Home » The 8 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (January 25 – 31, 2021)

The 8 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (January 25 – 31, 2021)

This week at Walt Disney World, Disney announces BIG changes are coming  are coming to the Jungle Cruise, a new exhibit at EPCOT is set to debut, plus cardboard cutouts replace audio-animatronics at the Gran Fiesta Tour.

Outside Walt Disney World, SeaWorld gets ready to kick off its annual food festival plus a 20-year old attraction at Universal Studios Florida hits a major milestone! 

1. Jungle Cruise to be reimagined next year

After years of rumors, Disney has confirmed that the fan favorite Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland park and the Magic Kingdom will be reimagined in the near future to include a new story and creative concept which will allow guests to follow a Jungle Cruise skipper and their passengers as a journey goes awry.

According to Disney, this “new adventure” will stay true to the experience that guests know and love, but with more humor, wildlife and “skipper heart”. Like the Splash Mountain reimagining, which was announced last year, it looks like Disney is taking another opportunity to update old attractions to better reflect the diversity of the modern world. You can learn more about this reimagining here. 

2. The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure opens next week at Epcot

The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure will open next week on February 1, 2020. This attraction features Joe Gardner from Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” and allows guests to take a musical tour of America to learn about this genre of music with “stops” at locations like Chicago, New Orleans, San Juan, and more.

Disney has partnered with Jazz museums all around the country to bring authentic and historic details to this new exhibit, while also keeping guests entertained with the tie in to the movie Soul. You can learn more about this exciting new project here

3. Celebrate Soulfully announced for Disney Springs

And speaking of Soul, Disney will be hosting a monthlong celebration of the new film that will tie in with Black History Month, that will include the following:

  • Four new art displays inspired by Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” created by emerging Black artists: Bee Harris, Bianca Pastel, Arrington Porter and Cory Van Lew that reflects each artist’s interpretation of the film.
  • On Motown Mondays, Jazz Thursdays and Smooth Sundays musicians will perform throughout Disney Springs.
  • Select dining locations will feature special menu items, including Amorette’s Patisserie offering treats inspired by “Soul” and Walt Disney Animation Studio’s “The Princess and the Frog.” Also at Disney Springs.
  • Several retail locations will spotlight products from Black designers, artists and visionaries.

4. M & M’s Store opens at Disney Springs 

The new M&M’s Store at Disney Springs opened last week, and features exclusive Disney Springs items, a design-your-own M&M’s area, and of course the giant wall of choose your own M&M’s.

5. Three Caballeros audio-animatronics removed from Gran Fiesta Tour

Several weeks ago the Donald audio-animatronic suffered a malfunction on the Three Caballeros attraction, and was quickly removed. However, instead of repairing this animatronic off-stage and then replacing it, Disney has taken the unusual step of also removing Panchito and Jose’s audio-animatronics (even though, by all accounts they were working fine) and replacing all three with flat cutouts of the characters.

6. Disney updates COVID-19 policies

As the situation with the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to evolve, Disney has reserved the right to make changes to its COVID-19 policies, and confirmed the following changes this week:

  • It has been confirmed that ALL guests visiting Walt Disney World will still be required to wear face coverings, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Disney will now allow face coverings with  an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings must be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching. They must also meet all face covering requirements outlined for regular face masks.
  • According to an update on the Walt Disney World website guests traveling in parties of more than 10 are now being asked to split into smaller groups in queues, dining locations and other areas around our parks and resorts to better allow for physical distancing.

7. SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival returns February 5

SeaWorld’s annual Seven Seas Food Festival is returning for 2021 and will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 5 through May 9 (and President’s Day on February 15!). This year’s event will feature 50 different food items, more than 75 specially curated cocktails and wines, and more than 75 craft beers from Florida and beyond. Here are some additional highlights for this year’s event: 

  • Spice it up with flavors of the Caribbean: New Crispy Florida Cracked Conch and Jerk Chicken Hot Sliders!
  • A new take on American favorites from Kraft-Heinz: Hot HONEYRACHA® Chicken Wings, Lobster, White Cheddar KRAFT® Mac N Cheese, and NEW! PHILLY® Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. 
  • Bold new flavors from the Mediterranean: Goat Cheese Croquettes paired with specialty French wines and perfectly seared Lamb Chops with golden potatoes and feta.
  • Fresh and sustainable bites and vegan delights: New Jackfruit Sloppy Joes and Tempura Mushrooms & Green Beans with Miso Glaze & Furikake.
  • Delectable sweets and sips: Try an all-new tantalizing take on cheesecake with the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cone or indulge in a Frozen Espresso Martini featuring Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee.
  • Explore new beverages: Signature brews on tap from Dogfish Head, Yuengling, and Big Storm Brewing; tropical cocktails from Reyka Vodka and Milagro Tequila; frozen Jack Daniels slushes; Funky Buddha Seltzers, and much more to sip on!
  • Sip with a purpose: This year, SeaWorld has proudly partnered with even more companies that give back to local communities and animal conservation efforts: Proud Pour, Beso Del Sol, and more.

8. Men in Black: Alien Attack hits big milestone

Universal Orlando Resort announced this week that Men in Black: Alien Attack has been experienced by 100 million riders. The ride first debuted on April 14, 2000 as the “world’s first life-size, ride-through, interactive video game experience,” and after 20 years has finally reached this awesome milestone!