NewsRoyal Caribbean CruisesTravel BeatWalt Disney World (FL)

TouringPlans Travel Beat 12-2-2023

Share This!

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: some waiting is over, and some has just begun.) 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 Walls Are Coming Down at EPCOT
  • Icon of the Seas Delivered to Royal Caribbean
  • Disney+ Subscriber Perks Page o’ Discounts
  • Hatbox Ghost Finally Materializes at Disney World’s Haunted Mansion
  • More Details About Universal’s Branded Credit Card
  • Universal’s New Texas Resort Gets a Name
  • Headline News Recap

The Walls Are Coming Down at EPCOT

It’s finally time! We already new that Luminous, EPCOT’s new nighttime fireworks show, was going to debut this week on Tuesday. And now we know that many of the construction walls surrounding the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit will be coming down on December 5, the very same day! Along with the opening of World Celebration Gardens, the “Walt the Dreamer” statue will be unveiled for guests to enjoy.

© Disney

Icon of the Seas Delivered to Royal Caribbean

Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest ever cruise ship, was delivered to Royal Caribbean this week after over two years in the shipworks. But it will be a little over two months before she sees her first passengers, as first up is final outfitting followed by an empty transatlantic trip. Beginning on January 27, 2024, the Icon will offer alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from her homeport of Miami.

AquaDome concept art © Royal Caribbean

A second Icon-class ship, Star of the Seas will be delivered in 2025 with Port Canaveral as her home. Itineraries for Star of the Seas haven’t been announced yet, but are expected to start selling later this week on December 5.

Disney+ Subscriber Perks Page o’ Discounts

Disney Plus has launched a new webpage that touts several subscriber benefits (other than access to an extensive library of streaming content). Some of the listed perks:

  • 20% discount on Ubisoft’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora™ PC game. Frontiers of Pandora is a first-person, action-adventure game set in the Western Frontier of Pandora.
  • A $5 Fandango Promo Code* towards a movie ticket for Wish.
  • Early access to special collectibles at ShopDisney
  • Over 30 free Marvel digital comics
  • 50% discount on a D23 Gold Membership

Plus a variety of additional merchandise discounts and a “Coming Soon!” offer for Disney World Resort that will be revealed on January 3. I’m sure we’ll be back in a month with the details on that when it drops.

Hatbox Ghost Finally Materializes at Disney World’s Haunted Mansion

After previously being announced as “later this year” and then “in late November”, the Hatbox Ghost has finally made his way to Disney World’s Haunted Mansion and begun greeting guests. How late in November? Well, it was on November 30 … never say Disney doesn’t challenge your critical thinking skills. Still, better late than never!

Hatbox Ghost concept art
Hatbox Ghost concept art © Disney

More Details About Universal’s Branded Credit Card

Earlier this year Universal announced that a branded credit card was in the works, and you can now apply. Three card designs are available, and two different card levels.

  • Universal Rewards Plus Visa Signature Card – $99 Annual Fee
    • 4% back in rewards on qualifying Universal purchases2
    • 2% back in rewards on Travel, Gas and Dining purchases2
    • 1% back in rewards on all other purchases2
    • Plus, additional benefits
  • Universal Rewards Visa Signature Card – No Annual Fee
    • 2% back in rewards on qualifying Universal purchases
    • 1% back in rewards on all other purchases**
    • Plus, additional benefits

The Plus card includes a single-day admission ticket on your card anniversary if you spend $6,000/year, and access to 4 to the cardholder lounge.

Universal credit card designs © Universal

Rewards are redeemed by distribution to a Universal FUNds Visa® Prepaid Card (Universal FUNds) which can be used for on-site purchases at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Volcano Bay and Universal Studios Hollywood, including theme park tickets, Universal Express passes, select merchandise, select food and beverages, at select locations within Universal CityWalks and on vacation packages purchased online from Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations. (Whew!)

Universal’s New Texas Resort Gets a Name

The new, kid-friendly Universal Resort that was announced in January 2023 for Frisco, TX had a name reveal this week. Doubling down on the message that this is a more family-oriented destination than Universal Orlando, it will be titled “Universal Kids Resort”. Along with the announcement came updated concept art that generated internet speculation about the associated lands. The leading contenders are Trolls, Shrek, Puss in Boots, SpongeBob, and Minions. The resort will also feature a 300-room themed hotel.

© Universal Parks and Resorts

Headline News Recap

It’s the first full week of Festival of the Holidays and we checked out all the food. The Best Way to Spend $50 at the 2023 Festival of the Holidays

We had a bit of personal news this week, as we announced the sale of our Travel Agency. Touringplans’ Travel Agency Is Setting Off on a New Adventure in 2024

Last but not least, Disneyland has new ticket offers for California Residents. Disneyland Offers Ticket Deals for Southern California Residents!

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

TouringPlans ad


You May Also Like...

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *