DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: Full Holiday Festival Menus Released; Drawn to Life Debuts; Park Reservations Filling Quickly; New Details Released on Star Wars Hotel Experience; New Hotel Opens at Disney World & More

With the holiday season getting into full swing at the Disney World Resort, Disney has released the full menus for the upcoming Festival of the Holidays at Epcot. We also caught the premier of an awesome new show over at Disney Springs, the newest hotel on Disney property has officially opened. Disney Cruise Line made an update to their cruise requirements that guests need to be aware of, and Disney announced the reimagining of Mickey’s Toontown in California including the addition of a major new ride. All of this and more below in this week’s news roundup.


1 – Menus Released for Holiday Kitchens for the 2021 EPCOT Festival of the Holidays

We’re getting closer to the 2021 EPCOT Festival of the Holidays! The festival kicks off on November 26, 2021. There will be fourteen Holiday Kitchens offering some fantastic food and beverage items. This week Disney released the full menus, and we’ve got them so you can plan your visit! Catch all the details at the link below!

Click here for menus for the 2021 EPCOT Festival of the Holidays Holiday Kitchens!

2 – Drawn to Life Debuts at Disney Springs

Drawn to Life, a first-of-its-kind creative collaboration between iconic memory-makers Cirque du Soleil and Disney, premiered on November 18. Drawn to Life, written and directed by Michel Laprise with Fabrice Becker as Director of Creation, is a live acrobatic journey telling the story of Julie, a determined girl who discovers an unexpected gift left by her Disney Animator father: an unfinished animation. As she dives into the inner world of animation guided by a surprising pencil, Julie embarks on an inspiring quest filled with her childhood Disney memories. We were there for the Grand Opening performance and were absolutely blown away. The show is fantastic and is an excellent option for families looking for some fantastic Disney-inspired entertainment from Cirque du Soleil. For more information on show tickets, dates, and pricing, visit cirquedusoleil.com/drawntolife. We’ll have our full review up soon!

Credit: Disney

3 – Park Reservation Reminder

Due to high demand this holiday season, theme park reservations for Walt Disney World theme parks are quickly filling up or are already filled on select dates or parks. For entry to a Disney Park on the day of a visit, all guests must have a valid theme park ticket and have booked a theme park reservation for the park they wish to visit. You can check current availability on the website, and we encourage you to check the availability of desired visitation dates before purchasing tickets.


4 – New Characters Join the Galaxy as Part of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Wat Disney World

Disney’s Star Wars-themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, will be an unforgettable immersive experience for guests that puts them into the Star Wars galaxy and your own Star Wars story. That story will now include some new characters. Disney Cast Member Jeremy Schoolfield shares more below.

Reservations are now open for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the first-of-its-kind, two-night immersive vacation experience in a galaxy far, far away. Debuting March 1, 2022, at Walt Disney World Resort, this Star Wars adventure will make you the hero of your own story as you tour the galaxy aboard the glamorous Halcyon starcruiser.

Throughout your voyage, you’ll see, feel and live Star Wars, which includes the possibility of meeting heroes of the Resistance like Rey and Chewbacca, or encountering the malevolent Kylo Ren of the First Order. But the starcruiser also brings with it a host of characters new to the Star Wars galaxy, created especially for this experience.

Let’s meet a few of them for the first time!

Credit: Disney

Captain Riyola Keevan

Charismatic, respected and trustworthy, Captain Keevan will lead your voyage aboard the Halcyon starcruiser. She is a strong and decisive leader, endearing herself to both her crew and her passengers by being fair to all and cool under pressure – a skill she’s learned from her … “adventurous” history. You’ll likely find the captain on the ship’s bridge – and you’d be wise to listen carefully and follow her instructions.

Cruise Director Lenka Mok

There is much fun to be had aboard the starcruiser, and Lenka Mok is your go-to crew member to discover it all. As the captain’s right hand, Mok is in charge of onboard entertainment, so it’s her job to make sure your voyage is an adventure. An optimistic and joyful soul, Mok’s happiness is derived from yours, so this is definitely someone you’ll want to meet!


