Walt Disney World Resort
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(9/12/17) As of Monday afternoon Walt Disney World has stated that they were still inspecting and cleaning up their parks from Hurricane Irma, but the plan is to open their four main theme parks on Tuesday. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach will open sometime later this week, but a date has not been decided.
(8/7/17) Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR Attraction from The Void Coming Soon (MORE...)
(8/2/17) Hail A Minnie With Lyft (MORE...)
(7/30/17) DisneyQuest Building Demolition (MORE...)
(7/25/17) Disney Skyliner and Riviera Resort Construction Updates
Resort Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
DisneyQuest - CLOSED FOREVER
Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe - CLOSED FOREVER
Typhoon Lagoon - Jan 7, 2018 through TDB
Blizzard Beach - Oct. 29 through Jan. 6, 2018
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort:
Old Port Royale Food Court, Shutters, Cabana Pool Bar and Calypso Trading Post - NOW through June 30, 2018
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club - Convention Center Expansion / in progress through Feb. 1, 2018
Portobello Country Italian Trattoria - NOW CLOSED through Fall 2017
Screamscape’s Guide To FastPass+ Is A Must Read!
Current 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 sardeens in a can all year long, clearly the general public is willing to pay whatever it costs to get into Disney's magical theme parks again and again. The increases went into effect on Sunday at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World theme parks.
At the WDW Resort the standard Florida Resident AP has gone up $10 to $559 while the FL Resident Platinum Pass went up $30 to $679. For non-residents, you are looking at $779 for a Platinum and $869 for a Platinum Plus pass, or $125 for just Disney Waterpark AP.
Meanwhile they are keeping the old flexible pricing system in place that bases your cost on just how busy the parks are expected to be, with a 1-day pass to Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom now clocking in at $99 for a "value" day and up to $119 for a "peak" day. A 1-day pass into the Magic Kingdom however will cost you between $107 on a "value" day and $124 on a "peak" day. A 1-day Park Hopper will also run you between $162 - $174 depending on what day you go.
General Resort News - (8/2/17) I had not heard this before, but apparently Walt Disney World's new Minnie ride hailing service within the WDW confines is actually being done in partnership with Lyft. In fact WDW guests can even use the existing Lyft app to hail the Minnie service while on property. Currently the service is said to only be testing the service at Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
(7/20/17) As rumored last week, Disney confirmed the launching of the new "Minnie" Uber style ride hailing service that will feature a fleet of red Minnie vehicles, covered in white polkadots that guests can hail and ride to any destination they want on Walt Disney World property. The cars are already on site and testing is said to have quietly begun in preparation of a full scale launch in the near future. Unlike taking an Uber or Taxi however, the early word is that used of the Minnie service will cost you a flat $20 fee no matter what the destination. While this may be a bit more expensive, it is nice to know that the drivers apparently are not allowed to accept tips either, so $20 is all you pay.
While there is plenty of free transporation options to get you and your group from place to place on Walt Disney World property, it is nice to know that the Minnie service will be available if you are in a big hurry and don't want to wait for a bus, or even deal with the crowds leaving the Magic Kingdom at night for example, as the Minnie will pick you up and drop you off right at the park's bus stop area and avoid the TTC entirely.
(7/15/17) According to the latest rumors the Star Wars Hotel project may have been given the green light and could very well be confirmed later today at the Disney Parks presentation at D23 along with details about the new Skyway system coming to link Epcot to the Studios park with Resort stops along the way. I've also heard a curious mention that Disney will attempt to launch their own mini version of an UBER style ride-hailing service that will service the Walt Disney World area. Sure, you can get virtually anywhere for free on Disney's own public transportation systems, but if you are in a hurry and willing to pay to make a quick and direct trip to the destination of your choice, why not? Oh, and DVC fans may be happy as well, as they are rumored to also unveil the next DVC Resort project at Walt Disney World as well.
(6/26/17) One of our readers posted a few interesting images to Twitter over the weekend, showing off the approximate location where some new land clearing is now taking place at Blizzard Beach along the backside of the mountain area. Another reader also commented as to how the park's Runoff Rapids slides that empty out into a pool in this section of the park has also been closed for several months now for 'refurbishment', while there has been no sign of any refurbishment taking place thus far.
Could Blizzard Beach be preparing for some kind of expansion?
(6/17/17) Troubles for the Walt Disney World Monorail this week, as a guest standing in the Epcot parking lot reported seeing a piece of Monorail Blue fall off and hit the ground (and even took a photo with the piece!), and shortly afterwards Monorail Blue, sparking and smoking, ground to a halt just outside the TTC. Guests inside had to wait in the heat for a good while, and just as rescue crews were begining to assemble to try and remove them, a monorail "tug" arrived and pulled the broken monorail into the station for an easier removal of the guests aboard.
With the WDW Monorail fleet rapidly aging out, Disney has been reluctant to buy a replacement fleet, and instead has been relying on maintenance and attempts to upgrade the systems of the 28-year-old Mark VI fleet.
