DISNEY NEWS ROUNDUP: More Festival of the Holidays Details; Full Candlelight Narrator Lineup; Very Merriest After Hours Debuts; Surprise Cirque du Soleil Announcement; Updated Epcot Exhibit & More

The most wonderful time of the year has officially arrived at Disney parks and we couldn’t be happier. This week we got more details on Festival of the Holidays along with the full narrator lineup for the Candlelight Processional. The Christmas-themed After Hours party at Magic Kingdom kicked off and we have a full report. After a year and a half delay, the new Cirque du Soleil show is opening at Disney Springs and we got a surprise announcement this week regarding the lineup. There’s a new exhibit at Epcot, live runDisney events returned with an amazing finish, and Disney Cruise Line is still racking up the rewards. All this and more are below in this week’s news roundup.


1 – More Festival of the Holidays Details Released Along with Full Candlelight Processional Narrator Lineup

The 2021 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays kicks off on November 26. This year, the fan-favorite Candlelight Processional returns after being absent last year. In addition, the full lineup of the celebrity narrators has been revealed, along with more entertainment offerings announced. Catch all the details at the link below.

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

2 – Disney Very Merriest After Hours Kicks Off

The all-new Disney Very Merriest After Hours kicked off this week, and Cindy was there to check it out. She had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the event, including the fantastic entertainment such as Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show, and the all-new stage show, Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories. The sold-out night delivered on low crowds and low wait time promises. Unfortunately for many, the price has been significantly increased when compared to the Boo Bash After Hours and even more so compared to past Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties. So, is it worth it? We cover that and more in our review at the link below.

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

3 – Disney and Cirque du Soleil Reveal Two Previously Unannounced Acts for Upcoming Show Drawn to Life

Drawn to Life, the first-of-its-kind creative collaboration between iconic memory-makers Cirque du Soleil and Disney premieres on November 18. In addition, Disney and Cirque du Soleil have revealed two more previously unannounced acrobatic performances will be added to the show’s debut. Catch all the details at the link below.

Click here for details on two new upcoming acts added to Drawn to Life.


4 – Virtual Queue Needed to Greet Santa Claus at Disney Springs

During the holiday season, guests can once again see Santa and have the opportunity for distanced greetings at Disney Springs. This year, instead of using a text message system as they have in the past, guests will be able to join a Virtual Queue. The queue opens up to guests at 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, and guests must be at Disney Springs to be eligible to enter. Note that Santa will greet guests at Once Upon a Toy instead of his usual Santa Chalet. You can join the Virtual Queue using the My Disney Experience app.


5 – Exploring the Artistry of American Indian Communities at the American Heritage Gallery at EPCOT

November is Native American Heritage Month, and Disney has recently updated content at The American Heritage Gallery in EPCOT. Disney cast Member Lisa Kanazawa shares more below.

We’re continuing to honor the cultures and the contributions of Native American and Indigenous communities and tribes throughout Native American Heritage Month. Today we’re shining a spotlight on recently updated content at The American Heritage Gallery, originally opened in 2018 inside the American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT.

Credit: Disney

Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art showcases authentic, Native artifacts alongside contemporary works of American Indian art which demonstrates examples of cultural traditions which have been passed down through generations.

“We recently added the Comanche/Blackfeet regalia from artist Jayne Myers to the exhibit,” said Assistant Producer Jackie Herrera. “It is amazing to be able to showcase the artistry and culture of each of these different Indian tribes for our guests.”

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Imagineering Collections Management team (who also recently brought to life “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure,” now open at the New Orleans Jazz Museum for a limited time) worked in collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. to bring the current exhibit at EPCOT to life. They also continue to work closely with the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum which is nestled inside the Seminole tribal community.

“This exhibit would not have been possible without our partnerships with the many museums, tribes, and artists featured in the exhibition,” said Curator Deb Van Horn. “These partnerships allowed us to bring the authentic stories to our guests and make sure we are representing the cultures in a respectful and engaging way.”

Credit: Disney

Through interactive displays and immersive storytelling, Native communities from seven geographic regions – just a sampling of the 574 federally recognized tribes and over 200 state-recognized tribes in the United States – are currently represented in the gallery. Their art represents the richness, depth, and diversity of Native cultures past and present. Some of the featured artists include fashion designer Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo), noted doll-maker Glenda McKay (Ingalik-Athabascan) and Juanita Growing Thunder (Assiniboine Sioux) from the Growing Thunder family of Montana.

“It is really an honor for the Walt Disney Imagineering Collections team to be able to help share Native and Indigenous stories with our guests and allow these groups to really see their stories inside the parks for the first time,” said Deb.

Stay tuned for additional updates to come in the new year featuring the Seminole tribe of Florida. We’re telling stories all month long in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

6 – Disney+ Day on November 12

On November 12, Disney is celebrating the anniversary of Disney+ with Disney+ day. Special activities and characters can be seen at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Learn more at the link below.

Click here for details on celebrating Disney+ Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

7 – U.S. News & World Report Awards Disney Cruise Line with Two Gold Badges

Disney Cruise Line has won more awards! Disney Cast Member Mari Mendez shares more below.

I’m excited to share with you all that Disney Cruise Line has taken home the gold in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Cruise Lines Rankings.

U.S. News & World Report awarded Disney Cruise Line two Gold Badges, naming Disney the “Best Cruise Line for Families” and the “Best Cruise Line in the Caribbean.” We’re honored that U.S. News & World Report has recognized us with these two awards for eight consecutive years, and are so proud of our amazing cast and crew members who make awards like this possible.

