DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Jungle Cruise Makeover; New Details on Flower & Garden Festival; Blizzard Beach Opening; New Foodie Guide; Celebrate Soulfully Begins; Cruise Updates; Anniversary Celebration & More

The past week was a busy week at Disney. Disney made a big announcement about changes coming to the Jungle Cruise at both Disney World and Disneyland and released new information on the upcoming Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot. Don’t miss the new “Celebrate Soulfully” beginning February 1, taking place at Epcot, Disney Springs, and beyond. Water park fun is almost back. We have details on tickets and update health and safety policies. We also have food and gift guides for the Valentine’s Day season around Disney World. Speaking of food, there are a couple of really cool specialty food events coming up at some Disney Springs restaurants that are worth checking out. There is a Disney Cruise Line update, Disney Vacation Club is celebrating a significant anniversary, and some cool merchandise offerings. All this and more in this week’s news roundup below.


1 – Jungle Cruise to Receive Updates at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

The classic attraction, the Jungle Cruise, will be receiving an update including a new storyline later this year at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park. Learn more below.

Click here for the announcement of the updates coming to the Jungle Cruise.

Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty discussed the upcoming update with D23. Here are a few excerpts from the interview that give more information about the forthcoming changes. Click here for the full interview.

Can you talk about why you decided to make these new updates?

We are constantly evaluating ways to enhance attractions and experiences in our parks. We want to make sure everybody has the best time—that guests from all over the world can connect with the stories we share and that how we bring those to life are respectful of the diverse world we live in. And when they get off the attraction, they know that we have done our homework because these are the details that matter. When you look at the Jungle Cruise, as it is today, there are just a couple of scenes that don’t do that and needed a refresh. But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction. It’s the Jungle Cruise you know and love, with the skippers still leading the way, and at the same time, we’re addressing the negative depictions of “natives.” So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.

I feel like there is sometimes, perhaps, misplaced concern that when an attraction is reimagined that it is somehow not going to be as great as it was before. How do you address that?

First off, we love our fans. You could ask any Imagineer why we do what we do, and it really is to bring a smile to our fans’ faces. And we’re cautious, because we know that any time we go in to make changes, especially to a classic attraction, some may worry it’s going to lose its magic. To make sure it doesn’t, we do our homework. First, we are really leaning into our skippers. Kevin Lively, who is a writer at Imagineering, is actually a former skipper and is the writer for our show. So any changes that we are making are actually being written by a former skipper. The role the skippers play is a significant part of this attraction experience—their performance and how they bring it to life is something we all love. They are deeply passionate about this attraction, too. We want to make sure we get the skippers on board, no pun intended, and that they feel like they have some ownership in this. So that was step one.

Second was to bring together a diverse project team. We wanted to make sure that any changes we made from a relevancy standpoint were done right. So we’ve been working with Carmen Smith [executive for Creative Development and Inclusive Strategies] and her team within Imagineering to make sure that any time we show something culturally significant, that is done in the proper light. It’s done in a way that celebrates diverse backgrounds and interests—that’s part of the rich storytelling, not something you poke fun at it.

When introducing new elements—even animals—we make sure they’re done in a respectful way. We reached out to Dr. Mark Penning and his team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and said, “Look, we have these chimpanzees that are coming into this new world and we want to have fun with them. How do we make sure it’s done in an authentic way for the chimpanzees?” We want to have fun, but we’re not making fun of the animals. His team had great insights and it really elevated that new scene.

And the last part is really looking back to the source material. We went back and looked at original Marc Davis sketches. We pulled out his work and looked at what makes this scene funny, and what are some of the scenes that Marc developed that didn’t make it? It’s really important to go back—especially on a classic attraction—and look at the DNA and what really makes the attraction work. What makes it funny? What makes it fun for our guests? And part of that is going back to Marc’s humor and his storytelling. And Kevin is brilliant at that. Kevin does an amazing job finding that right tone that has that Marc Davis quality to it.

Is there a timeline for the enhancements?

We haven’t announced a date yet. We’re working hard to make sure we can get everything in this year.

2 – 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival – More Details Released

We’re just about a month away from the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival! This week Disney released new details on the modified festival, including information on the Outdoor Kitchens, entertainment, and more. Learn more at the link below.

