• 15Jul
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on D23 Parks recap…Star Wars resort and so much more…

    Wow, they made a LOT of announcements about the parks today…here is a recap of some of the biggest stuff slated for Walt Disney World, although there may be some fine details to learn later…park by park first:

    Magic Kingdom:
    The Tron Lightcycle Coaster will indeed be brought to WDW and will be added to Tomorrowland. Early rumors stated it would replace the Tomorrowland Speedway, but we thought about it and believed there would be site line problems from Fantasyland, and it would be better off behind it in a new area – and that proved true. It will occupy the space to the left of Space Mountain, taking some backstage area.

    Epcot:
    The previously reported items are coming true…Guardians of the Galaxy will indeed replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure, but the surprise there is that the Universe of Energy pavilion building will remain! And part of the theme is that Peter Quill visited EPCOT Center when he was a child…further details on the ride itself are not known.

    And the Ratatouille 4D dark ride is indeed coming to the France pavilion and be located in space behind the current buildings.

    Mission: SPACE is getting a slight change – the Green Team mission will change to orbiting Earth rather than traveling to Mars. And this seems to tie in to a surprise announcement – that a new restaurant will open next to Mission: SPACE themed for an orbiting space station high above the Earth, with large picture windows looking out on the planet below…

    Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
    Toy Story Land will finally open in Summer of 2018, while the Star Wars area, now dubbed Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, will open in 2019 – exactly when isn’t certain but it will be sometime after the Disneyland version does. It will include a Millennium Falcon ride, and Hondo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars will entice visitors to help pilot the ship. Also Rex, the original pilot from Star Tours, will return as the DJ for the Cantina. More Star Wars in a minute…

    Most shocking is the news that The Great Movie Ride is closing August 13th, and will become and entirely new ride called Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It is supposed to use some amazing “2 1/2 D” technology to take the riders though the screen into the cartoon. The audience reaction to this announcement was muted, as the existing attraction is pretty loved. At this point I really think they should drop “Studios” from the park name.

    At the resort-wide level, they confirmed the “Skyliner” gondola transportation system which will connect both Epcot (at the International Gateway) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts, which should offer some relief to the buses. In addition, a new point-to-point personal car service, the “Minnie Van”, will be offered. Think “WDW Uber”.

    DVC will get a new Riviera-themed resort, situated near Epcot…not a lot of details other than it opening in June 2019, but given the date we believe this actually may be the portion of Caribbean Beach Resort that is being torn down and has long been rumored to be a new DVC expansion – but it will be separate from the Caribbean Beach Resort itself. It will be able to take advantage of the Skyliner transportation as well.

    And lastly, probably the biggest item, is confirmation of an immersive Star Wars themed resort which our sister site Sci-Fi Storm reported on previously, in which the guests can play roles in the resort’s story. Not much new detail was provided, but it is part of a new “Disney 360” immersive resort experience project, so we may see similarly planned resorts. See below for some concept art.

  • 24Jun
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Is Epcot the next target for expansion?

    While the Magic Kingdom (Fantasyland expansion), Animal Kingdom (Pandora) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars and Toy Story Land) having received a lot of attention in recent years, Epcot has only received minimal attention since the replacement of Horizons with Mission: SPACE in 2003 and the addition of Soarin’ in 2005. Since then, Test Track has received a makeover, Maelstrom was re-themed into Frozen Ever After, and Soarin’ is getting a third concourse.

    That may be about to change. Permits filed by the state show a number of projects, and although they don’t give specifics of what they might for, it is prep work that typically goes with construction and redevelopment.

    Two areas of particular interest are the area behind the Universe of Energy pavilion, and the area behind the France pavilion and between there and the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase.

