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Disney World News & Rumors: Ohana Noodles, Wait Times Update, Disney+ Attraction Series

We’re back with another weekend Walt Disney World news and rumor roundup. This one covers more reopening news, updates on ‘Ohana and Sebastian’s Bistro (including noodlegate), changes in My Disney Experience leading to more rumblings of FastPass returning or a paid version debuting, plus added and extended park hours through August 2021.

As always, we’ll start with an update on new hours. All four theme parks have had hours for another week added to the DisneyWorld.com park hours calendar. These hours encompass the week of August 22-28, 2021. As with the week before it, this set of dates is typically off-season as school districts start to go back into session. Despite that, the new hours are identical to the previous weeks of summer season:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9 am to 9 pm
  • EPCOT: 11 am to 9 pm
  • Hollywood Studios: 9 am to 7 pm
  • Animal Kingdom: 8 am to 6 pm
  • Blizzard Beach: 11 am to 6 pm

It’s important to remember that Walt Disney World’s normal practice is to release boilerplate hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. These are simply placeholder or “lorem ipsum” Walt Disney World hours–the minimum operating hours for those dates. With that said, it’s entirely possible that late August won’t be super busy, and these hours will be close to final…

With this WDW calendar update, we also have a couple of extensions to hours in the near-term. First, Animal Kingdom will be open from 8 am until 7 pm from June 28 through July 3, 2021. Previously, the park was scheduled to close at 6 pm those dates. Due to the Independence Day holiday, that’s likely to be a busy week. Don’t be surprised if other parks have their hours extended, too.

On that note, Epcot is currently the only option for Disney Park Pass reservations a few days that week. If Walt Disney World wants to justify upping the attendance limit, adding another hour at Magic Kingdom would make sense.

The second extension is Disney Springs, which will be open from 10 am until 11 pm on weekdays and 10 am until 11:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. This is an hour extension on weeknights and 30 minutes on weekends.

On our recent visits to Disney Springs, it has sure felt like the shopping and dining district is operating at full capacity–and demand. It’s now likely that the only reason operating hours remain shorter than pre-closure is a lack of staffing at the various operating participants. To that point, many stores and some restaurants have shorter operating hours than Disney Springs as a whole, so be sure to double-check wherever you want to visit before heading out to Disney Springs. That’s a mistake we’ve unfortunately made more than once in the last few months!

In more ‘return to normalcy’ news, Walt Disney World has begun the process of reopening arcades and playgrounds in the parks and at the resort hotels. This should be great news for parents and kids with extra energy to burn.

We haven’t been around all of the parks and resorts to independently verify that everything is open again, but it was the case at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and a couple of those area resorts when we were there towards the end of the week. As with all of these changes, sometimes it takes a few days for the changes to roll out everywhere.

In Walt Disney World dining news, we have a couple of updates on ‘Ohana and Sebastian’s Bistro. As you’re hopefully aware,  Advance Dining Reservations dropped for both late last week. With the ADRs opening, menus were also released (beyond just the press release). Here’s the menu for Sebastian’s Bistro and here’s the menu for ‘Ohana.

Note that dinner at Sebastian’s Bistro will cost $29 per adult and $17 per child, whereas ‘Ohana will cost $55 per adult and $33 per child. This significant price difference makes me wonder if the family style meal at Sebastian’s Bistro is not all you can eat.

Even assuming there’s a “popularity tax” with the pricing at ‘Ohana (and there definitely is), that’s a huge difference. To my knowledge, the least expensive all you can eat meal at Walt Disney World is (or rather, was, pre-closure) Trail’s End at $37 per adult and $20 per child.

Hard to believe that Sebastian’s Bistro would be so much cheaper. I hope it is, but feel like maybe there’s a catch or mistake. I’m more excited for Sebastian’s Bistro either way, and even if something about this turns out too good to be true, I’m betting it’ll still be better than ‘Ohana!

@disneyparksOur favorites are back at ‘Ohana! 🤩 #Disney #DisneyParks #DisneyWorld #OhanaNoodles #Ohana #Noodles #PolynesianResort #FoodTikTok♬ original sound – Disney Parks

In related ‘Ohana menu news, the noodles are back on the menu. Walt Disney World made the announcement on TikTok, ending our long national nightmare after a few days.

For those who don’t pay attention to this stuff, there was significant backlash when Walt Disney World announced the reopening of ‘Ohana and the noodles were conspicuously absent from photos and the description of what would be served. This just wasn’t some minor thing among disgruntled fans who will find anything to complain about–it was trending nationally on social media!

