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: the word “announce” makes frequent appearances.) 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!
- runDisney 2024-5 Calendar Released
- Tale of the Lion King to Close at Disneyland
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Food Announced
- Disney Visa Cardmember Offer for National Geographic Expeditions
- Adventureland Treehouse Preview for Magic Key Holders
- Asha from Wish Greeting Guests at Disney World and Disneyland
- Royal Caribbean Is Raising Gratuity Rates
- Holiday-Inspired Suites for the Season at Hilton in Three Major Cities
- Photo Validation Rolls out at Islands of Adventure
- Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Dates Announced
- Disneyland Holiday Menu Items Announced
- Buy 1 Get 2 Universal Ticket Offer for Florida Residents
- Delta to Expand Its Fast, Free WiFi Program Availability
- Holland America Announces Morimoto at Sea Restaurant
- Cedar Fair and Six Flags to Merge
- Christmas Is Rolling Out At Disney World
- 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.
runDisney 2024-5 Calendar Released
runDisney has published its calendar for the 2024-2025 race season which runs from June 2024 through April 2025. There are four onsite events at Disney World and two at Disneyland including the Halloween Half Marathon Weekend from September 5-8, 2024. In addition to the onsite events, runners have opportunities for virtual events that can be run from almost anywhere.
Just in case you’re reading that on a teeny-tiny screen, it says …
- Disney World runDisney dates and events
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend: October 31-November 5, 2024
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: January 8-12, 2025
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend: February 20-24, 2025
- runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend: April 3-6, 2025
- Disneyland runDisney dates and events
- Disneyland Halloween Half Marathon Weekend: September 5-8, 2024
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend: January 30 – February 2, 2025
- Virtual runDisney dates and events
- runDisney Virtual Series: June 1 – August 31, 2024
- runDisney Virtual 12Ks of Christmas: December 1-31, 2024
For registration deadlines and more details, see runDisney’s site.
Tale of the Lion King to Close at Disneyland
It’s the circle of life: the “Tale of the Lion King” is set to end its run at the Fantasyland Theatre in Disneyland Park. The show, which opened on May 8, 2022, will have its final performance on January 7, 2024. We look forward to seeing what Disney chooses to bring to this space as a replacement.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Food Announced
Menus for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party rolled out this week. There are festive sweets and treats all over the park, but if you’d like something substantial for dinner, your options will be at Cosmic Ray’s, Friar’s Nook, and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Holiday Pot Roast Melt: Slow-cooked beef on thick toast with cheddar and provolone cheese and beef gravy
- Holiday Turkey Burger: Turkey burger topped with traditional stuffing, provolone cheese, and cranberry chutney on a brioche bun
- Christmas Cookie Cake: Christmas cookie cake roll with buttercream and topped with holiday sprinkles
- The Friar’s Nook
- Holiday Ham Fried Pie: Flaky pastry filled with baked ham, candied sweet potatoes, and spiced pecans served with pineapple glaze
- Italian Beef Tots: Tots covered in slow-cooked beef, cheese curds, zesty giardiniera, and pot roast gravy
- Peppermint Snowman: Chocolate brownie topped with cookies ‘n cream peppermint mousse
- Winter Milk Shake: Creamy coconut milk shake topped with whipped cream, toasted coconut, cinnamon, and crisp pearls (Non-alcoholic beverage)
- Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe
- Chicken Tamale served “Christmas-style” with mild red chile and green chile-pumpkin seed sauces, cilantro rice, pinto beans, and queso fresco
- Chocolate Eggnog Reindeer: Chocolate tart topped with eggnog mousse and chocolate antlers
- Orange-Cranberry Pineapple Punch with a hint of “smoke” from the fireplace (Non-alcoholic beverage)
Disney Visa Cardmember Offer for National Geographic Expeditions
If you’re a Disney Visa Cardmember, book by December 29, 2023 to save on select National Geographic Expeditions Signature Land and River Cruises. Here’s the list of tours; not all dates will qualify for savings.
- North and Central America Signature Land departures — Save $300 per person:
- Costa Rica: Wildlife and Conservation
- Winter in Yellowstone Photo Expedition
- Winter Wildlife in Yellowstone
- International Signature Land departures — Save $400 per person:
- Morocco: Legendary Cities and the Sahara
- On Safari: Exploring Wildlife Conservation in Kenya
- On Safari: Tanzania’s Great Migration
- Southern Africa Safari by Private Air
- India’s Fabled Rajasthan by Rail
- The Holy Land: Past, Present, and Future
- Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia: Ancient Temples and Natural Wonders
- Colombia: Connections to the Land and the Past
- Exploring Patagonia
- New Zealand From North to South
- Palau: Snorkeling and Kayaking the Pristine Seas
- River Cruise departures — Save $500 per person:
- Danube Christmas Markets River Cruise
- Rhine Christmas Markets River Cruise
Offer must be booked by December 29, 2023 and cardmember must mention offer code DISNEYVISA, travel on the trip that is booked, and use the Disney Visa to book the trip. Valid on new bookings only, and can’t be combined with any other National Geographic Expeditions discounts or promotions. Excludes suites for River Cruise departures.
Adventureland Treehouse Preview for Magic Key Holders
Adventureland Treehouse is opening on November 10 at Disneyland Park, and Magic Key holders can get access one day early during a special preview opportunity. The Magic Key preview will be held from 11 am to 7 pm on November 9. Magic Key holders should check in near Rivers of America to receive a preview wristband.
