I'm sorry I missed giving you the news last week so I'm going to get you all caught up with the happenings.
Theme Park News
Coming this fall to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, Disney Genie is a complimentary and convenient new digital service designed to create the best Disney day for Guests.
Built right into the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps, Disney Genie service will maximize park time for Guests, so they can have more fun. It includes a personalized itinerary feature that will quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day. From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more – Guests just tell Disney Genie what they want to do and it will do the planning for them.
For more convenience and flexibility, there are two other options for enjoying the theme parks, through a queue called the Lightning Lane entrance that also saves Guests time in line:
Disney Genie+ service (available for purchase): For the price of $15 per ticket per day at Walt Disney World Resort and $20 per ticket per day at Disneyland Resort, Guests can choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. Guests can make one selection at a time, throughout the day. Disney Genie+ will also include Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photo features to capture your memories – augmented reality lenses for those visiting Walt Disney World Resort and unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day if you are visiting Disneyland Resort.
Individual attraction selections (available for purchase): Guests can schedule a time to arrive at up to two highly demanded attractions each day using the Lightning Lane entrance – like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure Park (subject to limited availability; attractions not included with Disney Genie+). Pricing will vary by date, attraction and park.
photo credit: Disney Destinations
Walt Disney World
Since May, face coverings have been optional for Guests in outdoor common areas, and beginning Thursday, August 19, face coverings will also be optional for Guests in outdoor attractions, outdoor queues and outdoor theaters at Walt Disney World Resort. As a reminder, face coverings remain required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status.
The iconic white tent theater at Disney Springs is buzzing with activity once again as Cirque du Soleil artists are returning to the stage to train and rehearse for a spectacular new show.
Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney is scheduled to open on November 18, 2021. Tickets went on sale August 20 to the general public.
Drawn to Life is a thrilling collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. At its core, the show is about the love between a father and a daughter with a story drawing inspiration from Disney’s 100-year heritage of animation. The family-friendly show brings timeless Disney stories and characters to life in an unforgettable way through the use of innovative design, acrobatic performances, dazzling choreography, musical scores, brand-new animation lovingly created by Disney Animation artists, and some extra touches of Disney magic.
photo credit: Disney Destinations
Guests can enjoy more dining options in the near future:
Boma – Flavors of Africa reopens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge on Aug. 20 with all-you-care-to-enjoy buffets at breakfast and dinner. Reservations are available as of August 18.
Beginning August 29, Biergarten Restaurant in the German pavilion at EPCOT will offer a buffet experience for lunch and dinner. Guests can enjoy their favorite German dishes – pretzel rolls, bratwurst, spätzle, schnitzel, and a variety of desserts, including apple strudel and black forest rolls.
On September 12th, the buffet in The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom Park will open for lunch and dinner where Guests can feast on Parker House rolls, create-your-own fresh garden salad, seared pork tenderloin, fire-roasted prime rib, braised beef short ribs, and more.
Guests can enjoy Cantonese, Mongolian, Szechuan, Hunan, and Kiangche-style specialties at Nine Dragons Restaurant in the China pavilion at EPCOT. Now open for dinner (Tuesday-Saturday), start with Sichuan Chicken Dumplings, Crispy Duck Bao Buns, or the House Hot & Sour Soup. For entrées, select from many delicious dishes such as Kung Pao Duo, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Spicy Honey Crispy Chicken, and Kowloon Spare Ribs.
Guests can start their day in the most enchanting way – breakfast is back at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom Park starting August 27. Reservations are available beginning August 24.
Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park reopens August 29 and they have delicious new entrées to try while traveling through the park.
Guests can drop anchor and check out the new offerings at Dockside Diner at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening August 22, this adorable walk-up location has plenty of outdoor seating along Echo Lake.
EPCOT® International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE® - Six new marketplaces have opened early as of August 15th: Ireland, Spain, The Alps, Kenya, Lobster Landing, and Mac & Eats. India will open on October 1st.
Space 220 restaurant at EPCOT is scheduled to begin service in mid-September... another milestone in the transformation of EPCOT underway at Walt Disney World Resort.
