Spring is here and with the new season comes more magic to enjoy. The 50th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World has come to an end. The Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom at Epcot and a few new restaurants are preparing to reopen or debut at Walt Disney World Resort. Earth Day brings Animal Kingdom to life in new ways and the nighttime spectacular scene is totally changing this month.
With continued reopenings, regular refurbishments and new rides and restaurants, there’s so much more to know! We’ve got it all for you here each month. Whether you’re planning your next vacation or hoping to be inspired to book one, we hope this Walt Disney World news and updates roundup helps to keep you in the know. Here on the blog, we aim to keep DVC Members and Disney fans up to date with information that can enhance their next Disney World vacation. So what else is going on these days at the most magical place on earth? The following is a list of Walt Disney World news and updates April 2023 brings including recent announcements. If you’re planning one, have a magical trip!
A special note for all Disney Vacation Club Members who have a September use year. This is your reminder to bank points by April 30th! For more information see: What Does Disney Vacation Club Use Year Mean?
Walt Disney World News April 2023
Disney Dates to Remember
Here we have some dates related to Disney World news and updates. We may have covered some in the past but you’ll probably want to keep these in mind as they approach.
March 1st | Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (through July 5th)
March 23rd | Roundup Rodeo BBQ opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studio
April 1st | Narcoossee’s reopens at the Grand Floridian after refurbishment
April 2nd | The last day to see Enchantment and Harmonious
April 3rd | Happily Ever After and Epcot Forever Return
April 4th | TRON Lightcycle / Run opens to all guests at Magic Kingdom via virtual queue
April 18th | Annual Passholders can enter the parks after 2:00 p.m. with no reservations (Just not Magic Kingdom on the weekends)
April 22nd | Disney’s Animal Kingdom 25th anniversary
Park and Resort Wide Overlays
The 50th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World has now come to an end. It fizzled out, actually, as offerings and decorations specific to the anniversary were taken down early, weeks before the official end on March 31st. Window displays and merchandise for the Disney 100 year anniversary celebration have been popping up around parks and resorts. The big addition celebrating the anniversary at Disney World is the new nighttime spectacular coming to Epcot later this year.
In the past, Disney World would kick off summer early in May with a resort wide themed overlay. This meant special entertainment, treats, characters and merchandise and sometimes coincided with a new attraction opening. These special offerings were usually themed to the newest or most popular movie at the time. Frozen and The Incredibles were examples of this in the past. Before that, one summer celebrated the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade and more in the Summer Nighttastic! promotion. As of April, no special summer celebrations have been announced for 2023.
Continued Reopenings At Walt Disney World Resort
We’ve been covering reopenings in depth for a long time now. When Disney originally opened after the 2020 closure, people were just happy to walk down Main Street U.S.A. again and see the castle. Now, as three years have passed and many parts of the experience have still not returned to normal, it’s good to know what to expect on your visit. Things do continue to improve, though very slowly at points. We’re staying hopeful and expect Disney Parks to offer the full experience again at some point.
If you’re driving on your trip, you’ll want to know up front that trams still haven’t returned to all of the parks. The Disney Dining Plan hasn’t returned yet either. Some DVC related things that still have not reopened, and have not even been mentioned in quite some time, are restaurants like 1900 Park Fare and the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian. We know there are big refurbishments going on at the Grand overall. The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage has not returned to Disney’s Contemporary Resort either. All of the spas and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques have yet to open and convenient services like having your purchases delivered to the front of the park or directly your room are still paused. These specifically directly affect Disney Vacation Club Members and we want to keep you up to date.
Character Dining is Back at Cinderella’s Royal Table
If you’ve been waiting to book a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, now is your time to shine. This restaurant inside the castle has returned to offer the full experience. While Cinderella’s Royal Table has been open again for quite some time, it was not a full character dining experience until now. Guests can expect to meet Cinderella and other princesses that will roam and visit each table during the meal. The other princess dining location, Akershus, is also open again in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion as of late 2022. More on that below.
