The biggest news out of Disney this week is likely to rekindle the anger over the most unpopular decision Disney has made, maybe ever. We have details on Lightning Lane (paid Fastpass), including launch date and pricing. On the other hand, we got a lot of good news this week as well. Announcements were made regarding the return of a list of additional entertainment offerings and character experiences, new PhotoPass features, and a rundown of some special fall treats we can’t wait to eat. There’s a bunch of Disney Cruise news and enough 50th merch we’re going to need to find a new side hustle to help pay for everything. Details on all this and more are below in this week’s news roundup.
1 – Launch Date, Pricing, and More Details Released for Disney Genie and Lightning Lane
The controversial Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane services have a launch date. These new options will be available beginning October 19, 2021. There is still a lot of confusion out there about what these services are and how guests may benefit from using them. Disney Genie is a complimentary planning tool built right into the My Disney Experience app that we believe will improve the overall guest experience. We’re excited to see and use these tools: tip boards, forecasted wait times, and planned itineraries. Guests should be able to make better use of their time, and these tools should be even more helpful for first-time guests who are overwhelmed by all of the choices at Walt Disney World.
Debuting at the same time is Lightning Lane. Previously known as the FastPass, guests now have two paid options to skip the standby line if they choose. First, guests can purchase Genie+, which provides the ability to select arrival windows, one at a time, throughout regular park hours at more than forty attractions across the theme parks. A second option is Individual Lightning Lane A la Cart selections. These a la cart purchases are separate from Disney Genie+ and are necessary for eight attractions (two at each park). You can only purchase two a la cart selections per day.
Guests can use all three services (Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane A la Cart), just one, or none at all, since the regular standby queue is still an option for all attractions. Note that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure requires the use of the (free) virtual queue.
Most guests are upset about the paid Lightning Lane access since this was a free benefit for all guests before. However, it will be interesting to see how many people use the new services, how it affects regular standby wait times, and how it may improve or degrade guest experiences.
Since the announcement in August, we’ve compiled a long list of your questions about the new services. Learn more, including your top sixteen questions answered about the service, at the link below.
2 – Disney World Announces Return of Entertainment and Character Experiences
While most operations have returned to normal, plenty of entertainment offerings and character experiences have not. Thankfully this week, Disney has made that list of things missing a bit shorter with the announcement that specific entertainment offerings have or are scheduled to return. This also includes the much-awaited return of character greetings. While they will not be what we experienced pre-COVID, they will give guests “individual time” with certain Disney characters. Learn more at the link below.
3 – Guide to Fall Treats at Disney Springs
Now that it’s October, fall is in full swing, even if it doesn’t feel like it here in Central Florida. If you’re heading to Disney Springs this October, you won’t want to miss the fall treats that are available for a limited time. Learn more at the link below.
4 – A Walt Disney World Retrospective – We’re Looking Back and Forward at the Top Milestones in Each Decade for 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World!
Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021. So, we’ve been looking back at each decade! This week we look forward to what’s coming in the 2020s. Learn about the ten most magical milestones of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s at the links below.
4 – Disney Adds Special PhotoPass Opportunities to Help Capture Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
Disney PhotoPass is now offering special 50th-anniversary celebration shots. Disney Cast Member Emily Southard shares all the details below.
The Disney PhotoPass team loves celebrating anything and everything – and I mean everything – by offering special photo ops. Holidays, festivals, the arrival of seasons, movie releases, animals being born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, etc. You get the picture: We’re always in a celebratory mood!
But the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary celebration means something more to us. Fifty years is a long time, and thanks to photos, millions of moments – big and small – that occurred over the past five decades at Walt Disney World Resort continue to exist today. These photos can transport us back in time to those precious moments spent with family and friends, while also inspiring us to think about where we want to go in the future.
With The World’s Most Magical Celebration underway at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney PhotoPass Service is celebrating the best way we know how – with festive photo ops! Our awesome photographers are ready to capture magical memories for you. Check out all of the details below.
The World’s Most Magical Celebration obviously calls for Magic Shots! The theme? EARidescence, of course! Disney PhotoPass photographers are so excited to capture special Magic Shots for you all around Walt Disney World Resort. Below I’ve shared where you can find each of them. But don’t worry about memorizing those locations: You can ask any Disney PhotoPass photographer you visit what Magic Shots they offer at their location (we offer more than 50 across Walt Disney World Resort!) and where you can find 50th anniversary celebration Magic Shots.
Confetti Magic Shot: Available at the park entrance and bridges leading into Liberty Square and Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park, select locations in World Showcase at EPCOT, Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and at the park entrance and in front of the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
EARidescent Balloons Magic Shot: Available at the park entrance and on Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park; at the main park entrance and in World Celebration at EPCOT; and on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
EARidescent Border Magic Shot: Available in front of Partners Statue at Magic Kingdom Park, near the World Celebration entrance to World Showcase at EPCOT, near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and at the park entrance to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Nighttime Icons Magic Shot: Available in front of all four theme park icons after dark.
