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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/5/16) Fulton's Crab House Closes and Disney Springs Possible Completion Date (MORE...)
(1/30/16) Family Files Crazy New Lawsuit (MORE...)
(1/27/16) Disney Springs Construction By Air (MORE...)
(1/23/16) Disney Springs Construction, World of Coke and DisneyQuest News (MORE...)
Resort Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Typhoon Lagoon - NOW CLOSED through Mar 12, 2016
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge:
Hidden Springs pool, beach, playground, firepit & nature trail - NOW CLOSED through 2017
Disney’s Boardwalk - Flying Fish Restaurant - NOW CLOSED through Sept. 30, 2016
ESPN Club: Yard Arcade and Seashore Sweets - Closed to bring new Experience
Planet Hollywood - NOW CLOSED through June 1, 2016
Fulton's Crab House - Early April through Fall 2016
Screamscape’s Guide To FastPass+ Is A Must Read!
General Resort News - (1/30/16) Time for another edition of "Crazy Theme Park Lawsuit". An Alabama family is now suing Walt Disney World for a couple of interesting events that they say took place back in October 2014. They claim that a snake "escaped" from Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park during their visit, and fell from a tree onto their son and bit him. Meanwhile, they also claim that the "grandmother" with the group witnessed the snake biting the boy, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest and die "a short time later".
Disney has confirmed with their records that they did treat the boy for a snake bite with a simple "band-aid", because he was bitten by a local wild non-venomous snake and not one of the animals from the theme park. (This is Florida after all... ). After this the nurse's report said the family returned to the park, and there was no mention at all about a health problem with a "grandmother" and in fact, no call at all for an ambulance to come to the park for anyone having a cardiac arrest.
The family's lawyer is attempting to sue for the boy's injuries (which would not be Disney's fault) as well as the "wrongful death" of the grandmother.
(1/14/16) One of our readers has sent in a link a video they shot of the first Adventures Club Countdown to Midnight - Hoopla event that took place on New Years Eve. It's fun to listen to the crowd sing along with classic Adventures Club songs once again, like the good old days for a full 40 minutes. Wow... why did they ever close this down?
(12/18/15) In addition to the addition of Metal Detector portals that all guests must now pass through at all Orlando area theme parks, it has also been reported that the Walt Disney World theme parks have pulls all toy-gun merchandise items from the shelves of the theme parks. We're not just talking about the vintage looking pop-guns from Pirates of the Caribbean or Frontierland looking wooden rifles, but also sci-fi toy guns and even squirt-guns. The new metal detector system will also be installed at the Disneyland Resort in California as well in the near future.
(11/24/15) One of the Walt Disney World Monorail trains (Monorail Black) rolled out on the beam this week with a new decorative wrap, themed to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. From what I can see from the pictures posted to Behind The Thrills, the wrap is contained mostly to window decorations, though it overlaps onto the exterior in a few key locations.
(11/2/15) A great photo report on a unique annual tradition at Walt Disney World's Fort Wilderness campgroup has been posted to MouseSteps this week, showing off the 2015 "Golf Cart Parade". Yep... you read that right... it seems the guests in Fort Wilderness get in on the action and perform their own parade with themed costumes and themed golf-carts.
(10/30/15) The former Downtown Disney group of seven hotels has now re-branded themselves as the "Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels" and even better, they are now offering special Holiday Rates from November 1st to December 20th. " As a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the “Downtown Disney Deals” booklet that features exclusive discounts and special offers from over 30 merchants in the Disney Springs area for dining, entertainment and shopping."
For more information about the various special rates being offered at each resort, visit their new official website here.
(10/15/15) The Disney Blog has posted a nice rundown, confirming a bit of what I mentioned last year, that Walt Disney World had a plan in the works that would allow them to build upon some of the property they own that was being held back as "wetlands", in exchanges for converting acres of available property into new a new conservation area.
The plans not only show the possible expansion of the Flamingo Crossings area, but with a heavy focus on adding new land to build upon around the Magic Kingdom area and in between the Hollywood Studios theme park and ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
(10/5/15) Disney Passholders were in for a little bit of a shock this weekend as Disney opted to increase the price for their Annual Passes at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts for the second time in 2015. Annual Pass prices along with regular day passes all went up back in late February 2015, while yesterday's increase only affected Annual Passes. Based on your own renewal date, you may be in for more sticker shock than some others.
For WDW, there are several Florida Resident options, including a new "Gold" tier which has minimal blackout dates (mainly Spring Break & Christmas weeks, when you would be crazy to go anyway) which also comes with unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads as a benefit. For non residents however, your options are looking to be limited to the $882.89 WDW Platinum Plus Pass (includes waterparks) or the $797.69 Platinium Pass (waterparks not included).
