• 28Aug
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours benefits for Disney Springs Area Resorts extended through 2019

    Just announced, the 60-day FastPass+ booking benefit and Extra Magic Hours for guests staying at one of the seven Disney Springs Area Resorts – B Resort & Spa, Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort, DoubleTree Guest Suites by Hilton Orlando, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando, and the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista – has been extended through December 31st, 2019!

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  • 06May
    Disneyland, Trip Reports Comments Off on 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.
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  • 14Mar
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Walt Disney World adds fee for overnight self-parking at resorts

    It just got more expensive for on-site guests who travel with a vehicle…starting with reservations made March 21st, 2018 and thereafter, guests staying at a WDW resort and will have a vehicle parked overnight will now pay a self-parking fee, which will be added to their folio on check-out. The fee depends on the level of resort: $13/night for value, $19/night for moderate, and $24/night for deluxe including Deluxe Villa resorts. However, DVC members will NOT have to pay a parking fee when staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa, even if they paid points instead of cash.

    The fee also does not apply to guests staying at campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

    Official information available here.

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  • 11Feb
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Walt Disney World raises ticket prices

    No surprises here – it’s the second Sunday in February, and that brings the usually-annual increase in ticket prices at Walt Disney World.

    Most of the Magic Your Way tickets of 5 days and above went up $15. With varying increases for short tickets. A single-day Value Season ticket for Magic Kingdom is now $109, and $102 for the other parks.

    The Park Hopper option remains an additional $75 for four or more days, with 2- and 3-Day tickets at $65 and 1-Day $62. Adding Park Hopper Plus is still an additional $25.

    Annual Passes also saw an increase – the Platinum Pass is now $849, and the Platinum Plus Pass is $949.

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  • 10Jan
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Walt Disney World will now allow selected guests to purchase more Fastpass+ experiences

    According to our friends at the DIS, Walt Disney World has confirmed the recent rumor that selected guests will be able to purchase an add-on to their tickets that will allow them to book 3 additional Fastpass+ experiences per day, and up to 90 days in advance. The extra three experiences can be for any attraction regardless of tiered status or park, but any single attraction can only be booked once a day.

    This is a pilot program that begins January 12th, 2018.

    Eligible guests are those who qualify for WDW’s “Signature Services“, which currently include guests staying Club-level and Suite accommodations, as well as those who book VIP Tours. Guests must have at least a 3-day ticket, and the cost is $50 per day.

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  • 08Sep
    News, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando parks closed this weekend for Hurricane Irma

    Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando both took the unusual measure to close the parks for the weekend ahead of the impending Hurricane Irma, while they put all their resources into keeping guests safe who are unable to leave the resorts.

    WDW parks will be closing at staggered times to allow easier transportation back to the resorts. All Universal parks will close at 7pm.

    More details on the specific closures can be found at the DIS.

    To all our friends who are at WDW and the surrounding areas, stay safe!

  • 04Aug
    Disneyland, Walt Disney World Comments Off on 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…

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  • 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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