Home / News / DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Free Dining Announced, Special Ticket Offer, 15 Exciting Things Coming in 2020, Many Epcot Changes, New Restaurant Preview & More

DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Free Dining Announced, Special Ticket Offer, 15 Exciting Things Coming in 2020, Many Epcot Changes, New Restaurant Preview & More

It’s hard to believe 2019 is over and it’s 2020! Disney kicked off the new year in a big way by releasing dates for their most popular sale. Disney also announced a special ticket offer for Florida residents that cuts the cost of visiting the parks nearly in half! We have a run-down of the biggest stories of 2019 as well as a look at everything new coming in 2020 (spoiler alert, it’s going to be a BIG year). There are also a bunch of changes this week at Epcot as the transformation process picks up steam. We have a preview of a new restaurant opening soon in Epcot, as well as a bunch of merchandise news, cruise news, and news from Disneyland. All this and more below in this week’s news roundup.


1 – Disney Releases Free Dining Promotion

Special promotions and sales for Walt Disney World are always great, but nothing gets people more excited than a free Disney Dining Plan room promotion. This week, Disney kicked off the new year with the announcement of a great deal with free dining. Click the link below for all the details.

Click here for information on the 2020 free dining promotion for Walt Disney World.

2 – We Say Goodbye to 2019

This week we said goodbye to 2019. So many amazing things happened in 2019 at Walt Disney World from opening new resorts, new lands, new attractions, and new restaurants. Check out the links below for the top news stories of 2019 in our year-end review!

Click here for the 15 top news stories at Walt Disney World in 2019.

Click here for our Top 9 Instagram Photos in 2019.

3 – Looking Forward to 2020

With all that happened in 2019 and all that is coming in 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, you may be thinking not much is happening in 2020! Well, think again! 2020 will bring many new restaurants, new attractions, and experiences to Walt Disney World. It’s going to be a fantastic year to visit. Check out the link below for what’s coming.

Click here for the 15 exciting things coming to Walt Disney World in 2020.

There is also a lot going on over at Disneyland Resort. If you’ve been thinking of visiting, this year is a great year to do so. Disneyland Resort will open a new land at Disney’s California Adventure, celebrate 65 years of Disneyland, and offer special seasonal experiences throughout the year. Check out the link below for the 12 magical reasons to visit Disneyland this year!

Click here for 12 Magical Reasons to Visit Disneyland in 2020.


4 – New Closures & Temporary Locations at Epcot

As part of the re-imagining of Epcot, there have been closings this week you should be aware of. First, Epcot Character Spot has closed. You can now find Mickey Mouse in his new home at Imagination! pavilion, as part of the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Just inside the entrance, you’ll discover Mickey greeting his fans and celebrating his on-screen stardom. Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Joy are now greeting guests in new locations. Be sure to check your My Disney Experience App or the Times Guide for up to date information on where they are greeting guests. Next, Mouse Gear’s last day of operation in its current location was January 4. Mouse Gear is now operating at a temporary location at Innoventions East behind Electric Umbrella. The original location is being refurbished and is expected to open sometime in 2022. Other recent changes include the opening of the temporary Starbucks location near Refreshment Port in World Showcase. A new temporary Art of Disney store is now operating at the American Adventure pavilion, while the original location is being refurbished.

Click here for everything you need to know about the transformation of Epcot.


5 – New Special Discovery Disney Ticket for Florida Residents

Walt Disney World Resort is ringing in the new year with an exciting collection of experiences, with spectacular new attractions plus returning seasonal favorites planned throughout 2020. Florida residents can enjoy all this magic and more in the Walt Disney World theme parks with the special Discover Disney Ticket offered just for them.

Now through June 30, 2020, Florida residents can purchase a 3-Day Discover Disney Ticket for $175 (plus tax) for a limited time, or $59 per day (plus tax), valid for admission to one Walt Disney World theme park per day, any day through June 30, 2020. For an additional $20 (plus tax), Florida residents can add a fourth day to experience even more of the exciting new opportunities coming in 2020.

