Walt Disney Theme Parks
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(8/7/17) Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR Attraction from The Void Coming Soon (MORE...)
(8/5/17) New Construction At The Disneyland Hotel (MORE...)
(7/14/17) Disneyland Resort Ready To Launch MaxPass Next Week (MORE...)
(7/3/17) New Splitsville Update (MORE...)
Ticket Pricing - (2/13/17) Another year... another Disney theme park price increase has gone into effect. It's become as inevitable as death and taxes and as long as the Disney theme parks are packed like sardines in a can all year long, clearly the general public is willing to pay whatever it costs to get their fix of Disney's theme park magic again and again. The increases went into effect on Sunday at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World theme parks.
At the Disneyland Resort the cost of both the SoCal Annual Passes are said to have gone up $10 to $339 for the SoCal Select and $469 for the SoCal regular APs. The Deluxe AP went up $20 to $619, Signature Pass now runs $849 and the Signature Plus will cost you a whopping $1049 for the year.
A 1-Day/1-Park ticket went up $2 to $97 on "value" days and maxes out at $124 for "peak" days. A 1-day Park Hopper ticket will also range between $157 - $174 depending on the day you visit.
General Resort News - (8/5/17) A reader sent in a video link showing off some construction taking place at the Disneyland Hotel. From what I can see, it looks like they have tore up the "Magic Kingdom Lawn" area that is often rented out for Weddings and other outdoor special events. This has also caused the temporary closure of the hotel's Fitness and guest Laundry center, as there is a sign up directing guests to use the facilities at the Paradise Pier Hotel instead. So far it doesn't look much like work on a new structure is taking place, so this may be more of a landscaping project in order to give the Magic Kingdom Lawn area a new look.
(5/14/17) DisneyGeek has posted a quick look at the renovations taking place to the pool area at Disney's Grand Californian hotel. Currently one pool and spa area are now open while the waterslide and section closer to the DVC wing are still closed.
2017 - MaxPass FastPass - Announced - (7/14/17) A quick reminder that Disney's new premium pay queue service, MaxPass, will launch on July 19th at the Disneyland Resort parks, with an introductory price of $10 a day. For $75 Annual Passholders can add MaxPass that will be good for the life of your current pass. Visit the official site for all the juicy details.
(1/12/17) While Disneyland resort guests have been waiting for the company to roll out a more digital version of their FastPass program, much like the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World, what the Disneyland Resort announced today may not be what most were hoping for.
Introducing MaxPass… a way for Disneyland Resort guests to access the parks FastPass systems with their mobile devices while in the park, eliminating the need to travel to the attraction and swipe a ticket for a paper FastPass ticket. The good part is that MaxPass will work just like the current paper FastPass system, allowing guests to make one single FP reservation at a time, with no advanced reservations made months in advance, you can only make your FP reservation once you are in the parks. This eliminates a lot of the headaches caused by the advanced reservation features of the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World, along with the unnessary MagicBands.
Now for the bad news… MaxPass comes with a per ticket cost of $10 per person / per ticket. While one user will be able to make FastPass reservations for their entire group all at once, much like you can do with FP+ at WDW, it will cost you an extra $10 per person in the group to do it. For example, while the Father of a family of 5 can enjoy the ability to use his phone to make FP reservations at the parks for the day, Disney is going to charge you $50 for the convenience of it all. (Have you read our article about the many new Cash Grab programs that have gone into effect at Walt Disney World over the past 3 months?)
On the positive side, in addition to gaining access to MaxPass, your $10 fee will also grant you unlimited digital downloads of photos taken in the parks with Disney’s PhotoPass system. However, this comes with a big negative for families where you would really only need one of the unlimited PhotoPass plans for the entire family, and will now find yourself paying $10 for every member of your group if you opt to the MaxPass.