Asha from Wish Greeting Guests at Disney World and Disneyland
The upcoming Disney animated feature “Wish” will be released on November 22, 2023, but Disney is anticipating demand for Meet & Greets. Asha, the film’s main character, has already begun meeting at Disney World; you’ll find her in the gazebo near the entrance to World Showcase. At Disneyland, Asha will begin greeting guests outside the Royal Hall when the movie debuts on November 22.
Royal Caribbean Is Raising Gratuity Rates
Beginning November 11, automatic gratuity rates on Royal Caribbean cruises will increase from $16 to $18 for standard cabins and Junior Suites and $18.50 to $20.50 for Suites. Guests who have already pre-paid the gratuities for their cruise will not be impacted by this change. Guests who already have cruises booked can pre-pay to lock in the current lower rate, but will be charged the new rates if they choose to pay onboard. And in the rare event that guests receive service they feel is not up to par, Royal Caribbean allows guests to modify the daily amount by visiting Guest Services onboard.
Holiday-Inspired Suites for the Season at Hilton in Three Major Cities
Disney isn’t the only place you can get a themed hotel room. In partnership with the Hallmark Channel, Hilton is sprucing up suites at three hotel locations and making them over into holiday wonderlands. One or two-bedroom suites will be available at three Hiltons (Hilton Chicago, Hilton New York Times Square, and Hilton Americas-Houston) through the end of the year. In addition to the themed decor, rooms at each location offer holiday-themed food such as a gingerbread bar or Santa cookie kits. Rates average $1,200-1800 per night, plus a resort fee.
Photo Validation Rolls out at Islands of Adventure
We previously noted that Photo Validation was in testing at Universal Orlando. This week, UOR quietly made the permanent switch at Islands of Adventure, retiring the fingerprint scanners and offering Photo Validation as the only way to enter the park. Nervous about the change? Have questions? We have answers: Photo Validation System at Universal Orlando.
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Dates Announced
Halloween is over, the winter holiday celebration is getting underway, but theme parks are rarely satisfied to let you live in the moment. Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval will take place from February 3 to April 7, 2024. This fun, park-wide party offers parades, performers, nighttime concerts, and an ever-expanding lineup of Festival Food that’s beginning to quietly rival that Flower & Garden thing taking place at the same time across town.
Disneyland Holiday Menu Items Announced
Disneyland is constantly refreshing its menus with limited-time specialty offerings that we don’t cover because they’re only around for a few days to a week. Guess what? The winter holiday season lasts for a month or more! You’ll find Disneyland’s holiday menu items at eateries throughout both parks, the resorts, and Downtown Disney, with most items available through January 7.
The list is extensive and I’ll spare you the scrolling. But if you’re heading for the parks you can find all the offerings on the Disneyland app. And before I forget, it’s not just food. If you’d like a more permanent souvenir of your trip to the parks you can find an assortment of food-related holiday merchandise such as tumblers, popcorn buckets, and straw clips.
Buy 1 Get 2 Universal Ticket Offer for Florida Residents
It’s everyone’s four favorite letters: BOGO. Universal Orlando is offering Florida Residents a free day with purchase of a 1-day park-to-park ticket, for use now through March 6, 2024. Or add a day at Volcano Bay for just $25. The ticket can be used on non-consecutive days, but is blacked out from December 21, 2023 to January 5, 2024. Must be purchased online.
Delta to Expand Its Fast, Free WiFi Program Availability
If you’ve flown on Delta Airlines in the past year, you may have had the pleasure of a flight with Fast, Free WiFi. I can personally attest that it is fast, and it is free, and it is pretty awesome if you’d like to stay connected. Earlier this year when Disney announced per-park pricing for Genie+, I wrote the entire article and published it using Delta’s onboard free WiFi. Anyhoo, the fast, free, Wi-Fi is currently available only on mainline domestic flights (about 600 aircraft), but that’s going to change. This week Delta rolled out a statement that they’re partnering with Hughes, a satellite service provider, to expand Fast, Free WiFi to regional short-haul routes. Customers should begin to see availability on these flights sometime next year.
Holland America Announces Morimoto at Sea Restaurant
Have you tried Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs? Well, if you can’t make it to Florida, perhaps you’re cruising on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? Great news for you: the Morimoto at Sea restaurant will be available beginning on December 16, 2023. The menu will emphasize fish in line with Holland America’s signature Global Fresh Fish Program initiative, but will also have beef, chicken, and vegetarian items, plus some of Chef Morimoto’s specialty alcoholic beverages. The cover charge will be $55 per person which is, in my experience, not that much cheaper than a meal at one of Morimoto’s land-based restaurants. But, again in my experience, worth it.
Cedar Fair and Six Flags to Merge
Cedar Fair and Six Flags announced that the companies will merge, bringing their theme parks and resorts under a single brand. Valued at 8 billion, the combined holdings will cover 42 theme parks and 9 resorts across more than 17 states, Canada, and Mexico. Some of Cedar Fair’s parks, which include Carowinds, Kings Dominion, and Knott’s Berry Farm, have high name recognition. But Six Flags is the better-known brand and the combined companies will operate under the Six Flags name after the merger.
Christmas is Rolling Out at Disney World
The very last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was held this week, and already the parks are becoming jingle-spangled. We thought you’d enjoy a few pictures from this seasonal transformation. Tap into any image below to browse the gallery.
Headline News Recap
Disney takes heat whenever a price increase is announced, but Universal snuck one out this week. Universal Orlando Raises Admission Prices – Fall 2023.
We don’t yet have menus for EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays, but we’ve got the ones for Disneyland! Disneyland 2023 Festival of the Holidays Menus.
That’s it for this week’s Travel Beat. What news are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!