MickeyBlog News for October 4th, 2021
The most eventful week at Walt Disney World in a half-century has come to a close.
Let’s look back at one of the craziest news cycles ever. After all, you probably missed some stuff due to the sheer volume of blockbuster announcements.
Don’t worry, though! That’s why you have MickeyBlog News!
Walt Disney World Turns 50
Tens of thousands of guests will always happily answer a question.
When someone says, “Where were you on October 1st, 2021,” some will blurt out, “Walt Disney World!”
Sure, that statement applies to every day, but October 1st was special. It was the 50th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World.
On a relatively uneventful day 50 years ago, thousands of cast members prepared for crowds that never arrived.
Estimates suggest only 10,000 appeared then. For the same date in 2021, the number was…larger.
In fact, at one point, Park Hopping to Magic Kingdom was unavailable, which may have been a first for the year.
Guests wanted to walk down Main Street, U.S.A. to experience what people had the same day 50 years ago.
MickeyBlog even captured some photos of Disney’s big bosses!
Of course, guests visiting on October 1st didn’t just hang out at Magic Kingdom. EPCOT had stuff going on as well…
Walt Disney World hadn’t opened a new ride since the start of the pandemic.
Instead, park officials relied on two others that were still relatively new, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
However, Disney wanted to pull out all the stops So, EPCOT received its first new ride since Frozen Ever After in 2016.
Yes, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is now available at EPCOT! The attraction debuted to immediate acclaim.
As expected, Disney has implemented virtual queueing for Ratatouille. Alas, Boarding Groups booked within a minute at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Those are the only two booking windows each day. So, people only had seconds to get in the digital line for a day one trip to Remy’s kitchen.
On that front, I have a happy update. Ratatouille churned through more than 190 Boarding Groups on day one.
That would qualify as better than anything Rise of the Resistance could manage during its first year.
So, I like your chances of riding Ratatouille during your next visit…and that’s before we factor in Lightning Lane.
EPCOT Brings Back Some Shows
While everyone understands why EPCOT did what it did, the sad truth is that the park has felt a bit empty since reopening.
Disney laid off many performers when it laid off 32,000 workers. Many of them participated in shows at EPCOT’s World Showcase.
Thankfully, EPCOT made things right on October 1st. Three different performances returned at the park.
Guests at the Canada pavilion got to watch their favorite folk band play once again. Yes, Alberta Bound has returned to the Mill Stage for daily shows!
Similarly, Master Juggler Sergio is once again holding court at the Italy pavilion.
My understanding is that it’s a new Sergio, though. The other one apparently suffered a serious injury.
Disney still lists daily showtimes for “Sergio.”. They’ve posted signs at the pavilion, too. So, somebody is there.
Personally, the update I find most exciting has occurred at the Japan pavilion. The Matsuriza Taiko Drummers have returned!
Guests can once again dance to the beat for the first time since March of 2020!
Also, while this didn’t happen at EPCOT, another performance has returned. Once again, a pianist is playing at Casey’s Corner!
The most recent musician, Jim Omohundro, retired after a storied career. So, Disney lured formerly retired Randy Morris back.
Morris played some of the songs that he had performed when Magic Kingdom opened in 1971! How cool is that?!
We Have Three New Park Presentations
During a typical week, any of the three things I’m about to mention would be THE story. I’d spent half the article writing about it.
Alas, I don’t want to overwhelm you. So, we’ll quickly cover the three new presentations and one mini-show at Walt Disney World.
The biggie is Harmonious, the long-awaited replacement for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
We should have gotten this one a year ago, but Coronavirus kicked those plans in the crotch.
Now, we can finally watch this brilliant, colorful show on World Showcase Lagoon. And it’s breathtaking.
Magic Kingdom also got its own show, Disney Enchantment. This performance replaces the surprisingly short-lived Happily Ever After.
Unlike that show, Disney Enchantment extends its digital projections to Main Street, U.S.A. You can watch the entire show here:
Disney KiteTails is the third presentation. It’s a show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that cast members perform several times daily.
This one’s debut wasn’t smooth, as it’s already suffered one jet ski incident so far and had to cancel Saturday’s performances.
Still, the show is gorgeous:
Disney actually offers at least two of them, Jungle Book and The Lion King. They look great, but it’s also just, you know, kites…
For my money, the more impressive trick is the new installation at Spaceship Earth. Please check out the Beacons of Magic:
That’s legitimately one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s perfect for EPCOT, too.
Disney Updates Some Projects
Disney also provided new information about two other exciting projects. Unfortunately, one of the updates lacked some specificity, but it’s still good news.
Park officials have doubled down on the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will debut in 2022.
In addition, the former Universe of Energy pavilion is now officially the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. In fact, that’s part of a broader change at EPCOT.
The Future World of last week is no more. EPCOT has switched to four Neighborhoods instead of two distinct themed lands.
The three new Neighborhoods are World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature. They join World Showcase, which is the fourth.
The more precise update involves Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The thrilling new Star Wars Hotel will open to the public on March 1st.
Folks, this is not a drill! Bookings will begin for everyone on October 28th, which is less than four weeks from now.
However, some groups will get a head start. Disney Vacation Club members and annual passholders will have the first crack.
Their booking window opens on October 7th through October 9th. However, Disney will only accept reservations from March 1st through May 4th.
Disney has also indicated that Disney Rewards Visa cardholders will have a shot, too.
I’m in all three groups (I REALLY love Disney), but I haven’t received documentation for the Rewards Visa window yet.
MagicBand+ Is Coming
Finally, the surprise story this week is, well, don’t call it a comeback.
After a year of hints that MagicBand was on the way out, Disney just went a different way entirely.
Instead, the company has announced a new generation of wearables called MagicBand+.
Think of them the same as later generation Fitbits and Apple Watches. The first batch was rudimentary, while the new ones are capable of so much more.
That statement applies to MagicBand+ as well. These devices will change colors, allowing them to interact with various nighttime presentations.
You may not need glow-in-the-dark gear to shine at night at Walt Disney World!
Also, the devices will vibrate just like videogame controllers. This ability will enhance various interactions across the parks.
Thus far, Disney has confirmed that you can use the MagicBand+ devices at Fab 50 statues. Also, they’ll have some unique uses at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Apparently, quests and bounties will be available for people who spring for the MagicBand+ wearables…and no, these aren’t going to be free.
PS: Steakhouse 71 opened on Friday, too. Here’s MickeyBlog’s opening day breakfast experience.