We are just weeks away from the grand opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and we have several updates on progress and Fastpass as the big day gets closer. Annual price hikes are here. Food takes center stage this month with a fantastic new restaurant on Disney Springs, special offerings for the month of February, Cinderella themed treats, and a new snack option on Disney Cruise Line. There are also some extra magic coming for Valentine’s Day and a cool new feature on the Play Disney Parks App. We got updates on the Star Wars hotel experience and the upcoming nighttime spectacular at Epcot, Harmonius. Disney Villains after hours is back with new entertainment experiences and wicked food specials, and Disney Cruise Line adds an all-new home port. All this and more in this week’s news roundup.
1 – Walt Disney World Annual Pass and Park Hopper Options See Price Increase
This week the prices for certain annual passes and the park hopper options were increased. This increase usually happens every February, so this was not a total surprise. Some Florida resident passes did not see an increase. Check out the link below for all the details.
2 – FastPass Added for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has seen some changes in recent weeks of the FastPass options and tiers for its attractions. Disney announced that they opened up FastPass reservations for the upcoming attraction Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway when it opens, March 4, 2020. They also confirmed there would be a standby queue for the attraction when it opens, and no boarding party process will be used for this attraction. The Fastpasses went quickly!
3 – New Marquee for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway also received a new marquee with only weeks to go until its opening! Disney cast member Jeremy Schoolfield shares more below.
We’re now less than a month away from the premiere of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the first ride-through attraction in Disney history based on Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Ahead of the highly anticipated attraction’s March 4 debut, Disney Imagineers are fine-tuning what promises to be a fun adventure for all ages inside the park’s iconic Chinese Theatre.
And speaking of that theater…it has a brand-new marquee! Crews installed the glamorous Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway sign earlier this week, which features blinking bulbs and animated neon depictions of Mickey and Minnie beckoning you into their wacky and wonderful cartoon world.
The sign won’t officially light up until the attraction opens for guests in March, but someone we all know and love happened to stumble across it this week in the wee hours of the morning and made some magic happen. Check out this video to see the results:
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway takes you inside a “Mickey Mouse” cartoon short where anything can happen aboard a train ride through Runnamuck Park. You’ll join Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and more on a family-friendly adventure featuring dazzling visual effects, a lovable theme song, and surprising twists and turns. The attraction will open in Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland park in California in 2022.
4 – Disney Villains After Hours Returns
Disney Villains After Hours has returned to Magic Kingdom Park! This special ticketed event runs on select nights now through July 10, 2020. We were there to check out the new additions to the event and loved them. Learn more about what’s new and why you don’t want to miss this wickedly fun event at the link below.
5 – Update on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – The Star Wars Hotel Coming in 2021
While not the biggest update, Disney has announced that reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser, the Star Wars hotel opening in 2021, will open for reservations “later this year.” No pricing has been announced for this two-night, two-day fully immersive experience. Learn more about this exciting project at the link below.
6 – Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Walt Disney World
If you are at Walt Disney World on Valentine’s Day, there are some special offerings available to make your experience even more magical. Learn more at the link below.
7 – Disney Announces Capture Your Moment Photo Experience
If you’ve ever wanted more time with a Disney PhotoPass photographer for a special occasion, then you’ll be excited to learn about a new program that was recently announced. The Capture Your Moment Photo Experience will give you time with a Disney PhotoPass photographer at Magic Kingdom Park to capture those special moments. Learn more at the link below.
8 – Cinderella-Themed Treats Now at Disney Parks
Disney’s animated classic, Cinderella, celebrates its 70th anniversary this month, and Disney is celebrating with some fantastic treats available at Disney Parks. Visit the link below to learn what items are being offered and where you can find them.
9 – Disney Shares an Update on ‘Harmonious’ Coming to Epcot Later This Year
Disney is busy working on the new nighttime spectacular, “Harmonious,” coming to Epcot later this year. Disney has shared an update on the show. Disney cast member Shawn Slater shares more below.
