MickeyBlog News for October 28, 2019
Disney reverses course on a recent policy change, Disney reverses course on a longstanding policy, and Disney+ comes for free to a few lucky people. Let’s talk about the most recent batch of Disney updates in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Restaurant Names Change Again
In last week’s edition of MickeyBlog News, we discussed Disney’s not entirely surprising decision to alter its Star Wars menus. The restaurants at Galaxy’s Edge had previously featured themed menu names. Guests felt confused by fictional animal names from alien planets at a place where they already couldn’t just order a burger.
What Disney didn’t count on was the outrage of Star Wars fans. Let me just say as someone who has been on the wrong side of that particular armada on many occasions, these folks get pretty aggro. Once Disney recognized that the guests most likely to visit Batuu were the ones that cared about the decision, the company recanted.
As of now, the mega-thematic Galaxy’s Edge menus are back. You can once again order a Mustafarian Lava Roll and roll the dice and the ingredients involved. All kidding aside, I fully understood why park officials simplified the menu. However, since so many cast members worked so diligently on the original themed menus, I think that keeping the detailed theming is for the best.
Star Tours Gets Better
Ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm, Imagineers have added steady updates to Star Tours. Each new Star Wars film has led to updated scenes on the attraction. Even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the one about a bunch of dead characters, received a Star Tours sequence.
The pattern has become predictable. A Star Wars movie comes out in December, and then a Star Tours update arrives soon afterward. With the third Star Wars trilogy ending this year, Disney’s finishing up strong.
On December 20th, all four parks with a Star Tours attraction will receive an update. This original segment will recreate new destinations from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And yes, that’s the same date that the film will open nationwide, meaning that you better watch it first. Otherwise, you’ll risk getting spoiled during the ride.
Since Star Wars movies are in transition after this, we may not receive another update like this for a while. Even so, Star Tours could feasibly add new scenes based off of The Mandalorian, depending on the show’s reception. And let’s be realistic. The Disney+ show’s gonna be a blockbuster.
Speaking of Disney+
Would you like it for free? No, I’m not offering to pay for your Disney+ service. But Verizon is. The company shocked, well, everyone when it announced this proposition.
Verizon has stated that Verizon Unlimited subscribers will receive Disney+ as part of the package. Similarly, Fios and 5G Home subscribers are eligible for the same deal. Interestingly, the company is offering this incentive to new and existing customers alike.
In other words, you could compare your current internet and cell phone services with Verizon’s. Should the prices appear similar, the free year of Disney+ might incentivize you to switch. So, Verizon entices the most loyal customers on the planet, Disney fans, to use their products.
The company’s cost is $6.99 per month for a year in exchange for an entirely new batch of customers. That’s roughly $84 at most in Disney+ (but probably much less) in exchange for at least $480 annually in revenue, possible quadruple that on family plans. Any business with high profit margins would jump all over that deal.
From Disney’s perspective, this offer is enormous. The Motley Fool suggests that 56 million customers could theoretically qualify for this deal. That’s 50 million Verizon Unlimited customers plus six million through Fios and 5G Home. It could help build the first-year user totals by a dramatic amount.
Fuel Rods Ain’t Free
The longstanding deal that Disney just changed involves Fuel Rods. If you’re unfamiliar, Fuel Rods are small backup cell phone batteries. Each one extends the life of your smart device by a few hours, usually enough to last for the rest of the park visit.
As frequent park guests know, Fuel Rods have delivered exceptional value over time. For an upfront cost of $30, guests earn the right to exchange Fuel Rod batteries as often as needed. The deal seemed evergreen until recently. Park officials appeared happy to host Fuel Rod kiosks at little-to-no financial gain. The primary goal had been happy visitors.
Well, the situation has changed. As of November 1st, Fuel Rod exchanges are no longer free. On the contrary, they could get pricey quickly during a vacation. After the one-time purchase of $30, a Fuel Rod user must pay $3 for every battery swap. Whereas Fuel Rods once cost $30 forever, you could now spend another $21 during a one-week vacation, adding 70 percent to the expense.
Fuel Rods were already a somewhat divisive topic among Disney fans. There are a few sites that flat out don’t recommend them. These respected voices think that the product is subpar. Given the new fees, you should explore other options, such as portable batteries. I’m a devout believer in Anker, whose products are popular on Amazon.
Time for the Holiday Specials!
Folks, Hallmark Channel isn’t the only media company that’s ready for the holidays. Disney’s ready to film its lineup of holiday specials. As has been the case in recent years, the festivities will take place in early November.
Specifically, Disney’s parks will film holiday specials from November 7th through November 10th, which breaks the hearts of those of us leaving Walt Disney World on, say, November 5th. Not that I’m suuuuuuper bitter or anything.
The producers of these specials have the system down cold by now. Disneyland hosts the holiday parades, while Walt Disney World is where the majority of the musical performances get taped.
Let’s end this week’s update with a trio of news items. First of all, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort seems less likely to receive that long-rumored expansion. I say this because the company recently sold 26 acres of land there.
According to TCPalm, GHO Homes bought the acreage and intends to build single homes and villas on a space once designated for the Disney hotel at Vero Beach. So, that seems pretty final.
The news is better at Disney Springs, where a restaurant has earned an impressive honor. Earl of Sandwich is the recipient of a major award. The 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® Awards for Restaurants named the sandwich place as the number one entrant in Fast Casual. That’s…pretty strong. It’s already the cheapest place to eat at Walt Disney World, and now it’s the best Quick Service option, too.
Finally, cast members received a bit of good news. The Disney Look has modernized a bit. As of right now, park employees can (finally) wear necklaces! Well, they can wear exactly one bracelet and one necklace. It’s a big deal, as these two accessories were previously no-nos.
Similarly, beards are permissible up to one inch in length, which is somehow an improvement by a factor of four. You still can’t have a ZZ Top beard, but a Mumford and Sons beard might be okay. Grab a ruler just to make sure. Yes, the Disney Look is a bit ridiculous…but it’s getting slightly better!