Chef Mickey’s Buffet is Back
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort recently returned to a buffet style service. As Disney World continues to transition out of the pandemic era changes, this is a big win. Chef Mickey’s is one of the most popular character dining offerings at the vacation destination. Breakfast is offered from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The characters you’ll encounter on your visit include the fab five in culinary attire. That might include Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto. This is especially exciting for Disney Vacation Club Members who call Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort home.
Akershus Returns to Full Restaurant Offerings
Starting May 14th, guests can enjoy breakfast and lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
again. If you’re wondering how to say the name of this restaurant, it kind of rhymes with wocka, like Fozzie bear says, and goose. This popular princess dining spot is near Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. As for reservations, Disney says “Please check back soon to learn about booking reservations.” However, by the time you’re reading this, reservations may be available in the My Disney Experience app and online. Dinner with the princesses, like Belle and Snow White, returned when the restaurant finally reopened in November of 2022. Reservations for dinner are currently open. It will be nice to have the full experience back for those looking for a range of character meals on their trip.
its a small world Now Looks More Like The Real World
On your next boat ride around its a small world, you may notice something new. A doll using a wheelchair has been added to the Fantasyland classic. This shapes this attraction to look more like our world in real life, showcasing and celebrating differences. A doll using a wheelchair was added to Disneyland in late 2022. Disney continues to represent more of its visitors thanks to the inclusion initiative that began within the company in the last few years.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Debuts New Characters
Fans of festivals at Epcot know they can expect fun, food and flowers at this spring time celebration. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival also brings a new line up of character topiaries that your family will love. This year, the Madrigal family graces the front of the park as soon as you walk in through the main turnstiles. Disney Horticulture worked with Disney Animation for a year to bring these floral characters to life. There is also an Encanto themed light show on Spaceship Earth that debuted for the festival. You can now see Princess Tiana as a topiary in her splendid gown in the America pavilion. The character topiaries have really gotten so detailed over the years!
The Mandalorian and Grogu Now Appear in Galaxy’s Edge
Since the debut of the land in 2019, many guests have remarked on the shortage of entertainment in Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As of the debut of the third season of the show, those visiting Batuu at Disney World can now see The Mandalorian and Grogu making the rounds and visiting with guests. There is no official meet and greet with the pair and no set times shared but you may see them wandering around the marketplace.
Space Mountain Gift Shop Rethemed and Renamed
The store at the exit of Space Mountain has been closed for a long time now for refurbishment. As anticipated, this retail location will reopen as a gift shop for both Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle/Run. The Tron building doesn’t have a gift shop at the exit. There is just a small food kiosk that serves themed, small bites near the attraction. For merchandise, which there is a variety of, guests can head to this refurbished store which is now called Tomorrowland Launch Depot. See what kind of TRON merchandise you can expect at opening here on the Disney Parks Blog.
Mirabel Meet and Greet is Coming to Magic Kingdom Fall 2023
Mirabel from Disney’s Encanto will be meeting and greeting guests at Magic Kingdom starting late 2023. We don’t have an exact date yet but we do have a spot for her. The Fairytale Garden at Magic Kingdom, which currently hosts the Merida meet and greet, will transform for Mirabel. Decorations inspired by la Familia Madrigal will be added to the space. This is sure to be a hit with the little ones as Encanto has been wildly popular since its 2021 debut. As of now it seems Merida will continue to meet in the spot until it closes to be transformed. Merida’s meeting times are around 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and we can probably expect the same for Mirabel. There is no Lightning Lane in this location at this point. It will be interesting to see how the line is managed!
Corkcicle Retail Spot Coming to Disney Springs
The first ever Corkcicle retail location is coming to Disney Springs later this spring. The popular drink ware brand has a growing Disney partnership that has graced us with some beauties. The kiosk is sure to have pixie dusted cups, water bottles and more.
Disney Vacation Club & Annual Passholder Starcruiser Discounts
The first Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Member Voyage is now sold out. Wait list availability has also been closed. This gave DVC owners the chance to save 30% on the special voyage from August 19 to 21, 2023. Unfortunately, this is considered a Membership Extra and only available for owners who qualify. That doesn’t include Members who have purchased resale only. Note: Points are usually best spent on rooms when it comes to value. There is also an annual passholder discount on Starcruiser voyages for many more select dates. This is also good for 30% off, making the price more affordable.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Headed for Milestone
A construction milestone is nearing for the transformation of the former Splash Mountain attraction. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will soon have its outdoor water tower placed. The theming element displays the name of the princess’ business Tiana’s Foods. It also states the establishment is employee owned. It’s topped with her iconic tiara, giving it a little royal detail. This is all part of the story of the attraction that is slated to open next year.
