The 13 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (November 14-20, 2016)

Originally published in Theme Park Tourist…

This week at Walt Disney World, a lot of big announcements were made, including one about the future of Epcot, confirmation of the opening window of Pandora: The World of Avatar, plus new information about an upcoming “destination” that is set to hit Star Tours next year.

Outside Walt Disney World, the first tickets for Universal’s Volcano Bay go on sale, plus big holiday deals are revealed for SeaWorld Orlando as well as LEGOLAND Florida.

1. Epcot overhaul confirmed, but no details provided yet

During an event this past weekend, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Bob Chapek confirmed that the rumored future overhaul of Epcot (similar to what we are seeing now with Disney’s Hollywood Studios) is indeed in the works for the coming years. Though this plan is still in the conceptual phase, Chapek told event attendees that Imagineers are being encouraged to “dream big” in order to create new experiences that are both uniquely Disney and true to Epcot’s original vision. Though details were scant, we’d imagine more about this plan will be revealed at next year’s D23 Expo event.

2. Pandora: The World of Avatar to debut summer 2017

Image: Disney

Disney also revealed this week that the brand new Pandora: The World of Avatar themed land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open in less than a year, with the resort committing to a summer 2017 release date for this new land. Additional details about this new land should be made available soon.

3. Star Tours to get Episode VIII new destination, Rogue One is officially left out

Image: Disney

Ever since Disney added a new destination to Star Tours last year to celebrate the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many have been hoping that Disney would add more destinations based on subsequent films. And earlier this week it was confirmed that filming is now taking place for a new segment that will debut next year in advance of the premiere of Star Wars: Episode VIII. And though that is good news for next year, it looks like those hoping for a new destination based on the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One will be disappointed.

4. MagicBand 2 to debut soon at Walt Disney World

Image: Disney

This week Disney confirmed that the next generation of MagicBand, named MagicBand 2, is officially on its way to Walt Disney World. Though these new devices will be almost identical in function to the current MagicBands in use around the resort, they will sport a whole new look and a removable “Icon” that can be installed in keychains, lanyards, etc. Click here for more on these new MagicBands, and to learn when you can get your hands on one of these redesigned devices.

5. New D-Living store to open at Disney Springs Town Center

Image: Disney

Disney has announced that a new store called D-Living is coming to the Town Center district of Disney Springs later this month that will sell seasonal home decor including furnishings, housewares, and décor. The store officially opens on November 23, just in time for the Black Friday shopping holiday.

6. Starbright Holidays debuts at Disney Springs

Image: Intel/Disney

The brand new Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration show began technical rehearsals at Disney Springs earlier this week and is officially opening today, November 20, 2016. Showtimes for this new, drone-based show are 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM, with viewing available all along the waterfront on the West Side, The Landing and Marketplace districts. This new show will be performed nightly through the holiday season, until January 8, 2016. You can read more about the technology going into this show here.

7. Walt Disney World hotels introduce a new package handling fee for hotel deliveries

If you’ve ever stayed at an on-property Walt Disney World Resort hotel, then you might have taken advantage of a free service that allows guests to ship packages to the front desk before or during a stay. However, effective immediately, this service is no longer free, as Disney has begun charging a $5.00 handling fee for each package received via USPS (or any other delivery service) through the Front Desk or delivered to a hotel room. So, for instance, if you are expecting three packages during your stay, you can expect a $15 fee added on to your bill.

8. Reservation fees now required for covered patio areas at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s Oasis Pool

Image: Disney

Historically, the covered patio areas at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s Oasis Pool have been available for hotel guests to reserve on a first-come-first-serve basis after a quick call to the front desk. However, this past week, Disney officially discontinued this policy, and is now requiring guests who want to reserve one of these shady spots for their own private use at the pool to pay the following reservation fees:

$26.63 for a half day (either from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM or 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM)

$42.60 for a full day (from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM)

As was the case before, each patio continues to include a couch, three chairs and a coffee table

9. Walt Disney World introduces a new limited-time 4-day 4-park ticket deal

Perhaps in an effort to shore up flagging attendance, Disney has announced a new 4-Park “Magic Ticket” deal that is good for a single day’s admission to the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on four separate days, with no park hopping. The price for this new ticket type is $279 for adults 10 and over, and $259 for guests between the ages of 3 and 9.

