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TouringPlans Travel Beat 10-7-2023

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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: holiday entertainment 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!

  • Live Halloween Entertainment Coming to Disney Springs
  • Perseverance Gets Props in EPCOT
  • Stow Your Stuff Signs Appearing at Attractions
  • New Dishes Coming to Three Disney World Resort Restaurants
  • Operations Updates at Disneyland – 180-Day Park Reservation Window, Rides Added to Genie+
  • Royal Caribbean Names Its Second Icon-class Ship
  • Universal to Launch Co-Branded Credit Card in 2024
  • Festival of the Holidays Details and Other Seasonal News
  • Moana + Journey of Water Soft Opening
  • Headline News Recap

If anything you read below tickles your feet, feel free to reach out to our friends at TouringPlans Travel for a free quote.

Live Halloween Entertainment Coming to Disney Springs

Spooky Season has arrived at Disney Springs from now through October 31: catch roaming performers and live Halloween-themed entertainment on weekends  as you browse, shop, and eat. Featured acts include the Halloween Squad Ghouls, Zombeats drum corps, Skeleton Stiltwalkers, Halloween Skaters (roller-skating witches), and a DJ who rolls through the Springs in a pumpkin. Check the Disney Springs Events Calendar for times.

© Disney

Perseverance Gets Props in EPCOT

Journey of Water is the big new thing in World Nature (keep reading for some exciting updates there), but over in World Discovery we’ve got a little space exploration love going on. Disney has given NASA’s Perseverance Rover the EPCOT equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided images for the Imagineers to design from, as well as a prototype wheel from the Rover, which was launched in 2020 and landed in 2021. The result is a display with a celebratory plaque and a tire print to match the ones Perseverance is currently leaving behind on Mars.

© Disney

Stow Your Stuff Signs Appearing at Attractions

Our parks reporters have noticed a trend in recent weeks, with new signage popping up at many attractions. Although TRON is the only ride at Disney that requires you to use a locker to store your belongings, Disney would like you to keep them firmly secured. This especially includes cell phones and cameras.

New Dishes Coming to Three Disney World Resort Restaurants

Menu updates help keep your food feeling fresh, and Disney is adding dishes at three popular resort locations. You can try these out this coming week, beginning on October 11. Let’s take a look through a sample of the updates at each location.

Geyser Point Bar & Grill offers lakeside ambience for visitors to Wilderness Lodge. They’re already famous for their Bison Burger (and it’s not going away), but they’re upping the game on ribs & wings with brand-new Crispy ‘Peking’ Ribs and two new wing flavors: Thai Chili and Sriracha Buffalo. There’s also a new flatbread, three new plant-based plates, and the Pineapple Mule that was brought on for Black History Month will be joining the sips rotation permanently.

Crispy ‘Peking’ Ribs, Geyser Chicken Wings, Charcuterie Flatbread © Disney

At Coronado Springs, the Three Bridges Bar and Grill is lakeside on all sides – it’s literally at the intersection of three bridges in the middle of the lake. New offerings here include Asian and Mexican flavors, with Korean Fried Chicken Bao Buns, Tamarind Soy-glazed Pork Ribs, and Ceviche Classico added to the starters along with a Villa del Lago Wedge Salad that can be plussed up into a light entree by adding shrimp or chicken. Those are the starters, but the mains menu also got some attention with Pork Carnitas Tacos, Chicken Mole Poblano, and Plancha-seared Mahi Mahi and Shrimp. The drinks and dessert menus also received some new items and updates.

New starters lineup at Three Bridges Bar & Grill © Disney

Last but not least, Banana Cabana at Caribbean Beach has got a new namesake burger: it’s Caribbean barbecue, tomatillo-jalapeño cream cheese, and pineapple salsa with plantain crunch served with french fries. There are two new sauce flavors for the Grilled Wings, Rum Barbecue and Guava Buffalo. And for seafood lovers, there are Seafood Fritters and Coconut Shrimp.

