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Walt Disney World News June 2023

A Muppet rat statue closeup in a splashy water fountain

It’s June and summer is on the horizon! At Disney these days, there’s unfortunately a lot of change and uncertainty within the company. Some of that, you can feel at Disney Parks. There is a lot to look forward to if you’re visiting soon with Tron Lightcycle / Run being open, some additional character meet and greets returning and plenty of new treats to try. So what else is going on these days at the most magical place on earth? Let’s see what else Walt Disney World news June 2023 has in store for us.

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.

Disney Dates to Remember

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

May 26th | Live action Ariel debuts meet and greet at Hollywood Studios

May 31st – June 30th | VIPassholder days (outlined below)

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 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 but we now have an update on that below! 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 informed.

It’s sometimes challenging to convey all that’s missing from Disney World these days. Since it reopened, some processes were more complicated and overwhelmed many guests. It’s common to hear those who have visited after the park reopened feel the experience has greatly diminished in value. Leadership at Disney has recognized this more than once, noting that the company reached its limit in terms of pricing and has made some mistakes. The company’s promise to try to make it right has many fans listening with all ears.

On May 8th, Disney shared some additional updates that aimed “to make your visit easier.” This is not the first time we’ve seen Disney take action to fix parts of the vacation experience that have been widely disliked by guests. These actions certainly add to our reopening coverage as the parks get closer to what they were like before the pandemic.

The Disney Dining Plan Returns in 2024

Disney dining plans are coming back! Starting January 9th, 2024, Disney resort guests can once again have a vacation package that includes a Disney dining plan selection. Guests love this option that allows them to prepay for meals and snacks on their trip and use credits to get them. There will be two options to choose from: the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan or the Disney Dining Plan. 

Disney Vacation Club Members can use the Disney Dining Plan but need to call to add it to their existing reservations. June 2023 is when guests can start to book for 2024 and when the Disney Dining Plan can be added to upcoming trips starting January 9th, 2024. 

Theme Park Reservations Removed for Date-based Tickets Starting January 9th

Disney park pass reservations will no longer be required for date-based tickets starting January 9th, 2024. This is huge news. The reservation system is not liked by guests and seen as an unnecessary hassle. So what is a date based ticket? Disney says, “For reference, date-based tickets are the standard ticket option we offer to guests.” Basically, when you go to buy a ticket online, you’re asked to select the dates you’re visiting. Ticket prices vary based on your visit. As of January 9th, guests purchasing these kinds of tickets will not have to make a reservation. This includes single and multi day tickets and the park hopper add on. See more about tickets and reservations at DisneyWorld.com/ThemeParkReservations.

Park Pass Reservations Altered Again for Annual Passholders in 2024

While most guests are being liberated from the park pass reservation system, annual passholders will unfortunately still have this extra step in place before they visit in 2024. The system is changing to include what are called good-to-go days. This means passholders will be good to go to the parks without a reservation at Disney’s will. Good-to-go days will also be a thing for Cast Members. The “bonus reservations” Disney currently offers will be replaced by good-to-go days in 2024. This is separate from annual passholders ability to visit without a reservation after 2:00 p.m., except for Magic Kingdom on the weekends. 

It’s unclear at this time if this will actually help with planning trips. Out of this group of announcements, this one does not seem to make things easier for guests. Rather the opposite. We don’t have all the details on how good-to-go days will work. Many are just getting annual passes again for the first time in years as they recently went on sale again after a long pause on sales. Having to make a park reservation is considered a pain point for many. The extra step is now said to be in place to manage park attendance and reduce the number of passholders in the parks. If you’ve been in the last few years, the parks feel busier than ever. That may be remedied if more to do is brought back to the parks.

Attendance has dropped off quite a bit since the travel surges of 2021 and 2022. Hopefully we will see the reservation system go away once and for all or at least only cater to the busiest days like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours Continue in 2024

As we reach 2024, all Disney resort hotel guests will still be able to enter the theme parks early and select guests will be able to stay late. Every day at all four theme parks, resort guests are able to enter 30 minutes before the park opens. Select attractions are available during this time. It can be a great way to jump start your days at the parks.

On certain nights based on the Extended Evening Hours schedule, guests of Disney Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas can enjoy late nights after the parks close to regular day guests. Both of these offerings are great perks for DVC Members. If you like to tag on a day before or after your points stay or take a trip and stay at a Moderate tier resort every once in a while, things are different. Before the pandemic, Extra Magic Hours were available to all resort guests. With Extended Evening Hours, only guests at the top tier of resorts, the most costly, can enjoy this special evening benefit. 

