Disneyland Putting Limits on Annual Passholders for 2019…May Be Hinting at Possible Opening of Galaxy’s Edge

Today Disneyland announced what may be the first of sweeping changes coming to its annual passport program.  For the first time, Disney may limit which parks some passholders can visit on specific days.

These changes come at a time when officials for Disneyland Resort are debating what is the best way to manage enormous crowds that are expected when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next summer in Disneyland.

It’s being reported that Disneyland will be sending out, possibly as early as today, an email to passholders explaining the new program.  Sources say that they will be creating two new admission calendars.  This means that some passes will be good at certain parks on certain days, but not necessarily both parks on the same day.

According to Disneyland spokesperson Liz Jaeger, “As our business evolves, this is the first step in reshaping our Annual Pass program, which will better manage the guest experience and allow all Disneyland Resort visitors to have a great visit, particularly as we look forward to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in summer 2019.”

Reportedly, starting next June, passholders will see two calendars,  one for each park. Passholder will then need to check both calendars to see which park they can visit on which day. It’s being reported that the biggest changes will be coming to holders of the Deluxe passport, while higher levels experiencing no change at all.

As what happens currently, annual passholders will go online and use drop-down menus to see which park or both they can visit on a chosen date. A green date means yes. Gray means no.

With this announcement, Disneyland is extending its planning calendar to 13 months to allow passholders to look now and see which days they can visit in June 2019. Normally the calendar would only have been visible through May.

According to Disneyland the current two-park-per-day system on a single calendar will continue intact for the coming year and then through the end of May 2019.

The SoCal Annual Passport, which is geared to Southern California locals, admits these passholders only on weekdays and during the off-season. The highest level, which allows visits every day of the year, even the most crowded ones, which are typically around Christmas.

Ticket type June 2018 admission days (both parks) June 2019 admission days (both parks)
So Cal Annual Passport (on hiatus – only renewals) 19 0 (20 for DCA only)
Select Annual Passport 4 0 (3 for DCA only)
Deluxe Annual Passport 25 13 (Plus 17 for DCA only)
Signature Annual Passport 30 30
Signature Plus Annual Passport 30 30

Currently, if they are not blocked out, passholders can visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure or both. It’s common for people to hop between the parks in one day.

With the change announced this today, Disneyland is hoping to reduce crowding in Disneyland during the summer of 2019, by sending many visiting passholders to Disney California Adventure instead.

According to the new calendar for June 2019 Deluxe passholders (currently priced at $729/year) will be able to visit both parks on 13 days, while on 17 days they can visit only California Adventure, for a total 30 days of admission.

This compares to this June, when Deluxe passholders could visit either park on 25 of the month’s 30 days.

This is where speculation for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge comes in.  Some astute Disney observers are speculating that the highly anticipated land will open on or shortly after June 21st.

With the announced changes, Disney experts are saying that the changes were much less draconian than was speculated, and that they expect to see another big price increase as well to control passholder levels.

Advertisements

Disney Announces “Opening Seasons” for Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The galaxy that was far, far away and a long time ago just got a little closer.

On Tuesday, Disney announced that the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open in summer of 2019 at Disneyland and in late fall 2019 at Walt Disney World.

Up until this point, all Disney has said about possible opening dates for either location was they would open in 2019.

While the announcement does not indicate a month or a date for the openings, it does indicate a couple of things.  First of all, it somewhat coincides with a lot of the rumors that the Disneyland version would open sometime during the summer next year.  With the statement of “Late Fall 2019” for the Florida version, this seems to confirm that construction there is behind Disneyland’s, which is in line with what many of us thought.  There had been rumors that construction at Walt Disney World had been closing the gap.  Either that speculation was wrong or if they have closed the gap that construction was even further behind than we had thought.

No specific date summer date was announced for the Disneyland opening.  There have been rumors that the actual date may be as early as late June or early July.  There also has been speculation, especially with how the return of Fantasmic in 2017 was handled, that Galaxy’s Edge may not open until sometime around the D23 Expo which returns to Anaheim August 23-25, 2019.

At this point, it’s all speculation and no one really knows.  Hopefully we’ll get more detailed information soon, but I personally would expect anything substantial until early spring 2019.

Disneyland Resort Announces Locations for New Mobile Ordering Service

About 6-7 weeks ago I reported that some of the Quick Service and Fast Casual restaurants at the Disneyland Resort were going to be getting the Mobile Ordering Service, which has been very popular at Walt Disney World.

Today Disneyland has announced the initial locations that will be getting the new service.

The Mobile Ordering Service will be available at six Disneyland locations.  The six locations that will be getting the service are Bengal Barbecue, Galactic Grill, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Hungry Bear Restaurant, Jolly Holiday Bakery Café and Red Rose Taverne.

Nine Disney California Adventure locations will be getting Mobile Ordering and they are – Award Wieners, Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Corn Dog Castle, Flo’s V8 Café, Lucky Fortune Cookery, Pacific Wharf Café, Paradise Garden Grill and Smokejumpers Grill.

Guests can customize their orders directly on the app, including allergy-friendly offerings.

According to Disneyland, “This new service is just one more way we’re enhancing the guest experience. Mobile ordering and the recent launch of Disney MaxPass provide convenient options that maximize each visit to the Disneyland Resort with family and friends.”

This service has been Immensely popular at Walt Disney World and I’m sure it will be a big hit at the Disneyland Resort once guests start using it.

