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Walt Disney World News July 2023

The heat of summer has settled into Orlando! The parks feel extra hot and humid this year and the area has been under heat advisories. The feels like temperatures are well over 100 degrees regularly. Remember to hydrate more than you’re used to as you make your way around the most magical place on earth. So what else is happening with Disney World news this July? The new attraction for visitors this summer is Tron Lightcycle / Run and The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival starts 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. Let’s see what other Walt Disney World news July 2023 has in store for us. If you’re planning one, have a magical trip!

A special note for all Disney Vacation Club Members who have a December use year. This is your reminder to bank points by July 31st! For more information see: What Does Disney Vacation Club Use Year Mean?

Disney Dates to Remember

Here we have some dates related to Disney World news you’ll want to remember. 

June 27 | Disney Genie+ changes to include park specific pricing (info below)

June 29 | Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets on sale to guests of select hotels

June 29 | Jollywood Nights tickets on sale to guests of select hotels

June 30 | Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in theaters, related in park offerings debut

July 3 & 4 | Independence Day fireworks at Magic Kingdom

July 4 | Independence Day firework tag after regular fireworks at Epcot

July 5 | Last day of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

July 6 | Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets on sale to everyone

July 6 | Jollywood Nights tickets on sale to everyone

July 27 – November 18 | Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

July 28 | New Haunted Mansion movie in theaters

August 11 – November 1 | Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (select dates)

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:

  • Trams are not back at Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
  • Park Hopping is still only available after 2:00 p.m. 
  • The Disney Dining Plan isn’t currently available in 2023 but returns in 2024.
  • 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian is still closed.
  • Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian is still closed.
  • 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, Swotu Waya Pandora Drummers, Pandora Utility Suit Pilot and more.

We do our best to continue to share things as they return. Disney continues to share regularly they understand the value of a Disney vacation is in question to many visitors and potential guests. As much as sales and deals are welcome, I think reopening everything in the parks is just as important. 

2024 Disney Dining Plan Prices and More Details Released

One thing guests have been asking for since Disney reopened is the Disney Dining Plan. Last month Disney announced it’s coming back and is available for trips starting January 9th, 2024 and later. We now know more information about pricing and included restaurants.

The Disney Quick Service Dining Plan costs $57.01 per adult and $23.83 per child ages 3 to 9.

With the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, everyone in the party that’s 3 and older gets:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals (per night of stay)
  • 1 Snack/Nonalcoholic Drink (per night of stay)
  • 1 Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

The Disney Dining Plan costs $94.28 per adult and $29.69 per child ages 3 to 9.

With the Disney Dining Plan, everyone in the party that’s 3 and older gets:

  • 1 Quick-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 1 Table-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 1 Snack/Nonalcoholic Drink (per night of stay)
  • 1 Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Vacation Club Members can use the Disney Dining Plan. Call Disney to add it to your existing reservation. 

Star Wars Launch Bay gray and distressed sign at Hollywood Studios

Disney Visa Cardholder Meet and Greet Back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Another park offering has been restored for some of Disney’s most loyal fans! Disney Visa holders can once again enjoy a special character meet and greet experience just for them. Every day from 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. cardholders and their party can visit Darth Vader at Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard section of the park. This opportunity is not available to all guests. Make sure to look for the Disney Visa Cardmember Exclusive Character Experience to take advantage of potential short waits. There are other characters that meet all guests in the Star Wars Launch Bay building. 

Disney says: “Stop by for a photo opportunity at our private location reserved just for Cardmembers.

Each day, visit the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and embrace the power of the dark side when you discover Darth Vader awaiting your arrival. You’ll receive free photo downloads to remember your visit to a galaxy far, far away!”

The force is strong with this reopening. On a visit to Launch Bay earlier this year, I’m pretty sure I saw a super imposed character photo experience was offered in place of this. When you’re traveling all the way to Disney World, you surely want full and unforgettable experiences like meeting characters. Check times on the date of your visit on the Disney Visa photo opportunity page. This isn’t the only Disney Visa character experience at Walt Disney World Resort. Also check Epcot for potential opportunities.

A side note, if you have a Disney Chase Visa card, you know you get special Disney discounts. We often reference that if you have this card, you are receiving some special perks that DVC Members get as well. With DVC resale, not all perks and discounts are included. If you have passholder or Disney Visa discounts and perks already, the savings you get with DVC resale becomes much more appealing. 

