DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Flower & Garden Dates Announced; New Package with Free Park Days; 3 More Resorts Opening, Character Dining Reopens; MagicBand Update; Foodie News; Holiday Special Viewings; Water Pageant Returning & More

We are entering the busiest time of the year at Walt Disney World, and it’s not just the parks. It was a busy week of Disney news as Disney World gears up for a gradual crawl back to normal in 2021. Disney announced dates for the 2021 Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot, as well as a new package offer that includes extra free days in the parks! We also got reopening dates for three more Disney World hotels and an announcement regarding the return of a classic nighttime entertainment offering. If you’re a food fan like us, you’ll love the foodie news out of Magic Kingdom; you’ll be glad to hear Chef Mickey’s has reopened, and don’t miss this week’s holiday recipe. Elsewhere around the property, guests should be aware of some changes coming to the process of joining the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and a reminder about changes to MagicBands coming in 2021. Disney is testing a new mobile check out option for merchandise, the savanna at Animal Kingdom has some cute new residents, and Disney World’s creepiest water slide is no more. All this and more in this week’s news roundup.


1 – Happy Holidays from DisneyLists.com

As we head into the holiday season, Chad and I want to take a moment to thank you for following us, reading our articles, and being fans of DisneyLists.com. 2020 has been a strange and challenging year, and we appreciate you hanging with us as we tackle this new reality that we’re all experiencing. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this month or how different your holiday gathering may look this year, we hope it’s a safe and magical time! 


2 – Dates Announced for 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

We’re already looking forward to spring 2021, and now we can plan our visit to the Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Sadly, the 2020 festival only ran for two weeks, so we are super excited to visit this spring. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for more on the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival.

3 – New Disney Resort Package Offer for 2021 Announced

Walt Disney World Resort will be offering a special “happy new year” to those planning 2021 vacations at The Most Magical Place on Earth. Available to book beginning January 5, 2021, guests buying non-discounted four-night/three-day room and ticket packages at select Disney Resort hotels for arrivals most nights January 8, 2021, through September 25, 2021, will receive an additional two days of theme park tickets.

Click here for more details on the Walt Disney World Resort special package offer.


4 – Disney Announces Reopening Dates for Three More Resorts

Earlier, we had reported that Disney’s All-Star Movie Resort was scheduled to reopen on February 9, 2021. That reopening date has been pushed back to March. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Beach Club Resorts have also been given reopening dates. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for details on the reopening of three Walt Disney World resorts.

5 – Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Returns with Modifications

This week Mickey and friends returned to Chef Mickey’s for a new character dining experience. According to the website, breakfast is $42 per adult and $27 per child. Breakfast is the only meal currently offered. Here are the details from the Walt Disney World website:

Experience Character Dining and an enhanced all-you-care-to-eat family-style meal in a bright, happy space. As the monorail whizzes by, soak up the expansive views of Bay Lake, and behold the stunning 90-foot-high mural by Disney Legend Mary Blair that overlooks the festive eatery.

Enjoy breakfast breads, traditional breakfast entrées such as Mickey waffles, and selections from Chef Mickey’s Signature entrees—including banana bread French toast, loaded potato-cheese casserole and the “Celebration” Mickey pancake. Each table will receive a special autographed card keepsake from Mickey and his friends. Throughout the dining experience, Mickey Mouse and some favorite pals will make surprising appearances in each of the dining rooms. See them move throughout the restaurant, waving hello as rollicking music fills the air.

Advance reservations are highly recommended.

6 – Virtual Queue Update for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

The process for joining the Virtual Queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is changing again.  Learn more at the link below.

Click here for details on the changes coming to the Virtual Queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

7 – Magic Kingdom Foodie News

Magic Kingdom Park is getting new menu items at various restaurants (woohoo). Catch all the details at the link below and get your tastebuds ready.

Click here for all the foodie news at Magic Kingdom Park.


8 – Electrical Water Pageant Returning to Walt Disney World

One of our favorite classic Walt Disney World offerings is returning, and we are super excited. The Electrical Water Pageant has not been operating since March 2020. Thankfully, it is returning. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for information on the return of the Electrical Water Pageant.

9 – Virtual Viewing of ‘Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks’

Bring a little holiday magic into your home with a virtual viewing of “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks,” recorded last year. This fireworks show is part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Watch the fireworks at the link below.

Click here for the virtual viewing of “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks.”

For more holiday magic, check out the virtual viewing of Candlelight Processional has well by clicking here.

10 – Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

This week Cindy enjoyed the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs. While it’s been modified for 2020, it is still a lot of fun to see the many differently themed Christmas trees! Click the link below for photos of the tree trail and scavenger hunt, and follow us on Instagram!

Click here to view our Instagram Story of the 2020 Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail!

11 – MagicBand Reminder for 2021

This week Walt Disney World sent out an email to Walt Disney World resort guests reminding them of the coming changes to the MagicBand program. Below you’ll find the text of the email sent:

Important Reminder About Your Upcoming Stay

Your Walt Disney World vacation is right around the corner, and we can’t wait to welcome you here! But before you go, we wanted to send you this helpful reminder.

MagicBands will no longer be provided complimentary to Disney Resort hotel Guests with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021. For Disney Resort hotel room entry, Theme Park entry and charging purchases to your hotel room with a valid credit card, you may use a Key To The World card (provided at the Front Desk). Or, you may use a MagicBand from a past visit (view potential limitations) or purchase a MagicBand prearrival. For more about these options click here.

In addition, we highly recommend using our Online Check-In/Direct-to-Room service, which allows you to get to the fun faster with real-time, room-ready updates. Sign up for room ready notifications and use the MyDisneyExperience app as a digital room key to enter your Disney Resort hotel room. The app is also a great tool to help you plan before and during your visit.