Here are the details for the return of this special offer:

The Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket* includes admission to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks (one theme park per day). Tickets are available for purchase Jan. 2-June 27, 2020, and can be used any three or four days (depending on ticket purchased) from January 2 through June 30, 2020.

  • 3-day Discover Disney Ticket for $175, plus tax ($59 per day, plus tax)
  • 4-day Discover Disney Ticket for $195, plus tax ($49 per day, plus tax)
  • Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus options available

This special ticket can be used any days through June 30, 2020, and has no block-out dates.

6 – New Regal Eagle Smokehouse Takes Inspiration from the Honorable Sam Eagle

One of the restaurants we are eagerly awaiting that is coming in 2020 is the Regal Eagle Smokehouse that will arrive in the American Adventure Pavilion. This week Disney released new details on where they got their inspiration for the eagle of Regal Eagle. Disney cast member Jeremy Schoolfield shares more below.

Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue is a new fast-casual restaurant opening soon at The American Adventure pavilion in Epcot. Today I have new details to share about what is sure to become a guest favorite foodie spot in World Showcase – including new merchandise on the way!

The restaurant takes its name from the venerable Sam Eagle, the Muppet known for his patriotism and strict sense of duty and honor. He takes all things seriously … and barbecue is certainly one of those things.

Regal Eagle Smokehouse will be the site for “Sam’s Centennial Cook-Off: A Salute to All Cook-Offs but Mostly Barbecue.” Guests will be the beneficiaries of this contest – described as “a competition fit for all patriots and pit masters” – as it brings in a variety of classic backyard barbecue selections from across the country to vie for Sam’s top honor (for more details on the menu, click here).

Sam’s unmistakable visage will be part of the décor at this new restaurant. For instance, you’ll see him on the sign as you walk in …

Credit: Disney

… and inside, on a poster highlighting the barbecue competition.

Credit: Disney

He will also be incorporated into new Regal Eagle Smokehouse merchandise available exclusively at this tasty locale.

OK … I’m officially hungry now! I can’t wait to try everything on the menu. Because if it passes Sam Eagle’s muster, you know it’s going to be the very best.

Click here to get a look at the menu for Regal Eagle.

7  – New Poster Art Countdown Series to March 4 Opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opening is now less than two months away! Disney has released a new poster celebrating the upcoming attraction. Here are all the details from Disney cast member Thomas Smith.

Happy New Year!  We’re kicking off 2020 with the first in a collection of stunning new poster art celebrating the much-anticipated March 4 debut of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Credit: Disney

The new “Wish Upon a Coin” poster – inspired by Mickey’s popular cartoon short – was unveiled during our special New Year’s Eve LIVE stream.  As you can see, Mickey and Minnie are at the wishing well, and we thought it was the perfect artwork to begin our countdown series and a new year of magical wishes!

At Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the park’s Chinese Theater serves as the magic portal through which you can actually step into a colorful cartoon world where anything can happen. Why? Because here, mouse rules apply! On this zany, one-of-kind adventure, expect the unexpected as you ride through the NEW Mickey Mouse cartoon “Perfect Picnic”!

As you make your way to the “premiere” of “Perfect Picnic” in the attraction, you’ll move through the theater’s lobby and see whimsical posters of existing award-winning Mickey cartoon shorts created specifically for the attraction by Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Television Animation.

We’ll be releasing more exclusive poster art in the coming weeks. In the meantime, be sure to check out the “Wish Upon a Coin” video short for a look inside an amazing cartoon universe you’ll be able to experience like never before at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway beginning March 4, 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and later at Disneyland park in 2022.

Click here for what we know so far about Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

8 – Star Wars Day at Sea and Marvel Day at Sea Return to Disney Cruise Line

This week the 2020 Star Wars Day at Sea and Marvel Day at Sea itineraries set sail for special themed cruises that only Disney Cruise Line can deliver. We had the chance to enjoy a Marvel Day at Sea cruise last year on the Disney Magic and absolutely loved it! Check out the dates of the 2020 cruises below and learn more about Marvel Day at Sea at the link below.

