Home » The 13 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (March 7-13, 2022)

The 13 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (March 7-13, 2022)

This week at Walt Disney World, an EPCOT project gets canceled, the new TRON attraction hits another milestone plus Genie+ gets more additions. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort raises parking rates, Aquatica opens a new slide, plus Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s new record-breaking roller coaster is now open!

1. Festival of Fantasy returns with fewer floats, reserved seating now available as Genie+ selection

After being gone for two years, the Festival of Fantasy parade is back at the Magic Kingdom. And though the parade is mostly how fans remember it, there are a few notable portions missing, including several of the dancers who accompanied the floats, and the Brave piece as well. 

Now that the parade is back to being performed daily, reserved seating for the Festival of Fantasy Parade has been added to the lineup of Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane selections for the Magic Kingdom.

2. Tron Lightcycle Run begins testing

Though Disney still hasn’t released an opening target yet for the new TRON ride, the company announced this week that Imagineers are entering the next phase of ride testing and will begin push/pull testing in the near future. This type of testing involves dragging the train along the track to make sure everything fits and to check clearance and is a sign that this attraction will hopefully be ready for action soon! 

3. Mary Poppins attraction at EPCOT officially canceled

On a shareholders call earlier this week it was officially confirmed that the untitled Mary Poppins attraction that was originally planned for the UK pavilion at EPCOT has been canceled (or as they put it, “is on hold indefinitely”) and there are no plans currently for any further expansions at the World Showcase. 

4. Turning Red preview now playing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Pixar’s latest, Turning Red, is now playing on Disney+ but if you’d like to get a taste of what this film is like before you dive in, you can check out highlights from the movie inside the Walt Disney Presents attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

5. Closer character meet and greets returning soon

Though guests have been able to see their favorite characters at a distance in recent months at Walt Disney World, loosening COVID-19 restrictions mean that more traditional character greetings, which include autograph signings and physical contact may resume soon.

In a Q&A session earlier this week at Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Disney Chief Financial Officer, Christine McCarthy said that more traditional character meet and greets will be returning to domestic theme parks soon, though no specific timetable was given.

6. EPCOT Experience now permanently closed

Now that Harmonious and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are open (and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is coming later this year) there wasn’t much new being showcased at the EPCOT Experience, which is probably why this preview attraction closed for good this week. Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley said via Instagram that a replacement for this attraction will be coming soon with the Odyssey pavilion to get “exciting new activations” in the near future.

7. Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams added to Genie+

Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been added to the Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane line-up with guests who purchase the $15 per day service now able to make return time selections for this character meet and greet experience. 

8. AristoCrêpes at Disney Springs shuts down permanently 

Food kiosk AristoCrêpes at Disney Springs closed for good this week, with the kiosk expected to reopen with a new name and menu in the coming weeks.

9. Starlight Safari returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge 

The popular, Starlight Safari tour is returning to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for dates beginning April 22 and beyond. This after hours upcharge experience allows guests to climb aboard an open-sided safari vehicle and witness the wild as it comes to life once the sun goes down on this special nighttime expedition. Cost is $89 per guest, and the tour lasts approximately one hour. More details are available here

10. New table service restaurant opening next year at Disney’s Boardwalk

Disney has announced that new table service eatery The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers will open at Disney’s Boardwalk sometime in 2023. This new restaurant and bakery will replace ESPN Club, which was closed during the pandemic and never reopened. 

To accommodate this new location, the BoardWalk Bakery will transition into a new quick service sandwich shop sometime in the near future.

11. Prime parking rates at Universal Orlando Resort raised for Spring Break

Prime parking rates, which vary depending on the season, have been raised at Universal Orlando Resort once again in response to the busy Spring Break travel season. Prime parking for park-goers now costs $60, up from the $50 rate that was in place last week.

12. Aquatica’s newly-reimagined Reef Plunge now open

Reef Plunge (which is the reimagined and renamed Dolphin Plunge) is now open at Aquatica.  The ride is mostly the same but now features silhouettes of different kinds of animals on the upper part, and more animals in the habitat area, including the Commerson’s dolphins from the former attraction as well as leopard sharks, sardines, and other cold water fish. Riders will also now finish the slide in a runout instead of the plunge pool that was at the end of the former attraction.

13. Iron Grazi now open

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay celebrated the grand opening of the record-breaking Iron Gwazi this week, which is now the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid wooden/steel roller coaster. This attraction plunges riders from a 206 foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop all while reaching top speeds of 76 miles per hour. Riders on Iron Gwazi will experience a dozen airtime moments, including three inversions.