DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Park Hopper Returns, 3 Restaurants Reopening, Remy Attraction Opening Update, Disney Parks Holiday Special, Guardians Coaster Test Video, Epcot Construction Updates, Star Wars Hotel Photos, Holiday Recipe, Disneyland News & More

What a great week of Disney news! Huge news for park hopping fans. More restaurants in the parks are reopening. We got a ton of updates on Epcot attraction openings, construction progress, and some video of new ride testing. Over at the hotel resorts, we got updated photos of the Star Wars hotel and Grand Floridian guests have a new way to get to Magic Kingdom. Disney announced details for a Disney Parks holiday special airing Thanksgiving night on ABC. Disney shared a recipe for one of our favorite holiday treats, and we have a bunch of news on holiday celebrations at the Disneyland resort. Don’t miss the special Thanksgiving week sales and special offers at Disney Springs. All this and more in this week’s Disney news roundup below.


1 – Park Hopping to Return January 1, 2021

This week’s biggest news was the announcement of the return to park hopping beginning January 1, 2021. The use of the park reservation system will still be required, but beginning next year, guests will be able to go to other parks after their first one during special “park hopper hours.” Learn everything you need to know at the link below.

Click here for details on park hopping returning to Walt Disney World in January 2021.

2 – Disney Announces Three More Restaurants Reopening Soon

We feel one of the biggest challenges of visiting Walt Disney World during the phased reopening is that not all dining options are available and there is reduced capacity at the open restaurants. Therefore, dining can be a challenge. Thankfully, Disney continues to reopen more restaurants from time to time. This week, Disney announced three restaurants’ reopening – one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and two at Magic Kingdom Park. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for information on the three restaurants reopening soon at Walt Disney World.

3 – Update on Opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT

Because of the global pandemic, many construction projects and planned openings have been delayed. One of those projects was Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France Pavilion at EPCOT, which was supposed to open in summer 2020. Disney has now given an update and confirmed that the attraction will open at a later date. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for an update on the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.


4 – New Testing Video of Guardians of the Galaxy Released

Another EPCOT project that we are eagerly awaiting is the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a new coaster coming to the former Universe of Energy pavillion. This week Disney released a video of Imagineers testing the ride vehicle. The experience looks amazing! Learn more and watch the video at the link below.

Click here to see the testing video of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

5 – Disney Shares More Construction Updates at EPCOT

Even more news about other EPCOT projects was shared this week. Disney Cast Member Zach Riddley shares more below:

EPCOT holds a very special place in my heart. As a boy, it inspired me to dream of a better future – a place where anything is possible. And now I’m honored to lead the team of Disney Imagineers dreaming up the new future for this park we all love.

As part of the D23 Fantastic Worlds Celebration, today I joined Melissa Valiquette, vice president of EPCOT, to talk about the park’s historic transformation happening right now. You can watch the entire session by clicking on the video below, but to whet your appetite, I thought it’d be fun to share a few highlights from our discussion.

It’s been a while since we last talked with you about the new neighborhoods that will unify EPCOT, so we gave a refresher on World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature and World Showcase.

Credit: Disney

To that end, we talked a bit about the park’s reimagined entrance, and how it sets the tone for the entire transformation with its gorgeous new color palette and an open, inviting layout. Earlier this year we installed gleaming new pylons as part of the work we’re doing on the new fountain at the base of Spaceship Earth, which I’m excited to share will be completed by the end of this year. The fountain will have a new lighting package that will be joined by new lighting for the iconic geosphere of Spaceship Earth, as well. When we’re done, it will feel like a completely new way to begin your journey into the park.

Our work continues on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the awesome and out-of-this-world new coaster experience coming to what will soon be known as World Discovery. We’ve just recently put a few of the attraction’s vehicles on the track for initial “push/pull” testing, which you can see happening in the photo above. When it’s ready, this is going to be a great adventure for families to take together. (See above story for video of the testing).

Credit: Disney

We have a new nighttime spectacular planned for World Showcase Lagoon – “Harmonious” will be one of the largest shows ever created for a Disney park. But as you can see in this new artist concept rendering, it will provide a new energy to the park during the daytime, too, with fountains out on the lagoon.

