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TouringPlans Travel Beat 12-23-2023

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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? 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!

  • Zootopia Officially Open in Shanghai Disney Resort
  • Disney Cruise Line Announces Use It or Lose It Policy for Castaway Club Membership
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Refurb Announced
  • Several Disneyland Shows Returning in Early 2024
  • New Universal Park in the UK?
  • Grinch Meet & Greet Posts Extreme Wait Times
  • Headline News Recap

Zootopia Officially Open in Shanghai Disney Resort

The new Zootopia land officially opened in Shanghai Disney Resort this week. In addition to a flurry of announcements about merch, we were treated a free-roaming Duke Weaslton animatronic. Although interactive animatronics this sophisticated rarely make it to the parks, developing them (and showing them off) is part of the process of advancing the technology. Check out the live footage on Instagram.

© Disney

Disney Cruise Line Announces Use It or Lose It Policy for Castaway Club Membership

Disney Cruise Line has updated the membership terms and added an expiration policy for its Castaway Club loyalty program. Previously, your earned status did not expire, in line with the industry standard for cruise loyalty programs. The newly announced change brings a five-year rolling window on Castaway Club status. To remain in the program, members must book or sail on a new cruise within five years of their last Disney voyage.

Although the program is widely perceived to be “top heavy” with a large number of cruisers in the highest status levels, the biggest impact of this policy change will be on kids (or former kids). All cruisers in a party accumulate status regardless of age on DCL, and many young adults have status based on cruises they’ve taken with their parents. They’ll now need to continue cruising regularly once they’re old enough to do it on their own in order to maintain their Castaway Club tier.

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Refurb Announced

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will close for refurbishment beginning on January 8, 2024. It will reopen in summer 2024; an exact date has not been announced.

Several Disneyland Shows Returning in Early 2024

Earlier this month Disneyland published its event calendar for 2024, and this week they added more information about specific in-park entertainment in early 2024.

  • The “Magic Happens” parade will return on February 2
  • Two nighttime spectaculars will take turns in early 2024 before “Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” returns on April 26
    • “Mickey’s Mix Magic” will run Jan. 8-March 21 and April 15-25, with fireworks on select evenings.
    • “Wondrous Journeys” will run nightly with fireworks from March 22-April 14.
  • Also on April 26, the debut of “Better Together – A Pixar Pals Celebration!” parade
  • On May 24, the return of “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland Park on May 24.

New Universal Park in the UK?

This news actually broke earlier in the week as land purchases by Universal and other planning activities were sniffed out and published by theme park journalists including Alicia Stella. But Universal officially confirmed the potential project, including launching a website and sending a letter to residents of the area. To be clear: Universal has confirmed the purchase of the land and that they are considering putting a park on it. But they haven’t yet committed to building one.

© Universal

Grinch Meet & Greet Posts Extreme Wait Times

We don’t usually post about wait times in Travel Beat, but on Friday the seasonal Grinch Meet & Greet posted a wait time of 420 minutes. Divided by 60 that’s … hmm .. 7 hours??!? I hope there was a bathroom in the queue #iykyk. (Pro tip: character meal for the win The SATURDAY SIX Looks at CHRISTMAS in the Universal Orlando Parks! (Breakfast with the Grinch, Holiday Parade, Tribute Store and MORE!)

Headline News Recap

Disney is taking every chance it gets to remind us about all the changes that are coming on January 9. This week they announced a bit about the “good-to-go” days that will be coming next year, when Annual Passholders will not need reservations to visit the park. Passholders Good-to-Go Days And Other “Bringing Back the Fun” Changes

Voyage of the Little Mermaid is being reimagined into a new show: The Little Mermaid – a Musical Adventure.  New Little Mermaid Show Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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.

One thought on “TouringPlans Travel Beat 12-23-2023

  • I appreciate the personal touch you bring to your travel experiences, offering insights that go beyond the typical tourist spots. It’s evident that your passion for exploration shines through every post.


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