In the beginning of 2021, we learned about SO many new things in Disney World!
We felt like January had a year’s worth of announcements in one month, but February looked a bit different! We had our fair share of big news, but mostly there were lots of little (and exciting) things that were announced this month. We’re taking a look at 15 new things we found out in Disney World in February!
1. 50th Anniversary News
Can you believe that this year is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World?!? It’s crazy to think about, but this month, we learned a lot more about what the celebration will look like. First of all, it is going to last until 2023! Disney announced the celebration will begin on October 1st, and last an entire 18 months!
For the celebration, all 4 of Disney World’s park icons will be getting a makeover! Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom will be getting some gold bunting and a 50th anniversary crest. Disney says the castle will have a glow that will “sparkle like pixie dust.” We can’t wait to see the castle go through yet ANOTHER makeover!
In EPCOT, Spaceship Earth is getting a permanent new look! There will be new lights shining across the reflective panels on the park icon. Disney confirmed that this new look will be around even after the celebration is over!
Tower of Terror will act as the icon for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it will get some “special new touches” as the Hollywood Tower Hotel glimmers with EARidescence. We love the new word, Disney!
Last but not least, the gorgeous Tree of Life will get a new look also. A warm light will surround the Tree of Life as enchanted fireflies dance around it. That sounds incredible!
Minnie and Mickey Mouse will also debut some special new costumes! When describing the costumes, Disney also used the term EARidescent, and we couldn’t agree more.
We can’t wait to see what the 50th anniversary celebration will be like! We’re going to have to wait until October 1st, but we know time will fly by.
2. 2022 Bookings are Available
On February 16th, Disney World opened up booking for trips through ALL of 2022! If you are looking to travel to Disney World in 2022, you can book your vacation now. It may seem way in advance, but this gives you plenty of time to plan.
Vacation packages (which includes a Disney World resort hotel and tickets), tickets-only, or room-only bookings are available. Tickets can be purchased through the end of 2022 at this time, but vacation packages and hotel rooms cannot.
Hotels that do not have a reopening date are still marked as unavailable. We’ll keep watching this closely and let you know about any updates!
3. Park Passes are Likely Sticking Around For Some Time
Park Pass Reservations have been available and mandatory since the parks reopened in July. These reservations help control how many people are in the parks, and availability tends to fluctuate a lot. When 2022 bookings opened up, we noticed that Park Pass Reservations were available into early 2023, so it looks like this system could be in place for quite some time.
You can currently book Park Passes until January 14th, 2023. However, if this is the first day of your vacation, you can actually book a trip that goes into mid-January.
Things are constantly changing in Disney World, so maybe these Park Pass Reservations will disappear by then. Right now, though, it looks like they will be staying around for a bit!
4. Face Mask Updates for Eating in Disney World
Speaking of changes, face mask policies have gone through TONS of changes since Disney World reopened. The latest change involves dining in Disney, and we’ve already been able to experience how it affects dining.
The new policy on the Disney World website states that when dining at a restaurant, guests must wear face coverings while standing, waiting, or sitting in dining locations. That means that the only time guests are permitted to remove masks is while they’re actively eating or drinking.
Before, guests were allowed to remove their masks and keep them off for the duration of their meal.
The day after this update was announced, we headed to 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see what the new experience was like. When we were seated, the Cast Member thanked us for wearing our mask, and asked us to keep it on unless we were actively eating or drinking.
Everyone seemed to be following the new rule as far as we could tell.
We still have not seen any signage about the rule.
5. Masks Expected to be Required Until 2022
In Disney World and around the world, face masks have become an essential when going anywhere. And according to Dr. Fauci, they aren’t going away anytime soon. Disney also shared that they anticipate that masks will be required through 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Chief medical advisor for COVID-19 for President Biden previously said that he believes that hopefully by the time we get to July, there will be enough vaccinates for virtually everyone. He has also shared that if about 85% of the US population is vaccinated by the end of the summer, we could return to some normalcy in the U.S. by the end of the fall.
Dr. Fauci has indicated that Americans may still be wearing masks outside of their own homes a year from now. This means that masks might still be a necessity in 2022. He mentioned that he would only feel comfortable to stop recommending face masks until there is “virtually no threat.”
Dr. Fauci also said “If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”
6. A New Hotel Near Disney World Opened
Flamingo Crossings Town Center is a new shopping and dining district located right outside of Disney World property. This month, one of the hotels at Flamingo Crossings officially opened!
The Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando Flamingo Crossings is now open to guests! This is a great area to look at hotels for those of you who want to stay off-property. The hotel has several different rooms available including a studio suite with 1 king bed and a full sleeper sofa, and a 1 bedroom suite with 2 queen beds and a full sleeper sofa. The rooms also generally include a kitchen with full-sized appliances, TVs, and more.
The hotel is also pet-friendly, offers free breakfast, has a pool, and has other amenities for guests to enjoy. In regards to Disney World, it’s about a 14-minute drive to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
ALSO this Homewood Suites is considered to be a Disney World “Gateway” Hotel and can be booked as part of a Disney ticket and room package straight from the Disney World hotels website. The Disney World website doesn’t specify that guests at this hotel will receive Disney hotel perks as some of the other hotels at Flamingo Crossings do, but it does note that there is an on-site Disney Planning Center at Flamingo Crossings to help plan your trip.
Some other hotels at Flamingo Crossings are already open, but lots of stores and restaurants are set to open in the next few years.
7. Soul of Jazz Exhibit Debuted in EPCOT
February is Black History Month, and there were several ways to celebrate in Disney World! One of the most exciting additions is the Soul of Jazz Exhibit in EPCOT which inspired on the latest Disney/Pixar film, Soul.
The focus is on the history of jazz and there are a lot of artifacts from jazz musicians.