For those wondering about the old price... before the Feb. 22, 2015 increase, the cost of what was being called the Premium Annual Pass was just $754 and the regular four-park Annual Pass (no waterparks) was $634. So after two increases in 2015, it is understandable why many guests may balk at the new $882.90 and $797.69 prices. Plus for the those who had the Premium AP which is turning into the Platinum Plus Pass, you also have to remember that they are getting one less attraction for their money as the passes don’t include admission into DisneyQuest anymore, as it will be closing down sometime in early 2016.
One more price has also increased unfortunately... the cost of parking has just risen from $17 to $20. I guess they had to find a way to pay for those new free parking structures at Disney Springs.
(9/14/15) A reader posted some good pictures to Twitter on Sunday showing off all that is left from the demolition of the old Speedway behind the Magic Kingdom's parking lot.
(9/7/15) New breakfast opportunities are now available as several Walt Disney World theme parks with more on the way. Breakfast options are now available in the Magic Kingdom at Be Our Guest and in Epcot at The Garden Grill in the Land Pavilion. Plans have now been announced to serve breakfast at Hollywood Studios in the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater from Nov. 1 to Jan. 23rd.
(2/23/15) As expected, new increased ticket prices went into effect at Walt Disney World on Sunday. The new ticket prices will follow along with last year's more confusing scheme, where tickets to the Magic Kingdom cost more than the other three parks. Now a 1-day / 1-park ticket to Epcot, the Studios or Animal Kingdom will cost you $97 (up $3) for an adult and $91 (up $3) for a child pass, and a 1-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom will now cost $105 (up $6) for an adult, or $99 (up $6) for a child.
Meanwhile Florida Resident Seasonal Passes are $329 (up $10) and Resident Annual Passes are $529 (up $44). For non residents your options are a regular Annual Pass for $654 (up $20) or a Premium Annual Pass for $779 (up $25)
2016 - Disney Springs - (2/5/16) According to the local news Fulton’s Crab House will soon be shutting down for a 6-month rehab sometime in early April, and unfortunately it also came to light that the restaurant’s 214 workers will all be laid off as well. Both Fultons and Planet Hollywood (currently closed) were originally scheduled to close at the same time at the start of the year when the Fulton’s rehab was seemingly cancelled at the time. Apparently they just opted to push it back, though having both of these high profile restaurants closed during most of April, May and June at the same time may cause some issues during the more busy weeks of Spring and the start of Summer. Of course, Disney has opened many new restaurants to try in Disney Springs, with more to come, so think of this as incentive to try out one of the new restaurants instead.
While we’re on the subject of Disney Springs, I’ve been hearing that while some of the newer sections may be ready to go by early Summer, the rest of Disney Springs is unlikely to be 100% finished until the end of summer or perhaps even sometime in the Fall.
(1/27/16) Today we get to take a great look around the Disney Springs construction area, thanks to our friends at MouseSteps, who took a camera up into the Characters In Flight balloon for a look behind the walls like no other.
(1/23/16) A quick look around Disney Springs construction has been posted to MouseSteps this week. This also brings up a couple of other issues I've heard mentioned this week, for example one of the new attractions now rumored to be coming to Disney Springs is a small "World of Coca-Cola Experiewnce", said to be under construction not far from Planet Hollywood according to TheDisneyBlog.
Another rumor floating around claims that Disney's deal with the NBA Experience people may have fallen through, and the project put on indefinite hold, if not cancelled entirely. While bad news for NBA fans, the upside is that DisneyQuest is rumored to possibly stay open for all the 2016 and maybe even longer. Who knows... this could be a chance for Disney to look at ideas to upgrade and improve DQ for the 21st century instead of scrapping it. Hey, a guy can dream, right?
(12/30/15) The Orlando Biz Journal has posted a good look at the plans for the new Edison restaurant coming to Disney Springs in 2016, 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.
(12/21/15) OrlandoParkNews is back with a new look at the progress on Disney Springs, looking both at renovated sections of the old Downtown Disney as well as new sections of Disney Springs yet to open.
(10/27/15) Disney has confirmed that they will open a new restaurant called Frontera Fresco in Disney Springs from the mind of Rick Bayless, described as a celebrity chef known for winning Bravo's Top Chef Masters show and over half a dozen major awards. He current has an award winning restaurant in Chicago called Frontera Grill as well.
Now I'm not one to watch cooking game shows or even glance at the food network, but apparently this restaurant will feature an assortment of Mexican cuisine that will make your mouth beg for more, and I'm definitely down with that idea as Disney Springs could use a place to get some nice tacos and guacamole. Look for Frontera Fresco to open in the final phase build-out of Disney Springs sometime next year.