2020 Star Wars Day at Sea itineraries 

This year, these select itineraries will be offered on select Disney Fantasy seven-night Caribbean cruises sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida.

Departing January 4, January 18, February 1, February 15 and February 29, 2020, the western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica, and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Departing February 8, 2020, the eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Tortola; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Castaway Cay.

Departing January 11, January 25, and February 22, 2020, the eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Tortola, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay.

Credit: Disney/Matt Stroshane

2020 Marvel Day at Sea itineraries 

In 2020, Marvel Day at Sea is offered on nine Disney Magic Caribbean and Bahamian cruises sailing from Miami, Florida.

Departing January 9, January 27, February 10, February 24 and March 9, 2020, the Bahamian itinerary includes Key West, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Departing February. 1, February 15 and February 29, 2020, the western Caribbean itinerary includes George Town, Grand Cayman, and Castaway Cay.

Departing January 18, 2020, the western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico, and Castaway Cay.

Click here for our review of Marvel Day at Sea on the Disney Magic.


9 – Lunar New Year Welcomes Year of the Mouse at Disney California Adventure Park

2020 is the perfect year to visit Disney California Adventure to celebrate the Lunar New Year since it is the year of the mouse! To celebrate, Disney is offering some fantastic experiences during the celebration. Disney cast member Michael Ramirez shares more below.

Lunar New Year, the joyous celebration at Disney California Adventure park taking place January 17 through February 9, commemorates traditions of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures.

Credit: Disney

This year, we are celebrating the Year of the Mouse with 24 days of multicultural entertainment and musical performances, fun-filled activities, beautiful décor, delicious cuisine, specialty merchandise, and more.

Let’s take a look at what’s in store this Lunar New Year:

  • Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession” – Celebratory parade led by Mulan that honors Lunar New Year and dedicates the new year’s blessings to family and friendship. Talented performers bring dance, martial arts, and drumming to enhance the beautifully colorful procession, which will run several times daily.
  • “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” – Nighttime water show at Paradise Bay prior to “World of Color,” which tells the tale of a little lantern’s quest to reunite with family for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune.
  • Disney Character Encounters – Beloved characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will don new festive Lunar New Year attire this year as they greet guests at Paradise Gardens. You may also see Mulan, Pluto, and the Three Little Pigs.
  • Asian Cuisine – Enjoy four festive marketplaces to experience delightful food and beverages inspired by Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures, including Longevity Noodle Co., Lucky 8 Lantern, Prosperity Bao & Buns, and Red Dragon Spice Traders. If you’re looking to taste your way through the marketplaces, the popular Sip and Savor pass* will be available for purchase.
  • Entertainment – Live, daily performances by authentic Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese dancers and musicians will take place throughout Paradise Gardens Park.
  • Kid-friendly Crafts and Activities – Enjoy complimentary arts and crafts, including dragon’s pearl coloring craft and Chinese calligraphy with local artisans. Plus, new face painting opportunities have been added to the celebration, available for purchase.
  • Lucky Wishing Wall – After strolling beneath strings of ornamental lanterns in Paradise Gardens, write down wishes and tie them to the wall in hopes for a prosperous future.
  • Commemorative Merchandise – Discover all-new spirit jerseys, fun bobble-head figures with Chip and Dale, a traditional red envelope set, themed Minnie Mouse ear headbands, and more.

10 – New Monthly Collectible Series Coming to Disney Parks, Disney Store and Online at

Disney merchandise fans, we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that Disney has announced a brand new monthly collectible series coming to Disney Parks, Disney Store, and The bad news is that our wallets are going to take a hit this year! Disney cast member Anthony Armenia shares more below.

Kicking the New Year off in true Disney fashion, we are celebrating fashion icon, Minnie Mouse, with a new monthly collectible series coming to Disney Parks around the world, Disney store, and online at!

Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction is an all-new, limited-release series featuring none other than Minnie Mouse herself honoring beloved Disney parks attractions around the world. A new collection from the series will be released on the third Saturday of each month throughout 2020.