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

3 – New ‘Celebrate Soulfully’ to Debut in February at Walt Disney World

Beginning in February, Walt Disney World Resort will unveil several new experiences inviting guests to celebrate soulfully at The Most Magical Place on Earth. Coinciding with and extending beyond February’s Black History Month, these offerings honor Black heritage and culture through music, food, art, and more. Learn more at the link below!

Click here for more information on ‘Celebrate Soulfully’ coming to Walt Disney World in February.


4 – Blizzard Beach Tickets Now Available – Water Park Health & Safety Policies Released

The Disney water parks have been closed for almost a year, and we’re really getting excited about Blizzard Beach’s opening on March 7. Tickets are now available for purchase. Disney also released their health and safety policies, including the face-covering policy. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for more on Blizzard Beach tickets and water park health and safety policies.

5 – Foodie Guide to Valentine’s Season 2021 at Disney Parks and Resorts

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and Disney Parks are offering some fantastic treats in February! Learn what’s being offered and where at the link below.

Click here for the foodie guide to Valentine’s Season 2021 at Disney Parks and Resorts.

6 – Disney Cruise Line Extends Cruise Suspension to Late Spring

Unfortunately, Disney Cruise Line has extended its suspension of cruising to late spring. Here is the updated statement from the Disney Cruise Line website:

Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of All Departures Through April and Select Disney Magic and Disney Wonder Sailings in May

Our team at Disney Cruise Line remains focused on the health and well-being of our Guests and team members. We are carefully preparing for a return to service following the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As we continue to refine our protocols and await further technical guidance from the CDC, we are cancelling all sailings departing through April 2021 and select sailings onboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder in May.

Sailings are cancelled aboard the Disney Fantasy through April 24; the Disney Dream through April 30; the Disney Magic through May 9; and the Disney Wonder through May 12.

Additionally, as previously shared, based on the conditional sail order provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disney Cruise Line must cancel sailings longer than 7 nights.

Guests booked on affected sailings who have paid their reservation in full will be offered the choice of a cruise credit to be used for a future sailing or a full refund. Guests who have not paid their reservations in full will automatically receive a refund of what they have paid so far. Affected Guests and travel agents will receive an email from Disney Cruise Line outlining details and next steps.

Guests who’ve booked their reservation through a travel agent should contact them directly with any questions. Those who’ve booked directly with Disney Cruise Line and have questions after receiving their email should call (866) 325-6685 or (407) 566-7797.

7 – Updated Face Covering Policy at Walt Disney World Resort

With more Americans receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, Disney has clarified that it will still require face coverings for all guests when visiting the resort. Here is the updated policy from the Walt Disney World website:

Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming. You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.

All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:

    • Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
    • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free

At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings.

Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.

Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings must:

    • Be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching
    • Meet all face covering requirements listed above

The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.

8 – Valentine’s Day Chef Tasting at Morimoto Asia

Romance is in the air at Disney Springs, and Morimoto Asia is celebrating with a special Valentine’s Day Chef’s Tasting. Join Morimoto Asia in its private dining rooms for a gourmet multi-course dinner to experience love at first bite. Suggested drink pairings are also available for each dish to complement their unique flavors and textures at an additional cost. Taking place on Sunday, February 14, there will be two seating times at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. With four private rooms available, each separate space can accommodate up to four guests.

Let us set the mood as you enjoy world class cuisine, unparalleled hospitality, stunning décor, and an intimate ambiance with your special someone. Reserve your seats today for $225 plus tax and gratuity per person for an unforgettable evening at Morimoto Asia. An optional beverage pairing is offered for an additional $85 per person.

Space is limited and will sell out quickly. E-mail MorimotoEvents@PatinaGroup.com to reserve your spot today!


9 – Disney Vacation Club Celebrates 30 Years

Disney Vacation Club is celebrating 30 amazing years and will celebrate! Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Melody Vagnini:

Can you believe this year marks the 30th anniversary of Disney Vacation Club? Today, we are officially kicking off our year-long celebration by revealing an exciting lineup of made-for-Member activities and benefits, as well a special performance. Here’s a look at some of the offerings in store!