Jingle Bell Jingle Bam Returns in 2023.. with a catch

We’ve got some jolly and not so jolly news here. Another pre-pandemic show returns this year for the first time since the parks reopened. The holiday nighttime projection show Jingle Bell Jingle Bam at Disney’s Hollywood Studios returns for the season in 2023. Though it is not a firework show, it did have a firework finale in the past. We can probably expect that to return. The bad news is, this is no longer available to day guests during the holiday season. Jingle Bell Jingle Bam will instead be part of a new separately ticketed event at the park. More info on that below.

Marching Toy Soldier Band Returning to Christmas Parade?

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returned last year for the first time since 2019. It appeared that the party had mostly returned to normal aside from one important detail. The toy soldiers still marched in Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade but not all of them. Fans of the event will remember a section of the toy soldiers usually includes a band playing live. Last year the marching band soldiers were missing but it seems that may be changing. Disney listed an open audition for college program attendees that may confirm the marching band of toy soldiers will be back at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2023.

Disney Genie+ Now Priced by Day and by Park

On your next visit, Disney Genie+ will have some big changes. Not only does the price vary by day, now prices will vary by park. While lower prices at parks where there is less to do makes sense, this does make it slightly more complicated. 

You can now purchase Disney Genie+ on the day of your visit in the My Disney Experience app for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom or, for a fifth option, a park hopper version. This park hopper version is basically the original version. It looks like the park hopper Disney Genie+ will cost the same as Magic Kingdom while other parks may be lower. 

From Disney’s website: “Beginning June 27, Guests at Walt Disney World Resort will now purchase Disney Genie+ service based on how they want to visit. Guests will be able to select either a single-park option or a multiple-parks option, subject to availability. With this update, prices may now be lower at some Walt Disney World theme parks compared to others.”

No changes have been made to booking attractions that have Individual Lightning Lanes like Tron Lightcycle / Run. The company also shared recently that guests would soon be able to plan their day with Disney Genie+ earlier than the day of their visit. That is set to debut in 2024 and no further information has been shared at this time. 

Disney vs. DeSantis Continues

It’s unfortunate this is even a thing but it seems important to at least mention the latest here. The battle between Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, and The Walt Disney Company is still ongoing. In short, Disney is alleging that Ron DeSantis is infringing on their right to free speech. When Disney came out against legislation of his they disagreed with, he dismantled a longstanding district the company operated in in Florida. Many additional actions that can be seen as attacks by the governor have since occurred. Disney says these efforts are retaliatory, and so, they are suing those involved. The governor is countersuing. Both parties are asking for the other party’s charges to be dropped. There are many more details, surely more eloquently notated by others, but this is enough to get caught up. The timing of the case is now being worked on. Disney is asking for 2024 while the governor, who is running for president, is asking for 2025 after the election.
 
So why does this matter to theme park fans? Upon reopening, Disney took their time bringing the parks back. The parks still aren’t all the way back to normal really. With covid restrictions behind us, it has many wondering what the hold up is. Bob Iger returned as CEO in the fall of 2022 and quickly made big changes, pulling power and funds and laying off 7,000 people. Still, it seems like Walt Disney World could be bracing for impact. Perhaps, this Reedy Creek Improvement District situation has a bigger impact than we can measure. We’ve heard Bob Iger say they company wants to invest $17 billion in future projects in Florida. Josh D’Amaro stated some of that number has actually already been spent on current projects. But the threat to hold back development at Disney World affects future guests and potential cast members. It could be the difference between getting new rides or not or how in depth refurbishments go.

Fourth of July Fireworks at Magic Kingdom & Epcot Tag

Those visiting Walt Disney World Resort around Independence Day will be able to enjoy special fireworks for the occasion at Magic Kingdom. The Disney World calendar reflects the themed Disney’s Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky fireworks will take place on July 3rd and 4th at 9:20 p.m. both nights. This is a delightful thing Disney does, giving guests more than one chance to see these unique fireworks. The musical soundtrack features celebrated, instrumental Americana songs. What’s really thrilling about this show is the added perimeter fireworks. These are huge, additional fireworks outside of what the park usually has. Those in the park are surrounded by sparkles in the sky! Disney fireworks are always fun to see. The company puts on some of the best displays you’ll find. For special holidays, like New Year’s Eve and Independence Day, you’ll be glad you chose to go to Disney.