    Rumors have swirled for months that the Universe of Energy pavilion, which houses Ellen’s Energy Adventure, would close and be rebuilt for some form of attraction based on Guardians of the Galaxy – Walt Disney World’s first Marvel-based attraction. The permits deal with the area behind the pavilion, which is a possible indication of expanding the building area. The work includes filling in the canal that reaches behind the backstage area there and expanding a canal to make up for the filling. The project area extends all the way back to the corner of the Epcot parking lot.

    The latest permit involves what looks like a major expansion to the France pavilion, and this is bringing up the old rumor of a WDW version of the Ratatouille trackless dark ride at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.(Update: There is also a rumor that it will be the same ride system, but themed to Beauty And The Beast, given the resurgence in popularity of that property.)

    World Showcase historians will remember that there are many “sectors” to the World Showcase, but not all of them contain a pavilion. Spaces exist between most of the country pavilions, with the exceptions of Norway and China. Between United Kingdom and Canada there is space currently occupied by the Millennium Village building, which is used for special events but could be another country. Using these spaces for a new country would mean losing some of the buffer spaces between them, but they are available. However, we are unlikely to get an new countries in the near future – Norway was the most recent, 29 years ago.

    The approximate area encompassed by the permit

    If you look closely, the area is currently where they store a lot of the booths used during festivals, so those would need to be relocated. I believe there is a cast break room and a number of other supporting structures back there. Some will be relocated into the area behind Morocco. There is also a slight sliver of area included alongside the right side (looking from the front) of the France pavilion which is believe to accomodate the guest path/queue to the new attraction at the back.

    It’s an exciting time at Walt Disney World right now.

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  • 11Feb
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Walt Disney World raising ticket prices Sunday, February 12th, 2017

    Updated: Ticket prices at Walt Disney World resort went up on February 12th, 2017, and it includes changes in some of the options on Magic Your Way tickets.

    The Water Parks Fun and More option is no longer available as a standalone option. It is only available if you also have Park Hopper, and the combined ticket is now called the “Park Hopper Plus”. In general it is the same as before, although DisneyQuest, which had already been dropped from the list last year, is no longer available (DisneyQuest itself is finally closing on July 3rd, 2017.) The list currently includes: Blizzard Beach Water Park, Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Oak Trail Golf Course, ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex (excludes separate admission events), Fantasia Gardens Mini-Golf Course (before 4:00pm), Winter Summerland Mini-Golf Course (before 4:00pm). But this may bring back the use of the term “Plus” to mean admissions to these locations!

    Seasonal pricing still only affects 1-day tickets, and there is still the “Magic Kingdom Surcharge” on 1-Day base tickets, which is now 8 for Value and Regular Season, and $6 for Peak Season.

    Guests who purchase 3- to 10-day tickets online or via the Mobile app will receive a $20 discount. Or more precisely, purchasing on site will cost you $20 more. Prices we will quote will be the online price, as we highly recommended getting your tickets in advance so you can make Fastpass selections. It will be interesting to see how this affects the authorized third-party sellers, such as Undercover Tourist, who already sell 3- to 10-day tickets at a discount from the WDW gate prices.

    All Magic Your Way tickets will now have a “use by” expiration date, where the ticket must be first used by that date. Previously, all MYW tickets did not expire until 14 days from first use. That date is not based entirely on the date of purchase, so it isn’t known exactly how far in advance, but currently all tickets that are purchased from today going forward must have their first use on or before December 31st, 2018. We expect that date will jump ahead as we get further into 2017.

    Our Magic Your Way Ticket Price Calculator has been updated with the current online prices.

    Annual Passes are going up as well:

    Platinum Plus: $869
    Platinum: $779
    Gold (DVC And FL Residents only, has blackout dates): $559

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  • 18May
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Updates to FastPass+ booking times and Rider Switch

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    Just a couple of updates…as of May 18th, the time at which you can first make FastPass+ reservations when the booking window opens has shifted from Midnight to 7:00am ET. Good news for the East Coast and Europe – not so much for the West Coast. We confirmed this change this morning.

