You might be on vacation during this holiday season, or just trying to squeeze in a few extra naps to catch up on some much-needed rest, but Disney news never takes a break!
Another week has passed at the most magical place on earth, and some BIG updates have been announced or seen in the parks. From the return of Park Hopping to an update on the EPCOT monorail, today we’re taking a look at 5 pieces of Disney news from this week that you might have missed!
Park Hopping Returns!
Okay, we’re not sure if you would have missed this one, but it’s so big we HAD to share it here. Park Hopping officially makes returns to Disney World TODAY! So, if you’ve been dreaming of starting your day with a ride on Frozen Ever After in EPCOT and ending your night with a Ronto Wrap in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you might have that chance.
There are, however, a few things you’ll want to keep in mind about this modified Park Hopping system. First, you MUST have a valid Park Pass reservation for the first park you want to visit on any particular day, and you must actually visit that park before hopping to another one. Second, you can only hop once Park Hopping hours begin — which, right now, is set to begin at 2PM, but that is subject to change.
Third, your ability to hop to another park will depend on that park’s availability, so you’ll have to check to see what parks are available for you to hop to each time you’re thinking of heading to another spot. And, finally, if you’re hoping to grab a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, then Disney’s Hollywood Studios MUST be the first park you visit (the one that you’ll get a Park Pass reservation for). You won’t be able to hop to it later in the day and try to get an afternoon Boarding group.
We’ve tried to answer lots of your questions about Park Hopping, and we’ll continue to keep you updated on our experience with the modified system. If you’ve got specific questions about Park Hopping, be sure to leave a comment below!
Update on the EPCOT Monorail
When Disney World reopened after the theme park closures due to the global pandemic, the EPCOT Monorail did not reopen with it. With park-to-park transportation set to return with the return of Park Hopping, we’ve been eagerly awaiting any news about the EPCOT Monorail. But, we recently spoke with a Disney Cast Member who told us that the EPCOT monorail not return with Park Hopping on January 1st.
For now, guests will have to rely on other forms of transportation to get to and from EPCOT. If you’re just looking for a trip on that highway in the sky and don’t need to get to EPCOT, you could go to the monorail station at the Transportation and Ticket Center, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or Disney’s Contemporary Resort to hop on the monorail there, but keep in mind that it won’t take you to EPCOT.
We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for any updates on the EPCOT monorail, and will let you know if we hear any news of its return.
Updates to Some Attraction Loading Procedures
Over the past few months, we’ve seen plexiglass and distancing barriers installed on rides and in queues at spots like Slinky Dog Dash, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Living with the Land. Recently, we noticed another ride got a bit of a plexiglass makeover — Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
There is now plexiglass in the cockpit of this attraction around the gunners’ seats, separating the gunners from the engineers. A Cast Member explained that this set-up could potentially allow for a group of 1-4 people plus another group of 1-2 at any given time.
In addition to the plexiglass, the loading system also got a bit of a change. There are now colored dots (orange and blue) on the floor to direct guests. Your party is called up by color and then instructed to stay on their respective dots.
These dots continue up to the point to where you load — and essentially ignores the pilot, engineer, and gunner markers on the floor. Instead, there are now the sets of corresponding dots. Cast Members instruct you where to stand for the whole process, but it is a change from how things were previously handled so just be aware of it the next time to hop on the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
Over at Avatar Flight of Passage in Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, things are also looking a bit different in terms of their loading process. While 1-2 bikes used to be left between guests, guests are now being loaded onto every bike.
No plexiglass dividers have been installed on this ride, however, so you could be sitting directly next to someone from another party. We’re not sure yet if this change is permanent or if simply happened to us because we visited close to New Year’s Eve and there was a high volume of crowds, but we’ll be checking back in later to see if there’s any change.
Some Attractions Are Missing From Animal Kingdom’s Updated Map
Also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we saw that the park received an updated map!
But, the update goes beyond just an updated photo on the front. Two live entertainment shows at Animal Kingdom — Finding Nemo the Musical and Festival of the Lion King — are missing from the map (!!). Between the removal of these shows from the map and the fact that many live entertainment performers were let go this year, it makes us wonder when we will see these come back. Disney has said that they intend to bring back some of its live entertainment in the future, but it seems as though we might have to wait a bit longer to see these return.
Primeval Whirl and Rivers of Light, which have permanently closed are also no longer on the park map. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for more updates to the park maps in Disney World.
Free Luggage Tags Will No Longer Be Sent to Guests In Advance of Their Trip
And, finally, our last piece of news from this week brings us to the Disney World Resort hotels. Starting today, January 1st, Disney hotel guests will no longer receive FREE MagicBands with their stay, and now Disney has announced another change coming to the free items sent to Disney hotel guests. Beginning today, January 1st, 2021, Magical Extras and FREE Souvenir Luggage Tags will no longer be sent to guests in the mail in advance of their Disney trip.
BUT, guests don’t have to say goodbye to their free luggage tags altogether. While the tags won’t be sent in the mail in advance of the trip, guests will now be able to pick up their Magical Extras and Souvenir Luggage Tags at the front desk of their hotel at anytime during their stay. So, if those luggage tags were something you always looked forward to, you don’t have to say goodbye to them, just “see ya real soon.”
And that’s our break-down of some of the big stories you may have missed this week. Aside from those updates, this week also brought us an update on the Stay-at-home order in Southern California (where Disneyland Resort is located), news about a non-resident foreign tourist ban in Japan, and some news about Disney reportedly calling back some Cast Members. With the start of the new year and the return of Park Hopping, we’re sure next week will bring us even more news, so stay tuned for all the latest!
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Will you be heading to Disney World in 2021? Let us know in the comments!