This week at Walt Disney World, the resort finalizes plans for Christmas 2015 at the Magic Kingdom with some returning entertainment, plus Disney's Hollywood Studios gets a new character dining experience this November. We also learned about two major refurbishments coming to popular Walt Disney World dining locations plus some policy changes already in effect at Epcot.
Outside Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens announces a limited time ticket deal, LEGOLAND Florida announces a surprise partnership and Universal Orlando Resort offers guests yet another teaser for Halloween Horror Nights.
1. Christmas entertainment for 2015 confirmed for the Magic Kingdom
Even though it's still summer in Central Florida, Walt Disney World has announced the holiday entertainment line-up for the Magic Kingdom for 2015. First up, last year’s blockbuster A Frozen Holiday Wish show has been confirmed to be returning this year in pretty much the same format as it was presented last year. Also returning in 2015 is the Jingle Cruise holiday overly for the Jungle Cruise. Though neither of these two returning holiday entertainment offerings are particularly surprising, those who are making plans for holiday visits later this year will be happy to see these recent favorites return.
2. New character dining experience announced for Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Beginning November 7th and lasting all throughout the holiday season until January 3, 2016, Hollywood & Vine will transform into Minnie’s Holiday Dine, a festive dining experience featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy in all their holiday best. In addition to offering special holiday inspired food, drinks and of course characters and entertainment, guests can also guarantee seating for Fantasmic! with this experience. Prices for the Fantasmic! package are $52.99 per adult and $31.99 per child. Without the Fantasmic! option, the cost is $46.99 for adults, $27.99 for kids, or 1 credit on the Disney Dining Plan
3. Pizzafari to close for two months
Just as quick service dining location Flame Tree Barbecue returns from refurbishment, another quick service dining establishment has been confirmed to be going down. Discovery Island’s popular Pizzafari location will close on August 24 and won’t re-open until October 20th, 2015. This long refurbishment is likely taking place to make way for the new as-yet unnamed Discovery Island table service restaurant, which will be adjacent to Pizzafari, and is still under construction. Although this new restaurant may take over some of Pizzafari's dining space, we expect this location to remain largely the same post-refurbishment.
4. Major refurbishment in the works for Flying Fish Café
Although an almost two-month refurbishment is by no means small, the Flying Fish Café will be closed for almost a year while this popular Boardwalk dining location gets a serious overhaul. This location will be closing next February, and isn’t projected to open again until November 2016. You can read more about the changes coming to this location (and Pizzafari as well) in this month’s refurbishment update.
5. New park opening procedure for Epcot
Because of Epcot’s current phased Future World/World Showcase opening, attractions around the front of the park (especially Soarin’,Test Track and to a lesser degree, Spaceship Earth) fill with guests very quickly, leading to some traffic issues for those who try to get to this park early in the morning. However, to help combat this problem, Epcot is currently testing a new opening procedure that will actually open the front of Future World in phases before official park opening.
The central guest areas of Future World near the Fountain of Nations plaza are now the first to open, welcoming guests a half hour before park opening at 8:30 AM. Then, Spaceship Earth will open 15 minutes before park opening, at 8:45 AM. Finally, at 8:50 AM, a special fountain show will be presented featuring music as well as recorded voice overs welcoming guests to the park in different languages. This phased opening will hopefully help relieve early morning congestion in this park (especially around Spaceship Earth), and if it is successful, we’d expect it to become a permanent policy change in the near future.