DVC Parks and Resorts Update for February 8th, 2021

Beauty and the Beast topiaries at EPCOT in Disney World

This week, Disneyland gained some hope, annual passholders received a hefty discount, Magic Kingdom brought back some old favorites, and an EPCOT festival revealed some details.

I’ll bring you the latest in the DVC Parks and Resorts Update.

Flower & Garden Festival Information

We’re less than a month away from the arrival of the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. This event will debut on March 3rd and then run through July 5th.

Once this event opens, all four EPCOT festivals will have operated during the pandemic. You may recall that last year’s Flower & Garden Festival got truncated by coronavirus. It opened on March 4th, only for Walt Disney World to close less than two weeks later.

While some aspects of Flower & Garden returned last July, Disney combined them with the Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. So, it wasn’t quite the same. As such, EPCOT management wants this event to feel special, which presents a challenge during a pandemic.

Topiary dragon at EPCOT in Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Disney recently released the list of entertainment coming to the festival, and it’s rather remarkable. For instance, here’s the list of topiaries you can examine during your visit (quoted from the official site):

  • “Sorcerer Mickey Mouse, Broom, Ostriches, Hippo, and Mushroom – Main Entrance
  • Woody, Bo Peep, and her sheep – Future World West
  • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy – Between Future World & World Showcase
  • Pluto and Chip ‘n Dale – Between Future World and World Showcase
  • Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie – Showcase Plaza
  • Buzz Lightyear – Future World East near Mission: SPACE®
  • Figment – Future World West near Imagination!
  • Topiary Butterflies – Future World West
  • The Three Caballeros (Jose, Donald, and Panchito) – Mexico Pavilion
  • Anna and Elsa – Norway Pavilion
  • Troll – Norway Pavilion
  • Dragon Topiary – Japan Pavilion near Torii Gate
  • Pandas – China Pavilion
  • China Zodiac Topiary Garden – China Pavilion in front of Nine Dragons
  • Simba and Friends (Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa and Sarabi) – Future World West
  • Snow White and Dopey – Germany Pavilion
  • Lady and the Tramp – Italy Pavilion
  • Beauty and the Beast – France Pavilion
  • Remy – France Pavilion
  • Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy – Between United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions
  • Peter Pan and Captain Hook – United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Winnie the Pooh and Friends (Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger) – United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Tinker Bell and Fairy Houses – United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Bambi and Friends – Future World East near Mouse Gear”

Yes, that’s 24 different shrubs that cast members will carve into the shapes of beloved Disney characters. This information should eliminate any doubt about whether it’s a full-fledged festival.

More Flower & Garden Details

In addition to the topiaries, EPCOT will host a slew of special events and tutorials. Highlights include the popular Floating Gardens, a new Prehistoric Garden, a Bonsai Collection, and an English Tea Garden. Also, the Goodness Garden Butterfly House returns, which is something of a surprise. You can read the full list here.

Miss Piggy Topiary at EPCOT in Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

While entertainment remains difficult during the pandemic, Disney has once again proven adaptive with its performances. You’ll find four different shows during the Flower & Garden Festival. They are:

  • Jammin’ Gardeners at the Canada Mill Stage
  • Mariachi Cobre at American Gardens Theatre
  • Pianist at the World Showplace
  • Voices of Liberty at America Gardens Theatre

Of course, the shows and topiaries provide plenty of entertainment. Still, we all visit the Flower & Garden Festival for the Outdoor Kitchens. Here’s the full 2021 list of dining options:

  • Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market
  • Cider House (Located in World Showplace)
  • The Citrus Blossom
  • Festival Favorites (Located in World Showplace)
  • Flavor Full Kitchen Hosted by AdventHealth
  • Fleur de Lys
  • Hanami
  • Jardin de Fiestas
  • The Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board™
  • La Isla Fresca
  • Lotus House
  • Magnolia Terrace
  • Northern Bloom
  • Pineapple Promenade
  • Primavera Kitchen
  • Taste of Marrakesh
  • Trowel & Trellis Hosted by Impossible™ Foods

So, you’ll have your choice of 17 different Food Kitchens. Plus, Disney indicates that these locations will feature special goodies during the festival:

  • Refreshment Port
  • Refreshment Outpost
  • Funnel Cake
  • Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company

EPCOT has named its festivals “Taste of” to distinguish that they’re not complete due to the pandemic. However, this year’s Flower & Garden Festival looks quite strong on paper.

Disneyland Updates

The slow news drip at Disneyland may turn into a downpour soon, as the resort is trending in the right direction. I mentioned last time that the stay-at-home order in California has ended.

This policy change allowed Disneyland Resort to reopen several outdoor restaurants. Establishments at Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney came back after the (most recent) forced closure.

