Wow! This week brought a series of huge announcements from Disney. Early in the week Disney announced the end of two big perks for resort guests, Magical Express and Extra Magic Hours. That was followed by an announcement from Disneyland (which has yet to reopen) that annual passes for the California parks would be cancelled. Not all the news was bad. We have two new locations for incredible edibles over at Disney Springs, Festival of the Arts kicked off, and we got a look inside the rooms of the new Star Wars hotel. A new exhibit will debut at Epcot in February, and construction walls are coming down at the France pavilion at Epcot. Disney Cruise Line issued and update, and we got a peak at some new Disney collectibles. All this and more in this week’s news roundup below.
1 – Disney Announces End of Magical Express Service
This week Disney sent shock waves through the fan community when it announced the end of its very popular Magical Express complimentary airport transportation service. Disney will no longer offer the service, starting with arrivals January 1, 2022. Disney will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. The reaction was very strong with many voicing their displeasure at the news they would need to find alternative options (and pay for) to get to Walt Disney World.
2 – Disney Announces End of Extra Magic Hours
The end of another Walt Disney World resort perk was also announced this week. Disney announced that Extra Magic Hours, which has been suspended since the parks reopening in July 2020, will not be returning. Instead, Disney will open all four parks early for resort guests. Learn more at the link below.
3 – Disneyland Announces End of Annual Passholder Program
In these challenging times, Disneyland Resort has been hit very hard and has still not reopened since its closure in March 2020. Because of this, the resort has had to make difficult decisions. This week one of those decisions was announced. Disney stated that “Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations around the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current Annual Passport program.” We’re very saddened to learn of this news and hope things turn around for Disneyland this year! Read the full statement and news of its replacement at the link below.
4 – 2021 Taste of EPCOT Festival of the Arts in Full Swing and Recipe Shared
The Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is now open at Walt Disney World Resort, celebrating visual, culinary, and performing arts from around the world. Now through February 22, 2021, guests can experience this celebration as part of regular park admission, with something to satisfy every palate – and every palette!
Disney has shared the recipe of one of its new dishes – the Passion Fruit Mousse with Dragon Fruit Jam from the new Vibrante & Vívido Food Studio, where the food featured is inspired by different cuisines in South America.
Learn more about the festival at the links below:
5 – We Tried Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew and Fell in Love
Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew opened earlier this month at Disney Springs. We had a chance to visit and have our review for you. While there were a few misses, we really fell in love with their specialty donuts and can’t wait to get them again. Learn more at the link below.
6 – Gideon’s Bakehouse Now Officially Open at Disney Springs
On Saturday, January 16, 2021, Gideon’s Bakehouse celebrated its Grand Opening. The restaurant opened for a short soft opening for just over a week at the end of December and then closed until its Grand Opening. Gideon’s Bakehouse is an Orlando favorite offering a unique cookie experience. Here is what they are all about:
The Mission Statement:
Gideon’s Bakehouse began in a home kitchen with one goal: to create an extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookie. Fifteen years and thousands of tests later, the work was complete. Our Cookie isn’t a product. It is a history, the sweet and the salty, the thrill of a first kiss, and the solitude of a heartbreak. Our desserts are emotional, personal, and we want to share our journey with you. We stay true to the original process, cutting no corners, putting every handmade detail into the 20 hours required to prepare a single almost half pound Cookie or a tall slice of Cake. We offer up our best expressions to you with a full-hearted invitation to learn more about one another. It is an opportunity to create an experience to remember. That is our brand.
Donuts and now cookies and cakes? Thank goodness calories don’t count at Walt Disney World, right? We’ll be visiting Gideon’s Bakehouse soon and will have a full review soon.
7 – New Exhibit ‘The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure’ Debuts in February at EPCOT
This week Disney announced an all-new exhibit coming to the American Adenture in EPCOT. The exhibit features Joe Joe Gardner from Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” and will take you on a musical tour of America to learn more about Jazz. Learn more at the link below.
8 – Disney Shares Photos of Inside Star Wars Hotel Cabin
This week, Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resorts, shared photos from inside a guest cabin at the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel. Here is the post below.
@joshdamaro and I enjoyed a sneak peek into the great progress the @WaltDisneyImagineering teams are making on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser here at WDW. Inside we visited The Atrium and looked out The Bridge windows to what will be a galaxy far, far way. We even checked out the cabins in progress, including their windows to space seen in these renderings.
Check out the photos that Jeff shared below. (Click on any image to enlarge).
