The holiday season is here! Disney World goes big for the holidays every year and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off this month. There’s also a brand new holiday event taking place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Over at Epcot, the Disney 100 celebration is happening. In the middle of the month, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will hand the baton to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Let’s see what other Walt Disney World news November 2023 brings 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, including the tips in this Disney World News November 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 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!
A special note for all Disney Vacation Club Members who have an April use year. This is your reminder to bank points by November 30th! For more information see: What Does Disney Vacation Club Use Year Mean?
Disney World News November 2023 Dates to Remember
Here we have some dates related to Disney World news November 2023 and beyond.
July 27 – November 18 | Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
September 22 – December 31 | Disney 100 year anniversary celebration at Epcot
November 5 | Typhoon Lagoon’s last day open before temporary closure
November 6 | Blizzard Beach reopens after temporary closure
November 7 | Frozen Holiday Surprise castle show debuts at Magic Kingdom
November 11 – December 20 | Disney Jollywood Nights (select dates)
November 22 | Wish animated film in theaters
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
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
Continued Reopenings At Walt Disney World Resort: What’s Still Missing?
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. Consequently, many things have returned to the parks and resorts but many have not. There are still many temporarily unavailable offerings. 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. Here are some Disney World news November 2023 updates highlighting things that returned recently.
Disney Springs Parking Changes
Since the pandemic reopening, parking at Disney Springs has been quite different. Not only was covid a consideration but later in the year metal detectors and security were put in place at all Disney Springs entrances. This meant not all points of entry were open and guests were corralled to enter the few places where security was. Well things are getting a little closer to the pre-pandemic plethora of access to Disney Springs.
Additional security has been installed so some of the pre-pandemic entrances are open again. The Orange Garage entrance in between Splitsville and the AMC movie theater is now open for guests to enter the property from. You have been able to return to your car from here but it was previously not set up as an entry point to Disney Springs since before the pandemic.
Magic Kingdom Area DVC Resorts Boat Transport Route Returns
We have another exciting return of something that’s been missing since the pandemic closure. A public Facebook Page titled Walt Disney World Cast and Community shared some exciting news regarding Magic Kingdom resort boat transportation:
“All aboard! Guests at Walt Disney World will once again be able to sail across Bay Lake between Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Marked with its signature blue flag, the watercraft “blue route” will return for afternoon and evening voyages beginning October 1, making it even easier to grab a bite to eat at neighboring resorts. Say “ahoy!” to our transportation cast members while aboard!”
This is very exciting news for guests of Bay Lake Tower, Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas. Basically, until now, guests staying at Wilderness Lodge had to take a boat to Magic Kingdom, then a monorail or walking path to the Contemporary. The opposite was true for Contemporary guests traveling to Wilderness Lodge. Both the Wilderness Lodge restaurants and the Bay Lake Tower restaurants are worth traveling for. This makes a trip to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue or California Grill that much easier. This is also wonderful for the holidays and resort hopping to see decorations at Magic Kingdom resorts.
Winnie the Pooh Meet and Greet is Back in the U.K. Pavilion
Another meet and greet has returned to Epcot. During the pandemic, many characters were placed far from guests behind fences, only able to wave from a distance. Winnie the Pooh was one of those at Epcot. Over by the Imagination Pavilion, Pooh was way off in the distance with a net in hand, seemingly catching butterflies. Now Pooh is back in the meet and greet in the U.K. pavilion in World Showcase. This is kind of hidden in the back but worth looking for. Winnie the Pooh, or one of his friends, meet in this spot that is themed to Christopher Robin’s bedroom.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Returns but For Special Event Only
Additionally, another show that has been missing since the parks closed in 2020 is the Hollywood Studios holiday projection show on the theater. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! lit up Hollywood Boulevard at the park for years and was a draw there for the holiday season. The show is finally back but only for a special event, Jollywood Nights, which we talk more about below. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! used to be included on a regular day visit with your park ticket before. Now there is an extra cost to see the show.