Recently, Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Live Entertainment team members had an opportunity to update some of our leaders on the historic, multi-year transformation taking place at EPCOT. It was a wonderful day spent with Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, and Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. And the entire presentation concluded with a crescendo performance from a group of live singers to help bring the powerful stories of “Harmonious” to life!
Set to debut later this year, “Harmonious” is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney Park. The show is a beautifully crafted dreamscape of Disney music and images, reimagined by diverse cultural musicians and artists from around the world. It’s a transformative experience, where we can discover how Disney music has the power to inspire and unite us all with the magic of possibility.
10 – Best Bites February 2020
No matter when you visit Walt Disney World, there will be limited time snacks and treats available for you to enjoy. If you’re visiting in February 2020, there are some great options for you to try. Check out the link below for what’s available and where you can find them.
11 – New Captain Minnie and Captain Mickey Cookies Now on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy
Great news Disney Cruise Line fans! Two new shortbread cookies featuring Captain Minnie and Captain Mickey are now available on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. You can find these at Vanellope’s Sweet Treats or Sweet on You.
12 – Discover a Magical Message from Mickey Mouse in the Play Disney Parks App
The end of your Walt Disney World vacation is always such a sad occasion. Disney has announced a new feature in the Play Disney Parks app that should make going home a little easier. Disney cast member Avery Maehrer has all the details below:
Whether you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort on one of our recently announced special room offers or any other vacation package, it’s always hard to say “see ya real soon” on your departure day. But now, many guests will have a magical surprise to look forward to after they return home!
Following a 3-night or longer stay at a Disney Resort hotel in 2020, keep your eyes on your mailbox for a newly created letter thanking you for your visit (plot twist: this is no ordinary letter). On it, you’ll find a QR code that unlocks a hidden screen in the Play Disney Parks mobile app, which offers all sorts of interactive fun and games for family and friends before, during, and in this case, after your visit. The QR code will bring to life an engaging animation in the app featuring your pal, Mickey Mouse, who will appear right before your eyes through a special augmented reality (AR) effect.
Check out a sneak peek below!
Afterward, you’ll also earn an exclusive “Thanks for the Magic” digital achievement in the app.
Available in the Apple App Store and Google Play, the Play Disney Parks app continues to be enhanced with new ways to enjoy and celebrate the parks – from activating physical show effects and playing in-queue games to becoming a Disney trivia master, earning ride achievements and finding official Disney Parks playlists through Apple Music.**
One of my favorite locations to use the app is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where your phone becomes your Star Wars: Datapad, allowing you to interact with droids, scan cargo crates and more (just wait until you see what happens when you hack into the Millennium Falcon).
Be on the lookout for this extra bit of pixie dust in the mail following your next 3-night or longer Disney Resort hotel stay!
13 – Disney Wonder Sets Sail on Inaugural Voyage from New Orleans
Disney Cruise Line has just embarked on its inaugural season sailing from New Orleans. This also marks the very first time that Disney Cruise Line has had a homeport in Louisiana. On the Disney Wonder’s first departure from the Crescent City on Feb. 7, 2020, the ship received a celebratory bon voyage from Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen and members of the traditional New Orleans Treme Brass Band.
This cruise that has just commenced kicks off a limited-engagement season sailing from New Orleans in 2020, and Disney Cruise Line will be returning to New Orleans again in early 2021. These voyages visit the Bahamas, Caribbean and include stops at Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay.
Those in the area can experience the magic of having a Disney ship in their own backyard. For guests joining Disney Cruise Line from farther away, they can savor the excitement and flair of the Big Easy both onboard and ashore.
In New Orleans, there’s magic around every corner as visitors recognize the iconic sights and sounds that inspired the Disney animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”
Onboard the Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line is “gonna take you there!” with a celebration of New Orleans dining and entertainment at Tiana’s Place restaurant and a menu that draws inspiration from the flavors and ingredients of the Louisiana bayou.