Let’s talk about Fourth of July fireworks from the Magic Kingdom resorts on the monorail. Those staying at Bay Lake Tower with theme park view rooms have a fantastic view. Watching perimeter fireworks from Top of the World Lounge is stunning. This is one of the best places to watch from. The Grand Floridian is also a great place to watch from, though you may not be able to see all of the fireworks from one spot. I must say from experience, the Polynesian may be the best place to see Magic Kingdom Fourth of July fireworks from. In the past, the Electrical Water Pageant has been parked in front of the Polynesian beach displaying the American flags section of that show. From the Polynesian, you can see all of the fireworks in front of you, including the perimeter ones, which makes for an amazing visual display. Note that this, or other spaces, may be reserved for guests of the resort on the busiest of nights when special holiday fireworks are displayed.

Epcot Fourth of July Fireworks Addition

Over at Epcot, the Epcot Forever firework show will play but with a special holiday tag on the end of it. The Heartbeat of Freedom, as Disney calls it, will be the finale to the park’s regular fireworks which start at the usual time of 9:00 p.m. It looks like this will only take place on July 4th and not the 3rd. Guests in the park can also enjoy the Voices of Liberty show with its patriotic tunes and meet characters in special outfits for the occasion. 

Disneyland DVC at The Villas at Disneyland Hotel is Now For Sale

Something we haven’t touched on yet this summer is the newest Disney Vacation Club property that’s being sold. The Villas at Disneyland Hotel welcomes a second DVC resort to Disneyland Resort. Members have been able to buy points at the new DVC tower since May 2nd, 2023. Sales at The Villas at Disneyland Hotel have been open to everyone else since May 30th. With the start of sales came more information about being an owner and staying at the Disneyland Hotel DVC offering. Along with what many would consider higher annual dues at $9.06 per point in 2023, guests staying on points must also pay a transient tax of $2.73 per point each stay. This number could change in the future. Note that this is not the norm at both Disneyland DVC hotels. Members staying at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa do not pay additional per stay fees outside of annual dues. The Villas at Disneyland Hotel officially opens September 28th, 2023. If you were considering buying DVC at Disneyland but don’t like how Disneyland Hotel worked out, the Grand Californian is a great option and DVC resale contracts are available.

Saratoga Springs Sassagoula Boats Unavailable at Times

On a recent visit to Disney Vacation Club resort Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, I saw a sign stating the boat taxi was out of service.

“Welcome home, The Sassagoula River Cruise is currently non-operational due to low water levels. Alternative bus transportation is available at The Springs bus stop.”

Low water levels are, I’m pretty sure, completely out of Disney’s control. Afternoon showers in Florida are usually a daily happening this time of year. As of late spring, there were some dryer periods than we might expect during this season.

It seems water levels have returned to where they need to be and the boat transport is back! It’s good to be aware this is a possibility and that busses are provided in lieu of boats when needed. Guests can also use a walking path to either side of Disney Springs

Disney World Celebrates Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

As of June 30th, moviegoers can enjoy the new Indiana Jones film in theaters. Disney World is celebrating Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny a few different ways across property. AMC at Disney Springs usually puts up a colorful carpet and some fun visuals to celebrate big Disney films. You can find Indiana Jones treats at The Ganachery this summer. There will be special menu items at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs when the film launches through August 15th.
 
Of course, there’s always the action packed, classic Indiana Jones stunt show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to enjoy. There is also the Den of Destiny, a limited time beverage stand near the show, which serves specialty themed drinks. This will also be around through August 15th. 

 

Virtual queue sign at Cosmic Rewind

Virtual Queue for Guardians Disappearing?

Stanchions for an outdoor queue have been put in for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot. This could mean the virtual queue is going away. Disney hasn’t shared anything about this. There are also Disney After Hours events at this park and these could stand to support the line for the attraction at these. 

It seems at this point, Cosmic Rewind could do without the virtual queue. This digital waiting system is a real help to guests when attractions first launch. It can be very limiting once the demand for an attraction has waned. While Cosmic Rewind is popular and beloved, it’s possible to get a virtual queue return time without too much hassle most of the time. There have been times when there doesn’t seem to be a line but the only way you can ride the attraction is to buy a Lightning Lane. A stand by line might better suit park flow at this point.

Jollywood Nights graphic art with guests and sky in teal featuring Tower of Terror in gold

Holiday Season Disney World Events Announced

It’s halfway to the holidays and Disney has shared the seasonal lineup guests can expect at the parks this year. Guests can “Celebrate the Spirit of the Season – November 11 through December 31, 2023.” This gives us the official kickoff of the most wonderful time of the year. We know that while most of the celebrating is discontinued on New Year’s Eve, decorations usually remain mostly in place through the runDisney marathon weekend in January.

At Walt Disney World, most of the beloved favorites are set to return. That includes Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Merry Menagerie will also be back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios there is something brand new for 2023.