The Space 220 restaurant is located adjacent to the Mission: SPACE attraction, and takes fine dining to a whole new level. The immersive experience begins as Guests check in to the Space 220 Departure Lounge in Future World. From here, Guests will board one of two “Space Elevators” that will transport them to what seems like 220 miles above Earth to Centauri Space Station. As Guests begin their ascent, they’ll look down through a viewport to see EPCOT shrink away; looking up they’ll see the Space Station come into view.
Once Guests have docked, they’ll head through the Centauri Space Station themed dining area. Inside the dining area, Guests will experience a panoramic view of Earth below, and a variety of work and leisure activities taking place beyond the windows of the Space Station themed restaurant.
The Space 220 restaurant menu will feature stellar dishes and gourmet recipes, with a two-course prix fixe menu for lunch, and a three-course prix fixe menu for dinner. The upscale, contemporary fare will bring new meaning to “the height of dining!” Rounding out the meal will be unique beverages – from fine wine to atmospheric cocktails and more.
photo credit: Disney Destinations
Twinkling lights, festive décor, and magical celebrations will fill Magic Kingdom Park when “Disney Very Merriest After Hours” begins. The event will take place on 24 select nights November 8 through December 21 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. This year’s holiday celebration coincides with the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary – “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
Event dates are:
November: 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 28, 30
December: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21
“Disney Very Merriest After Hours” will include the nighttime spectacular “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks” and the special holiday-themed parade “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade”.
Tickets for the festive 4-hour “Disney Very Merriest After Hours” will grant admission to Magic Kingdom Park as early as 7 p.m., giving Guests more time to enjoy some of their favorite Magic Kingdom attractions.
Here are additional details of what Guests can experience during this limited-capacity, separately ticketed event:
Holiday attraction overlays are also making a comeback! The Jungle Cruise transforms into the Jingle Cruise, and Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor will get new jokes perfect for this joyful season.
After the park closes to day Guests, event Guests can enjoy less time waiting in line for more than 20 attractions including favorites like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, The Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain and more.
Sightings of Disney characters throughout the park all dressed in their holiday best.
While Guests are walking down Main Street, U.S.A. they should be sure to look up to the sky, they might catch some magical snowfall!
Guests can dance and boogie the night away at themed Club Tinsel dance party in Tomorrowland.
Guests can enjoy complimentary snacks like ice cream novelties and popcorn, seasonal treats and select bottled beverages.
Specialty holiday food and drinks will be also be available for purchase.
Disney PhotoPass will offer holiday magic shots throughout the night.
Tickets are on sale so contact your Travel Advisor to help plan your magical vacation.
photo credit: Disney Destinations
Universal Orlando Resort
The final 5 haunted houses have been announced for this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
"Welcome to Scarey: Horror in the Heartland" - In Carey bad things just happen. No one escapes from this small town beset by an endless parade of bloodthirsty creatures and maniacs.
"Case Files Unearthed" - Follow the trail of a private eye as an investigation into the supernatural leads you into a dark world of ghouls and terrifying creatures.
"The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin" - There’s no breaking free from the vines of the Pumpkin Lord, here to entrap you in his ever-growing evil.
"Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience" - A puppeteer and a ballet troupe trapped in a deserted theatre for years are about to turn you into a human puppet. That’s your cue to scream.
"Revenge of the Tooth Fairy" - The innocent traditions of the tooth fairy hide a darker ritual. It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
photo credit: Universal Parks & Resorts
Guests can try to brave the 5 Scare Zones around Universal Studios Florida.
"Crypt TV" - Step inside Crypt TV, a dark universe of monsters that reside in the same reality—on your screen, in your pockets and now San Francisco.
"30 Years 30 Fears" - The monsters you’ve most dreaded from past Halloween Horror Nights have taken over the streets. They’re back and you’re history.
"Seek and Destroy" - A ruthless alien cyber regime led by The Controller has taken over New York, turning humans into fuel. Succumb or be destroyed.
"Gorewood Forest" - Sixteen years after the gory sacrifices of Terra Cruentus, the heartless Terra Queen is back. Evil is in her nature.
