December was poppin’ over at Walt Disney World!
While there are always new things happening year-round, we’ve rounded up 15 big and exciting things that were NEW to Disney World this past month! There were lots of announcements, grand openings (or reopenings), and more, so let’s dive in and check out some exciting Disney news!
Goodbye Clown Slide, Hello Mickey and Friends Slide!
The journey for this new slide has been quite a rollercoaster! Disney released photos of the new slide on social media with “Keister Coaster” spelled incorrectly. Oops!
The photo was later removed from Instagram, and a couple of days later, the typo was fixed. Zach Ridley, Disney Imagineer, posted on his Instagram story about how they felt “a little Goofy” about the situation. But hey, nobody’s perfect! Not even Disney! We’re almost glad this slip-up happened because we got even more photos of the slide at the time!
As of now, the construction walls have come down and are available for all to see. This is a huge departure from the original design, and even though the clown was terrifying, we will miss him so. RIP clown slide.
Skip Merchandise Lines With Mobile Checkout
You’ve heard of Mobile Order, but have you ever heard of Mobile Checkout? Well, for anyone who wants to grab their favorite Disney merch but doesn’t want to wait in the (sometimes ridiculously) long lines, this is a great solution!
All you have to do is go to the My Disney Experience app and click the + where you’ll see “Shop in Store- Now Testing.” After choosing your store, you can scan your items and pay for them through your phone! There is also an option to scan a QR code and there are specific shopping bags for those who choose to checkout online.
As you leave the store, you’ll show a Cast Member the confirmation of your purchase and you’re good to go!
This is currently only available at Mouse Gear in EPCOT and Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Hopefully after this is done testing, this perk will be available all over Disney World! This is such a great way to save time and skip the checkout lines in shops.
Gideon’s Soft Opening
We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of Gideon’s Bakehouse for quite a while now, but it has FINALLY opened up to the public!
After several teasers of the menu on their Instagram page, Gideon’s announced that they would have a soft opening on December 23rd, and of course we had to try it out!
We had seen a gargoyle holding the “G” of the Gideon’s sign, but we were SO excited to see the inside of the shop!
Previously, we could grab a limited number of Chocolate Chip Gideon’s cookies at The Polite Pig and they also have a local shop, but it’s a huge deal that Gideon’s now has its very own storefront in Disney Springs.
Steve Lewis, owner of Gideon’s, even explained to us that selling out of the baked goods will be less common at the new location saying, “Our location at Disney Springs has been designed to handle a higher volume, so our intention is not to sell out of our core products, the cookies that are available every day of the year.” Limited time flavors could still sell out quickly, so you’ll want to grab them when you can.
The Disney Springs menu features the original menu as well as some limited-time holiday flavors!
We are SO thrilled that there is a full Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs now, and we’re hoping for a grand opening in the near future! The soft opening was very successful and we can’t wait to eat these delicious again at Disney Springs.
Altering Masks for On-Ride Photos
At the beginning of the month, we found out that Disney World was testing the alteration of on-ride photos for guests not wearing face masks. Previously, Disney had been withholding on-ride photos from anyone not wearing a face covering properly, and after this policy caused some issues with guests, Disney came up with this new solution.
This alteration of ride photos was short-lived as we confirmed 9 days later that Disney was no longer doing this. The new process was only being tested at Dinosaur in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom.
This was created so that guests who did not have a face covering on properly could still have access to photos, and it is uncertain why Disney decided to get rid of it. We’ll keep an eye out and update you if this process does make its way back to Disney World.
Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group Times Changed…Again
With park hopping coming back in January, Disney decided to change the times for boarding groups yet again! Now guests can try to grab a pass at 7AM from anywhere with a park pass reservation and at 1PM.
Before, the second time for the day was 2PM, but park hopping hours will begin at that time when that comes back. Because of the new hours, this means that if you are park hopping, Hollywood Studios must be your first park and you must have a reservation for the park to try for a Rise of the Resistance boarding group.
The boarding group process has changed a few times since Disney World reopened, but hopefully these new times will stick for a bit!
The Electrical Water Pageant is Back
Disney entertainment looks pretty different in Disney World, but a show came back that wasn’t much different at all! Yes, we’re talking about the Electrical Water Pageant!
This show had its first performance back on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon on December 20th, after Disney announced its return the week before. We were thrilled to have this nostalgic show back up and running! The water show takes light-up barges around to different Magic Kingdom area hotels, and has been around since 1971!
The show can be seen from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness Resort. You can find the schedule for this nightly show here.
Although Disney said there were a few minor tweaks to the barges while they were resting, it was the same ‘ole show we know and love. We’re hoping more and more Disney entertainment will come back, but this was an awesome return!
Spaceship Earth Cookie Saga
EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays began in November, but there’s one snack that keeps changing! On opening day of the festival, we saw an adorable Spaceship Earth Cookie and instantly fell in love.
Buuuut, when we went back on our next visit to grab another (who can blame us), we noticed the cookie had gotten a…uh…holiday “makeover.” Our team was so confused as to why Spaceship Earth had socks and what the peppermint was and why the sprinkles were the color of flesh! Nevertheless, we tried it and it was the same salted-caramel goodness, but we couldn’t get over that new look! So much so, that it was the icon of a DFB video!
