Disney Plans to Increase Number of FastPass+ Entitlements Per Day and Include Park Hopping

FastPass+

Tom Staggs, Chairman Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said in a blog post –

“When we first shared a glimpse into our plans to take the Disney guest experience to the next level, we had just begun to unveil MyMagic+ at the Walt Disney World Resort. Our goal from the beginning has been to enhance the guest experience and make it even more immersive, seamless and personal than ever before.

Now, nearly 3.5 million guests have participated in testing, and the vast majority are telling us that MyMagic+ has made their trip even better. This is a big step forward in the evolution of our guest experience, and what we’re seeing in early returns is fantastic.

Guests are telling us that they really like being able to arrange the day the way they want to, with the flexibility to make changes on the go. They also are particularly excited about their experience with the MagicBand. They love the convenience, and we have received a lot of photos from guests showing the fun ways they are wearing them even before they arrive on property or after they return home.

As expected, most of our guests think that securing times to ride our attractions is one of the best ways to maximize the fun of a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. We’ve heard from a number of guests that they would like the opportunity to add additional FastPass+ entitlements during their visit, in addition to the three they can plan in advance. So, we’re working on providing them with the ability to add and enjoy additional entitlements on the day of their visit. Once they’ve used the three they’ve booked, we’ll enable them to select another at kiosks in the parks. And once they’ve used the fourth, they can select another, and so on. We also heard that other guests liked the fact that with the FastPass+ service they could use FASTPASS when they park hopped. So we’re working on a service enhancement to add that feature to FastPass+ as well.

One of the best aspects of MyMagic+ has always been that our guests can relax and better enjoy their time with us, all the while knowing that the attraction they want to ride, or the moment they want to experience, will be there, waiting for them.

And isn’t that what a vacation is all about? The more we can have everyone that goes to our parks feel like a VIP, the happier we’ll be with the experience we’re giving them. And that’s exactly what we’re striving for with MyMagic+.”

Disney Parks Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of ‘It’s a Small World’ Invites the World to Join a Global Sing-Along

DISNEY PARKS SMALL WORLD

In a historic, global event, guests and cast members at Disney Parks around the world will unite in song to celebrate the 50thanniversary of “it’s a small world,” the classic Disney Parks attraction that opened as a tribute to peace and hope at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Fans from around the world can join the festivities in a first-of-its-kind, online global sing-along atSmallWorld50.com.

On Thursday, April 10, 2014, hundreds of voices from Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will sing the unforgettable theme song of the “happiest cruise that ever sailed the seven seas.”

Fans around the world also are invited to join the global sing-along virtually. SmallWorld50.com launches today as a “global hub” of music and harmony where guests may record videos of themselves singing the classic song and create virtual “it’s a small world” dolls to benefit UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). UNICEF provides health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to children around the world.

” ‘it’s a small world’ has inspired hundreds of millions of people through its timeless theme,” said Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Every moment of every day there are Disney guests enjoying ‘it’s a small world’ somewhere around the globe.  The 50th anniversary of this attraction represents a celebration of the shared optimism, hope, and humanity of people throughout the world.”

New Video Features People Around the World Singing “It’s a Small World”

To help announce the celebration, Disney Parks released a video featuring people around the world singing, dancing to and playing “It’s a Small World.” Filmed across six continents in more than 25 countries, the video features international “performers” – including bagpipers in Scotland, Bollywood movie actors in India, a firefighter in New York City, and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – to create one worldwide video.

That video and others will be part of the launch of SmallWorld50.com, the global website for the attraction’s anniversary. Fans around the world are encouraged to participate online by recording on the Small World 50 website videos of themselves singing “It’s a Small World” and by creating virtual “it’s a small world” dolls to share with their friends through social media.

The Walt Disney Company will donate $150,000 to benefit UNICEF in honor of the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” plus $1for every sing-along video recorded on SmallWorld50.com and another $1 for every virtual doll created on the website, up to$100,000. Disney began its relationship with UNICEF in 1964 with the debut of “it’s a small world” at the New York World’s Fair. More recently, Disney and UNICEF have worked together to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of children through programming that helps foster imagination and creativity.

Throughout the day, Disney Parks also will sponsor Google Hangouts that invite people from around the world to participate in the anniversary events. Fans are encouraged to visit SmallWorld50.com for details.

