Walt Disney World to Introduce New Online Vacation Planning Site and Identical Single Day Ticket Pricing for All Parks

Yesterday Walt Disney World announced that beginning October 16th that they will be launching a new vacation planning site to help guests purchase date-based tickets.

In the announcement Disney stated –

“With all there is to see and do in our parks, we know guests are increasingly looking for easier ways to plan a vacation with personalized options that fit their individual needs. Beginning October 16 on DisneyWorld.com, guests will be able to access our new online vacation-planning destination and purchase tickets priced by the date of visit. These changes are designed to simplify the booking experience, give guests an enhanced way to purchase theme park tickets and help them more easily plan the Disney vacation of their dreams”

While Disney has not stated this, presumably this is being done to make it easier for people trying to book and plan a vacation to Walt Disney World by streamlining the now disjointed process by guiding people through the process on a single website as opposed to navigating through the abundance of dropdown menus on Walt Disney World’s current site.  The fact that there is no mention of the fact that date-based pricing that was announce a while ago and has been the pricing practice for the Disneyland Resort for a while now and that they seem to emphasize the planning process seems to verify this.  Personally I’m skeptical that this process will be as “streamlined” as Disney professes.  Disney has a history of making complicated processes even more complicated.  That’s on top of their history of having technical issues and outages.

Here is the video that Disney is using to explain the new site.

What also was not mentioned in the announcement but has been found out is that as of October 16th Walt Disney World will begin pricing all four of it’s theme parks at the same price for single day tickets.  This will eliminate the Magic Kingdom premium, and raising the price of the other three parks to match the ticket price for the Magic Kingdom.

Beginning in the summer of 2013, the Magic Kingdom carried a premium price, putting it at around $5 more than the other three theme parks. The new pricing will now put all four Walt Disney World theme parks between $109 and $129, depending on the season that they will be used.

Currently one-day tickets for Epcot, Studios and Animal Kingdom are between $102 and $122.

With the impending opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World in late fall 2019, the launch of the new planning site seems to make sense due to the anticipated increased bookings of vacations.

What seems odd about the same price for all parks beginning in October is that much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still under construction due to the new Star Wars land.  While the price difference between parks doesn’t seem like a lot, the fact that the Studios is barely a full-day park, Disney is expecting guests to pay the same daily ticket price as the other parks.  Maybe Disney is thinking that the Magic Kingdom Premium was too difficult for guests to figure out and this just makes things easier.  If that’s the case, I don’t have as big of an issue with the change and after all we’re only talking about a few dollars a day.  The premium really didn’t seem to change crowd distribution between the parks much anyway.

It will be interesting to see what if any affect this will have on bookings and guest satisfaction.

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Walt Disney World Announces Dates for Epcot International Festival of Holidays and Candlelight Processional for 2018

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced that the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays this year will take place November 18 thru December 30, 2018.

Even though we have not been able to visit Walt Disney World in November or December for a few years, this time of year has always been a favorite time to visit for me and my family.  One of our favorite things to do during this time of the year at Epcot is to attend the Candlelight Processional.

The Candlelight Processional will be returning again this year and for the first time, this popular holiday tradition will debut for the season on Thanksgiving (November 22nd) and run through December 30th.

The Candlelight Processional is a holiday must-do for many Epcot guests.  The program is a retelling of the traditional Christmas story read by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a massed choir and live orchestra.

At this time celebrity narrators have not been announced.

Also…even though Candlelight Dinner packages have been popular in the past and are expected to return, Disney has not yet released any information regarding this.

A couple of months ago Disney announced the dates for this year’s “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party“.

Walt Disney World Online Lost and Found System Goes Live

Have you ever lost something at Walt Disney World and had to either call or go to Lost and Found to report the lost item?  Well, you no longer have to do that.

Walt Disney World Lost and Found has now moved online.  The new system is powered by Chargerback.  Chargerback also provides lost and found services for airlines and other tourism and entertainment companies.

Starting today, if a guest has lost an item at any Walt Disney World theme park, Disney Springs, Transportation (including busses, monorails and watercraft), ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Disney Water Park they will fill out a lost item report here.

Guest will no longer have to visit or phone the Lost and Found center.

Once guests fill out the online form they will receive an email notification with a Lost Item claim number. Disney will then continue to look for the item and provide you with an email update within 48 hours.  Disney will contact guests if they that they have found the item or need further information.

Nothing has really changed if guests have lost items at any hotel or on Disney’s Magical Express.

If an item was lost at any resort hotel, please contact the specific resort Lobby Concierge for assistance.

For Disney’s Magical Express please contact (866) 599-0951. If the item was lost over 30 minutes ago, please contact Mears Transportation Group at (407) 423-5566.

If guests aren’t where the item was lost, Disney is asking guests to go to the above link and fill out the online form.

According to Disney policy, highly valuable items (such as wallets, purses, credit cards, prescription glasses and cameras) are held for 90 days.

Items of lesser value (such as sunglasses, hats, toys and clothes) are held for 30 days.

 

Disney Animator Dave Michener Dead at Age 85

Animator and story artist Dave Michener, who worked at Walt Disney Studios for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 85.  His wife Donna said he died at his Los Angeles home on February 15 from complications due to a virus.

Michener co-directed “The Great Mouse Detective” alongside John Musker and Ron Clements.

Michener starting with Disney in 1956, right out of college, and worked there until his retirement in 1987.  He contributed to classics like “Sleeping Beauty,” “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” “The Aristocats,” “Robin Hood,” “The Rescuers” and “The Fox and the Hound.”

