Home » The 9 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (November 16-22, 2020)

The 9 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (November 16-22, 2020)

 This week at Walt Disney World, Disney provides several construction updates on EPCOT project, park hopping is confirmed to be returning in 2021, and more restaurants reopen just in time for the holiday season. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort announces a nighttime upcharge event as well as a special Black Friday package deal. 

1. Park hopping officially returns to Walt Disney World theme parks in 2021

Image: Disney

Disney has officially announced that park hopping will be back at Walt Disney World as of January 1, 2021! However, though guests can now visit more than one park per day, the process is a little different than what guests may have been used to in the past. Here are some key changes: 

  • Guests must still make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit AND enter that first park prior to visiting another. At this time, a park reservation is not required after the first park, however, reservation requirements are subject to change.
  • Park Hopping will only be available during specific Park Hopper hours, which will start at 2:00 PM. each day and end at the park’s scheduled close time.
  • Guests will continue to have the option to visit multiple parks as long as they have a ticket or pass valid for admission to that park on that same day. Please note that the ability to visit another park will be subject to the park’s capacity limitations.

2. New walkway from Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom opens 

This week the much anticipated walkway from the Grand Floridian Resort to the Magic Kingdom opened, allowing guests to walk a little under a mile from the hotel directly to the theme park. This should help relieve congestion on monorail/watercraft/bus lines, and give guests who don’t mind a 15-minute walk easy access to the theme park. 

3. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind conducting push-pull tests

During an EPCOT-centric presentation earlier this week it was revealed that Imagineers are currently carrying out push/pull tests of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride vehicles on the track, which is a preliminary test that verifies that the vehicles are able to pass through the track as intended before full speed testing. This is definitely a great development for this attraction and shows how much progress has been made, but unfortunately we still don’t have an opening window for this attraction. 

4. Harmonious barges will be used during the day as water features 

Though we still don’t have an opening target for EPCOT’s new Harmonious nighttime spectacular, barges for this show will be out in World Showcase Lagoon at EPCOT during the daytime, as fountains to offer a special visual feature for guests. No date was given for when we might see these special fountains in action, but with construction basically complete on these structures and no date yet for the nighttime spectacular’s debut, we’ll hopefully see them in action before the end of the year. 

5. New lighting coming to EPCOT entrance and Spaceship Earth

Though we’re not exactly sure what is happening with the original plans to refurbish EPCOT’s flagship Spaceship Earth attraction (though it has been rumored to be cancelled), it was confirmed that new lighting elements are going to be installed to give a refreshed new look to the exterior of this attraction that will match the pylons in front of this icon that were installed earlier this year. This new lighting is also expected to take effect before the end of the year. 

6.  Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure officially delayed until 2021

Though Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was originally scheduled to open in an expanded France pavilion in Summer 2020 work in the area ground to a halt after March, and has only recently ramped back up again. And though well-placed sources seemed to indicate that this attraction was facing a delay due to the COVID- 19 Pandemic, now it has been made official: this attraction will not open until sometime next year.  

7. More restaurants reopening in time for holiday season at Walt Disney World

More dining options are being added to the lineup at Walt Disney World in the coming days as Disney deals with these higher guest levels heading into the busy holiday season. Here are the latest reopenings: 

  • Woody’s Lunch Box: After installing social distancing markers around this outdoor dining location a few weeks ago it has been confirmed that Woody’s Lunch Box at Toy Story Land will be reopening next week on November 25th.
  • Crystal Palace: Beginning December 13th this popular sit down eatery will once again be welcoming guests, but with a few changes. This former character buffet location will will reopen as a family-style dining experience with individually plated entrées including crispy fried chicken with honey pot drizzle, fire-roasted prime rib of beef, fried cauliflower and more. Characters will not be meeting at this time, and reservations will be available beginning December 1. 
  • Tomorrowland Terrace: This quick service eatery at the Magic Kingdom is set to reopen December 17 and will feature a lunch menu of Guest favorites from Columbia Harbour House, including lobster rolls, fried shrimp and fried chicken.

8. Universal releases walkthrough video of new Holiday tribute store

Universal Orlando Resort has announced that they will be offering a limited access evenings-only tour for guests who want to experience all the holiday entertainment and options at the resort with minimal wait. This all-new “Universal’s Holiday Tour,” will cost $59.99 (plus tax) per guest and theme park admission with a 2-Park 1-Day Park-to-Park ticket is required. Annual Passholders receive a special discount on the tour with pricing starting at $49.99. Guests who purchase tickets for this event, which takes place select evenings through the holiday season will be able to enjoy the following: 

  • Enjoy priority access to Universal’s Holiday Experience Featuring Macy’s Balloons, where they can get up-close with larger-than-life parade balloons and stunning floats inspired by everything from iconic holiday staples to characters from popular animated films – and enjoy a special appearance by Santa Claus
  • Embark on a tour of the first-ever Holiday Tribute Store, featuring four incredibly-themed rooms – including one inspired by The Grinch – stocked with a variety of new merchandise
  • Meet and greet The Grinch at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous in Seuss Landing, where they can encounter the mean, green one himself and enjoy a delicious Hot Cocoa Bar
  • Cap off the evening in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure with an exclusive showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a stunning projection of holiday spirit and Christmas moments inspired by the beloved “Harry Potter” stories
  • Guests will also receive a special, themed gift during the tour to commemorate their experience

Guests interested in booking this limited time evening tour can visit the official event page here to learn more and purchase tickets. 

9. Universal announces 40% off package deal for Black Friday 

For one day only on Friday, November 27 guests can save a massive 40% on a 4-Day, 4-Night vacation package combining theme park tickets and hotel accommodations for travel beginning November 29, 2020 through April 30, 2021. This massively discounted package includes:

  • Four epic days of park-to-park access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • 4-night hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Prices for this package vary by date but can be as low as $1,292, after savings, based on a family of four. With limited quantities available, guests interested in this deal  are encouraged to purchase early as this exclusive deal is expected to sell out.