Big stuff is happening around the Disney Parks and beyond. At Disney World, we have an update on where the phased reopening stands including capacity, crowds, and park reservations. We have more offering reopening including our favorite live show. We also have a big change in the cancellation policy guests need to be aware of. We also have a lot of new information on the reopening of Disneyland this week. Over at Disney Cruise Line, Disney has released a ton of information on its newest ship, the Disney Wish, and there will be a full unveiling this week as well. Don’t miss the Mother’s Day foodie guide, and check out the Disney Cruise Line Pop-Up store open for a limited time at Disney Springs. All this and a lot more in this week’s news roundup.
1 – Spring Phased Reopening Update on Capacity, Crowds, Hours, and Park Reservations at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has been operating with modifications since it reopened last July. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get park reservations for May and summer dates. We’ve got tips on how to deal with the current state of the park capacity, crowds, hours and lack of park reservations at the link below.
2 – The Festival of the Lion King Expected to Open Mid-May
This week, the President of Walt Disney World Resort, Jeff Vahle, announced that “A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King,” will debut “mid-May.” The cast are in rehearsals for the modified show that is expected to be shorter than the original. We are very excited to see this amazing show again!
3 – Tommorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover to Reopen This Weekend
After being closed for over a year and many delays of its scheduled reopening, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is expected to reopen this weekend. We can’t wait to ride it again!
4 – Update on Characters in Walt Disney World
Since the beginning of the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, Disney Characters have been out in the parks in character cavalcades and in other spots to greet guests from afar. Recently, Disney has been mixing things up and new characters have been spotted. In Magic Kingdom, you can now see Moana in the “Magic Kingdom Friends” cavalcade. Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Donald Duck has been spotted in a grassy area, and Chip ‘n’ Dale have been seen having a picnic. At EPCOT, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto have been spotted near the front entrance at different times of the day. So, in addition to the character cavalcades, be on the lookout for characters in different spots. You never know who you might see!
5 – Foodie Guide to Mother’s Day at Disney Parks
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if you’ll be visiting Disney Parks, you can take advantage of some special limited-time treats that will be available. Learn more at the link below.
6 – Disney Resort Reservation Cancelation Policy Reminder
During the phased reopening, Walt Disney World Resort hotels have been offering a flexible cancellation policy for arrivals through April 30, 2021. During this time Disney waived all Disney-imposed change and cancelation fees. However, as a reminder, Walt Disney World Resort hotel check-ins beginning on (or after) May 1, 2021, will be subject to Disney standard terms and conditions. For room-only bookings that means you must cancel at least 5 days prior to your arrival to receive a refund of your deposit. For vacation packages, if you cancel 30 days prior, the full amount paid will be refunded. For cancellations of vacation packages made 2 days to 29 days prior to guest arrival, amounts paid, minus a cancellation fee of $200.00 per package will be refunded.
7 – More Information Released for Disneyland Parks Reopening
With less than one week until reopening, Disneyland Resort is gearing up to welcome guests back! This week Disney released more information on what you need to know about the reopening and visiting the parks and resort with modified operations. Learn more at the links below.
8 – Updates on Disney Cruise Line Newest Ship – Disney Wish
Disney Cruise Line is gearing up for its 5th ship, the Disney Wish! Later this week, you can watch a special presentation of the grand unveiling of the ship. Also, Disney released new design concept art of the ship. Learn more at the links below.
9 – Disney Cruise Line Pop-Up Shop Now Open at Disney Springs
This week Disney Cruise Line opened a temporary store inside Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs. Guests can find exclusive Disney Cruise Line merchandise that is usually only found on the ships. Learn more at the link below.
10 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Baby Mandrill – It’s a Girl!
There’s a new baby mandrill at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Disney Cast Member Scott Terrell has more below:
A baby mandrill has joined the family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. And what better time than during Earth Month?
In the spirit of the mystical mandrill Rafiki, join us in honoring the circle of life as we celebrate the arrival of this adorable newborn. The little girl was born on Saturday, April 10, to first-time mom Hazel and dad Linus. Cast members named the infant Ivy to fit in with the rest of her colorful family – Olive, Scarlett, Snow and Hazel.
We’re so excited to share this news and report that mom and newborn are healthy and bonding. Be on the lookout, because both have already been spotted by guests on Kilimanjaro Safaris. You might see the shy baby clinging to Hazel’s stomach, a natural bonding behavior. But this will change soon as the baby begins to walk within weeks of being born, spending most of the time walking underneath mom. The baby joins the troop of seven other mandrills that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home.
Here are some interesting facts about one of the most colorful mammals found in nature. Mandrills typically have a six-month gestation period. In the mandrill social structure, females take on the majority of parental responsibilities, including grooming, nursing, and carrying the young. When you spot the mandrills, you may see them grooming one another, a behavior that promotes social bonding.
