Summer’s in full swing, and it’s been a busy time over at Walt Disney World. From construction and Pride to the ongoing saga between Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company, a lot has been happening here in Orlando.
This month has also been a hot one so far – those scorching temperatures and not a lot of rain have caused the water levels to recede so low that boat transportation has needed to be suspended from Disney Springs to the surrounding hotels. Just look at the amount of sand that is visible between the retaining rocks and the water line! That is some significant water loss.
Hopefully, the summer rains will come. But until then, hold on to those hats and glasses, folks, as we’ve got a lot to cover.
Halfway to the Holidays
We’re halfway through the month of June, which means we’re halfway to the holiday season! Disney just dropped some big news for this year’s Christmastime at the parks. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party details, a new hard-ticketed holiday party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (PACKED with entertainment offerings), and no more castle lights?! Read all the mad and merry news here:
Walt Disney World is Full of Pride
June is here, which means Pride has come to Walt Disney World! For this year’s Pride, Walt Disney World has installed new themed walls at their four major theme parks, as well as some decorations at Disney Springs. These walls are completely Instagrammable and are quite exciting to see. They’re also just super cute!
Over at Magic Kingdom, an inclusive Pride motif has been painted on top of the Insta-famous “purple wall” that can be found between Tomorrowland Terrace and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. This image includes many of the colors representing LGBTQIA+ groups and features Mickey ears with the word “LOVE” in the middle. This image is a great example of inclusivity and Disney magic.
At EPCOT, their Pride wall showcases the same inclusive colors as the mural at Magic Kingdom and can be found near Connections Eatery in World Celebration. However, while similar to the mural found in Tomorrowland, Disney made sure to give this EPCOT mural a futuristic spin fit for its location. The EPCOT Pride mural features geodesic hearts in LGBTQIA+ colors that are zooming into the sky above Spaceship Earth, and the rainbow is reflected in the dome. “LOVE” is also written on top of the rainbow in a font reminiscent of the EPCOT design motif.
The Pride wall at Hollywood Studios is a bit different than its EPCOT and Magic Kingdom counterparts, but it is even more inclusive. Located on Grand Avenue, across from MuppetVision 3D, the Studios Pride mural is a collection of Mickey-shaped balloons that features the various LGBTQIA+ flags. In the middle of the collection, the Pride flag colors are topped by the word “Love” in white, with a silhouette of Mickey standing interposed in the center of the “o.”
At Animal Kingdom, the Pride mural can be located on the walkway to Pandora, across from Tiffins Restaurant. This wall features the same inclusive colors representing LGBTQIA+ folks, and also has the word “Love” written over top of it in a font suitable for its location. Similar to the mural at Hollywood Studios, this “Love” has a silhouette of Mickey standing interposed in the center of the “o,” but, notably, Animal Kingdom’s Mickey is in black shadow, whereas his silhouette was white in Hollywood Studios.
While Disney Springs doesn’t have a mural wall, they do have decorations throughout the shopping district showing off Pride colors and featuring the word “Love” and silhouettes of Mickey Mouse.
In addition to the Pride walls, Disney is also celebrating Pride by releasing various Pride-themed food options around the resort, and Pride-themed merchandise. They even have a Pride-themed magic shot you can get via PhotoPass.
We were also able to catch this sweet rainbow over the Plaza Ice Cream shop, a perfect addition to any Pride-filled day. Love is love is love.
New Elemental Photo Op at Disney Springs
Along with the Pride photo spots that can be found around the Resort, a new “Elemental” photo op has popped up at Disney Springs. While the traditional marquee photo location is available outside of the AMC Theaters, (as it always is for new Disney movies), there is another spot to grab a pic near The LEGO Store. This photo op can actually be found in the planters between the T-REX Dino Store, The LEGO Store, and B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Company.
The location features Wade and Ember seated on a bench, relaxing. What’s super neat about this particular op, though, is that both Wade and Ember glow at night.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Construction Check-In
Things are progressing nicely over at the Magic Kingdom when it comes to construction, with work continuing on the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Scaffolding now completely covers the mountain, and all of the tell-tale signs of Splash Mountain, including the tree stumps we talked about in previous updates, have been fully removed. Work is still being done on the rockwork, and more foliage has been added to the sides of the mountain, to give it that lush, bayou feel, quite a departure from the more arid landscape of Splash Mountain.