(5/2/17) According to the LA Times, Disney is close to signing a deal to launch some kind of new driverless shuttle transportation system for cast members at Walt Disney World. They are said to be in talks with Local Motors (Phoenix) and Navya (Paris) about using their shuttle systems for the test system in Florida, and if that goes well it could roll out to be something usable by park guests about a year later.
(4/14/17) According to a post on the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World confirmed to the paper that an Orlando version of Club 33 would soon be coming to Walt Disney World... but not just one... but four of them, one for each of the four WDW theme parks, is expected to be installed by "this fall".
For those not in the know, Club 33 started off at Disneyland, hidden away in the buildings in the New Orleans Square section of the park, as a very exclusive membership-only club that to this day remains the only place inside the Disneyland theme park where alcohol can be purchased.
Membership prices were not mentioned, but from what I've heard about the original, memberships are priced more at a corporate level, far out of the price range of your average guest, with a steep initial sign-up fee said to be around $25,000 followed by $12,000 annual renewal fees after that.
Ouch! As I said, this is more of a corporate perk than anything else, where a company can take special guests out for a very exclusive meal opportunity they wouldn't get anywhere else. Walt Disney himself devised it for this very same reason as a place where he could entertain foreign dignitaries, investors and other special VIP's.
Ongoing - Disney Springs Additions - (7/30/17) I don't know if the exterior work has started yet, but apparently Disney did file permits to demolish the DisneyQuest building. Interior work is said to have begun immediately after the attraction closed, and once complete and the inside gutted of anything of worth, the rest of the huge structure will begin to come down piece by piece to make way the future "NBA Experience" attraction.
I do find it a little odd that we still haven't seen any details at all about what the NBA Experience will really be like, even now that DisneyQuest is dead and gone.
(5/2/17) According to the Orlando Business Journal, Walt Disney World has signed Finfrock Construction to a $58 million contract to build a third parking structure at Disney Springs that will be built across the street from the current "Lime" garage structure. For those keeping track, Lime was the second of the two massive parking structures built for Disney Springs.
(2/1/17) I've been expecting part of this announcement to come with a lot of dread, but Disney made it official a few hours ago that DisneyQuest will close forever on July 3, 2017. The big surprise was that DisneyQuest is still closing to make way for the previously announced "The NBA Experience" attraction, despite reports last year that the efforts by the NBA Experience people had fallen short and that they would be unable to move forward. Apparently they fixed whatever went wrong over the past year and The NBA Experience project is now moving forward again, following the demise of DisneyQuest.
(1/27/17) Good news for sea food loving Walt Disney World fans, as the Paddlefish tweeted that they will finally open to guests on February 4th.
(1/25/17) Walt Disney World announced the latest over-to-top upcharge service today... a new Personal Shopping Service now available at Disney Springs that will run you $250 an hour. Yeah... you apparently pay someone to go shopping with you and give you fashion advice... for those who can't make decisions on their own or who apparently can't get a friend to go with them shopping anymore... at Disney Springs. You'd think you could just offer to buy a friend a really tasty meal in exchange for shopping with you get off a lot cheaper than renting a "proven fashion advisor" to tag along.
Time will tell if this option goes the way of the Magic Kingdom Cabanas.
A final serious note: While I am aware that there really are people who spend money for these kinds of services... I have serious doubts that Disney Springs is their shopping location of choice. I would think they might be more inclined to head to The Mall at Millenia instead.
(1/11/17) While we are still waiting for the all new Planet Hollywood Observatory restaurant to open in the near future, the Disney Parks Blog shared a look at some of the new menu items (from Guy Fieri) along with confirming that we would see the return of PH's famous Chicken Crunch. They also give off a look at an assortment of new giant crazy milkshake creations smothered and covered with candy and cake that look oh-so inspired by the opening of Universal's Toothsome eatery that opened last summer.
(10/1/16) According to an update from the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World is already making plans to add a third parking garage structure to their Disney Springs retail/dining area… formerly known as Downtown Disney. The estimates are that the garage will offer at least 2000 new parking spaces and they are looking into placing it across Buena Vista Drive from the existing Lime garage (which is also about 2000 space I believe). Options like a pedestrian bridge over Buena Vista Drive are also being considered.
I did have one thought however, if they place this across from the Lime structure, isn’t that the area currently used for parking for WDW’s Casting Center building? I’m kinda curious why they are avoiding building this up in the far parking lot out behind Cirque.
While on the subject of Disney Springs, it has also come to light that the STK restaurant concept isn’t doing as well as they had hoped, with claims that they just aren’t selling as many high-end steak meals as they had hoped. While I’ve never been to STK myself, I’ve heard that the atmosphere is a a bit of a confusing cluster as well, mixing the concept of a high end (read: EXPENSIVE!) steak house restaurant with the atmosphere of a lively and loud nightclub experience. One might say that perhaps the two concepts just don’t mix well. Or perhaps the fact that there are many very fine (and expensive) steak restaurants already in the area that end up costing less than STK because they are off Disney property. In any case, look for extensive modifications to STK to be forthcoming in both the appearance and menu selection being offered to fit in better with Disney’s family dining crowd.