This astromech droid is Mok’s assistant cruise director, ensuring things run smoothly and on time. He keeps an eye on all the workings of the ship and is devoted to Mok and Captain Keevan. And while he loves to have fun with guests, he’s also good in a pinch if anything should go awry (one of his many hidden talents).

Sammie the Mechanic

Sammie’s proficiency as the ship’s new mechanic is actually not his most endearing feature. His enthusiasm and good-natured personality quickly won over the starcruiser’s crew and that makes him popular among guests who happen across his path. He’s clearly eager to prove himself on such a well-appointed vessel, and his tasks always seem to get done … somehow.


D3-O9 is another droid you may see appear on viewscreens onboard the Halcyon starcruiser. Her primary responsibility is running ship logistics, so she certainly knows everyone and everything happening onboard during a voyage. But her favorite part of the job is talking with passengers. Built centuries ago by Chandrila Star Line’s founder, D3 has seen the ship’s history – and the entire galaxy – evolve, and she’s not shy about sharing her knowledge and opinions with passengers.

First Order Lt. Harman Croy

While the Halcyon starcruiser is a pleasure vessel, this is a stormy time in the galaxy as battles rage between the First Order and the Resistance – and it’s often impossible to avoid the conflict. The ambitious and intimidating Lt. Croy is on special assignment to root out and expose any Resistance fighters who are rumored to be aboard the ship. Will you help him? Will you support the Resistance? Will you just sit back and see how the whole thing plays out? The choice is yours.

5 – New Disney PhotoPass Augmented Reality Lenses Debut at Walt Disney World

One benefit of Disney Genie+ is augmented reality lenses, and guests have had a lot of fun with them. Disney has released some new lenses for guests to enjoy. Disney Cast member Emily Southard has all the details below.

With the recent launch of Disney PhotoPass Lenses at Walt Disney World Resort, there’s a super fun new way to capture memories all across the resort and beyond! You can interact with themed effects that transform you and the world around you – all while snapping as many photos and videos as you’d like on your own device to save and share.

Today, I’m excited to share that we’ve just launched even more Disney PhotoPass Lenses! These new Lenses, along with our current collection, are available through the My Disney Experience app with a purchase of Disney Genie+ service. Be sure to download the latest version of the My Disney Experience app to join in on the fun!

With the newest Lenses, you can embrace your icy powers like Elsa, adopt a problem free philosophy with Timon, bundle up and avoid the clutches of the Yeti, accessorize with themed glasses that reflect magical icons, and show off your sweet and salty sides!

Credit: Disney

While many Disney PhotoPass Lenses can be used across Walt Disney World Resort, others like the Timon and Expedition Everest Lenses will be available exclusively in specific areas of the parks.

To celebrate this launch, we met with a few of our Disney PhotoPass photographers to give them a first look. Our photographers capture magical moments for our guests every day, so we wanted to turn the camera lens on them. They got to spend some time enjoying our Lenses, including a sneak peek at the new ones!

We thank our photographers for all that they do to make our guests’ visit to Walt Disney World Resort extra special.

A select sampling of lenses are complimentary through the Snapchat app.* One of these lenses is themed to “Lady and the Tramp.” Since you can access this lens at home, I invite you and your favorite furry friend to share a plate of spaghetti on a “Bella Notte.”

Whether enjoying these lenses through the My Disney Experience app or the Snapchat app, share your favorite photos and videos with us on social media by tagging #DisneyPhotoPass for a chance to be featured on our pages.

