This Week’s News, Updates, and Events from Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando

“What’s New” for Week of Dec 18, 2013 – Walt Disney World, Disneyland & Universal Orlando News

There are new things popping up every day at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.  Join us every week to read about “What’s New” in Disney news and at Universal Orlando!

What’s New This Week?

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

New! Limited Time Magic – Celebrate Mary Poppins: Step back in time for a “practically perfect” picture with Mary Poppins and Bert! For just one week, you’re invited to Epcot where you can find the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious duo together again, visiting with Guests of all ages at the United Kingdom Pavilion. Plus, for a limited time, you can even take home a poster celebrating the release of the new Disney film.

New! Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride Vehicle Spotted During Tests This Week: On December 17, 2013, we spotted the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train vehicles going around the track on a brief test. The video shows the train cars as visible through one of the “Take a Peek” windows as well as coming down the drop that’s visible above the construction walls from the area near Beast’s castle in New Fantasyland.

New! Holiday offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The holidays are fast approaching and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is gearing up to provide new and familiar holiday offerings this year.

Entertainment

Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special in Premiere Theater – Running Dec. 21 – Jan. 5

  • 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 31 times: 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m.

Meet Santa Goofy by Streets of America through Jan. 5

  • 1 p.m. – Park Close

Additional Fantasmic! Shows – Beginning Dec. 24

  • 8 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Disney shorts playing at ABC Sound Studio – Running Dec. 22 – Jan. 5

  • 10:30 a.m. – Park Close

Food & Beverage

Taste of Hollywood to Go – Running Dec. 23 – Jan. 5

  • 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Offered at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner
  • Guests who purchase the meal receive seating at a Fantasmic! show

Food Trucks – Beginning Dec. 23

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Located on Streets of America

Outdoor Bars – Beginning Dec. 23

  • Additional bars on New Year’s Eve

New! Monorail Operational Adjustments Coming Jan 21: Beginning January 21, 2014, monorail service on the Magic Kingdom Resort and Express beams will be temporarily unavailable on weekdays during non-peak times, between 11:30am and 7:00pm, to accommodate planned maintenance. During the temporary schedule adjustment beginning January 21, 2014 through the end of March, 2014, watercraft and additional buses will be available to transport Guests to their destinations. The Epcot beam will continue normal operations.

New! Animal Kingdom FastPass+ Test Begins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: As part of the test-and-adjust process for MyMagic+, a test of Disney FastPass+ service will take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom beginning December 18. This test will allow all Guests (including those not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel) visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom the ability to make up to three FastPass+ selections for the current day at that theme park using FastPass+ kiosks. Disney’s FASTPASS Service (using paper FASTPASS tickets) will not be available throughout the duration of this test at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel  will continue to engage in MyMagic+ as they have been and have the ability to make three FastPass+ selections in advance or day-of for one park per day, and  will continue to have the ability to select, modify or cancel their FastPass+ selections using My Disney Experience on their mobile devices, at FastPass+ kiosks or at service centers.

New! New characters coming to Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood & Vine on Jan. 26, 2014: Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First will join the cast of Disney Junior Play n’ Dine at Hollywood & Vine on January 26, 2014. Guests will get the chance to meet Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First and dance along with them during a fun, new musical number right there in the restaurant! Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins will be joining current favorites, Handy Manny and Jake from “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”

New! Memory Maker Launched: Walt Disney World just unveiled Memory Maker – an incredible new way to capture your memories at Walt Disney World Resort. Now everyone can be in the picture at hundreds of Disney PhotoPass™ locations, including select attractions, character and show dining experiences. Strike a royal pose in front of Cinderella Castle, get caught screaming down the Splash Mountain plunge or just enjoy a hug with your favorite Disney character … all those great shots are magically yours. And there’s no need to worry about buying each image because with Memory Maker you’ll receive unlimited digital photos to view, share and download.You can save $50 when you purchase Memory Maker in advance! You’ll receive unlimited digital photos for $149 when you purchase at least three days before your first picture is taken, compared to the regular price of $199 when purchased at select merchandise and Disney PhotoPass sales centers throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

New! Croissant / Donut Hybrid Treat Now Available at Epcot: Perhaps you have heard of a treat called a “Cronut.” It’s been the “celebrity” of sweets this year and it’s still gaining on popularity! Now, Epcot has created a treat that’s a hot, fried, cinnamon-sugar covered pastry and it’s only available at one spot – Refreshment Port, on the right side as you enter World Showcase. And this isn’t just a holiday sweet, they’ll be on the menu indefinitely.