(7/20/16) Walt Disney World has announced a new restaurant that will open in 2017 at Disney Springs called The Polite Pig. The Polite Pig will be a "sister restaurant" to The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, FL and feature a number of wood-fired smoked and grilled menu items. Look for it to appear in the Town Center area of Disney Springs.
(12/30/15) The Orlando Biz Journal has posted a good look at the plans for the new Edison restaurant coming to Disney Springs, including the various themed rooms. There is also a space nearby for another rumored eatery called “Walt’s” as well as the spotting of underground facility plans that are rumored to possibly be for an underground bar style location that will use the name, Neverland Tunnel.
(6/10/15) Disney has pulled back the curtain on a couple of new attractions coming to Disney Springs. The first will open next year from the Patina Restaurant Group and Kinetescape's Andrew Meieran. It's called The Edison, an "Industrial Gothic" style restaurant and bar that will serve American style food, incredible cocktails and feature some unique live entertainment options.
If this sounds familiar at all to California readers, it should... as the group also runs the original "The Edison" in Los Angeles, set inside a historic power plant. The new Florida site will feature several uniquely themed rooms that will tower above you through the use of 35 foot tall ceilings. Look for The Edison to open in The Landing sometime in 2016. If you want to see more, a quick Google search shows off many impressive pictures from the West coast version of The Edison.
2017 - Wilderness Lodge Resort / Waterside Cabins - (3/5/17) Walt Disney World has announced that the DVC expansion of the Wilderness Lodge Resort which has been named “Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge” is now set to open on July
17th, 2017, and DVC sales will begin starting on March 8th for current members and April 5th for general sales. In addition to 184 modern, nature-inspired, vacation rooms it will also feature 26 new waterfront cabins that can sleep up to 8 with 2-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, dining and living spaces, floor to ceiling windows and even a stone-hearth fireplace to really bring the “cabin” experience home.
Disney has posted a promotional video for the new Cooper Creek Villas & Cabins which you can see below.
(10/3/16) HHNUnofficial sent in a photo to us showing off the new bungalow buildings under construction by the waterside at Disney's Wilderness Lodge resort.
(6/22/15) The Orlando Sentinel has confirmed a rumor I had previously heard about, claiming that Walt Disney World will build 26 special "cabin" themed rooms along the shore of Bay Lake at the Wilderness Lodge Hotel. Plans have already been filed with with South Florida Water Management District, and according to the previous rumors I had heard, these new high-end units will be essentially very similar in concept to the water bungalow rooms just added to Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. The article also mentions that the plans include a new boardwalk, a "bar grill" and a new pool at the Wilderness Lodge.
2017 - Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon - (3/13/17) The new Miss Adventure Falls raft slide at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon is now open along with the rest of the park. You can get a good look at this new slide in the video clip below from our friends at Attractions Magazine. At the heart of things, this is a new family raft slide, but one that allows you to load at ground level and ride a conveyor belt to the top of the slide to begin your adventure. There is plenty of fun themeing to look at along the way however, including the first time that Disney has added an animatronic figure to one of there waterslide attractions.
(3/5/17) Walt Disney World has confirmed that the new Miss Adventure Falls slide at Typhoon Lagoon will open to guests on March 12.
(1/20/17) Walt Disney World has confirmed that the new 2017 waterslide coming to Typhoon Lagoon has been given a new name. Instead of Miss Fortune Falls they are now going to call it Miss Adventure Falls. A new piece of concept art was also released on the official website along with a new description about how the attraction is owned by Captain Mary Oceaneer, a treasure hunter who's fortune was scattered across the area by a rogue typhoon. As you slide through adventure you can spot various artifacts along the way and possibly the captain's 'old diving partner', an Animatronic parrot.
(8/3/16) Walt Disney World has named the new slide attraction on the way to Typhoon Lagoon for Spring 2017 as "Miss Fortune Falls". As rumored, it will be a new family raft experience taking guests through the "fabled Captain Mary Oceaneer's past." It seems Captain Mary was a treasure hunting adventurer before a rogue storm stranded her at Typhoon Lagoon. Miss Fortune Falls is expected to feature a total ride time of two-minutes, making it one of the longest attractions at any of the Disney waterparks.
(6/28/16) Screamscape sources tell us that Disney has filed paperwork indicating that they were planning on adding a new ‘family raft’ slide to their Typhoon Lagoon waterpark, near the park’s latest additions, the Crush ‘n Gusher water coasters. Given the timeline, I would guess that we could see this new attraction added in time for the park’s 2017 season as long as they start construction on it before the end of the year. Anyone know more?
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.
