While it feels like summer most of the year in Florida, the seasonal decor usually changes overnight and delightfully surprises guests. In the past, it was possible to visit in late October through early November and see Magic Kingdom dressed for Halloween and Christmas on the same trip. Over the last few years, all of the decorations haven’t been put up and the changeover has happened a bit slower than usual. However, with both seasonal parties back in full swing and more and more returning to Walt Disney World Resort, I think we can start to expect the best again. Whether you’re planning your next vacation or hoping to be inspired to book one, we’ve got the Walt Disney World updates to keep you in the know.
The holidays in full swing at Walt Disney World Resort means lots of seasonal magic. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is happening select nights each week at Magic Kingdom. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is serving up savory and sweet bites and lots of entertainment every day. This includes the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers singing holiday favorites once again! There are also little ways to add the spirit of the season to your regular park days like enjoying the Jingle Cruise, the Jungle Cruise holiday layover, on your next trip to the park.
Here on the blog, we aim to keep DVC Members and Disney fans up to date with information that can plus their next magical trip. So what else is going on these days at the most magical place on earth? There’s still a celebratory overlay happening that you can read about in our guide to the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration. Disney has started counting down this occasion, though, as it ends March 31st, 2022. Enjoy these Walt Disney World December 2022 updates and getting caught up on all of the latest. And, if you’re planning one, have a magical trip!
Walt Disney World December 2022 Updates
Continued Reopenings At Walt Disney World Resort
There are still many restaurants, shops, shows, special offerings and more that haven’t returned since Walt Disney World parks and resorts reopened in 2020. We’re happy to include offerings that have not returned in our Disney World updates and also note progress on what’s still missing so you can be informed. For example, Disney proudly announced trams would return in 2022 then quietly removed related information online late in the year. Only Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have trams at this time. Disney also promised character meet and greets would return to normal by this summer. As we’ve entered the holiday season, many are still distanced, drive by or float by style. We’re also keeping you up to date with what is back so you can plan different things you’ve missed into your upcoming trips! It feels great to get to enjoy old favorites with the family again.
Fantasmic! is Back!
This is such huge news! Disney’s Hollywood Studios was missing nighttime entertainment since the 2020 closure. Fantasmic! has returned and much to the delight of park goers. This show features many characters, some pyrotechnics and some pretty catchy music. We’ve been covering this closely for a while but as a reminder, there are new scenes, new lighting and other refurbishments. The Fantasmic show plays nightly in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater off of Sunset Boulevard. Dining packages with reserved seating are back at this point as well. The return of this show brings so much to Hollywood Studios! It has quite a large capacity and often has two nightly showings. Check showtimes during your visit. Then check again because an additional show can be added during peak times.
Toy Story Land Character Meet and Greets are Back and Other Updates!
Woody, Buzz and Jesse have returned to greet guests in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For years now, the trio has only been seen in cavalcades around the park. Now you can wait to get an autograph or have your photo taken with some of Pixar’s finest yet again. The Green Army Drum Corps interactive, musical show also returned recently! The store at the end of Toy Story Midway Mania , Jessie’s Trading Post, was also recently refurbished into a permanent and themed store. There is also an additional restaurant under construction. The last update Disney gave on the Roundup Rodeo Barbecue restaurant had it opening in 2022. That no longer seems to be an accurate opening time frame. Hopefully early 2023 will bring us another dining option in Andy’s backyard.
A Galaxy’s Edge Show Returns
Trouble is brewing in a certain corner of Batuu again. On your next visit, watch out for Kylo Ren and the First Order. You may find them near where the large ship next to the milk stand is. This show typically happens randomly throughout the day and isn’t found in the My Disney Experience App or on a schedule. With so much back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit on your next trip.
Takumi-Tei Reopening in the Japan Pavilion
This new sit down restaurant opened only for a short time in 2019. Guests can now enjoy the upscale menu at Takumi-Tei in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot during its phased reopening. As of November 2023, Takumi-Tei is not offering reservations but will serve guests that walk in based on availability. The fixed menu starts at $150 per guest.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Week Parade and Fireworks
December 23rd through the 31st, guests at Magic Kingdom can see the special Christmas parade and fireworks during regular operating hours. Usually you would have to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to enjoy these festive additions. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will be at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day. It starts in Frontierland and makes its way to Main Street, U.S.A. both times. Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks are at 8:15 p.m. during this time period.
There will be no Festival of Fantasy or Enchantment on these dates. The Christmas parade and fireworks replace them. They are a real treat and you’ll probably love them both. At this point in the year, there are no more Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party events. Traditionally, it’s the busiest week of the year at Disney World theme parks. This will add some holiday cheer to your visit!