Join host Ryan March (Disney Files Magazine) for “We Go On,” a streaming musical event produced especially for Disney Vacation Club Members. This celebration of Membership Magic at home features uplifting entertainment, with inspirational performances by stage and screen star Keala Settle (known for her breakout role in “The Greatest Showman”) and the EPCOT fan-favorite a cappella group, the Voices of LibertyYou might just spot some other familiar faces with special talents to share! Members should check their email for a video link to view the full-length musical production.


But, of course, we want to give all of our Disney Parks Blog readers a glimpse at this one-of-a-kind show. In this powerful moment, Keala Settle joins Ryan to share the special meaning behind the song “it’s a small world” before performing an emotional rendition of this Disney classic.

Credit: Disney

Celebrate in style with customizable Disney Vacation Club 30th Anniversary merchandise, available now at shopdisney.com/membermarketplace.

We’re pleased to share that the popular Disney Vacation Club Member Lounge, overlooking EPCOT in the park’s Imagination! pavilion, will remain open through 2021. Available for Members with paid admission to EPCOT, the lounge is currently available from noon to 7 p.m. daily. Starting January 31, the hours will adjust to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Disney Vacation Club Member Lounge offers a convenient and comfortable place to recharge while visiting the theme park, with casual seating, complimentary beverages, device-charging stations and Wi-Fi.

Credit: Disney

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, Members are invited to take part in a brand-new scavenger hunt across Walt Disney World Resort. In this interactive and informative selfie-collecting quest, Disney Vacation Club Members will discover thematic insights and Disney details that are woven into the storytelling of each of the parks. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the trivia that participants will learn … did you know all of these?

Credit: Disney

Participants will conclude their scavenger hunt experience with some new Disney trivia up their sleeve and a commemorative Disney Vacation Club 30th Anniversary button to reward their eagle eye and selfie-taking skills! There are four buttons available, one for each of the parks.

Scenic Selfies begins on February 16. To get started, bring your smart device and visit the designated Disney Vacation Club kiosk in each park: Magic Kingdom Park (Tomorrowland), EPCOT (alongside the Canada pavilion), Disney’s Hollywood Studios (before the entrance to Toy Story Land) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (Asia).


Here’s a snapshot at some of the Disney Vacation Club Member benefits planned for 2021:

  • Disney Vacation Club Members now have more flexibility to save for dream vacations with Adventures by Disney as part of the Disney Collection. Eligible Members can combine Deposited, Banked, Borrowed and current Use Year Points across four years to enjoy access to unforgettable Adventures by Disney experiences. Terms apply.
  • Eligible Members have regular access to multiple benefits at Walt Disney World Golf, including 15% discounts on rounds of golf whenever they play. Additionally, Members can take advantage of a special Golf Membership program.
  • Disney Vacation Members looking for a road trip destination, an island getaway or even a bucket-list river cruise can use the exchange network to explore thousands of vacation locations around the world. Through 2021, Members can continue to enjoy the waived transaction fees for new exchange reservations.
  • Members can show their blue Disney Vacation Club ID card to save up to 20% on select merchandise and up to 10% at select dining locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.

To learn more, visit disneyvacationclub.com.

10 – New Chef Event – Chef Dee ‘A Taste of the Bahamas’ – at the Edison

Join the Edison on Thursday, February 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a multi-course tasting dinner at The Edison during an intimate evening of creative dishes and craft cocktails as we welcome new Executive Chef Deaundra “Dee” Rolle. Drawing on her Bahamian heritage, Chef Dee will present an exclusive menu featuring a masterful mix of traditional flavors from her home country and classic American recipes. Items will be paired with fan-favorite tiki cocktails such as a rum runner, Mai tai, and daiquiri from The Edison’s esteemed mixologists. From appetizers of conch fritters with remoulade to a steamed snapper entrée and benne cake ice cream for dessert, guests will feel transported to the Caribbean with every bite as Chef Dee describes the inspiration behind her creations. A limited number of tickets are available to purchase for $76+ per person. Reserve your seat today by clicking HERE.