Thanks for your time. See ya real soon!

12 – Nigerian Dwarf Goats Welcomed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Kilimanjaro Safaris

There are some new animals to see on Kilimanjaro Safaris! Disney Cast Member Laurel Slater shares more below:

Since the opening of the park in 1998, Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park has continued to grow and evolve, bringing new encounters to the savanna. Today, that evolution continues as we introduce a new species of Nigerian dwarf goats to the experience.

As guests wrap up their journey on the Harambe Wildlife Reserve they’ll see a warden’s outpost where these miniature West African goats chase, climb and play like kids. But don’t let their size fool you, they are fully grown adults.


Originally from Nigeria, the goats are considered to be of high value because of the high protein milk they provide, which is also very sweet. By being able to help support the village with the goat milk products, there is less of a need for people to rely on wildlife, which in turn helps keep wildlife and their habitats protected. With the Warden’s outpost being on the edge of the reserve, this shared land is managed in a way that helps protect local wildlife so both the animals and humans can live near each other in harmony.

On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to hop aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris to witness these fun, playful goats yourself! And if you think goats are the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time!), you’ll be happy to hear that the Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch has reopened for up-close visits with goats and other animals.


13 – Walt Disney World Testing Mobile Checkout at Select Merchandise Locations

Walt Disney World is testing a new “Mobile Checkout” at two merchandise locations: MouseGear at EPCOT and Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The process is quite simple. At these stores, you can now scan items and check out using your mobile app. On your device, you’ll open the My Disney Experience app. Click on the + symbol in the bottom, and you’ll see “Shop In Store – Now Testing” (see photos below). First, you grab a designated mobile checkout shopping bag. Then, scan items as you add them to your bag. Next, tap “check out” when finished shopping to pay on your phone. Finally, show your QR code to a Cast Member as you exit. You’re all set. Discounts such as Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club will be automatically applied. We can’t wait to test it out!


14 – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Pool Gets and Update

Walt Disney Imagineer, Zach Riddley, shared an update this week at the changes taking place at the Keister Coaster Slide at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. The scary clown is gone, and we love the changes. Learn more below from Zach’s post:

Our @waltdisneyworld and @WaltDisneyImagineering teams are even closer to completing the brand-new design at the end of the Keister Coaster slide at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. In these sneak peek photos with the updated graphic (that’s kEIster! We triple-checked!), you can see that Mickey Mouse and his pals are the ones clowning around as they splash down into Luna Park Pool. I can’t wait for guests to join along in the fun when the slide reopens soon!


15 – Disney’s Riviera Resort Celebrates First Anniversary, Unveils LEGO Model

Disney’s Riviera Resort celebrated its first anniversary this week and with it, an amazing LEGO model debuted. Disney Cast Member Ryan March shares more below:

Can you believe Disney’s Riviera Resort opened one year ago today? Where did the past year go? (Loaded question, I know.)

“Inspired by Europe and imagined by Disney,” this new addition to the Disney Vacation Club neighborhood at Walt Disney World Resort celebrates the grandeur and enchantment that have drawn generations of artists and storytellers – including Walt Disney – to the European Riviera. And now, the resort inspired by the region that inspired so many artists has inspired a new generation of masters: the extraordinarily talented The LEGO Group.

Credit: Disney

To help mark the resort’s first anniversary, Disney Vacation Club commissioned The LEGO Group to create a spectacular model of Disney’s Riviera Resort, created in consultation with Disney Imagineers who helped bring the resort to life.

LEGO Master Model Builders spent more than 300 hours designing and assembling the intricately detailed model, which weighs in at 100 pounds and contains more than 45,000 LEGO elements. The model includes many of the resort’s most distinctive features, including miniature recreations of the Disney Skyliner transportation system, the resort’s feature pool and waterslide, and its signature “RR” monogram.

Credit: Disney

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were among the first to admire the model’s faithful details (even seeing themselves depicted outside the Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera rooftop restaurant) when the 84-inch-by-66-inch sculpture made a brief appearance at Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Look for the model to arrive early next year to the Disney Vacation Club kiosk at Disney Springs Marketplace, where plans call for this one-of-a-kind work of art to remain on display through the remainder of 2021 – a year that marks 30 magical years of Disney Vacation Club.

16 – Peppermint Marshmallow Wands Recipe from Marceline’s Confectionary

Looking for an easy, family-friendly holiday recipe to try this week? Check out a new Disney Parks recipe at the link below.

Click here for the recipe for the Peppermint Marshmallow Wands Recipe from Marceline’s Confectionary.

17 – Walt Disney World Swan Reserve to Open July 2021

The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve hotel currently under construction is set to open in July 2021. Here is some information on the resort from the Marriott.com website:

Situated in the middle of the magic, The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, an Autograph Collection Hotel, provides a luxurious yet tranquil oasis to attractions and theme parks at Disney. With Disney’s newest attractions including Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge within walking distance, guests can flow effortlessly from the excitement of the theme parks to the relaxation of a lavishly appointed hotel room or suite perfect for families of 6 to 10. Complimentary transportation is provided throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including to Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As an added benefit, guests enjoy full access to all amenities of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, including special Disney benefits. The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve truly is like nothing else, located like nowhere else.

18 – Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Announces Three Food Events in 2021

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is offering three food events in early 2021! Here are the details from the Swan & Dolphin Food and Wine Classic website:

Following the success of our Sip, Savor, & Stay series of mini-events the past few months we are excited to announce 3 new event experiences to kick off the new year! Click to learn more about each event, available ticket options, and the safety measures in place to ensure a secure and responsible experience for our guests. Limited space available!

A Taste of Swan & Dolphin – January 16, 2021

The Big Game Tailgate Party – February 7, 2021

A Taste of Swan & Dolphin – February 27, 2021

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.


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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