While our new arrival weighed in between 1-2 pounds, mandrills are actually the largest species of monkey. They’re also a vulnerable species found in African rainforests along the equator where their habitat is disappearing because of deforestation and poaching.
This birth is an example of how our dedicated and highly trained team of Disney animal care experts works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on Species Survival Plans. With this birth, the troop at Disney’s Animal Kingdom now includes four generations of mandrills from the same family, mirroring the social system of mandrills found in the wild.
11 – ‘Secrets of the Whales’ Sand Sculpture Splashes Into Disney’s Animal Kingdom for Earth Month
Disney artists have done it again and have finished the ‘Secrets of the Whales’ sand sculpture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney Cast Member Jon Price shares more below:
In celebration of the April 22 release of the Disney+ Original Series “Secrets of the Whales” from National Geographic, artists recently carved a new sculpture out of 40 tons of sand at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. The intricate sculpture took two artists over 16 hours to complete and features a sperm whale, humpback whale and narwhal inspired by footage from the series.
Here’s a look at the artists at work:
The four-episode series, executive produced by James Cameron, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, and featuring National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry, plunges viewers deep within the epicenter of whale culture to experience the extraordinary communication skills and intricate social structures of five different whale species: orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals and sperm whales. Filmed over three years in 24 locations, throughout this epic journey, we learn that whales are far more complex and more like us than ever imagined.
The sculpture, a part of the Earth Month Celebration at the park, will be on display at the Discovery Island Stage through April 30.
12 – First Look: Snow White’s Enchanted Wish Attraction Poster at Disneyland Park
When Disneyland reopens soon, guests will be treated to a reimagined Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. A new attraction poster was revealed this week. Disney Cast Member Michael Ramirez has the details below:
We’re excited to reveal a first look at the newest Disneyland Resort attraction poster: Snow White’s Enchanted Wish!
Attraction posters have been a long-standing tradition at Disney Parks. Imagineers created posters to entice guests with a preview of the many adventures they’ll experience. You will spot this enchanting poster at the entrance of Disneyland park, as you pass under the Main Street, U.S.A. railroad station. Check out the new attraction poster below!
You’re invited to “celebrate the timeless tale” when Disneyland park’s only ride-through princess attraction reopens with stunning new magic on April 30. Enhanced story details and all-new scenes, combined with state-of-the-art audio and visual technology, help to reimagine how Snow White lives happily ever after.
If you’re planning a visit to the Disneyland Resort, both a theme park reservation and valid admission ticket for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up. Guests must have a valid theme park admission ticket in order to make a reservation. Theme park reservations will be limited and subject to availability and, until further notice, only California residents may visit the parks, and in groups no larger than 3 households, in line with current state guidelines. For details on how to make a theme park reservation, check out our story here.
13 – AdventHealth Serves up Family Fun at the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival
There is so much to see and do at the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival! Families can enjoy an AdventHealth trail with some great activities. Disney Cast Member Chelsea Burnett has more below:
There’s no shortage of things to do when visiting the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. In addition to all of the unforgettable topiaries and garden-fresh cuisine, the festival also boasts unique and immersive experiences for guests of all ages, including The Health Full Trail presented by AdventHealth.
Three distinct areas comprise the Health Full Trail – the Play Full Garden, Mind Full Retreat and Flavor Full Kitchen.
In the Play Full Garden, families can have fun together as they experience the new Play Circles, which promote imaginative play. These play circles were developed to allow for families to enjoy the garden together in a safe and physically distanced manner.
Over at the Mind Full Retreat, guests can find a restorative moment of relaxation in a calming space. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect respite from an exciting day at the festival! And after you’ve spent time playing with the family and enjoying a moment of relaxation, be sure to head over to the Flavor Full Kitchen to top off your visit to the Health Full Trail with a taste of one of the health-inspired dishes.
Next time you find yourself at EPCOT, head over to the Health Full Trail presented by AdventHealth to get your fill of flavor, fun and relaxation. What’s your favorite part of the trail? Tell me in the comments below or on social! And remember, the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs through July 5 and the Health Full Trail is available to guests from park open to dusk.
14 – Disney – A Place Where Everyone is Welcome
Disney World has recently added a “5th Key — Inclusion” in their approach to guest service. Here are all the details from Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products:
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.”
Walt Disney spoke these words during the dedication of the Disneyland Resort in 1955. Today, more than 65 years later, they continue to inspire us – and remind us that the magic we make must include everyone.
It’s important to me to share how we’re creating a place where everyone is welcome and taking action to create meaningful change.
We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney. And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work.
That means cultivating an environment where all people feel welcomed and appreciated for their unique life experiences, perspectives and culture. Where we celebrate allyship and support for each other. And where diverse views and ideas are sought after as critical contributions towards our collective success.
But as with everything we do, this starts with actively listening, learning, and working with our cast and guests to imagine the possibilities.
