Walt Disney World Resort
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/21/17) Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR Preview Review (MORE...)
(11/4/17) The Edison Has An Opening Date and a Yacht and Beach Club Improvement Update
(10/25/17) Possible Expansion To Swan/Dolphin Resorts In The Works (MORE...)
(10/24/17) NBA Experience Coming In 2019 (MORE...)
Resort Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Winter Summerland Mini Golf - NOW CLOSED through Nov. 11
Blizzard Beach - NOW CLOSED through Jan. 6, 2018
La Nouba / Cirque do Soleil - Closes Permanently Jan. 1, 2018
Typhoon Lagoon - Jan 7, 2018 through Mar. 18, 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
Disney's Coronado Springs - General Construction To Add 15-Story Resort Tower through 2019
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 - (11/4/17) Our friends at Behind the Thrills have a nice post about the improvement work being wrapped up by 2018 at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. The work includes the remodeling of 1,900 rooms to feature a new look with new furnishings, plus all the new convention / special event spaces being made available. A new on-site Ale & Compass restaurant will also open sometime in late 2018 said to feature a menu based on “New England Comfort food”.
(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.
(10/25/17) According to an article posted by Orlando Weekly, it looks like a new expansion tower with 350 new rooms could be added to the Dolphin & Swam resort area for Marriott. 350 rooms seems a little small however unless it will serve as an expansion to the 756-room Swan resort. Meanwhile the Dolphin resort already has 1509 rooms.
(10/20/17) There are many ways to enjoy a visit to Walt Disney World outside of the theme parks, and for the golf fanatics out there, the four courses on site can certanly be a highlight to any WDW resort visit. If you’ve played the links at Disney before, you may recall seeing a “Hidden Mickey” shaped sand bunker on the #6 hole at the Magnolia course. This hole is always a popular spot because of this (and I’m sure a prime location for taking golf selfies) and now Disney has announced that they will be adding three more mouse shaped sand bunkers to each of the other courses by Summer 2018. Look for them to be added to the #8 hole on Disney’s Palm course, the #12 hole on the Disney’s Lake Buena Vista course and the #9 hole on Disney’s Oak Trail course.
Meanwhile, according to the Disney Parks Blog three new stores are now open at Disney Springs with a forth on the way. Look for Bowes Signature Soy Candles in the Marketplace Co-Op, Swings N’ Things (Hammocks & Swings) near Cookes of Dublin and Savannah Bee (Honey and Beauty Products) near The Ganachery. Coming soon near Paddlefish will be the “Rinse bath & body co.”.
(10/14/17) Disney announced on their blog that starting Oct. 15th they will begin testing a new program to allow Dog owners to bring their animals with them to four on-site resort hotels: Disney's Art of Animation, Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Disney's Yacht Club and the Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. There will be a special added-on 'pet-cleaning' fee attached for each night's stay ranging between $50 - $75 per night. Oh, and before you go crazy and bring the whole pack, only two dogs are allowed per room and it is your responsibility to take care of them during the day, either with you or they can be taken to an on-property Best Friends Pet Care center... for an additional fee of course.
You can read the official details here, and remember that this is a test / trial program at the moment which can come to an end or be changed at any time.
(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.
(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?
(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.
Ongoing - Club 33 Comes To WDW - In Development - (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 -
There are several additions still in the works for the Disney Springs area which I will clump together in this area and detail them in a list below:
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire from The Void (Late 2017)
The Edison (2018)
3rd Parking Structure (2018)
NBA Experience (2018/2019)
Cirque du Soleil Replacement Show (2018/2019)
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire from The Void (Late 2017) - Under Construction - (11/21/17) A great article and preview review of the new Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR-style attraction from The Void coming to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts by mid December has been posted to The Verge. You can also check out a little teaser video all about the new attraction as well just below.
(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.
The Edison (2018) - Under Construction - (11/4/17) According to the latest word, the Edison at Disney Springs now has an official opening date of January 1st, 2018. Based on that alone, I've got to wonder if they will be hosting some kind of special ticket New Year's Eve preview party leading up to the grand opening.
(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.
3rd Parking Structure (2018) - Under Construction - (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.
(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.
NBA Experience (Summer 2019) - Under Construction - (10/24/17) While the heavy machinery is now in the middle of gutting and demolishing the former DisneyQuest building at Disney Springs, the mouse has finally decided to announce more details about the attraction that will replace it in Summer 2019… NBA Experience. Based on the concept art released, the look of the new venue will closely resemble the look of a modern sport arena, complete with video displays showing game footage, current NBA scores scrolling by and so on.
The building looks kind of neat when viewed in the artwork, but when I start to try and visualize how it will look in person with the ramshackle look of the House of Blues right across from it, it makes me go, “Hmmmm….”
As for what is going to go inside… well, the details are still a bit on the vague side. For now Disney only describes it as a, “state-of-the-art space will include interactive games and competitions, immersive experiences, a retail store and an adjacent restaurant.”
(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.
(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.
Cirque du Soleil Replacement Show (Expected 2018/2019) - 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.
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.