Disney Releases Statement Regarding Disney Skyliner Closure

Yesterday Disney finally issued a statement regarding the “malfunction” that occurred last week on October 5th.

In the statement Disney states….

Following a complete review with the manufacturer, we’ve made adjustments to our processes and training, and we are improving how we communicate with guests during their flight with Disney Skyliner. We again offer our deepest apologies to the guests impacted by the malfunction that resulted in extended operating delays on Oct. 5.

Beginning today (October 15), guests may travel aboard Disney Skyliner from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. However, system updates later this week will result in the following modified operating hours for Oct. 16-18:

Oct. 16: The Disney Hollywood Studios line will be closed while the other two lines will be available from 1 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Oct. 17-18: All lines will be open from 1 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Similar to ski lift systems, Disney Skyliner may slow or come to some stops during the ride, particularly when we need to accommodate guests who require additional time to load their cabin. We want to assure you that the comfort of every guest is important to us.

As a reminder, Disney Skyliner connects Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four Disney resort hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (and the forthcoming Disney’s Riviera Resort, a Disney Vacation Club resort set to open Dec. 16, 2019).

We greatly appreciate your ongoing patience and understanding, and we look forward to welcoming you back aboard Disney Skyliner.

Without saying so, it sounds like it to me that they’re blaming this on “Cast Member Error” related to either training or their loading/unloading procedure….or both.

While it’s great to finally see some sort of an official statement, the fact that it took ten days from the date of the incident to get anything other than a brief statement indicating that there was a “malfunction” I find alarming and bad guest relations.

It’s quite apparent to me, at least, that whatever testing they conducted, and more specifically the “soft opening” with actual guests was inadequate.  Let’s hope Disney has learned their lesson from this.  I understand that accidents happen, but it’s how a company handles the communication with customers, or in Disney’s case guests, is crucial.  I don’t think anyone can commend Disney on how this was “handled.”

Disney Skyliner Remains Closed

The Disney Skyliner remains closed after a collision of a few of the gondolas in the Riviera Resort station Saturday night. Reedy Creek Emergency services used scissor lifts to evacuate stranded guests.  Some guests were posting on Twitter that they had been stranded up to three hours.

Other than a single statement Disney, they’ve been pretty mum on what happened and when the Skyliner will resume operation.

In a statement Disney stated,

“One of the three Disney Skyliner routes experienced an unexpected downtime Saturday evening. As a result, the Skyliner will be closed while we look into the details surrounding this downtime. We apologize for this situation, and we are working with each guest individually regarding impacts to their visit with us.”

According to reports, Cast Members at the Epcot station have said that they expect the Skyliner to be closed through at least Tuesday, although no decision on a reopening date has yet been made at this time.

Disney is suggesting that guests use other modes of transport, including the walkway, Friendship boats and busses.

There are things about this all that are bothering me about all of this.

While I appreciate that Disney is investigating this and trying to figure out what happened and insuring that it’s fixed and doesn’t happen again, Disney’s statement comes off…at least to me…that this isn’t as big of a deal as it really appears to be…almost like, “No Biggie.” Disney terms this collision as a “malfunction” and nothing more.

It needs to be stated that I have not ridden the Skyliner yet.  I’ve only seen the videos of people riding it.  So I have no first-hand experience with it.

Whether this was Cast Member error or a serious malfunction of the system, what bothers me most about this is that they Disney Skyliner system had not been running “live” even a week when they happened.  Yes…less than a week!  Nothing is failure proof….but how does something like this happen this soon into its implementation.

Now comes up the topic of testing.  Unless something broke….how was this not picked up during the months of testing?

Disney also assured guests that in the event of a problem that they had procedures in place to evacuate guests in a timely manner.  I’m sorry…but nearly three hours is not “in a timely manner,”  it just isn’t.

While a lot of the Disney fandom is still excited about the Disney Skyliner, Disney is going to have to do some fancy spinning and public relations in order to assure guests, especially guests who were hesitant to begin with that the system is safe and in the event that something happens that they won’t be stranded for hours.

 

Walt Disney World Announces Magic Kingdom Attractions Getting New Holiday Twists for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

What is better than Christmas in July?  Christmas in July news for Walt Disney World!

For the first time during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, some Magic Kingdom attractions will be receiving special enhancements just for the holidays!

In Tomorrowland, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor will have a new show as the crew is putting some “Ha Ha Ha” in their “Ho Ho Ho” into the show.  

When guests get behind the wheel at the Tomorrowland Speedway, they’ll find that they will be cruising a festive freeway filled with thousands of lights and stylized décor.  Space Mountain launches will be launching guests on a trippy jaunt through the cosmos, filled with dazzling lighting and high-energy holiday tunes.

The Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland becomes a wild and wacky Christmas party, as guests spin their teacups to one of four new holiday combos of lights and music.

Also happening will be the brand new “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks” show.  Of course there will be plenty of returning favorites like “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration,” “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas,” Club Tinsel, the Disney Junior Jingle Jam and “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” not to mention the complimentary treats and a magical snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A.

