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 big headlines!) 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 Percy Jackson Exhibit at Hollywood Studios
- Baby Okapi Debuts at Animal Kingdom
- Disney World Testing X-Ray Machines for Bag Checks
- New Disney World Wedding Options Announced
- Auto Train Fare Sale Through Feb. 8, 2024
- Magic Happens Parade Has Returned to Disneyland
- Florida to Regulate Short-Term Rentals
- Headline News Recap
New Percy Jackson Exhibit at Hollywood Studios
If you are a parent of a certain age, or a kid of a certain age, you’ve likely read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. The good news is that the recent Disney+ series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is much better than the 2010 movie, which had … problems. For a limited time, Walt Disney Presents at Hollywood Studios offers an inside look at the series, with artifacts and costumes from the show, and a photo-op.
Baby Okapi Debuts at Animal Kingdom
More baby animals! Elijah the okapi was born in October, but just made his debut to park visitors this week. Isn’t he awesome?
Elijah, who is named in honor of a 50-year WDW Cast Member who is currently with the Horticulture Department at Animal Kingdom, is the 14th okapi born at Disney World, and the first since 2012. If you’re visiting soon, look for him on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
Disney World Testing X-Ray Machines for Bag Checks
Security screening at Disney World has come a long way, and this week Blog Mickey spotted X-ray machines being set up in EPCOT. Currently, guests pulled out of the security line for secondary bag screening have bags manually inspected, which can take several additional minutes. If Disney can make this a conveyor belt process similar to what is seen in airports (but without the shoe removal bit), that could make the security check even less of a hassle for guests eager to get into the parks.
New Disney World Wedding Options Announced
Disney touted several new wedding options this week for their Fairytale weddings collection. There’s the release of the 2024 collection of princess-inspired gowns. A brand-new Cinderella Platinum Coach has joined the vehicle fleet at Disneyland Resort. And now that the walls are down at EPCOT, Disney has added a brand-new wedding venue at EPCOT, where you can book World Celebration Gardens for a private, after-hours ceremony and reception.
Auto Train Fare Sale Through Feb. 8, 2024
If you travel to Disney World from the Northeast, you may have considered taking (or actually boarded!) the Auto Train. This special Amtrak train departs from Lorton, VA with you and your car, and rides the rails overnight to drop you off less than an hour from Disney World the next morning. From now through Feb. 8, tickets are available starting as low as $35. The sale fares are valid for travel northbound from Sanford, Fla., to Lorton, Va., from Feb. 1, 2024 – March 14, 2024, and for southbound travel from Lorton, Va., to Sanford, Fla., Feb. 19, 2024 – July 25, 2025.
Magic Happens Parade Has Returned to Disneyland
Now that the holiday season is over, if you’re heading to Disneyland you’ll once again be able to enjoy the Magic Happens daytime parade. Those looking closely will find small updates to the costuming and floats since the parade last ran in October 2023.
Florida to Regulate Short-Term Rentals
On-site hotels at Disney or Universal are a popular choice, but many guests choose to get more for their dollars offsite and short-term rentals are a big part of the Orlando off-site lodging market. Outside of Orlando, they’re a big part of the beach tourism lodging market as well. A new Florida law aims to protect local residents and consumers both.
Beginning in July 2024, Florida will regulate short-term rentals like those found on AirBnB and VRBO in a consistent manner at the statewide level. Owners of short-term rentals will be required to pay registration fees, to make someone available to guests at all times to handle complains, and to clearly list a maximum occupancy for the units. And local government still has some pull; they can suspect registrations for violations of local ordinances.
Headline News Recap
We all knew Universal is building a third theme park in Orlando, but this week they dropped lots of details. Universal Epic Universe Preview
Not to be outdone, Disney’s retheme of Paradise Pier officially opened on the same day. Disneyland’s New Pixar Place Hotel Review
Do you have a Disney Visa? New discounts for you this week: Spring to Early Fall 2024 Room Discounts at Disney World
That’s it for this week’s Travel Beat. What news are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!