"Lights Camera Hackton: Eddie's Revenge" - Get ready for the feel-bad movie of the year. Eddie Schmidt, Jack the Clown’s brother, is filming a horror film and the monsters are real.
There's no where to hide because Jack the Clown is back! All three of his incarnations will return: clown, ringmaster, and rock star. He’ll laugh at your screams as he emerges from the shadows when you least expect. His maniacal laughter and infamous quips echo everywhere.
Universal Studios Hollywood
There will be 8 haunted houses in Universal Studios Hollywood.
"Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House" - Welcome to Hill House, a structure more alive than its ghostly inhabitants. Inside these walls echo the haunted footsteps of those trapped here for all time.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" - Enter the dilapidated Sawyer house and meet Leatherface and his demented family of merciless butchers. Will you make it out in one piece? Or in pieces?
"The Exorcist" - The film that fueled your worst nightmares has returned to Halloween Horror Nights. Enter the most haunting scenes from the film as 12-year-old Regan is possessed by a demon, possibly the devil himself. It’s a battle of wills between good and evil.
"Universal Monsters: The Bride Of Frankenstein Lives" - This time, the Bride of Frankenstein is stepping out of the shadows and taking her fate into her own bloody hands. The mate will have her monster. And the monster his mate.
"Halloween 4 – The Return of Michael Myers" - Evil has returned. Michael Myers is on the loose once again, spreading blood, mayhem and screams in his wake. Wherever you turn, he’s moving in for the kill. It’s clear that this time, Michael Myers is unstoppable.
"The Curse of Pandora’s Box" - An ancient horror has returned to prey on those foolish enough to tempt the Fates with their curiosity and greed. Enter Pandora’s Curiosity Shop, where her infamous box lies. Once it’s opened, all manner of evil will be unleashed.
"The Walking Dead Attraction" - Enter the post-apocalyptic world of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Prepare to fight for survival in a fully immersive journey as you navigate through a world overrun by walkers with an insatiable appetite for the living.
"The Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge" - The Terror Tram is back. Unfortunately for you, some of the most iconic characters from each of The Purge films are running rampant, ambushing anyone outside during Purge hours. And you’re getting off the Terror Tram right in their midst.
Another house has been announced for the first Howl-O-Scream in SeaWorld Orlando. The "Water's Edge Inn" sure doesn’t look like the pictures in the review. From the moment you arrive, you can feel that something is terribly wrong. Every crumbling hallway and decaying room is crawling with restless souls. Maybe those wild stories about this place’s sea-crazed owner and his search for the sirens were true all along. Having second thoughts about checking in? Don’t worry, the staff will be right with you…everywhere you turn.
photo credit: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Three more Scare Zones have been announced:
"Deadly Ambush" - The year is 1961. You’ve wandered into a quaint campground, nestled in nature. It might sound like a dream, but a new nightmare has just begun here. What’s happened to the campers? Creatures are emerging from the darkness. There’s nowhere to hide, and no park ranger to rescue you. Get back to civilization now, before it’s too late.
"Sea of Souls" - This is it…the site of that horrific shipwreck. Those marauding pirates were too arrogant to see their downfall coming, and now they’re doomed to wander through a sea of gruesome reminders. Their souls are restless, and their anger is real. They’ll never stop seeking revenge on those who’ve escaped their ghostly fate. Steer clear—if you can.
"Frozen Terror" - You might think you’re a safe distance from the snow-entombed research facility, but you’re not free from the frozen horrors. This inhospitable Arctic wasteland is swarming with icy, subhuman walkers. They may have pickaxes and shovels, but they’re not here to help dig for survivors. They’re here to turn you into one of them.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
The last 2 houses have been revealed for Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. "Witch of the Woods" will test your fears. Something wicked this way haunts…an ominous legend summons you with her inescapable curse. Curiosity has brought many travelers into this dark forest, but only bone-chilling stories and dying screams make their way out.
"The Residence" - This suburban home paints a pretty picture on its eerily quiet street but open the front door and discover the domestic demons that lie beneath.