2018?? - New Cirque du Soleil Show at Disney Springs - Rumored -
(3/6/17) In a somewhat unexpected announcement, Disney and Cirque du Soleil have announced that their long-running La Nouba show at Disney Springs will finally come to an end at the end of 2017. Several years ago we had reported that Disney had been asking Cirque to start looking into making a new show for the venue, though instead it looks like Cirque opted to simply begin a program of replacing and refreshing many of the various acts in the show instead in an attempt to keep things fresh and new. It worked... for a time at least, but rumors report that La Nouba seldom sells out anymore outside of peak season and after a nearly 20 year run, the time has come to simply let it ride off into the sunset.
Neither Disney, nor Cirque, will confirm what the future has in store, but I'd say it is a fairly safe bet that they've already got a brand new show concept in production already to swoop in and replace La Nouba with an all new experience sometime in 2018. Until that time however, the extreme West End of Disney Springs is going to end up being somewhat of a ghost town when La Nouba goes dark, as DisneyQuest next door is also pulling the plug on the video-game fiesta this July.
In the meantime, I'm sure sales of La Nouba tickets will soar once again for the rest of the year and everyone scrambles to see this awesome show "one final time", or finally get around to seeing it if they've been putting it off. So whichever camp you fall into, I'd look to pick up your tickets sooner than later.
2019 - Disney’s Coronado Springs Expansion - (3/2/17) Screamscape sources report that demolition work to make way for that new 15-story resort tower announced for Disney’s Corando Springs Resort is already underway with fences up and visible near the front of the resort, and one of the existing two-story buildings nearby already coming down. Some great photos of the work in progress were posted to the WDWNT Blog last week.
(2/20/17) Walt Disney World has announced a large 15-story tower will soon be added to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort that will add an additional 500-rooms onto the property. As this is regarded as a very popular "convention" hotel it isn't uncommon for the resort to run out of rooms far short of the overall demand for some of the events held on site here, so the additional 500 rooms are very much needed.
According to the release from Disney we can expect the new tower and other changes to be open in about 2-years, so look for it in 2019. The new tower will feature suites and concierge level service as well. The new tower will also feature a unique rooftop dining opportunity that will offer a unique view of the popular nighttime fireworks visible from the nearby theme parks.
Meanwhile over the same time-period you can look forward to the existing rooms to also be upgraded and refurbished, as well as see the addition of other features to the landscape. One such mentioned was a "floating garden" and an "island oasis that connects the resort through a series of bridges".
Fall 2019 - Disney DVC Riviera Resort / Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Improvements - (7/25/17) A great aerial photo showing off the now cleared site for the new DVC Riviera Resort site on what was once the former front end of Disney Caribbean Resort property, was posted to Twitter yesterday.
(7/20/17) As expected, the next official DVC Resort was confirmed as coming to take over the site that was previously used as the front half of Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The new DVC Resort will be called the Disney Riviera Resort, and it will be attached to the new Disney Skyliner aerial tram transportation service that will connect guests right to the Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks.
Disney Riviera Resort is planned to open in Fall 2019 and feature 300 units along with a new rooftop restaurant that will allow for great views of the big nighttime spectaculars over at Epcot and the Studios.
(3/2/17) There has been some fuss lately over what the future has in store for Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort property. Our readers caught wind of some of it posted last month where it looked like a possible aerial gondola tram system linking Epcot’s International Gateway to Disney’s Hollywood Studios would zig-zag it’s way across the Caribbean Beach Resort property to allow for a mid-point station.
Then you can add into this that Disney included a blurb in their announcement about the new hotel tower coming to Disney’s Coranado Springs Resort that the Caribbean Beach Resort would soon also be “reimagined with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.”
While nothing more has been officially confirmed by Disney at this time, those interesting plans submitted by Disney that tipped us off to the possible Skyway 2.0 project also show quite a few changes are planned to take place to the entire Caribbean Beach resort in the near future. The plans label this as “Project 88”.
Meanwhile, I’ve also heard from a few Disney DVC enthusiast readers who eagerly pointed out that the site has also been mentioned in several rumors over the past year as being the next likely site for a new DVC expansion project once the current project at the Wilderness Lodge is finished.
All things together do make a lot of sense as Disney’s DVC division has been on a run of non-stop rampant growth over the past several years, adding in new DVC additions and conversions to most of the top-tier “Deluxe” Disney resort properties. Now, with almost every Deluxe resort at WDW now featuring some kind of DVC presence, it looks like the time has come for a proposal to upgrade one of the current “Moderate” resorts into a new DVC property.
Like the expansion just announced for the Coronado Springs, rumor has it that the Project 88 changes planned for Caribbean Beach Resort could be ready to open hopefully by late 2019… just in time to take advantage of all the crowds expected for the Star Wars Land project at the Studios.
