MickeyBlog News for August 4, 2019
This is the rarest of rare slow week for Disney news! Of course, that doesn’t mean that nothing was going on. Read on to learn about a front gate snafu, some new holiday experiences, and even something about Universal Studios!
Annual Passholders Get Free Stuff!
Let’s start this week’s update with some excellent news for annual passholders. Disney’s released information about their exclusive bonuses. This fall, passholders can get a free gift, a Chef Minnie magnet. All you need to do is check in at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Of course, checking in four times is even better. You’ll receive a commemorative set of four Chef Minnie wooden coasters. You’ll pick them up at Disney Traders or Mouse Gear.
Also, passholders can participate in a unique character greeting at the United Kingdom Pavilion. Head to Christopher Robin’s room, and you’ll encounter your favorite character from Hundred Acre Wood. Yes, Winnie the Pooh is meeting passholders here this fall!
At Animal Kingdom, another passholder character greeting is available. Tarzan, Jane, and Baloo are available, and they have a PhotoPass offering, too! Unfortunately, the Parks Blog doesn’t specify where. All we know at the moment is that these opportunities are available beginning on August 29th. Yes, that’s the same day that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens!
Always Carry Your Magic Band!
A Disney theme park experienced a rare technical error this past week. Guests who visited Magic Kingdom on July 29th were in for a rude awakening. The ticket admissions machines weren’t working. Without them, cast members had no way to verify whether guests had valid admissions.
Without the scanning system, Disney employees had to break out the barcode scanners. This somewhat antiquated system caused delays of as much as two hours for park admission. As a fallback measure, cast members started letting guests enter the park as long as they had Magic Bands.
I’ve actually heard Disney employees discuss this before, and it’s an important tidbit to remember. Even when you don’t plan to use your Magic Band, you should still pack it for your park day. These technological wonders have a lot of hidden benefits, as Magic Kingdom guests learned on that morning.
What Is Going on with Primeval Whirl
On June 17th, Disney’s Animal Kingdom suddenly shut down Primeval Whirl for undisclosed reasons. At the time, park officials indicated the hiatus would be temporary. However, more than six weeks later, the DinoLand U.S.A. attraction remains closed.
Recently, we learned that the problems are more severe than Disney had let on. In fact, Primeval Whirl will remain closed until September 28th. Since the ride’s projected return was August 4th, you could feasibly own a FastPass for Primeval Whirl.
If that’s the case, don’t worry! Disney will replace it with a Multiple Experience FastPass. The one caveat is that it’ll be a FastPass from the same tier. So, it’s not one that’s good on all park attractions such as the ones at Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Speaking of Animal Kingdom…
Disney still has balancing issues at Animal Kingdom. Since so many guests spend time at Pandora, park officials try to lure traffic to other themed lands. It reduces congestion in Pandora.
This winter, Disney’s latest attempt is an extremely good one. As part of the holiday season celebration, Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island will feature hand-crafted decorations.
According to the Parks Blog, “Colorful, animal-inspired luminaries line the rooftops, and wireframe lanterns in the shape of beautiful birds can be found perched throughout the area.”
Disney promises animal puppets and bird lanterns surrounding Discovery Island. Also, the Tree of Life will host “a series of wintry tales.” It sounds like Animal Kingdom will be more magical than ever this holiday season.
Epic Universe Is Coming
For the first time in ages, Disney’s Orlando rival, Universal Studios, claimed the headline of the week. During an official ceremony, Universal executives revealed that they’re breaking ground on a third themed gate.
The new park will be called Epic Universe, and it’s a massive deal for Universal as well as Disney. From Universal’s perspective, they’re building this gate at a different location roughly 12 minutes away from Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
While Universal didn’t tip its hand about themed lands or even the projected year that it will open, we already know a few facts about it. Reports suggest that the park will have sections for How to Train Your Dragon, Nintendo, (even more) Harry Potter, and Universal’s classic movie monsters.
Universal’s actually claiming that this is their fourth park, which is only accurate if we count Volcano Bay, a water park. If we do that, Disney has (at least) six gates at Walt Disney World. But the news does pressure Disney officials.
When Epic Adventure opens, Universal can say that they’ve built two entirely new theme parks since Disney’s most recent one, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, back in 1998. In fact, by Universal’s math, they’d argue the total is three, including Volcano Bay.
Our friends at the Mouse are feeling a bit of pressure to keep up with the Joneses. It may explain why Disney just added a “Secret Project” to the schedule for the 2019 D-23 Expo in less than three weeks. Could they have a countermove planned? Stay tuned to MickeyBlog to find out!