Home » The 9 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (September 7-13, 2020)

The 9 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (September 7-13, 2020)

This week at Walt Disney World, Disney adjusts its hours for fall, prices come down on a signature Magic Kingdom experience plus special Halloween entertainment is confirmed

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort ends social distancing on rides, rumors grow about a potential slimmed down Halloween Horror Nights event coming soon to the park, plus SeaWorld starts shutting down parts of its park in phases on weekdays. 

1. Cinderella’s Royal Table lowers prices due to princess unavailability

Last week it was announced that Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella’s Royal Table will be welcoming guests back with modified offerings beginning later this month on September 24, 2020 with no princesses meeting guests. Because of this downsizing, prices have been lowered slightly from $75 per adult and $45 per child to $62 per adult and $37 per child for both lunch and dinner.  You can view the menu and make reservations for this dining location at the restaurant’s official website  here

2. Entertainment announced for Halloween celebrations at Magic Kingdom

Though Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party isn’t happening in 2020, Disney has announced that special seasonal entertainment special Halloween entertainment will start popping up in the park beginning on September 20th, including special character cavalcades on Main Street USA that will include the following:

  • Mickey Mouse and his pals, all dressed up for the occasion in Boo-tiful Halloween costumes
  • Disney Villains – from Gaston and Maleficent to Queen of Hearts and Jafar
  • A Nightmare Before Christmas procession featuring the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington

In addition to these character appearances, seasonal favorite group The Cadaver Dans will be making appearances in Fronteirland singing a cappella tunes when they emerge from their tombs.

3. Deep merchandise discounts available this week for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Florida Residents

If you’re looking to get a jump on your Christmas shopping you may want to do it soon as Walt Disney World has announced some deep merchandise discounts that will be available at all Disney-owned locations inside the theme parks and at Disney Springs, including 30% off merchandise for annual passholders and 20% off for Florida residents. Both discounts are active until October 29, 2020, but the Florida Resident discount is only available for shoppers Monday – Thursday.  

4. Holiday entertainment plans revealed 

Looking past Halloween and on to the Holiday season Disney has confirmed that they are making some MAJOR adjustments to their holiday offerings in 2020 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.The biggest change is coming to the Magic Kingdom, which has not only cancelled Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but has also confirmed that the iconic Cinderella Castle DreamLights will not be displayed this year. However, there will be some special holiday fun still at Cinderella Castle as the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation.

Over at Epcot, it has been announced that a slimmed down version of the International Festival of the Holidays will kick off on November 27, but without the Candlelight Processional or the holiday stage performances in each country. Instead, they will be bringing back holiday kitchens round World Showcase promenade with special food offerings and returning entertainment from JOYFUL!, which will present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music. In addition, the Voices of Liberty will perform at the America Gardens Theatre stage for a special concert of favorite carols and songs of the season.

Like the Halloween entertainment, seasonal character cavalcades and appearances will be happening at all four theme parks, and Santa Claus will make time for special pop-up appearances at each location, waving and exclaiming holiday wishes to all. 

5. New hours coming to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT this fall

Walt Disney World has updated its fall park hours and while Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be sticking with their 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM operating schedules for the foreseeable future, both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT will be changing their hours in November, with the former extending its operating times by one hour starting November 6 ( 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM)and the latter switching to a 12:00 PM  – 8:00 PM schedule on November 27, 2020

6. New Disney+ documentary on Disney’s Animal Kingdom to be released later this month 

The “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” is a new documentary series from National Geographic that will be released later this month on September 25 2020 and will include a never-before-seen look at the more than 300 species and 5,000-plus animals cared for at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. This series was recorded over a 5 month period, and features narration by Disney favorite Josh Gad. You can check out the trailer above. 

7. Slimmed down Halloween Horror Nights rumored to be coming next weekend

Rumors are currently swirling about some special entertainment offerings coming to Universal Studios Florida as part of a slimmed down, daytime version of Halloween Horror Nights experience, and recent extended hours (at least at Universal Studios Florida) could be evidence of that. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but signage consistent with that we see at Halloween Horror Nights have also made an appearance in the park, so we expect an official announcement sometime next week. 

8. No more social distancing on rides at Universal Orlando Resort

Though Universal previously loaded parties with empty seats in between on attractions, the resort has ended this practice, saying on Twitter:

We have been planning toward this for months as part of the next step of our reopening procedures, and we are applying everything we have learned so far. We’ve briefed local health officials about our plans, and they have let us know they are comfortable with us moving forward.

9. SeaWorld phase closing certain areas of the park 

Though SeaWorld is currently open seven days a week the park has been phase opening/closing certain areas, closing several attractions Dolphin Cove, Dolphin Theater, TurtleTrek, Manatee Rehabilitation, Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, Pacific Point, and Antarctica between noon and 2PM on weekdays. Weekends seem to be a little better with more attractions running, but it looks like guests who want to have a full day at SeaWorld on a weekday will need to arrive at the park early.