The first in a series of hosted chef-driven events held in 2021, The Edison will continue to invite guests out to try the latest menu additions as Chef Dee puts her unique twist on the restaurant’s signature culinary offerings.


11 – 2021 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your loved ones? Disney Parks and shopDisney.com have got some great options. Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia shares more below:

Can you believe February is just around the corner? Well, it’s here and I for one am ready for it! If you’re anything like me, you procrastinate which means you probably don’t have a Valentine’s Day gift in mind for that special someone yet. You’re in luck because I’m here to bring you some of the top products available now at select Disney Parks, shopDisney.com, Disney stores and retailers around the world!


Headed to Walt Disney World Resort or the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort this Valentine’s Day? You’ll definitely want to pick up the latest Minnie Mouse headband adorned with Mickey ears and a heart-shaped bow. Complete the look with an Alex and Ani bracelet.


Don’t have a sweetheart or want to surprise yours? Get the latest dress for your Disney nuiMOs plush coming on February 1 and make it park-ready with a matching mini backpack by Loungefly, available now at Walt Disney World Resort, the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Disney stores and shopDisney.com.

Credit: Disney

Visiting Walt Disney World Resort with your significant other? Get the latest MagicBand featuring Simba and Nala from “The Lion King” to celebrate! Can you feel the love?

Those of you not visiting Disney Parks over this next month, check out some products available now at retailers worldwide:


This special limited-edition doll set features both Mickey Mouse and his sweetheart, Minnie Mouse in elegant attire and is presented in a delicious display case with hinged front panels decorated with confectionary. This Valentine’s Day doll set is available beginning January 29 at 7 a.m. PST only on shopDisney.com!

Credit: Disney

Releasing on January 30 at shopDisney.com at 7 a.m. PST, share in the love and collect all six World of Disney Love Series Blind Collection Keys. Fans have the chance to get one of five designs, plus a mysterious sixth design. You’ll definitely want to collect them all!


Our Valentine’s Day-themed Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse plush have gotten all dolled up, ready to make your heart skip a beat and available at shopDisney.com


Available on Lovepopcards.com, send any Star Wars fan the cutest Valentine in the galaxy to show just how much you care. Let them know that this is the way, to a great Valentine’s Day with a “The Mandalorian” Valentine’s way pop up card or Death Star love explosion bouquet card!

Credit: Disney

We all know that Disney Villains do not like Valentine’s Day! “Will You Be My Villaintine?” is the perfect story for the single life and includes some very special Villaintine cards as well! “Frozen 2: Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr” is a love story for the ages and dives into the mystery of Anna and Elsa’s parents from “Frozen 2.”

So, get ready for the loveliest time of year and get shopping…The countdown is on! <3

12 – New Streetwear Collection Inspired by the Child Coming to Disney Parks, Disney stores and shopDisney

The Mandalorian and the Child have taken fans by storm and we can’t get enough! If you want some apparel to show off your love, you are in luck! Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia:

While season two of “The Mandalorian” aired last month, I can’t stop thinking about all those reveals! Now, don’t fret, I won’t be spoiling anything here, BUT I bring good news…

In honor of the little guy himself, I’m excited to announce that a brand-new streetwear collection inspired by the Child is coming next week on February 1 to shopDisney.com, Disney stores in North America and Walt Disney World Resort followed by the Downtown Disney District later in the month!

Credit: Disney

First up and my personal favorite, a heather gray long-sleeve t-shirt with embroidered embellishments of Grogu on the front and “The Kid,” layered on top of Mando’a script, on the back. Can you decipher it? Let’s be honest, wherever I go, this collection goes…


Now look at these fashionable combos! Embrace your inner galactic adventurer with this adorable sweatshirt! Then get ready to lounge after a long day on the run in “The Child”-inspired leggings and matching crop top!

Top off your streetwear looks with a tie-back hat or beanie; the choice is yours! Available only at shopDisney.com, take it on the go with a backpack or belt bag…Something for everyone!

The collection honors the iconography established in “The Mandalorian”- all of the script featured on the apparel is in Mando’a – and highlights how the Child is a valuable asset to many in the galaxy.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to lounge around in these comfy looks while re-watching the twists and turns of season two of “The Mandalorian!” Which items are you most excited to rock?

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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