We checked back a few days later to see if the cookie looked the same, and sure enough the cookie had another NEW look! This time, there were little holiday decorations (including those interesting socks) on top of the original cookies.
It seems the cookie is having a bit of an identity crisis, but it gave us some good laughs! We’ll be looking out to see if the cookie saga continues!
EPCOT Fountain Revealed
EPCOT is currently going through a major transformation. In the end we’ll see the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and La Creperie de Paris in the France pavilion (both of which will open in 2021), and more! A big part of this transformation is the new fountain in the front of the park, and recently, the walls have come down to reveal this beauty!
The fountain celebrates the past, present, and future of EPCOT which is just so heartwarming!
There’s even a new manhole cover with that iconic EPCOT symbol and Spaceship Earth texture to match.
It may be beautiful during the day, but it’s even better at night! Look at this beauty all lit up! Also the water sounds are so soothing.
This is a huge step in the EPCOT transformation process and the front of the park feels more magical with some of those construction walls down. We can’t wait for the next projects to be done!
Character Caravan at Disney Resorts
We may not have traditional character meals and meet-and-greets at the moment, but Disney has been creative with character experiences! In December, we saw the Character Caravan RV bringing characters around to different Disney World resorts!
We’ve seen it driving around property, but we happened to run into characters at Disney’s Riviera Resort! The RV was parked out front and featured a colorful backdrop with signatures from Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto! Plus, the top of the RV says “Caravaning Around the World,” and the back says “see ya real soon!” Aw!
At the Riviera, we found Pluto and Goofy waving to guests from above. Even though you aren’t as physically close to the characters, they do a great job of making the distanced meet-and-greet personal.
We also saw the characters through a window from inside and were able to take pictures this way.
So although this isn’t a classic Disney character meet-and-greet that we all miss right now, how cool would it be to wake up at a Disney resort and walk out to see a character! We love that characters can make their rounds to resorts, and it a stylish RV, too!
Disney Coasters Loading Every Row
Since Disney World’s reopening, we’ve seen plexiglass just about everywhere. It’s been in queues, on ride vehicles, and on Disney transportation. With plexiglass, Disney can increase the capacity of rides by loading more people in. We even did an experiment to see if plexiglass affected Disney World wait times! But some rides without plexiglass are starting to load every row.
This month, we’ve seen this at Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Flight of Passage begin loading every row/seat. We think this is to do with holiday crowds coming in and wanting to keep wait times lower.
There is plexiglass in the loading zones of these coasters, but not on the actual ride vehicles. We will keep watching in the parks to see if other attractions load at full capacity.
3 Resorts Announced Reopening Dates
This month, Disney announced reopening dates for three of Disney World’s resorts! Disney’s Beach Club Resort was originally delayed, but now it is set to open on May 31st, 2021!
Over by Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge announced an opening for June 6th, 2021.
Disney’s All Star Movie Resort was supposed to open in February of next year, but the date was pushed back to March 22nd, 2021.
It kinda feels like these resorts are open already since we can visit the restaurants and walk around the lobby, but now there is an official date! The Disney Vacation Club villas at Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge have been open, but on these opening dates, the full resort will open up.
Kilimanjaro Building Mystery Was Solved
For quite a while now, we’ve seen construction happening on Kilimanjaro Safaris. There was a very mysterious building and it was super unclear what it would be used for. Well in December, we got an answer! Goats!
But they are no ordinary goats. These are Nigerian dwarf goats! Despite the small size though, these goats are fully grown adults. Nigerian dwarf goats are considered to be of high value because they can produce a sweet, high protein milk.
The area looks like a fun home for these goats, and you can currently check them out on your next safari!
We Know Which Waterpark Will Open in March
We’ve known that one of the Disney World waterparks was scheduled to reopen on March 7th, 2021. But now we know which one!
Blizzard Beach will be the waterpark reopening next year! We have been awaiting this news for a while now, so it’s exciting to know which waterpark we can enjoy soon!
This means that Typhoon Lagoon, Disney World’s other waterpark, will likely remained closed beyond that since Disney has said only one waterpark will reopen for this time.
Festival of the Arts Booths & Entertainment
EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts will take place in from January 8th to February 22nd, and during December, we got some details on the booths and entertainment coming to the festival!
Most of the booths announced for this festival have been in previous festivals, but Disney did say the new booth called Vibrante & Vivido would appear at the festival! We put together a full list of the booths for the festival, and we are still waiting for the menus for the booths.
We also got the entertainment lineup for the festival! The Voices of Liberty, who also performed at EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays, will come back with an all new show called The Disney Songbook. There will also be Art Defying Gravity, a pianist, the JAMMitors, Visual Art in Performance, and Chalk Art!
EPCOT festivals are a huge draw and these booths and entertainment sound so exciting! We’ll be looking out for even more information about the festival.
EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival Has Dates
Another EPCOT festival has also gotten some love! The 2021 EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival officially has dates!
The festival will take place from March 3rd to July 5th. Disney said the festival will have “20 delectable stops,” plus it will have those gorgeous gardens, exhibits, and topiaries. We can’t wait to learn more about the 2021 festival!
There was so much exciting news in the month of December, and we are looking forward to seeing what Disney will bring in the new year. We’ll be back to wrap up the biggest news each month, so stay tuned to DFB for the latest Disney news!