6 2018 Disney Park Changes You Need to Know
Disney theme parks are always changing. It’s an edict from the boss. Walt Disney stressed the danger of stagnant parks, intuiting that failure to adapt would lead his company down the road to ruin. More than 50 years after his death, his protégés honor his wishes. Lately, this philosophy has been readily apparent, as 2018 has seen lots of new updates. Here are six Disney park changes made in 2018.
In April, Disney introduced a remarkable new technology. Called Digital Key, it’s a novel way to give guests a new kind of keyless room entry. Guests simply need to take out their smart phone and load the My Disney Experience app. You’ve already linked the app to your account, and so it knows that you’re the authorized party to enter the assigned hotel room.
The program will ask you if you want to unlock the door to your room. After you confirm on the device, you’ll hold your phone up to the reader on your door, the place where you’ve historically used a room card or Magic Band. Since you’re sure to take your phone with you wherever you go, it’s a smarter way to get into your room. This is one of the Disney park changes we’re really excited about!
Over the past few years, HGTV’s been running some sort of smear campaign against carpet. Whenever they show one of their dozens of home renovation or home purchase programs, some real estate agent inevitably assails carpet. Laminate’s better for reasons that pass understanding to those of us who slip and slide across such flooring.
Disney’s bought into this philosophy, as they’re currently renovating several of their properties. One of the key changes is that carpet’s out, replaced by laminate floors. Several of the stateliest Disney resorts have undergone or are undergoing this change. Disney’s Old Key West, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, and Disney’s Pop Century Resort are just three of the several hotels that have switched from carpet. There’s actually a logical explanation for this…
Pets Are In
You know what goes bad with dogs? Carpet. Yeah, it’s not coincidental that Disney resorts are switching to hardwood flooring.
Last October, Disney started a pilot program for resort guests. Four properties allowed guests to bring their pets along for the vacation. And by pets, I mean dogs. Sorry, snake handlers. For a fee of up to $75 per night, guests could avoid the pet-setting or kennel fees while keeping puppies happy and included.
Analysts criticized the idea at first, but the program succeeded. Earlier this summer, reports suggested that Disney was ending the pet pilot program anyway. We’ve since learned that this termination happened for an entirely different reason. The test phase is over. From now on, Pets will be welcome at select Walt Disney World resorts on a permanent basis.
The official start of the pet-friendly hotel rule is October of 2018. Guests who don’t want to leave their best furry friend at home can choose from four different resorts. The current participants are Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge.
Straws and Lids Are Vanishing
Disney recently reconfirmed its commitment to environmentally sound practices. As part of the announcement, they revealed that they would reduce their usage of plastics at their parks and resorts. While the press release indicated a methodical change over several years, several of the most important changes have already taken place.
The first change happened at the resorts. The miniature bottles that contain soaps, lotions, and shampoos are gone. They’ve been replaced by dispensers. Cast members refill these containers to ensure that guests have the needed soaps and shampoos. The days of coming home with plastic shampoo collections are over, though.
The next major changes have taken place at Walt Disney World and Disneyland restaurants. Table Service eateries no longer provide guests with straws as a rule. You still have the right to request one, of course, but Disney’s aim is to discourage park visitors from utilizing unnecessary plastics during a trip.
Similarly, counter service restaurants have ditched straws when possible. They’ve taken the idea one step further, though. Quick Service establishments no longer provide plastic lids with their cups. By implementing these steps, Disney’s reduced their plastic consumption by literally thousands of pounds each month.
Toy Story Land Is Open!
Disney went a long time between the introductions of new themed lands at Walt Disney World. Then, they rebooted Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and later wowed observers with Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Earlier this summer, Disney’s Hollywood Studios received a much needed expansion with the opening of Toy Story Land. This themed land shrinks guests in size and allows them to wander around Andy’s playroom, getting a close look at life-size toys.
The new area features two original rides and a co-opted one. The fresh attractions are Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, the latter of which is a spin cycle ride akin to Mad Tea Party. Slinky Dog Dash is a child-friendly roller coaster that falls somewhere between The Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the thrill meter. The co-opted one is Toy Story Mania!, which received a modest name change and an entirely new line queue that starts in Toy Story Land.
Minnie Vans Go Everywhere Now
Transportation at Walt Disney World fluctuates between tolerable and “why God why?!” at a given moment. Many guests prefer to avoid Disney’s buses and boats whenever possible. Last year, Disney gave its guests a third option, albeit a pay one.
Minnie Vans are a stylish conveyance that will drive you and your party of up to six total guests to your location of choice at Walt Disney World. The service had a gradual rollout, but it’s now available at all Disney resorts.
For a fee of $25, guests can take a one-way trip from exact spot to exact spot. It’s like other ride-sharing services, only it’s better since the drivers are Disney cast members, and the van has Minnie Mouse decorations on it. This is another of the Disney park changes we really love!
In 2018, Disney made Minnie Vans even better. The company added airport pick-up and drop-off services. This, too, was initially a trial program, but it’s since expanded to all Disney resorts. When you’re in a hurry or not in the mood for Magical Express, a Minnie Van is the perfect way to start or end your stay at Walt Disney World.
At $150 per vehicle, it’s not cheap. Since it does hold up to six guests, however, you can divide the cost among several people, making it more affordable. Plus, Minnie Vans are just plain cool.
Disney’s had plenty of other exciting changes over the last couple of years. Stay tuned for another recap of the exciting happenings at the Happiest Place on Earth! So what do you think of these Disney park changes? Let us know!