Disney World News: Returning Entertainment, 50th Statues, More Mobile Order

We’re back with a weekend Walt Disney World news roundup. This update shares the latest look at newly-installed 50th Anniversary statues in Magic Kingdom, returning entertainment at the resorts, more Mobile Order locations coming to the parks, added hours, and much more!

As always, we’ll start with the latest release of new operating hours. All four theme parks have had hours for another week added to the DisneyWorld.com park hours calendar. The current calendar now runs through November 22, 2021. Here are the hours for most dates within the months of October and November 2021:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 9 pm
  • EPCOT: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Hollywood Studios: 9 am to 9 pm
  • Animal Kingdom: 8 am to 7 pm
  • Blizzard Beach: 11 am to 6 pm
  • Disney Springs: 10 am to 11 pm (11:30 pm on Fridays & Saturdays)

Note that Magic Kingdom closes at 8:30 pm on Disney After Hours Boo Bash nights going forward. That event runs from 9 pm until midnight for the remainder of its run. Additionally, we have the first Disney Very Merriest After Hours dates now on the calendar, and Magic Kingdom closes at 8 pm on those evenings, with that Christmas party running from 9 pm until 1 am.

There’s good and bad news with the newly-released hours. The bad is that Epcot’s opening time continues to be 11 am in mid to late November 2021. This started with the update last week and is truly perplexing given the debuts of both Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Harmonious. As previously noted, our expectation was that Epcot’s opening time would move to 9 am beginning in October.

The good news is that this is exactly what’s happening for the kickoff weekend of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary festivities. On October 1-2, Epcot will now open at 9 am. Additionally, Animal Kingdom’s closing time for those dates has been extended from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. (That’s a bit puzzling–I’m guessing Animal Kingdom will be a ghost town beginning in the afternoon since the new nighttime spectaculars are at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.)

Finally, Magic Kingdom’s closing time has been extended to 10 pm on October 1-2, plus September 29. The park will also now open at 8 am on its 50th Anniversary. These added hours are a step in the right direction, but they’re still bit restrained given attendance forecasts. That weekend seems like a good time for midnight Magic Kingdom closures.

Next, we have more dates for the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours that will allow eligible guests to experience select attractions, shops, and dining after regular park hours—in select theme parks on select nights. As a reminder, we shared Attraction Lists for Early Entry & Extended Evening Hours at Disney World, and that post also has more info about this upcoming guest perk.

Below is the current Extended Evening Theme Park Hours schedule:

Date Theme Park Extended Hours
Monday, Oct 4 Epcot 10:00 PM to midnight
Wednesday, Oct 6 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Monday, Oct 11 Epcot 10:00 PM to midnight
Wednesday, Oct 13 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Monday, Oct 18 Epcot 10:00 PM to midnight
Wednesday, Oct 20 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Monday, Oct 25 Epcot 10:00 PM to midnight
Wednesday, Oct 27 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Monday, Nov 1 Epcot 10:00 PM to midnight
Wednesday, Nov 3 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Monday, Nov 8 Epcot 10:00 PM – midnight
Wednesday, Nov 10 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Monday, Nov 15 Epcot 10:00 PM – midnight
Wednesday, Nov 17 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Monday, Nov 22 Epcot 10:00 PM – midnight
Wednesday, Nov 24 Magic Kingdom 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

This now runs through Thanksgiving week with that holiday causing no changes to the schedule. It’s probably safe to assume that this is the pattern Extended Evening Theme Park Hours will follow going forward.

Next, another schedule-related update that’s not specifically Walt Disney World news–although hopefully we get some announcements for the Florida parks out of it.

D23 has announced that tickets for the 2022 D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center near Disneyland will go on sale January 20, 2022. Originally to be held this year, the D23 Expo was delayed until September 9-11, 2022.

It promises a weekend of news on Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel including a first look at plans for the 100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. We’ve done all of the last several D23 Expos and will almost certainly be attending this one, too. It’s definitely a “taste specific” type of thing, though, and not for anyone averse to lines or crowds. (That weekend will also see elevated crowds at Disneyland due to the event.)

As a reminder, Creations Shop and Club Cool at Epcot open this coming week!

Imagineering commissioned a collection of 10 new sculptures titled “Mouse as Muse” for Creations Shop. Each sculpture is 26 inches tall and was painted by an Imagineer. The first of these is inspired by Herb Ryman’s “Progress City” painting. This reminds me of “Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations,” which was a set of 75 statues commissioned for Mickey Mouse’s 75th birthday/anniversary in the early 2000s.

Speaking of statues, the first of the new Disney Fab 50 Character Collection of sculptures has been installed in Magic Kingdom for the World’s Most Magical Celebration. Walt Disney World shared the above first look video of the additions.

These statues are a neat touch, but I also feel like they’re receiving way too much fanfare. These should be one minor component of a blockbuster anniversary, featuring characters who are significant to Walt Disney World’s historic legacy.

