It’s December, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is sold out for the season and the seagulls are back in front of the Nemo attraction at Epcot. Frozen Holiday Surprise delights guests in front of Cinderella Castle each night and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays has taken over World Showcase. Disney World news December 2023 brings fun holiday updates and more. 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, including the tips in this Disney World News December 2023 info. 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. If you’re planning one, have a magical trip!
Disney World News December 2023 Dates to Remember
Here we have some dates related to Disney World news December 2023 and beyond.
September 22 – December 31 | Disney 100 year anniversary celebration at Epcot
November 11 – December 20 | Disney Jollywood Nights (select dates)
November 24 – December 30 | Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
December 4 | Last showing of Epcot Forever fireworks show
December 5 | New Epcot firework show, Luminous The Symphony of Us, debuts
December 7 | DVC Annual Meetings at Walt Disney World Resort
January 9 | All day parking hopping returns
January 9 | Park reservations no longer needed for standard, date based tickets
January 9 | Disney Dining Plan returns
January 16 – 27 | Disney Skyliner down for maintenance at Disney’s Riviera Resort
Continued Reopenings At Walt Disney World Resort
We’ve been covering Disney World’s post reopening come back for quite a while now. Disney World reopened in 2020 running a very lean operation. So many things have returned to the parks and resorts but many have not. There are still many temporarily unavailable closures. Some of which may greatly impact your trips. We want to help you set expectations and plan your trip based on what is available.
Some things to know before you go:
- Park Hopping is still only available after 2:00 p.m. but this changes in 2024.
- The Disney Dining Plan isn’t currently available in 2023 but returns in 2024.
- 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian is still closed and…
- The tea room at the Grand Floridian is still closed but resort construction has reached the lobby..
- The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage has not returned to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
- The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques at the Grand Floridian and Disney Springs are not open.
- It’s A Wonderful Shop, Stage 1 Company Store, In Character and Disney Studio Store are still closed at Hollywood Studios.
- Disney says DVC pool hopping is still suspended.
- Saratoga Springs Senses Spa and Beach Club’s Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness are still closed.
- Services like having your purchases delivered to the front of the park or to your room are paused.
- Disney Annual Passholders still need park reservations to visit parks for a full day.
- Many shows have not reopened yet like: Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Citizens of Hollywood, Jedi Training, Citizens of Main Street, Main Street Trolley Show, Move It! Shake It! Street Party, Once Upon a Time, The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats, Serveur Amusant, Swotu Waya Pandora Drummers, Pandora Utility Suit Pilot and more.
We do our best to continue to share things as they return.
Disney World News December 2023
Epcot International Festival of the Arts Details Announced
The Broadway performer lineup is out for the Epcot arts festival! For more, refer to our 2024 Festival of the Arts Guide which has all the information you need to help you plan the perfect visit.
- Caissie Levy and Patti Murin (“Frozen”): Jan. 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23
- Heidi Blickenstaff (“Freaky Friday” and “The Little Mermaid”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins” and “Beauty and the Beast”): Jan. 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 24
- Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins” and “Beauty and the Beast”) and L. Steven Taylor (“The Lion King”): Jan. 26, 28 and 29; Feb. 1, 3, 5 and 6
- Kissy Simmons (“The Lion King”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”): Jan. 27, 30, 31; Feb. 2, 4, 7 and 8
- Mandy Gonzalez (“Aida”) and Michael James Scott (“Aladdin” and “Tarzan”): Feb. 9, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19
- Bradley Gibson (“Hercules” and “The Lion King”) and Shoba Narayan (“Aladdin”): Feb. 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19
Disney World news December 2023: Fiscal Year Presentation
Last month, The Walt Disney Company held its annual meeting to discuss earnings. This presentation included updates on the companies performance for the fiscal year of 2023 which ended in October of 2023. What it didn’t include was any big news about what’s coming to the theme parks. This typically is not the place for news but shortly after returning, CEO Bob Iger did share some announcements on a call like this like the sequels Frozen 3 and Toy Story 5.
