Home » The 8 BIG Updates from Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (December 9-15, 2019)

The 8 BIG Updates from Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (December 9-15, 2019)

 This week at Walt Disney World, Disney adjust operating hours again, a new sneak peek is revealed for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, plus we get an opening target date for the opening of the Star Wars hotel!

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal proposes a BIG project to go alongside Universal’s Epic Universe, plus LEGOLAND gives away free tickets for guests missing Star Wars Miniland. 

1. Disney’s Hollywood Studios changes schedule to deal with demand for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

The much-anticipated Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction opened last week and demand has been incredible for this thrilling new attraction. In an effort to deal with massive guest levels flooding the park early to try and get a virtual queue boarding pass, the park will now officially open at 7:00 AM from now through Christmas Day, and then at 6:00 AM from December 26 – December 31. Though these are the “official” opening times, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been letting guests in the park (and opening Boarding Groups) 30-45 minutes before posted opening time in recent weeks, so guests wanting to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will still want to be at the park’s front gates an hour early. Which means, yes, if you are visiting between Christmas and New Year’s Day, you’ll want to set that alarm and be at the park at 5:00 AM if you want to make sure you can experience the newest ride at this park.

In addition to the adjusted opening times for this park, all Morning Extra Magic Hours scheduled at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have been removed for the foreseeable future (they were previously scheduled on December 15 and 22 before the end of the year) and have been replaced with evening Extra Magic Hours on these same dates from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

In addition to the schedule changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have also adjusted their hours, which you can find here

2. New preview video released for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway released

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, was confirmed last week to be opening next year on March 4, 2020 and now a new video showing off one of the scenes in this new ride has been released. You can check it out above! 

3. Broadway performers announced for Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is just over a month away and Disney has announced the official lineup for this year’s Disney on Broadway Series: 

  • Jan. 17, 20, 21 and 24 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”)
  • Jan. 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Heidi Blickenstaff (“The Little Mermaid”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”)
  • Jan. 25 – Special performance featuring Simmons, White, Blickenstaff and Lee
  • Jan. 26, 28, 29; Feb. 1, 2, 5 and 6 – Kara Lindsay (“Newsies”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”)
  • Jan. 27, 30, 31, Feb. 3, 4, 7 and 8 – NEW! Liana Hunt (“Newsies”) and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”)
  • NEW! Feb. 9 – Special performance featuring Lindsay, Massey, Hunt and Jacobs
  • Feb. 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”)
  • Feb. 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20 and 21 – NEW! Syndee Winters (“The Lion King”) and NEW! Michael James Scott (“Aladdin”)
  • NEW! Feb. 24 – Special performance featuring Brown, Strickland, Winters and Scott.

4. Beaches and Cream to reopen later this month

Disney’s BoardWalk resort favorite Beaches and Cream is set to reopen later this month on December 26, 2019, after an extended refurbishment. Guests who stop by this reopened establishment will find an expanded dining area that includes a fresh new look that embraces the timeless charm of an old-fashioned soda fountain.

5. New Cirque du Soleil show gets an official title

Earlier this year Disney confirmed that the new Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs will center on the story of a young girl and her father, who is a Disney animator. In an effort to connect with his child, the father sends his daughter on a magical journey of self-discovery in the world of Disney animation. And now we know this new show will be called Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life! 

6. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser confirmed to be coming in 2021

Image: Disney

It was announced last week that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser resort stay experience will begin transporting guests from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida to a galaxy far, far away beginning in 2021. Construction on this new facility is visible from just outside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it seems likely that the first passengers on this Starcruiser will take flight just in time for the second anniversary of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. You can read more about this upcoming experience here

7. Universal planning worldwide creative HQ next to Universal’s Epic Universe


It was revealed this week that Universal Orlando Resort is planning to build a new worldwide theme park headquarters for its Universal Creative segment next to Universal’s Epic Universe. Codenamed “Project Justin”, this new complex will  be responsible for the design, development and construction of all of Universal’s theme parks, hotels and resorts around the world, not just in Orlando. 

Currently this project is in the planning phase, and tax incentives from the Orange County government will determine if it goes forward. 

8. Legoland offering free ticket deal to commemorate end of Star Wars Miniland exhibit

The LEGO Star Wars Miniland model display will be closing at LEGOLAND Florida on January 6, 2020 and to commemorate the end of this attraction the park is giving guests who purchase single-day tickets now through the end of the year a free ticket to return to the park in January or February 2020.