MickeyBlog News and Disney Announcements for April 16
The past few days have featured a jaw-dropping number of Disney announcements. Most of them are minor rather than major, but it’s a LOT. Take a deep breath, and let’s get started with a bunch of quick hits in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
The Yin and Yang of Disney’s Hollywood Studios
I have good news and bad news to report about this park. Both tidbits involve popular stores. The good news is that Fairfax Fare, everybody’s trusted counter service eatery, is expanding. Well, they’re expanding their menu options, not the size of the space. As of April 22nd, guests can order breakfast here. It’s a two-week trial that may or may not lead to a permanent breakfast offering at the park. Since the breakfast options at Hollywood Studios are kind of lackluster, we’re all hoping it succeeds.
The bad news almost brings a tear to my eye. Sweet Spells, this park’s answer to Main Street Confectionary, is closed. April 15th was its last day of operation in its prior state. Moving forward, Disney’s renovating the store to emphasize the added presence of Toy Story characters at the park.
This space will host the only Toy Story merchandise seen outside of the themed land. To make room for the changes, Imagineers are removing the production kitchen from Sweet Spells. They’ll have pre-packaged snacks from now on…which breaks my and my dentist’s heart. You can watch this video to see what we’ve lost.
Anyone who has visited ESPN’s website or watched an ESPN channel recently knows this already, but… Yes, ESPN+ is now available for purchase. For $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year ($4.17 a month), sports fanatics can watch an unprecedented number of athletic competitions and television shows.
ESPN+ is the first of two major apps that Disney will release between now and the end of 2019. While their Netflix-esque service is a bigger deal, ESPN+ is effectively a trial run for that app. Disney will use ESPN+ data to prep their 2019 launch. In the interim, ESPN+ allows cable cutters to see all the games that they’d otherwise miss.
As an fyi, ESPN+ is only available on smart devices, Apple TV and Chromecast for now. A Roku app will arrive next week. What I’ll say after messing with ESPN+ for a couple of hours thus far is that it’s extremely user-friendly. Since it replaces ESPN3, I’m relieved to say that it has a vastly superior interface. Disney’s doing a free trial week right now, so you have the perfect opportunity to try it for yourself. In fact, if you sign up before April 18th, Disney will give you a trial MONTH! That’s an unbeatable deal. Download it right now, my friends!
The Incredibles 2 at Disney Parks
No, I’m not talking about the Incredicoaster coming to Disney California Adventure in a couple of months. Instead, I’m talking about the actual movie, The Incredibles 2…well, snippets of it. Soon, park guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure (DCA) will be able to watch the first ten minutes of the film.
The hosting theaters are Walt Disney Presents at Hollywood Studios and Sunset Showcase Theater at DCA. Since the second movie starts at exactly the moment when the first one ended, this is a cool thing that Disney’s doing. You can see the resolution of the superhero family’s encounter with the Underminer starting on May 18th. That’s almost a full month prior to the movie’s release on June 15th. As a superfan of the first film (it’s my favorite Pixar), this news is enough to make me contemplate a trip to Florida. Then again, I’m ALWAYS contemplating a trip to Florida. Who isn’t?
Great News, Minnie Fans!
Hey, Minnie Fans! Those adorable Minnie Vans are here to stay! Our friends at WDW News Today spoke with several cast members. They learned that the most attention-grabbing ride at Walt Disney World is about to become a big deal. According to them, Disney’s in the process of hiring “dozens” of new drivers for their ride-sharing service.
With so many Minnie Vans in the fleet, park planners clearly believe that they have only scratched the surface of product demand. WDWNT also speculates that an expansion of airport service is a possibility for Minnie Vans. That would be a huge deal for Mickey Travelers, so we’re paying close attention to updates on this subject. My idle speculation is that Disney would have to lower the airport service price from $150 to make it accessible for most guests.
A New My Disney Experience Feature
Starting this week, Annual Pass buyers at Walt Disney World can skip the middleman. After several years of asking for the feature, Disney finally added something long overdue. You now have the ability to buy or renew your Annual Pass on the My Disney Experience app and website.
You’ll find this option under the section entitled Buy Annual Passes. Once you click this page, you’ll find information about buying Platinum or Platinum Plus passes. Florida residents will have a few more options. The app checks locations, though. Out-of-state Disney fans won’t see them, and you’ll have to prove Florida residency when you pick them up for the first time.
Turning (to the) Japanese…
Here’s something about me that you couldn’t possibly know. I frequently read The Japan Times. It’s something that I do to remain current with all the happenings at Tokyo Disneyland. That’s how much I care about getting you the Disney news that you need! Okay, I do it because I think Japan is awesome, but that’s not important.
Anyway, between all of the breathless Shohei Otani updates on their site, I came across a couple of interesting news items. The first is that their theme park attendance increased 0.3 percent in 2017. Sure, that might not seem like much, but it reverses a downward trend over the past three years. An amazing 30.1 million people visited their two parks during their fiscal 2017. As an aside, their best year on record was 2014, and the article I just linked goes out of its way to mention that the key factor was…Frozen. It’s not just American parks that got swept up in the Frozen craze.
The other, bigger news coming out of Tokyo Disneyland is that they’re planning a huge expansion. This news was first announced in November 2017, and it triggered rumors about a much anticipated third gate. Alas, The Oriental Land Company, the owner of Tokyo Disneyland, has now dismissed this rumor. Their expansion plans involve (at least) one of the two parks that are already there rather than the introduction of a new one. Here’s a quote from The Japan News:
“The operator of TDR is planning to expand one of its two theme parks, either Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea. It ruled out the possibility of establishing a third theme park. It will announce more information about the plan, such as new attractions and when the expansion will be complete, as soon as the details are confirmed.
“We would like to create a Tokyo Disney Resort that fulfills new dreams. Currently, we are planning the park’s expansion,” Oriental Land Chairman Toshio Kagami said at a ceremony commemorating the 35th anniversary of the opening of Tokyo Disneyland on Sunday.”
The dream is over, fellow Mickey Travelers. Tokyo Disneyland’s going to upgrade what they’ve got rather than build that thrilling sky park that was rumored. Ah well, improving Tokyo DisneySea would be amazing. It’s already deemed the best theme park in the world by many analysts. Imagine if they made it even better!
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