News and Views around Walt Disney World, Thanksgiving Week

News and Views around Walt Disney World, Thanksgiving Week

The week of giving thanks has arrived.  I am thankful for my faith, my family, and Disney! For many of us Disney is the place to come to let loose of all the things that make our lives routinely busy.   The Magic Kingdom is doing its part this week as the Park remains open until 1AM every night! So you have many hours to play, eat, and just to have fun perhaps with your family.  Take the time to enjoy each other wherever you are this Thanksgiving.

Speaking of family, the sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s movie “Frozen” are celebrating together in the Norway pavilion in Epcot this week.  They are ready to meet you and get a photo with you in the Puffin’s Roost shop.   “Frozen” is released in movie theaters on Wednesday, November 27. (Even in the Disney cruise theater!)  Also in Norway the Norsk Kultur exhibit just opened! This exhibit is in the Stave Church and contains artifacts, apparel, models, and other items revealing the inspiration behind the movie “Frozen”.  If you are a “Frozen” fan, you won’t want to miss this!  Scenes from the film have also found their way into the Magic Kingdom Celebrate the Magic show nightly.  Merchandise from this movie has been flying off the shelves, weeks prior to the opening of the movie.  It seems many guests have already warmed up to the story and the characters of “Frozen”. It is hard to say what my favorite item is.  The costumes are beautiful, the talking Olaf is entertaining, and the dolls are so cute, the plushies could not be more adorable, there are pins now…I can’t make up my mind.  We need some Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials here, right? Oh my there is a new “Frozen” item: Olaf light up piece available in the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom, and most likely carts at night near the parade.  (I just saw the movie and oh my is it A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!)

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 If you were here in Epcot today you would see that Christmas decorations have greatly increased since last week. Don’t expect much of this in Morocco, Japan or China as they don’t have a Christian heritage. I did see a Christmas tree in the shop window in Japan with plushies decorating it. There is a Poinsettia tree outside of the Nine Dragons restaurant in China, and some greenery on construction walls only in Morocco. At the entrance to Epcot we find some of our favorite Disney characters: Goofy, Donald, Bambi, Stitch, Thumper and Flower in beds of Poinsettias.

There are beautiful gifts and food gifts available in each of the country’s gift shops in many price ranges so you should be able to find some great gift ideas here.

The Candlelight Processional events begin this week! The first celebrities who will participate in the traditional reading of the Christmas story are:   Nov. 29-Dec. 1: Gary Sinise, Dec. 2-3: Neil Patrick Harris, Dec. 4-5 Ashley Judd, Dec. 6-7 Whoopi Goldberg, Dec. 8-10 Sigourney Weaver. Holidays around the World begins in Epcot on Friday and will run through Dec. 30. The World Showcase will have someone representing their country’s way of celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or other winter holidays. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be available for meet and greets in The American Adventure.  Also in the American Adventure is Santa’s Village that has various shops for gifts, drinks, ornaments, and a bakery.  The Funnel Cake stand is right there too and they are offering a Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake for the season. These are all conveniently located to the Candlelight Processional area so guests can purchase hot or cold drinks, desserts, etc. to enjoy in the theater, or before, and after.  The large Christmas tree is decorated with garland made of poinsettias tied on with red velvet bows, Large red Christmas balls, lemons, oranges, pears, apples, pineapples, strings of lights and punched tin candle holders.

Italy has a kiosk Buona Festa where you can purchase a variety of beverages. Germany has an outdoor merchandising kiosk where you can purchase some Werther’s cookies, bar, cheesecake, and a large variety of beverages including a Hot Salted Caramel Beverage, Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee, and a special non-alcoholic Kinderpunsch for kids. Adjacent to this area are some tables and chairs and the Holidays Around the World stage along with a giant nut cracker. There are festive lights strung overhead. There is another kiosk, Glaskugel, sells glass items.

Now let’s head over to Morocco and find out if The Spice Road Table restaurant has opened yet.  Well, not quite there yet.  More of the structure has been opened up with the removal of some construction walls. You can see colorful doors.  It is scheduled to open this year, so we will have to keep an eye on this to see when it opens.

Off Kilter, the band that performs at the Canadian Mill Stage has a Holiday version now called “The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs” and will be performing at the same times Off Kilter was performing.

Sunshine Seasons Café in The Land pavilion in Future World has a special Pumpkin Cheesecake this week.  I want to try it, how about you?   I just had it. It was outstanding.  Seriously, it was the best piece of Pumpkin Cheesecake I have ever had.  It was creamy, not overly sweet at all; just the right amount of pumpkin pie spices and the crust was perfect.  If you are going to be here at Epcot don’t miss this outstanding dessert.

Walking toward entrance I see there is a new MyMagic+ Service Center in innoventions. So if you are having trouble with your MagicBands they will be able to help you here, as well as some services at the back of the Pin Station or Guest Services.

