Walt Disney World to Begin Charging Hotel Guests for Overnight Parking

On Wednesday Walt Disney World announced that with all reservations made starting March 21 they will begin charging guests for standard overnight parking at their resorts. This charge will vary depending on the resort category and will be applied to guests’ hotel folio upon check-out.

The Standard Overnight Parking charges per resort category will be:

Value Resorts: $13 per night

Moderate Resorts: $19 per night

Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $24 per night

Disney Vacation Club Members will not be charged for parking when they are staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa regardless of whether they are using points at paying cash for their stay.  Members also will not be charged for overnight parking if they are using points to stay at any Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

As you can imagine this is raising quite a stir in the Disney fan community.

Why is Walt Disney World doing this? No one really knows for sure, but Disney has publicly stated that charging for overnight parking is becoming an industry standard and they are just falling in line.

This could be true and if it is it could be another indication that Disney is caring less about the total guest experience and leading the industry. Back in the late 1950’s having pay stalls in bathrooms was the “industry standard” yet, as the story goes, Walt Disney saw that no one was using them at Disneyland and guests were standing in line to use the free stalls. Walt had the pay stalls all converted to free ones. Guest experience mattered…at least it did then.

Some people have speculated that Disney is doing this to reduce the number of cars at the hotels and on property. Others have speculated that its because Disney doesn’t want you wandering off property for food or visiting Universal.

There have been dozens of other guesses as to why Disney is doing this.

In my mind I think the explanation is much more simple…its a cash grab that they feel that they can get away with.

Face it…the fees that they are planning on charging aren’t ridiculous or insane. I’m sure Disney has done their research and looked at the industry and figured what they can charge and not have major objections.

Also, think about who visits Walt Disney World and has a car.

There are the people who live close enough to Walt Disney World that driving is practical and flying isn’t worth the little bit of time saved. These people will still bring their car.

There are those where driving (even if it’s 12-20 hour drive) is significantly cheaper than flying. This is my family when everyone is going along and we have the luxury of time for the trip. This parking charge isn’t going to push anyone over the edge towards flying. It just isn’t.

Then there are those (me included when we don’t drive) who fly but rent a car because they like the convenience and flexibility and don’t want to hassle with the Disney busses. My guess is a huge majority of these people will still rent a car and bring it onto property.

I have no data, but I’ve talked to people…people who have had a car on property and even though inconvenient, this charge is not going to keep many people from still having their own car or renting a car while staying at a Disney Resort.

And this is the key..I think Disney knows this. They know the vast majority of people who are inclined to have a car on property will continue to do so and just pay the fee. They will just build the charge into the price of their vacation.

Now…in full disclosure, we’re DVC members and for most of our trips we’ll be exempt from the charge. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it.  Honestly even if I’m paying for at hotel room I’m still going to want a car and I’ll end up paying the charge. This isn’t going to keep me from taking a car on property. I’m being honest….it’s just not.


Walt Disney World Announces Dates for 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone but the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will be returning this fall for it’s 23rd year for 2018.  In Disney’s announcement on the Disney Parks Blog it was mentioned that the festival would again run for 75 days, like it did in 2017 and will run from August 30th until November 12th.

While Disney did not provide any details regarding this years festival, they did say that, “This year’s festival will continue its tradition of fine dining events, appearances by favorite Disney culinarians and top celebrity chefs, and a slate of concerts from favorite bands of the last few decades.”

While I’ve never been able to attend the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, I am a lover of food and especially Disney Dining and really enjoy reading, listening and watching videos of other people’s experiences at the festival.  Not only does the festival sound like a lot of fun, especially if you are a lover of food, it sounds like a great experience to enjoy with friends and family without the pressure of wait times and FastPasses for attractions.  One of these years I really want to go and experience it for myself.

If you are looking for information about the festival, please go to TasteEpcot.com.

After Over a Decade McDonald’s & Disney Partner Up for Disney-Branded Happy Meals

After more than a decade Disney and McDonald’s are back together just in time for the release of ‘Incredibles 2′.  The new partnership will bring Disney-branded Happy Meals back to McDonald’s this summer.

The two companies parted ways when childhood obesity rates were rising and there was widespread concern over calorie-laden children’s meals at fast food restaurants.

Earlier this month McDonald’s announced that it was revamping its Happy Meal menu and would offer selections that were lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. This meant ditching cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from the kids’ menu.  These items will still be available for purchase, but McDonald’s will not list them on the menu.  The thought being that these items will be less likely to be ordered.