With the purchase of Disney Genie+ service, Walt Disney World guests can access many Disney PhotoPass Lenses in the My Disney Experience app as soon as they enter the park. Select Disney PhotoPass Lenses are accessible only within designated areas of Walt Disney World Resort. Other Disney PhotoPass Lenses will remain accessible in the My Disney Experience app until 5:59 a.m. on the 45thday after the day on which the Disney Genie+ service was used; certain states and localities are excluded. Many Disney PhotoPass Lenses use technology that detects the coordinates of key points on a guest’s face and/or hands and may be used only by guests 18 years of age and older who have consented to use of this technology. Therefore,guests unable to provide such consent, as well as guests under 18 years of age, will have fewer lenses available to use. To access Disney PhotoPass Lenses, an eligible mobile device with the My Disney Experience app with access to the device’s camera and location is required.A purchase of Disney Genie+ service at Walt Disney World Resort does not include downloads of a guest’s DisneyPhotoPass photos or videos that were captured by photographers and onboard attractions. Use of Disney PhotoPass Lenses is subject to theTerms and Conditions. Subject to restrictions and change without notice

*Use of the Snapchat app is subject to Snap Inc.’s terms of service and privacy policy.


6 – Disney MagicMobile Service: New Features and Designs

Disney MagicMobile service is available on eligible iPhones, Apple Watch, or Google Pay enabled Android phones. In addition, the service has received some new 50th anniversary designs and has some great new features. Disney Cast Member Eric Scott has all the details below.

Did you know that you can use a smartphone to enter the Walt Disney World theme parks? With Disney MagicMobile service, now available on eligible iPhones, Apple Watch or Google Pay enabled Android phones, you can enjoy an easy, contactless option to experience select theme park features during your visit – similar to how you use the MagicBand!

To get started, log in to the My Disney Experience app with your Disney account and link your theme park tickets and park reservations. Then, create your Disney MagicMobile pass, where you’ll find several fun pass designs to choose from – including a few new ones featuring the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection as part of The World’s Most Magical Celebration (look out for designs with favorite characters such as Mickey Mouse, Figment, Olaf and more)!

Once you create your Disney MagicMobile pass, you can find it in Apple Wallet or Google Pay and use it to:

      • Enter theme parks (with a valid theme park reservation and valid admission)
      • Connect Disney PhotoPass images to your account
      • NEW: Charge food and merchandise purchases to the payment card on file at your Disney Resort hotel room during your stay
      • Enter attractions through the virtual queue or Lightning Lane entrance when it’s your time to arrive*

Disney MagicMobile is available in addition to the MagicBand – you can use one or the other, or for added flexibility, you can even use them interchangeably!

And don’t forget! Using Disney MagicMobile service can save you time upon arrival! After linking your ticket to your My Disney Experience account, in many cases, you can head right to the main entrance using just your Disney MagicMobile pass – so you can spend more time having fun! Pro tip: With an iPhone or Apple Watch, you can simply hold your device near the access point and the device will automatically bring up your Disney MagicMobile pass.

Your smart device can be your one-stop shop to experience the magic during your visit. The My Disney Experience app also enables Disney Resort hotel guests to unlock their room door using our current digital room key feature. Also available in the app, ​​our complimentary Disney Genie service can help you create your best Disney day inspired by your party’s top interests! To learn more, visit DisneyGenie.com.

Be sure to download the My Disney Experience app so you can enjoy Disney MagicMobile service and more during your next visit!

Please note Disney MagicMobile service requires iOS 14.4 or later and watchOS 7.3 or later.

Apple, the Apple logo, Apple Watch and iPhone, are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc.

Message, data and roaming rates may apply. Availability subject to handset limitations, and features may vary by handset, service provider or otherwise. Coverage and app stores not available everywhere. Music streaming feature requires an Apple Music subscription. Separate terms and conditions apply. If you’re under 18, get your parents’ permission first. Some features require separate theme park admission.

*If enrolled in virtual queue or purchased via Disney Genie+ service or individual Lightning Lane entry


7 – New Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Hotel Celebrates Grand Opening

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort celebrated the grand opening of its newest addition, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, on Friday, November 12 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, bringing together hotel owners Tishman and MetLife along with executives from Walt Disney World and Marriott International.

This new 14-story hotel designed by Gensler, positioned adjacent to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in the middle of Walt Disney World Resort, features a captivating design offering 349 spacious and versatile guest rooms – including 151 suites – with incredible floor-to-ceiling views of the resort. Guests of the resort can walk to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and receive special Walt Disney World hotel guest benefits including early theme park entry and extended evening theme park hours.