Let’s go check out the Magic Kingdom now!  It is a cloudy day today, but the temperature is 70 degrees! It is a bit breezy on the ferry boat. Approaching the Magic Kingdom I see that the third loop of the bus stops is now open! There is a large bus down there. It looks like something you would see in the subway with two buses that are somehow connected, minus the drivers section on the back bus of course.  These articulated buses are said to carry up to 122 guests.  There are new stops for the longer buses or two normal Disney buses for transporting guests to Port Orleans Riverside, All Star resorts-each with their own two stop numbers, Ticket and Transportation Center, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Art of Animation .That’s right, the All Stars finally have their own bus stops where the large buses that can carry up to 122 guests, or two regular buses will be taking you back to your resort. And Port Orleans guests will now have separate buses for Riverside and French Quarter. Do I hear shouts of joy?  This means that all the largest resorts have at least two bus stops each, some with a possible four buses (or two super buses) to accommodate the crowds to them.  Also a great addition is bus service to the other Parks by mid-December.  Always check the boards for your resort and corresponding bus stop.  I can tell you what they are as of today:

Stop #   –  Resort/Park    – Single Bus Stops

1   –   Disney’s Polynesian/Grand Floridian

2   –   Disney’s Wilderness Lodge/Contemporary

3   –   Disney’s Old Key West

4 &5 –   (Disney’s Hollywood Studios- beginning mid-December)

6   –   (Disney’s Animal Kingdom-beginning mid-December)

7 & 8- Saratoga Springs

9   –   Epcot/Disney’s Fort Wilderness

10-   slated as “Unload” area

11 & 12 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

13 & 14- Disney’s Boardwalk, Swan, Dolphin

15   –   Disney’s Yacht/Beach Clubs

16 & 17 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

18 –   Disney’s Port Orleans-French Quarter

These are the new double-length bus stops:

19 & 20 – Disney’s Port Orleans-Riverside

21 & 22 – Disney’s All Star Sports

23 & 24 – Disney’s All Star Music

25 & 26 – Disney’s All Star Movies

27 & 28 – Ticket and Transportation Center

29 & 30 – Disney’s Pop Century

31 & 32 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach

33 & 34 – Disney’s Art of Animation

Upon entering the Magic Kingdom I hear the music from the Trolley Show even before I come out of the train station area.  Make sure you check out the photos of this special Holiday entertainment.

Just one day before Thanksgiving, the feel of Christmas is definitely in the air here at the Magic Kingdom.  The Magic Kingdom is open until 1 am every day this week, which is a nice Thanksgiving/Christmas present I have to say.  I am hungry so I think I will go check out Pinocchio Village Haus to see if the outdoor seating has reopened yet.  Yes! There is a wall with bench seating that is very nice but the center of it is a grassy planting, needs a bit more here. I like the additional seating here because it is one of the spots I like to view the 360-degree fireworks shows from.  The tables have red and blue umbrellas to offer you some shade. The entrance is now on the side and is clearly the entrance. There was always some ambiguity when it came to where the “front” entrance of Pinocchio Village Haus was in the past so this is a nice element. All the other doors ask you to enter in the front only.

We made it in time to see the Royal Majesty Makers show. Children and adults are enjoying this.  They have musical accompaniment and these guys are amusing and entertaining as well.  This is great for little princes and princesses to participate in.

We can see the people working on the 7 Dwarfs Mine ride.  There are new roofs, new landscape, and a concentrated group on a portion of the track near the top.  Disney Imagineers can be seen keeping an eye on the construction and the many that are busy on the mountain today.

A word of warning for everyone wanting to eat at Be Our Guest in New Fantasyland, for lunch no reservations needed so people have to line up to get in: get in line early.  The line today extended across both bridges all the way back to Gaston’s Tavern.

Walking back through Fronteirland now, I hear the Fronteirland Band and they are coming our way.  The Tuba player walks up and flashes a smile in between pieces. These guys are so good and so friendly. (I don’t know why they are not on the times schedule.) I see all the doors to the Diamond Horseshow are wide open.  That usually only happens during the special parties, or especially large crowds. There are a lot of people in the Parks today.  I walk in and find it is set up for complete lunch service from 11 to 3 each day.  There is a photo of the menu sign and the Christmas decorations inside.  It smelled really good in there.  One of the guests in here told me her food was really good.  There are several other counter service opportunities now since the crowds are larger.  This is a good time to try some of those places that are not usually open.

Splash Mountain is busy today as it has warmed up again and people are shedding the sweatshirts they bought in the Emporium just an hour ago.  A brand new statue of Br’er Bear, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Rabbit, the celebrities of Splash Mountain, now stand near the entrance of the attraction.

There is Thanksgiving themed food that can be found in the Parks this week: Magic Kingdom: Sleepy Hollow: spiced pumpkin waffle sundae, Tony’s Town Square Cafe: Pumpkin soup with cinnamon crème fraiche, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin gelato, and pumpkin cheesecake. Hollywood Studios:  Pumpkin cupcakes, special cocktails, EPCOT: Sunshine Seasons pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, gingerbread, pumpkin mousse; Garden Grill: Sweet potatoe pie with maple whipped cream (Thanksgiving Day only) Animal Kingdom Kusafiri Bakery: pumpkin muffin, Tusker House will have an all-you-can- eat-dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.