(10/21/15) I've been meaning to mention this for almost two weeks now, but I keep forgetting. The new off-ramp from Southbound I-4 that shoots guests directly into the new parking structure at Disney Springs is now open. This new easy way into the Disney Springs parking structure should remove a lot of the inbound traffic on the congested roadway.
(10/7/15) OrlandoParksNews takes a new look around the Disney Springs construction site this week.
(9/28/15) According to posts on Twitter, Disney will officially drop the use of the "Downtown Disney" name in favor of "Disney Springs" starting on Tuesday, just ahead of the opening of Morimoto Asia. There will apparently be somekind of cerimony to mark the occasion around 5pm on Tuesday evening next to the new Hanger bar.
Speaking of which, Jock Lindsey's Hanger Bar is now officially open with an assortment of themed food items, and a ton of themed drinks and cocktails. You can see an extensive photo tour of the new place posted to MouseSteps this week, with several photos of the drink menu so you can see all the new beverages that will come with themed take-home glasses. (Jealous that I missed this, I walked by last Sunday and it was still closed up.)
While we are talking about the future of Disney Springs and what else is still to come, DaMouse has also posted a fantastic new photo update, this time looking over the entire Disney Springs area from the air to give you the ultimate look at the entire complex, where you can clearly see what's finished and what is still in the works to open by Summer 2016, which is very exciting to say the least. Cutting through the center of all will be the new "springs" waterways, where the "spring water" will flow up from the center of this area and flow outwards in different directions into the lake.
(9/10/15) Who’s ready to visit Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar at Disney Springs? According to what I’m hearing the site, themed to Indiana Jones’ pilot buddy, will begin quiet testing with invited cast members soon and is looking to open to the public as soon as September 22.
(9/9/15) OrlandoParksNews has posted a great photo update from Disney Springs / Downtown Disney this week, giving a good overall look around the entire project to see what's been done and what's being worked on right now.
(9/3/15) Walt Disney World has confirmed that they will open thenew Morimoto Asia restaurant at Disney Springs on Sept. 30th.
(8/10/15) A big photo update showing of the progress of Downtown Disney's transformation into Disney Springs can be found at MouseSteps this week.
(8/4/15) A new Disney Springs construction update can be found posted to PixelsAtTheParks this week.
(7/2/15) Unfortunately the news about DisneyQuest closing down to be replaced by The NBA Experience has been confirmed by Disney management. So sad. The only date being confirmed now says that DisneyQuest will close sometime in 2016, though the early rumors suggest that the closure will likely happen in the first half of the year.
(7/1/15) A disturbing new rumor floated to the surface this week that has been quickly gaining traction. According to the rumor DisneyQuest may close down forever in early 2016 and the building repurposed to become the new home for the recently announced "The NBA Experience". Unfortunately, with a building as large as DisneyQuest, I can see how Disney could reuse it for The NBA Experience, which is supposed to feature not only a restaurant, but an assortment of interactive and very hands-on activities.
Can anyone with close ties to DisneyQuest confirm the estimated closing date if this is true?
I can't help but be sad for this move... but there is really only so long that DisneyQuest could continue to run on nostalgia without getting a major injection of capital to make it relevant once again. The problem is, I think Disney may be bailing out at the exact moment that they should be doubling-down.
DisneyQuest 1.0 was very much cemented in the idea of old arcade gaming culture, which means they aimed it mainly at teenage boys and men who grew up with the initial video game generation with an Atari 2600 controller in one hand and a pocket full of tokens to play PacMan in the other.
The thing is, gaming has changed so much since DisneyQuest opened that they could revamp the entire concept into a DisneyQuest 2.0 concept. It is long past time for DQ to embrace a little thing called the internet, bring on mobile gaming, social gaming trends online gaming and much more, all with a Disney twist.
Turn the visit into a social media explosion, give guests an APP to use during their visit to track scores, compete with friends, earn achievements than can be shared on Facebook or Twitter and more. Not to mention the fact that VR is back and bigger than ever, with more affordable concepts just crossing the horizon that could bring VR style gaming into your home just by sliding that mobile phone in your pocket into a piece of headgear (like Google Cardboard).
Embrace the female gamers this time around, because if it is one thing that mobile gaming has brought to the surface is that women love playing competitive games with friends online just as much as men do, especially with the right kind of game. (I should know, my wife, sister-in-law and mother-in-law have been whipping my rear end regularly lately in Yahtzee with Buddies, and I had to flat out retire from Words With Friends)
Time for new themes, new adventures, and new game types for kids, women and men... time to really take the users to the Game Grid for once, time to fight with Marvel virtual heroes or explore the worlds of the Star Wars universe in a new way. Heck, maybe tie it all together under the Disney Infinity brand-name and bring the video game to life, sell some exclusive figures and more. The ideas are endless.
Unfortunately, I fear the time for some renewed vision on the idea is long past.