So what all is planned? Would you believe that it looks like the entire northern end of the resort near the main entrance could be changed? This would include the removal of the entire Barbados group of guest buildings, the removal of the northern half of the Martinique guest buildings, the reshaping of the current ponds between Barbados and the Custom House check-in building, some possible changes to the Custom House area as well as changes to the northern shoreline of the resorts central lake. A new large structure is seen on the plans that would take up a large portion of the space currently occupied by the Barbados buildings, placed alongside the shoreline of the central lake, along with those previously mentioned shoreline changes. This would likely be a new 10 to 15 story tall DVC guest tower, with the rest of the remaining land not shown for any dramatic changes at this point, but the removal of the other nearby guest buildings to allow for ground level construction that wouldn’t be on the map, like a parking lot for example, or the addition of the new or reshaped ponds seems to create a nice separation between the DVC guests and the regular resort guest rooms and areas. Disney likes to keep some separation between the two guest areas where possible to help drive home the “exclusive” and “special” atmosphere of the DVC program that the guests like.
Take a look at the images I’ve attached showing off the resort as it currently looks and with an overlay of the Project 88 changes.
(2/20/17) Between now and 2019, Walt Disney World has announced that their Caribbean Beach Resort "will be reimagined with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining."
Nothing was mentioned about that rumored new aerial gondola transportation system, but the timeline also fits, as they seem to want to get the new additions in place in time for the Star Wars Land to open at the Studios in mid to late 2019.
???? - Star Wars Starship Hotel - Confirmed -
(7/20/17) Remember those rumored plans and dreams for a Star Wars themed resort hotel? Disney just confirmed all of it, calling it part of a new 'Disney 360 vacation concept" that will create a "living adventure that allows guests to immerse themselves in an entirely new form of Disney storytelling."
“It’s unlike anything that exists today.” Bob said. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
No timeline was mentioned as to when it might open however, so we'll have to wait and see.
(7/11/17) Like everyone, I heard the first rumors of a possible Star Wars themed hotel concept pitched for Walt Disney World and once the initial “Oooohh!” moment passed, I had to scoff at the idea. The cynic in me was pretty sure that nothing like that would ever happen, at least not like what was being shown in the survey’s Disney was quietly showing off to select guests.
Yeah… while I don’t think the project has been given the final green light to proceed, apparenly Disney really is developing a Star Wars themed hotel concept that would be built right at the Studios park next to the Star Wars Land itself. Don’t look for anything to happen until they get their new parking lot configuration up and running, but once they are ready to close down the current toll plaza entrance off World Drive in favor of the new park entrance off Osceola Parkway, work could begin on the new hotel concept.
So what this really supposed to be? Well, you can see some concept art used for a guest survey posted here, but in the end it may be more simple to explain the basic premise like this... imagine going on a cruise ship... that really goes nowhere at all. The concept is a something of a dream for some designers out there that has never really been built out as far as I know, but some refer to it as a LBC... aka: Land Based Cruise. The hotel would be themed as a giant Star Wars Universe themed starship... an interstellar cruise ship experience... and guests would book a stay for several days, much like they would at a normal WDW hotel, expect you can expect this one to cost much much more. The idea is that while guests would leave the hotel during the daytime to visit the Disney theme parks as normal, they would return to the starship in the evening hours which would offer extra dining, exclusive entertainment, and even special themed excursions and adventures themed to the Star Wars Universe. In short all these bonus adventures are only available to the guests of Star Wars hotel, and unlike the other Walt Disney World Resorts, other guests would not be permitted inside to visit.
I’m told that Disney pitched a similar idea several years back, before Disney bought Star Wars, that involved building a similar themed hotel experience that would have been based on the myths and ghoulish legends of the Haunted Mansion, allowing guests to experience something akin to spending the night inside the Haunted Mansion with lots of themed spooky fun events to take place throughout the evening hours.
The Star Wars idea is an interesting one, and it would finally give Disney something they’ve been after... an upscale park experience that guests will pay top dollar to experience much like SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove. Except this isn’t just an upscale park experience, this bundles in a whole new resort category into the mix as well. It should be interesting to see if Disney goes through with it or not, and if guests are willing to drop around $1000 per person for a 2-3 day experience.
Note: 2016 Update - (4/11/16) A few changes have been made to the Walt Disney World FastPass+ reservation process as of Sunday. According to an update posted to AttractionsMagazine guests can now select a basic time-window when choosing your first three FP+ reservations online or on the app. Previously you had to take whatever options the app gave you and then try to massage it into something more of your liking later on.
You can now also opt to only pick one or two FP+ reservations instead of being forced to choose 3 right off the bat.
But perhaps the biggest change is that guests can now book an additional FP+ reservation after you have used your first 3 by using the Mobile App or Website on your smart-device, instead of being forces to use an in-park kiosk, though the kiosk option will still be there for in-park guests as well.
--FP+ Only In One Park--
Fastpass+ is currently being offered to all guests in all four parks. Guests can have up to 3 FP+ for the day, but they are only valid in a single park. So, you cannot, for example, book 1 FP+ in Epcot and use the remaining 2 in MK. If you book FP+ in a park, but do not use any of them, you can cancel them and set them for another park, but if you use even just one, they are locked into that park for the day. This started in the beginning so the individual infrastructure for each park could be built up and made more reliable, and also to see which attractions (both new to FP and used to it) guests were going to. This continues today to ensure the parks can hold thousands of people a day on the system, and WILL eventually change so guests can use their FP+ in multiple parks a day.