Each collection will feature an attraction-themed assortment with items such as a Minnie Mouse ear headband, plush, pin, mug, mini backpack or hip pack by Loungefly, and even a Walt Disney World Resort MagicBand.

First up is the Space Mountain collection celebrating the 45th anniversary of this iconic attraction at Walt Disney World Resort. It releases later this month on January 18 at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort as well as in the Disney store nationwide or online at

The celebration doesn’t stop there; check out a sneak peek at the rest of the year’s collections below. Which one are you most excited for?!

Click here to get a look at the Space Mountain collection releasing January 18.

11 – Asian Street Easts Now Open in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort

There’s a new take out window at the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort that we can’t wait to try. Here are all the details from Disney cast member Valerie Lee.

Be sure to check out Asian Street Eats by Chef Hung Huynh, a new concept from Earl Enterprises, which just opened in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort!

You’ll find this yummy take-out window on the west end of the district. On the menu is a flavorful variety of Asian dishes with plenty of options for the whole family. Grab a mixed bowl and customize it with your choice of either grilled chicken, braised beef short rib, or sautéed tofu. Your bowl can come with either royal purple rice or mixed greens and is topped with fire-roasted corn, cabbage, cucumbers, pickled carrots, caramelized onions, and your choice of sauce.

Another customizable dish is the Scallion Pancake Wrap – it comes stuffed with cabbage, caramelized onions, pickled carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha aïoli and your choice of the same three meats listed above. The selection of sauces includes miso honey, teriyaki, spicy teriyaki, Sriracha aïoli, sesame citrus soy, and spicy avocado.

Other dishes on the menu include potstickers (either chicken or vegetable) served with ginger soy sauce, as well as kid-sized portions of the mixed bowls, and a selection of Japanese teas and sodas.

This is the first concept Chef Hung Huynh has developed for Earl Enterprises, and he will oversee Asian Street Eats as executive chef. You may be familiar with Chef Hung as an award-winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and he has been featured in top publications and made many national TV appearances.

Asian Street Eats is another delicious example of all there is to taste and explore along the Downtown Disney District!


What’s New at Walt Disney World!

It’s a very exciting time growth and development at Walt Disney World. In fact, there are so many new things opening, coming and happening, it’s hard to keep track. Here’s a cheat sheet to help keep things straight and make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Now Open

Click here for everything you need to know at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Click here for our Survival Guide-What You Need to Know Before You go to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Click here for our full review of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Disney Skyliner – Now Open

Click here for what you need to know about the Disney Skyliner

Epcot Forever – Now Open

Click here to learn more about Epcot Forever.

The Epcot Experience – Now Open

Click here to learn more about the Epcot Experience.

Disney’s Riviera Resort – Now Open

Click here for what you need to know about Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Click here for our review and what you need to know about Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends at Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Reimagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Now Open

Click here for our review and walkthrough with photos and video.

NBA Experience at Disney Springs – Now Open

Click here for our review and what you need to know about this fun new experience.

Coming Soon to Disney World!

Coming in 2020

Click here for the 15 exciting things coming to Walt Disney World in 2020.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts, January 17-February 24, 2020

Click here for the latest on the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Opening March 4, 2020

Click here for what we know so far about Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, March 4-June 1, 2020

Click here for more on the 2020 Garden Rocks concert series and more for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Epcot Reimagined – Now Through Fall 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50thAnniversary

Click here for more on our sneak peek at updates coming to the France pavilion in 2020.

Click here for what you need to know about the new Epcot – including details on 20 new experiences!

Drawn to Life – New Cirque du Soleil Show – April 17, 2020

Click here for everything we know about this new show!

Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration – 2021

Click here for our rundown of everything that’s coming for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!

Star Wars Hotel – 2021

Click here for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser-What We Know So Far About the Upcoming Star Wars Themed Hotel Coming to Disney World

Disney Cruise Line’s Lighthouse Point – Disney’s 2nd Island in the Caribbean – unknown

Click here for everything we know about Lighthouse Point!

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!