You know how some weeks it feels like not that much happens, and other weeks it feels like a THOUSAND news stories all got released at once? Well, this week was definitely the latter type.
In the past few days alone we’ve learned that PAID FastPass systems are coming to Disney World and Disneyland, tons of spots have reopened or are reopening soon, and much more. Are you ready to dive into the biggest news stories from this week? Buckle up, and hold onto them hats and glasses ’cause this here’s the wildest news ride on the internet!
1 — Paid FastPass Services Coming to Disney World and Disneyland
This week Disney announced some BIG news regarding FastPass. First, FastPass+, FASTPASS, and MaxPass are all being retired and will not return to Disney World or Disneyland.
In their place will be not 1 but 2 NEW paid FastPass-like options called Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection. With Genie+, you’ll pay a set amount per ticket per day to select the next available return time to use an attraction’s “Lightning Lane” (essentially the FastPass lane). You’ll be able to do this for various attractions, 1 attraction at a time throughout the day. It’s sort-of like being able to make a single FastPass selection at a time like you did in the old days.
With Individual Attraction Selection, you’ll be able to pay a certain amount to schedule a return time to use a SINGLE, highly popular attraction’s Lightning Lane.
This week Disney also gave some major updates about the Disney Genie, which is a FREE, trip planning service that’ll create customized itineraries for you, show you forecasted wait times for your favorite attractions, and otherwise help you optimize your day in the parks.
There’s a LOT to break down here and it can get confusing. Check out all of our posts by clicking the links below to learn more:
- Click here to get a breakdown of Genie, Genie+, and Individual Attraction Selection
- Click here to see what Annual Passholders need to know about Genie+
- Click here to see more about how and why you’ll pay for individual rides through the Individual Attraction Selections option
- Learn about the FREE Disney Genie planning service and how it wants to be your personal assistant
- See how being a Disney World hotel guest will benefit you with the Individual Attraction Selections offering
- See how Genie+ is different than MaxPass at Disneyland
- New virtual features are being added to Disney’s Disability Access Service program due to the Genie — see more here
- See how you can use the Genie to hack dining in the parks
- Check out 5 of the most MIND-BLOWING Genie features
- Click here to see the difference between Genie and Genie+
- Check out our explanation of the Disney Genie in less than 500 words
We are working to get you answers to all of your questions and help explain all of these new systems, so be sure to check back with us for all the latest updates.
2 — A Whole Bunch of Food & Wine Festival Booths Opened Early at EPCOT!
Over at EPCOT, this past weekend was quite eventful! While many booths are already open at EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival, several booths were not scheduled to open until October 1st. But it seems October 1st has arrived early! This past Saturday, two booths opened early.
First, we’ve got The Alps booth.
Let’s just say, if you don’t get the warm cheese here, you might just be doing the Food & Wine Festival wrong!
This past weekend, the Spain booth also opened early.
It’s got a variety of options including charcuterie in a cup, Spanish-style paella, and seafood salad, as well as several beverage options.
But wait, there’s more! On Sunday, MORE EPCOT Food & Wine Festival booths opened early!
Just take a look at that piece of lobster!
And this spot was serving up some desserts that totally WOWed us.
At this spot, we felt like the side items were the real stars of the show.
Should you get any of these items?
But, did any of the other items here impress us?
And click here to see our best of the fest 2.0 list with details about all the must-haves at the newly opened booths!
3 — Tickets on Sale for Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom
This year, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has been canceled, but fans can still enjoy a specialty holiday event with the NEW Disney Very Merriest After Hours event in Magic Kingdom. During the After Hours event, guests will get access to special holiday treats, have the chance to see Christmastime-themed fireworks, get to see a full Christmas-themed parade, and more.
The After Hours event will be offered select nights starting November 8, 2021 through December 21, 2021.
Earlier this week, tickets went on sale for Disney World hotel guests. But today, August 20th, tickets became available for all guests to purchase (not just those staying at Disney World hotels).
