The 11 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (August 22-28, 2016)

The 11 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (August 22-28, 2016)

Originally published by Theme Park Tourist…..

This week at Walt Disney World, a popular character experience is extended, a favorite entertainment act returns to Epcot, plus a new transportation option is introduced for guests hoping to end a day at Walt Disney World at Disney Springs.

Outside Walt Disney World, plans surface for a new hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando starts registration for a free annual pass deal, plus Busch Gardens Tampa announces the return of a fan-favorite event.

1. 2016 Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party card revealed

Image: Disney

As in years past, Disney will offer guests the chance to get an exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card at its annual Halloween event. This year’s card will feature characters from Disney’s latest billion-dollar hit, Zootopia, and features the lovable Clawhauser. Guests who use this card in-game will be able to cast “Clawhauser’s Tricky Treat” which summons dozens of magical donuts with an explosion of rainbow sprinkles!

2. Les Parfaits Inconnus end run, Alberta Bound to return

Performance troop Les Parfaits Inconnus had its final performance at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion this past Saturday, August 27. Replacing them is Alberta Bound, a 5-piece band that includes a few members of Off Kilter and performed at the park earlier this year. Alberta Bound is currently scheduled to perform from August 31 through October 2.

3. New Disney Springs direct bus service debuts

Image: Disney

Beginning today, Guests visiting a Walt Disney World theme park can now take a bus with direct service to Disney Springs from 4pm to 11pm (or until 2 hours following park close, whichever is earlier) daily. Though this is great for resort guests, it is important to note that this new service is one-way only, meaning that guests who want to return to a theme park, will need to first go to a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, and then transfer from there.

4. Great Irish Hooley returning to Disney Springs next week

Image: Disney 

Raglan Road has announced that the Great Irish Hooley, which celebrates Irish song, dance, food and drink over Labor Day weekend, will be returning this year. New live entertainment, fresh menu creations and a variety of beverage options will be available for the fifth year of this annual tradition.

5. Moana character experience confirmed

Image: Disney

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has been confirmed via an audition listing that a new character experience with upcoming Disney heroine Moana is in the works for this fall to coincide with the launch of the new film of the same name, which is being released in November. Though its not uncommon for these kinds of casting calls to go out for character meet and greets several months before a film’s release, Stitch Kingdom speculates that since the casting call is being filled by Disney Creative Entertainment, that Disney could be doing something more with Moana than just a simple character meet and greet.

6. Princess Elena character experience extended


One of the big successes of this summer at Magic Kingdom has been the Elena’s Royal Welcome limited time character experience, which has drawn crowds that sometime exceed that of the show it precedes (Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire). As a result, Disney has opted to extend this new show until September 23, ensuring that guests will continue to get the chance to see this new Disney Channel princess at Walt Disney World early this fall.

7. Insect repellant to be made available at all Orlando-area theme parks

Beginning today, all Orlando-area theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando will be making complimentary insect repellent spray available for all guests in an effort to help ease guests’ worries about the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. Guests can visit each park’s Guest Services area to pick up the free repellent.

8. New hotel coming to Universal Orlando Resort

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal Orlando Resort is already moving ahead on plans to construct yet another on-property hotel. Code-named “Aventura”, this new 600-room hotel was revealed to be in development when parent company Comcast filed official documents with the Orange County government in mid-August.

This new hotel will occupy six acres of land and will be located in close proximity to Universal’s newest property, Loew’s Sapphire Falls, and will even have an adjoining parking garage that will connect to Sapphire Falls’ via a walkway. The new hotel will reportedly be another “value” property (similar to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort) and will not include complimentary Express Passes for guests.

9. Universal Orlando Resort passholders get free photo in September

Worlds Fair Towers

Universal Orlando Resort annual passholders can now get a single free digital on-ride photo download at either Jurassic Park or Men in Black: Alien Attack now through September 30th. Guests can redeem their free photo download using the new My Universal Photos online service.

10. Teachers can now register for SeaWorld Teacher’s Pass

Image: SeaWorld

Teachers in the state of Florida can now register for the SeaWorld Florida Teacher Card, which provides complimentary admission to all active and certified K-12 Florida grade school teachers. Interested teachers can click here for more information, and to sign up for this free annual pass offer.

11. Jack Hanna Weekend comes to Busch Gardens September 10 & 11

Image: Busch Gardens

Fresh off a fun event weekend at SeaWorld Orlando, “Jungle Jack” Hanna is heading to Busch Gardens for another weekend of wild animal shows, autograph signings and meet-and-greets on September 10 & 11. The internationally-known animal expert will share animal facts and his travel tales during special shows at the Stanleyville Theater which will take place both days at 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. This show is included with park admission, but those looking for something a little extra can check out the following upcharge experiences:

Jack Hanna VIP Experience ($24.99 per guest) – This exclusive VIP experience includes a private meet-and-greet with “Jungle Jack” Hanna, commemorative photo, a personalized autograph and reserved seating for the Jack Hanna show.

Jack Hanna Family Fun Sleepover ($78.00 per guest) Guests who purchase this upgrade can spend the night at Busch Gardens in one of the park’s secure on-site venues and enjoy a night of family fun, interactive activities and an animal adventure hosted by Jack Hanna. This experience includes dinner, a continental breakfast the next morning and commemorative gifts. Busch Gardens admission is not required or included. Registration is required.

WildNIGHT Conservation Gala ($150 per person) This special evening will benefit the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, and will include animal ambassadors, world-class entertainment and a variety of live and silent auction items, including items created by the renowned artist and conservationist, Guy Harvey. Guests will enter through the Nairobi Gate at 6:30 p.m., enjoy hors d’oeuvres at Cheetah Hunt Plaza and proceed to the Serengeti Overlook Restaurant for a delicious three-course dinner. Park admission is not included or required for this event.

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Don Korta
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