9 – Walls Down Near France Expansion and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Last week we shared a video of the newly expanded France pavilion looking ready to go! This week Disney took down the construction walls and put planters in their place, allowing guests a look inside the new area. Take a look at our Instagram post for photos!
10 – Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of Sailings through March 2021.
Disney Cruise Line has again suspended sailings due to the global pandemic. Read the statement below from the Disney Cruise Line website:
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 March 2021.
Sailings are cancelled aboard the Disney Fantasy through March 27; the Disney Wonder through March 28; and the Disney Magic and Disney Dream through March 29.
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.
11 – nuiMOs! Latest Plush Trend Coming to Disney Parks Around the World, Disney Stores and shopDisney
If you were thinking you really needed another Disney collectible in your life, we have great news. Disney has just unveiled what they hope will be the next big thing. Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia has all the details below:
Since originally launching in Disney stores in Japan and China, Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Disney nuiMOs plush characters quickly gained popularity on social media as fans styled and took their plush on adventures to Disney Parks, the beach, the mall and everywhere in between! This year, it’s time for the rest of the world to meet Disney nuiMOs featuring miniature character plush, outfits and accessories with a fashionable twist! These little friends don’t skimp on style…
“What are nuiMOs?” you ask? The name “nuiMOs” is a blend of the Japanese words nuigurumi, meaning plush, and moderu, meaning model. Disney nuiMOs plush characters are meant to be an extension of one’s self with the flexibility to change one’s looks to suit their unique personality and taste. Disney nuiMOs are flexible and can do a wide variety of poses. Their pocket-sized compactness and portability make them the perfect little companions and even models!
Get ready because the first release is next Tuesday, January 19 and includes Disney nuiMOs plush of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Stitch and Angel along with an assortment of fashionable outfits and accessories for you to mix and match to create your very own unique styles!
On the first Monday of each month, beginning February 1, new accessories, outfits and plush will be released to keep up with the latest trends, including co-brands with Loungefly, Spirit Jersey, Ashley Eckstein, Disney Artist Wes Jenkins and more.
To help kick off the launch in style, celebrity stylist Maeve Reilly created four signature Disney nuiMOs looks for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse by mixing and matching clothing and accessories from the new lines, inspiring fans to create their own! Her love for accessorizing, passion for emerging brands, and acute attention to detail make her highly sought after by icons everywhere. Maeve’s Disney nuiMOs style creations are: Streetwear: Tokyo vs. LA street style, Loungewear, Day to Night and a Day at Disney Parks. Check them out:
To see more of the Disney nuiMOs styles that Maeve created, hop on over to her Instagram @StyleMeMaeve.
Disney nuiMOs will be available for the first time in North America and Europe beginning January 19 at shopDisney.com, shopDisney.co.uk, Disney stores and at Walt Disney World Resort. Of course, they will continue to delight guests at Disney stores in Japan, Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort as well! Stay tuned because these new friends will also be coming to Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris at a later date.
12 – Stitch Is Crashing An All-New Collectible Series Coming to Disney Parks, Disney stores and shopDisney.com
What? Still not enough Disney collectibles for you? How about this? Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia shares more below:
In 2002, Stitch crashed fans’ favorite Walt Disney Animation Studios film scenes, and now in 2021, they can join shopDisney, Disney stores and select Disney Parks as he crashes an all-new collectible series, all year-long!
Inspired by the original “Lilo & Stitch” film trailers from 2002, Stitch Crashes Disney is the latest monthly series that includes a new pin, plush and MagicBand each month, featuring experiment 626 himself crashing iconic Walt Disney Animation Studios scenes. A new collection from the series will be released on the third Saturday of each month throughout the year.[Now], fans can access the first collection through MerchPass on shopDisney.com then on January 16, guests can find the collection at Disney stores globally, Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort and later this month at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.
In true Stitch form, we can find him crashing his first collection just in time for the 30th anniversary of “Beauty and the Beast.” This month, Stitch is our ‘uninvited Guest’ featuring the film’s iconic roses and stained-glass artwork, check it out:
As seen here with this month’s adorable plush and pin designs, the cute and fluffy Stitch even managed to snag a rose…or two for himself!
Each release will have an all-new matching MagicBand available to guests only on shopDisney.com and at Walt Disney World Resort!
To complete the look, make sure to snag yourself a matching tee and mug that will be available for a limited time on the Thursday after each MerchPass release only on shopDisney.com.
Of course, you’ll need a place to hold your new pin collection with this new Stitch Crashes Disney Pin Trading book! You can shop these products and even more at shopDisney.com today!
