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TouringPlans Travel Beat 1-20-2024

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At Travel Beat we have all the “other” news from the last week or so—the stuff that wasn’t big enough to stop the presses for. What did the newsroom bring us this week? (Sneak peek: spring event announcements.) Bullets are just ahead if you’re in a hurry, and more details follow below. Don’t forget to check out the Headline News Recap, in case there was something you missed!

  • The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Opening Date Announced
  • More Details for Flower & Garden Released
  • New Details for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
  • Lanny Smoot Inducted to National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • Universal Orlando Reveals Mardi Gras Concert Lineup and Food Booths
  • Big River Grille on the Boardwalk Closing
  • Headline News Recap

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Opening Date Announced

Last year we learned that the Cabins at Fort Wilderness were being converted into the latest Disney Vacation Club Resort. This week the opening date was announced: July 1, 2024. Here are some important dates:

  • Thursday, Feb. 1 – Disney Vacation Club sales for The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort open to existing members. Members can add-on by contacting their Disney Vacation Club Guide or calling sales at (800) 500-3990.
  • Thursday, Feb. 15 – Disney Vacation Club Members who have added on points at The Cabins can begin to book stays online at DisneyVacationClub.com or by calling Member Services at (800) 800-9800.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Disney Vacation Club sales for The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort open to the general public.
  • Tuesday, March 12 – New Disney Vacation Club Members whose home resort is The Cabins can begin booking online or by calling Member Services.
  • Tuesday, April 23 – All Disney Vacation Club members can book stays either online or by calling Member Services.
© Disney

Disney also shared the floor plan shown above, confirming that the bunk beds will remain in the bedroom. Points charts released briefly online show that the number of points required for a stay in the Cabins – which sleep 6 – will be less than what is needed for a 1-bedroom Villa at every other DVC resort. The point charts are no longer available, but are expected to return without adjustments as we get closer to the sales opening date.

More Details for Flower & Garden Released

Disney released several new details about the upcoming Flower & Garden Festival this week, including the end date – May 27th. The date is consistent with pre-closure Festivals, but significantly shorter than the last few years, leading to some speculation on social media that perhaps Disney is cooking up a brand-new Festival to cover the summer months.


© Disney

Also notable: new topiaries featuring Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, Asha, Valentino and the Wishing Star from Wish, and Miguel and Dante from Coco. On the garden front, the announcement included the return of the Butterfly Gardens, the Scentsy Blossoms of Fragrance garden, and a Camp Get Out N’ Play Garden that kids can explore and play in. Both scavenger hunts (Spike the Bee and the Egg-stravaganza Hunt) will be back. And to no one’s surprise, there will be merch. No word yet on the booth lineup, but the Garden Rocks lineup is out – see the Headline Recap below.

New Details for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

A New Orleans local paper got a tour of the construction zone that is currently Tiana’s Bayou Adventure this week, and shared some details. Disney had previously announced the installation of the weathervane that was hand-crafted by New Orleans master blacksmith Darryl Reeves.

© Disney

In this new update we learned that … the queue will feature speakers broadcasting an “old-timey radio show” with performances by New Orleans musicians. The music provides the backdrop for the barn, which will house the main offices for Tiana’s Foods. On the tech front, Disney confirmed that the Audio-Animatronics will use the same technology as the Frozen Ever After ride at Hong Kong Disneyland, which is an upgrade over the version in place at EPCOT. And the AA’s won’t just be the latest tech, but several of them will “address guests directly” on their search for the missing ingredient. Disney World’s version of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is scheduled to open sometime in 2024.

Lanny Smoot Inducted to National Inventors Hall of Fame

Usually we just stick to the stuff that affects your upcoming vacations, but this is so cool. Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot holds over 100 patents – including 74 from his 25 years at Disney – and he has just been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Lanny is the first inventor from the Walt Disney Company to be honored this way since Walt himself.


© Disney

Some of Lanny’s greatest hits include work on Madame Leota’s floating head and the hi-tech lightsabers used in the acts on the Galactic Starcruiser. But give a moment’s thought to the sheer number of patents and you’ll quickly understand that if you’ve been to a Disney Park, you’ve seen or enjoyed something that Lanny contributed to.

Universal Orlando Reveals Mardi Gras Concert Lineup and Food Booths

Universal Orlando is gearing up for Mardi Gras, and a number of details were announced this week. The concert lineup:

  • February 3: Walker Hayes
  • February 10: The All-American Rejects
  • February 17: Elle King
  • February 18: KC and the Sunshine Band
  • February 24: Barenaked Ladies
  • March 2: DJ Khaled
  • March 9: Ava Max
  • March 10: Queen Latifah
  • March 16: Luis Fonsi
  • March 17: Zedd

And the list of food booths:

MOFONGO FLIGHT – A mix of smashed plantains, bacon, chicharrones with shrimp criolla, crispy chicken thigh, and mayo ketchup from the Puerto Rico booth at the 2023 Mardi Gras event
  • Belgium
  • Bloody Mary Bar
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China 🆕
  • Coca-Cola Market Square 🆕
  • Colombia
  • France
  • French Quarter Bar
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • New Orleans
  • New Orleans Desserts
  • Philippines 🆕
  • Puerto Rico
  • Spain
  • Thailand

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando begins on February 3, 2024 and runs through April 7. Look for Joe’s guide to this event later this week. He’ll cover everything you need to know about the concerts, food, floats, and more.

Big River Grille on the Boardwalk Closing

(photo by Brian Carey)

Big River Grille on the Boardwalk will have its last day of operation on January 21, 2024. That’s tomorrow, for those of you who are reading this on the date of publication. Between this news and the closure of the ESPN club, it feels as though the number of places to sit and enjoy a brewski on the Boardwalk is shrinking rapidly. Disney hasn’t yet announced what will take over in Big River’s space.

Headline News Recap

Along with some of the Flower & Garden details above, we got the Garden Rocks concert schedule and Dining Package pricing. Packages go on sale February 6. 2024 Garden Rocks Concert Lineup and Dining Packages

Disney released a raft of new After Hours dates continuing through the summer – even through August at Hollywood Studios. 2024 Disney World After Hours Dates and Details – New Dates!

A brand new Aulani offer dropped this week, with savings of up to 30%. Aulani Resort Offers Available for Spring and Summer 2024

That’s it for this week’s Travel Beat. What news are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!




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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

2 thoughts on “TouringPlans Travel Beat 1-20-2024

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