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The 9 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (December 19-26 2016)

This week at Walt Disney World, Christmas has come and gone, and the resort has now entered what is typically the busiest guest season of the year. Though this week has been light on news, a few small announcements were made, including performers for the 2017 Epcot International Festival of the Arts, and the reopening of a popular resort eatery. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando get ready for their respective New Year's Eve festivities, plus a new float debuts at Universal Studios Florida!

1. Broadway performers announced for 2017's Festival of the Arts

Image: Disney 

It's hard to believe, but we're only two weeks from the start of the inaugural Epcot Festival of the Arts, which will kick off January 13, 2017, and will take place every weekend this winter until February 20th. In addition to all of the art on display (and the requisite food booths that will have tasty treats on offer) there will also be a number of Broadway talent performing at the America Gardens Theater during the event. Here's the official schedule: 

  • January 13-16 and January 20-23 2017: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland performing songs from: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid.
  • January 27 - 30 and February 3 - 6 2017: Kerry Butler and Kevin Massey performing songs from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Newsies and Aladdin.
  • February 10-13 and February 17-20 2017: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White performing songs from Disney’s The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.

Performances will be 5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8:00pm Friday through Monday of each festival weekend.

2. Gasparilla Island Grill returns from refurbishment

Image: Disney

The Grand Floridian's Gasparilla Island Grill reopened this week following a two month refurbishment. Changes were slight, but this 24-hour restaurant did recieve an updated menu as well as a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. 

3. Disney's All-Star Music Resort to offer special brunch on January 1

Image: Disney

Disney's All-Star Music Resort has annoucned that it will transform the back section of the Intermission Food Court into a table-service location for one day only on Sunday, January 1, 2017. Guests visiting the hotel on this day will be able to enjoy a brunch offering that's all-you-care-to-eat from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM This offering will cost $21.99 for adults and $11.99 for children. Reservations are not available, and seating will be walk-up only. 

4. Stance opens at Disney Springs

Image: Disney

Stance, a new store that specializes in high-quality socks and underwear, opened at Disney Springs' Town Center disrict last week on Christmas Eve. The new store offers products for men, women, and kids in a variety of styles and designs and this location features an artistic wall showcasing artists, athletes, and more to celebrate the “uncommon thread” between people.

5. Special deal for the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl Week now available

Image: NFL

In addition to discounts at Walt Disney World, annual passholders can also take advantage of an interesting new special event opportunity outside the theme parks. Beginning this week, Walt Disney World annual passholders can take advantage of a special opportunity to enjoy a VIP seat at an NFL Pro Bowl practice session when they purchase tickets to the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl game, which will take place next month on January 29, 2017 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. For each NFL Pro Bowl ticket annual passholders purchase before January 1, 2017, they will also receive one VIP seat at an NFL Pro Bowl team practice on either January 26, 2017 or January 27, 2017 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Guests can order tickets online using the code WDWPASS to get their additional VIP seat. 

6. MagicBand 2 now shipping to new and renewing annual passholders

Image: Disney

Though guests have been able to purchase select designs of the new MagicBand 2 model inside Walt Disney World's theme parks, late last week it was revealed that new and renewing Annual Passholders who have the option to get a free MagicBand will now be shipped the new model of MagicBand by default. As has always been the case, annual passholders can log in to My Disney Experience to order their new MagicBands, and can of course select their band color and enter a personalized name as usual.

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