MickeyBlog News – Free Dining, Star Wars Land & More
What’s going on at Disney this week? Star Wars Land got an opening month, Bob Iger altered a quote, Disneyland increased its prices, and Free Dining plans were announced. Yes, The Walt Disney Company started the New Year with a bang. Let’s get you all caught up in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Visit the Galaxy’s Edge in June!
The two most significant news items this week both came from a Barron’s interview published late in the week. Disney’s CEO and Chairman, Bob Iger, revealed the opening month for Star Wars Land, at least at one park.
As everyone knows by now, Disneyland will debut its version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge several months ahead of the one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We don’t know exactly how many months yet, but we DO know the month for the Happiest Place on Earth. According to Iger, guests can visit the world of Batuu starting this June.
Presumably, the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland will be toward the end of June, as that’s when annual passes have blackout dates. We don’t know the exact date yet but keep checking back with MickeyBlog. We’ll let you know the moment that we get the information!
Perhaps He Said Too Much
Iger found himself in a bit of trouble during the same Barron’s interview. Iger answered a question about Disney’s park investments with the following reply:
“The acquisition of these brands and the creation of intellectual property behind them have had a tremendous impact on growing our returns at the parks. When you have Star Wars to market at the parks…Avatar is a good example, Cars Land, we’re building a Frozen land in [Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris parks], the interest among the potential audience is higher. It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.” No, you’re going to Arendelle and you’re going to experience Frozen with Anna and Elsa. Or you’re going to fly a banshee into Pandora. Go to Cars Land. We built Radiator Springs. You’re with the characters in that town.”
I’ve placed the controversial comments in bold. Some Disney fans took Iger’s remarks as a criticism of Expedition Everest, one of the greatest Disney attractions ever. Does this reception seem overly sensitive to you?
If so, you disagree with legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde, who felt the need to post a reply on Instagram, which you may read here. Rohde’s post explains how and why Disney chose the setting for Expedition Everest.
Sometime after this post went live, Iger made a rare Tweet reply to WDWThemeParks and a Disney fan. WDWNT captured an image of the tweet. It’s a reaffirmation from Iger that he loves Expedition Everest. Still, Disney social media was aflame for about two days as many people took issue with their interpretation of Iger’s comments.
For his part, Iger was most guilty of saying too much as he tried to elucidate a point. I suspect that his comments had nothing to do with Expedition Everest but rather some rejected ride proposals for the currently gestating India Pavilion project. Iger’s not the kind of business leader who ever slags an existing product, certainly not such a wonderful one.
As a postscript, Barron’s edited the article to remove the controversial dialogue. That’s an extremely rare and controversial journalistic decision.
Tomorrowland Ride Closures
MickeyBlog had previously warned guests that a pair of Magic Kingdom attractions would close at the start of 2019. We’ve officially reached the closure window for these rides.
As of last week, Tomorrowland Speedway is down for repairs. The Tomorrowland fixture will remain under construction until May 18th. During this timeframe, Imagineers will tweak the race path to provide more space for the upcoming Tron Lightcycle Power Run building.
That attraction’s exterior will become a new wienie for Magic Kingdom, visible from other parts of Walt Disney World. To give it the most space, Disney had to take space away from Tomorrowland Speedway’s somewhat circuitous path.
Park planners also had to close The Walt Disney World Railroad during this timeframe, too. So, both rides are unavailable for the next four months. Rumors persist that Tomorrowland Speedway might take on a slightly different appearance when it returns, perhaps even one with a modest Tron tie-in, a tantalizing proposition that I hope becomes a reality.
Disneyland Raises Prices
Are you like me? Are you planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth during 2019? It’s a great decision, especially with all of the impending additions including the aforementioned Star Wars Land.
With so much going on, Disney’s understandably worried about park crowds this year. They also know that they can charge about anything that they want, and guests will still pay it to visit Galaxy’s Edge.
For these reasons, nobody was surprised when Disney announced price increases at Disneyland. Yes, it’s the second such increase in a calendar year, but the timing is understandable. Park officials want to gauge interest for crowd traffic. Admission ticket and annual pass sales represent two of the best ways to project these numbers.
The price increases that just went into effect are immediate and significant. Single-day admission went up from a starting point of $97 for a single-day Value ticket to $104. Regular admission tickets are now $129, up from 117, while Peak tickets increased from $135 to $149. The tickets with Park Hopper saw similarly raised prices, with a Peak single-day ticket including Park Hopper maxing out at $199, up from $185.
Other price changes impact MaxPass and annual passes. The MaxPass service is now $15 per person per day, up 50% from its previous $10 daily cost. With annual passes, the cheapest ones, available only to locals, went up $30 to $399. Deluxe annual passes spiked $70 from $729 to $799.
Meanwhile, owners of Signature and Signature Plus passes plus those who buy the Premier pass are the saddest right now. Signature increased a whopping $150 from $999 to $1,149, while Signature Plus is up a staggering $250 with a new base cost of $1,399.
The Premier Pass that’s good for Disneyland and Walt Disney World has the most substantial overall rate increase, going from $1,579 to $1,949. I can’t sugarcoat this. Going to the Happiest Place on Earth just got a lot more expensive.
Free Dining Is Back!
With prices increasing at Disney theme parks, everyone is in search of ways to stretch their vacation budget. One of the best ways to get a bargain at Walt Disney World is by booking the Free Dining package. And I have great news for you!
Disney has introduced 2019’s Free Dining plan already! You can book now for a vacation anytime between July 5th and September 30th. The full details are available here. It’s the best possible deal for a Disney fan right now, especially given the rate increases we’ve seen at Disneyland already in 2019.
You should book quickly, as Free Dining can and will sell out. Contact an agent at Mickey Travels right now for a free quote on your next Disney vacation. Hurry before Free Dining is gone!