Disney Store adds to the Golden Anniversary celebration with the “it’s a small world” doll collection, inspired by the original Fantasyland attraction, and stores nationwide will offer fans a chance to celebrate at “it’s a small world” events. From Thursday, April 10, to Sunday, April 13, children are invited to visit a participating Disney Store to take a journey on an imaginary boat ride around the globe, learning how to say “hello” in various languages and singing “It’s a Small World” along the way. Guests are encouraged to call their local Disney Store or visit DisneyStore.com to confirm participation and details.

The Creation of a Classic 

One of the most beloved attractions in the history of Disney Parks, “it’s a small world” is featured at all five Disney Resorts around the world. The original attraction premiered at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, created by Walt Disney himself and WED Enterprises, which eventually became Walt Disney Imagineering (the creative masters behind Disney theme parks and attractions).

The attraction features a gentle boat ride through a Lilliputian land populated by colorfully dressed Audio-Animatronics dolls representing children from many regions of the world singing a simple song about universal harmony. A team of WED artistic geniuses, including Disney Legends designer Mary Blair and costumer Alice Davis, created its now iconic style.

In 1963, Walt Disney was asked to create an exhibit for the 1964 World’s Fair to salute UNICEF and children around the world. With Walt’s blessing, Marc Davis, one of the original Disney animators, designed the boat ride attraction through the regions and countries of the world. The first version of “it’s a small world” entertained and thrilled more than 10 million visitors in New York from 1964-65. In 1966, after some major enhancements, including an enlargement of approximately 33 percent, the attraction found a permanent home at Disneyland in California.

In the attraction, hundreds of dolls “sing” the familiar song, “It’s a Small World,” in five languages (English, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish). Academy Award® winning composers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who won two Oscars® for their work on Disney’s feature film “Mary Poppins,” were asked by Walt Disney to create a simple, yet catchy piece that could be sung in many different languages while guests traveled by boat through the attraction. The resulting song, “It’s a Small World (After All),” became one of the most well known and happiest of all Disney tunes.

A TV App From Disney Lets Travelers Browse Its Vacation Offerings

Disney Parks Smart TV App

Taken from the New York Times

A SMART TV app being introduced by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts on Thursday will let potential travelers use their remote controls to research vacations at theme parks and hotels and on cruise ships and packaged tours.

Brad Baker, director of digital marketing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the advent of smart, or Internet-connected, TVs had created “a really interesting space for us, since there is now a new way for us to be able to tell our story.”

The app — which will be free and available initially through the Samsung smart TV app store, and in early April, through the LG smart TV app store and on Blu-ray players — was developed with BrightLine, an interactive television advertising and technology company based in New York. It aggregates videos, photographs, interactive theme park maps and other information from the websites of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts businesses and from their social media channels. New to the app is a trivia quiz as well as some videos. It also lets viewers request additional information, by submitting their email address.

Rob Aksman, co-founder and chief experience officer of BrightLine, said it was appropriate for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to commission an app because it had “a lot of rich content consumers care about.” The large size of screens on many high-definition smart TVs should also benefit Disney, he added, because “screen size matters when it comes to influencing consumer behavior.”

David Bank, who follows the Walt Disney Company for RBC Capital Markets, said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts generated approximately 20 percent of the parent company’s annual operating income. The businesses in that division include Disneyland Resort; Walt Disney World Resort; Disney resorts in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, and one scheduled to open in Shanghai in 2015; Disney Cruise Line; Disney Vacation Club, a time-share company; Aulani, a Hawaiian resort; Adventures by Disney, a tour operation; and Walt Disney Imagineering, a company that designs and builds Disney parks, ships and resorts.

Mr. Baker said the app was intended to cater to families gathered around their high-definition, smart TVs. The app will be offered at present only in the United States market; Mr. Baker said if it were widely used, it could be offered through additional smart TV systems featuring Roku boxes and other technology.

He declined to quantify what Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was spending on the app’s development. According to Kantar Media, advertising spending, in all media, by Adventures by Disney, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Disneyland and Walt Disney World ranged from $32 million in 2010 to $79 million last year.

John Greening, a professor of branding and marketing communications at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said “the real magic of what Disney is doing is the depth of the experiences they’re showing; for example, there are over 40 videos on the different types of experiences you can have at theme parks. These things are going to be very effective in moving people down the pathway to purchase.”

Barbara Jones, a professor at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, praised Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for “going to where people are. They’re spending more time with television, because this is arguably the golden age of television.”

Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at N.Y.U., predicted the app would help those prospective Disney guests who might be “intimidated” by the scale of Walt Disney World and the brand’s multiple offerings “feel more confident” about making their choices.

Walt Disney World Releases 2014 Epcot Sounds Like Summer Concert Series Lineup

Sounds-Like-Summer-Concert-Series

Walt Disney World Resort has released the lineup for Epcot’s 2014 Sounds Like Summer concert series. The annual summer music festival features tribute bands that perform concerts at American Gardens Theatre in Epcot World Showcase.

Feel the rhythm as an assortment of high-energy bands pay tribute to the legends that inspired them. Enjoy Sounds Like Summer when each act takes the stage for an entire week at this rocking seasonal party—coming ‘round once again in June and July 2014.

2014 Epcot Sounds Like Summer concert series
(schedule subject to change)

Walt Disney World’s Epcot summer concert series runs from June 8 through the July 26, with acts performing several short concerts during each night of their run. All the 2012 Summer Like Summer acts return for this year’s series.

  • June 8 – 14: Hotel California ~ A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 15 – 21: Don’t Stop Believin’ ~ a Journey Tribute Band
  • June 22 – 28: Good Vibrations ~ A Tribute to The Beach Boys
  • June 29 – July 5: Don’t Look Back ~ The Boston Experience
  • July 6 –12: Stayin’ Alive ~ A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 13 –19: Slippery When Wet ~ The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 20 – 26: 2U ~ A Tribute to U2

Concerts take place three times each night, at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. except for July 4. On Independence Day, Don’t Look Back ~ The Boston Experience will perform four times: 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9 p.m.

These concerts can be very popular.  Not only do the shows take place during Walt Disney World’s busy summer season, some returning acts have built a following of local fans while new performers attract regulars in search of variety.  Be aware that later shows, especially on the weekends, may be particularly crowded.

For these reasons, guests who are interested in seeing a particularly tribute band may wish to plan to see a performance earlier in the day.  Please plan on arriving at American Gardens Theatre well before a show’s start, as seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Epcot’s Sounds Like Summer concert series are free, included with park admission to Epcot.

So sit back and relax, or get on your feet and dance to a collection of covers of the finest chart-topping icons the music industry has to offer!

Diamond Horseshoe to Open for Quick Service Lunch & Table Service Dinner in April

Diamond Horseshoe

The Diamond Horseshoe will be opening for quick service lunch beginning April 1st and also for family style table service dinner in a few weeks.

For lunch you’ll find sandwiches, snacks and beverages April 1-7 and April 11-28 from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Beginning April 13th the Diamond Horseshoe will be open for table service dinner that will be a family-style turkey dinner.  Reservations will be required.

The restaurant will be open for dinner:

  • April 13: 4:30-9:30 PM
  • April 14-17: 4:30-8:30 PM
  • April 18: 4:30-9:30 PM
  • April 19: 4:30-8:30 PM

Star Wars Weekends Adds Star Wars Character Dining Experiences

Star_Wars_Weekends_Logo

This year’s version of Star Wars Weekends will be adding two new Star Wars character dining experiences to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Begin your day with “Star Wars” Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. This breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant will include some classic Star Wars movie characters and scenes from the films.

For dinner starting at 4 PM, Hollywood and Vine will be transformed into Jedi Mickey’s “Star Wars” Dine at Hollywood and Vine where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Chip and Dale will all come together to celebrate the greatest saga ever told.

The new character dining experiences will be offered not just on Star Wars Weekend days, but daily from May 4 through June 15, 2014.

You can make reservations now by calling 407-WDW-DINE. For guests on the Disney Dining Plan, both experiences will require 2 table service credits. No discounts of any kind are available.

The price of the “Star Wars” Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! experience is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. The Jedi Mickey’s “Star Wars” Dine at Hollywood and Vine experience is $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for children, or as part of the “Fantasmic!” Dinner Package at a price of adults $59.99 and $36.99 for children. Both experiences include a digital photograph, and prices exclude tax and tip.

Disney by Samsonite: Magical Collaboration to Encapsulate Youthful Nostalgia

Disney by Samsonite Logo

Samsonite®, the world’s largest luggage brand for over 100 years, is pleased to introduce the Disney by Samsonite collection for kids. Starting from 2014, this iconic collaboration combines the magical world of Disney with state-of-the art products for which Samsonite is known. Depicting iconic Disney characters, the collection will delight young ones, while instantly transporting parents to their own youth. The Disney by Samsonite range effortlessly reflects the fantasy charm and nostalgia of Disney in a distinctive and understated style.