Disney Genie+ Selection Available in Advance

From Disney Parks Blog: “We have heard from guests that they would like ways to plan with Disney Genie+ service and individual Lightning Lane selections before the day of their park visit, and we want you to know we are working on ways guests may do this for visits in 2024. Our goal is to give you the opportunity to spend less time planning in the park and more time enjoying your visit with friends and family. While we are not yet able to share specific details, we look forward to sharing more information at a later date.” This marks a return to operating similar to FastPass+ where guests could plan certain parts of their day far in advance, creating a basic itinerary for park days before their visit. 

This is a huge Disney gets it moment. For too long, and on too many topics, Disney didn’t listen to what guests wanted. Now six months after Bob Iger’s return to the CEO position, improvements are being made to the Disney vacation experience. With the introduction of paid Disney Genie+ as a FastPass+ replacement, guests needed to make their plans the day of their visit. This causes many to be stuck on the phone, nose in the My Disney Experience app, trying to plan as they go. It’s not exactly what most would call a vacation. Disney’s ability to make changes to try to fix this puts things in a more hopeful light. 

Deals Return to Disney World, Let’s Compare to DVC Resale

Deals are back at Walt Disney World and maybe it’s a sign of the times? Anyone who has visited the parks in the last few years knows crowds have often felt very heavy with long lines and congested walk ways. With less to do in the parks since reopening paired with the pent up demand for travel it’s been, and felt, very busy! As travel trends have normalized, we’re seeing many deals surface which is exciting for consumers. Disney has acknowledged prices have gone too high over the last few years.

The deals are back in ticketing with specials for Florida residents and everyone else. The 4 park Magic Tickets costs $99 per day plus tax, totaling $396 plus tax. This offer starts May 23rd and gives guests one day at each park. For more information, see the Disney World four park Magic Ticket offer page. It’s also possible for Florida residents to get a Disney water park two day ticket for the price of one day.

We’ve seen hotel discounts again for a while though it would take a lot to meet or exceed the value of DVC resale prices! When available, it’s possible to get savings like 30% off at deluxe tier resorts. This is based on availability and during select times that Disney chooses. Disney Vacation Club offers savings over regular resort stays. With resale prices are even lower. Talk to an Expert about your dream home resort or find out current resale DVC prices by looking at our listings.

Buzz Lightyear Meet and Greet Returns to Tomorrowland

You can once again meet your favorite space ranger at Magic Kingdom. Until now, after the reopening guests could see Buzz appearing in “character sighting” style from a distance on the stage in Tomorrowland. Now Buzz is back in his meet and greet spot at the exit of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Buzz Lightyear, along with Woody and Jesse, debuted a new look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in early 2022. The character looks the best he ever has! 

In 2022, Disney shared character experiences would continue to return, and return to normal, and that the company would “anticipate reopening in phases throughout the spring and early summer.” It’s kind of wild that one year later, all character meets and greets have either not yet returned at all or may still be altered in some way. A surprising example is the Tinker Bell meet and greet at Town Square Theater near the entrance of Magic Kingdom. As always, we aim to keep you informed so you can set expectations and plan for your next trip and we’ll continue to share things as they return. 

Harmonious Barges Removed From World Showcase Lagoon

If you’ve been waiting for things to get back to normal at Disney, this is great news. On your next trip to Epcot, you can enjoy full and complete, unobstructed views of World Showcase over the World Showcase Lagoon. What a joy! Harmonious, the nighttime spectacular that debuted at the park for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World was met with mixed reviews. However, the large pieces of equipment for the show that took over World Showcase Lagoon were overwhelmingly unpopular. Disney chose to listen to guests on this one and end Harmonious shortly after the 50th celebration ended in early April. Just over a month later, all of the Harmonious barges are gone. 

These pieces were not mobile or able to come in and out of the park each day. With Illuminations, there was a large showpiece that resembled earth and came in and out of the lagoon daily. You may have been stopped in the past at the draw bridge near China, watching earth float by in preparation for its nightly performance. Perhaps with whatever is next for Epcot fireworks, we will see a return to something that can disappear each day. Maybe even nothing at all in the small body of water. World Showcase needs something that can be seen in the round, with a great view from any country. For now, Epcot Forever fireworks show plays nightly. 