Next, Mobile Order is expanding to several new locations at Walt Disney World. Coming soon, you can use the Mobile Order service for confections from select merchandise locations with candy kitchens:

  • Candy Cauldron, located at Disney Springs – available Sept. 14
  • Karamell-Küche featuring Werther’s Original Caramel, located at EPCOT – available Sept. 16
  • Zuri’s Sweets Shop, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – available Sept. 21
  • Goofy’s Candy Company, located at Disney Springs – available Sept. 23

Main Street Confectionery at Magic Kingdom also plans to offer mobile order service after it reopens from its current refurbishment.

I’m a huge fan of Mobile Order and used it almost exclusively even pre-closure, but this seems a bit excessive even to me. Part of the fun in buying sweets is browsing the physical display cases, seeing what looks good, and ordering from a person. Those little human interactions might not seem like much on paper, but they play a significant role in the overall park experience.

Moreover, it doesn’t seem like a great time to be pushing even more screen time after just announcing Genie+ and Lightning Lanes–based on the response to that, it’s safe to say “more time with my face glued to my phone” is clearly not something guests want.

Mobile Order for candy shops might streamline the process slightly, but it’s not like a counter service meal that has to be prepared, plated up, and assembled on a tray. To me at least, it seems like there’s more to be lost from the overall “experience” here than there is to be gained in terms of time-savings and convenience.

The simple response is “just don’t use it,” but Walt Disney World is already pushing Mobile Order to such a degree that it’s a significant inconvenience and there’s so much friction to the process for anyone who opts to stand in line and pay. Some of these locations are so small that it’s hard to imagine Mobile Order and the regular line coexisting harmoniously. I guess we shall see, though.

Another week, another update that not a single night has sold out for Disney Very Merriest After HoursYou love to see it. 

As a reminder, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party normally sees higher demand than its Halloween counterpart with tickets selling faster for the holiday event. Hopefully Disney has finally pushed the limit of price increases too far, and guests are voting with their wallets.

There’s still a lot of time between now and when that event begins, so it’s premature to declare “victory” or start questioning what Walt Disney World will do if few dates sell out. Even so, it’s a small step in the right direction that this has already sold much slower than Boo Bash. It’ll be interesting to see what happens going forward, and we will continue providing updates.

Next, another venue reopening update, this time from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. That resort’s dueling piano bar, Jellyrolls, will reportedly reopen in mid-October 2021. This news comes via a Facebook stream by Jellyrolls’ pianist Scotty Kilwein who announced that he’d be returning.

Based on attendance and occupancy trends, it’s safe to assume that October 2021 will be the next “big” month for Walt Disney World’s phased reopening progress. On a related note, we recently visited Atlantic Dance Hall and were literally the only ones in that entire venue. Granted, it was early, but I’m still somewhat surprised Atlantic Dance Hall returned before Jellyrolls. (Honestly, I’m surprised Atlantic Dance Hall still exists at all and isn’t just a special events venue.)

Finally, some good news. You all probably remember the extensive entertainment cuts and layoffs that occured last fall at Walt Disney World.

That followed similarly significant cuts in March that happened right as the parks closed and largely went under the radar because it was such a busy news cycle (although anyone who has visited Epcot in the last year-plus undoubtedly has noticed the lack of entertainment and atmospheric performers).

Well, a small step in the right direction as Yehaa Bob Jackson announced on his Facebook page that he will be performing again at River Roost Lounge when Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside reopens on October 14, 2021. Per Yehaa Bob, he will return for opening night and likely perform his regular hours with limited exceptions (Disney has not yet released an official schedule).

This is significant not just for Yehaa Bob fans, but for anyone who enjoys live entertainment at Walt Disney World. While some shows have started to return, the parks and resorts are still really light on streetmosphere and individual performers. In our view, the return of these acts is overdue. Even if you don’t stop to watch, they give the parks a lived in quality that improves the ambiance.

Entertainment is also one thing that helps justify the astronomical costs of Walt Disney World hotels. Right now, there are plenty of bookings for October through December (and at rack rate since no discounts have been released), so it only seems reasonable for Walt Disney World to bring back more performers. Here’s hoping that happens!

That’s a wrap on this weekend’s Walt Disney World news roundup. We’ll be back with another crowd update, additional posts on Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and more news in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think about all this Walt Disney World news? Happy to hear that Jellyrolls and its dueling pianos are returning to BoardWalk? Excited to see Yehaa Bob back at Port Orleans Riverside? Hopeful that this means more entertainment will be brought back to the parks and resorts in the coming months? Thoughts on the 50th Anniversary character statues? What about the expansion of Mobile Order to candy shops? 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!

23 Responses to “Disney World News: Returning Entertainment, 50th Statues, More Mobile Order”
  1. Jo September 20, 2021
  2. Janet September 15, 2021
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