We’ve heard Iger talk about “turbocharging” progress at the theme parks before. We don’t have solid information on what that means and when we can expect new shows, attractions and such. It seems, from this presentation, nothing is certain for the near future but that we’ll be waiting quite a few years before anything else big happens. Compared to 2019, growth in revenue and operating income has gone up 25% and 30% respectively
The next ten years are said to be a period of growth in parks with investments ramping up in the back half of that time. So what we can take from this is nothing big will be coming in the next five years? We’ll keep the updates coming.
2024 DVC Annual Dues Proposed
Take a look at our post about the proposed DVC maintenance fees 2024 that are now out. These aren’t official until the 2023 Annual Meetings of the Board of Directors and the 2023 Annual Meetings of the Members. This event takes place on Thursday, December 7, 2023, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in the convention center.
DVC Event Dates Announced: Disney World News December 2023
Dates and details have been announced for a few different DVC events recently including Moonlight Magic. There’s also a Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review dinner show DVC event as well as a Member cruise that goes to the new Disney private island. See all the details in our DVC events post.
Asha from Wish is Meeting Guests & Spaceship Earth Song Debuts
The newest Disney film is now in theaters. You can meet Asha, the star of Wish, on your next visit to Disney World. Asha is near World Showcase Plaza. Times aren’t listed but if you want to meet Asha, plan to see her out earlier in the day. The characters that meet outdoors at Epcot typically do so during the day before the evening.
Two characters from Wish are also around in a different way. A Valentino popcorn bucket and Star sipper are also available around the parks.
We mentioned last month we might start seeing Wish additions around Disney Parks. Starting November 22, Spaceship Earth began showing a new light show featuring the song I’m a Star from the film.
Jingle Cruise is Back!
The beloved Jungle Cruise attraction in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom gets a special overlay each year. For the holiday season, the silliest of jokes take a holiday spin as the skippers take you around the jungle. While many holiday offerings are saved for special ticketed events, Jingle Cruise is for all. This is included with your park ticket and happens all day, every day. Along with this, the holiday decor is always fun and festive on Main Street.
Frozen Castle Show Magic Kingdom Times
Along with the other included holiday fun, a new Frozen show debuts this year. The nightly Frozen themed castle show is also available for all day guests, even on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights. The castle transforms as it lights up for the night with Frozen Holiday Surprise at 6:15 p.m. every night and again at 8:15 p.m. during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Characters from Frozen wear new outfits this year on the castle stage as Cinderella Castle’s projections illuminate for the evening. Frozen Holiday Surprise is about 7 minutes long.
Disney Vacation Club Resort Gingerbread Displays
The Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney World have the best amenities and, for the holiday season, the best decorations too! We’ve shared that the Grand Floridian gingerbread house is open for the season through January 1, selling delicious treats in the resort’s festive lobby. Beyond the Grand, DVC resorts host many different gingerbread displays.
Contemporary gingerbread display dates: November 10, 2023 through January 6, 2024
Disney’s Contemporary Resort gingerbread display returns with a Mary Blair inspired Cinderella Castle. This is the 12th year of the display and this year the Disney 100 anniversary celebration is part of the magic. Here you won’t just find hidden Mickeys but maybe also a hidden five-legged goat, from the mural on the fourth floor, too?
Animal Kingdom Lodge gingerbread display dates: November 22 through December 31, 2023
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge you can see a gingerbread display featuring a life sized baby zebra and baby giraffe. Special treats here include a gingeraffe cookie.
Disney BoardWalk gingerbread display dates: November 17 through December 27, 2023
This display includes a miniature of the BoardWalk Deli! This spot may have the most fun treats with items like Mickey and Minnie Sugar Cookies, Mickey Caramel Corn Cookies, Christmas Tree Pops, Peppermint Bark and Gingerbread Shingles for everyone including those who are gluten free or vegan.
Disney Beach Club gingerbread display
Disney’s Beach Club Resort has a gingerbread carousel that actually turns! This year it is inspired by Donald, Huey, Duey, Louie and World Showcase. Look for the 22 hidden Mickeys that represent 22 years of this display.
