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The 11 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (November 28 - December 4, 2016)

This week at Walt Disney World, several controversial new upcharge experiences are announced, Disney's Hollywood Studios gets a dining change, plus the first details are released for next year's Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort confirms that Nintendo Land is coming soon, and quietly debuts what looks like it's own version of MyMagic+! It has been an exciting week, so let's get started!

1. Disney announces new Monorail-themed dining experience

This week, Disney announced a new dining experience that allows guests to board the monorail with "priority" access and enjoy a three course meal spread out at different stops on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop.

Named the Highway in the Sky Dine Around, guests who take part in this event will begin at Disney's Contemporary Resort's The Wave… of American Flavors restaurant for appetizers and specialty cocktails. Next up, guests will visit Disney's Polynesian Village Resort for island-inspired libations and more appetizers.

Then it’s time for the main course at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa's Cítricos restaurant where guests will be treated to a special Chef’s main course selection. Afterward, guests will be able to sip champagne and savor a selection of artisanal cheeses In the hotel's lobby. 

Finally, guests can return to Disney's Contemporary Resort to watch the nighttime Wishes spectacular from an outdoor patio while enjoying a number of desserts, cordials and coffee. 

The cost for this scheduled monorail dining crawl? $150 per guest. But at least this price includes food, drinks, gratuity, and a rooftop view of the nightly Wishes spectacular, which actually makes it an OK value (dining at the monorail resorts isn't exactly cheap under normal circumstances either).

2. Premium Bus upcharge announced

Image: Disney

Beginning next week, Disney will be offering a new Express Transportation ticket option that will allow guests to pay extra to have a special VIP bus pick them up inside the theme parks and use backstage roads to get guests to their destinations faster than regular bus service. Express Transportation vehicles will also feature more regular arrival times than standard buses, running on a precise 30 minute schedule. Here’s where the pickup areas will be inside the theme parks: 

  • The Magic Kingdom: In Tomorrowland next to the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin exit
  • Epcot: Near the front of the park on the side of Spaceship Earth with Guest Relations
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios: On the far side of Sunset Boulevard next to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: In the Africa section of the park near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris

This new premium option will cost $15 per person for a single day, or $24 per person for multiple days. This new option can be added on to park hopper tickets purchased in advance, and guests who already have tickets who want to add this option can do so any time at Guest Relations. Annual Passholders are also able to purchase this service, but only at the $15 per day rate. You can learn more about this new experience here.

3. Discounts now available for Club Villain beginning this week

Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can now take advantage of a new discount that lowers the cost of admission to Club Villain from its inflated $129 price point back down to its original $99 price point, which includes tax and gratuity.

4. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away takes a break

Earlier this week Disney placed Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away on temporary hiatus until December 7th, even removing the stage and all props related to this show. No reason was given for this temporary closure, but given the fact that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released in theaters in just a few weeks, it's not unreasonable to hope that Disney has closed this show temporarily to make way for some timely additions to this show to celebrate the release of the latest Star Wars film.

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