New Croissant Donut at Walt Disney World

La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil Celebrates 15th Year: Walt Disney World’s own Cirque du Soleil show is celebrating its 15th anniversary this month. The official 15th anniversary date for “La Nouba” is December 23, but we’ll celebrate the milestone with a special pre-show moment during the 6 p.m. performance on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Tickets are still available.

Mobile Magic App to Discontinue Service Beginning 12/23/13: Not to be confused with the newer My Disney Experience App, The Disney Mobile Magic app is no longer available for download in the iTunes App Store or Android Market and will discontinue service on December 23 to mobile devices that already have it installed. The app was developed under a contract with Verizon, which ended earlier this year. Until service is discontinued, this app may display incorrect information for Guests.

New! Merchandise Events:

  • Now – December 29: The holiday collection from Precious Moments doll maker Linda Rick is now available at Once Upon A Toy in the Downtown Disney Marketplace and Heritage Manor at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot. Representatives will be on hand daily at both locations, so be sure to stop by and find new ones to add to your collection, or pick one up for someone on your holiday list.
  • December 16 – 23: Artist David E. Doss is back! David will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, and will return later in the month from December 27 – 30.
  • D-Tech on Demand Comes to Disney Truck Shop at Downtown Disney West Side for the Holidays. A place to personalize and customize your own electronic accessories, D-Tech will be visiting Downtown Disney West Side during the holidays for a sneak preview of the store at the Disney Truck Shop.

Closures and Refurbishments

Magic Kingdom

  • Casey’s Corner 01/06/14 – 02/15/14
  • Tomorrowland Speedway 01/06/14 – 01/12/14
  • Splash Mountain 01/06/14 – 03/21/14
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin 01/13/14 – 01/16/14
  • Agrabah Bazaar 1/13/14 – 1/16/14
  • Liberty Square Riverboat 01/21/14 – 01/30/14
  • Barnstormer 2/3/14 – 2/5/14

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Monsters Inc. Meet & Greet 1/5/14 – 1/19/14

Epcot

  • None

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

  • Festival of the Lion King 1/6/14
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey 1/6/14

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

  • Closed for annual refurbishment 10/27/13 – 12/21/13

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

  • Closed for annual refurbishment 01/06/14 – 03/17/14

Disney’s All Star Sports Resort

  • End Zone Food Court ­ Closed 08/05/13 -­ 12/20/13
  • Arcade ­ closed during this time frame as it will be used as a temporary Food Court with “Grab & Go” items 07/29/13 -­ 12/20/13
  • Surf’s Up Pool 01/06/14 – 01/24/14

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

  • Pool slides – pools remain open 01/27/14 – 02/07/14

Disney’s Polynesian Resort ­ 

  • Beach & Sunset Point ­ Access to the east portion of the beach, near the Transportation and Ticket Center, and Sunset Point will be unavailable due to a scheduled refurbishment. However, all other amenities will not be affected. Some rooms in certain room categories in impacted buildings have been taken off the market during the renovation period.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Victoria & Albert’s 1/19/14 – 1/29/14

Disney’s Old Key West

  • Goods to Go 1/20/14 – 1/30/14
  • Gurging Suitcase 2/5/14 – 2/28/14

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

  • Doubloon Lagoon Pool – transportation will be provided for Guests to swim at Ol’ Man Island Pool at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside 01/13/14 – 02/28/14

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

  • Congress Park Pool 01/22/14 – 01/23/14

Downtown Disney® Area

  • Cap’n Jack’s Marina – Closed
  • Parking Lots H,I,J,K Closed
  • Fuego – closed
  • Wetzels Pretzels – closed 10/20/13
  • House of Blues – Starting on November 14, The House of Blues at Downtown Disney West Side is expanding its patio, building a new stage and adding a barbecue smokehouse. The House of Blues ticket sales window has moved inside the House of Blues retail shop. The expansion is expected to be complete in mid-January 2014.  During this time, there will be no live entertainment on the Front Porch stage.

 

Disneyland Resort in California

Meet Mary Poppins at Disneyland

New! Limited Time Magic  – Celebrate Mary Poppins: Step back in time for a “practically perfect” picture with Mary Poppins and Bert! For just one week, you’re invited to Epcot where you can find the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious duo together again, visiting with Guests of all ages at the United Kingdom Pavilion. Plus, for a limited time, you can even take home a poster celebrating the release of the new Disney film.

