Summer is always an exciting, and busy, time at Walt Disney World as many vacationers return for annual trips. This year, the hottest season brings the opening of a new blockbuster attraction! As we shared in a recent update, previews are currently happening and the official opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot is May 27th! While there doesn’t seem to be an additional resort wide themed summer overlay as we’ve seen in the past, there is an extra shimmer over Walt Disney World Resort at the moment. See our guide to the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration for all the details! Enjoy these Walt Disney World May 2022 updates.
Walt Disney World May 2022 Updates
More Reopenings at Walt Disney World Resort
Character Meet and Greets are Back
As of late April, guests are now able to have up close meet and greets with characters again. This change has already been implemented in a few locations like Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park where guests can once again hug Mickey Mouse. As the weeks roll by you can plan on seeing more character interaction spots open or return to pre-pandemic era experiences. Note that Disney has shared the change will take time. From the Disney Parks Blog: ‘While not all locations will be available immediately, we anticipate reopening in phases throughout the spring and early summer.’ Staying open to exploring and accepting all character locations may not be open or ready for hugs right away is a good expectation to set, especially for the little travelers in your party. This change does include character dining! Disney Food Blog has a list of back to normal character dining restaurants in Walt Disney World including which are open with characters, open without characters and still completely closed. Miss you, 1900 Park Fare!
This is also good news for Disney shows. Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage has begun reflecting changes in staging that’s closer to normal as well. Since reopening, the show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been modified with a much smaller cast and social distancing between performers. Now, characters are interacting closely in the show again. Hopefully we’ll see the cast return to it’s pre-pandemic size next! Some of the best costumes aren’t part of the show right now and it would be lovely to see it all back to normal.
Positive News for Restaffing Walt Disney World
There’s no doubt the massive layoffs made by Disney, said to be around 32,000 Cast Members as of late 2020, hindered the rebound of the parks. The layoffs and inability to operate additional staffing programs, such as internships, have been felt during the trip planning process with long phone waits and in the parks with many shops, restaurants and entertainment offerings closed. As of the spring of 2022, things have started to iron out! Walt Disney World Resort continues to hold regular job fairs. The return of the Disney College Program has had a positive impact on the guest experience and it’s about to get even better. Earlier this year we learned that the Cultural Representative Program will return this August. It’s been confirmed the Cultural Exchange Program will also return this summer. While these programs are similar in theory, the Exchange program gives more flexibility in where participants can work at Walt Disney World Resort. The Representative program differs in that it stands to staff regionally themed areas authentically, like the countries of World Showcase or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, with people from that region who have genuine knowledge of it. Bringing back all three of these internship style programs will continue to improve upon the quality of vacations as more parts of the parks and resorts become operational. I’ve had so many memorable experiences with cast members participating in these programs over the years and look forward to experiencing their special magic again.
Reimagined Top of the World Lounge Opening ‘Soon’
Disney Vacation Club sent an email to Members stating a ‘reimagined’ Top of the World Lounge will be reopening soon for Members and their guests. The adjacent Disney’s Contemporary Resort recently underwent a large refurbishment. This included the lobby being redone with inspiration from Disney history and beloved artist and Imagineer, Mary Blair. The Wave restaurant in the lobby was replaced with the new Steakhouse 71 restaurant which was completely refurbished inside and offers a new menu. The guest rooms in the Contemporary building, not including DVC accommodations at Bay Lake, were all updated and now include a style of decor celebrating The Incredibles. The main pool at the Contemporary will also close for refurbishment in January of 2023. With all of these changes, it will be interesting to see what updates we’ll see at Top of the World Lounge! Members who purchase DVC resale have had access to this exclusive space that has incredible views of Magic Kingdom, Florida sunsets and nightly fireworks in the past. We’ll keep up you updated in the event that changes.
New EPCOT Restaurant and Starbucks Location
The new EPCOT restaurant and Starbucks location, Connections Cafe and Connections Eatery, officially opened April 27th. This caffeination station and quick service spot is located somewhat toward the park’s main entrance and Spaceship Earth across from the newly remodeled main merchandise store, now called Creations Shop. This menu offers the typical theme park, fast and casual fare of sandwiches, salads and pizzas. The other Starbucks location near the entrance of World Showcase on the Canada side was temporary and closed in April.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns!
We’re only nearing summer but Disney celebrated the halfway to Halloween mark by making some announcements about the upcoming spooky season. Remember Disney starts quite early and Halloween fun typically starts to commence mid August each year. The Disney Parks Blog shared that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns to Walt Disney World Resort This Fall. This beloved special ticketed event was last offered in 2019. Disney made sure to include lots of details about what’s returning. From what’s been shared it seems the event will return in its entirety. This is a big win for Disney fans after years of navigating temporarily unavailable offerings due to the pandemic. Expect Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, trick or treating, special Halloween fireworks, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show featuring the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus among other spooktacular fun.
Themed attraction overlays will also return to Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2022. In the past, Space Mountain and Mad Tea Party received special lighting effects, or should I say lack of lighting for the extra dark Space Mountain. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor joined the Halloween fun with a seasonal show guests could sit and experience or walk through for some laughs as they trick or treated in the building. Pirates of the Caribbean had real live pirates throughout the attraction, some close enough for guests to interact with! New this year are reusable trick or treat bags, a Halloween themed 50th Anniversary celebration commemorative print and step in photo opportunities.
Prices have gone up for Not-So-Scary this year. When the event was last offered in 2019, prices were somewhere around the $85-$149 range for adults. In 2022, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party prices start at $109-$199 depending on the date.
Of course there will be special treats throughout the park and merchandise to celebrate the season of candy and the Disney event itself! Tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party go on sale May 12th for hotel guests and May 18th for everyone else. This year’s event dates:
August 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30
September 2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Refurbishments Continue
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been undergoing major refurbishments for sometime. Late 2019, the lobby debuted Enchanted Rose Lounge, the new bar and lounge on the second floor of the lobby. Citricos reopened with a new Mary Poppins Returns theme and then came the current room refresh.
Narcoosee’s Closed For Refurbishment
Narcoossee’s, the popular seafood and steak restaurant with firework views at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, has closed for a refurbishment. From the Disney World website: ‘Beginning June 18, 2022, Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will be unavailable due to refurbishment. However, reservations at Narcoossee’s will be available through June 17, 2022. We expect to return later this year with an enhanced table-service experience.’ This is all we know in terms of what to expect. Narcoossee’s has always been popular due to its prime location on the Seven Seas Lagoon and excellent food. In past visits I did experience one design flaw that may have hindered some guests’ enjoyment. This venue has an outdoor firework viewing deck. There is a door right next to it to get to the space but it was not able to be used for that purpose because of the buggy surroundings. Being placed with lights on the otherwise dark waters drew quite a bit of Florida’s uninvited nature to the area. Guests were asked to use the front entrance and go all the way around the building to enter the covered fireworks viewing patio instead. This restaurant is otherwise practically perfect like the rest of the resort so we’ll see if this is part of the enhancements or something totally new.
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