At this time Disneyland has not indicated an implementation date for the new Mobile Ordering System.

Disneyland Resort Quick-Service and Fast Casual Restaurants to be Getting Mobile Ordering

According The Disney Parks Blog guests eating at fast casual and quick-service restaurants at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will soon be getting the ability to order their meals ahead of time on their phones.

The mobile ordering service, which has been very popular since its inception at Walt Disney World last year, allows guests to easily search for a participating location, select an arrival time window for pickup, choose items from the menu and place their order. Guests that use the service will notify the restaurant of their arrival on the app. When their meal is ready the app will let guests know with a notification along with letting them know which pick up area they can go to pick up their meal without ever waiting in line to order and pay.

According to Disney Annual Passholder will also be able to to apply their discount to meal purchases using the app.

Disney has not yet said when the service will be implemented or which dining locations will see it first, but assured everyone that more information will be announced soon.

While I have not had the chance to use the service at Walt Disney World yet, I’ve heard nothing but good things about its convenience and how well it is working out.

Disneyland Resort Announces Closing Date for Downtown Disney Establishments

Last year the Disneyland Resort announced that it would close several restaurants and the theaters in Downtown Disney because they were building a new luxury hotel that will be located between the existing Disneyland Hotel and the Downtown Disney monorail station. The new hotel is scheduled to open sometime in 2021.

Disney has confirmed that the AMC Theaters, Rainforest Cafe, westside Starbucks, Earl of Sandwich, and the ESPN Zone all will close by June 30.  Disney has also stated that this does not mean that all of the locations will remain open through the end of June, some may close before that.

All of the locations must close by the deadline because demolition will begin shortly after June 30.

‘Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular’ Premiering April 13 with the Begin of Pixar Fest

With the beginning of Pixar Fest, Disneyland will be getting a new nighttime spectacular that will light up the park during the celebration.  ‘Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular’ will celebrate friendship through dazzling pyrotechnics and memorable music.  The show will premiere on April 13 with the beginning of Pixar Fest.

I’m a sucker for any of the nighttime shows at the Disney Parks.  I love the Magic Kingdom’s ‘Happily Ever After’ show.  I’m also a big fan of Disneyland’s shows and liked ‘Remember…Dreams Come True’ the last time  that I visited the Disneyland Resort.  So, I’m excited to hear about this new nighttime show.

According to Disneyland –

The stories of “Together Forever” will come to life through projections on iconic park locations: Sleeping Beauty Castle, the water screens of the Rivers of America, the façade of “it’s a small world” and the buildings of Main Street, U.S.A. This nighttime spectacular will even feature Buzz Lightyear and the house from “Up” flying over Sleeping Beauty Castle!

There has been no word from Disney whether this show will only run during Pixar Fest or whether it will continue after the celebration ends.  I for one hope it continues after Pixar Fest since it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to experience Pixar Fest.

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 Shows Off Working Model of Pixar Pier Showing Newly Themed Areas Coming Summer 2018 to Disney California Adventure

Coming summer 2018, Pixar Pier will transform the southern shore of Paradise Bay at Disney California Adventure with whimsical neighborhoods filled with characters from some of your favorite Pixar stories. Today, we are bringing you a first look at this transformation through photos of a working model now in use at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Featuring newly themed attractions, foods and merchandise, this area will introduce new neighborhoods representing beloved Pixar stories. The neighborhood inspired by “The Incredibles” will be anchored by the Incredicoaster, which will feature a new mid-century-modern-style loading area inspired by the Parr family home as seen in the upcoming “Incredibles 2.”

Another of the neighborhoods will be a celebration of many of your favorite Pixar stories. In this neighborhood, each of the 24 gondolas on what is now Mickey’s Fun Wheel will feature different pairs of Pixar pals, and at the Games of the Boardwalk, all of the midway games will be inspired by characters from films such as “a bug’s life,” “WALL·E” and the Pixar short “La Luna.”

Pixar Pier will open summer 2018, during the first-ever Pixar Fest celebration, which begins April 13. The celebration will include the new “Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” fireworks spectacular as well as the return of Pixar Play Parade and “Paint the Night” parade, and much more throughout the entire Disneyland Resort.

From The Disney Parks Blog

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival Expands to Six Weeks in 2018

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival will return March 2 through April 12, 2018, bringing delicious cuisine, specialty beverages and exciting entertainment to Disneyland Resort guests for its third season. The culinary festival will expand to six weeks, with more days for guests to enjoy the flavors of the Golden State.

More than a dozen Festival Marketplaces will feature California-inspired tastes and sips. Guests will experience presentations and demonstrations with celebrity chefs such as Robert Irvine and Alex Guarnaschelli; food and beverage tastings; winemaker dinners; beer, wine and spirit seminars – all in addition to live music, entertainment and special activities throughout the festival.

The festival’s signature events will include new experiences such as the Disney Family of Wines Dinner, as well as returning favorites like Sweet Sundays and the Winemaker or Brewmaster Dinners. Another guest-favorite returning to the festival is the Junior Chef experience, with hands-on fun led by Chef Goofy, for children ages 3 to 11.

 

Additional fees required for the signature events and certain seminars. Separate admission to Disney California Adventure Park is required and is not included with the cost of such events. Space is limited for all ticketed events; advance reservations are recommended. Guests must be 21 years of age or over to consume alcohol and to participate in some events; valid photo ID required. Events and demonstrations are subject to restrictions and change or cancellation without notice.

From The Disney Parks Blog