Seafood Fritters, Coconut Shrimp © Disney

Operations Updates at Disneyland – 180-Day Park Reservation Window, Rides Added to Genie+

In addition to the headline news ticket deal announced this week (50% off kids tickets, see below), Disneyland posted some changes to park operations. First up, the reservation window for park passes will be extended from 90 days to 180 days. While reservations are generally not an issue anymore, this could be helpful to those traveling during peak holiday seasons. Second, two new rides will be added to the Genie+ Lightning Lane lineup. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will have a brand-new Lightning Lane, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be changing over from Individual Lightning Lane to Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations.

Royal Caribbean Names Its Second Icon-class Ship

When Icon of the Seas arrives in January 2024, it will hit the water running as the world’s largest cruise ship, with six waterslides, seven pools, neighborhoods including Surfside, AquaDome, and Central Park, plus entertainment stages and over 40 ways to dine and drink. The second ship in the new Icon class has been announced for summer of 2025: Star of the Seas. Details are slim, but RCCL has assured the public that although many spaces will be similar to those on the Icon, there will also be all-new experiences and offerings for the Star.

© Royal Caribbean

Universal to Launch Co-Branded Credit Card in 2024

Fancy a Gringott’s Goblin keeping watch on your spending from the face of your credit card? Well, it’s a possibility. Universal Parks & Resorts hasn’t announced the available designs yet, but they are launching a co-branded Visa Card in 2024. Much like Disney’s co-branded card, the Universal Rewards Plus Visa Signature Card will offer Universal’s faithful fans the opportunity for special food, beverages, merchandise, and of course most importantly, discounts and travel rewards.

Festival of the Holidays Details and Other Seasonal News

Festival of the Holidays details appeared this week for those visiting Disney World between November 24 and December 30.

Living with the Land Holiday © Disney

In addition to the Candlelight Processional (see the headline news recap), visitors can look forward to seeing Santa at the Odyssey, the Holiday Storytellers, and atmospheric entertainment such as JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season. Holiday Kitchens will return along with the Cookie Stroll; in addition to the usual assortment the Disney100 booths will be held over from the Food & Wine Festival. No word yet on whether they’ll receive new menus or if the current ones will carry over as well. (Review of the Disney100 Kitchens at Food & Wine 2023). If you need to make more stomach space, you can work off those calories by searching for Olaf around the World Showcase in Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Scavenger Hunt.

Over on the other coast at Disneyland, the holiday entertainment lineup was announced in August. But in a show of fairness to California, Disney gave us a peek this week at new character outfits that will be worn by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and the Three Caballeros in Disney ¡Viva Navidad! beginning on November 10.

© Disney

Moana + Journey of Water Soft Opening

Cast Previews and AP Previews and soft openings, oh my! After what seems like months of limited previews following years of construction, Journey of Water Inspired by Moana is now available to the public during a soft opening period before its official launch on October 16. Are we excited for this? You betcha; our team loved the attraction when they visited. (Journey of Water Splashes Into EPCOT) If you’re stopping by you may also get a chance to see Moana herself as the Moana Meet & Greet, also scheduled to open on October 16, has soft opened alongside Journey of Water.

The attraction will be available on select days and hours for visitors (read: soft opening means they’re still working out kinks and may take it offline unexpectedly) and may offer a Virtual Queue to manage demand. Guests will be able to join the Virtual Queue only after they have entered EPCOT, and a standby line may be in place if the Virtual Queue is not being offered. We don’t know whether a Virtual Queue will be used after October 16, but it seems likely. We do have a bit of good news on that front, as we’ve confirmed with Cast Members that you can have Boarding Groups for Journey of Water and Cosmic Rewind at the same time.

Headline News Recap

OK, this is from an old headline, but we sent our team to ride the Brightline now that the new Orlando Airport station is open. Riding the Brightline Train to Orlando.

Both Disneyland and Disney World released kid-focused discounts this week, with savings on tickets at Disneyland, and tickets + Dining Plans at Disney World. New! 2024 Discounts for Kids at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Luminous: the Story of Us will be replacing EPCOT Forever on December 5, and Fireworks Dining Packages will include the new show from that date forward. Luminous Dining Packages Arrive at EPCOT’s Restaurants.

In addition to other holiday season entertainment detailed above, this week brought the news that many who are planning Christmas trips to Disney World had been waiting for: the lineup of narrators for the Candlelight Processional. 2023 Candlelight Processional Details and Dining Packages.

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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