Disney CEO Bob Chapek Fired, Bob Iger Returns to the Role
It’s been a long few years for cast members and Disney Parks fans alike. Each month we cover how Disney is recovering right here in our monthly Disney World updates. If you’ve been paying close attention like me, I’m sure you’ve also noticed things have seemed off. It’s difficult to say what exactly is a direct result of Bob Chapek’s leadership as Chief Executive Officer of the company. It’s clear, however, his overall handling of The Walt Disney Company since his takeover in March of 2020 has been questionable and frustrating for many.
Things reached the point of no return for the Disney board in late November. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Disney announced Bob Chapek was fired and former CEO Bob Iger was back effective immediately. This news came as a shock to many. Even though we’ve seen Disney struggle a few different ways for years now, it still felt sudden.
For an in depth look at the detailed course of action over the last few years that lead up to this, see our full post on the subject, Bob Iger Returns to Disney, Bob Chapek Out as CEO.
Disney Vacation Club Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser 2023 Discount
It’s something many Disney fans have wondered about. Will there be discounts for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? This one of a kind hotel, dining and storytelling experience debuted in 2022. While it’s quite the intriguing adventure, it’s also out of this world expensive. Prices for two guests start at over $5,000 per two night stay. Because of the way the rooms work, there isn’t really a way to double up with family or friends to make it more cost effective. No matter how you do the math, it’s just a lot of money.
Disney is running a 30% off special for eligible Disney Vacation Club Members. Unfortunately, DVC Members must be eligible for all Membership Extras in order to qualify for this offer. That means resale DVC owners can not partake. The discount is off of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser point chart values. That’s significant and could open this up for some people who may not have been interested before due to the price. Or, if you’ve been and love it, this could be an offer to take advantage of.
If you didn’t pay attention when the Starcruiser launched, perhaps because the price made it unappealing, here are some things you need to know. The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is located near the parking lot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It includes some meals and a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge through a special access point. It is not a regular hotel.
The real draw is the immersive cast of characters. On the Starcruiser, guests have their own stories to live out. Throughout your stay, you’ll encounter and interact with different people from the Star Wars universe. Some familiar from the films, some brand new. Some characters can only be met there. It’s supposed to be like you’re living in Star Wars. The concept is exactly the kind of innovation we all expect from Disney.
Will DVC discounts be a regular thing? Can we expect other discounts in the future like those for annual pass holders or Chase Visa card holders? If this experience continues to be under booked, I think we can expect more discounts and for everyone mentioned here. So far, all we know is this is a limited time offer for the following dates:
January 11 – 13, 2023
January 17 – 19, 2023
January 19 – 21, 2023
January 21 – 23, 2023
January 25 – 27, 2023
January 31 – February 2, 2023
February 12 – 14, 2023
February 28 – March 2, 2023
March 2 – 4, 2023
Let’s take a look at some of the small print from Disney Vacation Club:
- Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser reservations must be made prior to the last 4 months of your Use Year for trips during that Use Year.
- A non-refundable $95 transaction fee applies per confirmed Disney Collection reservation. If payment is not received at the time of confirmation, Disney Vacation Club reserves the right to cancel the reservation.
- Modifying the number of passengers in a Star Wars : Galactic Starcruiser experience may result in an increase in per person pricing and the traveling party will be required to pay any increases at the time of modification.
- Reservation changes made less than 90 days prior to arrival are considered a cancel and rebook, subject to cancellation policies. If any changes made less than 90 days prior to arrival result in a lower cost for the reservation, a non-refundable penalty fee of $350 or 43 Reservation Points is due at the time of confirmation.
- Points must be used to pay for at least one Member; a combination of Points or cash may be used to book additional Guests. Cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts, is not transferable or redeemable for cash, and may be modified or withdrawn without prior notice.
- Offer is only available for standard cabins and not valid for suite accommodations.
See more official information on the Disney Vacation Club Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser page.
Disney World Tickets and Annual Passes Increase in Price
Getting into Disney Parks has been very different over the last few years. There was the introduction of the Park Pass Reservation system. This helped lower the park attendance when it was necessary for health reasons. Disney allowed more guests into the park over time but still continues to limit attendance with a manufactured capacity. With annual pass sales and Disney Vacation Club annual pass discounts in limbo, it’s hard to keep up. What hasn’t changed is the rising prices. Disney ticket prices have gone up considerably over the last decade or so. The rate hikes have far outpaced inflation. Disney shared in November that annual pass and ticket prices will go up and have some structural changes as well.
Disney World Annual Passes Go Up in Price
First, let’s go over annual passes and the associated price changes. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, it’s likely you have one, have had one or are considering getting an annual pass. You may remember the restructuring of blockout dates and addition of new pass names a few years ago. Those names are still used today.