Well known for its consumer advice, analysis, and ratings, U.S. News & World Report bases its cruise line rankings on a number of factors including ship quality, reputation among travelers, itinerary offerings, and results from health assessments conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A full list of rankings is available at U.S. News & World Report.

Whether you’re after a Bahamian cruise from Port Canaveral or a trip to the Mexican Riviera out of San Diego, Disney Cruise Line offers magical vacation experiences around the world. Learn more about booking your next Disney cruise at DisneyCruise.com.

8 – Walt Disney World Resort Helps Transform Give Kids The World Village for its Second Annual Night of a Million Lights Holiday Event

Give Kids The World Village is hosting its second annual Night of a Million Lights holiday event happening November 12-January 2, 2022, and Walt Disney World is once again lending a helping hand. Disney Cast Member Tristen Gell has all the details below.

After giving $3 million in grant donations to local nonprofits as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, we’re now ready to ring in the holidays alongside the Central Florida community. To celebrate the season, Disney will once again help light up Give Kids The World Village for its second annual Night of a Million Lights holiday event happening Nov. 12 through Jan. 2, 2022.

Created with millions of sparkly lights donated by Disney, Night of a Million Lights transforms Give Kids The World’s whimsical storybook Village into a dazzling winter wonderland, immersing visitors in a decorated fairytale neighborhood featuring a 360-degree dancing lights show, a sparkling tree trail, a guided storytelling tour of 100 brightly decorated villas and more.

This year, Disney’s talented Holiday Services team helped decorate the village in true Disney fashion, paying homage to a beloved attraction that celebrates cultures all across the globe: “it’s a small world.”

“Give Kids The World Village is a special place for not only the children and families who visit, but also for our cast members,” Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs at Walt Disney World Resort, said. “As one of the top nonprofits where our Disney VoluntEARS dedicate their time, it warms my heart to see so many of our cast continue to enthusiastically spread the magic of Disney throughout the Village this holiday season.”

Give Kids The World Village, one of the recent Disney grant recipients and an integral part of our Wish Granting efforts here at Walt Disney World Resort, provides a space for Wish families to create priceless memories together away from hospital visits and medical procedures – and all event proceeds will help make magical wishes come true for critically ill children and their families from around the world.

In addition to all the holiday fun at the Village, The Walt Disney Company also recently launched the Disney Ultimate Toy Drive across domestic sites with a donation of $500,000 to Toys for Tots to help provide toys to children and inspire hope where it’s needed most this holiday season. Cast members and guests alike are invited to participate in the drive at Walt Disney World Resort by donating a toy online through shopDisney.com or a new, unwrapped toy in person at Marketplace Co-Op, Star Wars Galactic Outpost, World of Disney or the Welcome Center in Disney Springs. Visit Disney.Com/ToyDrive for more information.

Whether visiting us at Walt Disney World Resort, exploring the Night of a Million Lights holiday event or donating to Toys for Tots, one thing is for sure: there is plenty of magic happening all around Central Florida this holiday season!

9 – New Jersey Woman Repeats as Overall Winner for First Time in runDisney History During Record Run at Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Like a lot of runners across the country who have been unable to compete because of the pandemic, Megan Curham was eager to get back to racing. And her first race back – the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon – was about as sweet as it gets.

Curham not only beat all of the women in the field to the finish line Sunday at Walt Disney World Resort, but all of the men too, duplicating the same feat she accomplished at the last Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2019.

Megan Curham makes runDisney history as the first woman to win overall in a runDisney half marathon twice during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort. (Credit: Disney)

But this time she went one better. After winning by 13 seconds in 2019, she left the field of 11,400 runners in her wake Sunday, crossing the finish line nearly two minutes ahead of everyone else, marking the third time a woman has been the overall winner at a runDisney half marathon (Brazil’s Giovanna Martins did it in 2017). It was also Curham’s third straight Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon win after finishing first among women in 2018 and overall in 2019.

Her winning time of 1:15:33 set a new race record and led to her comfortable finish ahead of Nicholas Bowerman of Mount Dora, Florida (1:17:14) and Diana Bogantes Gonzalez (1:17:57) of Costa Rica.

“I usually go out hard in races, so I pretty much had a gap (between her and the rest of the field) and then it opened more as I went,’’ Curham said.

Curham, who is from Warren, New Jersey, attributed her unprecedented performance to the unseasonably cool Florida weather (temperatures in the low 50s, which is ideal for running) and just being back at her happy place – Walt Disney World.

“It was so amazing to be back here. It had been so long. I mean, 2019 feels like it was 10 years ago now,’’ Curham said, “so I was so excited because it had been a long time since I had been back to Disney in general. I’ve been coming here twice a year every year since I was probably born, so it was just amazing to be back here.’’

The race weekend, which involved more than 30,000 runners competing in the 5K, 10K and the Two Course Challenge (running the 10K and the half marathon), was runDisney’s first race at Walt Disney World Resort since the pandemic began in early 2020. It also kicked off the 2021-2022 runDisney race season, which encompasses the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Jan. 5-9, 2022), the Princess Half Marathon Weekend (Feb. 24-27, 2022) and the Springtime Surprise Weekend (March 31-April 3).


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 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.

Now Through November 20, 2021 – 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival

Click here for the seven reasons you don’t want to miss the 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival.

Click here for photos of the menu boards with pricing for easy planning.

Click here for full menus and lots of photos of items available.

Click here for our Instagram Story with photos of food and beverage items, merchandise, and more.

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.


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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