We’re back with another Walt Disney World news roundup. This one covers the latest extensions and additions to park hours through Summer 2022, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Cast Previews, more charges to entertainment at Epcot and Animal Kingdom, an event at ESPN Wide World of Sports, Grand Floridian restaurant refurbishment, and more.
As usual, we’ll start with the latest release of new and modified operating schedules. All four theme parks have had hours for another week added to DisneyWorld.com’s park hours, and the current calendar now runs through June 18, 2022. Here are the hours for the newly-added dates in Summer 2022:
Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 10 pm
Epcot: 10 am to 9 pm
Hollywood Studios: 9 am to 9 pm
Animal Kingdom: 8 am to 8 pm
Typhoon Lagoon: 10 am to 7 pm
Disney Springs: 10 am to 11 pm (11:30 pm on Fridays & Saturdays)
These are boilerplate hours that are simply a placeholder that’s subject to change if or when internal forecasts show higher attendance at Walt Disney World. With that said, there are a couple of interesting changes for the most recent week to be posted in mid-June 2022. First, Animal Kingdom extends its hours to 8 am to 8 pm, from a baseline of 9 am to 7 pm. Second, Typhoon Lagoon gradually extends its closing time from 5 pm to 7 pm, and adds the H2O Glow After Hours on top of that, which will end at 11 pm nightly.
In addition to these updated boilerplate hours for June 2022, there are also extensions to park hours for April 17-23, 2022. These are more or less the same extensions that’ve been occurring since the start of spring break season, and make beating the crowds much easier–so long as you don’t mind getting up a bit early!
Here are the current Walt Disney World park hours through April 23, 2022:
Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 11 pm
Epcot: 8:30 am to 9 pm
Hollywood Studios: 8 am to 9 pm
Animal Kingdom: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
As of right now, these revert to normal on April 24, 2022. That might end up happening, but we highly doubt it. Even though that would normally be the end of spring break season, Disney Park Pass reservations are already filling for April 24-26, and those dates are still several weeks away. As such, we expect extensions more or less in line with what’s listed above for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE: Walt Disney World park hours have now been extended through April 30, 2022. The same hours listed above apply through (at least) then.
It’s looking increasingly like attendance isn’t going to let up at Walt Disney World anytime soon. Even after spring break season ends, summer is right around the corner. With Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewinds likely throughout mid-May 2022 and its grand opening after that, there’s a decent chance mid-August 2022 will be the next sustained reprieve from crowds.
Honestly, as much as I’d like to enjoy some quiet days in the parks, I’ll happily take heavy attendance and the parks operating at full throttle once again. Seasoned Walt Disney World visitors know how to outsmart the crowds. What we cannot “outsmart” is Fantasmic, Finding Nemo: the Musical, etc. being dark.
To that end, we (once again) recommend checking out Genie+ v. Savvy Standby Strategy at Walt Disney World, which is the result of extensive ‘testing’ to determine the best and worst ways to beat the crowds. Genie+ is only the clear winner at Magic Kingdom. In the other 3 parks, there are superior strategies for saving time waiting in line.
Even Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has a lot of popular rides with long lines, has better ways to beat the crowds. If you’re overwhelmed by all of the recent changes, crowd reports, and everything else, that’s the most succinct resource for current strategy.
In our latest Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind “preview watch,” registration for Cast Member previews will begin on April 11, 2022. While dates are not yet official, these are highly likely to begin in the second half of April and run through (very) early May 2022.
As covered yesterday, registration for the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind D23 Preview is April 12, 2022. Given that, our expectation is that AP and DVC preview registration will open sometime next week. Again, we strongly recommend trying for the D23 preview if you’re eligible, for the reasons discussed in that post.
In restaurant news, Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort will close starting June 18, 2022 for a lengthy refurbishment that currently does not have an end date. Citricos will operate daily beginning June 26, 2022 to accommodate the displaced Cast Members and provide needed dining capacity.
As you might recall, Citricos opened from its own Mary Poppins “reimagining” last year. That plus a new menu resulted in it jumping up our restaurant rankings. (See Citricos Reimagined Restaurant Review for thoughts, food & interior photos, recommendations, etc.) If it’s anything like that, we’re cautiously optimistic about the Narcoossee’s reimagining.
This also comes as rumors swirl about room and lobby refurbishments at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. We’re decently in the loop when it comes to construction at the resorts, but we haven’t heard anything from credible sources about this project, its scope or scale. With that said, we have been stressing the urgent need for this (particularly in hotel guest rooms) and the likelihood that it’s on the horizon.