Galactic Starcruiser Closing Permanently 

In a shocking turn of events, Disney’s ambitious Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience is closing. The last “cruise” will be September 28th to the 30th of 2023. The price for this was famously around $6000 for two people in many cases. For a two day experience, that’s steep and seemingly what lead to the demise of the offering. Aside from the price, it was incredibly well received. Fans who enjoyed the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser were buzzing with excitement upon return, often unable to find the words to describe how much they enjoyed it all.  

In a statement Disney said, “We are so proud of all of the Cast Members and Imagineers who brought Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser to life and look forward to delivering an excellent experience for Guests during the remaining voyages over the coming months.”

A note if this impacted your plans, “For Guests who previously booked a voyage on or after Sept. 30, we will be contacting you soon to discuss your options and modify your plans. As we prioritize these Guests, at this time, new bookings are temporarily paused and will reopen on May 26.”

Upon reopening for booking, the final Galactic Starcruiser sailings sold out quickly. The calendar shows no bookings available at this time. 

Based on what Disney has shared about the cancellation of this one of a kind offering, the price point is what caused it to fail. Disney said they anticipate creating more that’s accessible to a bigger audience. This is an echo of what we’ve been hearing with the company acknowledging prices became unrealistic.

A side note here, I’m sure I’m not the only one sad to hear this. Many will agree the price was too high. It seemed like the logical next step was to lower the cost of Starcruiser sailings. Apparently Disney disagreed and decided to cancel it altogether. Some speculate the building could be used for other purposes. Based on other information Josh D’Amaro shared, that seems to not be the case. The Walt Disney Company is counting it as a loss in tax form. This may prevent them from using the building for anything for a period of time. 

At some point in all of this, Bob Iger labeled the Starcruiser a boutique experience, saying that a blockbuster is what the company really wants. It’s hard to tell what Disney will take from this experience. The Galactic Starcruiser is critically acclaimed and has awards for pushing boundaries in entertainment. Hopefully we can expect more streetmosphere style entertainment like this in the future but available to the masses and not just an exclusive group.

2023 Second Quarter Disney Stockholder Call 

The Walt Disney Company recently had their 2023 Q2 stockholder call. This time period includes January, February and March of this year. Disney’s CEO opened with a classy move, congratulating Universal on their success with the Mario film. Bob Iger talked about some of the changes, noted above, that the company is implementing such as annual passholders being able to visit some days without reservations and date based tickets not needing reservations at all. The CEO also vaguely hints at the attention on expanding the parks behind the scenes.

In response to a question about the ongoing legal battles with Florida’s governor, Iger once again mentioned $17 billion in investments in the state over the next few years. Our imaginations can soar with how many new offerings that could bring to Walt Disney World Resort. We heard quite a few blue sky ideas at the 2022 Disney fan event including what’s beyond Thunder Mountain and a Moana and Zootopia addition at Animal Kingdom. Specifics are not clear yet but with that amount of money, a lot is possible.

Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy mentioned looking at capacity and increasing attendance based on additions with new intellectual properties. This growth strategy is exciting for Disney Vacation Club Members and anyone that plans on visiting Disney in the future. The question is, how long will we have to wait? These types of additions take many years to dream and build and nothing is solid yet.

An update came shortly after this call. Josh D’Amaro later referred to the $17 billion that’s been mentioned more than once. This time, it included not only future investments but current projects like the Tiana attraction makeover at Magic Kingdom and the completion of Epcot. Iger recently referred to the Moana walkthrough as the final phase of Epcot’s transformation. If these and other current projects are part of this potential investment number, this changes things pretty drastically. 

The Grand Floridian Walkway to Magic Kingdom Reopens

Exciting news for those staying in the Seven Seas Lagoon area! The walkway between Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian is open again after construction on the exterior of the Sago Cay building caused a temporary closure. As we’ve been covering, the Grand has been getting an extensive makeover these last few years. Every building is getting a full refurbishment, complete with new roofs and exterior stairwells. The walkway is right next to the Sago Cay building and stairwell and so it needed to close for guest safety. This closure lasted a few months. The waterside path originally opened in 2020, making it possible to walk from the Polynesian all the way to the Contemporary. 

From the monorail you can see the walkway is open and surrounding areas are getting a fresh landscape again after the construction. This resort refurbishment period also includes building interiors with each room being transformed to look like the Mary Poppins Returns style, resort exclusive, Grand Floridian Resort Studios

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Reopens

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith soft opened at the end of May after a multi month closure. This is great news for those planning on spending any time at Hollywood Studios. Even if this or other thrill rides aren’t your thing, this is one of the most popular lines in the park. Often found at more than an hour wait, it holds a lot of people at any given time. This should free up space around the park and in other lines. When there is more to do, we all win. Red carpet premiere, anyone?