At the brand new French Quarter Lounge, guests are transported deeper into the story to enjoy live jazz music, sip a New Orleans-themed specialty drink and dance the night away. Throughout the days, family activities, trivia, workshops, crafts and music bring the bayou spirit of family gatherings and fun to life.
14 – City Works Brewery Opens at Disney Springs
There is a new restaurant at Disney Springs, and we’re super excited about it. City Works Eatery & Pour House offers classic American cuisine and a “massive” selection of craft brews (over 90+ local and global varieties of beer on tap). Disney cast member Kelsey Noland shares more below:
Sports fans rejoice because your ultimate dining destination is now open! City Works Eatery & Pour House opened its doors yesterday bringing classic American dishes and an incredible beer menu to Disney Springs. The Chicago-based brand currently operates nine locations across the country with its first Central Florida location conveniently located just outside NBA Experience on the West Side. The venue features 17 televisions, a state-of-the-art sound system including a 168 inch high-definition video screen so you’ll catch all the high-scoring action from every angle.
I mentioned there’s an incredible beer menu and I mean it! There are over 90 local and global craft brews on tap at this restaurant including eight wines on draft. If that’s not enough to be excited about the food is just as newsworthy. I had the opportunity to sample a few dishes from the menu filled with so many delicious entrees including sandwiches, tacos, salads, burgers, classic bar bites, and more.
Don’t miss the Buffalo Chicken Dip as a starter— it’s filled with the perfect ratio of pulled buffalo chicken and bleu cheese cream making it a snackable dish to kick off lunch or dinner. I’m such a sucker for poke so when I saw Ahi Tuna Tacos on the menu, I knew it was the dish for me—poke-style tuna, Napa cabbage, and avocado topped with cilantro lime cream is a delicious and fresh take on the traditional taco. I sampled a few bites of my friends’ dishes as well and some of my other can’t-miss favorites were the Short Rib, Smoked BBQ Ribs, and the Salmon Burger. If you have any room leftover, the dessert selection satisfies any sweet tooth with Peanut Butter Snickers Pie, S’mores Dip, Root Beer Floats and more.
Brunch fans are also in for a treat because the Rock N Roll Brunch menu is filled with mouth-watering dishes on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Grab your friends and come hungry for beignets, breakfast hash, avocado toast, and breakfast sandwiches with mimosa flights and an over-the-top bloody mary. Happy Hour will also be available Monday-Friday, 3:30-6 p.m. with a discounted menu of select beer, wine and appetizers.
City Works Eatery & Pour House is currently taking walk-ups and will start to fulfill reservations through My Disney Experience, online and via OpenTable starting March 9. Visiting soon? Share your delicious dining photos with us using #DisneySprings and #CityWorksDisneySprings!
15 – Three Central Florida Children’s Hospitals Benefit from Magical Disney Transformations
Disney is working to bring extra magic to three different children’s hospitals. Disney cast member Elissa Margolis shares more below.
Helping children and families facing serious illness dates back to when Walt Disney himself joined animators and characters at children’s hospitals to bring patients a little more comfort and joy.
Sharing the magic of Disney with children continues today as part of Disney’s philanthropic and outreach commitment to dedicate resources that deliver comfort and inspiration to children and families. Through this five-year, $100 million investment, transformations to the patient experience will take place in children’s hospitals around the world.
And I am thrilled to share that in Central Florida, these transformations will soon expand and make an impact in three local hospitals including AdventHealth for Children, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital.
Areas within these children’s hospitals will be reimagined with interactive play spaces, whimsical murals and comfort corridors that bring our beloved characters and treasured Disney stories to life, all while providing positive distractions to ease the stress of a hospital stay. There is so much that goes into these transformations, so let’s take a behind the scenes look into what it takes to bring them to life.
Using the powerful combination of our much-loved characters, innovation and legendary creativity, teams across Disney, including Walt Disney Imagineers, worked with patient care experts to create these healing experiences that are distinctly “Disney” and designed to inspire young patients and families. The patient care experts’ medical insights have been invaluable in helping our talented Imagineers to bring the stories and characters of Disney to life through mesmerizing and interactive technology. Hear more from the team in the video below!