Friendly neighbors have gone mysteriously missing in this seemingly normal suburban community. Enter the pristine home of a picture-perfect family but beware of unseen horrors – once you’re invited in, you may never make your way out. Don’t let yourself become the next sacrifice in their sinister devotion.
Disney Cruise Line
All Guests, regardless of age, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (paid for at the Guests’ expense) prior to arriving at the port. This test must be taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date and the results must be uploaded to the Safe Passage website by Inspire Diagnostics. This applies to Guests of all ages, including infants and children.
Additionally, Guests are required to undergo a rapid PCR COVID-19 test at the terminal prior to boarding. A $65 test fee will be charged to the folio of all Guests 12 years of age and older.
Please note that Guests who do not provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to boarding will not be permitted to sail. This includes Guests of all ages, including infants and children.
Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination through the Safe Passage website by Inspire Diagnostics in order to be exempt from the pre-trip and embarkation COVID-19 testing.
With a Disney Wish reservation, Guests will be able to unlock "Disney Uncharted Adventure" on the Play Disney Parks app, which transforms Guests’ mobile device into an enchanted spyglass – a tool that allows them to set sail for adventure, solve puzzles, conquer quests and ultimately save the day.
Disney Uncharted Adventure, a first-of-its-kind interactive experience that will lead Guests aboard the Disney Wish on a journey from bow to stern and beyond the stars. Just announced today, this fantastical journey will be a brand-new way to explore and experience the enchantment of a Disney cruise ship.
Using innovative technology like augmented reality and physical effects, Disney Uncharted Adventure will take classic Disney storytelling into an all-new realm of immersive family fun as Guests embark on a multidimensional voyage into the worlds of Moana, Tiana, Peter Pan, Nemo and more.
The Disney Fantasy will resume sailing beginning Sept. 11, 2021. Disney Cruise Line is making several changes to upcoming Disney Fantasy voyages, including the cancellation of one sailing and the modification of four itineraries.
The 7-night sailing on Sept. 4, 2021 will be cancelled.
Additionally, Disney Cruise Line is converting four Disney Fantasy sailings from 7-night cruises to 4-night cruises for the following dates:
Original 7-Night Cruises Converting to 4-Night Cruises New itineraries have two stops at Disney’s Castaway Cay; no other ports of call on these sailings.
Original Date New Sail Dates
Sept. 11, 2021 Sept. 11-15, 2021
Sept. 18, 2021 Sept. 18-22, 2021
Sept. 25, 2021 Sept. 25-29, 2021
Oct. 2, 2021 Oct. 2-6. 2021
Disney Fantasy, photo credit: Disney Destinations
As sailings proceed, AmaWaterways is continually reviewing the updates from global health authorities, local governments and airlines with regards to the entry requirements.
AMAWATERWAYS VACCINATION REQUIREMENT: Effective immediately and until further notice, AmaWaterways will only be welcoming guests fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on board their ships. This vaccination update also applies to accompanied minors. Guests affected by this decision should contact their travel advisor for options to reschedule their river cruise.
To join an AmaWaterways river cruise, guests are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their second dose of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca or 28 days following a single dose of Johnson & Johnson (based on EMA guidelines). AmaWaterways accepts mixed dosages of these four vaccines.
In the World News
Adventures by Disney
In an abundance of caution, Adventures by Disney is cancelling several itineraries due to a recent surge in COVID-19 infection in select countries. Please note that Adventures by Disney will be calling Guests and Travel Agents with Guests on the following departures to advise of the cancellations:
Seine River Cruise
Paris Escape (associated with the Seine River Cruise)
The Bahamas has updated their testing protocols for visitors to the islands.
Effective August 6, 2021, those traveling to The Bahamas from other countries who have been fully vaccinated will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test (either a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR), taken no more than five (5) days prior to the date of arrival in The Bahamas. The name and address of the lab where the test was performed must be clearly displayed on the test result.
