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TouringPlans Travel Beat 4-6-2024

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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!

  • Autopia to be Electrified
  • More Critters Revealed for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
  • Free Dining for Disney Visa Holders Coming This Week
  • It’s Gonna Be An Exciting D23
  • 2024 V.I.Passholder Days Announced for Walt Disney World
  • Test Track to Close for Refurbishment Beginning June 17
  • Season of the Force Kicks Off at Disneyland
  • Headline News Recap

Do you have thoughts about which of this week’s stories inspired the cover image? Leave your guesses in the comments!

Autopia to be Electrified

If you are like me and get a headache just walking past the Tomorrowland Speedway, you’ll undoubtedly be excited to hear that Disney has announced it will switch Autopia to electric cars at Disneyland. First reported by a climate journalist in the LA Times, Disney later confirmed the plan on its blog. Alas, the date for this magical transformation is “sometime in the next few years”.

More Critters Revealed for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Disney continues to release details about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. In addition to a peek at some of the animatronics (see below), we got a new batch of critters this week. ICYMI: last week Disney told us that Tiana would be working with three bands to provide the entertainment for her big party, and we learned about the 6 critters in the Zydeco band. This week’s information covers the Rara musicians; Rara has its roots in Haiti and is often a part of street festivals and processions in New Orleans.

© Disney

The Zara critters you’ll encounter on the ride are Octavia the Bobcat (vaksin), Pawpaw the Bobcat (vaksin), Claude the Louisiana Black Bear (horn), Bernadette the Lousiana Black Bear (horn), Sebastián the Louisiana Black Bear (drums), and Phina the Gray Fox (drums). Details of the third and final critter band will be announced next week.

Free Dining for Disney Visa Holders Coming This Week

Disney has announced that beginning April 9, Disney Visa Cardmembers will be eligible for free dining plans on a selection of arrival dates in July, September, and December. Eligible packages will be 4-night, 4-day or longer non-discounted stays including tickets with the Park Hopper option. Details will be released on Tuesday but if you’re a cardholder you may already have received an email or marketing brochure.

It’s Gonna Be An Exciting D23

So, this is all just sprinkles and tidbits, but before we get to news for the parks below let’s put some critical background in place. First of all, Disney has been working on coordinating the Disneyland Forward growth and development plan with the Anaheim City Council. That’s getting close to a final green light. Next up: Disney has buried the hatchet in its legal disputes with the Florida government. Finally, Disney prevailed in the proxy fight for its board seats that concluded with the shareholder meeting on April 3 this week.

Now, those things are normally not the kind of news we cover here on Travel Beat, because we focus on news that might actually affect your vacation planning, or at least your vacation anticipation. But in this case they are important, because it seems like those fraught situations may have been working like the cork in a bottle. Disney had previously committed to 60 billion in parks investment over the next 10 years, but with just the barest teasers about what that might mean. But this week …

© Disney
  • As a follow-on to the shareholder meeting, Disney released concept art (shown above) for the potential new Avatar experience at Disneyland. It’s sounding more and more like this may be an entire new land.
  • Walt Disney Imagineering released a new series showcasing the work of Imagineering. It features animatronics from Tiana’s Bayou adventure and they look amazing.
  • On Instagram, WDI shared that they’ve recently been traveling in the Yucatan peninsula to study source material for the Tropical Americas expansion in Animal Kingdom, and showed some unfinished models for the land
  • Disney also invited several members of the press (which sadly did not include us) to tour Imagineering, where they saw additional concept art that hasn’t been shared yet.
  • On that same tour, guests viewed permits that will be filed soon for work on the “Beyond Big Thunder” project to expand Magic Kingdom. In case you’re not keeping track, permits have already been filed for work on Animal Kingdom.

All this adds up to some big news coming in the near future. We expect that formal announcements will be made in early August at D23, but Disney is clearly ready to get moving once the news is out.

2024 V.I.Passholder Days Announced for Walt Disney World

Disney World is bringing back its popular Passholder appreciation event, with V.I.Passholder Days to begin on May 1 and extend through June 26. Annual Passholders will be able to enjoy a variety of discounts, a new magnet, lounge, and more.

Test Track to Close for Refurbishment Beginning June 17

Last fall, Disney announced that Test Track was due for reimagining and plans were in the works. A temporary closure will begin on June 17 in preparation for the work. No end date was given, but “temporary” is Disney’s description, not ours. Concept art for the reimagined entrance was also released, with a promise of more details to come later.

© Disney

Season of the Force Kicks Off at Disneyland

Season of the Force began yesterday and will run through June 2. Remember the BD-X droids that were playtested back in October? They’re back! Disney has confirmed they’ll be around for the duration of the event, making appearances in Galaxy’s Edge throughout the day. We’re hoping they’ll become regulars once Season of the Force is over. The Fire of the Rising Moons alternate viewing experience for the park’s fireworks shows has already been announced to continue past the end of the 2-month Star Wars fest.

Headline News Recap

If you’ve been waiting for news about Halloween Horror Nights for 2024, wait no more! Halloween Horror Nights 2024 Tickets & Dates Announced.

If you’re heading to Disneyland After Dark in June, you’ll want to know how and when you can buy tickets for Pride Nite. Disneyland After Dark Themed Nights for Spring 2024 – UPDATED

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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