Yacht Club Debuts Gingerbread Lighthouse Display
Thought it’s not a DVC resort, we’re giving this next one an honorable mention because of its proximity to other DVC resorts. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has a new gingerbread display this year themed after the resort’s lighthouse. Members who stay at Beach Club know this lighthouse boat dock with transportation shared between the two resorts.
Disney Genie+ Sells Out Thanksgiving Week, Reaches New High
Disney Genie+, the FastPass replacement, has reached a new high this year. During Thanksgiving week it reached $35 for both the multiple park and Magic Kingdom offerings. Remember Genie+ now operates much differently than when it first debuted. It’s only available for purchase the day of your visit and has variable pricing. It’s also priced differently at each park. You can buy Disney Genie+ for one park or the multiple parks option which includes any combination of more than one park. Prioritize buying Disney Genie+ for the day starting at midnight when it first becomes available if it’s important to you.
What’s Next for Disney World?
We’ve heard a lot of talk about what’s next for Disney World. From what’s behind Thunder Mountain to the Dinoland refurbishment, anything can happen. The Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products spoke recently again about these mysteries confirming them as just that. Josh D’Amaro said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “As we make our way through some of these ideas, some of them will become real, and we’ll say that’s specifically what we’re going to do, but I want our guests to be on the journey with us.” What’s coming to Disney World in 2024 and beyond? Take a look at our post about all that could be coming to the parks. So much has been shared in detail but nothing big is confirmed yet.
Jollywood Nights Entertainment Added
Sometimes when something new debuts, it takes a while to smooth out the issues. After an opening night with some kinks that needed to be worked out, Disney has made changes to the Hollywood Studios event, Jollywood Nights. Long lines for meet and greets were part of the issue and now additional characters have been appearing at the party. You may see Jiminy Cricket in his seasonal best, Santa Duffy, Snow White, Dopey and Santa Stitch now too.
Disney Skyliner Closing for Maintenance in January: Refurbishment Disney World News December 2023
Since its opening, the Disney Skyliner has closed annually in January for routine maintenance. This affects anyone using the transportation method to get around but especially those staying at resorts on the Disney Skyliner like Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The 2024 Skyliner closing dates are as follows from Disney’s website:
“From January 16, 2024 through January 21, 2024, Disney Skyliner will be closed for routine maintenance. Disney Skyliner service to and from Disney’s Riviera Resort and International Gateway at EPCOT will remain closed through January 27, 2024. During this time, complimentary bus service will be available.”
Without the Disney Skyliner, guests of Riviera can depend on bus transportation to the parks. There’s always Minnie Van service through Lyft for those wanting a faster or more personalized transportation experience.
To keep up with additional closures, we share information and reminders like this in our DVC resort refurbishment schedule regularly.
The Palm Breeze Bar is open at Disneyland Hotel
It may not be located at Disney World but we know many Members travel to the west coast parks too. Earlier this year The Villas at Disneyland Hotel opened. This new DVC resort has some new amenities to enjoy. The Palm Breeze Bar just opened in this new area of the hotel.
Recent Disney World Updates to Know and Remember
Here we’re keeping track of recent updates we’ve already talked about that you’ll want to keep in mind for any upcoming trips.
The Bay Lake resort boat transport goes between Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary again.
The Disney 100 year anniversary celebration is happening at Epcot.
Mickey and Minnie are meeting in their platinum Disney 100 outfits at Epcot.
Soarin’ Over California is back at Epcot for Disney 100.
The nighttime shows at Magic Kingdom and Epcot are currently Happily Ever After and Epcot Forever again.
Blizzard Beach is open again after temporary closure.
Disney Jollywood Nights is running select dates through December 20th.
The new Wish animated film is now in theaters.
TRON Lightcycle / Run is open at Magic Kingdom and uses virtual queue and Lightning Lane.
You can buy a Disney Annual Pass for Walt Disney World as they are on sale again.
Annual Passholders can enter the parks after 2:00 p.m. with no reservations, except for Magic Kingdom on the weekends.
Some Extended Evening Hours are now at Animal Kingdom.
Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana is open at Epcot.
The Moana meet and greet across from Journey of Water is now open.
The Mirabel meet and greet is open at Magic Kingdom.
The Figment meet and greet is open at Epcot.
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