Just when you think Disney World can’t get any busier…it does!
We started the year with a FULL year’s worth of announcements in January alone, but there was still LOTS of Disney news in February and March. April was certainly no exception, with the long-awaited reopening of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, and many transformations happening around the parks! And we’ve only seen more news released since then. Without further ado, let’s take a look at 16 new things that have happened in Disney World recently or are set to happen soon!
1. The PeopleMover is FINALLY Back!!!
It feels like we’ve waited a whole lifetime for the PeopleMover to reopen, but on April 25th, it officially reopened to guests for the first time in over a year!!
After Walt Disney World President, Jeff Vahle announced that the fan-favorite ride would be opening “later this weekend,” we lined up bright and early that Sunday morning to check out the reopening!
It’s been over a year, but finally…HELLO from the PeopleMover! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/D6g9UlwPNL
— AJ Wolfe (@DisneyFoodBlog) April 25, 2021
2. Festival of the Lion King Has Reopened
Live entertainment has been very different in Disney World since it reopened. Several live shows remain closed like Finding Nemo the Musical and Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, but recently one show — the Festival of the Lion King — reopened!
So, if you’re going to Disney World this summer, you can now check out this reopened show!
3. Self-Serve Drink Stations Are BACK at Some Locations
Since Disney World reopened, self-serve drinks have been basically nonexistent. Instead, the stations were typically manned by Cast Members who would fill up the cup for you. Now, self-serve drinks are available at certain locations!
So far, we have seen this at Roaring Fork in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge…
…Satu’li Canteen in Disney’s Animal Kingdom…
…Regal Eagle Smokehouse in EPCOT. We’ve also noticed it at many other Disney World resorts and some other locations in the theme parks as well.
The stations do generally note that only one party should use the machine at a time. We’ve also seen refillable stations at Blizzard Beach when it reopened in March, but this is the first time we’ve seen them not roped off and with a Cast Member for a long time! During your upcoming trip to Disney World, be sure to check if the self-serve drink stations you stop by are allowing guests to serve themselves.
4. Disney Skyliner Crashes
The Disney Skyliner is the newest form of Disney transportation, but it has its faults. The Skyliner can temporarily close or stop for things like lightning and technical difficulties, but in April the Skyliner had its 2nd gondola crash.
Luckily nobody was hurt, and Disney commented on the matter. We got to Disney’s Hollywood Studios Skyliner station after the accident occurred, and the line was down for just a couple of hours before it reopened to guests.
We also got a look at some guests who were stuck on the EPCOT Skyliner line during this time. Each Skyliner gondola has an emergency kit with a few packets of drinking water, cool packs, a pencil and notepad, a whistle, a glow stick, and a few blue cups.
Overall, the crash resulted in some broken glass, but luckily nobody was hurt and the Skyliner was up and running pretty quickly.
In June, a third Skyliner crash occurred. This time, the crash occurred at the EPCOT Skyliner station.
One guest who was stuck on the Skyliner due to the crash shared her experience on Twitter. She noted that they were eventually able to get off the Skyliner and that Disney provided them with water, a $25 gift card, and more.
Generally the Disney World Skyliner Gondola System runs pretty smoothly and is usually ta great and reliable way to get around Disney World, but it can experience issues or temporarily shut down for a variety of reasons. The first Skyliner crash was in October of 2019, where guests were stuck in their gondolas for THREE hours.
5. Cirque du Soleil Could Open in Disney Springs Soon
Cirque du Soleil’s new Disney-inspired show was scheduled to premiere in spring of 2020, but has been pushed back again and again. Now, though, we could be seeing the show in Disney Springs pretty soon!
Drawn to Life, Cirque du Soleil’s newest show could open this fall according to the company’s CEO Daniel Lamarre. He mentioned that Cirque was working on a new opening date for the show and that they “should be able to open sometime in the fall.”
Tickets were available for Drawn to Life a while ago, but they have remained unavailable since January of this year. Hopefully, we’ll get to see this brand new and unique show come to life later this year!
6. It’ll Cost You More to Customize a Lightsaber
There are many iconic experiences in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios like drinking in Oga’s Cantina, interacting with characters, or building a droid. But one of the most popular experiences is building your own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop, and recently it saw a HUGE price increase!
Previously, a customized lightsaber would cost you $199.99 plus tax, but now you’ll have to pay $219.99 plus tax. Nothing from the experience has changed, just the fact that it’s an extra $20.
The price increase applies to guests who booked their lightsaber experience after this change happened on April 19th.
7. Club Cool Will Return and a New Creations Shop Will Open Soon
As you’ve probably noticed, EPCOT is going through an ENORMOUS transformation. In April, we got two major updates about what we can expect to see in the parks this summer!
First of all, you’ll be able to torture your friends with Beverly again because Club Cool is RETURNING! Yay! This experience originally closed as part of the EPCOT transformation, but Disney has announced that it will come back THIS. SUMMER.
Even though you can try lots of Coca-Cola products at the Coca-Cola store and rooftop beverage bar in Disney Springs, there’s nothing like trying soda from around the world at Club Cool! Disney hasn’t shared too many details about what this new Club Cool experience will be like but they have confirmed that Beverly will be available.
Recently, we also got a sneak peek at what the new Creations Shop will look like! This shop will be replacing Mouse Gear as the park’s flagship merchandise location. The shop’s design is based on none other than Mickey Mouse, and you’ll see lots of unique details on the walls…
…and even on the floors!
The Creations Shop is set to open up this summer, and we are thrilled for these big steps in EPCOT’s transformation!
8. Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups Just Got Easier
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is easily the most popular attraction in Disney World with two sets of boarding groups filling up every single day. The boarding group process has gone through several changes, but the latest change has made it way more convenient!