    Also, I’m hearing that at least at a few attractions there is a slight modification of the Rider Switch procedure, which adheres to the original idea that the Rider Switch pass should be given to someone going through the line first, insuring that it can’t be used until they return.

    What may happen is that instead of being given the Rider Switch pass at the entrance, you instead get a lanyard that you will trade in further down the queue (likely at the loading area/merge point), where you will receive the actual pass. Nothing else has changed – the pass is still good for any three guests to use any time later that day.

    [Update 8/4] I can confirm that the Rider Switch change has taken place at least at some attractions, as we used it and were presented with a card on a lanyard similar to the timing cards, and you trade that in to a CM further in the queue for the actual Rider Switch pass.

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  • 27Feb
    Disneyland, News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Disney goes to tiered pricing at Disneyland and Walt Disney World for 1-day tickets

    As was being predicted for weeks, Disney is increasing ticket prices again. But they are doing it a bit differently. Now, the price will depend on when you go, at least for 1-Day Magic Your Way tickets – for now.

    The calendar will be divided into “Value”, “Regular” and “Peak” days. If you want to go on a Value day, you can use a Value 1-Day ticket or better. But if you want to go on a Peak day, only a Peak 1-Day ticket will get you in.

    Disney has not released the actual pricing yet, but we understand that Value pricing will be the current prices ($105 MK/$97 other parks), Regular 1-Day tickets will be an additional $5 each, and Peak will be an additional $19/$17.

    At this time, multi-day tickets will be unaffected by tiers, but we expect similar changes will come to them down the line. Multi-day ticket prices did however go up as well across the board.

  • 09Nov
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Disney scuttles Star Wars Weekends while construction begins for new Star Wars area

    [From our sister site, Sci-Fi Storm]

    Star Wars Weekends, a multi-weekend event that Disney has hosted for annually for the last 13 years and occasionally before that, is over.

    It was announced on the official Disney Parks Blog today, although we believed it already to be the case.

    Construction will begin next year in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, where the Weekends were held, in order to provide a whole new “land” dedicated to Star Wars. Previously, the Star Wars presence was limited to the Star Tours attraction, the Tatooine Traders shop, and more recently the Jedi Training Academy (where children get trained by a Jedi and then face Darth Vader!) With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 everyone expected a bigger park presence and it’s on the way. A few details were released about that expansion:

    • On December 1st, “Star Wars: Launch Bay” opens, giving fans a look at the franchise and the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, special merchandise and opportunities to encounter Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
    • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will feature a new scene inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens: a chase following the Millenium Falcon through the ship wreckage on the desert planet of Jakku. Those familiar with the random scenes in the attraction might be glad to know that for a few months, the Jakku scene will be in every ride, and then it “will be up to the will of the Force”.
    • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (opening early December) is a re-imagining of the Jedi Training Academy which will take younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they will face Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister – a new villain from the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels
    • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi will feature scenes from the complete Star Wars saga, also giving anyone new to the Star Wars galaxy an opportunity to get acquainted with the films.

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  • 19Oct
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on WDW plans Opening Night event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens posterOn the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17th, Walt Disney World Resort will host a special ticketed event at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios park for fans who want to be among the first viewers of the movie and celebrate with other fans.

    Guests will have a confirmed seat at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theater for a showing between 7pm-8pm, and then celebrate over at Hollywood Studios at a private party afterwards until 2am. The party will include special access to the new Star Wars: Launch Bay exhibit, the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction, a DJ dance party, and a preview of the all new fireworks display set to Star Wars music. Costumes are encouraged! But follow standard Disney guest costume guidelines – if you dress like a Disney character, for instance, you may not pose for pictures with other guests or sign autographs, etc.

    Characters will also appear at Launch Bay – it is sounding like a private mini-Star Wars Weekends!

    Tickets will go on sale immediately after the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens airs tonight during Monday Night Football. And in fact, tickets for showings at theaters around the country will go on sale at the same time!