This has left many Annual Passholders wondering just how MaxPass is going to affect them, many of which who already have unlimited PhotoPass downloads through their Annual Pass program. So far Disney has not been able to answer those questions about how much MaxPass will cost for AP holders, and has only stated that those answers will be come at a later along with more information about the program's launch.
While it is great that Disneyland is finally launching a mobile version of FastPass, I'm thinking this is just the wrong way to do it. After all, a mobile version of FastPass can help eliminate the need to have so many physical FP kiosks in the parks, cut back on the maintenance of them, the staffing needed to run them, and not to mention eliminate much of the waste that comes from paper FastPass tickets. In light of these potential cost savings, and the fact that mobile access to FastPass at Walt Disney World is free for everyone, it just kind of rubs me the wrong way that they want to charge a fee for this system, along with the completely unnecessary PhotoPass perk thrown in for value's sake. I'd rather have a free mobile FP system and the option to pay $10 for PhotoPass if I want it.
This also makes me wonder if a fee is in the works for Walt Disney World's mobile system in the not too distant future.
One important final note I have to mention however is that MaxPass will NOT be your only way to access Disney’s FastPass system at Disneyland and California Adventure, the old paper ticket FastPass system isn’t going anywhere and will remain free for everyone to use at the various kiosks within the parks, working just as it always has before. In addition to that, Disney did confirm that they would soon be adding FastPass machines to The Matterhorn in Disneyland and Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure.
(8/6/15) Screamscape had heard back in May that Disneyland may be preparing to test the paper-free FastPass+ mobile based ride reservation system in the future, minus the whole MagicBand thing. Well, a brand new Disneyland app launched online for iOS and Android smart-phones will already tell you the current wait times, but also allow you to "Link a Pass" to the app, so you can use your phone instead of your pass-card. While there is no mention of FastPass+ in the app yet, the design appears to be very similar to the Disney World app, and even includes the Mickey-Head icon that guests use to scan their RDIF enabled passcards and MagicBands with. So this is likely the first step towards the eventual arrival of FastPass+ in California.
(5/25/15) The LA Times reports that according to Disney's COO Tom Staggs, Disney's MagicBands from Walt Disney World will not be coming to the California parks anytime soon. As the Disneyland Resort has many more local resident guests who are single day guests, or many of which only drop in for a few hours at a time, the MagicBand system just wouldn't work well with the California demographics. The MagicBand system was really designed from the ground up with Walt Disney World in mind, where the typical guests are there as part of a multi-day vacation experience, with a good percentage of them actually staying at an on-site WDW Resort hotel, where they can use the MagicBands not only for theme park admission, but also as their hotel room key in addition to making cashless purchaces anywhere on Disney property.
That said however... I have still heard that Disneyland and California Adventure may be looking to test out the FastPass+ system from the Florida parks however, which would replace the paper FastPass ticket machines with a new entirely electronic system guests can access from anywhere through their SmartPhones and even make certain attraction reservations up to 90 days in advance through a website as part of their on-site resort travel package, an option that was also opened up to annual passholders as well later on.
(1/12/15) Is the MyMagic+ / FastPass+ system coming to the Disneyland Resort? According to the OC Register, Disney’s own Tom Staggs mentioned that the new high-tech reservation system would be rolled out to Disneyland as well as other Disney parks around the world in the near future. Of course, no timeline was given as to when we might see this rolled out at Disneyland, but having finally experienced it at Walt Disney World myself last month, I will say that there will have to be some tweeking of the system before they can roll it out in California.
Of course, the system has been under review and constant tweaking in Florida since it first rolled out to all the parks last year, and once it does, it is bound to frustrate a lot of Disneyland Resort guests to no end at first. As someone who still misses the old FastPass free days of visiting Disney parks, I always had a distaste for the original FastPass system. It took away a bit too much from my self-given education I had built up over the years as a Theme Park Commando, by leveling the playing field a bit. But there was a method to the madness, and you could still find loopholes in the original FastPass system and ways to "work the system" to your advantage if you knew how.