Before, you had to be physically inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios in order to get a boarding pass at 1PM. Now, guests can grab a boarding group from anywhere on Disney property if they scanned into the park earlier that day!
We put this new change to the test and it worked! If you wanted to tap into Hollywood Studios in the morning, go to lunch, and grab a 1PM boarding group, now you can!
9. A New Service is Replacing Disney’s Magical Express
In case you missed it, Disney’s Magical Express will be discontinued in 2022. This is the free service that Disney provides to bring Disney World Resort guests from Orlando International Airport to their hotel. We’ve recently learned that a new transportation system will replace Magical Express!
While there are some other options to get from the airport to your resort, Mears released a statement indicating that they would continue to provide transportation services after Magical Express is gone. Recently, Mears announced Mears Connect, a new service which will debut in January of 2022 and connect Orlando International Airport to the Disney Resort area!
This service is set to be very similar to Magical Express. Previously, the Mears Connect website indicated that guests would be able to book the new service starting in May of 2021. That, however, has since been updated to indicate that reservations will become available starting Summer of 2021.
Pricing has not been released for Mears Connect yet, nor have any additional details about reservations been released. Even though the Brightline train from the airport to Disney Springs is in the works, we might have to wait until 2026 to use it. We can’t wait to get more details on this new transportation!
If you’ll be using the Magical Express this year, while it’s still available, be aware that they have recently announced a change that is being made to the check-in process. You can learn more about that by clicking here!
10. The Jungle Cruise Transformation Has Begun
A few months ago, Disney announced that the Jungle Cruise in both Disney World and Disneyland would get a new storyline. Well, that transformation has already begun in Disney World!
This Adventureland attraction is staying open to guests while it undergoes these changes. It was announced that the changes would happen this year, but Disney did not share a specific timeline.
We’ve already said goodbye to Trader Sam…
…gotten a peek at the new scene that will be in Trader Sam’s spot…
…noticed some small details missing…
…seen new characters appear…
The Jungle Cruise transformation is set to be complete in Magic Kingdom this summer! We’ll keep you updated as we spot more changes being made at the ride.
11. A Major Mask Requirement Has Changed
As you probably know, mask policies have been pretty strict in Disney World since its reopening. However, the mask rules have changed a lot recently.
Now, masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests in nearly all locations in Disney World. Masks are required, however, for all guests (including fully vaccinated guests) on all transportation (including transportation entrances).
Different rules apply to guests who are not fully vaccinated. Guests who are not fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in outdoor common areas or pool decks. But, face masks continue to be required for guests who are not fully vaccinated upon entering and throughout all attractions, in all indoor theaters (including theater entrances), on all transportation (including transportation entrances), and in all indoor locations (including restaurants, except when actively eating or drinking).
Disney is not asking for proof of vaccination, but does expect that guests who are not fully vaccinated follow the updated rules.
12. One Health & Safety Measure is Disappearing
We noticed this change in quite a few locations, and Cast Members previously said that they were not sure if the hand-washing stations will return. Disney still offers hand sanitizer all over property.
13. Resorts Are Getting Some BIG Makeovers
We’ve all heard a lot about the huge Moana-themed renovation at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but some other Disney World resorts are getting some TLC too! Disney’s Wilderness Lodge reopened on July 6th and some of its guest rooms have received a makeover!
Compared to before, the headboard is a LOT different, the bedding is white, and the maroon details are gone. The carpet has also been replaced with hardwood floors. The curtains are patterned, but have much lighter colors than before. The TV is now attached to the wall, with a chest of drawers underneath.
There are also all kinds of unique details throughout the renovated rooms.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is also undergoing some major construction! Just check out what this central area on the Grand Canyon Concourse looks like!
The construction scrim covers various hallways and room areas on one side of the Main Tower. Guest rooms in the Main Tower are currently being refurbished but Disney has not shared exactly what this refurbishment entails. We’ll let you know when more details are released!
The Wave at the Contemporary will also be closing soon for a LONG refurbishment ahead of Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. So be sure to keep that in mind for your future plans!
14. The Eye Sore in EPCOT is Complete
EPCOT is in the middle of a major transformation, and that includes a new nighttime spectacular called Harmonious! This show will feature unique displays that will come from 5 barges on World Showcase Lagoon, and now all of the barges are out!
We (and many other people) aren’t exactly fans of the view across the lagoon anymore because these barges are HUGE and can be an eyesore. But we hope that they will make the show so incredible that it’s worth it!
Harmonious is set to premiere on October 1st, 2021, so be sure to mark your calendars if you want to be among the first to see it!
15. BIG 50th Anniversary News
Recently, we’ve also gotten some BIG news about Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. If you’re planning a trip to Disney World for the 50th, here are some of the things you need to know. First, on October 1st, 2021, a NEW fireworks show will debut in Magic Kingdom for the 50th Anniversary. This show will even feature projections that will stretch from Cinderella Castle all the way down Main Street, U.S.A.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will get a new daytime show as part of the 50th Anniversary, and you’ll also be able to see golden character statues throughout the parks.
Don’t forget that Disney World’s 50th Anniversary will last for 18 months, so you’ll have lots of time to join in on the celebrations!
Click Here to See 4 Unexpected Announcements That Were Recently Made for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!
And finally, Disney recently announced that fireworks will be returning to Disney World soon!! Happily Ever After will resume in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever will resume in EPCOT on July 1st, 2021!
If you haven’t gotten your Park Passes for July 1st, be sure to book those soon as they’re starting to fill up!
Well, there have been a LOT of updates in Disney World recently, particularly as we inch closer to the 50th anniversary! We’ll continue to keep you in the loop on the latest Disney World news so stay tuned for more updates from us here at DFB!
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What has been your favorite recent update? Let us know in the comments!