McDonald’s plans to promote “Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet” in November.

Okay…..who besides us used their kids to get the toys….errr…..’collectibles’ for themselves?  Okay…I’m not proud of it, but yeah we did.

When my kids were younger the Disney-themed Happy Meals did their job.  Depending on the toy being offered we often went weekly and sometimes checked with McDonald’s in the area to see if they had a particular toy to complete our sets.

It’s great to see the return of Disney-themed Happy Meals at McDonald’s….not necessarily for the food but for another way to get unique ‘collectibles.’

Unfortunately my kids have now grown up and are too old for Happy Meals…or are they?


Disney’s Hollywood Studios Guide Maps Now Show Toy Story Land

A couple of weeks ago Disney announced that Toy Story Land will be opening on June 30 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Those of us that have been impatiently anticipating this addition all got very excited.

Sources are now reporting that Toy Story Land is showing up on Disney’s Hollywood Studios guide maps.  The arrival of this addition to the Studios just got more real.  After all…doesn’t putting a new land/attraction on a guide map with “Coming Soon” somehow make it more official?

I for one am getting excited for Toy Story Land.  Unfortunately my travel plans aren’t coinciding with the opening date.  Since my next trip to Walt Disney World is scheduled for early June, I’ve got to hope that I can catch either an Annual Passholder Preview or some soft openings when I’m there.



Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort Announce Ticket Price Increases….And Guess What…It’s Not the End of the World

This Sunday Disney seemingly “shook” the Disney fan community with it’s annual ticket price increase for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.  The uproar and shock of Disney ticket prices seems to happen every year yet it happens every year and at this time of the year for the last five years or so.

Let’s go over the basics of the ticket price increases…

For Disneyland we have –

Peak one-day tickets increasing from $124 to $135.   8.9% increase

Regular one-day ticket increasing from $110 to $117.  6.4% increase

Value ticket will remain at $97.

At Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, a Signature Plus annual pass is now priced at $1,149, a Deluxe is $729 and a SoCal Select costs $369. If you talk to people visiting Disneyland Resort over the last few years a common complaint is the fact the parks are very crowded, especially on weekends.

For locals that don’t have Annual Passes I will acknowledge that the single day ticket increase might be an issue.  For guests coming from out of the local area this isn’t really an issue.   Most of these guests are going to be buying multi-day passes, staying 3-5 days, which even though saw price increases the price per day is still significantly less than the single-day pass.

Disneyland for the most part depends on the Annual Passholder for its ticket revenue, but the problem over the last few years is the number of passholders that are coming during peak times, especially on weekends is causing crowding and parking issues.  While not publicly stated, Disneyland has been using prices and blackouts to lower the number of passholders especially those visiting on weekends.

Now onto Walt Disney World –

Regular tickets increasing from $115 to $119.   4.3% increase

Peak tickets increasing from $124 to $129.   4.0% increase

Value tickets increasing from $107 to $109.   1.9% increase

Walt Disney World also raised the price of its annual passes at the different theme parks. At its Florida parks, a silver pass now costs $439, a gold pass costs $589 and a platinum pass is $849, or $729 for Florida residents. The platinum pass rose by $70, or $50 for Floridians.

According to Forbes, Disney claims the reason behind the rising prices is to help regulate crowd sizes throughout the year in hopes of reducing the wait at the parks.

Frankly, this is really the only way to limit the number of guests in the parks. People have complained that the price increases are pricing out the ‘average family.’  Yet, despite the price increases over the past few years, the parks have gotten more crowded.  There used to be ‘slow times’, especially early December and the early part of the year before Spring Break and Easter.  Those slow times are gone and basically the crowds have gone from “Insanely Crowded”, “Crowded” to “Less Crowded.”  There is no slow time at Walt Disney World anymore.  Despite the price increases people are still coming, even if it means they have to save longer for the trip.

So if you look at the ticket prices to regulate crowds Disney obviously hasn’t hit the ceiling…yet.  Will this be the price increase that does it?  We’ll have wait and see.   Whenever Disney ticket prices increase people come out of the woodwork and complain, some even stating they’ll never go to the parks again…..yet more people are going to the parks than ever.

The one thing that needs to be mentioned.  Very few people and families that visit Walt Disney World purchase the one-day ticket.  Except for locals who don’t have Annual Passes or Florida Resident passes, very few people visit Walt Disney World for only one day.

