WHEW! January was FULL of news!
We’ve had about a year’s worth of news in just one month, with grand openings, festival news, and more. Back in December we rounded up the biggest news of the month, so we’re back in January to explore the 14 biggest announcements, changes, and most exciting things from this past month!
Park Hopping is BACK
Perhaps the biggest thing that happened in January was the return of park hopping! On January 1st, guests could once again hop to another park. This feature has been missing since the parks reopened in July, and we’re so glad it’s back!
This experience is a bit different now, however. Before, guests could park hop whenever they pleased, but now there are specific park hopping hours. So far, the hours have been from 2PM to each park’s closure. Buses between theme parks do not start running until around this time. To get on a bus to another park, a Cast Member will make sure you have a ticket that allows park hopping.
Guests don’t need a Park Pass Reservation for the park they are hopping to, but they need to make one for the first park they wish to enter. Guests MUST enter the park they have a reservation for before they can hop. Luckily, we found out that after you scan into your first park, you can go to all 4 parks! That means you can do the 4 parks in one day challenge again!
Since capacity at Disney World is currently limited, there must be availability to enter the next park. If you need to know the status of a park, you can call (407) 560-5000. We’d recommend double-checking before heading all the way to another park just to be turned away. Happy hopping!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Closed
The beloved Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom experience officially closed on January 25th. We saw lines of people playing around Magic Kingdom for its last weekend.
The experience allowed guests to interact with objects and characters all over the park, and we thought of it as a hidden gem. But in mid-January, we learned that Sorcerers would likely be closing before the end of the month.
The Fire Station on Main Street, U.S.A. which used to house the recruitment center for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, is currently closed. Disney has not announced if it will be replaced or if it will return, but we really hope to see it again in the future!
The Jungle Cruise is Getting a New Storyline
Some news can be expected, and other news can be a total surprise. And the announcement of a new storyline for The Jungle Cruise was quite the shocker this month! Disney said that they will be “building on the story” of the attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
There is no timeline for these changes yet, however it was mentioned that they will take place later this year. Disney decided to change the attraction because they want to ensure that guests from a variety of cultures around the world feel welcomed in the Disney Parks. They want each attraction to be “respectful of the diverse world we live in.”
Disney will keep the same classic humor that Jungle Cruise fans know and love. In fact, several changes are being written by a former skipper, Kevin Lively who is currently a writer at Imagineering.
Gideon’s Bakehouse Had a Grand Opening (with an 11 hour wait)
After a soft opening in December, Gideon’s Bakehouse suddenly closed to prepare for a grand opening. On January 14th, the shop reopened and on January 16th, they celebrated with a grand opening event!
Of course we attended the grand opening, and it was madness (in the best way possible)! We arrived to get in line about an hour before Gideon’s opened, and there were already SO many people there. We joined the virtual queue which got up to an 11 hour wait time (!!!), so it seemed like we weren’t the only ones excited for these cookies!
The shop had a few finishing touches compared to before, and we got a signed Gargoyle Print that was part of the grand opening event!
We tried so many delicious cookies, cakes, and cold brews, and we totally get the hype of this unique bakery!
Information for Blizzard Beach’s Reopening
If you’re looking to visit this park on its opening day or any day thereafter, One-Day Water Park Tickets (without blockout dates) are now available for $69 + tax for Adults and $63 + tax for kids ages 3 – 9. One-Day Water Park Tickets with blockout dates are also available at $64 + tax for adults and $58 + tax for kids ages 3-9. These tickets are not valid for admission prior to March 7th, 2021, and are blocked out from May 29th to October 3rd, 2021.
Disney also released mask requirements for the water parks. Just like any other area on Disney property, Blizzard Beach will implement reduced capacity, temperature screenings, physical distancing markings and face coverings. It is specified that face coverings will be required in certain areas for guests over the age of 2. These areas include park entrance and exit, retail areas, and food and beverage ordering areas.
Face coverings will not be allowed in while in the water or on water slides. Guests can remove their masks when actively eating or drinking as long as they are stationary and distanced. Also, a Park Pass Reservation is currently NOT required for Blizzard Beach, but this is subject to change.
EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts Began
EPCOT is known for its festivals, but we might argue that the Festival of the Arts is the best one! The festival officially began on January 8th, and we’ve had a blast seeing all the festival has to offer!
A highlight of this festival is the 3D chalk art! We’ve seen some incredible creations this year from films like Mulan, and it’s mind-blowing how realistic they are!
There are also chalk characters that correspond to each pavilion in World Showcase! Plus, there is live entertainment from the Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre, and more!
There are both art booths where you can purchase incredible Disney artwork…
The festival lasts until February 22nd, so be sure to check it out before it’s gone!