(6/29/15) A fun look at the Disney Springs construction site from the air, as seen from the Characters in Flight balloon, has been posted to MouseSteps this week. Check it out.
(6/17/15) Disney released a couple of new pieces of artwork late last week showing off The Edison and the new STK Orlando restaurant. You can find them over at the Disney Parks Blog. Meanwhile DaMouse has posted a new video tour from Downtown Diseny showing off the progress of things made so far, now that the project is said to be at the half-way point.
(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.
If that wasn't enough, the new Vivoli Gelateria, an Italian gelato shop, will open up in Disney Springs at The Landing later this month. You can read more here.
(6/6/15) Walt Disney World has announced that they will add something called "The NBA Experience" to Disney Springs. The attraction will include a restaurant, retail store and an assortment of interactive "hands-on activities". This is an exciting development for NBA fans visiting Walt Disney World to be sure, but I do have to wonder how successful it will be when mixed in with the huge assortment of other retail and dining opportunities available at Disney Springs, when the soon to close NBA City restaurant at Universal CityWalk was never able to compete against the smaller number of competitors there.
(5/19/15) OrlandoParksNews takes us for a new look inside DisneyQuest, an attraction I haven't seen or hear much about in quite some time. While Disney has kept up with adding newer arcade games to the site, it has been many years since they have tried to update any of the signature attractions within. According to the report, the exterior of the building was repainted and sometime last year the Ride the Comix VR headset based attraction was closed down and removed as well. With all the major renovations coming along to transform all of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs next year, I do wonder if any improvements or changes are planned for DisneyQuest.
Meanwhile Walt Disney World has confirmed the names of 13 new tenants will be added to Disney Springs. On the retail side of things you will see: Zara, Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, UNIQLO, Pandora, UGG, L'Occitaine en Provence and Edward Beiner. The new dining options are: Edison, Sprinkles, Blaze Pizza, Vivoli Gelateria and Tea Traders by Joffrey's Tea.
(5/13/15) You have to love it when a nice surprise falls into your lap, and Walt Disney World dropped off a nice little care package to all Indiana Jones fans a few hours ago. It seems that the aircraft hanger shaped building going into Disney Springs between Paradiso 37 and the new Boathouse restaurant will be a new aviation themed lounge to be called “Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar”, themed after Jock… the infamous pilot who flyes in to rescue Indy from the spear throwing natives at the end of the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark. (You know… the one with the pet snake, Reggie…)
According to Disney the Hanger Bar will seat 150 people, offer unique cocktails and small plate menu items (Rolling Boulder Meatballs anyone?), propeller themed ceiling fans, and more. There is even an outdoor bar, built inside Jock’s old steamboat (also named Reggie), currently hoisted up in dry dock. From what I’m hearing, there may even be a few special effects that get triggered from time to time, or when certain menu items are ordered (like at Trader Sam’s). Look for Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar to open to the public sometime this fall! Two pieces of concept art have been added below.
Meanwhile, we've mention the new Amphicar car/boat cruises you can now take, departing next to The Boathouse. They are now prices at $125 for a 20 minute cruise for 3 passengers (no, you don't get to drive, you are just along for the ride) and you can see some great photos and a POV video of what it is like, posted by MouseSteps.
(5/4/15) Disney opened their new Super Hero Headquarters gift shop at Downtown Disney this week, and while it doesn't feature the Marvel logo anywhere on the building, Marvel characters are in full force in the decor, including the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem displayed proudly on the store's sign. You can take a quick tour inside over at the latest update from MouseSteps and you will quickly notice that all the merchandise is all Marvel related as well, without a sign of any other rival comic characters.
(4/28/15) According to the latest rumor sent in to Screamscape, Bongos may be closing at Downtown Disney in the near future. If the rumor holds true, the source claims that Splipsville may have bought the lease out and plans to open some kind of new Mexican food restaurant on the site instead. Elsewhere in Downtown Disney I'm told that the Hoipoloi store isn't renewing their lease and is expected to close down by the end of May.
(4/14/15) MouseSteps has posted a series of photos showing off the new Amphicars taking people for rides at Disney Springs, launching from near the Boathouse. Apparently you'll have to pay $125 for a group of 3 guests to take a 20 minute ride on them.
(3/27/15) A Marvel hero themed store is coming to Disney Springs in the not too distant future and will replace the current FIFA World Cup store that closed this week. I’m not sure of the legal details, but apparently the store won’t use “Marvel” in the name and will instead simply be called Super Hero Headquarters.
In other news, a couple of odd but very interesting additions have been made to The Boathouse area of Disney Springs, with the addition of Quadskis (Quad Runners that transform into Jet Skis!) and a set of Amphicars (cars that transform into boats). You can catch pictures of both posted to DaMouse.
