holiday parties and upcoming attractions along with some opening dates we’ve been waiting for. A fan favorite character is returning to Hollywood Studios and the celebration of The Lion King is in full swing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. All this and a lot more in this week’s News Roundup below.


1 – FREE Dining Announced for Fall & Winter at Walt Disney World – Room Only Sales as Well

We love a good deal that saves us money, especially on a Disney vacation. We got a pleasant surprise this week when Disney announced a second round or FREE dining packages along with two other offers that offer savings to guests. Click here to learn more! 

2 – Disney Announces Opening Date for Skyliner

The new Skyliner transportation option coming to Walt Disney World has been the talk of the town for quite some time. Looking at the gondolas, we are very excited to be able to take to the sky and experience these ourselves! This week Disney finally announced when the Skyliner will open to guests! Click here to learn more!

3 – Darth Vader Returning to Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is just over five weeks away from opening! Since it has opened in Disneyland this past May, we already know which characters will be available to encounter in the new land. One of those is Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren is currently greeting guests at Star Wars Launch Bay. This week, Disney announced that our favorite baddie, Darth Vader, will be replacing Kylo Ren at Launch bay on August 29, the day that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. We are very excited to have Darth Vader back! Our favorite rebels, Chewbacca and BB-8, will continue to greet guests at Star Wars Launch Bay.

4 – More Details Released for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

While it feels like fall is a long time away, in reality, the fall season at Walt Disney World is right around the corner, and we’re super excited! One of the best things to do at Disney during the Fall is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! This week Disney announced new details for the party. Click here to learn more!


5 – Special Dining Experience Returning to Mickey’s Very Christmas Party

The holiday season at Walt Disney World is a great way to get into the spirit of Christmas. One of our favorite ways to do that is by attending Mickey’s Very Christmas Party! While the party itself is already a blast, Disney announced this week that they will be adding a special dining experience for guests! Click here to learn more!

6 – Come Join the DecenDANCE Party This Summer at Disney Springs

Get ready to dance because this summer, guests will have the opportunity to celebrate the release of “Descendants 3” at Disney Springs! Disney Cast Member Shawn Slater has all the details below:

Calling all “Descendants” fans and VKs (that’s Villain Kids for the uninitiated)! You’re invited to celebrate this summer’s release of “Descendants 3” at the Disney DescenDANCE Party, rocking the Marketplace Stage at Disney Springs for a limited time July 26 – August 11, 2019. At the Disney DescenDANCE Party, you can hit the dance floor to some wickedly good beats, snap and share great pics at a pair of cool photo ops, and catch on-screen shout-outs from some of the stars of the movie.

Credit: Disney

And if you can’t make it to Disney Springs for this limited run, fear not! The DescenDANCE Party fun will carry on, taking over the stage at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café as an added feature during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, offered select nights at Magic Kingdom Park starting August 16.

In “Descendants 3,” after a barrier breach threatens the safety of Auradon during the VKs’ departure off the Isle, Mal decides to permanently close the magical barrier, fearing Uma and Hades will do irreparable damage. But an unfathomable, unforeseen dark force threatens the people of Auradon, and it’s up to Mal and the VKs to save everyone in the kingdom before it’s too late.

Don’t forget to watch “Descendants 3” on August 2 at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel!

7 – Continue Celebrating ‘The Lion King’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with New Merchandise and Scavenger Hunt

The celebration of the ‘The Lion King’ continues at Animal Kingdom with brand new merchandise and a new scavenger hunt for guests to enjoy! Disney Cast Member Thomas Smith has all the details below:

We’re celebrating “The Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with current offerings such as Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party, photo opportunities featuring dimensional backgrounds and “Rivers of Light: We Are One,” the reimagined show introducing additional, stunning imagery and familiar animal characters from Disneynature films, along with a colorful tapestry of classic moments from Disney animation.

Here’s a look at new merchandise and a unique experience inspired by the animated classic that we all love!

Credit: Disney

A new Dooney & Bourke collection will be available at Mombasa Marketplace and Discovery Trading Company. The collection includes a satchel, crossbody, and tote with a pattern featuring beloved characters such as Simba, Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa. These handbags are now available to guests on while supplies last.

Credit: Disney

From plush to headbands, you can find an array of roar-tastic items right now! Guests can visit locations such as Mombasa Marketplace, Island Mercantile, and Discovery Trading Company to purchase new “The Lion King” merchandise inspired by the animated classic.

Also, be on the look-out for a whole pride of eats and treats to celebrate some of your favorite characters and moments with our “The Lion King”-inspired foodie guide, which includes this delicious Simba Sunrise Dole Whip dessert.

In addition to merchandise, all guests will be able to experience a new scavenger hunt in Africa themed to “The Lion King.” Some of your favorite characters are hidden around Harambe Village. Each time you spot one, add the corresponding sticker to your map. The map will be available at Outpost, Discovery Trading Company, Island Mercantile, and Mombasa Marketplace. Whether you choose to hunt for all the carvings or not, return your map to Mombasa Marketplace in Harambe or The Outpost Shop in the Oasis by September 28, 2019, or while supplies last for a savanna surprise. *Maps and stickers available while supplies last. Limit one surprise per map. Separate admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is required and the experience is subject to change without notice.

We enjoyed the scavenger hunt this week. Some of them were hard to find! It’s a great way to explore Harambe Village. Click here for some photos of our experience.


8 – “Protect the Pride” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always been dedicated to the protection of animals. With the recent release of the newly imagined Lion King movie, Disney has launched a campaign to protect the lions in the wild by giving guests the opportunity to “protect the pride.” Click here to learn more! We attended a special media event this past Friday, where we learned more about the campaign. Be on the lookout for our article next week.