Interestingly, this new ticket can only be used at each park once (so if you’re hoping to skip Disney’s Hollywood Studios entirely and instead spend two days at the Magic Kingdom you’re out of luck), but if you want to see all four parks over four days, this new ticket could be a pretty good deal under the right circumstances.

10. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! debuts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This week Walt Disney World debuted the new Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show, which features a unique story that invites guests to embark on a festive adventure to get Santa Claus to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve. During this nighttime spectacular, guests will be able to view clips from classic Disney films including Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, Bambi, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more, all while renditions of familiar Christmas songs play in the background and “snow” falls gently from above. We’ve got a lot more on this new show in-depth here.

11. Tickets now on sale for Volcano Bay water park

Image: Universal

Tickets for Universal’s Volcano Bay are now available for purchase as part of multi-day theme park ticket packages. Right now, guests cannot buy a one or two day ticket for use at Volcano Bay, as these only include admission to Universal Studios Florida and/or Islands of Adventure. However, if guests purchase a 3-5 day ticket, they can use a single one of their days at Volcano Bay. The price of a three-day ticket is $245 per person.

12. LEGOLAND Florida announces Black Friday deals

 Image: Merlin

The LEGOLAND Florida Resort has announced a new “Brick Friday” event that will offer a number of deals and discounts starting on Black Friday (November 25) and continuing through Cyber Monday (November 28). Here’s some of the best offers guests will be able to take advantage of later this week:

Visit twice and the second day is free: Purchase a theme park ticket for $71 (plus tax) and get a second day’s admission free. The first theme park visit must occur Dec. 17-18, 24-31, and the second visit must occur between Jan. 1 and April 6, 2017, and admission to LEGOLAND Water Park is not included.

Get an Awesomer Annual Pass at the Awesome Pass price: During Brick Friday guests can purchase an Awesomer Annual Pass (valued at $149 plus tax) for the Awesome Annual Pass price of $99 plus tax. This pass includes a year of unlimited admission to LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and LEGOLAND Water Park, plus other Merlin-owned attractions including The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, and SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando. Passhodlers also get free parking, a collector’s edition welcome kit, early access to LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park, a 10 percent discount on theme park dining, retail purchases, stays at LEGOLAND Hotel and the all-new LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, VIP Experiences, Premium Upgrades and Premium Play Bands, plus $15 off theme park tickets for up to six guests.

13. SeaWorld announces Blue Friday event

Image: SeaWorld Orlando

Much like LEGOLAND Florida, SeaWorld Orlando will also be offering a number sales next weekend for “Blue” Friday, kicking off on November 25th. To participate in this year’s Blue Friday, fans must register online to receive SeaWorld Orlando’s e-mail updates here. These deals are only available online from 12:00 AM (EST) Friday, November 25, until 11:59 PM Monday, November 28, 2016.

NEW Offers This Year:

  • Save up to $110 on gifted Discovery Cove admission packages
  • SeaWorld/Aquatica Dining Plan
  • BOGO SeaWorld All-Day Dining Deal
  • 30% off your total purchase at
  • 50% off 1 Year PhotoKey

Admission Offers:

  • BOGO 50% off SeaWorld/Aquatica One-Year Annual Pass
  • BOGO 50% off SeaWorld Single-Day ticket
  • BOGO 50% off Aquatica Single-Day ticket

Other offers:

  • BOGO Any Up-Close Tour
  • BOGO 50% off Large Shamu Plush

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Tina & Don Korta are parents to 7 children and 4 grandchildren along with being the Owners of "Destinations with Character Travel".

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