Home » The 8 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (August 17-23, 2020)

The 8 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (August 17-23, 2020)

This week at Walt Disney World, hours are cut through November, a former Imagineer muses about the future of Journey Into Imagination, plus Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life gets delayed again. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal starts closing its theme parks down a few days a week, a new area opens at the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store, plus SeaWorld offers free admission for diners this fall.  

1. Reduced park hours to continue through early November

Earlier this month it was confirmed that starting September 8, park hours will be slashed at all four Walt Disney World parks, with the new schedules as follows:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM)
  • Epcot: 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM)
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM)
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9:00 AM to 5:00 pm (from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM)

Previously these hours were only confirmed for the month of September, but a new calendar update shows that we’ll be seeing these shortened hours at the theme parks all through October until the first week of November at least. 

2. Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life pushed back again

Though Cirque du Soleil said earlier this year that it expects to resume its resident shows in Orlando as soon as possible, and Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life could premiere at Disney Springs as soon as this fall, according to Cirque du Soleil’s website, the Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life will not open at all in 2020, and is now scheduled to begin performances at Disney Springs on February 10, 2021. Shows are currently scheduled from that day through March 31, 2021.

3. Mulan preview now showing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Though the premiere of Mulan will be on Disney+ instead of in theaters, guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios can now get an early glimpse of scenes from Disney’s new film as part of the Walt Disney Presents attraction. As part of this experience, guests can also check out a display featuring an original witch costume used in the production of the film, along with an authentic replica of a warrior costume and sword. 

Mulan will begin streaming on September 4, exclusively on Disney+ for a $30 Premier Access fee. 

4. Walk-up dining wait list feature now available inside My Disney Experience

Though last-minute reservations for Walt Disney World’s table service dining locations can be a little hit or miss, guests have had some success walking up to in demand dining establishments and enquiring about walk-up availability for the day. Sometimes guests get lucky with a last minute cancellation or schedule change, but this strategy doesn’t always work and if you cross the theme park looking for a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest and they have no availability, you may feel a bit disappointed that you crossed the park for nothing. 

However, thanks to a new feature inside My Disney Experience guests don’t have to walk around the park inquiring about last minute seating as they can now check walk-up availability at a table-service restaurant inside the app. After launching the app guests can select “Check Dining Availability” choose the current date and party size, and then select “Now” as the timeframe. A list of restaurants with walk-up availability will be displayed and guests can “Join Walk-Up List” for restaurants with space to accommodate additional guests. 

5. Imagineer says that he would “come out of retirement” to re-do Journey Into Imagination ride

Though many have been hoping for an Imagination pavilion re-do as part of Epcot’s reinvention, Disney has not announced any major refurbishments or modifications for this attraction in the near future. However, former Imagineer Tony Baxter recently said at an event that he’d come out of retirement just to reimagine Journey Into Imagination, igniting speculation that perhaps Disney might still be considering changing this attraction in the future.

However, unfortunately with the current budget crunch we doubt Disney is adding any major projects to its slate right now, so right now this is just talk, but perhaps when things are a little better at Walt Disney World this attraction will finally get the attention it deserves. 

6. Volcano Bay to switch to limited schedule in September

Just a week after Universal Orlando Resort hotels Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel closed indefinitely, it has been announced that the Volcano Bay water park will be switching to a modified schedule beginning next month. Starting September 8th, the park will be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays due to “fall travel trends”.

7. Halloween Horror Nights tribute store gets expanded

Though Universal Orlando Resort will sadly not be hosting Halloween Horror Nights this fall, it has expanded its Tribute Store to include two new rooms, including one themed to the history of Halloween Horror Nights and another themed to Beetlejuice, which was largely rumored to be the theme of one of the houses this year.You can learn more here

8. Sharks Underwater Grill to participate in Magical Dining Month

Image: SeaWorld

Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld Orlando has announced that they are once again participating in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. From August 28 through October 4, guests can order three-course-dinners (which include an appetizer and dessert) from a special menu for only $35 per person.

In addition to enjoying dinner, guests who visit this location without a SeaWorld park ticket are able to enjoy the park for the rest of the evening after they check in for their meal at the entrance. Reservations can be made at SeaWorld’s official site here