Home » The 10 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (April 18-24, 2022)

The 10 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (April 18-24, 2022)

This week at Walt Disney World, social distancing measures are eliminated from character meet and greets, the last of the mask mandates at the theme parks are dropped, plus a new restaurant opens at EPCOT and PhotoPass introduces an interesting upcharge. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort offers a refillable popcorn bucket and SeaWorld offers another tease for its upcoming roller coaster project. 

1. EPCOT’s Connections eatery officially opens April 27

EPCOT’s new Connections Eatery quick-service restaurant is set to officially open to guests next week on April 27 in the World Celebration area of the park. This new dining location features booths, tables, and bar seating and is located near the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction. This quick-service eatery also features outlets, USB ports, and wireless charging for guests looking for a device recharge while they are dining. 

The menu features standard quick-service fare including burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza and salads. Food is served on reusable plates and stainless steel utensils, which should make this a more eco-friendly choice for guests looking to reduce their waste on a park visit. 

This eatery also has a large Starbucks area inside where guests can order their favorite beverages either to go or to enjoy inside. 

Though the official opening of this restaurant is still a few days away, this restaurant has been sporadically opening over the past few days, allowing some guests a chance to experience it early as part of a soft opening period. 

2. New Finding Nemo show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be 20 minutes shorter and feature new characters

Disney recently shared a first look at the updated Finding Nemo show, Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!, which will open this summer. In addition to featuring new characters from Finding Dory and new projection special effects, it was confirmed that this show will be much shorter, clocking it at only 25 minutes. However, fans of the old show shouldn’t fret too much about the abbreviated runtime as it was also confirmed that many of the songs and production numbers from the original Finding Nemo: The Musical remain in the new version. You can check out a video preview of this reimagined show above. 

3. All mask requirements dropped at Walt Disney World for the first time since reopening

Disney announced this week that it has dropped its requirement for all guests to wear masks when on transportation systems, which was the last place masks were required. With the ending of this policy, Walt Disney World is now officially mask-free for the first time since it initially reopened in summer 2020.

4. Construction walls down at Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Now that Cast Member previews have started for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, all construction walls have been dropped around the entrance of this new attraction, giving guests their first good look at the entrance to this new ride. Annual Passholder and DVC previews are set to begin in just a few days, and then the attraction will open for all guests on May 27. 

5. New Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories feature announced

Cinderella Castle PhotoPass, Disney
Image: Disney

To celebrate the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World has announced a new PhotoPass feature called Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories. This new service will cost $9.99 and allows guests to use the My Disney Experience App to select photos from their Disney PhotoPass Gallery and virtually transform Cinderella Castle with them. When creating a “Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories” the castle is split into sections so guests can decide which photo to place where.

6. Character hugs return to meet and greets 

After nearly two years of physical distancing at character meet and greets, Walt Disney World has officially reinstated traditional character meet and greets this week. That means that guests who visit with their favorite characters can now ask for hugs, autographs, high-fives and more. 

7. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind track list announced

More information has been released about the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction, including the song list that guests can expect to hear on this ride. The songs are randomized, so riders won’t know which track they will get each time they ride, just that it will be one of these: 

  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears
  • Conga by Gloria Estefan
  • I ran (so far away) by a Flock of Seagulls
  • Disco Inferno by the Trammps
  • One Way or Another by Blondie
  • September by Earth Wind and Fire

8. New Disney Visa card discounts announced for fall 2022

Disney has announced a new Disney Visa Cardmember discount offer for Walt Disney World Resort hotel stays this fall from August 28 through September 19th at specific hotels, including the following:

  • Save up to 30% on rooms at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Save up to 30% on family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Save up to 25% on rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Save up to 25% on rooms at other select Disney Resort hotels

You can learn more about this discount at the official Disney Visa Cardmember website here

9. Refillable popcorn bucket now available for $25 at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is now offering a minions-themed refillable popcorn bucket for purchase around the resort for $25. This bucket can be found both at popcorn carts and in stores, including Super Silly Stuff at the exit of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. The first popcorn fill is free and subsequent refills are $2.19.

10. SeaWorld continues teasing new coaster on social media

After showing a piece of track being delivered to the park last week on social media, SeaWorld is continuing to tease its new roller coaster project online, this time sharing a video of a “garden” with a construction area for the coaster in plain view on the side of the frame. You can check the video out here. Still no official announcement about the project has been made, but we’d assume the park will officially reveal the rumored “surf” coaster project in the near future.