Character and Entertainment Changes at Animal Kingdom
Some positive changes are coming to the entertainment scene at Animal Kingdom. During the pandemic we saw Disney adapt and overcome to try to provide a decent experience for guests within certain limitations. Most of the entertainment at Disney World was removed and the little that was left was greatly altered when the parks reopened in 2020. More than two years later, Disney announced traditional character meet and greets would return to normal starting on April 18th, 2022. This character greetings and dining experiences were said to reopen in phases throughout the spring and early summer of 2022.
In reality, that transition is still happening more than a year later. While Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios got character cavalcades for the pandemic, Animal Kingdom got floatillas. This lead characters safely through the park to wave at guests from boats. While lots of character meet and greets have returned around Disney World, Animal Kingdom floatillas have still been going, even some still now.
Goofy will now be meeting guests in the mornings at Donald’s Dino Bash again though in a different spot than the past. You may also find Pocahontas greeting guests near the front of the park. Moana started meeting guests at Character Landing in Discovery Island earlier this year. The Discover Island Drummers have been spotted outside the park in the early morning. Perhaps we will see them find a stationary place inside the park again soon. Live entertainment is a huge part of what makes Disney World different than other theme and amusement parks.
Disney Water Park Update: Typhoon Lagoon Closes, Blizzard Beach Opens
Yet another pre-pandemic situation to catch up on. Will both of Disney World’s water parks be open at the same time again? It seems for years now, only one has been open while the other is renovated. While it might make sense in the winter, summer time should have both parks open without question to offer variety and increase capacity.
From Disney’s website: “On Sunday, November 5, 2023, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park will temporarily close. On Monday, November 6, 2023, Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park will open.”
Disney has been offering specials on water park tickets including the water park only seasonal pass at $79 plus tax. The pass works for whatever park is open so Blizzard Beach it is starting early November.
At Blizzard Beach you can enjoy new food offerings like the S’mores Churros and Banana Split Churros. One of the children’s play areas is themed to Frozen with “Anna and Elsa in their igloo castle and a wading pool where kids can splash around with Olaf and his Snowgie pals.” Guests can also expect seasonal fun for the holidays with Santa, snow flurries, cookie decorating and more at Blizzard Beach.
Disney World News November 2023
All Day Park Hopping Returns in 2024
If you’ve been waiting to buy a contract or add on points, 2024 is looking like the year to do it. While there is a lot that hasn’t returned since the pandemic closure, many big things are back. Now we have all day park hopping to look forward to.
Until this change happens January 9th, 2024, those who have a park hopper must check into their first park and can not change parks until after 2:00 p.m. Taking the park hopping restrictions away really opens up the flexibility of a Disney World trip and leaves more room for spontaneity.
This news isn’t quite as exciting for annual passholders. You would think that since anyone eligible to park hop can do so at their leisure that reservations are redundant and unnecessary now. While passholders are able to park hop all day again, they still need reservations to go to their first park before 2:00 p.m. and must check in to that park before park hopping. Nearly all other ticket types will no longer require park pass reservations as of January 9th, 2024.
Disney Raises Prices on Nearly Everything
Every once in a while we see Disney raise prices resort wide. This happened recently and the results will be felt on your next visit. Everything from park tickets to restaurants have gone up. Some prices rose but just a few dollars, like many character meals for example. Other things got a hefty price hike. That includes annual passes, with a few coming in $50 higher this time around.
Theme park parking is up from $25 to $30. Remember parking at the resorts is complimentary again after a few years of charging per night. Parking is always free for all DVC Members though! Additional experiences like water park, mini golf and tours have also gone up in price. If you’re in the middle of planning and budgeting for your trip, you may want to do the research and add up the difference.
What are the barges in World Showcase Lagoon?
On your next visit to Epcot you may see barges in World Showcase Lagoon again. Don’t worry, this isn’t a repeat of Harmonious with the large, distracting hardware. These barges are for the new nighttime show but they’re movable. It seems that, similar to Illuminations, structures in the water will move in and out each day to be ready for show time. You may remember in the past when the globe would come in in the afternoon, World Showcase traffic would be held up near China. This is where the drawbridge is that allows large objects to move in and out of view of park guests. We’ll have to see how these nighttime show supports affect crowd flow during the day. Luminous The Story of Us debuts at Epcot December 5th, 2023.
