Home » The 7 BIG Updates from Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (January 21-27, 2019)

The 7 BIG Updates from Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (January 21-27, 2019)

This week at Walt Disney World, a popular shop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios closes permanently, Maleficent returns to the Festival of Fantasy, plus another preview is released for Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. 

Outside Walt Disney World, LEGOLAND Florida announced an opening date for the new LEGO Movie World, plus a new weekend event kicks off at Busch Gardens Tampa

1. Planet Hollywood store at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to close permanently

The Planet Hollywood merchandise location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set to close next week on February 2, with Legends of Hollywood planned to takeover the space as part of an expansion. Planet Hollywood merchandise will still be available at the Planet Hollywood location at Disney Springs.  

2.New preview video released for Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy

Image: Disney

Disney has released a new preview video (above) for the upcoming Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is now confirmed to be opening on March 31 2019This new attraction will immerse guests in the world of Cars and bring them face to face with racing legend Lightning McQueen. Taking on the role of rookie racer, guests will cruise into the theater and find yourself face-to-face with this character, who will appear “live” on stage in animatronic form, while giant, wraparound screens that are nearly two stories tall and stretch more than 200 feet from end to end, pull guests into into the action. 

3.Maleficent float returns to the Festival of Fantasy

Image: Disney

Last May, Disney followers may remember there was an unfortunate incident during the Festival of Fantasy Parade where the Maleficent float caught fire. Thankfully, this week, the dragon Maleficent has made her triumphant return to Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom. The new and improved float looks largely the same was it did previously, but now includes enhanced safety features for the flame effects so history doesn’t repeat itself. And now that Maleficent is back, Prince Phillip, the faries (Flora, Fauna and Merryweather), and the dark ravens have all also returned to the parade lineup, restoring this segment to its pre-accident glory. 

4.”Escape the Cold” rates now available at Disney Springs hotels for a limited time

Image: Disney

Temperatures may be chilly in Central Florida this week, but Disney Springs hotels are offering special “Escape The Cold” room rates available for stays from now through March 31, 2019. Here’s the discount rundown:

  • B Resort & Spa – rates from $108 per room, per night
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista – rates from $143.99 per room, per night
  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando — rates from $198 per suite, per night
  • Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace – rates from $167 per room, per night
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – rates from $166 per room, per night
  • Holiday Inn Orlando – Disney Springs Area — rates from $119 per room, per night
  • Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista – rates from $89 per room, per night.
Though these Disney Springs hotels are not owned by Disney, guests staying at these seven locations enjoy several Walt Disney World benefits, including Extra Magic Hours and extended 60-Day FastPass+ reservations, making them a great, low-cost option for families visiting over the next few months. 

5. Long lost friends schedule now available for Magic Kingdom

Last week, it was announced that as part of the yearlong Mickey and Minnie Surprise Celebration, a number of “long lost friends” would be meeting guests  at the flagpole on Main Street USA. And now that this new event has completed its first week, here’s what looks like current weekly schedule for this new experience:

Monday – Robin Hood and Little John (From Robin Hood)

Tuesday – Gideon and Foulfellow (From Pinocchio)

Wednesday – Remy and Emile (From Ratatouille)

Thursday – Prince John and Friar Tuck (From Robin Hood)

Friday – Judy and Nick (From Zootopia)

Saturday – Phineas and Ferb (From Phineas and Ferb)

Sunday – Chicken Little and Abby Mallard (From Chicken Little)

6. The LEGO Movie World to Open March 27 at LEGOLAND Florida 

Image: LEGOLAND Florida

It was announced this week that the LEGO Movie World at LEGOLAND Florida was set to open on March 27th. This latest expansion features three new rides and numerous attractions, all inspired by the characters and themes of the The LEGO Movie franchise:

  • Masters of Flight takes guests on a suspended ride aboard Emmet’s Triple Decker Couch surrounded by a full-dome virtual screen, giving the sensational feeling of flying through a world created completely from LEGO bricks. The attraction is the first in the world at a major theme park that embeds a 180-degree turn in the ride experience. The ride animation will feature a humorous and magical adventure as guests soar through Cloud Cuckoo Land, dive to Middle Zealand and splash down on the waters of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Unikitty’s Disco Drop takes guests through a rainbow-filled journey based on Unikitty and her many moods. Once on the ride, guests will swoop to the tiptop of Cloud Cuckoo Land, then drop, spin and bounce back down to earth, creating a thrilling and frenzied experience.
  • At Battle of Bricksburg, the only water ride in The LEGO Movie World, riders are challenged to stop DUPLO aliens from invading and stealing LEGO bricks by spraying water at targets from their boats. The riders aren’t the only ones who can enjoy playing in the water, outside of the ride will be water cannons for guests to spray and help the riders save the day.
In addition, the LEGO Movie World will ]feature a Taco Tuesday Everyday eatery, an Awesome Shop, and a space-themed playground structure inspired by Benny’s spaceship which will include special photo opportunities and character interactions.

7. Pirate Party weekends kick off next week at Busch Gardens Tampa 

Image: Busch Gardens

From February 2-10 on Saturdays & Sundays at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, young guests can enjoy Pirate Party weekends, which will include 

  • Pirate character dance parties with your favorite Sesame Street friends
  • Themed story times
  • A treasure scavenger hunt with beads
  • Exclusive photo opportunities
  • Color your own pirate bandana and more!