This point is echoed by Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger –

“Given the small percentage of guests that purchase a one-day ticket at Walt Disney World, extending pre-published, date-specific pricing to multi-day tickets will further advance our efforts to spread attendance throughout the year and ensure all guests have a magical experience no matter when they visit.”

Those of us who need to budget for a trip to Walt Disney World and don’t have Annual Passes, Disney is aware of this.

Finger also stated, “We know how important making memories at Disney theme parks is to families and we will continue to evolve our pricing in a way that gives families a range of options to meet their budget and helps better spread attendance throughout the year so they can make the most of every visit.”

Until these plans are released what can the average guest do now that the prices have increased?  My suggestion is to book your trip as soon as possible and contact third-party sellers of WDW tickets.  Guests need to comparison shop the third parties to see which are cheapest.  Third party that are trusted and recommended by multiple people are ParkSaversGet Away TodayOfficial Ticket Center or Undercover Tourist.

These third party re-sellers still have some tickets at the old pricing, but these tickets won’t last forever, so it is imperative that if you have a trip planned anytime in the near future and haven’t bought tickets and want to save money, that you contact these companies as soon as possible.

No one likes to see price increases….for anything, but this is not the end of the world.


Rey Meet and Greet Experience Begins this May at Star Wars Launch Bay at Disneyland

Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland is the place for all things from the galaxy far, far away while the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge continues at Disneyland. Beginning this May, Resistance’s newest hero, Rey will join this interactive experience.

According to Disney –

“Joining Chewbacca, Rey will visit with guests at the Light Side character experience throughout the summer, with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren encountering guests at the Dark Side area.”

The character encounter aspect of Star Wars Launch Bay has been a popular activity every since the area opened up in both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Having the ability to encounter Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren for the casual and hardcore Star Wars fans has been special and fun experience.  Now by adding Rey is making this encounter it is getting even more exciting.

Right now this is only happening at Disneyland.  I sure hope that they are expanding this to Disney’s Hollywood Studios soon.


Disney Makes Series of Announcements for Parks Around the World at D23 Expo Japan 2018

Yesterday at D23 Expo Japan, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, announced a series of exciting  new updates for Disney Parks around the world.

One of the most anticipated items that was announce at D23 Expo last July is the Star Wars-inspired resort planned for the Walt Disney World Resort.  According to Chapek, “It is going to be unlike anything that exists today.”  At the D23 Expo Japan Disney shared a new look of the first-of-its-kind resort that will combine a luxury resort with a complete immersion into an the Star Wars story.

Many of us Star Wars Disney fans were looking forward to the immersion at this resort will that will stand out among all of the Disney resorts around the globe.  The huge announcement was that it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  This will give guests a total Star Wars experience.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stay at this resort, but I am excited about the concept and the possibilites that could be incorporated into it.

Chapek also unveiled a first look at Epcot’s highly-anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy”attraction. The big takeaway…. it’s a roller coaster!

According to Disney, “With the “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired coaster, we’re going big. This one-of-a-kind family attraction will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters when it’s added to Future World at Epcot.”

If the Imagineers at WDI do anything close to what they came up with for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! this attraction could be truly amazing.  I for one cannot wait until it opens.

Now to the Disneyland Resort.  Chapek announced that Pixar Pier will open June 23 at Disney California Adventure park.  Pixar Pier will be featuring four whimsical neighborhoods representing beloved Pixar stories with newly themed attractions, foods and merchandise.

As announced earlier, Pixar Pier will also include the Incredicoaster.  This coaster will be a super combination of character figures, lighting and special effects that that is being promoted, will bring the Parr family racing alongside you in a high-speed adventure.

I am a huge Incredibles fan.  I think that it’s one of my favorite Pixar movies.  Of all of the things coming to Pixar Pier, this attraction is the one that I am looking forward to the most.

In addition to the Incredicoaster the announcement, Disney also announced that in June a dazzling new float for the popular “Paint the Night” parade featuring Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone from “The Incredibles” will be coming to Disney California Adventure.

I absolutely love the “Paint the Night” parade.  In my opinion it’s the best nighttime parade Disney has ever produced for the domestic parks.  Adding an Incredibles float makes it even better.

Chapek also announced that Disney’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be  opening next year.

According to Chapek, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have a new catchy theme song created especially for the attraction as well as a new experience that defies logic that we’re calling 2 ½-D.”