“Samsonite’s affiliation with Disney is an exciting new development for our brand,” said Tim Parker, Samsonite Chairman and CEO. “Disney is an iconic family entertainment brand and we are truly delighted to be working with the company. With our 100 year heritage and travel expertise, the new Disney by Samsonite category will stay true to our ethos of innovative design, while also capturing the hearts and minds of both young and old.”

Adding to Samsonite’s expansive array of travel solutions, consumers will be able to find a selection (luggage, school items, backpacks and more) for kids featuring Disney’s most beloved characters including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, the Disney Princesses, Disney/Pixar Cars, Disney Planes, Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Avengers. Featuring PVC free bags, ergonomic backpacks, and reflective details, parents will feel reassured in the knowledge that they are sending kids to school or overnight camp with durable and safe luggage that shares the impeccable Samsonite brand heritage. Pleasing adults and children alike, the Disney by Samsonite collection makes buying schoolbags and luggage for children easy with affordable, trustworthy, resilient products that will appeal to even the youngest traveller.

The collaboration between Samsonite and Disney promises great potential with plans already underway to launch a premium Disney assortment. The first Disney by Samsonite assortment will reach markets in July 2014 and will be distributed across Europe, Russia, Turkey and South Africa. Recognised as pioneers within their respective industries, Samsonite and Disney both grew from humble beginnings to become true market leaders within their fields. Combining the best of both worlds, Disney by Samsonite is the perfect synergy between the magical world of Disney and Samsonite’s state-of-the-art products. This new relationship is the ideal alignment of two highly distinguished brands set to inspire the imaginations of all.

Construction Begins on State-of-the-Art Laundry Facility at Walt Disney World Resort

FLO Ground Breaking

As a reflection of recent growth, Walt Disney World Resort has begun construction of a new, state-of-the-art laundry facility that will create new jobs and be a model for the textile industry.

Scheduled to open in spring, 2015, this new facility will support the expansion of resort hotel rooms and accommodate adjustments in the type of linens used at the resort hotels.

Located near Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the new laundry facility is expected to create 400 new jobs, including 200 construction-related jobs and 200 additional Cast Member jobs with roles ranging from linen handlers and maintenance personnel to managers. Upon completion, this fourth laundry at Walt Disney World Resort will be one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the United States.

“The new facility will showcase some of the textile industry’s most cutting-edge features including conveyors and air suction tubes that quickly move linens and machines that automatically sort, separate and fold,” said J.R. Garcia, director of textile services at Walt Disney World Resort.

Night of Joy Tickets to Go On Sale Tomorrow

Night of Joy 2014

Tickets for this year’s Night of Joy event will go on sale tomorrow March 31, 2014.

If single day tickets are bought ahead of time they will cost $59 plus tax.  At the door they will cost $69 plus tax.  There will also be available a two night ticket option that will cost $108 per night, plus tax.  This option will also include a one day admission to Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon or Disney Quest.  The two day ticket will need to be purchased by August 5th.

Night of Joy is a hard ticketed event that features some of the top contemporary Christian music artists.  This year’s event is scheduled to take place on September 5-6, 2014 from 7:30 AM to 1:00 AM.

The lineup for the event is:

September 5, 2014

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matthew West
  • for King & Country
  • Mandisa
  • Building 429
  • Matt Maher
  • The Neverclaim

September 6, 2014

  • Casting Crowns
  • Mercy Me
  • Britt Nicole
  • Israel Houghton & New Breed
  • Colton Dixon
  • Rhett Walker
  • We As Human
  • 1 Girl Nation

 

Walt Disney World Increases Parking and Valet Fees

Parking-Marker-Disney-World-Lot

As of March 30, 2014 the following new parking fees have been instituted:

  • Automobile, taxi, limo or motorcycle: $17
  • Camper, trailer or RV: $18
  • Bus or tractor trailer: $21

The last parking fee increase was in June of 2013, which saw a $1 increase for a car to $15. Offsite guests with single or multi-day tickets will mostly be impacted by the increase since guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts get complimentary parking and Annual Passholders also receive free parking as part of their pass benefits. Valet parking at Walt Disney World Resort hotels has increased from $15 to $20.  Self parking at resort hotels remains free.