(3/23/15) Want to know more about The Boathouse restaurant? MouseSteps got a chance to speak with Steven Schussler all about it. Check it out.
(3/2/15) Special thanks to a local reader for sending in some new pictures taken at the future Disney Springs area, showing off the latest building progress. Meanwhile Disney and announced a new list of shops that have opened at The Landing area: The Art of Shaving, Apex by Sunglass Hut, Chapel Hats, Sanuk, Havaianas, Sound Lion andErin Mckenna's Bakery NYC (offering a vegan & gluten-free menu).
In other news, Planet Hollywood also released the new concept artwork of how they will transform the Orlando flagship location to look like an old four-story tall Observatory building in time for Spring 2016. It will feature a newly expanded outdoor terrace, an outdoor bar called Stargazers, a refreshed menu, new merchandise and a refurbished interior.
(12/24/14) A reader sent me a fun picture from the new parking garage at Downtown…errr… Disney Springs earlier this month, that shows off what will be a very handy feature. While not on the ground floor, all the parking decks from the 2nd Floor and up feature a hanging red and green pendulum light globe positioned right over the top of every parking spot. No, this isn't a festive Christmas decoration... it actually is something very important.
While not all of them were working correctly yet, if a car was parked in the space it would shine RED, if the spot was empty the light would shine GREEN, making it very easy to find available parking from far away.
Also this week, OrlandoParkNews, camera in hand, takes us into Disney Springs for a little tour of the latest changes, additions, as well as what’s under construction.
(12/18/14) Walt Disney World has announced another new restaurant that will open at Disney Springs in 2015 called STK Orlando. STK Orlando is described as a modern steakhouse concept that will have an ultra-lounge style relaxed atmopshere. It will take up 14,000 sqft inside a 2-story building at The Landing area of Disney Springs, which I believe is mostly to be built from the former Pleasure Island site.
(10/29/14) Our friends at Theme Park Adventure have posted a detailed report on what you can expect to find at The Boathouse, the latest Schussler Creative restaurant concept said to be opening in Spring 2015 at the new Disney Springs area known as “The Landing”, formerly known as Pleasure Island. From the artwork it appears that The Boathouse will take over the area formerly used by the Motions and Rock & Roll Beach Cclub.
Meanwhile Disney Parks Blog has also released some new artwork showing off the fate of the former Mannequins building at Pleasure Island, which will be transformed into Morimoto Asia, a new one of a kind restaurant from famous Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The new restaurant will be his first pan-Asian restaurant, “featuring flavors from across the continent” as well as having unique “exhibition kitchens”. The two-story Morimoto Asia will open in Summer 2015, also at The Landing along with waterside seating, terraces and grand hall and cocktail lounge.
(7/25/14) While we’re on the subject, a number of big name restaurants are said to be in talks with Disney to set up shop in Disney Springs in 2016. According to this article the list includes: STK (steakhouse), Morimoto (Japanese & Sushi), The Edison (a unique themed restaurant concept from Los Angeles) and The Boathouse (seafood from the Landry’s chain). I’m all for a new steakhouse, and while I’m unsure of how well a Japanese/Sushi place would work, I thought Fulton’s had the seafood market covered, so I just don’t get why adding The Boathouse is a good idea. If Landry’s wants to drop in another semi-themed restaurant with good food, I’d rather see Claim Jumper come to Disney Springs. I think the themeing would be a good fit, if nothing else.
(3/4/13) Good news for fans of Downtown Disney’s Planet Hollywood. According to Screamscape sources who spoke with some anonymous Planet Hollywood peeps the big globe restaurant will be getting an extensive makeover sometime during the next year or so, along with a slightly new name… but it will still essentially be the same Planet Hollywood you’ve come to know, with the same popular menu items.
From this we assume that the structure will be visually transformed to appear less globe-like, and look more like a large themed observatory building instead. I’m also going to guess that the new name for the restaurant may be something along the lines of ‘The Observatory at Planet Hollywood”. Which I actually kind of like to idea of an Observatory theme for a Planet Hollywood restaurant… after all you are there to gaze upon “the stars” are you not? As for the food… it’s nice to know you can still get your fix of Captain Crunch Chicken in Orlando.
(2/18/13) Downtown Disney will be re-branded as “Disney Springs”, which will then feature six themed areas: The Gateway, The Town Center, The Springs, The Landing and the two areas we know well: The West Side and The Village Marketplace.
Gateway will be the entrance area into this new shopping complex, which will feature access and parking in an ample 5 story parking garage that will take over the parking lot just in front of the World of Disney Store and extend down towards the intersection where the Hess gas station sits. The inner lot parking lot area, often used for Valet parking will be developed to become part of this new development. The cast member building and facilities that will be displaced by this will be moved into the tiny lot that is essentially behind the Team Mickey and Once Upon a Toy store area.
