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TouringPlans Travel Beat 1-6-2024

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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: DISCOUNTS!) 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!

  • New Disney Vacation Club Lounge Coming to Walt Disney World
  • Change to Universal Premier Pass Benefit for Halloween Horror Nights
  • New Figment Popcorn Bucket!
  • Disney Cruise Line Discouraging Cruise Ducks
  • Refurb Announced for Kali River Rapids
  • New Capture Your Moment Photoshoot in Batuu
  • World of Color – ONE Returning From Refurb Early With Limited-Time Lunar New Year Show
  • Headline News Recap

New Disney Vacation Club Lounge Coming to Walt Disney World

As part of a year-to-come segment on its social media, Disney dropped the news that construction will begin this year on a brand-new DVC Member Lounge at Disney World. There are currently two members-only DVC lounges on property; one at Bay Lake Tower and one in EPCOT. Disney says “relax and recharge during their day of fun” so we’re hoping that means this will be another in-park lounge.

Change to Universal Premier Pass Benefit for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal’s top-level Annual Pass includes a complimentary admission to Halloween Horror Nights, and the way that Passholders can redeem this benefit is changing. Previously Passholders only needed to head to the parks on one of the select nights available; in the future they’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Plenty of time to get used to this change though: Universal has announced it 18 months in advance as it doesn’t take effect until 2025.

New Figment Popcorn Bucket!

© Disney

In case you missed the insane story of last year’s Figment Popcorn Bucket at EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts, please wait until you’ve got a good few minutes and take a gander here: The SATURDAY SIX Studies the Strange Saga of the Figment Popcorn Bucket. This year Disney has announced another Figment-inspired popcorn bucket, the “Figment Premium Popcorn Bucket with Rainbow Popcorn”. Things should be a little calmer this year (hopefully) as Disney has announced they’ll be using Mobile Order from the first day of release to manage lines and demand.

Disney Cruise Line Discouraging Cruise Ducks

Hiding rubber ducks on board for other guests to find is a cruiser pastime, and not just on Disney Cruise Line (the ones below were spotted on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas). But news broke this week that Disney is now discouraging guests from hiding the ducks as a matter of policy. Disney Cruise Line is requesting that cruisers not hide the ducks in public areas or in staterooms, and if you’ve ever been on a boat you know that pretty much covers all the areas that guests are allowed to be.

Cruise ducks.

You can still bring ducks on board, but you’re requested to keep them within your control at all times. (OK, that’s my wording and not Disney’s.) This feels like yet another instance of Disney stomping on the fun, but there are social media reports of cruisers bringing along hundreds of ducks and hiding them in places where they damage ship decor. So maybe it’s really another instance of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Refurb Announced for Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids will see its routine winter refurbishment from January 8 through mid-March, 2024. In 2023 the ride closed on January 9 and reopened on February 26, so we may see it come back earlier.

New Capture Your Moment Photoshoot in Batuu

Disney offers personalized photoshoots in each of its four parks at Disney World and now, you can get pictures in just one land – Star Wars Land!

© Disney

This 20-minute photo session will be offered beginning January 24 and can be booked as early as January 17. On a continuing basis it can be reserved the same as any Disney World tour or Enchanting Extra; 60 days out or 70 days from your arrival date if staying at a Disney World resort. The session itself is $99, with photos and prints priced separately – but if you have Memory Maker or PhotoPass benefits, you’ll be able to download at no charge.

World of Color – ONE Returning From Refurb Early With Limited-Time Lunar New Year Show

© Disney

Disneyland has announced that it’s nighttime show World of Color – ONE will be returning early from refurbishment. Previously announced to be back “sometime in March”, the show will now be returning on January 18. Bonus: from January 23 to February 18 the water show “Hurry Home – A Lunar New Year Celebration” will run just before World of Color – ONE.

Headline News Recap

Disney had previously announced that a Disney+ subscriber-only benefit would be released on January 3, and it turned out to be … Disney World Free Dining Offer for Disney+ Subscribers

Not a Disney+ subscriber? Don’t rush to sign up until you look at the discounts released on the same day for the general public. Depending on resort and the size of your group, these offers might be better for you. Spring to Early Fall 2024 Room Discounts at Disney World

I admit, with a week to go I was getting kind of anxious about whether we would see Festival of the Arts menus before the boards started to go up around the park. Disney squeaked it out: 2024 EPCOT Festival of the Arts Menus. But inquiring minds want to know: the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine is supposed to have 7 items but only five are marked? And the page itself says (as of this writing) check back for updates? Something tells me the Food Studio planning for this event has not been as battened down as Disney might have liked.

Disneyland peeps, no need to feel left out. Magic Keys are back! Go-Go-Go! Magic Key Pass Sales Return January 10, 2024

And don’t forget, there are lots of changes coming up this week on January 9 that made our headlines previously. Date-based tickets will no longer need park reservations, Park Hoppers can switch parks any time with no need to wait until 2 p.m., and the Dining Plan returns for those staying at Disney World resorts.

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.

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