Honestly, I did not expect that. I’m generally aware of the popularity of ‘Ohana noodles and know Disney has published the recipe, but I didn’t realize they were that big of a deal to Walt Disney World fans. Granted, I’m not the world’s biggest ‘Ohana diehard (again, I think it’s a fun but overrated restaurant) but I would’ve ranked at least 3 dishes above the noodles in my official ‘Ohana Culinary Power Rankings.

Nevertheless, it was surprising to see the noodles missing from the menu. They are popular and noodles are not exactly crab legs from a cost-perspective. They’re exactly the kind of filler all you can eat restaurants would prefer people eat. It thus seems like an odd choice to cut them. Maybe there was a supplier issue that Disney found a way to resolve once the backlash hit? Maybe it an unintentional oversight? Something else entirely? We’ll probably never know for sure, but it’s still a curious choice.

Next, as covered in Disney After Hours Boo Bash Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom: Dates, Hours, Prices & Info more event dates have been added due to popularity. Also noted there, phone lines have had consistently long wait times, which is a result of demand and the call centers being short staffed. (The latter is not a new problem.) Expect those waits to get even worse once sales open to the general public this week.

Halloween is already sold out, which shouldn’t be a huge shock. It was always the first date to sell out for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and this will have a significantly lower capacity cap. If resale (e.g. eBay and Craigslist) prices for MNSSHP in past years are any indication, Walt Disney World could price a Halloween night event at around $300-400 per person and still sell it out.

In some fun news, Disney+ has announced it will premiere all episodes of its newest original series “Behind the Attraction” on Friday, July 16, 2021. The 10-part series, narrated by Paget Brewster, gives viewers an exclusive peek ‘behind the curtain’ of the most beloved attractions and destinations at parks around the world.

“Behind the Attraction” will delve into the rich history of Imagineering’s greatest creations using archival and never-before-seen footage and photographs to explain how the attractions came to be and how they’ve been refined over the years as new ideas surface and technology evolves.

The Disney+ series will include rare interviews with Walt Disney, as well as Disney Legends, and dozens of past and present Imagineers, including Bob Weis, Jeanette Lomboy, Kim Irvine, Scott Trowbridge, Tom Fitzgerald, Scot Drake, Carmen Smith, Joe Rohde, and others who divulge insider secrets of the parks and how iconic Disney attractions were brought to life.

Here’s the full list of all 10 episodes:

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Star Tours
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • The Castles
  • Disneyland Hotel
  • Space Mountain
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Trains, Trams, and Monorails
  • Hall of Presidents

We’re really excited for this. If it’s even one-quarter as good as The Imagineering Story, it’ll be an absolute must-watch!

Finally, the possibility of paid FastPass has become a hot topic of conversation among Walt Disney World fans. The latest “clues” that something is on the horizon comes via a couple of changes in the My Disney Experience app. Most visibly, there’s the addition of verbiage indicating wait times are for the standby lines, implying waits in the future could be different for FastPass or its successor.

In When Will FastPass+ Return to Walt Disney World? you can read our full thoughts on the topic. To be abundantly clear, that is speculation and not credible rumor. For what it’s worth, although there’s a lot of buzz right now, I do not believe any of it is credible rumor. It’s all semi-informed speculation based upon a totality of the circumstances and what’s plausible.

Ultimately, there have been rumors of paid FastPass for over three years. This dates back to beyond when paid FastPass+ packages rolled out to Club Level guests. Then Disneyland launched MaxPass to great success. Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland also began selling FastPass packages around that same time.

Then came the announcement of the Disney Genie app for Walt Disney World. While details remain scant about that app, our view has always been that it only exists to up-sell guests and/or assist in crowd management. There’s almost no other reason for Disney to invest in yet another new app unless it will offer ROI.

In other words, all signs point to Walt Disney World offering paid FastPass at some point. But that’s nothing new, those exact same signs have existed for a couple of years. That still leaves a ton of questions about specifics, such as whether there will be a free component, whether select resort guests will receive some degree of line skipping privileges, whether FastPass will return temporarily before the new system debuts, and more. It could end up being FastPass+ plus the option to spontaneously buy more access, MaxPass, or something different entirely. There are a lot of unknowns, and likely will be until something is officially announced by Walt Disney World.

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 of this latest roundup of Walt Disney World news & rumors? Optimistic or pessimistic about the future of FastPass? Expecting a paid line skipping option? Excited for the upcoming “Behind the Attraction” Disney+ series? Happy to see noodlegate brought to a satisfactory conclusion? Looking forward to dining at Sebastian’s Bistro, ‘Ohana, or both? Feedback or opinions on anything else covered here? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!

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