Disney has a long history of caring for children, which includes granting nearly 10,000 wishes annually through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and sending care packages to children’s hospitals. “We are thrilled that this important initiative is expanding to three of our local children’s hospitals right here in Central Florida,” said Rena Langley, senior vice president of communications and public affairs at Walt Disney World Resort.
Beyond the experts behind the magic of this company commitment, there’s already been an overwhelming response from the three Central Florida children’s hospitals that will soon receive transformed spaces. The anticipation and joy for this program to arrive is incredible, and each hospital’s response reminds me that we are impacting so many lives in tremendous ways.
16 – Disney Parks Brings Super Bowl MVP and Make-A-Wish Child to Parade, plus Disney Donates $1 million to Make-A-Wish
With cheers and confetti still filling the air following the Kansas City Chiefs’ long-awaited victory Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, the game’s Most Valuable Player, Patrick Mahomes, shouted that famous phrase that has become an iconic moment of every Super Bowl: “I’m going to Disney World!”
Mahomes was whisked from Miami to Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando where he participated in a celebratory parade at Magic Kingdom Park after starring in Disney’s traditional Super Bowl TV commercial. The celebration marks another chapter in Disney’s enduring Super Bowl campaign that began in 1987 when Disney celebrated the New York Giants’ Super Bowl win that year.
Adding to the magical moment, this year’s celebration has a new twist. As the presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl MVP ceremony, Disney Parks for the first time invited one Make-A-Wish child – Nathaniel, 10, from Texas – to join Mahomes in the parade down Main Street, U.S.A. in Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. In addition, 17 other Make-A-Wish children, whose wishes attended the Super Bowl, are also extending their magical wishes by visiting Magic Kingdom Park.
The inclusion of Make-A-Wish this year with Disney’s Super Bowl campaign is an extension of Disney’s commitment to deliver comfort and inspiration to children facing serious illnesses. That commitment also includes the just-announced Disney Parks donation of $1 million to Make-A-Wish in honor of Mahomes as part of Disney Parks’ designation as presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl MVP ceremony.
The first official wish granted for a Make-A-Wish child involved a trip to Disneyland Resort nearly 40 years ago. Currently, Disney helps to grant more than 10,000 wishes each year for children around the world.
The post-Super Bowl trip to Walt Disney World Resort was likely a wish-come-true for the Make-A-Wish child similar to the dream-come-true night for Mahomes and the Chiefs, who won their first Super Bowl in 50 years. Mahomes rallied Kansas City from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win the big game, 31-20, leading the furious comeback with two touchdown passes. He hit Travis Kelce for a 1-yard score with 6:13 remaining, then on the Chiefs’ next possession found Damien Williams out of the backfield for what would prove to be the game-clinching touchdown. Mahomes finished with 286 yards passing and two TD passes, plus 29 rushing yards and another score on the ground.
Mahomes’ performance is a part of Disney’s Super Bowl commercial that is airing on network and cable TV across the United States, as well as social media channels. His name is now added to the long list of marquee Super Bowl stars who have been a part of Disney’s long-running Super Bowl campaign.
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.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts, January 17-February 24, 2020
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Now Open
Disney Skyliner – Now Open
Epcot Forever – Now Open
The Epcot Experience – Now Open
Disney’s Riviera Resort – Now Open
Reimagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Now Open
NBA Experience at Disney Springs – Now Open
Coming Soon to Disney World!
Coming in 2020
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Opening March 4, 2020
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, March 4-June 1, 2020
Epcot Reimagined – Now Through Fall 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50thAnniversary
Drawn to Life – New Cirque du Soleil Show – April 17, 2020
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration – 2021
Star Wars Hotel – 2021
Disney Cruise Line’s Lighthouse Point – Disney’s 2nd Island in the Caribbean – unknown
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