New! Sweets, Libations for the Holidays at Disneyland Resort: Mad T Party in Disney California Adventure park has three special holiday drinks through January 5: the Holly Berry, a strawberry wine-based liqueur; the Hatter’s Holiday Cocktail, eggnog with rum, brandy and blended whiskey with a red or green glow cube; and the Zombie Frost, a frosty blue concoction of rum and fruit juices. Sip and dance the night away at Mad T Party to remixes of popular holiday tunes in the wintery wonderland (and the Mad Hatter is predicting snow!).

Also in Disney California Adventure park, the mixologists at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge have created the Poinsettia, a cool glass of Cointreau, cranberry juice and Champagne garnished with a twist or orange zest. Or you can sip a California craft seasonal beer.

In Disneyland park, we like the idea of decorating our own Mrs. Claus Cookie at Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Frontierland – you get to pick a snowman or Mickey sugar cookie to decorate. Sit at the picnic tables and pile on the icing and sprinkles . . . then devour! Jingle Jangle Jamboree is open until January 6, with characters, games, holiday photos, crafts, live music and Santa Claus (until he disappears Christmas Eve).

New! Special Holiday Menus at Disneyland Resort: Holidays goodies include special menus at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Catal and Uva Bar and Café.

Start with Catal, where you can enjoy three delicious courses for $32 (plus tax and gratuity) now through December 30 – except on December 25, when they will offer an extra-special prixe fixe menu. The three courses include a generous wedge salad, a 10-ounce prime rib with cheese mashed potatoes and warm apple cobbler or chocolate ganache cake for dessert. On December 25, the menu switches to three courses for $55 (plus tax and gratuity) starting with crispy lobster arancini (rice balls), followed by a savory braised lamb shank with winter squash risotto and bourbon chocolate pecan tart for dessert. A kids’ menu will be available on Christmas Day.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen has a special menu December 24-29, that includes New Orleans classics such as sweet potato-andouille bisque, tasso- and chestnut-stuffed Gulf shrimp and “turducken,” a boneless chicken stuffed inside a boneless duck stuffed inside a boneless turkey (if you haven’t tried, it’s a must).

New Year’s Eve Party at  Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen: On New Year’s Eve, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen will host the N’Awlins Masquerade bash, including a three-course dinner plus party hats, feathered masks and beads, and a Champagne toast. There will be live music and strolling jazz musicians, a complimentary photo booth and a balloon artist (kids are welcome). Cost is $99 (plus tax and gratuity), $20 for kids 10 and under.

Closures and Refurbishments

Visit http://destinationsinflorida.com/disneylandrehab.pdf to download the latest renovations and closures at Disneyland.

 

Universal Orlando Resort

 New! Leaky Cauldron Restaurant Announced for Wizarding World of Harry Potter Expansion – Diagon Alley:  In May 2013, Universal Orlando announced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Expansion as Diagon Alley. We’ve been awaiting more details ever since! During a media event this week, Universal Orlando officially announced that the Leaking Cauldron from the Harry Potter films will be part of the Diagon Alley expansion. This restaurant will offer guests a place to rest, enjoy some unique food offerings while immersed in Harry’s world.

From earlier announcements, we know that Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests already experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  The new Diagon Alley area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.

New! Universal Orlando Unveils Plans for Universal CityWalk Expansion: Universal Orlando announced Thursday that it will open eight new venues across CityWalk throughout 2014 as part of a bold growth strategy designed to complement the entertainment complex’s already popular collection of national brands.

The new venues include Hot Dog Hall of Fame, featuring iconic hot dog creations from some of our nation’s most famous ball parks.

Additions also include CowFish, an innovative and trend-setting concept out of Charlotte, North Carolina with a signature dish called “Burgushi;” and popular frozen treat spots Cold Stone Creamery and Menchie’s.

    

Original concepts include Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, a unique tapas-style restaurant, Bread Box, a home-style sandwich shop;  A new modern Italian kitchen concept, where guests can watch as the culinary team handcrafts their pasta from scratch; and Red Oven Pizza Bakery – Universal’s first-ever Neopolitan-style pizza bakery, which is now open.

    

Exact opening dates will be released at a later time.

Closures and Refurbishments

  • Universal’s Superstar Parade: No shows scheduled 12/7 – 12/25

Siera is a travel agent with Destinations in Florida. She would love to help you plan your next vacation at no cost to you. Request your free, no obligation quote on the right side of the page or email siera@destinationsinflorida.com for more information. 

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