This week at Walt Disney World, a much-loved character returns to the Magic Kingdom after a long absence, Disney's Hollywood Studios gets a new entrance, plus Epcot announces new perks for annual passholders who visit this holiday season. 

Outside Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando continues to grow its attendance and Universal Orlando Resort announces a new perk for its passholders. 

1. Maleficent set to return to Festival of Fantasy parade

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Though she's been out of commission for a few months due to an unfortunate fire accident, it looks like Maleficent the dragon will be back at the Magic Kingdom very soon as part of the Festival of Fantasy parade. According to inside sources, a newly-repaired Maleficent is currently taking part in rehearsals backstage, and will be returning to the parade in the very near future. 

2. New entrance now in use at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Image: Disney

A new entrance is now open at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Guests driving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios can now use the new entrance and exit located off of Osceola Parkway instead of the former main entrance off World Drive and Osceola Parkway, which is now closed. The side entrance on Buena Vista Drive will be dedicated to buses.

3. Attendance is up at US Disney parks, despite reports and slashed budgets

Earlier this year, Disney went on a massive budget cut spree, removing characters, cutting hours at attractions, and even shuttering dining locations, all reportedly due to concerns over attendance slowdowns. However, it looks like these reports were either overstated or inaccurate, as Disney has gone on record in their most recent financial results as saying that their attendance for the most recent quarter at US parks is up from last year. 

Of course, Disney won't say exactly how much growth the parks have seen since 2017, and its possible that these cuts were actually made not due to negative attendance trends, but perhaps in response to Disney missing a specific target growth threshold. Last quarter, it was reported that attendance was essentially flat with last year, rising just one percent, and that could be the case again this quarter, which would still be disappointing for Disney, even if it is technically a gain. 


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