Park your car in the new structure and you’ll wandering into The Town Center, an all new themed retail area built on top of former parking lot space. Beyond here is The Springs, which will have shops along the now themed waterway that already exists, running from the old West Side entrance to Pleasure Island, past Planet Hollywood and exit again into the lake behind the steamship that houses Fulton’s. Oh… speaking of Planet Hollywood, the plan has filled in that portion of the waterway and relabeled the Planet Hollywood building as “The Observatory” which doesn’t bode well for the future of one of the last PH’s in existence. The many bridges that exist to cross over the waterway will remain, along with a few new bridges added to taking guests into the former Pleasure Island area that will now be rethemed as “The Landing”, which will be the center for an array of dining and drinking establishments.
The West Side will remain mostly unchanged, while is appears that the old bus drop off area at the Marketplace will be developed into a new retail pathway that will feature a couple of large new retail store buildings, leading to a new bridge that will cross over into the Saratoga Springs Resort.
While this looks to be a much grander and better plan than the old Hyperion Wharf proposal, I do have one important question. For years… decades even, Downtown Disney has been begging for a parking structure to help them handle the crowds during the most busy times of year. Previous Disney management was only willing to fund such a project IF they were willing to start charging for parking at Downtown Disney. Obviously no one wants to see paid parking come to Downtown Disney, which is why we have never seen a parking structure added… until now.
So will Walt Disney World start to ask people to pay to park at Downtown Disney / Disney Springs from now on? Maybe they will only charge you for Premium Parking if you want in the structure and keep the surface lots free? Or hopefully, they will see the added benefit of having the structure as a replacement for the lost surface lots, which will result is increased income from retail sales and leases from outside operators. Lets hope for the later, because no one wants to pay for parking at Downtown Disney.
2016/2017 - Wilderness Lodge Resort / Water Cabins - Planning - (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.
--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:
Monorail System News - (11/26/14) A few of our more Monorail savvy readers chimed in to let me know more about the WDW Monorail automation program, which is indeed still in the process of being installed, tested and refined. The interesting thing is that the plan still includes an actual pilot still in the seat of the monorail, but they are there for the purpose of being a backup and having someone able to take the controls manually if needed.
The goal of the program is to try and automate the movement of the monorails around the beams, and try to keep them moving at all times, without going into stationary holds, waiting for a train ahead to move out of the way. Instead the automated system would slow the train down to an appropriate speed, while trying to avoid stopping. Needed information sensors and wireless data transmission systems are being added to the beams and stations so that the exact position of each train can be seen in real-time on a master tracking system (as well as view the POV camera feed), as well as the ability to send the actual arrival time of the next train to a display in each station. The automated system would also be easier on the drive system of each train, as it would gradually shift up and down through the throttle levels at a rate that would remove the excessive stress of an eager pilot slamming the throttle to the max, or braking too hard at the last second.
I’m told that full scale testing of the automated system was planned to begin sometime in 2015. According to a post on Monorails.org, who has more technical data on the automation system hardware itself, Monorail Teal has already been retrofitted with the new automation system and has been doing the majority of the initial guinea pig testing of the concept before installing it throughout the rest of the fleet.
(11/24/14) The Walt Disney World Monorail system has been rumored to have been working on and testing a fully automated system for quite some time now, that would remove the need for a driver from the monorails. This would essentially make the Disney system work, more or less, like the Las Vegas Monorail system, which is based on the same design as Disney, as they started it on the initial private line that ran between the MGM Grand and Ballys by purchasing a pair of retired Disney monorail trains.
While we haven't heard much about the proposed Disney automation plan, a reader did notice what looked like a new control podium now installed on the resort line station at the TTC that would be used to control these automated trains. Can any of our more monorail-savvy readers give us an update on this?
(3/7/13) A very interesting report on the possible future of the WDW Monorail system was posted over at Monorails.org a few weeks back. Their sources claim that a group named Thales Transportation has been hired to design and update the entire WDW Monorail system over the next two years to become a fully automated system, while still using the existing Mark VI fleet.
The monorail Pilots will remain onboard, but only to serve as a babysitter to monitor the train systems. The trains themselves will simply be dispatched, much like any other Disney ride, by an operator at the station. The rumored budget for the project is said to be around $75 million. The article also claims that they may look into reversing the path the monorails take around the beams in order to prevent driving backwards through a beam-switch, but that doesn’t quite make sense to me, as they will still have to drive backwards through the switch, just on the way out to the beam instead of going off the beam.
(4/5/12) I’ve heard this rumor countless times before… but a good source claims that Walt Disney World may be taking another long hard look at expanding the resorts iconic Monorail system once again in order to cut back on their reliance on bus transportation and move towards a functional mass transit network that would service all of the theme parks and bigger attractions eventually. Stay tuned.