New Frozen Holiday Surprise Castle Show Debuts at Magic Kingdom
In the past, the Dream Lights that graced Cinderella Castle were introduced each night by the Fairy Godmother. This changed when an Elsa story was introduced. While the Dream Lights are sadly no longer part of the season, a castle changeover still happens with the projection visuals. Disney says Olaf and the snowgies will decorate the castle in this show. Also, Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff will wear new holiday outfits. This nightly magic can be seen by guests in the park. These are usually around sunset but check the time on the day of your visit.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is Back
The 2023 version of the Magic Kingdom holiday event is here! On select nights now through late December, a special parade and fireworks, themed treats and exclusive character appearances fill the park. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard ticket event, meaning you need to purchase a separate ticket to attend.
Tip: Visiting Magic Kingdom on days when there are special events at night and the park closes early to day guests can be a smart move. Many people choose to visit other parks instead and the crowds can be lighter in the afternoons especially.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 2023 Details
Each year the holiday season comes to life at Epcot. With every season comes a new festival around World Showcase. This year, favorites return.
Santa meets guests in the Odyssey pavilion from November 24th through December 24th.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season brings gospel goodness to World Showcase Plaza.
Storytellers from around the world celebrate the season in the countries of World Showcase. This year guests can see Barn Santa in the Norway pavilion, a Chinese Lion Dancer commemorating the Lunar New Year, how different parts of the world celebrate Hanukkah, Pere Noel in France and more.
More than 15 Holiday Kitchens, or food booths, are part of the line up this year and the Holiday Cookie Stroll returns as well.
Living with the Land features lights for the holidays and Soarin’ continues to have the California theme to celebrate Disney 100. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is included with a regular park ticket.
Candlelight Processional Narrators Announced
A special part of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, and of Christmas Disney offerings in general, is Candlelight Processional. Hear the Christmas story told by a celebrity narrator with an impressive choir and live orchestra. Dining packages with reserved seating for these spectacular shows are available now. This year there are some new narrators to see:
Chrissy Metz (New): Nov. 24-25
Luis Fonsi (New): Nov. 26-27
Ann-Margret (New): Nov. 28-29
Simu Liu: Nov. 30-Dec. 2
John Stamos: Dec. 3-5
Neil Patrick Harris: Dec. 6-8
Marlee Matlin: Dec. 9-11
Brendan Fraser (New): Dec. 12-14
Eva Longoria (New): Dec. 15-16
Joey McIntyre (New): Dec. 17-18
Sterling K. Brown (New): Dec. 19-20
Jordan Fisher (New): Dec. 21-23
Steven Curtis Chapman: Dec. 24-26
Audra McDonald (New): Dec. 27-28
Lisa Ling: Dec. 29-30
Jollywood Nights Debuts at Hollywood Studios
A brand new celebration of the holidays is happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year. Jollywood Nights is a hard ticket event not included with an annual pass or day ticket. Special entertainment, exclusive shows and themed dining opportunities are the main attractions but some rides will be open as well.
A musical variety show with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle and more will take place at the theater where the Beauty and the Beast stage show happens during the day. Characters are also part of this event with Mickey, Minnie and friends meeting in the Animation Courtyard.
What is there for Disney 100 at Epcot?
Worth mentioning again, the Disney 100 celebration at Disney World is now happening at Epcot through December 31st, 2023. For the anniversary, Mickey and Minnie meet in their special platinum looks in the Imagination Pavilion. Soarin’ Over California has returned temporarily as a little nostalgic treat. Luminous, the firework show debuting at Epcot December 5th, is said to be part of the celebration. Spaceship Earth has a special lighting sequence to celebrate. You’ll also find the little extras like a Mickey balloon popcorn bucket in the anniversary colors, merchandise throughout all of the parks and Disney 100 visuals here and there.