Don’t worry if you weren’t able to get ahold of Stitch today, because you can find him popping up all year-long with a new style released globally on the third Saturday of each month throughout 2021. Can you guess what classic Walt Disney Animation Studios film Stitch will be crashing next?
Can’t get enough of this mischievous little guy? Stay tuned as we reveal the latest addition to Stitch Crashes Disney monthly and be sure to collect all 12 unique styles!
13 – Baby Boy Rhino at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Gets His Name
One of the things we love about Animal Kingdom is that we are constantly getting to enjoy brand new baby animals. The latest to join the ranks is a baby boy rhino. Disney Cast Member Scott Terrell shares more below:
Ever since we announced his arrival at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park this past October, guests keep asking about our baby boy rhino and want to know when they can see him and his mom Kendi, since many of them followed Kendi’s pregnancy story on the Disney+ original series “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” produced by National Geographic.
We also get a lot of questions about if he has a name.
I am thrilled to share a video our keeper team put together of our rhino calf achieving some of his important first milestones. Be sure to pay close attention to the ending – our baby boy will actually reveal his name.
So, there you have it! Straight from the rhino’s snout.
Our keeper team wanted to make sure our baby boy had a name with special significance – they wanted his name to honor the wildlife rangers who protect rhinos around the world. Rhinos are the world’s second largest land animal and among the most endangered animals in the wild due to poaching.
Ranger’s name is just another way we join the Disney Conservation Fund in efforts to support rhino conservation. Did you know they have given more than 75 grants and awards to rhino protection projects? Most recently, they gave a rhino ranger, Sgt. Mutinda Ndivo with the Big Life Foundation, a Disney Conservation Hero award for his work to protect rhinos and other wildlife in more than 1.6 million acres of wilderness in East Africa, You can visit @DisneyConservation on Facebook or Instagram to learn more about these efforts.
We try not to have favorites, but our baby rhino has won us over with his spunky and curious nature. It has been a delight to see how much progress he has made as he in his development – from the close bond he has with his mom, to enjoying a good wallow in the mud, or zooming at objects with his budding horn. He is truly coming into his own and brimming with confidence.
We adore Ranger and know you will too. We’ll make sure to update you when he makes his grand debut and ventures out onto the savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris to join the crash (a rhino herd) in the coming weeks. Follow @DrMarkAtDisney on Instagram and @DisneyASE on Facebook for more!
14 – Magical Disney Transformations are Now Positively Impacting Patient Experiences in Three Central Florida Children’s Hospitals
Bringing a little magic and joy to children’s hospitals is part of Disney’s legacy, so 2021 is looking to be a little more magical for three Central Florida children’s hospitals thanks to an inspiring program called The Disney children’s hospitals program.
AdventHealth for Children, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital have officially introduced Disney’s program elements into their hospital experience including interactive play spaces, whimsical murals, care packages and more that bring beloved Disney stories to life and provide moments of joy and inspiration to seriously ill children and their families.
These reimagined spaces will positively impact thousands of children and families in Central Florida and beyond, and they are just one part of Disney’s overall focus to deliver magic in children’s hospitals around the globe.
Disney Cast Member Tajiana Ancora-Brown shares more below:
As we look forward to the year ahead, we are excited to share with you something we hope will bring you joy and inspiration after a challenging year. Bringing Disney magic to children’s hospitals within our communities is part of our legacy, and 2021 will be a little more magical for Central Florida children’s hospitals thanks to our children’s hospitals program.
Last year, we shared that areas within three children’s hospitals right here in Central Florida would be magically reimagined as part of our children’s hospitals program commitment to provide comfort and inspiration to seriously ill children and their families. And today, we’re thrilled to share these transformed spaces are officially part of the patient experience at AdventHealth for Children, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital and are already beginning to make a difference for children who stay there.
“At Disney, we recognize the positive impact our characters, stories and renowned creativity can have on children facing serious illness and their families, and we’re so excited to bring our children’s hospitals program to these three Central Florida hospitals,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility, The Walt Disney Company. “We’re proud to be able to make a difference in our local communities and we’re thankful for the strong support from the hospitals’ staff, healthcare professionals and experts that made this unique collaboration possible.”
Being a child in a hospital can be an overwhelming experience in an unfamiliar environment. Central Florida children and their families facing these challenging times are finding more ease and lessened anxiety during their hospital stay as they engage with interactive, whimsical installations and technology that brings our beloved – and familiar – characters and treasured Disney stories to life.
Disney is committed to delivering moments of magic to kids when they need it most and these three hospitals are just part of Disney’s $100M plan to reimagine the patient experience in children’s hospitals and to grant every eligible Disney wish globally.
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