Cinderella Castle is Still Moat-less
Construction is also continuing on Cinderella Castle. Although the final 50th-anniversary decorations were taken down last month, the moat around the castle still remains partially drained to allow the cherry pickers and work crew to access the building. No details have been released about what specifically is being done to the castle, though. Crews could just be working on a typical refurbishment, ensuring the castle looks its best to usher in the 100 Years of Wonder celebration.
The Grand Floridian Refurb Begins
Work has also recently begun on a few of the hotels encompassing the Magic Kingdom resort area. Just recently, construction walls went up in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. While the lobby is slated to get a remodel sometime soon (though sources say that particular endeavor has been pushed back to 2024), the refurbishment of the guest rooms themselves has begun.
The construction walls in the Grand Floridian lobby are being used to create a staging area for construction equipment as crews work on the balconies of the guest rooms that face the lobby. If you look closely, white walls have been erected between the guest room hallways and the lobby, to help reduce the construction’s impact on the guest experience.
A new procedure is also now in place for guests visiting the Grand Floridian with a dining reservation. These guests are being directed to park in the Grand Floridian cast lot, which is across the street from the resort. This means that, if you have a dining reservation at the hotel, you must park across the street (after having your reservation confirmed with the cast member working there) and then walk across Floridian Way before making your way to the hotel itself.
There has been no indication or reasoning given for why this new procedure is in place, nor were cast members able to tell us how long this new procedure is expected to last.
DVC Tower at Polynesian Resort is Taking Shape
Construction on the new Disney Vacation Club tower at the Polynesian Village Resort is also moving along nicely. Crews are continuing to build the tower’s structure, and have almost completed it, from what we can tell. Soon they will close the building to the elements, which is perfect timing, as hurricane season is now upon us.
For those of you who need a refresher, Disney announced the DVC tower coming to the Polynesian Village Resort will open sometime in 2024. The concept art (below) seems to be accurately reflecting the product as it is being constructed, which is always nice to see. What do you think of the new architecture design for this Poly addition?
EPCOT: World Celebration Construction Continues
EPCOT’s transformation continues as work on World Celebration and World Nature is ongoing. World Celebration is still mostly under construction, but progress can be seen on the various locations throughout that area of the park. We’re still keeping our eye out on any concrete updates regarding World Celebration’s projected opening, but we do still expect them to meet their rumored opening date of October 1.
EPCOT: World Nature, Coming Soon?
As for World Nature, WDI recently released some information regarding that area, as well as its marquee attraction, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. While photos of World Nature seem to indicate that it will be ready for guests soon, WDI has confirmed that they are still in the test and adjust phase of the attraction, and are aiming for an opening date of “this fall.”
WDI stated that Imagineers have begun teaching “water how to play” and that “Guests of all ages will engage with water in a variety of ways as they learn about water’s amazing ‘journey’ around our natural world, including ways to better conserve our natural resources and protect water as it … [connects] us all.” That definitely sounds intriguing to us, and we can’t wait for this area to open so we can all enjoy playing with the water as Moana did!
Could Standby Be Coming to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind?
Elsewhere in EPCOT, an extended queue has been installed near Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is an indication that Disney may be getting ready to implement a standby queue for that attraction.
Currently, the only way to experience Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is to join its virtual queue via the My Disney Experience app. But, like what happened with Rise of the Resistance before it, eventually that virtual queue will go away, and guests will be able to experience the attraction either by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane pass or by joining the Standby queue. This is still speculation, however, as Disney has yet to make an official announcement regarding the virtual queue of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Disney Vacation Club Kiosk Offers a Refreshing Respite
A newly refurbished Disney Vacation Club kiosk has debuted recently at EPCOT. This kiosk is located on the right-hand side of the pathway as you enter World Discovery from World Celebration, just past the breezeway.
The kiosk has been redone to match the new tone of EPCOT, including being repainted to fit in with the color scheme of World Discovery. The advertisement for Disney Vacation Club also matches the World Discovery aesthetic, as it reads:
“A World to Discover: Imagine if this was just the beginning of years of magical vacations, near and far, with Disney Vacation Club.”
Of greater interest to guests, however, is that the refurbished kiosk features an expanded covered seating area, which will offer a bit of respite from the strong Florida sun. The seats also have charging ports for guests’ convenience.
Trams Returning to EPCOT?
Finally, we spotted something exciting traveling down World Drive the other day…
That’s right, those are Walt Disney World parking trams making their way toward EPCOT! Many of you might remember that the parking trams were not brought back when the parks reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, and they remained gone for a while. At the end of 2021, they returned to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and in May 2022, Animal Kingdom saw them return. But guests visiting Hollywood Studios and EPCOT are still out of luck when it comes to making their way from the parking lot to the front entrance.