You can even see a REAL trumpet played by the Louis Armstrong!
8. Liberty Belle and Tom Sawyer Island Reopened
The Rivers of America was drained for quite some time, but guests can now ride the Liberty Belle around the river again.
The boats obviously could not run to and from Tom Sawyer Island when the river was drained, but because it refilled, guests can head back to this hidden gem in Magic Kingdom.
Even though other attractions like the Mad Tea Party are now under refurbishment, we’re glad to see these two attractions open again!
9. EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival Menus Released
With the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival around the corner, it’s about time we got some information on the menus for the food booths! We’ve already learned about the entertainment and topiaries coming to the festival, but these menus have us super excited for this year’s festival!
There are TWO new booths this year including the EPCOT Sunshine Griddle and EPCOT Farmer’s Feast. The first booth will feature food items like Avocado Toast, Shrimp and Grits, Corned Beef Brisket Hash, and Fried Cinnamon Roll Bites. The second of the two will have a “Rotating Menu,” so we’ll have to see how that works when the festival begins! We can expect to see items like Spring Onion Soup, Duck Confit, Off the “Beet”en Path, and Hibiscus Lemonade Cocktail.
Festival Favorites is new to Flower and Garden, but we’ve seen it at previous EPCOT festivals. The menu will include Watermelon Salad, Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider, and more!
After being gone for a year, Cider House is making its grand return with boozy drinks like 3 Daughters Brewing Pink Lemonade Hard Cider, Bold Rock Watermelon Hard Cider, and others. The food here includes House-made Potato and Cheddar Biscuit with Salmon Tartare and a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Whipped Cream.
10. Two Major Disney World Projects Are Hiring
In preparation for Disney World’s 50th anniversary there are lots of construction projects going on all over property. Two highly anticipated projects just recently posted that they are hiring, which could indicate that they are getting closer and closer to opening!
First of all, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcrusier is currently hiring! It’s currently set to open this year, but there has been no official date released yet. But, could this mean we are a huge step closer to the grand opening?
Disney is currently searching for a Hotel Services Director for Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, and notes that the individual will “lead and implement a unique immersive two-night experience aligned with our Star Wars franchise.” Hopefully this means we’ll get that opening date soon!
The other project that is currently hiring is Space 220 in EPCOT! Located near Mission: Space, this restaurant will fully immersive guests into an outer space world while they dine. And now, the restaurant is looking for an Executive Pastry Chef!
In the past, we’ve seen job listings for a Front of House Manager, a Restaurant Manager, and a Bartender. This unique dining spot was originally supposed to open in late 2019, then it was pushed back to 2020 after they lost their executive chef.
We still haven’t heard about an opening date, but the fact that these two locations are hiring is exciting!
11. Castle Projections and Fireworks Testing (!!!)
During the month of February, we’ve seen a good amount of testing on both Cinderella Castle projections and fireworks! Thanks to our reader @jambohailey on Instagram, we were able to witness fireworks testing from EPCOT. We’ve seen fireworks coming from Magic Kingdom before, but we don’t usually see testing from this park.
Fireworks at Epcot?! Look what reader jambohailey on Instagram saw tonight! pic.twitter.com/906gH9RD66
— AJ Wolfe (@DisneyFoodBlog) February 23, 2021
Disney has yet to announce the return of a fireworks show or nighttime spectacular.
12. Cinderella Castle Construction
If you want to take that iconic pic in front of Cinderella Castle, your photos are gonna look a bit different. The castle is currently under some maintenance that affects both the stage and moat surrounding the castle.
The stage, as you can see, has been stripped down revealing the wood that’s usually underneath a different floor. We’ve been told that this is all routine maintenance, and nothing happened that caused Disney to have to do construction.
There are signs up that say “Please Pardon Our Pixie Dust” on the fence.
A little bit ago, we noticed that the moat started to drain, and now it is completely empty.
We saw construction equipment working on this maintenance.
Hopefully the stage gets put back together and the moat fills up soon so those gorgeous castle pics can get back to normal!
13. The 3rd Harmonious Barge Has Arrived
Harmonious in EPCOT is said to be one of the biggest nighttime spectaculars Disney has ever created. The show continues to progress, because the MASSIVE centerpiece barge has been placed in World Showcase Lagoon!
This piece of the giant puzzle is over 6-stories tall and will support a high-density water curtain, moving lights, fountains, and more.
The next day when we visited, the centerpiece had already gotten an upgrade with giant arms!
We are still expecting two more barges to come out on the lagoon, but this third one is supposed to be the biggest one.
14. Portillo’s Near Disney World Opening Postponed
Recently, large fast-food chains have started opening locations in or near Disney World. We’ve had a McDonald’s for a while, but White Castle and Portillo’s are currently being built. This month, Portillo’s announced that their opening would be postponed.
Portillo’s announced its Orlando location in 2019, and it was set to open on March 2nd of this year. On February 24th, Portillo’s stated “We’re finishing up construction of our new restaurant and need to postpone the original opening date of March 2nd. Portillo’s thanks everyone for their patience and will be sure to share a new opening timeframe as soon as possible.”
It looks like we’ll have to wait just a bit longer to try out Portillo’s! The restaurant did not announce another opening date after postponing the original.
15. EPCOT’s Rose and Crown Restaurant is Under Refurb
The refurbishment is said to go until early spring, so we don’t have an exact date for when this restaurant will reopen. The Rose and Crown Pub and Yorkshire County Fish Shop are still open, so you can still grab a beer or fish and chips!
Wow! Disney sure did pack a good amount of exciting news into February! We’ll be back at the end of March to round-up all of the biggest news from the month, but until then stay tuned to DFB for the latest updates in Disney news!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
What is your favorite thing that happened in Disney World this month? Let us know in the comments!