The Disney Incredi Pass is going up $100 from $1299 to $1399.
The Disney Sorcerer Pass is going up $70 from $899 to $969.
The Disney Pirate Pass is going up $50 from $699 to $749.
The Disney Pixie Dust Pass will remain unchanged at $399.
More to Know about Disney World Annual Passes
The Disney website says, “New sales of select Annual Passes are currently paused.” For some time now, only the Disney Pixie Dust Pass has been available for purchase. This is the lowest in price with the most blockout dates and an option only for Florida residents. Though the new prices have been shared, Disney has not announced when sales of the other annual passes will resume. Renewals have been operating as normal. Typically in the past, pass holders renewing would be given a 15% discount. Guessing here, but renewals will probably pay the updated price with the standard discount.
Remember Disney PhotoPass Downloads are now an additional $99 per pass plus tax. The water park option is also an additional $99 per year plus tax. Another change that affects annual pass holders is the inability to upgrade throughout the year. In the past, you could buy a pass then change your mind at any time and pay the prorated price to get a higher tier pass. This was especially helpful if your plans changed and you needed access to the parks on a day that was blocked out. Since the reintroduction of annual passes, you must purchase an annual pass and stick with it for the whole year. Guests are unable to upgrade during the year of their pass but must wait until it is expiring to do the switch. I think it would serve Disney and their guests to allow more flexibility in this way again.
Disney Ticket Price Hikes and Changes
On December 8th, prices for regular Walt Disney World park tickets will go up but also change in structure. Disney moved to a dynamic pricing schedule a few years ago. This means prices are higher when the parks are said to be in higher demand. Think of the busiest times like Christmas week and spring break versus slow times like the week after Labor Day. The latest update in pricing includes different ranges for each park.
For one day, one park tickets, Animal Kingdom tickets cost from $109 to $159. These prices do not reflect an increase. At Hollywood Studios tickets cost from $124 to $179. EPCOT tickets range from $114 to $179. Magic Kingdom comes in the highest at $124 to $189. Also starting December 8th, if you purchase a one park, one day ticket you will automatically have a park pass reservation made for you.
Guests still need to make park pass reservations for multi day and park hopper tickets. Along with these new prices, the park hopper add on will vary in price dependent upon the day of the visit. Multi day tickets are expected to go up in price as well.
More Flexibility with Dining Reservations
There’s been an update to the My Disney Experience App that allows you to cancel dining reservations more easily. The app has made vacation planning simpler in some ways. The ability to book advance dining reservations in the app, look through menus and mobile order food has really added to the experience. There have been different terms to cancelling over the years, though. At one point, guests had to call to cancel day of reservations. Wait times on the phone lines for Disney have been unpredictable for the last few years.
Now, the My Disney Experience App will allow you to cancel a dining reservation if it’s more than two hours away. Within the two hours, guests who try to cancel in the app will receive a prompt that they need to call in order to do so. If you’re familiar with how dining reservations work you know there’s a no show charge of ten dollars per person on the reservation. If your family of four decides to eat somewhere else and no one cancels the reservation, that could be $40 lost. Note that you can also modify a reservation in the app and change the day or time based on what’s available. Pro tip: You can score some excellent reservations by checking the night before or the day of. Try searching for two hours out to see what you can find after other guests have cancelled.
Refurbishment Schedule and Disney World Updates
In September, The American Adventure attraction at Epcot closed for refurbishment. It is now listed as open on December 17th on the Disney World calendar. Additionally, the train at Magic Kingdom is still down with no reopening date at this time as it has been for years. However, the track appears to make, or nearly make, a full circle around the park again. We could be close, folks! Disney is usually pretty reasonable about having minimal refurbishments during busy seasons. I wouldn’t expect too much else to be closed through the end of the year. To see refurbishments at the time of your visit, see Disney World calendars, look at the bottom of each park and click on Closed for Refurbishment. This is an excellent way to keep up with additional Walt Disney World updates, closures and openings.
DVC Resale Experts Makes Magic
DVC Resale Experts is a licensed real estate broker with a team specializing in resale DVC. It’s possible to save thousands buying resale when compared to buying directly from Disney Vacation Club. Whether you’re becoming a Member through resale, adding on points or selling DVC, the Experts can help. Our licensed real estate agents are former Disney Vacation Club Guides with decades of experience selling DVC contracts. You can expect pixie dusted service and helpful insight from our team throughout the process. Take a look at resale DVC listings for current pricing and availability. If you don’t see the right contract for you, join the DVC Resale Experts Buyer Wish List to be contacted when it magically appears on the market. We’ll be back next month with more Disney World updates and news!