In 2019, we actively solicited input from our cast members from all over the world – to bring a greater focus to inclusivity and belonging for our cast. They brought forward more than 100 ideas, including one I’d like to share with all of you today.
Every Disney Parks cast member is familiar with our longstanding tradition of The Four Keys – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency – which have guided our approach to guest service for more than 65 years. The Four Keys are one of the first things that cast members learn about when they join Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and they are regularly reinforced throughout their tenure. Each cast member is asked to use The Four Keys as the blueprint for the decisions they make during the workday and the approach they bring to their interactions with others. Cast members around the world know them by heart and live by them in their roles every day as they create amazing experiences for our guests.
And when we asked our cast how we could better cultivate a culture of belonging, they suggested the addition of a fifth key: the key of Inclusion. Like The Four Keys before them, The 5 Keys – with Inclusion at the heart – will continue to guide us as we interact with guests, collaborate together, create the next generation of Disney products and experiences, and make critical decisions about the future of our business.
Inclusion is essential to our culture and leads us forward as we continue to realize our rich legacy of engaging storytelling, exceptional service, and Disney magic.
We’re bringing the spirit of the Inclusion Key to life across our business. We’re reimagining our attractions to be more inclusive, like upcoming enhancements to Jungle Cruise and new adventures with Princess Tiana. We’re celebrating the diverse and inspiring stories of our cast and fans with creator collaborations and exciting experiences, like The Soul of Jazz exhibit at Walt Disney World Resort.
We’re also looking at ways we can support and uplift our communities through programs like our Disney Dreamers Academy mentorship programs, and we’re including more diverse companies in our supply chain. In fact, we’re looking at ways to increase our support for diverse suppliers in a big way – we’ll share more details on this commitment in the future.
Our goal is also to have more representation and accountability across our organization, starting with my own leadership team and extending throughout our business worldwide, through tools and mentorship and learning programs that create awareness and foster leadership accountability.
We’re looking at other traditions, too – including the policies that guide how our cast members show up for work. Our new approach provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos. We’re updating them to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work.
Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression – creating richer, more personal and more engaging experiences with our guests.
This is just the beginning as we continue to work toward a world where we all belong – including a more diverse and inclusive Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. There’s more to do, but we’re committed to listening, learning and making meaningful improvements.
The world is changing, and we will change with it, and continue to be a source of joy and inspiration for all the world. We’ll never stop working to make sure that Disney is a welcoming place for all. I’m excited about where we’re headed, and we’ll have more to share soon. Thank you for joining us on this journey.
15 – Moana Returns to Aulani Resort
Moana is returning to Aulani Resort! Disney Cast Member Nikki Moreno shares more below:
One of my favorite things to do at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is counting how many Disney friends I can see in one day – which is why I am thrilled to announce that Moana is sailing back to Hawai’i to visit Aulani Resort once again!
Disney’s Moana is an adventurous teen who teamed up with the demigod Maui on a daring voyage across the Pacific. Be on the lookout for Moana as you enjoy your own exciting adventure with your family at Aulani Resort.
Aulani Resort is a vacation paradise with a touch of Disney Magic, which is why so many Disney friends love spending time here. Mickey Mouse and his pals, Angel and Stitch and the music-loving ‘Olu Mel are just some of the Disney friends you can spot as they enjoy some Hawaiian-style fun in the sun.
Escape to Aulani Resort, a one-of-a-kind Disney experience in Hawai’I with something for everyone. For more on Aulani Resort including the pools and recreation, dining options and promotions, visit DisneyAulani.com.
Reservations for Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa are now available through 2022. To plan your stay please visit DisneyAulani.com. And for a limited time, take advantage of this special offer where the longer you stay, the more you save for stays from Aug. 14 through Dec. 18, 2021.
What’s New and Happening Now at Walt Disney World Resort
Earth Month Celebrations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in April 2021
April 2021 – Best Bites – Limited-Time Food and Beverage Items in April
2021 Taste of EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival – Now Through July 5, 2021
Blizzard Beach – Now Open
The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure at EPCOT – Now Open
Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew – Now Open
Coming Soon to Walt Disney World
Summer Resort Reopenings
- June 6 – Wilderness Lodge
- July 2 – BoardWalk Inn
- Late July 2021 – Polynesian Village Resort
July 15 – November 2021 – The 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival
October 1, 2021 – The Most Magical Celebration – 50 Years of Walt Disney World
October 1, 2021 – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure & France Pavilion Expansion Opens
Jungle Cruise – Updated in Phases, while remaining open to guests in 2021
Star Wars Hotel – 2021
EPCOT Reimagined – Now Through 2022 and Beyond
New and Coming Soon to Disneyland Resort
Disneyland Resort – Opening April 30, 2021
Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure – Opening June 4, 2021
Coming Soon to Disney Cruise Line
The Disney Wish
Itineraries in 2022
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.