In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin reside amongst the greatest theme parks and attractions in Central Florida. They are located between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can discover 22 world-class restaurants and lounges, sophisticated guest rooms and the luxurious Mandara Spa. The resorts feature six pools, three health clubs, nearby golf and complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. The newest addition, the 14-story Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, offers an upscale, boutique atmosphere as well as 149 suites ideal for families and two presidential suites.

8 – Disney Cruise Line Vaccination Requirement Update

Disney Cruise Line’s health and safety protocols have been updated. They include a new COVID-19 vaccination policy for Guests ages 5-11 for sailings beginning on and after January 13, 2022, as well as updated information on accepted vaccine types. Click here for the latest and up-to-date requirements for Disney Cruise Line sailings.

9 – Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Park to be Reimagined in 2023

This week Disneyland has announced Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Park will be reimagined and will reopen in early 2023, along with the new attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Disney Cast Member Kelsey Lynch shares more below.

Just in time for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse’s birthday this week, we have some exciting news to share about the Disneyland Resort!

An ambitious reimagining of Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland park will debut in early 2023, alongside the new attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This news was shared today at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo by Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro.

Building on the legacy of Mickey’s Toontown, Imagineers are working to create some all-new experiences so families and young children can have more opportunities to play together inside Disneyland park. The beloved Mickey’s Toontown will transform into a vibrant symphony of sights, sounds, and sensations. Focusing on today’s families with young children, Mickey’s Toontown will feature new play experiences, as well as open, grassy play spaces for everyone to unplug. The land will have landscaping for both spontaneous family play and parental relaxation.

Credit: Disney

“We are so excited to leverage Disney’s powerful brand, develop new stories and share even more magical experiences with our guests,” said D’Amaro. “The newly reimagined Mickey’s Toontown will be a welcoming place where families and younger guests can connect and play together in fun new ways.”

Even with a greener and more spacious Mickey’s Toontown, the land will offer more play activities and attractions than ever before. From active play to tactile play, new experiences will let children play, slide, spin, splash, touch and listen!

One of the new areas coming to Mickey’s Toontown will be CenTOONial Park, the first space guests will see when they enter. This natural space will be anchored by two interactive play experiences.

At the center of CenTOONial Park will be a fountain, designed for play, which will also become a center icon for Mickey’s Toontown. As its base, water tables will invite guests to play with the water and have a sensory experience. At night, the fountain will be brought to life in a unique spectacle.

A nearby dreaming tree will be inspired by the tree a young Walt Disney would daydream under in his hometown. Sculpted tree roots will provide an opportunity for children to play, crawl and explore, and undulating topography will offer rolling hills and a place to sit and dream.

In addition to reopening in 2023 with the new, family-friendly and adventurous Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Mickey’s Toontown will still be home to many beloved characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and more!

Mickey’s Toontown will close in March of 2022 to begin creating these all-new experiences. We will have lots more detail to share with you in the future, so stay TOONED to the Disney Parks Blog for updates!

10 – Experience Walt Disney World and Magic Kingdom in Minecraft!

Calling all Minecraft fans! You can now enjoy Magic Kingdom in the Minecraft world! Disney Cast member Allison Citino has all the details below.

There is a new and exciting way to experience the magic of Walt Disney World and celebrate the 50th Anniversary! The new Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Adventure downloadable content pack is coming to Minecraft today! Replicating the beloved theme park in Orlando, Florida this map is a recreation of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park! This pack is filled to the brim with familiar Disney and Pixar characters and iconic attractions. With 25 character skins to choose from, including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary fashions, and special in-game merchandise, you can celebrate the anniversary in style!

Explore Magic Kingdom Park alone or take a ride with friends as you experience endless enchantment throughout six themed lands and twenty classic attractions. Seek out thrill coasters like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain or visit classics like Jungle Cruise, or “it’s a small world,” each complete with accompanying theme park music. Compete with your friends for the highest score as you ride through Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or make yourself dizzy at the Mad Tea Party.