    Ticket prices will depend on which format you see the movie in: 2D ($94.99), 3D ($98.99) and 3D ETX ($99.99).

    Note: Direct transportation between Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios will NOT be provided. Parking is free at Disney Springs, and parking at Hollywood Studios is included in the price of the ticket. Guests staying at a WDW Resort will be able to take transportation from Disney Springs to their resort, and then on to Hollywood Studios.

    More FAQs can be found here.

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  • 04Oct
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on WDW completely restructures Annual Passes

    Surprise! It seemed to be a well-kept secret, but WDW today restructured the whole Annual Pass ticket system. Gone are the Premium, Standard and Seasonal passes. In their place are Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus – along with a new feature and, of course, higher prices.

    All passes (unless otherwise specified) now include free Photopass downloads. Prices unless otherwise stated do not include the 6.5% tax.

    For the general public, there are the Premium ($749 new, $635 renewal) and Premium Plus ($829 new, $705 renewal). They are the equivalent of the Standard and Premium APs in general.

    For Disney Vacation Club members and Florida Residents, Those passes are now $649 and $729 for new passes and $549/$619 for renewals respectively. In addition, a new pass called the Gold Pass is being offered for $549 new, $466 renewal. This is the same as the Platinum pass, but it has blockout dates when it cannot be used: December 17, 2015 ‒ January 1, 2016, March 19, 2016 ‒ April 1, 2016 and December 16, 2016 – January 1, 2017…basically the busy Christmas season and Spring Break.

    For Florida Residents only, the Silver Pass replaces the Seasonal Pass, and is $414.29 after tax (I don’t have the pre-tax price handy yet.), and does NOT include the free Photopass downloads. The Weekday Select and Epcot After 4 passes are still available, and likewise do not include Photopass. However, all passes now include freek parking! Which, by the way, was increased to $20 as well today, and valet is now $25.

    Information is still fluid, but we expect current AP holders to maintain their existing benefits, and at renewal time will need to choose from one of the new options. Mid-use upgrades would also likely be available to get the Photopass option if desired, but the prices, like always, would not be pro-rated.

    It also appears that the Premier Passport, which acts as a Platinum Plus Pass at WDW and a Premium AP in Disneyland, went up significantly as well, from $1099 to $1439.

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  • 15Aug
    Disneyland, News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Disney confirms Star Wars land expansions for Hollywood Studios and Disneyland

    At the D23 Expo today, Disney confirmed the long expected expansion of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a land based on Star Wars – and another one at Disneyland Park as well! They report that both are receiving a 14-acre expansion, although the details of how (especially at Disneyland which has limited space available – but recent acquisitions of nearby parcels might be related) and when we’ll see it are still under wraps.

    I also wonder whether the 14 acres include reclaimed areas, as was expected in Hollywood Studios.

    The land will be based on a remote outpost on a new planet which has not yet been named, but presumably based on the upcoming The Force Awakens movie, but things will be drawn from the original saga as well. A Cantina is expected that will feature the variety of aliens and creatures you’d expect. And two new signature rides will be added, including one featuring the Millennium Falcon nd allow guests to take the controls in a climatic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

    “I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s Chairman and CEO. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

    And for the purists, everything done will be officially canon.

    Stay tuned for more details, and follow along with The DIS as they provide live coverage from D23!

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  • 12Mar
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Name change coming for Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

    It’s been rumored for a while, but Disney CEO Bob Iger let slip during today’s shareholder’s meeting that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will receive yet another name change, to further reflect that it is not an actual functioning studio any longer but rather an immersive, glamorized version of Hollywood and the land of film making. He caught himself after he said it before revealing a new name, not understanding that they had not yet released the info.

    Not sure what the final name will actually be yet, but the top two leaders in my head are currently Disney’s Hollywoodland (a reference to the original full Hollywood sign) or Disney’s Hollywood Adventure, compared to Disney’s California Adventure out west.

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