Flower & Garden Festival Booths and Entertainment
There may be a few weeks left for the Festival of the Arts, but EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival is just around the corner! This event will last from March 3rd to July 5th, making it a fairly lengthy one.
Since the dates were announced last month, we’ve learned more about the booths and entertainment coming to the festival this year! The 2021 Outdoor Kitchens include:
- Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market — “Venture to Germany for Bavarian bites sure to sate foodies of all ages—every dish is köstlich!”
- Cider House (Located in World Showplace) — “Behold buzz-worthy ciders and artisanal provisions that are sure to hit the spot.”
- The Citrus Blossom — “Treat your taste buds to the subtleties of lemon, orange, and lime—turning delicious dishes even more delish!”
- Festival Favorites (Located in World Showplace) — “Discover Guest-favorite dishes, microbrews, and other beverages.”
- Flavor Full Kitchen Hosted by AdventHealth — “Discover the many flavors of healthy cuisine in this delightful eatery, featuring vegetables straight from the garden!”
- Fleur de Lys — “Indulge in haute cuisine and boissons that’ll make you fall in ooo-la-la-love with this palate-pleasing Parisian pop-up!”
- Hanami — “Journey to Japan for innovative plates crafted with culinary Zen.”
- Jardin de Fiestas — “Take a food-tastic tour of the Mexico Pavilion… these tantalizing tastes will add some spice to your day!”
- The Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board — “Quell cravings with an incredible menu of all-natural food and drink infused with the nectar of the gods!”
- La Isla Fresca — “Nibble on Caribbean-seasoned dishes that’ll send appetites swaying to the island beat!”
- Lotus House — “Sink your teeth into authentic Chinese eats filled with morsels of good fortune!”
- Magnolia Terrace — “Get a nice, cozy feeling with some comfort food inspired by the Gulf region.”
- Northern Bloom — “Please discriminating palates with fantastic fare from our Great White North neighbor… O Canada!”
- Pineapple Promenade — “Get your tropical fruit fix from tart ‘n’ tangy to the sweetest frozen treats!”
- Primavera Kitchen — “Mangiare hearty helpings of Old-Country dishes served with a glass of vino… now that’s amore!”
- Taste of Marrakesh — “Intoxicate taste buds with the exotic flavors of this North African mecca—mysterious Morocco!”
- Trowel & Trellis Hosted by Impossible Foods — “Delight in some of your favorite foods—created from innovative recipes with some impossibly delicious twists!”
Plus, there are additional locations including:
- Refreshment Port
- Refreshment Outpost
- Cool Wash
- Funnel Cake
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Entertainment for this year’s festival looks pretty familiar! Guests can see the JAMMitors over on the Canada Mill Stage in the Canada pavilion for music with gardening tools.
At the America Gardens Theatre in the America pavilion, guests will be able to see the acapella group, Voices of Liberty, and Mariachi Cobre. Both groups are currently performing at the Festival of the Arts, and we’re glad they’ll be sticking around!
In World Showplace (the building between the Canada pavilion and the United Kingdom pavilion), a pianist will be there to play “songs from the season.” This is also an experience currently happening at the Festival of the Arts that will be sticking around.
The times and schedules for these performances has not been determined yet. Each of these performances has been available for EPCOT’s current festival, so we’ll have to see how they change it up for the Flower and Garden Festival! Last but not least, we have also learned about some of the activities coming to the festival! The highlight of the festival is the gorgeous topiaries around the park.
This year, there will be Sorcerer Mickey Topiary to greet guests at the entrance. In Future World, we can expect to see Woody, Bo Peep (and her sheep), Buzz Lightyear, Figment, butterflies, and The Lion King characters as well as classic Disney characters like Mickey, Donald, and more.
Around World Showcase, guests can see The Three Caballeros in the Mexico pavilion, Anna and Elsa in the Norway pavilion, a dragon topiary in the Japan pavilion, pandas and a China Zodiac Topiary Garden in the China pavilion, Snow White and Dopey in the Germany pavilion, Lady and the Tramp in the Italy pavilion, Remy, Belle, and the Beast in the France pavilion, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Tinker Bell in the United Kingdom pavilion, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions.
Around the park, guests can experience “global gardens” including the Goodness Garden Butterfly House and the Bamboo Garden. Guests can also learn about honey-bees at The Honey Bee-stro. Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration and the Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt are also returning! These map activities come with a prize once you complete them.
The only thing we are waiting on is the menus for the booths at this year’s festival. So far it looks like it’s going to be a good one!
Magical Express Will Be Discontinued
The Magical Express is a complimentary service for Disney World resort guests that takes them from Orlando International Airport to their resort. Starting on January 1st, 2022, Magical Express will be discontinued.