We also heard from Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald and, from Pixar Animation, Roger Gould and Harley Jessup, who gave us a deep dive into the creation of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the fantastic new family-friendly attraction set to open next year as part of a newly expanded France pavilion. They provided a look at the attraction’s incredible marquee we recently installed, and discussed how it plays into the whimsical architecture of this newly expanded area of the pavilion. This session is a fascinating window into our collaborative work with Pixar I know you’ll enjoy.

This is just a snapshot from our in-depth discussion of all the goings-on at EPCOT right now. Go see the full presentation for yourself below, and then be sure to follow me @thezachriddley for more on the historic transformation of EPCOT as it unfolds!


6 – Disney Releases New Photos of Star Wars Hotel Coming to Walt Disney World

Star Wars fans have been eagerly awaiting more details about the Star Wars hotel coming to Walt Disney World. This week Disney released new photos of the cabin that reveal what guests can expect in this totally immersive resort experience. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for new photos of the Star Wars hotel cabins.


7 – New Walkway Connecting Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Magic Kingdom Now Open!

Guests staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort now have another transportation option to Magic Kingdom – their own two feet! The walkway connecting the two areas is finally complete. Reports have the walk about 10-15 minutes, depending on your pace. The walkway will be a great option on those busy nights when wait times for either a boat or the monorail are long. We hope to check out the walkway soon and will share photos on our Instagram page.

8 – Disney Springs Thanksgiving Week Shopping Deals Announced

As Thanksgiving approaches, one thing to be thankful for are a ton of sales and specials, and Disney Springs is no different. If you visit Disney Springs this Thanksgiving week, check out the link below for details on which retailers will have sales and specials that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Click here for details on the Thanksgiving Week shopping deals at Disney Springs.

9 – Gingerbread-Cream Cheese Muffin Recipe from Disney Parks

It’s gingerbread season, and thankfully, Disney has shared a recipe for gingerbread-cream cheese muffins, the same ones you can find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Get the recipe at the link below:

Click here for the Disney Parks gingerbread-cream cheese muffins.

10 – ABC and Disney Parks Announce Details for Special 5th Anniversary of ‘The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration’

Have plans for Thanksgiving night? Disney is airing a special 5th Anniversary of ‘The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration’ with past performances. Disney Cast Member Gabriel Gibaldi shares more below:

Just when we need it most, Disney kicks off the holidays with a special treat! The fifth anniversary edition of “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration,” airs Thanksgiving night at 9/8c on ABC!

Original hosts Derek and Julianne Hough return, kicking off the night with a glittering new holiday performance, while Trevor Jackson (Freeform’s “grown-ish”) hosts from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Together, they will take viewers on a wintry ride through fan-favorite performances from the past five years and new heartwarming family moments. You’ll also get a brand-new sneak peek into Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure coming in 2021 to EPCOT in Florida.


In addition to magical holiday moments, viewers will also get a sneak preview of Disney and Pixar’s all-new feature-film “Soul,” before it becomes available exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) beginning Dec. 25, 2020. Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, “Soul” introduces a middles-school band teacher who teams up with a sarcastic new soul on a mission to figure out exactly what makes life worth living.

Musical performances include:

  • Emmy® Award-winning hosts Derek Hough and Julianne Hough sing and dance through a medley of holiday classics in a fantastical new show open
  • GRAMMY® Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara gives a festive spin on a “Jingle Bells/Jingle Bell Rock” medley (2017)
  • Multiple GRAMMY® Award-winner Kelly Clarkson belts her version of “Underneath The Tree” (2016)
  • Global superstar Jason Derulo performs his take on “Silent Night” (2017)
  • Grammy® Award-nominated OneRepublic perform a rocking rendition of “What a Wonderful World” (2016)
  • GRAMMY® Award-winner Meghan Trainor and Brett Eldridge share a sweet rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (2018)
  • Grammy® Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling artist Pentatonix give their rendition of “Deck the Halls” (2019)
  • TONY® Award-winning actress Idina Menzel joins fellow “Frozen” star Kristen Bell for a chilling performance of “When We’re Together” from “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” (2017)
  • Boyz II Men take on “Let It Snow” alongside ‘December Baby” singer/songwriter JoJo (2016)
  • World renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli lends his voice to a rendition of “White Christmas” (2018)
  • GRAMMY Award-nominated artist Aloe Blacc performs “I Got Your Christmas Right Here (2018)
  • Global superstar Becky G performs “Santa Baby” (2018)
  • Following the release of his new album “Christmas in the Islands,” multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning global reggae/dancehall & pop music icon Shaggy sings “Jamaican Drummer Boy” (2019)

What performances are you most excited to see this year?