Epcot Transformation Nearing Completion
This year we have a few new things coming to Epcot. No specific timeline has been shared other than 2023 but much of Epcot has been under construction for years. The park will soon be finished with its long term transformation. In the front of the park, Moana will soon welcome guests to learn about the lifecycle of water in a walk through exhibit. Nearby at CommuniCore Hall in World Celebration, Mickey and some of his best pals will meet and greet guests.
Nothing has been shared about other seemingly cancelled or paused projects that were announced along with these including the Mary Poppins attraction, the Play pavilion and the festival space behind Spaceship Earth.
Genie+ Sells Out Regularly at Disney World
We first saw Disney Genie+ sell out during President’s Day weekend this year. Disney has been honest about testing and adjusting the product to increase guest satisfaction. One of the variables introduced was stopping sales of the paid Fast Pass program once it reached a certain point for the day. Disney Genie+ does sell out regularly during busy times now. In order to use this service, you’ll need to purchase it in the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit starting at midnight. You can then make one selection at a time starting at 7:00 a.m. the same day. The spring break season will surely bring more sold out days so plan accordingly if you’re visiting this month.
Disney Water Parks Opening and Closing For the Season
Disney’s Blizzard Beach was open through March 18th and closed for refurbishment March 19th. However, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park reopened after that so you can still visit a water park on your trip. Both Disney World water parks are a splashy good time with a lazy river, wild water slides, kids play areas and more mild thrills. Water park tickets can be purchased individually or purchased as an add on to theme park tickets. Adult tickets are $69, child tickets, ages 3 to 9, are $63 and children under three get in for free and do not need a ticket. You do not need a park pass reservation to visit Disney World’s water parks.
The New Polynesian DVC Tower Takes Shape
On your next trip around the monorail loop, you’ll probably see the new Polynesian DVC tower going vertical. Land was cleared on the former home of the Spirit of Aloha dinner show for the multi-story addition. We think, due to Disney’s wording in the announcement, that this will be an expansion of the current home resort at the Poly and not a separate home resort. If that is the case, it will bring a great variety of room sizes to the Polynesian which currently only has Studios and Bungalows to offer. The construction zone is fenced off and closed the lakefront walkway between the Polynesian and the Grand. However, from the monorail guests are treated to a perfect view of the construction.
Polynesian Lobby Lightly Refurbished
Speaking of the Polynesian, the lobby interior was recently refurbished. Some new furnishings replaced old ones. This included chairs and other furniture and large statement rugs in different seating areas. The new decor brings pops of green and blue to an otherwise very brown lobby. To see more current and recent updates to DVC resorts, see our DVC resort refurbishment schedule.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 25 Years
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 25th anniversary on April 22nd. While nothing too major has been announced, guests in the park can expect some festivities that day. As always, special treats and merchandise will be available. Some additional character meet and greets will also be part of the fun. A permanent Moana meet and greet will debut that day as well. Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day and continues to bring attention to animal education and conservation initiatives.
Epcot is Disney World’s Centerpiece for Disney 100
It was previously announced that Disney World would introduce a new firework show at Epcot for the Disney 100 year anniversary celebration. We now know that the park will also host the celebration on this side of the country. Disneyland had been named the venue for the west coast and has the most going on with decorations, merchandise, special character outfits, a brand new firework show and World of Color show and more. It appears Epcot may get more than just a firework show now. Harmonious ends April 3rd and Epcot Forever starts April 4th as the interim show. We don’t yet have a date for the show though it will debut this year in 2023.
The Disney Parks Blog says this about the new nighttime spectacular: “..inviting everyone to gather around World Showcase Lagoon for a show that will unite us through commonalities of the heart in a dazzling display of fireworks, lasers, music and light. Featuring an original composition along with select songs from the Disney songbook, this new spectacular will remind us that we’re more alike than different, connecting our hearts together as one.”
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