Disney stated, “As consumer needs and preferences change, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service starting with arrivals in 2022. At the same time, we’re also introducing new ways for guests to enjoy their visits, including early theme park entry for Disney Resort hotel guests.”
Currently, a new Brightline train is set to connect Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs. This is scheduled to be completed within the next few years, and could serve as an alternative to Magical Express. In the meantime, the service will be around for the rest of the year, so if you have a trip in 2021 this will be available to you.
Festival of the Lion King to Return This Summer
Entertainment has been lacking ever since the parks reopened to comply with all of the new health and safety measures. However, Disney announced that a fan-favorite show would return in the summer of 2021!
That’s right, Festival of the Lion King in Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be back for guests to enjoy this summer! There is no official date at the moment for when it will return, but we look forward to some more Disney entertainment to return!
Early Theme Park Entry to Replace Early Magic Hours
If you stayed at a Disney resort before the closures, you’ve probably heard of Extra Magic Hours. They allow Disney World resort guests to enter a specific park before the general public. Extra Magic Hours have been suspended since reopening, and now Disney has announced an alternative called Early Theme Park Entry!
Early Theme Park Entry allows guests staying at Disney-owned resorts and other select resorts to enter ANY theme park 30-minutes early every day. This is different from Extra Magic Hours because it is 30-minutes early instead of one hour, and it includes any park on any day instead of select days.
Disney stated that this will help them spread visitation throughout all four theme parks and offer guests more park time. The new early park entry system will potentially disperse early morning crowds to all four theme parks, as opposed to reintroducing Extra Magic Hours and having guests flock to one theme park for early access.
Disney has confirmed that you will need a Park Pass Reservation to enter the park you’re planning to go to early. There is currently no start date for this new system, but we’re hoping it’s soon!
Ratatouille Area in EPCOT’s France Pavilion is Open
There is no official opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and La Creperie de Paris in the France pavilion expansion, but we do know they are both set to open this year! And this month, we got a step closer to both of these experiences because part of the new Ratatouille-themed area is open!
We first noticed the walls were replaced with tall shrubbery, and then a few days later, there was no barricade. We may not be able to see much yet, but we got to see the new bathrooms, walk through the archway, and find little Remy details!
We also found out it looks absolutely STUNNING at night.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure merchandise entered the pavilion a little while after which makes us think the attraction and restaurant could be getting closer to their grand openings! We found new Remy ears, a talking Remy plush (who took us on a tour of World Showcase), and several other items. Most of the merch is already sold out!
We’ll be keeping a very close eye on this area of the park and cross our fingers that it opens sooner than later!
Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew’s Grand Opening
They also offer sandwiches with the option of a donut bun, so we decided to try a Grilled Cheese Donut! A donut cheese pull is always a good idea. Plus, we’ve got famous hands now, because you can find our cheese pull on Seth Meyers’ show!
M&M’s Store Surprise Grand Opening
It seems as though Disney World is done announcing opening dates, because we had another surprise grand opening this month at the M&M’s Store in Disney Springs!
We headed in to see what the new shop was offering! We knew that there would be special Mickey and Minnie M&M’s, but we found that and so much more! The shop is FULL of color, especially because of the M&M’s wall.
There was also tons of adorable Disney and M&M’s merchandise that we just had to have.
We also learned how to personalize our very own Disney Food Blog M&M’s AND created a step-by-step guide!
We’ll be back soon to check for any updates at this brand new Disney Springs shop!
Watermelon Dole Whip is Now a Thing!
We’ve been wishing and wishing for Watermelon Dole Whip to become a thing. We dedicated an entire post asking Disney, What’s a Girl Gotta Do To Get Some Watermelon Dole Whip? Well this month, our wishes came true! For a limited time, we could grab Watermelon Dole Whip at Marketplace Snacks in Disney Springs!
Unfortunately, what we thought would be a glorious and refreshing treat, turned out to have a major identity crisis. It was still good, but the watermelon was a bit more artificial than we had originally hoped. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess!
It also kind of tasted like bubblegum?!? So much so, that it overpowered the artificial watermelon flavor. Most people would probably like this as long as you aren’t expected a punch of watermelon flavor.
This was a limited-time item and was scheduled to leave on January 31st. Hopefully they’ll bring this treat back someday after a few flavor tweaks, because we were SUPER excited to see the announcement of this Dole Whip!
That’s a wrap on the biggest news you may have missed this month! From grand openings to discontinuations to Watermelon Dole Whip, it’s safe to say there was a LOT of news in January. We’ll be back next month to round up the biggest news, so stay tuned to DFB!
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What is your favorite thing that happened at Disney World in January? Let us know in the comments!