Category Archives: Disneyland

Say Goodbye to Fastpass+ and Hello to Genie+…and more costs

Big changes are afoot at the Eared Circle – both Walt Disney World and Disneyland! Disney is retiring all current forms of Fastpass at the U.S. parks – FASTPASS, Fastpass+ and MaxPass, and will instead integrate a new system based on Disneyland’s MaxPass system into Disney’s upcoming “Genie” planning service that will be rolled out in an upcoming update to the WDW and Disneyland applications.

The first part of the service, “Genie+”, will allow guests to select an available attraction and the next available return time for an attraction that day. You can have only at a time, but as soon as you are eligible you can choose another. It’s like the old FASTPASS system, but without having to go to the attraction to get the ticket – and it can be in another park! The service is paid per day you wish to use it, and for each member of your party (i.e. what they are calling “ticket”) – $15/day/ticket for WDW, $20/day/ticket for DL. So for a family of four to use it it would cost $60 for the day. If you don’t want to use it for a day, you simply don’t pay. However, some of the most popular attractions may not be available in Genie+…

The second part, simply referred to as “Individual attraction selections”, is another upcharge allowing you to schedule up to two arrival times per day for popular attractions that are NOT part of Genie+ – examples given are Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom and Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure – but instead you pay a separate upcharge to gain access to these attractions. Cost will vary by date, attraction, and park and more will be known sooner to launch.

As part of all this, Fastpass entrances will be relabeled as “Lightning Lanes”, as it appears the old Fastpass name is part of the retirement, and the selections will simply be referred to as “Lightning Lane selections”.

Disney’s Genie service itself is a next generation planning utility that will allow you to create dynamic personalized itineraries and recommendations based on your preferences. It will be interesting to see how this works – it could be like having a dynamic Touring Plans system in your pocket, updating if you decide to go off-script for an attraction.

I’m sure there will be a lot of negative feedback in the short term over the upcharge, but MaxPass worked very well and it will have to be seen how it works at WDW.

A WDW Expert goes to Disneyland

I’ve been going to Walt Disney World for two decades now. Many have been going longer, but I was a “late bloomer” as I’ve probably mentioned before. And being the technical, analytical person I am, I learned a great deal by studying – we bought books, joined the DISboards, etc. Because the Fastpass system was so important for being able to enjoy more and wait list, I made a point of studying it, how it work, WHY it worked, and knowing how best to use it. I was dubbed the “Fastpass Jedi Master” over at the DISboards. In general, I consider myself an expert on most everything WDW.

This time I was out of my element. THIS time, I was going to Disneyland. I was going to where it all began. And I wanted a first-timers view. So much so, we went to the parks without even a touring plan. We had our must-dos, our would-like-to-dos, and even some don’t-really-need-to-dos – we knew we wouldn’t be able to do everything, and some attractions are carbon copies of those in WDW. We wanted to do the different things most – even those that were only slightly different in a way.

It looks familiar so far…
My passion for nostalgia is pretty high, so seeing the things I’ve only seen on TV, via re-runs of the old “Disneyland/World of Color”, and walking where Walt once walked, was going to be the excitement for me. So obviously, our first day would be spent in Disneyland Park.
Continue reading A WDW Expert goes to Disneyland

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to bring VR experience to Disney Resorts

A collaboration between Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB division (which works on immersive entertainment) and VR experience startup THE VOID, will see a VOID Entertainment Center open at both Disneyland’s Downtown Disney and Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, which will feature Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a fully immersive VR experience, which The Void calls “hyper-reality”.

THE VOID already operates locations in New York City (inside Madame Tussaud’s), Toronto, Lindon, Utah and Dubai, where they have Ghostbusters Dimension.

The Void says Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire “will plunge guests directly into the iconic Star Wars galaxy. They will move freely throughout the untethered, social, and multi-sensory Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience in a way that allows them to interact and engage with friends, family and Star Wars characters. This ground-breaking experience will open to the public at two new VOID Experience Centers at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort beginning this holiday season.”

“At The VOID, we combine the magic of illusion, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at The VOID. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of The VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”

Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge of ILMxLab, said, “At ILMxLAB, we want people to step inside the worlds of our stories. Through our collaboration with The VOID, we can make this happen as guests become active participants in an unfolding Star Wars adventure. By combining Lucasfilm’s storytelling expertise with cutting-edge imagery, and immersive sound from the team at Skywalker Sound, while invoking all the senses, we hope to truly transport all those who experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to a galaxy far, far away.”
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire marks an important milestone in the continued expansion of The VOID, which also joined the 2017 Disney Accelerator earlier this year,” said Cliff Plumer, CEO of The VOID. “Through the power of The VOID, guests can now experience the magic of Star Wars firsthand.”

Expect to have to make reservations FAR in advance…

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.

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!

Star Wars theme park presense to take from upcoming movies

Disney has been rather tight-lipped on what their plans are for expanding the Star Wars franchise within its theme parks. And while we still don’t know what the exact plans are, we do know one thing – they were waiting for at least the first of the new movies to be in production so they could take elements from it.

Speaking at a Q&A session at Variety‘s Dealmakers Breakfast earlier today, Disney chief Bob Iger said, “There will be a much larger Star Wars presence in our parks globally. But we want to do this big, which takes time, and to do it right.”

And doing it right meant waiting until they could include elements from the newest installment of the franchise. “I didn’t want someone to say, ‘I just saw the movie and there’s nothing in that movie in this,” he elaborated. “We waited to see what this film would have in it.”

So Iger put the brakes on all the Imagineering work being done to buy time for J.J. Abrams and his team to get through the development work and into production, so there would be designs that Imagineering could include.

“I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future,” he said. “Now we have a sense of what’s in Star Wars 8 and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”

And just how much are they betting on the next movie? All in, baby. “I keep telling J.J. Abrams this is a $4 billion movie. We need to treat this very special. It’s an unbelievable privilege and unbelievable responsibility to take a jewel and treat it in a way that is respectful of its past but brings it into the future.”

He’s got that right.

No more Nescafé at WDW and Disneyland – to be replaced with Joffrey’s

I’m not a coffee drinker at all – tea is more my hot drink of choice – but I know a lot of them, and I know their hatred of Nescaf&eacut;, which for the longest time was the only coffee available at WDW outside of a few small locations. But Nescafé is ending its long run (thanks to the sponsorship by Nestle) at both Disneyland and WDW, and is being replaced by Joffrey’s Coffee. Joffrey’s was already operating a few kiosks and supplying specialty coffees used at some locations.

Over the next few months, Joffrey’s will be rolled in, using blends specially produced for Disney, and will be served at counter and table service locations as well as the in-room coffee at moderate and deluxe resorts.

The recently announced Starbucks agreement, where they will take over the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom, is not affected.