At different attractions and themed lands like the Haunted Mansion and Adventureland, players can interact with Disney cast members. Meet 25 beloved Disney and Pixar characters and collect their signatures in your very own virtual autograph book! Walk down Main Street U.S.A. and you might find the Dapper Dans strolling along. Be sure to look out for over 20 souvenirs and wearables including Spirit Jerseys and Mickey Mouse Ear Headbands, as well as 20 different iconic Disney Parks food and drinks like Mickey’s Hot Chocolate and Pineapple DOLE Whip Cup as seen at Aloha Isle Refreshments. Players can end their Minecraft Disney Day by witnessing a spectacular fireworks show at Cinderella Castle.

The Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Adventure DLC Pack is now available through the Minecraft Marketplace. This pack requires Minecraft Bedrock Edition (sold separately). Online multiplayer on consoles requires a separate multiplayer subscription (sold separately).


What’s New and Happening Now at Walt Disney World Resort

The New Normal – Visiting Walt Disney World During the Current Covid Restrictions

Click here for what you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World during the current Covid restrictions.

Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane – New Planning Tools & Paid Access to Lighting Lane

Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane What You Need to Know About These New Services at Disney World.

Now Through Spring 2023 – The Most Magical Celebration – 50 Years of Walt Disney World

Click here for the 50th Anniversary Celebration – Everything You Need to Know About this Historic Celebration.

Click here for our thoughts and review of Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom.

Now – December 30, 2021 – Holiday Season at Walt Disney World

Click here for our review and what you need to know about the all-new Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

Click here for details on the narrators for the Candlelight Processional and more entertainment offerings for the 2021 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.

Click here for menus for the 2021 EPCOT Festival of the Holidays Holiday Kitchens!

Click here Holiday Offerings at Disney Springs You Don’t Want to Miss

Click here for the Holiday Foodie Guide for the Parks and Disney Springs at Disney World.

Click here for the Holiday Foodie Guide for Walt Disney World resorts.

New Openings at EPCOT – As Part of the Historic Transformation of EPCOT

Click here for what’s new and coming to EPCOT as the Historic Transformation Continues.

Click here for our review and what you need to know about Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Click here for what you need to know about the new La Creperie de Paris restaurant and expanded France pavilion.

Click here for our review of Space 220 at EPCOT and what you need to know about this amazing new restaurant!

Click here for details on the all-new Club Cool at EPCOT.

Click here to learn about the new flagship shopping location at EPCOT – Creations Shop.

Coming Soon to Walt Disney World

November 18, 2021 – Drawn to Life Debuts

Click here for details on Drawn to Life the new Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs.

January 14-February 21, 2022 – EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

Click here for what we know so far about the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

March 1, 2022 – Star Wars Hotel

Click here for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser-What We Know So Far About the Upcoming Star Wars Themed Hotel Coming to Disney World


New and Coming Soon to Disneyland Resort

Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure – Now Open

Click here for more on the Avengers Campus! Now open at Disney California Adventure!

Click here for details on food and beverage offerings inside Avengers Campus.

Click here for information on merchandise available inside Avengers Campus.

Holiday Season at Disneyland Resort – November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022

Click here for details on the holiday season at Disneyland Resort.

Click here for all the information on the all-new Disney Merriest Nights at Disneyland Park.

Click here for a look at Mickey and Minnie’s new fashions and merchandise coming to Disneyland for the holiday season. 

Coming Soon to Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Wish

Click here for an overview of the next Disney Cruise Line Ship – The Disney Wish – Coming Summer 2022

Click here for information on bookings for the inaugural season in summer 2022.

Click here for more information on new dining experiences on the Disney Wish.

Itineraries in 2022

Click here to learn about Early 2022 Itineraries on the Disney Cruise Line

Click here to learn about Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea in Early 2022

Click here to learn about Summer 2022 Itineraries on the Disney Cruise Line

Click here to learn about Halloween and Holiday Themed Cruises in fall 2022

Click here to learn about early 2023 itineraries on Disney Cruise Line

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.


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