Even without knowing anything about the veracity of these Grand Floridian rumors, our expectation is that it’s an inevitability at some point this year or in 2023. Then again, we would’ve said the same thing about an overhaul of the Grand Canyon Concourse and absolutely nothing has happened there. So who knows. We have a lot more thoughts on what needs to happen (and what absolutely does not) at the Grand Floridian, but we’ll save those until an actual announcement is made beyond this.
Next, as part of Walt Disney World’s support for military service, the ESPN Wide World of Sports will host the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games from August 19 to 28, 2022. The DoD Warrior Games celebrating the resiliency and dedication of wounded, ill, and injured active duty and veteran U.S. military service members.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is being donated for use and will host the DoD Warrior Games for the first time. If you have deja vu reading this, it’s because the 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games were originally scheduled to take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex last September before being cancelled due to the Delta variant.
Walt Disney World will also host the 2022 Veterans Institute Summit presented by Disney Institute August 19-20, 2022 at ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The summit is designed to empower companies to build effective veteran hiring, training and support of their own. The two-day forum will include speakers from Disney’s Heroes Work Here initiative, U.S. government officials, veterans and military spouses, among many others.
Next, a flurry of entertainment updates. Let’s start with Animal Kingdom, which will soon see updates to the cult-favorite KiteTails. According to Walt Disney World, here’s what’ll happen: “we’re shifting the focus of the show so guests will be able to experience ‘Disney KiteTails’ from anywhere around the Discovery River Lagoon, with shorter and more frequent performances throughout the day.”
I’m mixed on this news. From my perspective, the only reason KiteTails “works” is because of the energetic performers who hype up the crowd, near-misses as the kites graze the water and unpredictably swing around, and the epic up-close crash-landings. This will eliminate two of those things.
However, I also understand that KiteTails might underwhelm casual audiences who take time out of their day and stake out spots to see a show. While we love it, KiteTails doesn’t deliver in the “traditional” ways one would expect of a Disney entertainment production. The only way this would be a net-positive for everyone is if the kites just start crashing at random, everywhere around the park. Make it a truly “immersive” kite crashing experience, Disney.
Walt Disney World has also announced that a certain group of high-flying primates are making their return to Festival of the Lion King this summer. That’s right, the delightful Tumble Monkeys be back to their acrobatic hijinks and the show’s iconic birds will once again soar above the stage. Now this is unequivocally good news. (Honestly, we were worried a little that once these cuts happened, they’d never be undone.)
In addition to that, Disney teased that Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond is opening “in the coming months” at Animal Kingdom. This was more or less known, but it’s somewhat significant that the opening date still hasn’t been set. Our expectation is around Memorial Day.
In other entertainment news, pianist Carol Stein announced on her Facebook page that she will be moving from the United Kingdom Pavilion to the American Adventure Rotunda to debut a new musical presentation this Sunday, April 10, 2022 at 11:30am. Some of you may better know her as the “Hat Lady” in Rose & Crown, but recently, she’s been playing outside in the UK bandstand. She performed her last set at the United Kingdom Pavilion yesterday, concluding her run in fitting fashion with “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
This might seem like an odd move, but students of the American Adventure are undoubtedly aware of the country’s rich history of stealing from the British–it’s covered right in the attraction! Joking aside, the Voices of Liberty will still perform in the rotunda, and it’s expected that an announcement will come soon about a replacement act in the United Kingdom.
Finally, in other Epcot entertainment news (sorta), Walt Disney World invited a celebrity to the park for Earth Month and shared their visit on social media. That’s right, I’m talking about lead Muppet, Kermit the Frog!
This actually isn’t really news–to my knowledge, no new Beacons of Magic segment is debuting for Earth Month–but it’s an excuse to raise Muppet awareness, so I’ll take it. As a reminder, the “Colors of the Wind” segment continues to run on Spaceship Earth nightly. It’s a great enhancement, and we love to see seasonal additions like this–the little things make a big difference. Nothing’s going to top the Muppets, so we might as well wrap up this week’s Walt Disney World news roundup here.
What do you think about all this Walt Disney World news? Pleased to hear more entertainment updates for Epcot and Animal Kingdom? Hope more is on the horizon? On pins and needles waiting for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind previews? Thoughts on the reimagining of Narcoossee’s and potential changes to the lobby and rooms at Grand Floridian? What about extended hours v. crowds at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!