The 14 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (September 5-11, 2016)

-Reported by Theme Park Tourist

This week at Walt Disney World, a beloved character is confirmed to be exiting, two refurbishments are announced, plus a limited-time deal is extended, an annual passholder freebie returns for 2016 and Rivers of Light gets ready for a fall opening.

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal makes its final preparations for the return of Halloween Horror Nights in just a few days, plus a new eatery gets an opening date and Discovery Cove welcomes five new adorable residents! It’s been a busy week, so let’s jump right in!

1. Scoop to leave the Magic Kingdom next month

Image: Disney

Long-time Citizen of Main Street USA character Scoop Sanderson will no longer be regularly appearing at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and his last day in the park will be in just a few weeks on October 8. Though no immediate reason was given for this sudden departure, it is believed that Disney terminated the contract they had with the performer who brings Scoop Sanderson to life due to ongoing budget cuts at the park.

This is especially sad as Scoop has appeared on Main Street for many years, and is truly an icon for pin traders (he even has a number of official Disney pins that feature his likeness!). Right now we don’t know if any other Citizens of Main Street will be cut this fall, but for now we do know if you want to see Scoop on Main Street one last time, you’ll need to do it soon as he’ll be gone for good in just a few weeks.

2. Rivers of Light reportedly almost ready to debut

Image: Disney

According to several sources, Walt Disney Imagineering has officially completed development on Rivers of Light, and has now handed the finished project over to the operations department of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park for the finishing touches. In addition, performers who were slated to be a part of this show before it was delayed have been informed recently that rehearsals are starting up again very soon.

Given these developments, it seems increasingly likely that Rivers of Light will debut sometime this October, possibly as soon as the middle of the month. You can read more about this developing story here.

3. Annual Passholder free glass deal returns for 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Image: Disney

According to Disney’s Annual Passholder newsletter, this year will bring another freebie for passholders who visit the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival three times. However, instead of an etched port wine glass, passholders this year will get the etched tumbler pictured above.

4. Refillable popcorn deal extended through the fall

The refillable, souvenir popcorn bucket deal that was introduced at Walt Disney World this past summer has been extended and will now be available for guests to take advantage of through the end of October. In case you need a refresher, guests may purchase a special refillable popcorn bucket for $10 with refills available for $1.50 each throughout their length of stay. However, if you’re heading to the park with your refillable bucket from the summer, be aware that a new fall-inpired design is debuting soon and guests will need to have the new design for the refill.

5. Haunted Mansion refurbishment scheduled for next month

If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom in recent weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the front of this attraction has been behind scrims for the past few weeks while an exterior refurbishment has been taking place. However, though the ride has been operating normally during this exterior work, the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion has been confirmed to be closing for a few days this fall, from November 28th until December 1, 2016.

While we don’t know the exact nature of this refurbishment, we’d imagine that with the outside of this attraction getting an extensive clean up, Disney will probably be giving the inside a quick tune-up as well.

6. One-day Splash Mountain refurbishment confirmed

Earlier this week a one-day refurbishment was added to Walt Disney World’s official calendar that will see Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom closed on December 7, reopening to guests on December 8, 2016. This seems a little odd (what can possibly be changed in a single day?) but some have speculated that this closure will allow for a walkthrough in preparation for a longer refurbishment later.

7. 2016 Food & Wine Festival merchandise revealed

Image: Disney

With only days to go before the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival kicks off on September 14th, Disney has released a quick look at some of the unique merchandise offerings at this year’s event, which will include apparel, drinkware, pins, Dooney and Bourke bags, and more. Check out the video below for more:

8. Holiday Brunch returning to 1900 Park Fare in November

Image: Disney

1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort will be offering a Holiday Brunch dining experience this year that will include an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet (which will include custom-made omelets, carved meat stations, Mickey waffles and more) as well as the opportunity to meet characters from Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland. This seasonal experience will cost $37 for adults ($22 for children ages 3-9), and will be available on the following dates and times:

November 20-26: 12:45 – 2:10pm

December 18 – January 1, 2017: 12:45 – 2:10pm

Reservations for this returning experience can be made here.

9. The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen officially opens on September 22

Image: Universal Orlando Resort 

Though this new dining location at Universal Orlando Resort has been open intermittently during an extensive preview period, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen will officially open to guests at 4:00 PM on Thursday, September 22, for dinner. The next day will begin standard operating hours, opening at 11:00 AM for lunch and closing at 11:00 PM daily.

10. Halloween Horror Nights 2016 merchandise revealed

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Though we’ve got a few more days before Halloween Horror Nights 26 kicks off at Universal Orlando Resort, merchandise from this event has made its way to the Universal Orlando Resort online store here. Though this doesn’t include all of the items from this event (limited edition, passholder exclusive, and IP-branded merchandise will only be sold in-park), if you want to get some of your shopping done early, this is a great option.

11. Registration for Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Early Access Nights now available

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

And speaking of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando Resort annual passholders who have also purchased a ticket for Halloween Horror Nights can now register for Early Access Nights (which will be held this year on September 16, 17, 23 and 24). During these special nights, passholders and a guest can enjoy early access to the event beginning at 5:30PM that includes the ability to check out three houses (Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield, Tomb of the Ancients, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) before the event starts and the ability to be seated first for the earliest showing of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.

12. New deal from Discovery Cove gives guest unlimited access to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica until January

Image: SeaWorld

SeaWorld has announced a special deal that allows those who purchase the Florida resident All-Inclusive Dolphin Swim Package at Discovery Cove (which starts at $219 per person and includes a 30-minute personal interaction with bottlenose dolphins as well as a full day of snorkeling and swimming) to get unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica from the time of their Discovery Cove visit through January 31, 2017.

13. Five baby bottlenose dolphins born at Discovery Cove

And speaking of Discovery Cove, it has been revealed that Discovery Cove has welcomed five baby bottlenose dolphins over the past month, which is the most babies born at the park since 2009. For now, the babies will stay close to their mothers, and won’t be available for guests to interact with until they have been socialized with the other dolphins. You can learn more about the new additions in the video above.

14. Octonauts characters to appear at SEA LIFE Orlando at I-Drive 360

Image: SEA LIFE Orlando

Captain Barnacles and Kwazii from the educational TV series Octonauts will visit SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium during the weekend (Friday through Sunday), from September 16 through October 30th. During this time, fans will not only have the opportunity to meet the characters, but they will also be able to participate in special activities as part of a special Octonauts Training Academy.

 

 

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Tina & Don Korta are the Owners of "Destinations with Character Travel Services, LLC., An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” and “An Universal Orlando Authorized Retailer”, along with many other travel industry awards and certifications.
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