Happily Ever After Fireworks Time Change

The popular Magic Kingdom firework show is back! As summer rolls in and the day is longer, less daylight means later firework shows and nighttime spectaculars. The Magic Kingdom fireworks are now at the later time of 9:20 p.m. Check show times during your visit.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Over Space Mountain Spires

The Little Mermaid Splashes into the Parks

We’ve shared that Ariel from this summer’s live action film is now meeting guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There’s much more than that going on at the parks to celebrate the film! An impressive merchandise range is also available as we’ve come to expect. Disney World really went for it with special treats too! Expect lots of purple and teal and mermaid tails. Though there isn’t a special resort wide, summer marketing overlay like we used to see in the past, this is something to celebrate Ariel’s return to the big screen.  

V.I.PASSHOLDER Days Details Announced for June

If you’re an annual passholder visiting or able to visit in June, there are some special perks you need to know about! Disney occasionally offers additional discounts and unique offerings exclusively for annual passholders. Most recently, the TRON Lightcycle / Run preview was a highlight for many. Disney shares that basically for the month of June, if you’re a Disney World annual passholder you will be treated like a V.I.P. through some bonus content. To be specific, it looks like most of this is available May 31st to June 30th, 2023 or while supplies last where applicable. Here are some of the highlights from what Disney shared:

MERCHANDISE DISCOUNTS
During this time, the Passholder merchandise discount at select Disney-owned and -operated merchandise locations across Walt Disney World Resort will temporarily increase from 20% to 30%.

FOOD & BEVERAGE DISCOUNTS
Plus, during this same time, Annual Passholders can enjoy an increase from 10% to 20% on discounts for food and nonalcoholic beverages at select locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

20% discount applies to the regular price of food and nonalcoholic beverages (excluding applicable tax and gratuity) from May 31 to June 30, 2023. May not be combined with any other offers or discounts. Operating hours, menu items and locations subject to closure or change without notice. View additional details, restrictions and exclusions.

Annual Passholder Exclusive Figment Magnets

Each Passholder must be present and show their valid Annual Pass card, linked MagicBand or Disney MagicMobile pass, and a government –issued photo ID to receive a magnet.

Limit one magnet per Passholder. Available while supplies last. Not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged magnets. Locations, dates and operation hours are subject to change without notice.

Location: Creations Shop at Epcot

Dates: May 31 to June 30, 2023

Times: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

FLOWER AND GARDEN FOOD DISCOUNTS

From May 31 through June 30, 2023, Annual Passholders receive 20% off at select Outdoor Kitchens when using a cashless form of payment

Participating Locations:

  • Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market
  • BRUNCHCOT
  • EPCOT Farmers Feast
  • Florida Fresh
  • La Isla Fresca
  • Magnolia Terrace
  • Northern Bloom
  • Pineapple Promenade
  • Refreshment Outpost
  • Refreshment Port
  • Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina
  • The Citrus Blossom
  • The Honey Bee-stro hosted by National Honey Board
  • The Land Cart hosted by AdventHealth
  • Trowel & Trellis hosted by Impossible™

Passholder Offerings at Sunshine Seasons
Cool off and take a break at this reserved space just for Passholders––available for a limited-time.

Where and When

Location: The Land Pavilion

Dates: May 31 through June 30, 2023

Times: Park open to Park close

This is surely a welcome addition for many passholders who have stuck with Disney throughout the last few years! There were many times passholders were paying for a pass but unable to go due to the reservation system. There have been many improvements since but, unfortunately, the park pass reservation system remains in place and is able to block passholders out whenever Disney wants. You can take advantage of these discounts any time after 2:00 p.m. without a reservation, except for at Magic Kingdom on the weekends which still requires one.

Table and chairs under an umbrella in World Showcase at Epcot

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 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. All pass types are available.

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. All dates are still available as of early June.

Characters have returned to Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios.

Live action Ariel is meeting guests at Hollywood Studios.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Little Mermaid are in theaters.

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 take pride 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 potential members. See our resale DVC listings for a look at real time availability and pricing. If you don’t see the contract you’re wishing for, join the DVC Resale Experts Buyer Wish List. Then you will know when one magically appears on the market. Ready to sell DVC? Get in touch for a complimentary valuation of your specific contract today.

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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