Disney Jollywood Nights is a new, special ticket event offered select evenings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This holiday night out encourages guests to dress to impress and, “Get glammed up for the occasion or show off your unique style.” Event hours are 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. but guests can use their ticket to enter the park as early as 7:00 p.m. 

Disney Jollywood Nights event dates are as follows:

  • Saturday, November 11th
  • Saturday, November 18th
  • Monday, November 20th
  • Monday, November 27th
  • Wednesday, November 29th
  • Monday, December 4th
  • Wednesday, December 6th
  • Saturday, December 16th
  • Monday, December 18th
  • Wednesday, December 20th

You’ll note none of these dates overlap with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It’s possible to fit them both in on an extra festive trip. Here’s what we know about Jollywood Nights so far. For entertainment, guests can expect this with additional details to come:

  • Be welcomed to Jollywood—with a DJ spinning a holiday mix on Hollywood Boulevard.
  • Saunter over to Echo Lake for a throwback bash that’s sure to stir up nostalgia. You may even spot Powerline Max, Phineas and Ferb!
  • See Commissary Lane come to life during a lively Latin street fair full of holiday flair.
  • Revel in a jazzy setting at a limited-capacity, Hollywood-themed lounge—located at The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant.
  • Drop in to the The Hollywood Tower Hotel courtyard for a limited-capacity, otherworldly soirée.

For more entertainment, Disney advertises these event exclusive shows:

  • Tune in to a musical variety show hosted by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy at Theater of the Stars—with special appearances from Princess Tiana, Belle and more.
  • Join in the fun during a spirited sing-along experience at Hyperion Theater. More details to come!
  • Wrap up the festivities and enjoy the return of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!—a seasonal nighttime spectacular that’s jam-packed with music, special effects and dazzling state-of-the-art projections.

These characters are set to be part of the event:

  • Meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in Animation Courtyard on a hot set with holiday props.
  • Saunter over to Echo Lake to see friends like Powerline Max and Phineas and Ferb.
  • Strike a pose with Edna Mode at Pixar Place.

Some pros and cons based on the announcement here. The art for this is beautiful! It really plays into the park’s enchanting vintage side. The Kermit and Miss Piggy hosted show sounds like the biggest draw. Select attractions will be open but Rise of the Resistance will still require the use of a virtual queue. Disney Jollywood Nights is an hour shorter than Mickey’s Christmas party and gives guests less time in the park before the event. There are quite a few things that were available as part of a regular day at the park in the past or are still part of the day offerings now. 

There is a lot to see and do at Walt Disney World for the holidays. Some of the most festive memories can be made right at your Disney Vacation Club resort with the most beautiful decorations. 

Side note, it’s good to know for planning purposes, it appears TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom will still use a virtual queue during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Recent Disney World Additions to Know

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 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival takes place through July 5th.

The new Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant is open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Narcoossee’s is open at the Grand Floridian after refurbishment.

The nighttime shows at Magic Kingdom and Epcot are Happily Ever After and Epcot Forever again.

TRON Lightcycle / Run is open at Magic Kingdom via virtual queue and Lightning Lane.

You can buy a Disney Annual Pass for Walt Disney World again.

Annual Passholders can enter the parks after 2:00 p.m. with no reservations, except for Magic Kingdom on the weekends.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2023 tickets are on sale.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2023 tickets are on sale for resort guests now and everyone else starting July 6th.

Characters have returned to Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios.

Live action Ariel is meeting guests at Hollywood Studios.

See additional information that may impact your hotel stay in our DVC resort refurbishment schedule.

DVC Resale Experts Can Help

DVC Resale Experts is a licensed real estate broker with a team that specializes in resale DVC. Whether you’re adding on points, buying or selling Disney Vacation Club, the Experts can help you find the right price to place a bid with or list your contract for. Our independent, licensed real estate agents are former Disney Vacation Club Guides. They have decades of pixie dusted experience selling DVC and delight in providing excellent service to their clients. The Experts have seen it all and are happy to answer your questions throughout the process.

DVC resale prices can pleasantly surprise Members interested in selling DVC. See our resale DVC listings for a look at real time availability and pricing. Ready to sell DVC? Get in touch for a complimentary valuation of your specific contract today. There may be someone waiting on our Buyer Wish List for a contract just like yours.

Disney Blogger Nicole and Disney CEO Bob Iger

Sparkly Nicole

Nicole is a native Floridian who attended the University of Central Florida and decided to call the land of theme parks home. She’s been sharing magical tips, tricks and Orlando travel and tourism favorites online for over a decade.

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