I couldn’t resist also sharing this brand-new Runaway Remy Magic Shot, which is now available in EPCOT’s France pavilion near Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Disney PhotoPass Service has added complimentary desktop and mobile device wallpapers to Walt Disney World guests’ Disney PhotoPass galleries, featuring each of the four theme park icons dazzling as Beacons of Magic. If you had a My Disney Experience account as of September 30, 2021, log in on the My Disney Experience app or online to view and download this complimentary media.*
During this 18-month celebration, Disney PhotoPass Service will be introducing even more ways for you to mark the milestone with our photographers. We’ll be introducing additional limited-time Magic Shots, props, celebratory virtual backdrops at the Disney PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs, more complimentary wallpapers, EARidescent overlays on all of our Super Zoom Magic Shot videos, special photo effects, and much more. Stay tuned for details!
As you celebrate, share your favorite photos with us on social media by tagging #DisneyPhotoPass and #DisneyWorld50. We look forward to capturing the photos you’ll treasure for the next 50 years, and beyond.
*Online registration required. Complimentary media will be available for you to view and download for 45 days from the date it’s added to your gallery, and the Disney PhotoPass Terms & Conditions will apply.
5 – 50th Anniversary Merchandise Invites Guests to Celebrate in Style
There’s nothing like a souvenir from Walt Disney World, and during the 50th-anniversary celebration, guests are eager to purchase that perfect memento to commemorate this special occasion. In honor of the resort’s 50th anniversary, guests can discover new merchandise collections and shopping experiences all across The Most Magical Place on Earth. In addition, other famous brands are joining in and offering their own unique souvenirs. Learn more at the links below.
6 – Limited-Time Food & Drinks Help Celebrate Hispanic Lantinx Heritage Month at Disney World
There’s still time to enjoy limited-time food and drinks that celebrate Hispanic Lantinx Heritage Month at Walt Disney World. Learn more at the link below.
7 – Disney Cruise Line: What to Expect with Entertainment and Character Experiences on Your Next Cruise
Just like at Walt Disney World, cruising on Disney Cruise Line is a bit different. Entertainment and character experiences have been modified, but they are still magical. Learn more at the link below.
8 – Disney Cruise Line Unveils New Experiences for Kids, Tweens, and Teens Aboard the Disney Wish
This week Disney Cruise Line unveiled new details on kids, tween, and teen spaces aboard the Disney Wish. Learn more about these amazing areas at the link below.
9 – New! Share Cast Compliments via My Disney Experience Mobile App
Now it’s easier than ever to let people know if a Disney Cast Member impacted your day. Disney Cast Member Susan Flower has the details below.
Cast members have always been the heart of the magic at Walt Disney World Resort, creating timeless memories and magical moments for the millions of guests who spend their vacations with us. Over the years, guests have shown their appreciation for our cast by sharing positive feedback about their experiences through emails and posting their photos and messages of gratitude on their social media channels.
In honor of the 50th-anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World, we’re providing an additional way for guests looking to share their positive cast member experiences across our parks and resorts. With the touch of a button, guests on the go can now access a new feature via the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Destination Guide in the My Disney Experience mobile app. Guests can simply select a positive statement and location from an easy-to-navigate dropdown menu that reflects the magic they experienced made possible by the cast members at the heart of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Watch this video to learn how the new, searchable feature works.
Whether thanking cast members for taking time to share a unique tip, helping to celebrate a guest milestone, or going above and beyond to make a guest’s experience extra magical, we love hearing about all of the positive experiences our cast members create every day. This new mobile cast compliment feature provides an additional way to identify and share those positive interactions with us immediately while on the go. Of course, we still welcome all of the emails and social media posts sharing specific stories and magical moments made possible by our cast members — so please continue to keep them coming!
This is just the beginning! We continue to enhance the way guests provide appreciation for our cast, so look forward to additional updates and exciting improvements to this mobile cast compliment feature in the future.
10 – New Motor Cruiser at Walt Disney World
We love taking Disney water transportation since it’s such a relaxing ride. Now there’s a new motor cruiser, and we’re excited to check it out. Disney Cast Member Meghan Caprez has the details below.
When thinking of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World Resort, I immediately picture the amazing Disney Resort hotels that line their shores, or the iconic ferryboats that transport guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom Park. But recently, I learned the area is also home to a small (but mighty!) fleet of motor cruiser boats, which have been sailing those waterways since the 1970s. Now, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, a new cruiser has joined the fleet, and its story is pretty incredible.
