MickeyBlog News Update – Edition #4
Today’s Disney News from MickeyBlog is going to make Hollywood studios fans happy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though! Let’s see what else is going on in the Wide World of Disney this week.
Changes at Hollywood Studios
Now that The Great Movie Ride’s closing is so last week, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has started making big changes. The marketing department already has signs up for the upcoming Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at the former attraction. These signs indicate that Disney isn’t going to reminisce any about the past. The future of Hollywood Studios starts right now.
To wit, Disney is altering One Man’s Dream. The new iteration will still highlight many of the career achievements and memorabilia of Walt Disney. It will simply do so under a new name: Walt Disney Presents. This minor alteration of the existing space will include something extra, too.
Walt Disney Presents will arrive in September with a preview of the upcoming changes to Hollywood Studios. Specifically, it’s going to display scale models and concept artwork for the new themed lands that will arrive in 2018 and 2019. Yes, you can see representations of Toy Story Land and, more importantly, Star Wars Land: Galaxy’s Edge. Sure, the waiting’s still the hardest part, but Walt Disney Presents will help you pass the time until all the new attractions debut.
Toy Story Land can’t be that far away, though. After all, Disney just laid the final piece of track for the new Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster. The current expectation is for the park to open around Memorial Day of 2018, meaning Disney will open new themed lands at Walt Disney World in consecutive years. You can read more about Slinky Dog Dash in this Orlando Sentinel article.
Major Transportation Changes!
At the start of 2017, Disney introduced a new transportation option that was ideal for Park Hoppers. Called Express Transportation, this service facilitated quick transfers from park to park at Walt Disney World. Each of the four themed gates had a special entry/departure location within the park. Every half hour, a bus would take guests to a new location.
For a modest fee of $19 for a day or $29 for a week, Disney visitors had the run of Walt Disney World. The staggered departure system meant that a bus was leaving for one of the other three parks every ten minutes. Best of all, the entry points at the new parks were inside, meaning that you didn’t have to go through the front gate each time. The system was convenient, inexpensive, and efficient. There was only one problem.
At D23, Disney announced Minnie Vans, a ridesharing kind of service that would transfer guests between any two points at Walt Disney World. For a set cost of $20 one way, Minnie Vans aren’t the most economical option, but if you’ve seen a picture of one, you understand the appeal. They’re adorable and feel like much more of an event ride than any bus possibly could. A Minnie Van feels like Disney limo service.
From Disney’s perspective, their profit margin is a lot better on the Minnie Vans than the buses. That’s why they have chosen to cancel Express Transportation. The service ends on August 23rd.
On the plus side, Minnie Vans expanded to a new hotel this week. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the adjoining Disney Vacation Club resorts there are now participating in the service. Other hotels will presumably join soon but for now, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Disney’s BoardWalk Resort are the only other options.
Each week seems to bring more additions to the Mobile Order program at Walt Disney World. After expanding it into all four parks in August, they’re now adding even more options later this year.
By the end of 2017, you will be able to order a Dole Whip from your phone! That’s right, Aloha Isle is getting Mobile Order soon. Other announced participants to be added over the next four months are The Lunching Pad at Magic Kingdom, Sunshine Seasons at Epcot, and three offerings at Hollywood Studios. Those are Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, and Rosie’s All-American Café.
The next restaurant to offer Mobile Order actually starts this week. Beginning today, you can order ahead at Harambe Market, where the ribs are spectacular!
At the current pace, every Quick Service option in the four parks will join Mobile Order during its first year of existence. Clearly, this is the future of eating at Walt Disney World.
Last time, we mentioned that some Walt Disney World restaurants are offering discounts for Annual Pass holders and DVC members. Disney has added another new wrinkle this week.
Through the end of September, you can get a free appetizer with entrée purchase at four Table Service restaurants. The participants are Artist Point, Citricos, Flying Fish, and Jiko. If you’re thinking that you might combine this with the 30 percent discount, however, I have some bad news. Disney won’t honor the discount and the free app offer on the same ticket. On the plus side, the free app deal comes with complimentary valet service if you want to impress a date!
No More Free Apps!
On the other side of the coin, Disney’s making a change to the Walt Disney World Fantasmic! package. Starting in 2018, this package will not include a free appetizer. Instead, it will feature an entrée, a dessert, and a nonalcoholic beverage plus the special seating to the show.
For a lot of customers, this change isn’t a big deal at all. One of the most recited criticisms of the Disney Dining Plan is that Table Service meals are too much food. While eating on the Fantasmic! package, you’re unlikely to miss an appetizer and if you do, you always have the option to pay extra for it.
What Time Is the 3 P.M. Parade?
Trick question! Starting yesterday, Disney has altered the time of the daily performance of Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. It now starts at 2 p.m. each day. This has a ripple effect on the check-in time of Tiana’s Riverboat Party. Check-in starts at 1:15 p.m. now.
This change is part of Disney’s seasonal shift. One of the other alterations is that Stitch’s Great Escape, universally derided as the worst attraction at Walt Disney World – and I say that as a man wearing a Stich shirt at this very moment – is now closed for the season. It will return the next time that Disney needs to siphon traffic off the streets.
For a time, Stitch’s Great Escape seemed destined to shut down for good in favor of a new attraction, but D23 came and went without that announcement. So, the current belief is that Stitch will maintain his presence in Magic Kingdom for a while longer…just not all the time since it’s such a bad ride.