MickeyBlog News for July 14, 2019
The Walt Disney Company just completed another mind-boggling week. They had several massive announcements and debuted/returned new things at various theme parks. Let’s get you brought up to speed in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
The Resistance Is Ready to Rise
Let’s start with the biggie. After months of speculation, Disney finally announced the opening date for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. And it’s a bit of a surprise.
The E-ticket attraction will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on December 5th. Unexpectedly, the Walt Disney World version of the ride will debut before the one at Disneyland. In fact, the Happiest Place on Earth is slightly less happy at the moment.
Disneyland fans just learned that Rise of the Resistance will not arrive in 2019. It’ll just miss with its start on January 17, 2020. While Disney had previously promised that both versions of the attraction would launch in 2019, they could only meet half of their goals.
As previously mentioned on MickeyBlog, rumors persisted that the Walt Disney World version of the ride was closer to completion. We now have confirmation of this. However, since we’re already in mid-July, both attractions are less than six months away from becoming a reality!
Speaking of Star Wars Land…
I have great news for Walt Disney World cast members reading this! Seriously, it’s spectacular. Those of you who take care of the rest of us when we visit the parks are about to get taken care of yourselves.
Starting on August 1st, cast members have the opportunity to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios weeks before it opens to regular park guests.
Beginning on July 22nd, Disney will offer sign-ups for its employees. You can pick a day from August 1st through August 16th for your visit. Best of all, you can bring a guest! Expect lots of livestreamers to do everything possible to sneak an invite from their favorite cast members.
Disney Knows about Your Bad Reputation
We’ve got one final Galaxy’s Edge item this week. Cast members have revealed that they have a new job assignment at Star Wars Land. During purchases, Disney employees check Reputation Scanners to track guest performances at the themed land.
During the planning phase of Star Wars Land, Imagineers had announced the intent to track the progress of visitors to Black Spire Outpost. We now know that this system is active.
For example, your score on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run contributes to your reputation on Batuu. When you interact with cast members at stations equipped with Reputation Scanners, they can see how you did on your last cargo run for Hondo Ohnaka. They can also check whether you favor The First Order or The Resistance.
These Reputation Scanners add a gaming element and a bit of character engagement to regular theme park visits. In an upcoming Tourist’s Guide to Batuu, I’ll discuss the role-playing elements of Batuu. These devices are a critical part of the premise. You’re now incentivized to take some aspects of your theme park experience seriously.
Welcome to the Tower of Great Destiny!
For a couple of years now, Disney fans have breathlessly anticipated the expansion tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. This past week, they finally got their wish, as Gran Destino Tower is now open to the public.
The 15-story high-rise hotel is a Moderate Tier resort that feels high-end. Its 545 rooms include 50 suites and some significant new restaurants. I’ll even discuss one of them in the next section.
Shooting the Moon on New Year’s Eve
How much are you willing to spend on an unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience? If your answer is “a lot,” I’ve got an idea for you!
Disney is now accepting reservations for Mezzanotte at Topolino’s: An Italian Masquerade on New Year’s Eve. It’s…not cheap. The cost is $550 per person for this event, although the Parks Blog points out that this price includes tax, gratuity, and bottomless beverages, including alcohol.
Since Topolino’s is on the top floor of Disney’s Riviera Resort and 2019 will be its first New Year’s Eve, the experience is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. Disney’s priced it as such. The event takes place from 8 p.m. to 12:15 a.m.
I’m a bit amused at the thought that they’ll kick you out 15 minutes after the clock strikes midnight, but I’m a bit dubious Disney will be emphatic about that. For $550, I’d expect you to get to stay a few minutes late.
Anyway, those of you who REALLY want to impress a date this New Year’s Eve, you know what to do.
Good News Coming to the Grand Floridian?
This update falls somewhere between news and semi-confirmed rumor. On July 5th, Disney filed the necessary paperwork to build a much-needed walkway. This proposed path will link Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Magic Kingdom, giving guests a direct walkway to the theme park.
While Disney hasn’t officially announced the walking path, they offered an official statement that states, “This walking path from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will give our Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guests another convenient way to reach Magic Kingdom Park.”
So, you’ll have even more reason to stay at the Grand Floridian in the near-future.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch Returns
Last year, I grimly reported that the entire Conservation Station area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom had shut down. At the time, Disney officials wouldn’t address reports that it might come back as an entirely different experience.
This week, Animal Kingdom fans were relieved to rediscover one of the best parts of the park. Yes, Conservation Station is back, and it’s even added a new attraction! The Animation Experience is a presentation that examines the influence of various animals on the development of Disney animated movies. It even shows guests how to draw a Disney character or two!
Let’s finish this week’s update with a few miscellaneous news items. First of all, Guest Experience Teams have arrived at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
As chronicled on MickeyBlog, Disney had previously added these high-level customer service teams at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They help guest book FastPasses, find attractions and amenities, and just generally improve the overall park experience for guests.
Speaking of Magic Kingdom, one of the most iconic park signs in the world is temporarily gone. Disney has removed the Tomorrowland sign from the themed land. They’re going to give it a fresh look in coming weeks. So, it won’t be gone long but will look quite different when it returns.
Change is afoot at a different Walt Disney World locale. Blizzard Beach will undergo an unusually long refurbishment period later this year. The water park will close earlier than normal on September 8th and won’t return until 2020. Speculation has ensued about new additions to the themed land, but park officials haven’t confirmed anything yet.
At Disney Springs, the NBA Experience Store is now open. While the NBA Experience won’t open until August 12th, everyone can shop for NBA gear right now. Just be careful when you buy authentic team jerseys. Some of them are already outdated due to free agency and some epic NBA trades.
The Walt Disney Company received some excellent news this week that wasn’t park-related. Disney Cruise Line just attained one of the highest honors imaginable.
Readers at Travel + Leisure recently voted on the World’s Best in several categories. Disney Cruise Line won the prestigious title of Best Ocean Cruise Line, an honor given for ships hosting 2,200 guests or more. Suffice to say that customer satisfaction for Disney cruises is outrageously high.
The other big news item involves the Mulan trailer. Disney released it to high acclaim this past week, and viewers around the world ate it up. Mulan gained a staggering 175 million views during its first 24 hours. That’s the second-best total yet for a live-action remake of a Disney animated title.
Only The Lion King’s 224 million views surpass this number. In terms of overall numbers, Mulan has the seventh-most watched trailer in a day ever. It’s going to be huge. Also, The Lion King opens in theaters on Thursday evening. Those of you who haven’t purchased tickets yet should do so immediately. It’s going to be a box office juggernaut.