The 10 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World This Week (June 26 – July 2, 2017)

This week at Walt Disney World was certainly busy, with rumors flying about new additions coming soon to Epcot, a controversial confirmed change coming next year to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, plus an unplanned refurbishment that will close one of Walt Disney World’s most popular dining spots for several weeks later this summer.

Programming note: Though we normally devote some time to Orlando-area parks outside Lake Buena Vista, there has been so much going on at Walt Disney World over the past seven days that we decided to forgo the “beyond” this week. You’ll hear about all the news from Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando in next week’s update!

1. Chef Mickey’s closing for refurbishment later this month

Chef Mickey's

Image:Disney

It was confirmed earlier this week that Chef Mickey’s will be closing for a quick refurbishment later this month on July 28th, and will remain closed through August 13th. During this time, the character dining buffet will relocate to the convention center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This refurbishment was not planned, and we don’t know what is causing this closure, but hopefully whatever is causing the issue will be taken care of soon.

2. A big change is coming next year to Pirates of the Caribbean

Image: Disney 

Disney surprised fans this week by announcing that the Take a Wench for a Bride scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, where some excited pirates shout the iconic line “We want the redhead!” as a beautifully costumed lady (presumably for sale) poses in the foreground will be removed entirely from the attraction during a refurbishment that will happen sometime next year.

Now, instead of a “bride auction” scene, guests will see the same characters, but in different roles. Instead of selling off wenches, guests will see pirates transporting stolen goods, with the infamous redhead now becoming a pirate herself (complete with her own gun!) and assisting with the taking of the items from the townsfolk. You can read more about this development here.

3. Interesting permits filed at Epcot suggesting a new attraction is coming to the World Showcase

 The Adventure

Image: Disney

A few days ago a permit filed by Walt Disney World surfaced online that has fans buzzing about what could potentially be the biggest project for the World Showcase since the addition of the Norway Pavilion in 1988. Officially titled Epcot France Back of House Modifications, this permit outlines a plan to add an “impervious surface” to a 5.70-acre area that covers the expansion pad between Epcot’s France and Morocco pavilions (an area that is currently empty save for storage).

With such a large area covered by the permit, many are hoping that Disney is potentially going to be constructing the first truly new attraction (not a re-theme of an existing ride) to the World Showcase since the addition of Maelstrom in 1988. And while we can’t know for sure what Disney has planned for this area, the leading theory is that a Ratatouille ride similar to that at the Disneyland Paris resort could be coming to the France Pavilion. We have more on this development here.

4. Siemens ends sponsorship deal with Epcot

Image: Disney

After a 12 year partnership, the company that sponsors both IllumiNations as well as Spaceship Earth, has announced the end of its partnership with The Walt Disney Company. According to an official press statement, the sponsorship will reach its mutually-agreed upon end date October 2017. And while this may not seem like a big deal, many believe that this could signal the end of the IllumiNations nighttime spectacular.

5. Hall of Presidents reopening delayed to Fall 2017

The Hall of Presidents officially went down for refurbishment on January 17th, and Disney originally planned to reopen this attraction six months later on June 30th. Even though this was already a long refurbishment, it looks like fans of this attraction will need to wait even longer to experience it again, as Disney has said that this attraction will miss its summer 2017 reopening target date, and will likely reopen much later this fall.

However, interestingly, Disney has declined to provide a definite reopening date, with the refurbishment scheduled through December 31, 2017 on the official Hall of Presidents attraction page. While statements made to Orlando’s local News 13 from an official Disney spokesperson suggest that Disney is trying to reopen the attraction in time for the holidays, right now there doesn’t seem to be a definite timeline for the end of the refurbishment.

6. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away reopens with new addition

Image: Disney 

After being closed for refurbishment for several weeks, the Star Wars: A Galxy Far, Far Away show has finally returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And though technical difficulties prevented this show from getting the mobile stages that were supposed to debut after this refurbishment, there was at least one new addition guests will see when they see this attraction next: Rey officially joined the lineup,! This character now appears alongside BB-8 and poses with a lightsaber the same way she did in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

7. Disney Springs announces gift card offer

 Image: Disney

Beginning next week on July 10th, guests who purchase a limited-edition $100 Disney Springs Shopping Card at World of Disney will receive an additional $25 bonus Shopping Card to be used on future visits, redeemable beginning the following day. Both cards are redeemable at Disney owned and operated merchandise locations at Disney Springs as well as the Shop Disney Parks app.

8. Reservations now available for Candlelight Processional Dinner Package

Image: Disney

It might be the start of July, but Disney has now opened reservations for guests who want to book the Candlelight Processional dining package for this holiday season. Disney has also confirmed the following five celebrity narrators, with the rest to be announced later this year:

  • Dec. 4-5 – Pat Sajak
  • Dec. 15-17 – Trace Adkins
  • Dec. 18-21 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec. 22-24 – CCH Pounder
  • Dec. 25-27 – Jaci Velasquez

9. Lilo’s Playhouse to offer new daytime option

Club Disney

Image: Disney

Beginning this week, Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be open from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM, daily. A variety of activities will be available for Guests and their families, including video games, movies, arts and crafts, and much more. Guests interested in taking advantage of this offering should speak with a Concierge or Lilo’s Playhouse Cast Member for additional details.

10. ABC’s ‘The Chew’ returns to Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Image © ABC

Image: Disney

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will once again host ABC’s The Chew for a few days while they tape 5 special festival shows from October 4th through the 6th. These shows will then air on ABC from October 9-13, 2017, at 1:00 PM.

 

 

-From Theme Park Tourist, July 2,2017 By Amanda Kondolojy

 

 

 

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