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.

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.

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.

Walt Disney World Files Permits for Tron Coaster

At the D23 Expo last July Disney announced that a new TRON roller coaster would be coming to the Magic Kingdom.  Many of us hoped that the attraction would be open for Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary, with the recent filing of government paperwork we at least have somewhat of an idea when construction will likely begin.

Back in November Environmental Resource permits were filed with the South Florida Water Management District.  These permits gave an exact location for the TRON  Lightcycle Power Run, though we had a pretty good idea when the attraction was announced at D23 Expo.

The “Notices of Commencement Permits” don’t give a lot of details other than that we should see a groundbreaking soon and who will be managing the project.  The permits filed with Orange County indicate that Disney hired a local construction company, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company to oversee the construction project.

According to sources, we should see ground clearing and site preparation in the coming months before the rainy season begins.  Vertical construction is expected to begin before the end of the year.  When this happens it is expected that the Walt Disney World Railroad will go down for an unknown amount of time while the TRON ride building is extended over the railroad.

While it is thought that there will be a two-year build timeline, when we look at the construction of the TRON coaster at Shanghai it’s unclear how long construction will take for the project in Walt Disney World.  For Shanghai the groundbreaking took place in 2011, but construction didn’t really take off until late 2013 and didn’t open for testing and guests until 2016.

I was excited, as were others, when this attraction was announced at the D23 Expo.  I’ve even more excited now that we know that permits have been filed and that groundbreaking is imminent and construction should be following hopefully shortly after that.

How excited are you about the new TRON Lightcycle Power Run attraction?

Star Wars: Galactic Nights is Returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

For all you Star Wars fans out there, Disney recently announced that the one-night special event Star Wars: Galactic Nights will be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 27th.

For those that are unfamiliar with the event,  Star Wars: Galactic Nights is an exciting Star Wars-themed event held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after park hours, 7 PM to Midnight.  The event celebrates all that is Star Wars  with themed entertainment, special photo opportunities, event-exclusive merchandise along with food and beverage, and of course encounters with rarely seen characters that guests can only experience during this special hard ticketed event.

Specific examples of what guests can experience during Star Wars: Galactic Nights include –

  • Star Wars: Galactic Destinations Projections Transform The Hollywood Tower Hotel– Visible on the Sunset Boulevard area of the park the facade of the Hollywood Tower Hotel will transform via stunning projection technology to showcase familiar locations from across the galaxy. Favorite film moments, special effects, lighting, and of course the stellar Star Warscinematic score supports each galactic location moment all night long. Star Wars Galactic Destinations is currently an event exclusive.
  • Existing Star Wars Entertainment Will Debut New Enhancements – The park’s existing Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks and the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show will both debut new saga elements for the first time during Star Wars: Galactic Nights.
  • Special Photo Ops – Throughout the park, guests can step into immersive and iconic scenes from their favorite Star Wars films in a series of incredibly detailed photo locations. These special photo ops will only be available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during Star Wars: Galactic Nights
  • Character Encounters – Expect to encounter Star Wars characters from throughout the galaxy. Guests will also be able to view an Imperial Stormtrooper March with Darth Vader.
  • Exclusive Food & Beverage offerings – Taste your way around the galaxy with specialty food and beverage offerings created for Galactic Nights. Inspired by the stories and iconic characters of Star Wars, these tasting-sized sips and bites bring a delectable addition to this event.
  • Enjoy park attractions – Select attractions will be open to all guests – and some may even offer a special Star Wars twist on May 27 only.

Did anyone else notice that this last point is very close to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story?  I wonder what guests will get to experience?

This event is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the chance to.  It sounds like a lot of fun.

What I really like about this event is that it seems to have something for any Star Wars fan, from the guest just discovering Star Wars, the casual fan and including the die-hard Star Wars nerd…it has everything.

I consider myself a Star Wars fan, though not an uber-fan.  I love the movies and the attractions and experiences in the parks that are tied to Star Wars.  If I could attend I’d love to experience the character encounters, but the things that excite me the most are the entertainment and the food…which is like an attraction…right?

Are you going to this event?  What excites you the most?

ESPN Wide World of Sports Opens New Arena…Are Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular’s Days Numbered?

On Friday Walt Disney World opened The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports, a new multi-purpose arena at the sports complex, further expanding the 220-acre sports venue that is widely regarded as the leading facility for youth sports in America.

The new 300,000 square-foot venue will host a variety of sports for girls and boys, such as basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and, in particular, cheerleading and dance competitions. The use of the space started with the prestigious UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship that took place this past weekend. In fact, the 8,000-seat arena is one of the largest in the country designed specifically for cheer and dance events.

This is indeed a wonderful addition to the facilities at ESPN Wide World of Sports, but I have to wonder what this means for the future of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

While not an opening day attraction for the then Disney-MGM Studios, it did open a few months later on August 25th of 1989.  Despite a six-month rehab in 2000 and the change out of Nazi Swastikas for stylized Greek Crosses on vehicles, aircraft and uniforms in 2004 the attraction has existed pretty much unaltered for nearly 30 years.

The attraction is still extremely popular, with shows being full or nearly full, yet the show is showing its age.  With the re-imagineering of the park which includes the addition Galaxy’s Edge, known to many as “Star Wars Land,” could this space be better used for newer and possibly Star Wars related shows or attractions?

Undoubtably one of the reasons this show has remained, essentially untouched for as long it has, is because of its popularity and its ability to “eat people” or occupy the attention of a lot of people.

One of the other reasons that Indy has remained, according to some sources is that Disney has needed the space for the above mentioned cheer and dance competitions.  According to the same sources, the space has been booked out for years.  Without another venue for these competitions Disney has been forced to keep Indy around.

With the opening of The Arena, does Disney still need Indy to stay?  My guess is that Indy probably sticks around until at least when the opening of Galaxy’s Edge.  With all of the construction going on and the limited amount of attractions available, Indy needs to stay so guests have something to do especially families with kids.  After Galaxy’s Edge opens I say all bets are off.  Could this area be used for a Phase 2 of Galaxy’s Edge?  Or maybe a new Indiana Jones area will use the space.

How about you, what do you think?

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Debuts New Background Music

Going all the way back to the earliest movies, every great Hollywood story came with a great soundtrack that set the narrative and tone of the movie.  Today Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of the park’s redevelopment debuts it’s new background music throughout the park.

As guests enter the Main Entrance to the park, guests will hear Big Band arrangements of the Disney Music that we all know and love.

Along Hollywood Boulevard the background music shifts to Big Band instrumental arrangements of songs that were popular of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Music on Sunset Boulevard will compliment the music heard on Hollywood Boulevard with vocal arrangements similar to the Big Band hits guest heard there.

Guests in the Echo Lake area will continue to hear Big Band music with bright, brassy horns and lush string arrangements.

The music of each area will compliment the theme of the area.  According to reports the Grand Avenue area guests will hear music that includes retro-contemporary west-coast funk with strong basslines, electric guitars, horns and synthesizers.  The music in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster courtyard will include live versions of classic rock songs, including of course Aerosmith.

I’ve listened to some of the music and I have to say I love it.  I always liked the previous background music of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but I have to say that the Imagineers have created an even better mood and background theme with the new music.  I think, based on what I’ve heard, that the music of the various areas do a better job of complimenting each other.  I personally cannot wait until I can hear the new music live in the parks when I visit Walt Disney World in June.

If you want to hear a sample of the music, I’ve provided a link below to the music from WDWMagic.

New Background Music