With FastPass+, you can pretty much flush all that knowledge down the toilet and be prepared to start all over again from scratch my Padawan. That isn't to say that there aren't way to "work the system" in your favor anymore... because there are, but if my first day with FastPass+ is a typical reaction, most of you may find yourself incredibly frustrated to no end by the new system, and it's limitations. As I said, it's a whole new game with new rules to play by, but it can be played... so have patience and we'll see how this works out if they bring it to Disneyland.
One thing I know they will likely have to address is the park-hopping limitations of the current WDW system, which requires you to book your 3 FP+ reservations at once, all in the same park, which does you no good if you had planned to park hop during the day, once or twice. In Walt Disney World, the parks are far enough away that some guests don't park hop at all, but with the entrance to California Adventure a few steps away from the entrance to Disneyland, I think this issue will have to be addressed first.
Late 2017 - Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire from The Void - (8/7/17) The Void... an ultra intense VR experience that has been gaining steam and popularity... longtime readers will remember me talking about how cool looking their Ghostbusters experience that opened at Madame Tussauds in New York appeared to be, as well as lamenting about how their HQ was all the way in the middle of nowhere... UTAH. I've so very much wanted to experience what The Void has to offer and now according to the latest Disney Parks Blog announcement, The Void will be behind a new "Hyper-Reality Experience" coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and to Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort that will be called, "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire".
According to the posting, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will open to virtually transport guests into the Star Wars universe through the amazing technology of The Void, where you will interact with that galaxy far far away through "sight, sound, touch, smell and motion" as well as through the use of some Haptic feedback in places to allow for the environment to be felt as well as seen. Look for this to open sometime "this holiday season" on both coasts.
2017/2018 - Splitsville - (7/3/17) A new look at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes attraction coming to Downtown Disney in California has been posted by the Disney Parks Blog with concept artwork showing off what the finished building will look like.
(6/26/17) A couple of pictures of the new Splitsville attraction under construction in Downtown Disney can be found at DisneyGeek this week.
(1/1/17) A couple of close up photos of the House of Blues demolition were sent in by DisneyGeek this week. You can see a whole collection of photos taken at both parks, including a look at the Guardians/Tower transformation, Rivers of America and Star Wars construction if you follow this link.
(12/28/16) Now that House of Blues has left Downtown Disney (set to reopen in the nearby Anaheim GardenWalk in early 2017) Disney has begun the process of demolishing the old HoB location. One of our readers sent in a photo of the site as crews work to carefully bring the structure down, meanwhile the permits filed by Disney indicated that they intended to keep a "basement" level under the building intact, and Disney has already announced a deal is in place with Splitsville to bring a new 40,000 sqft 20-lane location to the site that will also feature a lounge and 625-seat restaurant.
Late 2018 - Eastern Gateway - (8/13/16) The Disneyland Resort confirmed this week that they are breaking ground on a new "Eastern Gateway" project for the park that will see a new parking structure (6,800 spaces) built on the East side of the Resort, along with a new transportation facility for buses, taxis and shuttles, as well as an elevated pedestrian bridge over Harbor Blvd to the main entrance plaza. Look for this to open in late 2018, with the elevated walkway going through the site currently used by the soon to close (October?) Carousel Inn and Suites that Disney purchased last year.
2021 - New Resort Hotel - Planning - (6/8/16) The Disneyland Resort has announced plans to build a 4th luxury resort on property, taking advantage of a new tax incentive program from Anaheim for new luxury hotels. The resort has yet to set a theme or even a name yet, but the proposal is for a 700-room 4-diamond resort and parking structure to be built on a 10-acre site at 1401 Disneyland Drive, at the north end of the Downtown Disney parking lot.
The new hotel is earmarked to open in 2021, with construction starting sometime in 2018. While the design is still in flux, the plan is for it to feature a large rooftop viewing area where hotel guests will be able to sit and enjoy the nighttime fireworks from Disneyland.