Moonlight Magic at Animal Kingdom 2023
Another Moonlight Magic event has been announced, this time for Animal Kingdom. These after hours events are for Disney Vacation Club Members who are eligible for Membership Extras. Those who purchase resale alone do not qualify. We know many Members have some combination of direct and resale points so it’s important to share these things. These kinds of extras are a lot of fun but not guaranteed, even for eligible Members. More information from Disney:
“Early Registration Window – Opens November 28, 2023
The early registration window for the December 13th Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park event is open to eligible Members with existing Resort reservations at a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort—with party size modifications finalized prior to November 26, 2023.
All Resort reservations and modifications—including your party size—must be completed by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on November 26, 2023. Modifications to your Resort reservation party size after November 26, 2023 will not increase party size for the event.
General Registration – Opens December 5, 2023
Event registration for the December 13th Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park event opens to all eligible Members on December 5, 2023 (pending availability).”
Narcoossee’s Reopens After Additional Refurbishment
The beloved Narcoossee’s is open again after some additional renovating. The restaurant was closed for a complete refurbishment not too long ago and reopened with a refreshed menu and interior. This additional closure seemed to finish up some of that work.
Narcoossee’s is not only a highlight of the Grand Floridian restaurants but also of Disney World dining in general. If you haven’t been, it’s the round restaurant that sits closest to Magic Kingdom on the water. It has spectacular firework views and excellent food.
Geyser Point Bar & Grill Menu Updates
Disney World News November 2023 brings us some delicious new things to eat. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has some really wonderful dining options. There is quite the range here, too, from a character meal with Snow White to a sassy atmosphere with homestyle cooking at Whispering Canyon. All of the Wilderness Lodge restaurants are great but anyone who has been to eat at Geyser Point knows how special it is. This outdoor bar and lounge now has some new menu items to enjoy.
Some new menu items include the Crispy ‘Peking’ Ribs with cashews and Geyser Chicken Wings in Thai Chili, Sriracha Buffalo or Teriyaki sauce. A Charcuterie Flatbread with salami, brisket, chorizo, bacon, and smoked gouda beer cheese is also new. There’s also a Turkey BLT Sandwich with house smoked black pepper turkey, candied bacon, and avocado puree.
For plant based eaters or veggies lovers there are three new options. The Macaroni and ‘Cheese’ Bites, Vegetable Burger with ‘Cheese’ and a Multigrain Salad with Tofu.
The Pineapple Mule is now on the menu permanently with its recipe of Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, Hella Cocktail Co. Ginger Bitters, pineapple juice, ginger beer, and mint.
The Bison Burger is still on the menu for those wondering!
On the water outside, Geyser Point Bar & Grill is also the best place to watch fireworks from Wilderness Lodge.
Disney Introduces Seasonal Water Park Pass
Disney recently introduced a special pass just for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. This seasonal pass is just $79 plus tax for adults. Unlike annual passes, these seasonal passes are not good for a year but good through May 24th, 2024. This offer is eligible for all guests, not just Florida residents.
The film Wish hits theaters November 22
This year’s Thanksgiving weekend film from Disney is Wish. This time of year we’ve seen some big hits debut including Frozen which came out ten years ago in 2013. Wish has some prime talent with characters Asha, voiced by Ariana DeBose, and King Magnifico, voiced by Chris Pine. Wish is a musical film and will have songs sung by the characters. Disney says this of the plot:
“In “Wish,” Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.”
We often see extra magic around the parks celebrating new films. It’s possible you might find treats, merchandise and more around Disney World featuring Asha and other characters from the movie. Disney Springs usually puts out a nice red carpet set up with stand ups promoting the film when it first comes out. If you happen to be visiting Disney World shortly after a Disney movie comes out, the AMC movie theater at Disney Springs provides a fun experience for viewing Disney movies. If you’re staying at Saratoga Springs, Disney Springs is a quick boat ride or walk away.
Disney World News November 2023: Recent 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.
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.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets are on sale.
Jollywood Nights, the new Hollywood Studios holiday special event, tickets are on sale.
The Mirabel meet and greet is open at Magic Kingdom.
The Figment meet and greet is open at Epcot.
See additional information that may impact your hotel stay in our DVC resort refurbishment schedule.
DVC Resale Experts Can Help
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