MickeyBlog News Update – Edition 10
Okay, dog lovers, the latest edition of MickeyBlog News is the update you’ve wanted for years now. Grab your furry friend and get ready to celebrate over Puppy Chow and thrown tennis balls.
Disney’s Best Friend
As of October 15, guests at three Walt Disney World resorts can bring their dog(s) with them on vacation! The participating properties are the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside, and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. By booking a stay at one of the four resorts, you get to do the same thing that guests did during the recent hurricane. You get to take your pet to the Most Magical Place on Earth.
The cost of this service is $75 per day at Disney’s Yacht Club and $50 per day everywhere else. So, bringing your pet along for a six-night stay will cost $450 at Yacht Club or $300 at the other three properties. Unless you have a free pet sitter, those prices aren’t too bad, really.
The Puppy Fine Print
What do you get for that price? Most importantly, you get to avoid that sad look your puppy gives you when you close your suitcase and say good-bye before heading for the airport. You can’t put a price on that, right? At check-in, you’ll receive what Disney’s calling Pluto’s Welcome Kit.
According to the Parks & Resorts blog, this package consists of, “mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, courtesy plastic disposable bags, puppy pads and dog walking maps. Also included: a Pluto “Do Not Disturb” door hanger indicating to hotel staff that a pet is in the room.” Disney’s site reminds vacationers that Best Friends Pet Care is still available if you find that strategy easier.
Before you get too excited about the new pet policy, please understand that this program has MANY caveats right now. You can only take up to two dogs with you on your trip. So, animal lovers with lots of puppies can’t take the full clan. Then again, traveling with more than two dogs sounds like an exercise in chaos anyway. Disney doesn’t currently list a weight limit, which means that big dogs are welcome, too. You must prove that your dogs are vaccinated, however, and you also have to keep your pet on a leash in public. These are just common sense things that are respectful to other Disney guests. WDWNT has the official list of dog rules if you want more details.
The Dog Debate
Disney’s describing their recent change in pet policy as a pilot program. In other words, the behavior of dog owners onsite and feedback from fellow guests will impact the longevity of the program. It’s already proven divisive on Disney forums across the internet. Some folks worry about the cleanliness and hygiene issues involved, a reasonable concern for people allergic to pet dander. Others love their dogs so much that the idea of even a brief separation stresses them out too much. They spend vacation feeling guilty about the fun.
As a former dog owner (pet brag: Billy lived 16 years, six of them after a doctor gave him six months to live due to a collapsed trachea) as well as a person with a dog dander allergy, I understand both arguments. My philosophy is that the new dog policy is no different than anything else at Disney. We’re all relying on the kindness of strangers when we visit. A person who has had too much to drink at the World Showcase is just as capable of ruining a vacation as a pet owner who isn’t courteous enough to scoop. As long as we’re all respectful and pet owners are responsible, it means more adorable puppies at Disney. What’s not to love about that?
A New Baseline
Grand Avenue is best known as the place where everyone will stand while waiting to get into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Technically, it’s a themed land that’s really more of a standing room only area for a much more popular themed land. Not a lot is going on at Grand Avenue right now. Muppet*Vision 3D is the primary attraction, and PizzeRizzo was formerly the only restaurant.
The situation changed a couple of weeks ago when Baseline Tap House opened. This place is basically a bar that serves California wines, beers, and other spirits. It does include a trio of appetizers if you want something to eat while you’re at Grand Avenue but pizza isn’t doing it for you. Those starters are Spiced Almonds, Bavarian Pretzels, and California Cheese and Charcuterie.
The bar keeps 19 different beers on tap. It also has five other wines, cocktails, and ciders. It also offers two Specialty Non-Alcoholic drinks if you want to be sober during your Star Wars visit.
Early reviews are about what you’d expect. It’s a much-needed craft brewery at a park that doesn’t have any great alcohol options. The food’s a work-in-progress and almost an afterthought. As is usually the case with Disney restaurants, it should get better over time. They still have more than a year to fine-tune it before Star Wars Land becomes the biggest draw at Walt Disney World.
Changes at Disney Springs
The only constant at Disney Springs is change. With dozens of stores and restaurants onsite, Disney frequently rotates businesses. Recent weeks and months have been no exception. D-Living is one of the most novel stores in the area. It has sold houseware and Disney memorabilia until recently. Disney just closed it to re-skin the interior. The early word is that when D-Living returns in November, it will have more of a clothing focus.
Downtown Disney at Disneyland is also going through some changes. They recently closed Disney Vault 28 and Fossil in order to repurpose the space. It will soon become a Star Wars virtual reality experience. Entitled Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, it’s described as a “multi-sensory and hyper-reality experience”. You can watch video of it here. The target date for opening is January 5th.
While you wait for the Star Wars VR simulator, you can do something more productive at Downtown Disney. You can shop ‘til you drop! The Anaheim side of Disney has joined the Orlando one in opening the Disney Dress Shop. The outfits on sale here are stubbornly retro in a glorious way. You can feel like you’re re-living the height of Mad Men women’s fashion, albeit with a Disney slant. The new dresses have a classic style and Disney themes. The Florida store is already wildly popular, and now California Disney fans can join in the fun. Seriously, this place is awesome. Go nuts, folks!
New Park and Restaurant Notes
Let’s end this week’s edition with a few quick hits. For starters, Disney’s wildly popular Minnie Vans service has expanded to all Deluxe Disney Resorts. The next time that you’re staying at one of Disney’s finest properties, treat yourself to a stylish ride to your destination.
At Disneyland, they’re trying something new that’s likely the future of theme park visits. The J4-K3 Roaming Droid in Tomorrowland was first a constant presence at Star Wars Launch Bay. The droid nicknamed Jake now roams around and interacts with guests. This sort of meeting should become standard as Imagineers perfect AI; at a minimum, it should be a staple of Star Wars Land in 2019.
Finally, Disney received some amazing news about one of its restaurants. TripAdvisor once again lauded Victoria & Albert’s. This time, they placed it second on their list of the ten best fine dining experiences in the United States. According to the popular travel website, the only restaurant that rivals it is Alinea in Chicago, Illinois. The next something will only mean something to foodies and Top Chef fans, but Victoria & Albert’s is actually better than Thomas Keller’s Per Se according to Trip Advisor. That’s rare air for any eatery, much less one that’s ostensibly at a theme park.