Now, however, we have spotted some more trams making their way home. Could it be that EPCOT will see their return soon? With the transformation of EPCOT being almost complete, we would assume that they will return sooner rather than later. And hopefully soon enough to beat this Florida heat!
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Rocks Again!
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster recently reopened after a fairly significant downtime for refurbishment. It closed in February 2023, at which time rumors abounded that the ride may receive an overlay or a new theme, due to some concerns about Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. However, it looks like the downtime was just due to regular maintenance, and the ride reopened with very minimal changes.
It does look good though, so we’ll give it that. We’re glad to see Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster back up and running again, just in time for those summer crowds.
A New & Improved Pixar Place
The newly reimagined Pixar Place also opened recently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Pixar Place used to be home to Toy Story Midway Mania and a Buzz Lightyear & Woody meet and greet, but those all moved over to Toy Story Land when that area of the park opened.
It then became Municiberg from The Incredibles, where guests could meet Edna Mode, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone, but that area of the park has been devoid of any attractions since Hollywood Studios reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the area is back and better than ever, with a fresh coat of paint and numerous Pixar Easter eggs throughout.
Guests are also able to now visit the new Edna Mode Experience. While this is just a way to meet the iconic fashion designer, the queue is well done, as it features hidden Jack-Jacks, as well as past superhero outfits created by Ms. Mode.
It’s super cute! Guests can also meet Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Frozone, and Sulley from Monsters Inc.
Indiana Jones & the Den of Destiny Pop-Up
To celebrate the upcoming release of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a new, limited-time pop-up beverage outpost has opened at Hollywood Studios. The Den of Destiny is located in the old Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost, which closed in March 2020 and never reopened.
While the location was already themed to Indiana Jones, new props from the “Dial of Destiny” film have been added. Notably, you can see Indiana Jones’ iconic fedora and whip, as well as costumes used by Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Some other production stills and movie props are also available for viewing in the queue, and you can even see the Dial of Destiny itself!
The bar offers three unique cocktails.
There is also a covered area with some stand-up tables on the exterior of the bar, so guests can have a place to rest their drinks as they enjoy them.
This limited-time offering is said to run through August 15 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Meet the Live-Action Little Mermaid
Fans of the live-action Little Mermaid have to look no further than Hollywood Studios to see their favorite princess come to life. Ariel from the live-action “The Little Mermaid” has begun meeting at Walt Disney Presents at the park. Guests can now be part of her world as she is showcased in her iconic human dress from the film.
To set her apart from the animated Ariel, the live-action Ariel is denoted as Ariel from the live-action Little Mermaid on the My Disney Experience app.
Disney v. DeSantis Continues
When last we talked about the ongoing saga between Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company, we reported on Disney suing DeSantis (among others) in federal court, with DeSantis counter-suing Disney in Florida state court. Since then, DeSantis’ office filed to remove the assigned federal judge from the case. While Judge Mark Walker stated that DeSantis had no grounds to petition for his removal, he nevertheless recused himself, due to a “third-degree relative with stocks in the company.” Judge Walker — who had previously ruled against a few “DeSantis priorities” in the past — was seen as a favorable judge to The Walt Disney Company. He has since been replaced by Judge Allen Winsor, an appointee under former President Trump who is viewed to be much more conservative than Judge Walker.
As it stands, remaining pre-trial motions are set to conclude in August, at which point the lawsuit will proceed.
As for the state-level case, Disney has moved to dismiss it, and that motion may be discussed at a pre-trial hearing scheduled for July 14.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has since declared his intent to run for the GOP nomination for President of the United States, and The Walt Disney Company has canceled its planned Lake Nona campus, citing “changing business conditions” in Florida as their cause for withdrawing their plans.
It seems this situation is far from over, and we will keep you updated as it continues to unfold.
Discount Theme Park Tickets and Travel
Are you ready to get away? Our travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you make new family memories with discounted theme park tickets, hotels, and vacation packages. Get extra days, big savings, and perks on travel to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, and other theme parks and family travel destinations. Snap up those deals while you still can, with your MiceChat partners at Get Away Today- HERE
(MiceChat works with Get Away Today to provide you with the best theme park travel deals and we may make a small commission on any sales made through our links)
Let’s Hear From You
Phew! With all those construction projects going on around the resort, which are you most looking forward to seeing finished? What do you think of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s theme; is it due for a change? Are you planning a summer visit to WDW? Let us know in the comments below!