Updated September 13th, 2021
2021 has been a HUGE year so far at the Disney Parks.
We’ve seen lots of unexpected things, tons of new merchandise and snacks, and many changes to the parks in general. And besides all that, 2021 has been FILLED with big Disney announcements. Today we’re giving you a refresh on all of the biggest Disney news so far this year! (Or, we’re catching you up if you’ve been living under a rock or trekking through the wilderness for four months.)
Magical Express Has Been Discontinued
One of the first news bombs dropped on us this year was that Disney World’s transportation service to and from the Orlando airport, Magical Express, would be discontinued at the end of the year. Guests have from now until 2022 to work out how they’ll be getting from MCO to their Disney Resort, and we’ve been sharing a lot of information on possible alternative options since then.
Jungle Cruise is Getting a Retheme
Disney also announced early in the year that one of Magic Kingdom and Disneyland‘s most classic rides would be getting a new storyline! Jungle Cruise went under construction in March and is now open (and fully transformed) in both Disney World and Disneyland with all new characters, new animatronics, and tons of new jokes!
Several Attraction Opening Dates
This year has also been the time for Disney to (FINALLY) start announcing some opening dates for big things coming in the future. They shared that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the rest of the France Pavilion expansion (including La Creperie de Paris) in EPCOT would be opening on the Disney World 50th Anniversary, October 1st, 2021.
Plus, Disney later revealed that the new restaurant, Space 220, would open BEFORE the 50th Anniversary on September 20th.
We also got the opening date for Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure, which officially welcomed guests for the first time on June 4th. This area features new rides, new restaurants, and new experiences for all kinds of Marvel fans!
Mickey’s Not So Scary is Canceled — But Another Halloween Party is Coming!
Disney World also announced that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was canceled for a second year in a row, but it was replaced (at least for this year) by another after hours event — Boo Bash!
Running select nights from August 10th to October 31st, the event takes place at Magic Kingdom from 9AM to 12AM, with costumes, characters, themed cavalcades, and treats!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is Canceled — But Another Holiday Party is Coming!
Speaking of Disney World holiday parties, it was also announced that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would not be occurring again this year and would instead be replaced with Disney Very Merriest After Hours.
The event will take place on select nights from November 8th to December 21st and will feature many of the same hallmarks like holiday ride overlays, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, and Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.
Learn More About What’s Different Between Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Disney World’s NEW After Hours Event HERE!
The Disney College Program is Back
The Disney College Program returned this summer as those who participated previously or were accepted into the program before it was canceled were invited back to try again. The program now includes some modifications for health and safety reasons, but we’re definitely thrilled for these Cast Members to live out their dreams!
Tons of Disneyland Resort News
Even though Disneyland Resort was closed at the beginning of the year, it has been a busy few months for the two parks! First, Disney announced that they were canceling the Disneyland Resort Annual Passholder program and replacing it with something new — the Magic Key Program.
After that, we FINALLY got a reopening date for the parks, and we were there to celebrate on the first day! They’re up and running now with limited operations and new safety regulations after a 13 month-long closure. We know that California Disney fans are super excited about that!
And then, in the news we definitely didn’t see coming — Disneyland Resort proposed an expansion plan to their local government! The new areas of the resort would be created through rearranging parking space, allowing the two parks to expand with new lands and the resort to open up more dining and shopping locations. This plan is still pending approval from the local government.
New Technology Coming Soon
And speaking of things we didn’t expect, Disney dropped some new tech on us in early April. We got a glimpse of two big things — a walking Baby Groot animatronic that is super cute, and a REAL lightsaber that is insanely cool!
We now know that the lightsabers will be part of a new Lightsaber Training experience coming to the new Star Wars hotel that will open next year, and we got to learn more about Baby Groot too who will someday be at Avengers Campus.
Disney World Updated the Mask Policy
Ever since the parks reopened in Disney World, there has been a strict mask mandate in place. April marked the first time that Disney had relaxed those rules since reopening, with a new mask policy for photos going into place. And, nowadays, guests are allowed to remove their face coverings in all outdoor locations. Though, masks must still be worn by ALL guests (regardless of vaccination status) in all indoor locations and all enclosed transportation.
Temperature checks have also been removed, as reduced distancing measures are being placed in the parks. As additional changes to health and safety precautions come to Disney World, we’ll keep you updated with everything you need to know!
Celebrations Coming for the 50th Anniversary
We’ve been waiting anxiously for more details on Disney World’s big 50th Anniversary, and we got a little teaser of what’s to come earlier this year. On Good Morning America, Disney revealed their plans to give each of the four park icons a makeover in honor of the special occasion. In addition, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will be getting new outfits to match the celebration’s color scheme.
Since, Disney has revealed even MORE details about the 18-month long celebration and we’ve been seeing new things pop up in the parks daily in anticipation!
A Spectacular New Cruise Ship
If you’re itching to get back on the sea, then you’ll be happy to know that Disney recently revealed the FIRST details about their newest cruise ship, the Disney Wish. This ship is unlike any other, with Disney’s first attraction at sea and tons of interactive and immersive experiences for the whole family (not to mention the luxurious accommodations!).
New Hotel Rooms
And speaking of luxurious places to stay, TWO Disney Deluxe Hotels are receiving some major updates. In July, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort reopened with new Moana-themed rooms…
FastPasses Are Gone and Disney Genie+ is Coming
Since the parks reopened, FastPass+ had been suspended, meaning that all guests need to wait in the standby line for attractions. And, Disney recently announced that FastPass+ would NOT be coming back and would instead be replaced with TWO new PAID options for skipping the lines.
Launching this fall, guests will now need to pay for either Disney Genie+ or Individual Attraction Selections (or both) in order to access new Lightning Lanes (aka FastPass lanes) at attractions across both Disney World and Disneyland. These new features will be built into the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps (along with other FREE features) and we’ve been breaking down everything that you’ll need to know.
New Disney World Annual Pass Program
Disneyland wasn’t the only location to have their Annual Passholder program completely overhauled — major changes were also announced for Disney World’s Annual Passholders.
Sales were suspended for roughly 18 months but they are BACK on sale. The new program completely replaces the previous tier system with FOUR new options and you’ll need to keep track of what benefits are (and are NOT) included, new blockout dates, and more.
Trailers and Premiere Dates for Shows & Movies
There’s also been a constant whirlwind of news for Disney+ and other Disney media. We’ve learned TONS of premiere dates for movies and TV series, and we’ve been watching trailer after trailer after trailer of new content! This is definitely going to be a big year for entertainment.
Disney World Discontinues Free MagicBands
Earlier this year, Disney got rid of the complimentary MagicBand program for Disney World Resort hotel guests. And, instead, MagicMobile was introduced on the My Disney Experience app, enabling guests to use their cell phones as their MagicBands. And, now Disney World Annual Passholders no longer enjoy complimentary MagicBands as well.
Those are all the biggest Disney news announcements we’ve had so far this year, but stay tuned to AllEars to make sure you don’t miss any that are coming soon! We’re bringing you the latest updates from the Disney parks and online each and every day!
Which of these news bombs surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments!
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