--Only 3 FP+ A Day--
Guests have the ability to book 3 FP+ a day, and cannot book anymore, even after all 3 have been used. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that most of the guests have the ability to get their own FP+, and it spreads them out across the board, making it fair to all guests so the people who enter the park at 2pm for example still have a fair shot at getting some. I at this point am unsure about this changing, but when the “park hoping” happens, you will most likely see a change in this as well.
--Why Can’t I get Test Track and Soarin?--
The reasoning for the tiered system both at Epcot and Studios is to give more guests the opportunity to get a FP+ for a “big” attraction, and to ensure that they have not all been given out within an hour of the park opening as Test Track, Soarin, and Toy Story have consistently done. The tiered system will not be changing.
--Explain the Tiered System at Epcot and the Studios--
Epcot and Hollywood Studios have a tiered system when it comes to FP+. Essentially what this means is that there are two categories that you get to choose from, category A and category B. In Category A, you may select 1 attraction. In Category B, you may select 2 attractions. You cannot select more than 1 attractions from A, and cannot select more than 2 attractions from B. (At Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, guests can select any 3 attractions they'd like.)
Category A: (select one). Category B: (select 2)
-Illuminations Viewing Area. -Captain EO
-Soarin. -Journey Into Imagination
-Living With the Land -Meet Mickey & Friends
-Test Track. -Spaceship Earth
-The Seas with Nemo & Friends
-Turtle Talk with Crush
Category A: (select one). Category B: (select 2)
-Toy Story Mania. -Disney Junior Live on Stage
-Beauty and the Beast Live -Voyage of the Little Mermaid
-Fantasmic! -Tower of Terror
-Rock 'n' Roller Coaster -Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
-The Great Movie Ride -Star Tours
-Lights, Motors, Action!
-Muppet Vision 3D
NOTE - When it comes to switching FP+, guests cannot switch between categories. It must be switched with an attraction from the same category.
--The Difference Between Resort Guests and Day Guests--
Resort Guests have the ability to make FP+ selections up to 60 days prior to the beginning of their stay. Day Guests do not have this option, but can make day of selections at any FP+ Kiosk once inside the park.
As of right now, APs can enter the park and make fp+ selections day of. They do not have the ability to book in advance, UNLESS they are staying at a WDW resort. There is currently a test that started not too long ago that gives APs the ability to book FP+ in advance for a total of 7 days for every 60. The days do not have to be consecutive, and this does not mean that they ONLY get 7 days of fp+ period, even if they visit more than 7 days. APs still have the ability to make FP+ selections the day of their visit at any FP+ Kiosk once inside the park. The ”7 Day” test is only being done with advanced reservations. And yes, APs are going to be able to customize their own AP MagicBands.
OTHER WALT DISNEY WORLD PROJECTS:
???? - Disney Skyliner Aerial Gondola Transportation System - Confirmed - (7/25/17) A couple of pictures posted to Twitter by Bioreconstruct show off some of the path Disney's new Skyliner transportation system will take as it runs from the resort area over to the front of the Studios park. You can also get a clear look at the huge clearing Disney has already made for the new entry road into the park.
(7/20/17) Walt Disney World has now confirmed their plans to build a new aerial tramway system to be called the Disney Skyliner. The new transportation system will connect Epcot's International Gateway to Disney's Hollywood Studios, with connections for resort guests staying at Disney's Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century resorts, as well as the new DVC Riviera Resort when it opens. Some of the cars will even be decorated and themed to some of your favorite Disney characters or attractions.
No word on when it may be ready to open however, but as we suspected from what was seen in the early permits filed for it, it will depart from just outside of Epcot's International Gateway, make a turn at the back of the Boardwalk's parking lot, and run over to turning station that will sit between Caribbean Beach and the new Riviera Resort site before moving down to a 3-way station building to the south. From here different Skyliner lines will depart off to the south to service guests at Pop Century / Art of Animation and another line will run West over land just out front of Disney's Hollywood Studios park.
(4/24/17) The Orlando Sentinel reports they have obtained some documents confirming the aerial gondola system planned for Walt Disney World. According to the notes from Reedy Creek the system will feature 3 lines, and 6 stations, to link Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Art of Animation / Pop Century resorts. As we had also posted previously the notes also seem to confirm Doppelmayr would the supplier of the gondola system.
In an interesting note, they claim that the project has been in development under the code name, "The Italian Job".
(4/11/17) It's been awhile since we discussed the rumored Walt Disney World Skyway plans but according to the local news reports new permit filings were released indicating a "notice of commencement" to begin work on the required footers for the system. On a related note, there is an interesting website out there that actually tracks the installation of new ski and gondola lift systems from all the major manufactures called LiftBlog.