We expect that several dates for this After Hours event could sell out quickly, just as many of the dates for Disney After Hours BOO Bash have sold out. So, if you’re interested in going to this event be sure to get your tickets well in advance.
4 — Reopenings and Some Closures
This week a number of things reopened, reopening dates were announced for others, and Disney announced 1 big closure. Let’s start with the reopenings.
The Beauty and the Beast stage show reopened this past weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so you can once again sing along to this tale as old as time.
Big Top Souvenirs reopened at Magic Kingdom with some limited merchandise and quite a lot of sweet treats.
Boma is the first Disney World spot to offer buffet-style dining since the parks reopened. pic.twitter.com/saZK6EMCma
— AJ Wolfe (@DisneyFoodBlog) August 20, 2021
In terms of future reopenings, this week we shared news that the Victoria Falls Lounge is set to reopen soon in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s actually set to reopen today (August 20th).
And finally, in terms of closures, this week we got news that the NBA Experience at Disney Springs will NOT be reopening, but instead will be closing permanently.
We’ll keep an eye out for more updates as to this space and what may replace the NBA Experience in the future.
5 — Mask Rules Change at Disney World
This past week, mask rules at Disney World changed again in relation to outdoor attractions and outdoor theaters. Under the new rules, masks are no longer required on outdoor attractions and outdoor queues.
Masks continue to be required, however, for all guests ages 2 and up (regardless of vaccination status) in all indoor locations, upon entering and throughout all indoor attractions and indoor queues, and in Disney buses, monorails, and the Disney Skyliner.
We’ll keep an eye out for any further updates.
6 — More Big Updates — Cirque du Soleil, Ratatouille Virtual Queue, ‘Ohana News and More
This was QUITE the week. Let’s go through some more of the big things that were announced.
Second, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will use a virtual queue (rather than a traditional standby line) when it opens in EPCOT. If you’ve got this ride on your must-ride list for when it opens in October, be sure to keep that virtual queue in mind.
Next, there’s a big princess celebration going on right now, and World Princess Week will be coming soon. As part of the Princess-themed fun, a bunch of Princess-themed snacks are coming to Disney World soon. A Tiana-themed playground is also coming to EPCOT for a limited time. And we’ve got a breakdown of everything happening in Disney World for World Princess Week!
The Wave is being replaced with a new dining experience — Steakhouse 71.
And finally, this week we also got tons of Disney Cruise Line news all about the Disney Wish! Disney announced a NEW interactive game coming to the Wish. And we got to share all kinds of exciting details about the ship that Marvel and Star Wars fans will want to know about!
Plus, new scenes are coming to the ship’s attraction at sea. And you can check out a dozen more reasons why you’ll want to set sail on this new ship!
WHEW! And that’s a wrap-up of the big stories from this week. But, of course, there are more things going on around the parks and beyond that you’ll want to know about. Check out some of those stories below:
- You can do yoga in front of Cinderella Castle in Disney World soon
- See how changing park hours at EPCOT will affect the International Food & Wine Festival
- See how you could win a FREE cruise on the Disney Wish!
- There’s a new series Disney history buffs are going to want to check out
- How do tickets for Disney World’s new holiday event compare to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?
- 50th Anniversary banners have arrived in Disney World!
- Some NEW Disney Halloween merchandise has arrived online
- Reminder: Free MagicBands are no longer being offered to Disney World Passholders
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was available at one point WITHOUT a boarding group
- 2 NEW donuts arrived at The Donut Box in EPCOT
- Get the latest update on Disney-themed Peloton classes
- The monorail station at the Polynesian is nearing completion
- The U.S. is extending the mask mandate for airplanes and more
- Pumpkin spice coffee is back in Disney World
- Goofy’s Kitchen reopened in Disneyland
- COVID-19 vaccination requirements are changing for cruises going to the Bahamas
And that’s it for us for now! We’ll keep an eye out for more Disney news in the future, so be sure to check back with us for all the latest updates.
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What news item from this week surprised you the most? Tell us in the comments!