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TouringPlans Travel Beat 5-25-2024

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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? (Sneak peek: trains, trains, planes, and nighttime entertainment.) 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!

  • Country Bear Jamboree Sneak Peek
  • DVC Lounge Closed in Mid-summer for Refurb
  • Aulani 2025 Bookings Now Available
  • Win a Stay at the Four Seasons Orlando With Brightline
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Reopening Date
  • Southwest Appearing on Google Flights
  • Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Coming to Orlando in 2026
  • Kids Ride Free on Auto-Train With Summer Sale
  • DreamWorks Land Previews
  • Halloween Sells Out for MNSSHP
  • Fantasmic! Returns to Disneyland
  • Disney Dreams That Soar Debuts at Disney Springs
  • Universal Orlando Ticket Deal: Buy 3 Days Get 2 Free
  • Headline News Recap

Can you guess which story inspired this week’s cover image? Leave your guesses in the comments!

Country Bear Jamboree Sneak Peek

When you think “Disney fashion icon”, the Country Bears are first on your mind, right? In advance of the new show that will debut later this summer, Disney released a little preview on Instagram, including a deep dive into new costumes for Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah that were inspired by the Opry-style shows of Nashville. If you love behind-the-scenes stuff, you’ll want to give it a watch — did you know that all the bears have “shapewear for bears” on underneath their costumes?

© Disney

DVC Lounge Closed in Mid-summer for Refurb

The Disney Vacation Club member lounge in the Imagination! Pavilion at EPCOT is a great place to take a break from the heat while touring, but this summer it will be offline from June 2 through July 13 for a little fixing-upping. It’s expected to reopen on July 14, and in the meantime, a temporary lounge will be available in The Odyssey daily from 11 am to 6 pm.

Aulani 2025 Bookings Now Available

Were you looking to visit Aulani in 2025? You’ll be happy to know that you can now make reservations and get it on the books. Packages are valid for arrivals January 1 through December 31, 2025, but you can’t quite book until the end of the year yet – the last date of your vacation can’t be more than 499 days in the future, which is currently early October 2025.

Win a Stay at the Four Seasons Orlando With Brightline

Do you have an Instagram account? Can you make one? If you follow Brightline and the Four Seasons Orlando, you can fill out an online entry form between now and May 29 to win a 3-night stay at the Four Seasons Orlando. The prize package includes:

  • Four PREMIUM Brightline roundtrip tickets
  • Roundtrip VIP Transportation between Brightline and Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World ® Resort
  • A three-night stay in a two-bedroom Park View Suite
  • Welcome amenities
  • Breakfast for four daily
  • Dinner for four at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Capa
  • Private poolside cabana at the adults only pool
  • Four 50-minute spa treatments
  • One round of golf for four people

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Reopening Date

Are you ready to head to the show? After 6 months of TLC, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is set to reopen at Hollywood Studios on July 27, 2024.

Southwest Appearing on Google Flights

If you like to use Google Flights to research your best options for getting to Orlando, good news! You can now see price and availability for Southwest Airlines. As usual, once you’ve selected a flight you can click through to Southwest’s own site to book. For now at least, Google Flights is the only megasearch flight tool that can return Southwest flight info; you still won’t find it on Kayak, Orbitz, etc.

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Coming to Orlando in 2026

Beginning in 2026, visitors to the Orlando area will have the opportunity for themed resort lodging based on Nickelodeon’s star franchises: SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, Dora the Explorer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. Lion Star Hospitality will be operating Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Orlando, to be developed in Kississimmee’s Everest Place Development. Enjoy the Aqua Nick water park, Club Nick, dining at Le Spatula, meet & greet opportunities, and more!

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Orlando Artist Concept © Lion Star Hospitality

Can’t wait? Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts are currently open in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and Riviera Maya in Mexico.

Kids Ride Free on Auto-Train With Summer Sale

If you’re traveling to Disney World from somewhere on the Northeast I95 Corridor this year, you might want to consider hitting the rails. Amtrak’s Auto Train runs daily between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL, and lets you ride the train with your car. From now until July 31, 2024, you can book a ride with fares as low as $75 per adult — and kids 12 and under ride free. (If you’ve never done this before, note that you will still need to pay for your car to ride as well.) Book on Amtrak’s site or its app using code C521, and complete your travel by September 2, 2024.

DreamWorks Land Previews

DreamWorks Land doesn’t officially open until June 14, but Team Members, Universal Annual Passholders, and others have been attending previews that began this week. We’ve updated our overview article with real pictures that aren’t labeled artist concept, so if you’re hankering to know how reality looks compared to the dream, head on over and check it out.

Poppy-licious Pink Ice Cream

Halloween Sells Out for MNSSHP

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has sold out its first date; the party on Halloween night itself. The next most likely date to sell out will be opening night, but there should still be plenty of time to buy tickets for most other dates. See dates and prices here: 2024 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates and Ticket Info.

Fantasmic! Returns to Disneyland

After almost a year, Fantasmic! has returned to Disneyland, without the Maleficent dragon that burned in July of 2023. In the reworked scene, Maleficent now wields her scepter to rise into the sky and set the River of America on fire. The new version also brings back the Peter Pan scene, with newly-added Lost Boys.

© Disney

Disney Dreams That Soar Debuts at Disney Springs

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the new Disney Springs drone show opened on Friday — and our parks team was there to check it out. The 10-minute show runs twice nightly from May 24 through September 2, 2024, and the showtimes are currently listed as 9:00 and 10:45 pm. Our capsule review: thumbs up! It’s fun, it will make you smile, and if you’ve got kids who are challenged by the loud bangs of fireworks you might find this a more friendly experience for them.

Disney says the best viewing is along the waterway on Disney Springs West Side, and it’s relatively low in the sky, so you won’t see it if you’re just wandering around the Springs. We also found that it’s great from Congress Park at Saratoga Springs, although this is limited to current guests of the resort. Look for more info on how to see the show and what you need to know on the blog in the next few days.

Universal Orlando Ticket Deal: Buy 3 Days Get 2 Free

Headline says it all: buy a 3-day ticket at Universal Orlando this summer and get 2 days free. The offer is available for both base tickets (1-park per day) and park-to-park tickets, and can also be applied to both 2-park and 3-park (including Volcano Bay) ticket types. Tickets are valid for any five days during an eight-day period which begins on the selected start date. Unused days will be forfeited. Some start dates are not eligible for this offer.

Does it seem like this info is a little skimpy on details like what exactly are the start and end dates, and what the blackout days are? We thought so too. Our purchase attempt shows it is available through December 16, 2024, but your mileage may vary.

Headline News Recap

DAS updates went into effect this week at Disney World. ICYMI, here’s a recap of the changes — and you can look for updated DAS content on the blog based on our park’s team’s experiences over the next couple of weeks. Disney Changes Both DAS Eligibility and Application Process at US Disney Parks.

At Universal Orlando, previews and info were released for 6 new Halloween Horror Nights Houses: Halloween Horror Nights 2024 Haunted Houses Preview.

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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