Here are all the places that have recently returned:

  • Award Wieners
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company
  • Black Tap
  • Carthay Circle – Alfresco Dining
  • Naples Ristorante e Bar
  • Smokejumpers Grill
  • Tortilla Joe’s
  • Uva Bar & Café

Disneyland fans likely noticed that the list includes some Disney-owned and operated eateries alongside the third-party ones. Previously, Disney waited for others to reopen before it brought back its own restaurants. So, the change in strategy is intriguing.

However, this news pales in comparison to a more significant one developing in California’s State House. Representatives are crafting bipartisan legislation, AB 420, that could change the reopening guidelines for large theme parks.

You may recall that California’s Governor published requirements that divided outbreaks into tiers. Smaller theme parks could reopen at the Orange level, Tier 3. Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood were held to a higher standard. They needed their counties to enter the Yellow level, Tier 4.

For Orange County to achieve Yellow status, only two out of every 100,000 citizens could test positive each day. Anything more than that would prevent reopening under the current guidelines. Well, the proposed legislation would change that requirement.

Under the proposed bill, all theme parks will fall under Tier 3 parameters, which is substantially easier to achieve. Disneyland officials have hoped for the park to reopen in time for its next anniversary in July. At Tier 3, the park could feasibly return several months earlier!

Disney Tourism Updates

The recent news doesn’t paint the same sunny picture for Disney Cruise Line…or anybody else in the cruise industry. Canada’s Minister of Transport just declared that the country won’t allow cruises until March 1st, 2022.

Until that date, Canada will require all ships to remain in international waters, never crossing over into its territory. This (reasonable) declaration devastates multiple economies, as Canada functions as a shortcut for many international cruises.

Inside a Disney Cruise ship lobby

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

For instance, Disney’s popular Alaskan cruises aren’t possible under this new rule. Well, the world’s round, so it’s possible but much less convenient. Many of these cruises travel and sometimes dock in Seattle, which has caused that city to brace for a billion-dollar loss merely from lost cruise revenue. That’s two straight years that Seattle didn’t receive expected tourism income.

Those of you who love Disney cruises should know that the company has only canceled cruises through April of 2021. Executives possess comprehensive survey data that suggests pent-up demand for cruises. Disney wants to bring back cruises to meet that demand, but circumstances haven’t allowed it yet.

Disney will continue with a wait-and-see approach, as universal vaccination occurs methodically during 2021. Herd immunity will save the cruise industry at some point, but nobody knows when.

Other branches of the Disney empire remain paralyzed as well. For instance, Disneyland Paris officials had hoped to hold its previously delayed Pride parade this summer. Alas, the situation hasn’t improved since last June. So, the park has canceled the Disneyland Paris Pride and Electroland displays for 2021 as well.

Meanwhile, at Tokyo Disneyland, maximum park attendance has dropped to 5,000 guests. This situation has led to some creepy social media posts wherein people post imagery from the nearly empty park. As a reminder, Tokyo Disneyland is usually the third-most-popular theme park in the world. Right now, it’s even more of a ghost town than Walt Disney World was last July.

Walt Disney World and DVC Updates

I have family members at Walt Disney World right now, and they happily texted me the other day to inform me about a new discount. From now through March 2nd, all annual passholders receive 30 percent off merchandise at most stores. Go nuts, y’all!

At Magic Kingdom, park officials have restored normalcy with the return of two beloved attractions. Tom Sawyer Island has reopened to the public, allowing guests to hop on a raft and sail away to one gigantic playground.

This section had remained closed after park officials drained Rivers of America. Disney did this to fix some issues with underwater railing from the Liberty Square Riverboat’s sailing route. And yes, this means your favorite cruise ship is back in business, too!

In anticipation of larger crowds at Liberty Square, Disney also reopened a new, more socially distanced Liberty Square Market. The cash registers are spread out, and the grab-and-go items sit on their own shelves in the middle of the counter area. The new changes are welcome and cause me to wonder why the store hadn’t looked like this all along.

The other major restaurant update hasn’t happened yet. On February 17th, the Rose & Crown Dining Room will close for renovations. Disney had filed the paperwork for this last fall but then never did anything. So, there was a slow burn on this refurbishment. The restaurant will remain closed through early spring. Get your Fish and Chips while you can!

Finally, I’ve got one other renovation note for you. The Kiki Tikis Splash Play Area at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has closed for some updates. This fixture by the Lava Pool will return at the start of April. So, it only impacts guests staying there over the next few weeks.

Speaking of which, my Disney Countdown Clock just hit zero. So, I’ll see you on the other side of my trip this week. Have fun, everyone!

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