While I'm not sure how 100% accurate this is, they are listing three Doppelmayr systems (10-MGD) being slated for installation at Walt Disney World for 2018. This would match up with the expected rumors of the Disney system to be made up of three separate systems that would run from the large triple-junction station between the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century/Art of Animation Resorts, featuring runs to Epcot, the Studios and a third down to Pop/AoA. The Doppelmayr 10-MGD system is the same one currently being used in London I believe which can hold 10 riders, though I do have to think that whatever goes into WDW has a good chance of using bigger gondolas in order to accommodate the needed traffic.
(2/22/17) I did some fun numbers calculations about that proposed WDW Skyway 2.0 Aerial Tram layout we've been talking about. Using measurements from Google Earth I roughly calculated the distances involved, and they are quite massive, possibly making the longest aerial tram systems in North America. By my rough measurements:
The distance between a possible Epcot station and Turn 1 would be 2275 feet.
Turn 1 to Turn 2 (on Caribbean Beach property) would be 3,455 feet.
Turn 2 to the Station south of Caribbean Beach would be 2,000 feet.
From CB Station to the Disney's Hollywood Studios would be 3,745 feet.
This gives it a one-way, park to park distance of 11,475 feet, or 2.17 miles one-way, 22,950 feet (4.35 miles) if traveled round trip.
Now the interesting thing is the potential time involved in traveling that distance. While the true trip length would be determined by the speed the cable travels, which is unknown... I do happen to recall that the speed of the Skyride at SeaWorld California is roughly 6mph, allowing it to make a round trip journey in 6 minutes. If the possible WDW system were to run at the same 6mph, a park to park trip (not counting for any extra time spent switching cars / lines at CB if required to do so) would take just under 22 minutes. That seems a bit longer than I think Disney would be wanting their guests to be locked up in boxes in the sky, so I can only imagine that this system would have to move a little faster. Either way... gives you another idea to think about in comparison to just how long it takes to travel between the two parks by bus or even by boat, especially since the boats make 3 extra stops between the parks at a) Boardwalk, b) Yacht and Beach Club and c) Swan and Dolphin docks.
(2/18/17) For anyone wanting to see a bit more about what the rumored Disney SkyWay 2.0 system could look like, especially at how loading in the stations are easy and do allow for wheelchair access, check out the video below from Doppelmayr showing off a system installed in German
y in 2010.
(2/17/17) Over the past couple days an interesting rumor has come up for Walt Disney World that may excite you. While not for a new themed attraction, it seems Disney may be ready to pull the trigger on adding a new form of park-to-park transportation that might link up the International Gateway rear-entrance of Epcot to the Studios park, along with a stop at a station at the south end of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Here is the kicker though… this wont be an expansion of the Monorail.
For decades Disney’s planners and Imagineers have long looked into ways to expand the resort’s popular Monorail transportation system. Countless plans and paths have been drawn up over the years to do exactly this, including plans that would have expanded the Epcot line to run through the Swan & Dolphin and over to the Studios that way. There were even proposals to running an entirely new Monorail beam (or Light Rail even) that would link Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and Downtown Disney.
The same obstacle would rear an ugly head each time… MONEY. The cost to expand Disney’s beloved Monorail system was just deemed far too costly an endeavor, especially as a free method of transportation. I’ve heard many rumors over the years at what it could cost to expand the system, but the breakdown was always that it would cost around $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 per beam section… which can be more easily envisioned as a cost of $2 million for each and every upright support required to build it. That doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of the Monorail trains themselves, or ongoing operational costs. For a more accurate cost comparison, the current Las Vegas Monorail system which uses the exact same beamway specs as Disney’s (because it started when MGM Grand bought a couple of retired Disney cars to run between two casinos) cost over $650 million to build the 4.4 mile beamway system.
In comparison, it was easy to see why Disney instead just opted to buy a fleet of buses that could do the same job at a fraction of the cost. But times are a changing… companies are looking to do things perhaps a little more “green”, and the time may be right to try a new and cheaper form of mass transit that is gaining momentum in countless proposals across the world. Aerial Gondola Systems… much like the old Disney Skyway attraction that was retired from the Magic Kingdom (and Disneyland) long ago… but all grown up and modernized. In America most people see these systems and immediately think of them as Ski Lifts, as that has been their most popular use, but Aerial Trams and Gondola Systems have slowly been gaining use throughout the world, both as tourist attractions (because the views are incredible), but also because they are more budget friendly and very simple to install, requiring only a few towers along the route to support the cableway.