While I will really miss “The Great Movie Ride,” I am really looking forward to this attraction.  I’m hoping that it’s done really well making it a fun attraction for the Studios.  The “2 1/2 – D” sound like it might be a lot of fun.  In Disney’s description it is supposed to be like 3-D except without the glasses.  What can I say….except….sign me up!

As for Disneyland Paris, Disney is re-imagining one of its resort hotels into Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. Chapek shared a sneak peek into one of the rooms that will open the re-imagined hotel in 2020.

Chapek also announced that the Marvel Super Hero universe will be coming to Walt Disney Studios Park.  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will be totally reimagined as a high-speed, hyper-kinetic adventure where guests riding the coaster will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get to Disneyland Paris, but if I ever do get there, this attraction will be on the top of my list to see and do there.

I like what Disney announced at D23 Expo Japan 2018.  What do you think?


Walt Disney World Announces ‘Incredible Summer’ for All Four Parks

Last week Walt Disney World announced that guests will see new attractions and entertainment experiences as “beloved stories from several Disney films come to life” at Walt Disney World this summer.

Here is what Disney announced…

The Incredibles Take Over Tomorrowland

Guests can party with Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone from Disney•Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and the soon-to-be blockbuster “Incredibles 2.” Edna Mode, the greatest superhero costume designer, will also make her debut appearance. Each evening, guests can enjoy a “SUPER” dance party on the Rocket Tower Stage.

Don’t we already have a dance party and an Incredibles one at that in Tomorrowland already?  Okay Edna Mode is new and it will be themed to Incredibles 2….but this really isn’t anything new.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Take the Stage at Epcot

Star-Lord and Gamora from “Guardians of the Galaxy” will join an alien band, taking guests on a journey through the cosmos. The party will feature hits from Awesome Mixtapes 1 and 2 – fun and favorite tunes from the two movies’ soundtracks – building the anticipation for a new Epcot Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.

This sounds like it could be fun….though it sounds a lot like the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance Off!’ that’s being held in front of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disney California Adventure, minus the “dance off” part.  Fun….new to Epcot, promotes the upcoming attraction, but not original.

“Explorers Meet UP! A Great Bird Adventure” & A “Dino-Tastic” Celebration for Donald Duck Will Debut At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Two new can’t-miss offerings will debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in time for the park’s 20th anniversary. First, guests can discover new bird species from around the world at the new show “Explorers Meet UP! A Great Bird Adventure,” which will star Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug. The park will also launch a “dino-tastic” celebration, in which Donald Duck takes over Dinoland, U.S.A., in a new character celebration.

“Explorers Meet UP! A Great Bird Adventure” sounds like an UP re-themed “Flights of Wonder” attraction to me.  I’m a big fan of the movie UP but this doesn’t sound really new.

I am curious to see what the “Dino-Tastic Celebration for Donald Duck” will be.  While I was hoping for a new parade for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this new celebration could be fun and is much needed for Dino-Land which lacks anything significant to keep people there beyond the few attractions that draw people there.

See “The Incredibles 2” at AMC Disney Springs

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen is in the spotlight, while Bob navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack, whose superpowers are emerging. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible. “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018.

For me this might appeal to locals or for a rainy day.  I don’t know about you, but with the money I spend for a trip to vacation at Walt Disney World I’m not sure I want to spend two hours watching a movie that I can watch at home.

Now….for the biggie…

Toy Story Land Opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

One major highlight of “Incredible Summer” will be the grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This new 11-acre land will shrink guests to the size of a toy and allow them to explore the fun and adventure of Andy’s backyard. There, guests can experience two new attractions: the family coaster Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. Toy Story Land also will feature an existing guest-favorite attraction, Toy Story Mania!, which will expand to add a third track into the rotation. The land’s Woody’s Lunch Box will be a new quick-service restaurant that will offer up tasty meals and old-fashioned soda floats to Toy Story Land guests.

This what I’m looking forward to.  I cannot wait until this opens.  I’m really hoping that Toy Story Land is open when I’m at Walt Disney World this summer.

Except for Toy Story Land and the Dino-Tastic Celebration in Dinoland none of the rest excites me much, but considering that all of this is limited to the summer season when the parks are fairly busy and there is a huge need to entertain people when they aren’t able to get on attractions or into other shows these are probably good and fun enough to serve the purpose.