11 – A Special Surprise to Commemorate Mickey’s Birthday at Disneyland Resort

This past week, Mickey and Minnie Mouse celebrated their 92nd birthday! Over at Disneyland Resort, a special surprise was revealed on their birthdays. Disney Cast Member Michael Ramirez shares more below:

To commemorate Mickey Mouse’s birthday, we are excited to reveal a special surprise at the Disneyland Resort. Following a refurbishment, the iconic Partners statue in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland park has been restored to its original grandeur!

The beloved Partners statue, created by famed Disney sculptor Blaine Gibson, features Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. The photo above left was taken at its original unveiling on Nov. 18, 1993, at the hub in Disneyland park to commemorate Mickey’s 65th birthday.

Over time, the bronze had oxidized, and because of the applied patina, acrylic polymer and wax, it required a more intensive process than just a simple cleaning or polishing. Over four days, an artisan utilized a process using crushed walnut shells to gently strip the figure down to the bare bronze. After cleaning, various chemicals were applied and heated with a blowtorch to create a reaction and fuse with the bronze. The figure was coated in a polymer to protect the patina, then coated with a very thin layer of wax.

Credit: Disney

Guests visiting the Downtown Disney District’s extension into Buena Vista Street will have an opportunity to see the Storytellers statue, which has also been restored. This statue features a 1920s-era Walt in a fedora and traveling attire­ — just off the train from Missouri and ready to realize his dreams with his pal, Mickey.

Happy birthday to the duo who started it all 92 years ago on November 18 — Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse!

12 – Celebrate the Holiday Season at Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort

Our west coast friends can now celebrate the holiday season at Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Valerie Lee:

Share the special joys of the holidays this season in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort! Maybe it’s sipping a hot cocoa on a crisp, cool morning, sharing stories over a memorable meal, or finding the perfect, thoughtful gift for everyone on your list!

Credit: Disney

The Downtown Disney District, known for its exceptional selection of dining and shopping, recently expanded to include the Disneyland Resort Backlot Premiere Shop, and beginning Nov. 19, will extend with more Disney shopping and dining along Buena Vista Street!

This season, discover these great takes on all things merry and bright:

A Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy turkey and some Thanksgiving favorites throughout the month at the Downtown Disney District. For a limited time, try the Thanksgiving Burger at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes, or enjoy a tasty twist with a sweet scoop of Salt & Straw’s Salted Thanksgiving Turkey or Sweet Potato Casserole with maple pecans. A Pints Club gift subscription is a gift idea from Salt & Straw’s colorful mercantile. Don’t forget, Earl of Sandwich offers its holiday best year-round with its Holiday Turkey Sandwich, a delicious layering of turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on freshly-baked artisan bread.

More Holiday Sips, Eats & Sweets!

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake CrazyShake at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes, a White Christmas Churro from California Churro, or an adorable snowman macaron from Kayla’s Cake. Wetzel’s Pretzels holiday pretzel is a colorful rainbow with a crunch! The festive caramel apples and peppermint marshmallow wands at Marceline’s Confectionery and Trolley Treats or a box of cupcakes from Sprinkles make great gifts.

Credit: Disney

Carthay Circle Restaurant is introducing Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining, a new outdoor dining experience featuring flavorful Mediterranean-California fare and terrific views of Buena Vista Street. At this time, this restaurant will use a mobile waitlist system throughout the day to manage the number of guests dining when the location is at capacity.

After a day of shopping, grown-ups may enjoy La Brea Bakery’s clever cocktail list featuring the Merry Manhattan, the Tinsel-Tini, a Mistletoe Margarita, the Joyful Daiquiri or a Jolly Old Fashioned that can be paired with a sandwich or entrée.

Find Your Treasures!

Swing into the holiday spirit by picking up a silver and gold spirit jersey, an “ugly sweater” Loungefly backpack or a new snow blower wand for wintery fun at World of Disney, Elias & Co.or Disneyland Resort Backlot Premiere Shop. You’ll find even more Disney to love and to choose from at The Disney Dress Shop, Disney Home and Julius Katz & Sons. Together, these stores offer the ultimate in Disney shopping for toys, apparel, souvenirs, home décor and holiday collections.

