MickeyBlog News Updates for June 24, 2019
Welcome to summer! Now that everyone’s favorite theme park season has arrived, Disney updates are flying fast and furiously. We’ve got a lot to talk about, so let’s get started with the latest edition of MickeyBlog News!
Toy Story 4 Dominates
The toys were back in town this past weekend, and movie lovers couldn’t wait to visit their old friends. Yes, Woody, Buzz, and the gang from the Toy Story franchise made a return engagement after nine years away from movie theaters.
In 2010, Toy Story 3 set the opening weekend record with $110.3 million. Until this weekend, it had stayed in the top four all-time for nine years, an eternity in modern box office. Even now, it is still in the top five, only a spot lower because Toy Story 4 has just surpassed it.
The latest Toy Story release earned a dazzling $118 million in North America and another $120 million internationally, giving it a historic worldwide take of $238 million. That total bests another Pixar sequel, The Incredibles 2, to become the most successful global animated debut ever. Once again, Pixar has shattered records while proving that it’s really only in competition with itself.
In addition to the record-setting opening weekend of Toy Story 4, the other news is universally positive, too. The film is 98 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and received a Cinemascore of A. Both of these marks are generally reserved for Oscar-caliber releases.
IMDb voters are even more thrilled with the story, as it currently has a rating of 8.6. While these scores usually go down over time, an 8.6 would place Toy Story 4 in the top 20 highest rated movies ever on IMDb.
Pixar’s done it again, my friends!
Passholder Previews and Price Increases
During the preparation phase of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney has carefully calculated the best ways to maximize profit while satisfying demand. At Disneyland, park officials raised prices roughly four months ahead of the themed land’s opening.
We’ve expected a similar move at Walt Disney World for a while now. This week, we received word that price increases have occurred for annual passes, parking, and the 2020 Disney Dining Plan. The stiffest increase involved the annual pass, which rose by as much as $225, depending on which one you have.
To compensate for the price increases, Disney’s added an enormous incentive for passholders. Some of them will get to visit Galaxy’s Edge before it’s open to the public!
In the days before the August 29th opening of Star Wars Land, passholders with Platinum, Platinum Plus, or Premier Annual membership can register to visit the land. Some of them will get into Galaxy’s Edge prior to August 29th! Obviously, availability is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Folks, that is a fantastic opportunity.
Main Street Cinema Kerfuffle
I almost discussed this story last week, but it seemed too controversial to touch. Thankfully, in waiting a week, the situation already has a resolution.
For a short time last week, Disney converted Main Street Cinema into a store, just as they’d previously done at Magic Kingdom. With park space at a premium and so many guests visiting especially for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, executives tried to shoehorn in another merchandising location.
Disneyland fans are among the most loyal on the planet, as long as the park maintains its reverence to the legacy of Walt Disney. To these folks, the idea of a store shoved inside Main Street Cinema was blasphemy. They demanded that the hallowed location return to its standard appearance. In an unexpected turn of events, Disney relented.
In a comment to a Tribune Media reporter, Disney stated, “We continue to operate Main Street Cinema as a theater and there have been no changes to film showings. We’re looking at a variety of ways to drive interest in this beloved location.”
So, the whole thing is much ado about nothing.
Disney Reaches a Milestone and Picks a Side
The great ride-share debate is the Millennials’ answer to Coke versus Pepsi. While other ride-sharing services exist, easily the most recognizable two are Uber and Lyft, both of which are available at various Disney theme parks.
A couple of years ago, Disney clearly favored one over the other, as they chose Lyft as the backbone for Minnie Vans. A few days ago, park officials announced that Minnie Vans have transported more than one million guests around the Disney campus, a huge milestone for the service.
To reward Lyft for its help in this endeavor, Disney has named this company as the official ride-share service at Disney theme parks. As part of this agreement, the Minnie Van app will receive updates in the coming months. The Parks Blog promises that Minnie Vans will be easier to book than ever before. It’s currently unclear whether Disney intends to discourage the use of Uber at the parks now that they’ve chosen Lyft as their sponsor.
A Few Park and Resort Updates
Park officials announced/confirmed a lot of miscellaneous parks and resort tidbits this past week. Let’s quickly update you on some of the items of interest.
Soarin’ Over California’s short-lived return to Disney California Adventure (DCA) isn’t so short-lived after all. Due to the success of the ride’s return engagement, executives have chosen to extend its park presence. The original version of Soarin’ will remain at DCA through August 31, 2019, giving you almost the entire summer to catch Soarin’ Classic. Afterward, Soarin’ Over the World will return.
Speaking of Disneyland Resort, the Orange County Register (OCR) recently brought Disney fans some good news that originally seemed like some bad news. They learned that the highly anticipated Pixar Pals parking garage WILL open by the end of June. Yes, that’s less than a week from now.
The news got even better when Disney opened the new parking lot on June 23rd! The 6,500-space parking structure was in a tight race with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. You see, by the time that you read this, Star Wars Land no longer requires reservations.
That change alone will cause a massive traffic surge at Disneyland Resort. And the parking lot’s purpose is to give all of these new guests a convenient place to park. Disney beat expectations by getting it ready a day early when it seemed to be running a few days late.
The news is less grand at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa. The proverbial spa in the hotel’s name is about to close. Yes, on July 10th, Mandara Spa will close permanently. This situation is a strange one in that Disney doesn’t own or operate its onsite spa.
Instead, Mandara Spa, a popular spa chain in touristy locations, has managed the facility. At this time, it’s unclear whether Disney will add a new spa that either they or a different party manage. It’s also possible that Disney utilizes this space for something different. In that scenario, the most interesting question is whether the hotel changes its name.
Here’s an oddity. Do you know Oasis Canteen, the Quick Service stand at Disney’s Hollywood Studios near Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!? Well, for some reason, it just changed names. The location is now Epic Eats, although nobody is quite sure why. A modest sign at the shack is the only indication of the change, which wasn’t announced in advance.
Several Disney sites and social media users have openly wondered whether the old name seemed too similar to Oga’s Cantina. Honestly, that seems like a stretch to me, but it’s as good a guess as any until Disney sheds further light on the situation.
Another change at Walt Disney World involves the operating hours at Magic Kingdom. Disney’s expanded the hours on several dates during the summer. You should check your dates to see whether or not you get to spend another hour or two at the Most Magical Place on Earth.