There’s no denying that vacationing at Walt Disney World is a little different this year than it was pre-pandemic. But fear not, more and more experiences that you know and love are returning every day to WDW, if sometimes in a slightly modified form. So, what iconic Disney experiences are we still eagerly waiting to reopen in the parks? Here are our top ten picks. Which would you add to the list?
Walt Disney World’s fireworks displays are simply legendary, and a favorite way for guests to end a day in the parks. When WDW reopened in 2020, nighttime spectaculars were sadly missing from the parks – and their absence continues to be felt. Of course, encouraging crowds of people to gather to watch fireworks isn’t exactly responsible during a global pandemic – but we look forward to the safe return of WDW fireworks one day soon!
2. Big Top Souvenirs
Even during a global pandemic, your options for souvenirs are impressively unlimited at Walt Disney World! Still, there’s one shop that continues to be missed – Big Top Souvenirs, in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. There’s something really magical about perusing your favorite Disney apparel, snacks and souvenirs inside a circus tent in WDW’s most iconic park! Luckily, WDW boasts over 150 shops, so I guess we can try some of those while we wait for Big Top Souvenir’s return.
3. Enchanted Tales with Belle
There’s no better way to experience Disney’s classic tale as old as time than by stepping right into the story at Enchanted Tales with Belle! From exploring Maurice’s workshop (make sure you say the magic words to make the enchanted mirror come to life!), to seeing your favorite Beauty and the Beast characters up close, to volunteering to play a role in the story of Belle and the Beast’s first meeting – it’s a magical one-of-a-kind experience. Sadly, this interactive show is currently unavailable, and we’re ready for it to make its return.
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4. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Halloween fans sadly won’t be able to enjoy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, for the second year in a row. We’re eager to see this spooky spectacle return to Magic Kingdom, as there’s nowhere else we’d rather spend Halloween! Guests can, however, purchase tickets for the Disney After Hours Boo Bash this year, which is the next best thing.
5. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
Live entertainment at Walt Disney World was one of the many casualties of the pandemic. Lately, many entertainment experiences have begun to return, often in modified forms to keep everyone safe. But one live experience that hasn’t returned yet is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We’re definitely ready to join in some Wild West antics along with the Pioneer Hall Players when they return!
We used to plan our days in the parks around our FastPass+ selections, which were of course chosen the second we were eligible to pick them. Sadly, the FastPass+ service has been suspended during the pandemic, and we’re not sure when it will return or in what form. It’s hard to imagine a day in WDW without FastPasses, and we’re certainly more than ready for them to return to the parks!
Dueling pianos and guest sing-alongs? Yes, please! The piano bar Jellyrolls is as contagiously fun as it is unique. And where else will you find two baby grand pianos – in a bar?? Unfortunately, Jellyrolls remains unavailable at Disney Springs. We’re ready for the music and beverages to start rolling once more!
8. Stretching Room
If you’ve ridden Haunted Mansion during the pandemic, you’ve undoubtedly noticed something missing: the famed Stretching Room welcome, where guests normally squish together and watch those four portraits magically stretch above them. This experience sets the tone for the ride, and you’ll still walk through the Stretching Room – but it won’t actually be stretching (and you’ll only get a quick look on your way through). We’re ready for the full Stretching Room experience to return!
Shopping in the Japan Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot is a treat. Seemingly endless displays of everything from Japanese pottery to swords to anime toys abound. But one thing you won’t find since WDW reopened is the Pick-a-Pearl experience. So if you’re looking forward to cracking open an oyster to find your own pearl, you’ll be disappointed, unfortunately. You may have more luck at the Pearl Factory in Disney Springs for now!
Has anyone else been missing Walt Disney World parades? Another casualty of the pandemic, none of the parades on property have returned yet, and we miss them dearly! Disney has given us cavalcades instead, which are basically mini-parades that don’t operate on a given schedule, last about 30 seconds, and have a few characters who come by on vehicles and wave. Still, they’re better than nothing at all, until our beloved parades return.