While in the US most of these systems are still in the proposal phase, around the rest of the world they have been put into action already, some already running for decades. Those who have visited New York may recall seeing the Roosevelt Island Tramway system that has been running since the late 70’s, but that is what is known as an Aerial Tram that features large gondola cars that are fixed to the cableway and shuttle back and forth on the same line. Gondola systems use dozens of smaller cars that can attach and detach from the moving cable. While smaller in capacity most modern cars can take at least 8 to 10 riders per car, some even more. They are enclosed and some even powered with climate control systems, which would be a must in the Orlando weather. When built for high capacity these systems are able to dispatch fully loaded cars about every 15 seconds, and the number of cars on the line is only limited by the length of the distance travelled and the speed that the cable is traveling. For example the Awana Skyway in Genting, Malaysia has 99 gondolas on the line at once and promotes special glass floor gondola rides and the ability to charge your mobile devices while you ride. Oh… and if you are worried about lightning strikes? Don’t both… these systems are designed to take lightning strikes as the towers are simply just a bunch of guide wheels for the cable without any needed motors of electric equipment, all of that is safely located on the ground in the stations. If you recall the old Disney Skyway being shut down for lightning, yes… this was true, but those featured open air cabins, so any passing rain storm would cause it to see downtime. In an interesting but brief article on the subject matter found at GondolaProject, an engineer quizzed about why there is so much worry about lightning from the public but not the engineering side had this to say:
“We just think no one would let us build these things if they couldn’t handle lightning. I mean, they must be able to handle lightning. We wouldn’t build them if they couldn’t. And because we do build them and are allowed to build them, then we assume people know that they can handle lightning… I guess we must think differently.”
So really the only weather related problem that would see the system shut down would be for extremely high winds that could cause the cars on the line to swing a little too much. While each system is different, and the direction the wind is blowing at your line will cause different movement, I seem to recall that we had to have gusts blowing in the the 28-35 mph range to see a temporary shut down of the SeaWorld SkyRide from most directions, but if it hit from just the right direction at 18-20 mph, we would also go into a wind hold and pull the cars from the line. But our cars only held 4 riders and were much smaller than what I assume Walt Disney World may be planning.
So back to Disney… and just what are they planning? Well some clues came to light on Tuesday after messages posted to the forums at WDWMagic includes locations of some odd shaped structures coming to Disney property near Carribean Beach, The Boardwalk, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. They were separated into two different filings, each one with a fairly remarkable rectangle shaped structure, and with one oddly shaped “V” style structure. Seeing these for myself, and having a history of knowing quite a bit about the old Von Roll style skyway attractions used in parks after working at the one at SeaWorld California for 3 years growing up, I recognized the odd V-shaped structures as turning stations for a possible gondola system. Again those who remember the WDW version of the Skyway will remember it too would leave Tomorrowland and drop towards the ground and enter a turning station located inside the Speedway attraction grounds before going back up into the sky to complete the run to the Fantasyland station. The existing Skyride at Busch Gardens Tampa also performs a similar maneuver inside it’s own turning station.
With the exact placement of the buildings shown on the permits, it is easy to put them on an aerial map of Disney property and draw a straight line from each station to the next, going from a station structure outside Hollywood Studios (near the boat dock), running East towards a large structure at the south end of the Caribbean Beach Resort, north over the resort to a turning station, then west to another turning station located at the back of the guest parking lot at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, and while nothing more has been found yet, if you follow a straight line from here to the north you end up perfectly at the International Gateway rear-entrance to Epcot.
So with enough high capacity cars Disney could be looking at a unique new transportation method that could handle around 3,000 if not possibly 4,000 guests per hour. The larger structure south of the Carribbean Beach Resort is also interesting to me, as it is significantly larger than the station structure placed in front of the Studios park. It isn’t just a direction change station, so it would make sense to allow for the nearby resort guests to climb on and off here, and the location would also be within light walking distance from the nearby Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts as well. But why is the building so much bigger? Maintenance and Storage.
Every detachable gondola system needs to have at least one main station in the system with storage tracks in the back to place the gondolas when they aren’t in use, as well as serve as the systems maintenance and repay bay. The Tomorrowland station at the Magic Kingdom was much larger for this very same reason, with the storage lines for their gondolas kept hidden behind the station, just above where the Tomorrowland restrooms are now. Their second-floor home has since been removed along with the Skyway station section of the structure, but they kept the first floor bathroom facilities. (Fun note, I believe the Disneyland version hid their storage tracks behind the Fantasyland station)
So will this happen? The fact that Disney seems to be in the early phase of permitting that shows off locations makes me think that there is a very solid chance that this is already in the works. Disney also just announced some upgrades and changes will soon be coming to the aged Caribbean Beach Resort as well (more on that later) so if I had to guess, I’d say they may be trying to get all their ducks in a row in order to open it all in time for the opening of Star Wars Land in late 2019. It is also worth noting that I’m sure Disney is aware that not everyone will want to take the Skyway, especially anyone who is afraid of heights, so I’m sure bus transportation will always still be available as well to all locations, but attaching the Studios to the back entrance of Epcot is sure to be a big way to not only increase foot traffic to this underused entrance, but also to the nearby restaurants and attractions attached to the Boardwalk Resort as well. It should also be interesting to think about where else Disney may be looking to run similar systems across their property, because for the past couple years I’ve also heard rumors that Universal was eyeballing the exactly same concept as a way to transport guests from the main Universal Orlando Resort to whatever project they have planned to replace Wet ‘n Wild on I-Drive.