Rinse Bath & Body Co. offers Spiced Cranberry handcrafted soaps and lotion sticks, giving the scent of mulled spices, made with ingredients that are soothing to winter skin. Check out their entire selection of natural products, which make nice stocking stuffers!

At Pandora, build your own bracelet with charms that make a statement, hand-finished in sterling silver. Pandora has limited-edition gift sets for the holidays including three themed Cinderella charms with magical motifs, celebrating the 70th anniversary of Walt Disney’s animated classic.

Browse through other unique boutiques such as California Sole, Curl Surf, Sunglass Icon, Sephora, Sugarboo & Co. and The LEGO Store to find the ideal gift for every member of the family.

Toys for Tots

Now through December 13, 2020, donate a toy online at shopDisney.com/ToysForTots or donate a new, unwrapped toy to any Disney store or a World of Disney store in the U.S., and Disney will donate an additional $1 to Toys for Tots.  Disney’s tradition of supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots program dates back to Walt Disney, who personally supervised the creation of the Toys for Tots logo. Disney also was a founding sponsor of the program when it began in 1947. Today, Disneyland Resort is proud to continue the tradition of supporting Toys for Tots.

If you haven’t visited the Downtown Disney District lately, be sure to visit Disneyland.com/DTD to learn important information about updated experiences and other details including our health and safety measures such as the requirement of temperature checks for all guests, ages 2 and older, to wear an appropriate face covering.

The number of guests visiting the Downtown Disney District and its shopping and dining locations is limited to promote physical distancing. At some locations, including the World of Disney store, Marceline’s Confectionery, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining at Carthay Circle Restaurant, we may at times use a mobile waitlist system to manage the number of guests when the location and/or queue are at capacity. Guests can choose to provide their name and mobile number to receive a text message when they are able to return.* Disney California Adventure park is currently closed.

There is much to discover and explore at the Downtown Disney District!  We wish you and your loved ones a sparkling holiday season, filled with wonders and delight! 

*Subject to availability. Data and message rates and other restrictions may apply.

13 – Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Inspires New Line of Happy Meal Toys at McDonald’s & Sweepstakes

You can now collect unique Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Happy Meal Toys at McDonald’s! And you’ll have a chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World! Disney Cast Member Chelsea Auburn has all the information below:

The magic of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has rolled into McDonald’s! Just in time for their birthday celebration, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse have inspired a brand-new line of Happy Meal® toys at McDonald’s, bringing Mouse Rules to the iconic Golden Arches. This means there’s only one rule you need to remember: Anything can happen!

This new collection features Mickey and Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy experiencing some of the iconic attractions from across Walt Disney World Resort. Anchored by Engineer Goofy and Mickey and Minnie celebrating Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, these toys connect together to form a 10-car train. Each one also has a unique function to make the character move as it rolls, so as the attraction’s soundtrack says, nothing can stop us now from having fun!

Credit: Disney

Now through Dec. 14, while supplies last, when you purchase a Happy Meal at participating McDonald’s locations, you can enter for a chance to win a vacation for four to Walt Disney World Resort and experience the attraction that inspired it all: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Families can also enjoy fun and engaging games at home as part of this Happy Meal program through the McDonald’s Happy Meal App.


Hop Aboard to Win Sweepstakes at McDonald’s entry period ends 1/18/21, at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time (“ET”). To participate, go to the McDonald’s App or www.MagicAtMcD.com and scan/enter the code found with the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway toy in themed Happy Meal® boxes available while supplies last at participating McDonald’s restaurants. Enter without making a purchase as described in the Official Rules avail. at participating McDonald’s, in the McDonald’s App. See Official Rules for complete no purchase entry/prizes/ARVs/odds/prize claim deadlines and other details. Open only to residents of the 50 U.S./DC who are 18+. Void where prohibited. Each Code or mail-in entry is valid for one entry into the Sweepstakes. Codes are not reusable. 15 prizes, each a trip for 4 to Walt Disney World®Resort, ARV: $10,985 ea. The odds of winning a prize will be determined by the number of entries received. Limit 5 entries per day and limit one prize per household. Trip must be completed by 12/15/22. Sponsor: McDonald’s USA, LLC, 110 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, IL 60607-2101.

©2020 McDonald’s The Happy Meal Box design is the trademark of the McDonald’s Corporation and its affiliates. ©Disney

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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 DisneyLists.com 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 DisneyLists.com 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!
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