New FREE perks in Disney News, Universal Studios plans a New Park and MORE

New FREE perks in Disney News, Universal Studios plans a New Park and MORE

There was a bunch of exciting Disney news this week as well as Universal Studios announcements!  We have details on the return of 2 favorite nighttime spectaculars and new free perks to Disney resort guests. 

Universal Studios is building a new park in Texas as well as planning some permanent live entertainment in Las Vegas.  That’s not all! Let’s jump in right away because I can’t wait to share.

Walt Disney World News

The Return of “Happily Ever After” and “Epcot Forever”

Beginning April 3, both “Happily Ever After” and “Epcot Forever” will return as nighttime spectaculars at Disney World.  “Happily Ever After” is one of Magic Kingdom’s most beloved shows. Many of us are excited to revisit this amazing piece of live Disney Entertainment.  It’s said to be getting a little update and will include projections down Main Street USA.

Youtube credit: DizN With the Donohues

“Epcot Forever” will return to replace “Harmonious” as an interim nighttime spectacular.  Those huge eyesores, I mean barges, will be removed from the World Showcase Lagoon to make way for the changes. 

Barges in World Showcase lagoon
The large barges will no longer obstruct our view in World Showcase
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

Find out all the details on the return of both these popular shows HERE.

In addition, if you would like to hear more about Disney World’s nighttime entertainment, find it HERE.

Tron Has an Opening Date

On Tuesday, Disney announced that Tron Lightcycle/Run will finally open at Magic Kingdom on April 4.  We’ve been waiting and watching the construction progress on this brand-new attraction since 2018.  It will be the fastest roller coaster in any Disney Theme Park.

Tron Signage
photo credit: @bizzyrunninganddizn

Get all the information on Tron Lightcycle/Run HERE

Free Resort Parking to Disney Resort Guests

You heard me correctly!  On Tuesday, Disney announced, effective immediately, Disney resort guests have complimentary self-parking.  Already resort guests get free parking at the theme parks. 

Old Key West Parking Lot
Disney resort guests get complimentary self-parking
Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

This new change will save a lot of money for guests who choose to rent vehicles or bring their own on vacation.  Thank you, Disney!

Perks for Annual Passholders at Disney World

In the next few months, Disney World annual passholders can enter the parks after 2pm without a park pass reservation.  The only exception will be Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom.  Some block out dates will apply.

The frustration over no “spontaneous” trips to the parks for annual passholders might be dwindling.  Here’s hoping they open up the out of state annual passholder option again soon.

Free Photopass photos on Attractions with the Purchase of Genie+

This week Disney stated that in the next few months park guests would receive FREE Photopass downloads when they choose to purchase Disney Genie+ for the day.  This new perk only applies to attraction photos, but that’s a GREAT new plus. 

Mine Train attraction photo
Get Free photopass downloads from attractions with the purchase of Genie+
photo Credit: @Mardizndana

Hooray for adding just a little more value when it comes to spending our money.  A little goes a long way! If you would like to learn more about Disney Genie+, you can find it HERE. In addition, you can get more information on Disney’s Photopass and Memory Maker HERE.

Epcot Festival of The Arts Photopass Fun

From January 13 to February 20 Epcot will host The Festival of the Arts.  This colorful and immersive festival gives guests the opportunity to open up their imaginations through the arts including culinary, music, stage, and yes, even photography.

Figment Magic Shot
photo credit: Disney Destinations

Photopass photographers will be available around Epcot to add some artistic flair to your photos.  Here’s some that you can try:

Tiny World Magic Shot
photo credit: Disney Destinations
  • Figment Magic Shots- add the little purple dragon to your group picture.  Try chalk art with Figment, Figment wings or flying Figment around the main entrance and most locations
  • Tiny World Magic Shot- Day or night get a Festival of The Arts edition 360-degree picture at the main entrance
  • Artful Steps jump into a giant painting and make it fun
  • Paintbrush Prop & Magic Shot- starting at 6pm at the main entrance, add a little “light” painting to your photo
  • Pixel Stick- After dark photopass photographers will create unique art around your photo for an extra special effect.  Every picture is different.  This will happen near Creations Shop on the walkway to World Showcase.

Get an Inside Look at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts.

Disneyland News

First, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open January 27, and the “Magic Happens” celebration parade is set to return to Disneyland February 24.  That’s not all!  Mickey’s Toon Town will reopen on March 8. 

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

New Park Hopping at Disneyland

Beginning February 4, park hopping between Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure will start at 11am.  Currently Park hopping doesn’t begin until 2pm.  This is amazing news as both parks are within walking distance and ready for that change.

Complimentary Photopass

In more Photopass news, this time at Disneyland, starting February 4, all ticketed guests will have free photopass downloads from the attractions through the Disneyland app throughout the 100th anniversary celebration at the park.  In other words, you get your attraction photos for free!! 

Space mountain attraction photo
photo Credit: @Mardizndana

The Lowest Price Ticket Covers the Calendar

Disneyland added almost 2 months of days with the lowest priced ticket to their 2023 calendar this week in Disney news.  That means there are more days to go when prices are low.  That lowest priced base ticket is currently $104/day.    

Tiana’s Place

On February 17, The French Market Restaurant and Mint Julep Bar will close to be transformed into Tiana’s Place in New Orleans Square.  Disney news included that The Mint Julep Bar will reopen with the new rethemed restaurant later this year. 

Concept art for Tiana's Place
Concept art for Tiana’s Place Photo Credit: Disney Destinations

Tiana’s Place will be a quick service restaurant with “much the same pinch of pizzazz and flair as the film” (Princess and the Frog) per Disney news.  The menu plan is authentic New Orleans classics with seasonal flavors added in. 

Universal Studios Resorts

A NEW Universal Theme Park

This week, there was whole lot of excitement out of Universal Studios!  Why?  Did someone say a “new” park?  Yes!  A NEW theme park will open in Frisco, Texas geared toward families with small children.  The park is going to be much different than any other Universal Park in existence except for the high quality.

Concept art for the new park
Photo Credit; Universal Parks and Resorts

This park will be sized for a “regional audience” and include family friendly attractions and entertainment.  The landscaping, theming, and characters will be inviting to the smallest guests of the theme parks.  Universal recently purchased 97 acers in Frisco for this project. It will also include a themed resort and there’s room for growth. 

A Permanent Entertainment Experience in Las Vegas

The creators of Halloween Horror Nights are moving into Vegas!  Universal Studios is setting up camp as the anchor tent (no pun intended) to the new immersive “Area 15” entertainment district in Las Vegas. 

HHN signage from Universal Parks and Resorts
Photo Credit: Universal Parks and Resorts

This new experience, inspired by Halloween Horror Nights, will pay homage to classic horror films as well as new modern chilling stories brought to life by Universal.  The show/experience will be updated regularly and seasonally. 

Much like HHN the experience will include merchandise sales as well as food and beverages themed accordingly.  If you’re a fan of the horror classics it may be worth a trip to the strip!

Welcome to Vegas Universal photo: @bizzyrunninganddizn

If you are excited about these announcements or have a question, comment below!

Looking for a quote on a vacation to a Disney destination or Universal Studios?  Reach out to our friends at DizN Vacations. Their team of experienced and knowledgeable travel advisors will help you build your best trip! You can also submit a free no obligation quote request to start planning that vacation right away.

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