Effective August 6, 2021, all fully vaccinated travelers wishing to travel inter-island within The Bahamas, including Bahamian citizens and residents, will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test (either a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR), taken no more than five (5) days prior to the date of travel from the following islands: Nassau & Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Exuma, Abaco, and North and South Eleuthera, including Harbour Island.
Unvaccinated travellers ages 12 and older entering The Bahamas and/or those travelling inter-island from Nassau & Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, Bimini, Exuma, Abaco, and North and South Eleuthera, including Harbour Island, must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR (swab) test taken no more than 5 days prior to the date of arrival. Test must return a negative result for entry into The Bahamas.
As of August 6, 2021, all children, between the ages of 2 and 11, wishing to enter The Bahamas will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test (either a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR), taken no more than five (5) days prior to the date of arrival to The Bahamas.
All children under the age of 2 are exempt from any testing requirements
Negative PCR test results must be uploaded in order to complete a Bahamas Travel Health Visa application, and must be presented upon arrival in The Bahamas.
Any person presenting test results older than 5 days will not be allowed entry into The Bahamas.
All persons traveling to The Bahamas, and those traveling inter-island, are required to apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa at travel.gov.bs.
All travelers must wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines.
Effective Friday, September 3, 2021, all cruise ship passengers ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to enter a port in The Bahamas, including a cruise line’s private island. Any person who is ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccination due to medical contraindications is exempt from this requirement.
Puerto Vallarta has updated their protocols for Covid.
The use of masks is mandatory for every person in any public space, such as public streets, public buildings and public transportation, as well as commercial establishments or services with general access.
Hotels are operating at 80% of their capacity and 50% in their common areas and beach services. Hotel pools, beach clubs, spas, gyms, and restaurants are already available to guests.
In general, public beaches are open. It is recommended to shower before and after visiting the beach; keep a safe distance of 6 feet (5m) between groups; use hand sanitizer; use masks when entering and exiting the beach (can be removed once there); groups no larger than 8 people (preferably from the same family); chairs, loungers, and umbrellas must be sanitized before use; it is suggested to not share objects with other groups at the beach (floats, balls, and others).
Tours and recreational activities are normally operating, with a maximum capacity of 80%
Restaurants will operate with a maximum capacity of 50% until 00:00 hrs.
Bars and clubs are suspended during the month of August.
Casinos will have a maximum capacity of 60%.
Travelers from the U.S. should complete a health questionnaire upon arrival or departure.
Starting August 16, Puerto Rico will require vaccinations for all travelers as well as for employees and staff of hotels, paradores, guesthouses and short-term rentals. The only exceptions to the vaccination requirement are those individuals who may be unable to get vaccinated for religious or medical reasons. However, they must provide proper documentation such as medical notes or signed affidavits and must be tested on a weekly basis during their stay.
All other entry regulations remain in place. All travelers must fill out a travel declaration form through the Puerto Rico Health Department's portal to obtain an airport exit confirmation number and a QR code. Fully vaxxed travelers from the U.S. must present a valid vaccination card as well.
Unvaccinated travelers over 2 years of age must present proof of a Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Any unvaccinated traveler arriving without a test result will be fined $300. This fine will be waived if the traveler presents the test or evidence that the test was performed within 48 hours of arrival on the island.
Turks & Caicos
Effective September 1, all visitors 16 years and over must be fully vaccinated to enter. Travelers are required to show proof of vaccination through the TCI Assured pre-travel program and portal prior to entering the country. The portal will accept vaccination proof (Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Comirnaty, Spikevax and Vaxzevria). Proof of vaccination in the form of a digital copy or paper copy, inclusive of vaccine cards issued by the CDC, will be accepted.
The vaccination requirement is in addition to the existing protocols, which require a negative Covid-19 PCR or antigen test result done within three days of travel as well as medical/travel insurance that covers medical evacuation, a completed health screening questionnaire and certification that the traveler has read and agreed to the private policy document. All these requirements must be uploaded to the portal in advance of arrival. Any traveler testing positive prior to departing Turks and Caicos must quarantine for 10 days at his own expense and undergo a Covid-19 test on day 7 prior to release.
Beaches Turks & Caicos, photo credit: Beaches Resorts