(9/14/11) There have been several new reports coming in about what may be near daily breakdowns in the system. I’ve reported in the past on how the WDW Monorail fleet has aged to the point where it is beyond its expected life span and in need of replacement, though to date, it does not seem as if any orders have gone out to construct a new fleet. Even if those orders were issued today, it would likely be another two years or so before the first new monorail could begin test runs on the beams. Case in point… it’s already been over two years since the deadly monorail accident of 2009, and Disney is just now getting the rebuilt monorail back on the beam for testing.
Lets hope Disney is ready to starting ordering some new trains soon, otherwise we could be looking at a repeat of how Disneyland’s Monorail system was just driven to the breaking point, and trains were cannibalized for parts to keep others running until even that wasn’t enough any more. At least the Disneyland Monorail is primarily used for entertainment purposes… unlike the WDW system which is quite vital to ensure the transportation of guests from the Magic Kingdom to the parking lot, as well as shuttling guests between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.
(7/15/11) According to the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World has begun to trim back the operational schedule of the Monorail fleet. They claim it is due to the age of the current monorail fleet (Mark VI Monorails launched in 1989) and the extended summer hours mixed with the necessary time (90 minutes) to start-up and shut-down the line, can reduce the amount of downtime to as little as one hour per day. The new schedule will see the Monrails shut down 1 hour after the scheduled public park closing time. The new hours are already in effect for the Epcot line and will begin on the Magic Kingdom line starting August 1st. While this will not affect most park guests, those affected most will be the resort guests staying late for the Extra Magic Hours who will be forced to use the Boat or Bus transportation options when leaving.
I do have to wonder just how much longer WDW will be able to continue to run the Mark VI fleet. For comparison’s sake, the Disneyland Mark V Monorails ran between 1987 before being retired in 2008, 21 years later with the introduction of the new Mark VII Monorails. While the WDW Fleet is now older than the last retired Disneyland fleet, I believe they did undergo some kind of system controls upgrade in the mid 2000’s. Eventually though, the Mark VI line is going to be in need of replacement.
Western Beltway Development / Flamingo Crossings / Possible 5th Theme Park - (11/19/14) As we have been following for some time, it seems clear Walt Disney World is performing some kind of land-grab by adding new property and planning to exchange some of the property they have reserved for wetlands preservation to make bigger chunks of property they can develop. Previously we were led to believe that the new chunk of property added near Flamingo Crossings, might be for a 5th theme park. The latest rumor sent in from an anonymous source however claims that the property’s true intention may be closer to what it was already zoned for by the previous developer… housing. In this case, our source claims that the former housing development property may still be used for housing, but in this case, it will be for new housing for Walt Disney World’s vast College Program Cast Members program. Currently the College Program housing areas are located just on the other side of I-4, in close proximity to local shops, but I’m told the addition of a new housing area on the West side of WDW property would allow Disney to position College Program CM’s into housing closer to their work locations.
(10/17/14) The Orlando Sentinel reports that the developer behind the first two hotels coming to Flamingo Crossings said that he plans on building a total of seven resort hotels on the property over the next 4-5 years. The announcements for the second two hotels is expected to be made within the next year, and have those two open in 2017, while the first two (TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites) will open in January 2016.
While this would have the four hotels up and running in time for the Avatar land to open at nearby Animal Kingdom, nothing was brought up about the rumors of a possible 5th Disney theme park in the backyard of the new hotels. With a plan to build 7 hotels on the barren western outskirts of Disney property, I’m still thinking someone knows a bit more about what the future may hold for the site than they are letting on.
(10/10/14) Screamscape has been informed that the new Springhill Suites and Towneplace Suites at Flamingo Crossings will be breaking ground on October 16, and projected to open by January 2016.
(10/8/14) So if Disney were to be planning a 5th theme park, the big question is going to be… what would the theme(s) of it be?
Finding something that is the right fit for Walt Disney World may be tougher than you might think, as the best idea would be something that would not be a repeat of anything that already exists, while still being able to compliment the themes and ideas already used in the other parks.
For example… many of your might scream for a Star Wars themed park… and while this could be a possible idea, the existence of Star Tours over at the Studios park might make this troublesome.
Marvel? Not going to happen… at least not without Disney coming to some kind of terms with Universal for a partial or full buy-out of their current Marvel contract for Islands of Adventure.
Pixar? Possible… as I’m sure we would see some elements from Pixar films in a 5th theme park, but I doubt we would see an entire park themed to nothing but Pixar films. Especially as many of Pixar’s big films already have attractions spread throughout the Walt Disney World parks: Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom, It’s Tough To Be A Bug at Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Midway Mania over at the Studios.
