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You’ll Want to Know This If You Are Headed to Walt Disney World Soon

There can be a lot to learn when heading to Walt Disney World.  If you are taking a magical vacation soon, we have some information that you will want to know.  We hope this will help you to be more prepared and ready for an amazing trip.

Credit: Tricia Kennedy

50th Anniversary Celebration

If you are traveling to Walt Disney World during the next 17 months, you will want to make sure you know what 50th Anniversary celebration experiences are available.

Right now the big celebrations are Disney Enchantment, a new firework show in Magic Kingdom, and Harmonious, the new nighttime spectacular in EPCOT.  Both of these new shows bring fireworks, projections, and moving music together to create an amazing experience.

Disney KiteTails

In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, take time to see the new KiteTales show.  This show uses larger than life kites featuring favorite characters from either ‘The Lion King’ or ‘The Jungle Book’.  This is a fun show that is a great option for a midday break in the Park.

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Beacons of Magic is another new experience that came with the 50th anniversary celebration.  This is seen in all four Theme Parks.  Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life, and Tower of Terror are lit up with new, magical lights that bring them to life in a unique, special way.  These shows happen throughout the night around every 15 minutes so take time to check them out.

Credit: Paula K

As you travel around the Theme Parks, make sure you look for the Fab 50 Character Collection.  These are the 50 golden statues that are scattered around the four Theme Parks.  They are fun to look for while visiting the Parks.  Take selfies to keep track of which ones you have seen.

Make sure you stay up to date with all the 50th Anniversary Celebration in the next 17 months so you don’t miss anything during your trip.

New Dining

If you are headed to Walt Disney World soon, check out some of the new dining options that have opened recently.

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Newly opened in Disney’s Contemporary is Steakhouse 71.  This dining location brings the history of Disney World forward with amazing photos of the Resort as it started.  The food here is fantastic and we highly recommend trying to book any meal here as they are all great.  Try the Steakhouse 71 pancakes for breakfast; at dinner there are numerous cuts of steak to choose from. For dessert order the 15 layer cake, named for the 15 levels of the Contemporary Resort.

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In EPCOT, there are two new dining locations to choose from when you visit.  Space220 just opened featuring an amazing dining experience where Guests board a space elevator and then dine in the space station with a prix-fixe menu for lunch and dinner.  Guests of all ages will enjoy the experience at Space220.

Back in France, Guests can enjoy crepes at the new Le Crêperie de Paris.  There is both quick service and table service, depending on which you prefer.  Both sweet and savory crepes are offered, giving you lots of choices.

For a high-end dining experience, California Grill is offering a new 50th Anniversary Celebration Menu.  This menu is a 3-course experience where Guests are given one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert.  Along with their meal, Guests have a unique viewing of Disney Enchantment.  This is a great choice if you are looking for something special to add to your vacation.

All Things Genie

If you are visiting soon you will want to be well aware of all things Genie.  Disney Genie has a variety of pieces that you will want to make sure you understand prior to heading to the Parks.

Disney Genie:  This is a free planning tool that is located within My Disney Experience.  It provides Guests with a suggested plan for the day along with tips and tricks while in the Park.  Anyone can use these features while visiting the Theme Parks.

Genie+:  Genie+ is a paid option that Guests can choose to purchase for $15/person/day.  Guests can add it to their vacation package ahead of time or buy it day by day.   Genie+ gives Guests who purchase it access to the Lightning Lanes for around 40 attractions spread out over the four Theme Parks.

Lightning Lane provides Guests the ability to skip the standby line, therefore limiting Wait Times.  If you are visiting soon, you will want to dive into this feature so you can determine if it will be something you will want to use.

Individual Lightning Lane:  At each of the four Theme Parks, there are two rides that are not included with Genie+.  They are Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Rise of the Resistance, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

In order to use the Lightning Lanes for these rides, Guests need to purchase them individually.  The price ranges from $7 to $15/person/ride with the price depending on the time of the year and Park crowds.

If you are heading to Walt Disney World, it is important to be aware of these new offerings and determine if they are something that your family should take advantage of while visiting.

Credit: Tricia Kennedy

What Isn’t Available

Although most of the magic is back, there are some experiences that aren’t 100% back to normal in Walt Disney World.  Make sure you are aware of these prior to your vacation so you aren’t surprised when you arrive.

The Disney Dining Plan has yet to return.  This plan allowed Guests to prepay for their meals but we haven’t seen it since the Parks have reopened.  We aren’t sure when it will be back, so know that everything is pay as you go right now.

Slowly characters are coming back for indoor character sightings, but know that they are different from traditional meet and greets.  No hugs or autographs are allowed as the characters remain distanced.  Make sure your little ones are aware of this so they aren’t disappointed that they can’t fill their autograph books.

Christmas Is Here

The Parks are ready for the holidays as are many of the Resorts.  Christmas came quickly to Disney World as the Parks transformed to the holidays with decorations, snacks, and entertainment.

You will want to know ahead of time what snacks are available for the holiday season so you won’t miss out.  Each Park, Resort, and Disney Springs have fun, holiday theme treats, so take advantage.

The Very Merriest After Hours event is happening on select nights in Magic Kingdom.  If you are visiting soon, keep in mind that the Park might get busier prior to the event and closes early as well.  Remember this as well when you are making Park reservations.  Also, think about attending.  A holiday parade, fireworks, and stage show are all back at the Magic Kingdom.

We hope that this information will help you to be better prepared if you are heading to Walt Disney World. Be ready for a magical experience.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.