Walt Disney World Announces Date That Skyliner Takes Flight

A new era in Disney transportation is right around the corner!

Today Walt Disney World announced that on September 29th, the Disney Skyliner gondolas will officially begin transporting guests around Walt Disney World Resort.

In the Disney fan community, this date is possibly the most anticipated, just short of when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was opening.  Now that I think about it, since SWGE opening was announced a few weeks ago, this probably was the currently most anticipated.

Disney Skyliner will connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four of its resort hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Disney’s Riviera Resort which is scheduled to open in December 2019.

The gondolas will feature graphics based on Disney films, attractions and characters. Disney has previously featured a few of the character cabins on the Disney Parks Blog, including those with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Chip & Dale.

Some of the other Disney themes featured will include:

  • “Coco”
  • Goofy, Pete, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow
  • “Finding Dory”
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “Monsters, Inc.”
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • “Ratatouille”

Walt Disney World Announces a Number of Closures and Relocations in Epcot’s Future World Transformation

Walt Disney World has announced that there will be a number of relocations and closures related the the re-imagineering of Epcot’s Future World.  If you are heading to Walt Disney World this fall or winter be aware of the information listed below.

Disney has confirmed the following….

Closing on September 8th, 2019 –

Art of Disney – eventually moving to Heritage Manor (American Adventure)

Fountain of Nations

Innoventions East – Colortopia and Nanooze Break

Epcot’s Character Spot (Innoventions East) –

  • Mickey and Goofy will be moving to Imageworks
  • Minnie will be moving to the World Showcase Gazebo
  • Daisy Duck will be moving to The American Adventure
  • Joy, Sadness & Baymax will be moving to a location yet to be announced

Closing Late Fall 2019 –

  • Fountain View (Starbucks)
  • Club Cool
  • Pin Central will operate temporarily from a new location while refurbishment is underway
  • Camera Center will close to become a new home for Pin Central.

Closing Winter 2019 –

  • MouseGear to be Re-Imagineered (will be relocated to a temporary location)
  • Electric Umbrella (new dining location coming later)

 

Space-Themed Restaurant to Open in Epcot Later This Year

Some people go to Walt Disney World for the attractions, others go for the food.  Some will say that food at the Disney parks is an attraction.

Well, if you’re a fan of eating at Walt Disney World, Disney has announced that Epcot’s space-themed restaurant will open later this year.

The restaurant was initially announced last summer. Disney has not announced a name for the new restaurant either.  And, so far, few details have been shared about its menu or price point.

The new Epcot establishment is going up in Epcot’s Future World, in a space between Test Track and the Mission: Space attractions.

According to Disney…

“No dining experience on Earth can match what’s in store, because this new restaurant will take you into outer space for incredible dining experiences that are out of this world.”

Patina Restaurant Group will be operating the table-service restaurant.  It has “developed a menu that features internationally inspired cuisine, more than 1,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines and a wide selection of craft beer,” according to Disney. Patina says the executive chef will be Theo Schoenegger who created the cuisine.

Patina also operates the Epcot restaurants Tutto Italia and Via Napoli in the Italy pavilion plus Disney Springs restaurants including Morimoto Asia, Edison, Maria & Enzo’s, Pizza Ponte and Enzo’s Hideaway.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to eat here.  When it does open I expect it to be very popular and it will be a hard reservation to get initially.

Walt Disney World Increases Prices on Annual Passes and Overnight Parking

Ahead of today’s opening of bookings for 2020 and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge   opening on August 29th, Walt Disney World significantly increased the prices on their annual passes overnight.

Perhaps hardest hit were out-of-state Annual Passholders. Florida residents’ and DVC members’ prices are still markedly lower but have increased as well.

Here’s the breakdown (you may want to sit down for this) –

Non-Resident Annual Passholder (Pre-Tax) –

Platinum New  – was $894  now $1119 (25.2% increase)

Platinum Renewal – was $759 now $951 (25.3%)

Platinum Plus New – was $994 now $1219 (22.6%)

Platinum Plus Renewal – was $844 now $1036 (22.7%)

Florida Resident and DVC Member Annual Passholder (Pre-Tax) –

Silver (FL Resident) New – was $479 now $519 (8.4%)

Silver (FL Resident) Renewal – was $407 now $441 (8.4%)

Gold New – was $609 now $699 (14.8%)

Gold Renewal – was $517 now $594 (14.9%)

Platinum New – was $749 now $899 (20.0%)

Platinum Renewal – was $636 now $764 (20.1%)

Platinum Plus New – was $849 now $999 (17.7%)

Platinum Plus Renewal – was $721 now $849 (17.8%)

So what do you get with your Walt Disney World Annual Pass?

The passes get you access to the applicable parks for the year, effectively giving you a park hopper. They’ll also get you certain discounts on food and nonalcoholic beverages and merchandise, special event ticket discounts, and AP resort room offers. By having an annual pass you will also get access to exclusive Passholder merchandise, early runDisney registration, certain VIPassholder ticketed events, and giveaways,  such as car magnets and other items given out during Epcot’s festivals.

