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.

Disney Parks Going Smoke-Free May 1st

In the Disney Parks Blog today Disney made a series of announcements that will affect many guests.  The biggest of which was that beginning May 1st, smoking will no longer be allowed inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.  In the announcement Disney stated that designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances of the areas listed above and at Disney Springs in Florida.  For guests who have room or dining reservations, smoking areas are also available at Disney Resort hotels.

The next announcement was in regard to strollers.  Also beginning May 1st, Disney is requiring that strollers be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long.  According to the announcement many strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.  They also reminded guests that wagons will not be permitted in the parks beginning May 1st.  According to Disney, these updates are designed to help with guest flow and ease congestion.  While Disney is stating that this is an “adjustment” to the stroller guidelines, I’ve been told that this might actually be an “emphasis of enforcement,” but I don’t have definite information on that.

The final announcement affects guest bringing in coolers into the parks.  Beginning today, loose or dry ice are no longer permitted in the parks.  Ice packs will be permitted though.

Disney Reveals Initial Concepts for Epcot Transformation

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced three new concepts along with some concept art that will be included in the multi-year transformation of Epcot.  This transformation was originally announced at the D23 Expo in 2017.

From Disney’s announcement –

The ongoing evolution of Epcot includes plans for a play pavilion that’ll be unlike anything you’ve ever seen at the park. This new space will be devoted to playful fun and feature an innovative city that’ll come to life under the dome of the un-named pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life. The pavilion’s city will be bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment when it opens just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!

“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot,” said Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”

Walt Disney World also announced changes to the entrance of Epcot.  As you can see above the plaza will welcome guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a newly reimagined fountain.  From the announcement and the concept art this new design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements.

In case you were wondering, Disney announced that the Leave A Legacy photos will be moving into a beautiful setting just outside the park’s gateway.  Disney also mentioned that significant redevelopment will also begin between Spaceship Earth attraction and the World Showcase Promenade.  Details will be announced at a later date….my guess is that we’ll probably hear something about this at the D23 Expo in August.

Guests will soon be able to look what’s coming at a new Experience Center coming to Epcot later this year. The Experience Center will be located in the Odyssey Events Pavilion and feature interactive exhibits to help visualize park projects throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.

Many of us have been wondering whether the transformation of Epcot was still going to happen since we haven’t seen or heard anything…even concept art since the project was announced in July of 2017 at the D23 Expo.

I for one, and from what I’ve seen and read I’m not the only one, am very excited about this exciting announcement.

She’s Baaaaaaack!

Maleficent will be making her long awaited return to Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade today at the Magic Kingdom today.

The tall steampunk-inspired dragon has been missing from the parade since it caught fire on May 11, 2018.

While she still has her same Steampunk style and signature wicked smile, the Maleficent dragon will be sporting a refreshed look, but includes enhanced safety features for the flame effects. Also returning to the parade are Prince Phillip; the Fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather; and the mischievous “Ravens” who fly around Maleficent.

I don’t know about you but the parade hasn’t been the same since the unfortunate accident that removed her from the parade.  I cannot wait to see her again in all her glory.

Free Dining Plan Now Available for Booking at WDW Resort Hotels

Here Yee!  Here Yee!  Free Dining is here!!!

Walt Disney World  has announced that its Fee Dining Plan offer is available for booking for stays July 5th through September 30th of this year.

The free dining plan is available when guests purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day vacation package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort hotels and a ticket with a Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option.

Starting today, if you book a non-discounted five-night/six-day Walt Disney Travel Co. package through Feb. 10, 2019, for arrivals most nights from July 5 to Sept. 30, 2019, you’ll receive a dining plan for free!

For guests that use it, the Disney Dining Plan provides flexibility and convenience, offering prepaid meals and snacks when you dine at Walt Disney World resort hotels, theme parks and select locations at Disney Springs.

Guests staying at select Value and Moderate Resorts will get the Disney Quick Service Plan, which includes two quick-service meals and two select snacks per night honored at more than 100 dining locations.

Guests staying at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts will get the Disney Dining Plan, which includes one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and two select snacks per night. Meals are available at over 200 select Walt Disney World dining locations.

Walt Disney World has also announce some new Spring discounts.

Guests can save up to 25% for stays most nights from April 28 through May 27, 2019. They can also save up to 30% for stays most nights from May 28 through September 30, 2019

You will need to book your trip by March 24, 2019 to take advantage of the greatest savings.

While I and my family have not used the Free Dining Plan on any of our trips to Walt Disney World, I know plenty of people who have.  Are you a fan of the this?

Walt Disney World Announces Opening Date for “Wonderful World of Animation” Nighttime Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced the opening date for “Wonderful World of Animation.”   As part of the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Wonderful World of Animation will debut on May 1. The show, which was previously announced back in November, will feature state-of-the-art technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for Disney Nighttime Entertainment.  I’ll stay for any of them because I am guaranteed to love them.  I’m really looking forward to seeing this new show.

The nighttime show isn’t the only new thing coming to the park in 2019. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is set to debut in the spring, while Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will arrive later in the year.

 

Sneak Peak of ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Coming to Disney Parks in November

If you’re excited for ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and going to be in Walt Disney World or the Disneyland Resort soon, you’re in luck.  Today Disney announced for a limited time you’ll be able to get a sneak peak of the movie beginning in November.

Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get to see this advance look at a portion of the film, starting Friday, November 2, as part of the Walt Disney Presents attraction.

At Disneyland, the preview of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” will be shown in 3D at the Tomorrowland Theater. This limited sneak peek experience will be presented by Mailchimp at Disneyland Resort, November 9 – December 9.

In the movie Ralph and Vanellope leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game. This quest takes Ralph and Vanellope to the vast world of the inter webs…a world Vanellope seems to wholeheartedly embrace, making Ralph worried that he may lose his best friend.

It doesn’t look like this sneak peak will be around for long, so if this interests you and you’ll be in the parks at the time, I encourage you to give it a visit.

Walt Disney World Announces Plans to Build New Nature-Themed Resort

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced plans to build a nature-inspired resort along the shores of Bay Lake.  The new resort will be located between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge on land that previously was the long time closed River Country water park.

The deluxe resort will be themed to complement its natural surroundings.

Disney said the new resort, which has not yet been named, will open in 2022.  The new resort will include 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.

“Walt Disney World is in the midst of our most significant expansion in the last two decades and the combined 1,700 new hotel rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas we are building at four different resorts will create thousands of new construction and permanent jobs and will drive economic opportunity and incremental revenue for Central Florida,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We continue to add new attractions, new lands — and these beautiful accommodations will be right in the heart of all that magic.”

The resort has not been named as of yet will be Disney’s 16th Disney Vacation Club property.

“This resort experience will be a celebration of Walt Disney’s lifelong love and respect for nature, with some fun and even surprising accommodation types that families will find irresistible,” said Terri Schultz, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club. “It will give our members and guests yet another opportunity to stay in close proximity to all the newest attractions and experiences in our theme parks, and with the flexibility, value and world-class service families expect from Disney.”