Well, August was a BIG month when it comes to Disney news.
We’re back with a check-in on the most unexpected/vacation-altering news that happened in Disney World last month and, well, this one’s a doozy. Are you sitting down? Comfy? HYDRATED? We ask because this list of unexpected news is pretty much dissertation length. Don’t worry though, we’re here to guide ya through it.
1. Disney Genie
First up, we gotta start with Disney Genie. We might have known that Disney Genie was coming, but we didn’t know just how much it would entail. Pretty much EVERY aspect of this new offering is unexpected.
Disney Genie is a new feature coming to the My Disney Experience app that will help guests plan their vacations. The complementary offering will include a personalized, constantly updating itinerary, a virtual assistant, projected wait times, and more.
But the announcement of Disney Genie ALSO came with the unexpected news that Fastpass+ will be discontinued in Disney World. This staple system will be replaced with the PAID Genie+ offering. Basically, for $15 per person, per day, you’ll get Lightning Lane access (the new Fastpass lane) to more than 40 Disney World rides.
AND THEN there’s another layer of unexpected news! Beyond Disney Genie and Disney Genie+ will be a few separately priced attractions. These high-demand attractions like Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will have a Lightning Lane option sold separately for a to-be-announced price.
Yep, we’re only on unexpected news item #1. We told you it was a big month.
2. MORE Mask Policy Changes
Next up, we were surprised by more changes to the Disney World mask policy in mid-August. In July, Disney updated rules to require that masks be worn indoors, upon entering and throughout all attractions, and in select other locations, regardless of vaccination status.
Disney World will continue to update mask policies depending on recommendations from health officials in the interest of guest safety. Keep an eye on DFB to make sure you know the latest rules.
3. Space 220 Opening Timeline (and a Peek Inside!)
Perhaps the most unexpected news of all is that Space 220 ACTUALLY got an opening timeline! This space-themed restaurant was announced as coming to EPCOT WAY back in 2017. The restaurant was originally slated to open back in winter 2019 but was delayed several times.
Now, Disney has announced that Space 220 is set to begin service in mid-September of this year. WHAT!? That’s so soon! This certainly surprised us (and we’ll be even more surprised if it actually opens this month).
Beyond that, Disney shared a first look at the inside of the restaurant! We can’t WAIT to snag a meal in “space!”
4. Surprise EPCOT Food and Wine Festival Booths!
Alright, we are chugging right along through August’s news! You might remember when the 2021 EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival kicked off in July. At the time, 23 of the 32 food booths opened, and the rest were meant to open on October 1st.
But SURPRISE! Seven of the remaining nine food booths opened in August! We’re not gonna complain about surprise festival food, so we got down to eating! We even picked out some new Best of the Fest items just for you.
When it comes to holiday festivities, our minds have been on Disney After Hours BOO Bash, but August also brought us the surprising news about the Christmastime After Hours offering this year — Disney Very Merriest After Hours.
Yep, that means that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will not be returning this year. Instead, you can visit Very Merriest After Hours select nights starting November 8, 2021 through December 21, 2021.
The event will include a showing of Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and more. Yep, the first parade to return to Disney World will take place during the event!
Like BOO Bash, this event is notably pricy. Tickets range from $169 to $249.
6. Annual Pass News
At long last, August also brought us some news about the return of Disney World Annual Passes! Annual Passes have not been sold since the parks closed in March 2020.
But with the announcement of Disneyland’s new Magic Key pass system, Disney announced that “new [Disney World] pass sales will become available in time for the start of the 50th Anniversary celebration.”
And now, Disney has announced the return of the updated Annual Pass offerings. Annual Pass sales return on September 8th with the new four-tier pass options — Incredi-Pass, Sorcerer Pass, Pirate Pass, and Pixie Dust Pass.
7. Galactic Starcruiser Pricing
Alright, only THREE MORE unexpected pieces of news, we promise. Our seventh surprise on this list was the announcement of pricing for Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Hotel, Galactic Starcruiser. Yes, that really happened in August.
The first-of-its-kind hotel will open in Spring of 2022 as an immersive experience where guests stay in the hotel for the majority of their stay. We expected pricing to be on the expensive side, and sure enough, it is!
If you have 2 guests per cabin, the trip will cost you $1,209 per guest, per night, or $4,809 total for your voyage. If you have 3 guests per cabin, it will be $889 per guest, per night, or $5,299 for your whole trip. And if you have 4 guests per cabin, it will cost you $749 per guest, per night or $5,999 for your entire voyage.
Of course, these prices may vary based on date and room category, but at least we have an idea of what we’ll be paying to form our own Star Wars story on Galactic Starcruiser!
8. Rise of the Resistance Standby Line (!!!)
Aaaaaand we’ve got more Star Wars news! We were SHOCKED to see that Rise of the Resistance, the mega-popular ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, opened its standby line for the FIRST. TIME. EVER. in August.
The ride typically loads guests using a boarding group system where guests are required to open the My Disney Experience app and secure a pass at 7AM or 1PM if they wish to ride. But with lower crowds in August, there was a change!
One particularly slow day, 1PM boarding groups didn’t disappear within seconds like they usually do. A few hours later, guests were even able to join the STANDBY line after 7PM!
9. Buffets Return to Disney World
ALRIGHT, LAST ONE. August also brought the surprising return of BUFFETS to Disney World. Prior to AAugust, any reopened restaurants that used to be buffets were instead served family-style in response to the global health crisis.
Whew! We told you it was basically a dissertation. August brought us a LOT of Disney news. We might have a break from the big news in September, but with just one month left before Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, we’re not crossing our fingers. You can count on us to bring you all the updates!
What surprised you in Disney news last month? Tell us in the comments!