While not a direct monetary value, but we should also mention that when the parks reach capacity the current process is to restrict entry in four phases, AP holders are not blocked from entering the parks until the fourth and last phase. So AP holders are effectively given preferential treatment on the parks’ most crowded days.

By being a Passholder (or DVC member or Florida resident) you also have access to the Tables In Wonderland card, which currently costs $150. TIW gets you 20% off food and drinks (including alcohol) at most table service restaurants on property and some others. That adds up quickly, especially as a local.

Also announced today was that Walt Disney World is increasing the prices for overnight parking at its resorts.

For reservations made before June 18, 2019 for arrivals in 2019 or 2020:

  • Disney Value Resorts: $13 per night
  • Disney Moderate Resorts: $19 per night
  • Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $24 per night

For reservations made on or after June 18, 2019 for arrivals in 2020:

  • Disney Value Resorts: $15 per night
  • Disney Moderate Resorts: $20 per night
  • Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25 per night

Guests with cars staying at the Value Resorts seem to be getting hit the hardest with a 15.4% increase.  Guests staying at a Moderate and Deluxe resort will be seeing rates increased by 5.2% and 4.2% respectively.

Disney Retires Shop Parks app, shopDisney to be Sole Online Shop

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that shopDisney.com is set to become the one-stop online shop for all things Disney as the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired at the end of the month.

According to Disney, the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired on May 31.  When this happens shopDisney.com and the shopDisney app will become the ultimate online retail location for all things Disney including Parks merchandise.

If guests go to the Shop Disney Parks app they will see a message upon opening which explains the retirement of the shopping application and providing a link to download the shopDisney app.

Disney has stated that shopDisney will offer an even larger selection of favorite items from Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and more.

At Walt Disney World Resort, My Disney Experience will continue to offer popular shopping features for guests including an availability map or the ability to ship select merchandise to home (U.S. addresses only) when guests order through the My Disney Experience

Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Members will also continue to receive their eligible discounts through the My Disney Experience app.

This does not really surprise me.  Disney had to have realized what I have always experienced with the Shop Parks app.  I have rarely had a pleasant experience.  The availability function with the app was essentially useless.  There have been many times when the app said that an item was out of stock at particular locations, yet there were dozens on the shelves. That was on top of the duplication of the shopping experience.  You never knew where to look for things.  Stuff that should have been park exclusive was seldom available on Shop Parks, yet at times could be found on shopDisney.

I admire the intention of developing and implementation of Shop Parks, but it just never met expectations and was a disappointment.  I’m glad Disney realized this and is moving on.

 

Walt Disney World Announces Limited Time Extra, Extra Magic Hours…Includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

May the Fourth be with you!

Honoring this special Star Wars Day, Walt Disney World gave us all some very interesting news.

Today Walt Disney World announced that guests of Disney Resort hotels and other select hotels will be able to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours benefit with Extra, Extra Magic Hours for a limited time at the theme parks!

Extra, Extra Magic Hours will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as  Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks.

Here are the details:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Daily from September 1-November 2, the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6-9 AM  which will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land and select other attractions through out the park. Access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences will be subject to capacity.

Disney also announced that that on August 29-31, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 AM for all guests. There will not be Extra, Extra Magic Hours on those days.   

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily August 29-November 2, from 7-8 AM, featuring Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park.  The attractions available will be the same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings.
  • Magic Kingdom Park —Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from August 29-November 2, from 7-8 AM, the attractions available in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland will be the same as the current morning EMH offerings.

Extra Magic Hours will also continue to be available on select days at Epcot.

If guests are visiting this fall, they are reminded that the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit at the Walt Disney World Resort requires a valid theme park admission and hotel ID.

Walt Disney World Announces End Date for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

A while ago Disney had announced that “Illuinations: Reflections of Earth” would be ending sometime this fall.  Today Walt Disney World finally announced that the final performance of the long running Epcot nighttime show would be September 30, 2019.

The show “Epcot Forever” will be replacing “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” and will debut on October 1, 2019.

According to Disney –

“Epcot Forever” will be an all-new, limited-time spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers and choreographed, special effects kites. The show will take us on a journey through the past, present and future of Epcot. Featuring a stirring collection of songs that paint a colorful picture of the park, this nighttime extravaganza will offer both a trip down memory lane and a look towards the future and all the magical possibilities still to come.”

“Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” has been a long time fan favorite.  I personally loved the show.  I’m sad to see it finally end, but it’s had a good run.  It’s been going for twenty years!  Can you believe it?

“Epcot Forever” will continue into 2020, when the next epic nighttime extravaganza makes its debut.  So, this new show is just a placeholder until the “real” replacement takes over sometime in 2020.

While I’m sad to see the show finally end, I’m really excited to see the new show that will debut in 2020.  Based on what Disney has done with “Happily Ever After” at the Magic Kingdom, I’m excited to see what they come up with.