Frozen? Ehhhh… not going to go there. Plus Frozen is coming to Epcot. But for a fun tonuge-in-cheek look at what an entire park themed to Frozen could be like, TotalOrlando has come ideas.
Perhaps our best clues could come in the form of what Disney Imagineering is rumored to have been toying with for themed for other possible land and park themes elsewhere in the world, as well as hit attractions that have opened at parks outside Florida that may not fit very well into one of the four existing parks. For example, one of the rumored possible themed for a 3rd park planned for California was said to have an overall theme about “Heroes and Adventure”, which sounds a lot like Islands of Adventure, doesn’t it? While the overall concept sounds like a solid base to build upon, many of the rumored land concepts (Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and Pixar) might not work in Florida.
Looking to Tokyo DisneySea, as well as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland parks might also shed some light on attraction ideas, allowing Disney to hand-pick some of the more popular rides from each park. Hong Kong’s Mystic Manor certainly is very popular, and features a trackless ride system we haven’t seen used in the US yet. While the Shanghai park is adding many Disney staples, there are a few unique ideas like the Tron Lightcycles Power Run coaster, or the rumored new flume ride system said to be put to use for their version of Pirates of the Caribbean that could be repurposed to work with a new theme. Of course the greatest collection of ideas we haven’t seen anywhere in the US could come from DisneySea… with hit attractions like StormRider, Aquatopia, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Raging Spirits or even a copy of Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull would fit in nicely (especially if they retire the Indy show at the studios).
Of course, looking back, the most popular idea that became all the rage with the internet’s Disney fans many years ago was the rumored concept for a Villians park, also known as Dark Kingdom. I kind of like the idea of a mixture of a Heroes/Adventure park concept with the Dark Kingdom concept myself. In the end, the possibilities are endless, so we’ll just have to wait and see if this rumored 5th gate plan comes true or not.
(10/6/14) WDWNT reports that construction is starting in the old Flamingo Crossing project area at the end of Western Way, that will see the build out of two new Marriott chain hotels: TownePlace Suites and Spring Hill Suites, with a combined total of 500 rooms.
Now I’m going to add a little something to this story… as back in August I was told that Disney has been quietly buying up even more land in the Flamingo Crossing area, stretching out to the west and north from the intersection of Western Way and 429. Overall it seems they own over 3,000 acres out there now and filed a huge 900 page application to show off how they are planning to develop it… in particular with a lot of attention to a specific area 300 acre section of it. I’m told that the whole 3000 acre addition has already been annexed by Reedy Creek, putting it fully under Disney’s control, and the property was previously ear-marked by the previous owner for a large housing development project.
So why the build up of land outside Flamingo Crossings? The working theory is that they may be setting up the site for a future 5th theme park gate. Building their newest theme park outside the previously known existing WDW property would be both unexpected, but also suddenly give all that Flamingo Crossing property they are trying to lease out to new developers a HUGE push, as they would all be right on the doorstep of this newest theme park.
So if this is all true, and Disney is looking to finally build a 5th theme park… when would they do it? If I had to guess, I’d say 2021 would be a perfect time to open a fifth park, just in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, and 6-7 years would also seem to fit Disney’s lengthy development cycle for new parks.
(5/12/14) Behind the Thrills reports that plans for two new non-Disney branded hotels have been posted for the Walt Disney World property, going into the undeveloped Flamingo Crossings area on the West side of the resort property. The two hotels will be partially joined Marriot branded hotels (Springhill Suites & Towneplace Suites) that will share a pool and gym area located between the two. Follow the link to see the plans and details.
(3/22/12) While we haven’t heard so much as a peep about the Western Beltway development area that Disney said they would name Flamingo Crossings, I did come across something this week. While searching through the trademark database, I did find a new filing by Disney for “Flamingo Crossings” filed on March 7, 2012. Perhaps they are getting ready to do something here after all.
(12/4/07) According to the Orlando Sentinel private developers and merchants will be able to run their own small restaurants, a grocery store, retail shops and even a few “value” level hotels as part of Walt Disney World’s new Western development project. Disney has begun to offer parcels for sale for the 450 acre development project that they are calling Flamingo Crossings off Western Way that will be built up over the next decade.
(3/12/07) Disney released some artwork of the Western Beltway Development project area with maps this week. For some reason it all looks very similar to the retail development off 192 just outside Celebration,
(3/1/07) Walt Disney World made two surprise announcements today about a major expansions planned for the resort: The new Four Seasons resort and their Western Beltway Development plans. Disney is planning to develop a 450 acre retail and commercial development just outside the gateway near where Western Way meets the Western Beltway. This new area will include even more 3rd party branded hotels (4,000 to 5,000 rooms), restaurants and gift shops that will be built in phases over the next 10 years with site work also to begin before the end of the year.