What do you think of Incredible Summer?


Walt Disney World Buries the Lead with First Glimpse of Alien Swirling Saucers

Today Walt Disney World showed us the latest art work for the Alien Swirling Saucers at Toy Story Land.

According to Disney –

Once the aliens have powered up their flying saucers, you’ll get to climb into a toy rocket and hang on as aliens lead the way on an interstellar romp set to an out-of-this-world beat. And if you’re really lucky, you just might get “chosen” by the claw!

The concept art for this attraction and the description by Disney does make it look like it could be a lot of fun.

I like what I’ve I’ve seen and heard about Toy Story Land.  The whole area looks amazing.  I’m really hoping it’ll be open or at least have some soft opening when I visit Walt Disney World this summer.

As much fun as the Aliens Swirling Saucers look, what was the big take away in today’s announcement in the Disney Parks Blog was this “little” announcement…

In response to questions we have been receiving, we also want to let fans know that the Disney’s Hollywood Studios name will remain the same for the foreseeable future since we are immersing our guests in a place where imagined worlds of Hollywood unfold around them from movies and music, to television and theater.

Rumors had been circulating recently that Disney had chosen “Disney Cinemagine Park” as the new name.  A lot of Disney fans raised our eyebrows and uttered the phrase “What the….??” This was a bad name…a really bad name.  This name was one of the series of bad names that were included in a guest survey that was conducted a few months ago.

I for one am happy with this decision, even if it might be a temporary decision.  I still believe that there is a strong possibility that the name of this park will change sometime in the future.  We can all admit that Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been a “studio” in name only.  There hasn’t been any real production going on for quite some time.  With the re-imagineering of the park coming with the addition Toy Story Land this summer and the much anticipated Galaxy’s Edge in 2019 a new name has been thought was coming.  I personally don’t believe that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will remain the name will stay for the “foreseeable future.”

The problem, in my opinion, with the rumored name ‘Disney Cinimagine Park” was it’s lameness.  ‘Cinimagine’ is not a word….and it’s a bad made up word at that.  The name is hard to say and hard to spell….and it means nothing.

I’m glad the name of the park is staying….at least for now.


Kevin Feige Announcess Disney-Fox Deal Won’t Affect MCU Films Already in Progress

When the Disney-Fox merger was announced a few weeks ago many fans of the movies produced for the Marvel Cinematic Universe wondered if and more importantly when characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises would work their way into the MCU.

The media website Vulture spoke to MCU head Kevin Feige during the press junket for Black Panther and asked him about the looming deal and the impact it will have on the MCU. Feige said that he had no prior knowledge of the deal taking place, stating that he “found out about it in the press like everybody else.”  He also confirmed that they won’t be changing their next six films.

“The truth of the matter as I understand it is the deal has to be figured out. There’s been no communication. We’re not thinking about it. We’re focusing on everything we’ve already announced. If and when the deal actually happens, we’ll start to think more about it. Until then, we have a lot to do. … It would be years away. We’ve announced everything through 2019, so none of those would be adjusted.”

This isn’t a huge surprise considering the complexity of the merger and what people associated with the MCU have been saying recently.  It’s likely that the Disney-Fox merger will take up to a year to finalize.  So we’re looking at late 2018 or early 2019 for that to happen.

James Gunn recently confirmed that the deal won’t change his plans for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.  It also echoes what one of Marvel’s artists said earlier this month.

The delay in integrating the Fox Marvel characters also makes sense when you look at Marvel Studios’ production slate. Infinity War is coming out in just a few months, and while reshoots are still coming, the introduction of mutants or Marvel’s first family would involve more than minor rewrites. Ant-Man and The Wasp is in a similar boat and may even take place chronologically before Infinity War.  That leaves Captain Marvel and the culmination of the entire MCU in Avengers 4, as well as Spidey’s sequel, to bring in these new toys.  With Avengers 4 already done filming and the other two in deep pre-production, it would be nearly impossible to implement major changes that would be needed to integrate the new characters at this point.

Let the speculation begin about what will happen after 2019 or 2020.

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the X-Men either in the movies or the comic books, so I can go either way on this.  If Feige decides that they need to be integrated into the MCU, I’m sure it would be done well.  But on the other hand, if he decides that they should remain in their own universe I’d be okay with that too.

Do you want to see an integration of the newly acquired characters with the MCU characters or would you prefer that that Marvel keep these characters in their own cinematic universe?