The cruiser is called Tradewinds, a name that was chosen by Walt Disney Imagineering and voted on by watercraft cast members. “Trade Winds” refers to the nearly constant wind that blows across the equator. And it’s the perfect name for this new vessel, since watercraft cast members have constantly delivered remarkable guest service across Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon since the fleet was launched.
But the name isn’t the only thing that cast members helped to choose. Watercraft cast members offered feedback that directly impacted the design of the vessel, from the position of the pilot house to the amount of cabin space available to guests.
“We solicited feedback from cast members about the things they would like to see in a new motor cruiser, and we put it into the boat,” said Transportation Guest Experience Manager Collin Garton. “Everything about it was made to make cast member input a reality.”
The small adjustments that make Tradewinds stand out among the other three motor cruisers in the fleet make a big difference to both the cast and the guest experience.
“It’s a great addition to the fleet,” said Billy Carter, a Transportation Engineering Services cast member who made sure everything on the boat was primed and ready to go before its launch. “Everybody is really proud of it. I think it’s going to go over big time with the guests.”
Guests can identify the new motor cruiser by its bright orange, yellow, white and teal coloring – also selected by the cast.
Before Tradewinds made its maiden voyage, cast members gathered together to christen the boat, a nautical tradition. It’s the first new motor cruiser to join the fleet in nearly 30 years, so the excitement at the event was palpable.
“It’s a big thing, and the boat looks sharp,” Billy said. “Everybody’s done a great job on this one.”
“This is a really big deal for our cast,” Collin agreed. “The last time we had an addition to our Resort fleet was 1993. The fact that we have this new vessel is huge.”
And it’s not just a big deal for the watercraft cast, who will be operating the cruiser each and every day. It’s a big deal for the team that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure Tradewinds was ready for its big debut.
“The project team on this boat has been amazing,” said Greg Klesaris, the Facility Asset Management Project Planer in charge of Tradewinds. “From Transportation Operations to our engineers, everyone has come together to get the job done, and it’s been really great getting to collaborate with all of these people.”
11 – Conde Nast Traveler Readers Recognize Disney Cruise Line as the Best 10 Years in a Row
Disney Cruise Line has won another award! Disney Cast Member Mari Mendez shares all the details below.
Conde Nast Traveler readers have made their voices heard, naming Disney Cruise Line as the best for the tenth time!
Earlier today, Conde Nast Traveler released the results of its 2021 Reader’s Choice Awards and we’re honored to share with you that their readers have once again ranked Disney Cruise Line as the #1 Top Large Cruise Line in the World for the tenth straight year. These awards are a true reflection of our crew members and their unwavering commitment to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to our guests every day, and we could not be prouder.
Conde Nast Traveler shared with us that this year’s results highlight the travel experiences their readers longed for most when they could not travel and what they decided to do first once they could. More than 800,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted tens of thousands of ratings and comments, sharing their recent travel experiences with their favorite cruise lines, hotels, resorts, airlines and more.
Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards is one of the longest running and most prestigious honors in the travel industry. This year’s full list of winners can be found here.
12 – Disney Wonder to Resume Sailings from Galveston on November 19
The Disney Wonder will resume sailing November 19, 2021, from Galveston, Texas, with a variety of Western Caribbean cruises, including stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.
Please note that 6-night sailings on November 23, December 7 and 31, 2021 will now visit Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico instead of Key West, Florida and Disney Castaway Cay.
Additionally, the 6-night sailing on December 21, 2021 will now visit Progreso, Mexico, instead of George Town, Grand Cayman.
Finally, the 6-night sailing on January 14, 2022 will now visit Cozumel, Mexico, and George Town, Grand Cayman, instead of Key West, Florida, and Disney Castaway Cay.
Disney Wonder Guests on impacted sailings may modify their sail date or cancel their sailing without any Disney-imposed cancellation fees, if applicable, from October 6-20, 2021.
What’s New and Happening Now at Walt Disney World Resort
The New Normal – Visiting Walt Disney World During the Current Covid Restrictions
Now Through Spring 2023 – The Most Magical Celebration – 50 Years of Walt Disney World
New Openings at EPCOT – As Part of the Historic Transformation of EPCOT
Now Through November 20, 2021 – 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival
Now Through October 31, 2021 – Disney After Hours Boo Bash at Magic Kingdom
Coming Soon to Walt Disney World
Upcoming Resort Reopenings
- October 14 – Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – River Side
- October 28 – Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
October 19, 2021 – Disney Genie – New Planning Tools, Paid Access to New Lighting Lane
November 8 – December 30, 2021 – Holiday Season at Walt Disney World
March 1, 2022 – Star Wars Hotel
New and Coming Soon to Disneyland Resort
Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure – Now Open
Fall Season at Disneyland Resort – Now Through October 31
Holiday Season at Disneyland Resort – November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Coming Soon to Disney Cruise Line
Return to Cruising
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.