9 – Disney’s Riviera Resort Celebrates the Elegance of European Rivera, with a Disney Twist

Walt Disney World Resorts are incredible because of the theming and detail that goes into the hotels. Now Disney’s Riviera Resort, opening in December 2019, invites guests to celebrate the elegance of the European Rivera with a Disney twist. Disney Cast Member Yolanda Cade has all the details below:

For centuries, the European Riviera has inspired visitors to relax, rejuvenate and play along the Mediterranean. At Disney’s Riviera Resort, projected to open December 2019, the history and charm that enchanted Walt and Lillian Disney, and so many others, will be yours to experience.

In each meticulous detail and around every turn, you’ll see how Imagineers are creating a resort that celebrates the elegance of a modern European retreat blended with a touch of old-world glamour and a uniquely Disney twist. Here’s a closer look at the careful planning and thoughtful features that make Disney’s Riviera Resort so special.

Credit: Disney

The overall design of Disney’s Riviera Resort is inspired by the elegant, early 20th century hotels situated along Europe’s Mediterranean coast. Like the region itself, Disney’s Riviera Resort will convey classic European designs mixed with modern expressions.

Its articulated stone base and smooth stucco façades will be accented with decorative metalwork and colorful awnings. French mansard roofs and Italian style arches and loggias will intermingle with other architectural styles found along the coastal region.

The center building, or tower, with expressive roofs and ornamental details, will be at the heart of the resort. Adjacent wings are designed as if added progressively to accommodate more travelers. The resort itself is a layered story, inspired by the buildings and architecture in Europe that grew and evolved over time.

Credit: Disney

Each wing of the resort will grow in height, from eight to 10 stories, allowing for sweeping views of the resort to be seen from the rooftop restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. If this sounds tantalizing, I should mention that bookings are now open for Topolino’s Terrace, with reservations available beginning on December 16.

Porticos, towers and terraces, as well as a unique, coastal-inspired color palette, will give each resort wing an exterior style all its own – a visual representation of the changes in design styles that influenced regional resorts throughout the century.

The window styles will vary across the façade of the resort, with variations in size, shape and mullion designs. Continuing the inspired architectural details, the iconic window awnings of the region will be married with shutters of varying colors and arrangements. A variety of decorative railings throughout the resort will feature a subtle Disney twist, with motifs of Mickey Mouse and his leading lady, Minnie.

Credit: Disney

By incorporating these detailed differences into the design, Imagineers captured the progressive feeling of European architecture, imparting a sense of history and story that developed over time.

Under construction and projected to open December 2019, Disney’s Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World Resort will be inspired by Europe and imagined by Disney. From the resort, you will be able to stay just a gondola ride away from all the excitement and experiences via the new Disney Skyliner system when it opens this fall.

Bookings for Disney’s Riviera Resort are open now so get ready to create your own Disney story in the middle of the magic. For more information or to make hotel reservations, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or call 407 939-7762 or your travel agent.


10 – Disney Cruise Line Earns Top Honors in 2019 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards

For the fourth consecutive year, Disney Castaway Cay has been named the “Top Cruise Line Private Island” in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. Disney Cruise Line also was recognized by Cruise Critic members as the “Top Cruise Line in the Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda,” as well as “Top Cruise Line in the Western Caribbean and Riviera Maya” – both in the Large Ship Cruise Line category.

“It’s our dedicated officers and crew members who deliver the Disney difference again and again, whether on Castaway Cay or aboard our ships,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Cruise Line. “Our team strives to provide a vacation experience unlike anything else at sea, and this recognition speaks directly to their special way of making magic for our guests.”

The Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards are selected based on thousands of first-hand reviews posted to the Cruise Critic website over the past year. Cruise Critic offers one of the largest online cruise communities with more than 350,000 cruise reviews.

“Cruise Critic’s Destination Awards are based entirely on feedback from guests – so Disney’s three wins are a direct result of the positive experiences guests have had, in some of the most visited cruise regions in the world,” said Colleen McDaniel, Editor-in-Chief of Cruise Critic. “What we repeatedly hear from Disney cruisers is that it’s a vacation for all ages – from the fun-filled visits to Castaway Cay to the experience on the ships themselves. Disney’s awards speak volumes about the high level of satisfaction guests have about their cruise.”

Disney Castaway Cay is a 1,000-acre private island with turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and swaying palm trees that is exclusive to Disney Cruise Line guests. One Cruise Critic member described the island as “the best place on earth with plenty to do for all ages.” Another shared, “We had the time of our lives. The children were well entertained and there was a separate area for adults to relax and enjoy.”

Since its launch in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has been recognized as the leader in family cruising, offering guests the magic of Disney entertainment combined with the relaxation of tropical, sun-drenched beaches and adventure of ocean cruising. Disney Cruise Line continues to expand its horizons, with new ships scheduled for delivery in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Disney Cruise Line has received hundreds of distinguished awards from the travel industry praising all aspects of the experience from dining to entertainment.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can contact their travel agent, visit or call Disney Cruise Line at 888-DCL-2500. We highly recommend booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to ensure you are well taken care of and get all the discounts available to you. For more details and help booking your vacation, call our travel partners Magical Vacation Planners at (407) 442-0227. You can also get a no-obligation, FREE vacation quote by clicking here. Their services are free to you and they can answer any questions you may have.

11 – Get Ready for Game Time at Newly Opened NBA Store at Disney Springs

We’re only a few weeks away from the opening of a brand-new experience at Disney Springs! This one-of-a-kind destination, designed for families and friends to enjoy together, is packed with 13 unique experiences that merge the magic of Disney with the thrills of the NBA and WNBA, bringing the player experience to life. While the NBA Experience will not open until August 12, the all-new NBA store is now open! Click here for all the information including a look at what you can expect at the NBA Experience.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!