This week at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom switches up its character lineup, a rumor about closing attractions picks up steam at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and yet another Fantasmic! test designed to help cut crowds will be taking place in the very near future.
Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida announces the return of a fan favorite haunted house for this year's Halloween Horror Nights, SeaWorld reveals a free ticket offer that lasts though the end of the summer, plus Busch Gardens opens a new dining location.
1. More character changes at the Magic Kingdom
We’ve told you before about Disney's recent efforts to add more wandering characters to the lineup at the Magic Kingdom and it looks like Disney is making some additional changes to their character lineup to make things as efficient as possible.
Beginning today, Cinderella characters Drizella, Anastasia, Lady Tremaine, and the Fairy Godmother will be appearing in Fantasyland at the castle walls between the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, meeting guests for pictures and autographs. This character change is currently being categorized as temporary, but if this new spot proves to be popular we wouldn't be surprised if it becomes permanent.
2. A third limited-time Fantasmic! test announced
Fantasmic! has been ground zero for a number of limited time tests this summer with the long-term goal of reducing overall congestion for this show. After advising guests to leave the line early in the day and then requiring FastPass+ return cards with assigned seating, yet another new test involving policy changes will be happening this week. From August 5-6, all FastPass+ guests will need to select a single person from their group to touch the FastPass+ touch point for their entire party. Once the FastPass+ reservations appear, the entire party will be able to proceed into the amphitheater.
Though having one touch per party sounds like a small change, it may help relieve congestion in the FastPass+ waiting area, which can be pretty intense, even on slower evenings. The idea of a single touch for whole parties has actually been something that many guests have asked about previously, and if this test proves successful, a similar test may be tried out on other popular attractions.
3. Garden Grill expands service to lunch and dinner this fall
The Garden Grill Restaurant at The Land pavilion in Epcot has announced that it will be expanding to full-day service beginning this fall. Starting November 8th, this popular character dining location will offer breakfast from 8AM to 10:30AM and lunch from 11:30am to 3pm, in addition to its 4-9PM dinner service. Just like at dinner, breakfast and lunch seatings will feature family-style dining, with character appearances by Pluto, Chip and Dale, and of course, Mickey Mouse.
4. One Man’s Dream and Voyage of the Little Mermaid rumored to close in September
Though we’ve already told you that Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions One Man’s Dream and Voyage of the Little Mermaid may not be long for this world, reports surfaced this week that these attractions could be closing forever as soon as next month.
Although it seems there are no immediate plans to relocate stage show Voyage of the Little Mermaid, WDWNT reports that the exhibits and film inside One Man’s Dream could possibly be moved to another park (potentially the Magic Kingdom) after the attractions reported closure at Disney's Hollywood Studios in September. As with previous closures, Disney has yet to announce anything officially, but we’re expecting to hear more in the next few weeks during the upcoming D23 Expo.