He was hired by Walt Disney himself, who had seen one of his art exhibits at the Chouinard Art Institute. Michener also produced and directed character animation for Epcot Center in the 1980s, followed by similar duties at Tokyo Disneyland’s “Meet the World” attraction and the pre-show PSA on the history of aviation at Disneyland.

Dan Cockerell, Magic Kingdom Vice President Retiring

According to multiple sources citing sources within the The Walt Disney Company, 49 year old Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell will be retiring next month.

Dan, who is the son of former Vice President of Operations Lee Cockerell, became the Magic Kingdom Vice President in 2015 during a reshuffle which saw long-time Magic Kingdom Vice President Phil Holmes move to the Studios Vice President role in a leadership swap. Prior to the move, Dan was the Vice President of Epcot. Dan has been with Disney for 26 years.

According to the sources, Cockerell will be starting a speaking and consulting company, with plans to travel.

Disney has not yet named a replacement.  Cockerell’s final day will be May 11, 2018.

Walt Disney World Announces Eat to the Beat Concert Series Line-Up

On Monday Walt Disney World announced the initial line-up for the Eat to the Beat Concert Series for this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  This is the festival’s 23rd year and will run from August 30 to November 12, 2018.

New to this year’s concert series will be percussionist extraordinaire and singer Sheila E and ‘80s Canadian rockers Glass Tiger.

98 Degrees, featuring brothers and “Dancing With the Stars” alums Nick and Drew Lachey, will  bring their smooth harmonies to the festival. I’m sure there are a lot of Disney fans hoping that they’ll sing “True To Your Heart” from Disney’s “Mulan.”

Also new this year is entertainer Jim Belushi who brings his rhythm-and-blues band The Sacred Hearts to the festival this year.

Two Contemporary Christian music artists will also be joining the line-up this year.  MercyMe, who successfully branched out from music this year with the hit film based on lead singer Bart Mallard’s life called “I Can Only Imagine.”  Also, former “Royal Tailor” front man Tauren Wells, who has found some mainstream success this year, touring with Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie, will also be performing.

Returning this year are fan favorites ‘80s pop stars Tiffany and Billy Ocean, along with ’90s hit makers like Hanson and Everclear.

Swing-meisters Big Bad Voodoo Daddy also be returning and will close out the festival.

The lineup so far is:

  • 8/30-31 – Blue October – “Into the Ocean”
  • 9/1-3 – Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  • 9/4-5 – MercyMe – “I Can Only Imagine”
  • 9/6-7 – Glass Tiger – “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)
  • 9/8-9 – Tauren Wells – “Hills and Valleys”
  • 9/10-11 – Postmodern Jukebox
  • 9/12-13 – TBD
  • 9/14-16 – Baha Men – “Who Let The Dogs Out”
  • 9/17-19 – TBD
  • 9/20-21 – Living Color – “Cult of Personality”
  • 9/22-23 – Sheila E – “The Glamorous Life”
  • 9/24-26 – Sugar Ray – “Every Morning”
  • 9/27-28 – David Cook – “Light On”
  • 9/29-30 – Jeffrey Osbourne – “On The Wings of Love”
  • 10/1-2 – Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts – Various Hits
  • 10/3-4 – Everclear – “Santa Monica”
  • 10/5-7 – Mark Wills – “19 Somethin’”
  • 10/8-10 – Air Supply – “All Out Of Love”
  • 10/11-12 – TBD
  • 10/13-14 – TBD
  • 10/15-16 – 98 Degrees – “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)”
  • 10/17-18 – 38 Special – “Hold On Loosely”
  • 10/19-21 – Devon Allman Project – “Ragged and Dirty”
  • 10/22-23 – TBD
  • 10/24-25 – Billy Ocean – “Get Outta My Dreams”
  • 10/26-28 – Starship featuring Mickey Thomas – “We Built This City”
  • 10/29-31 – Hanson – “MMMBop”
  • 11/1-2 – TBD
  • 11/3-4 – Taylor Dayne – “Prove Your Love”
  • 11/5-7 – Boyz II Men – “End Of The Road”
  • 11/8-9 – The Hooters – “And We Danced”
  • 11/10-12 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – “Go Daddy-O”

As you can see, the line up is not complete at this time, so check back and look for updates in the coming months.

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 Makes Series of Announcements for Parks Around the World at D23 Expo Japan 2018

Yesterday at D23 Expo Japan, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, announced a series of exciting  new updates for Disney Parks around the world.

One of the most anticipated items that was announce at D23 Expo last July is the Star Wars-inspired resort planned for the Walt Disney World Resort.  According to Chapek, “It is going to be unlike anything that exists today.”  At the D23 Expo Japan Disney shared a new look of the first-of-its-kind resort that will combine a luxury resort with a complete immersion into an the Star Wars story.

Many of us Star Wars Disney fans were looking forward to the immersion at this resort will that will stand out among all of the Disney resorts around the globe.  The huge announcement was that it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  This will give guests a total Star Wars experience.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stay at this resort, but I am excited about the concept and the possibilites that could be incorporated into it.

Chapek also unveiled a first look at Epcot’s highly-anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy”attraction. The big takeaway…. it’s a roller coaster!

According to Disney, “With the “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired coaster, we’re going big. This one-of-a-kind family attraction will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters when it’s added to Future World at Epcot.”

If the Imagineers at WDI do anything close to what they came up with for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! this attraction could be truly amazing.  I for one cannot wait until it opens.

Now to the Disneyland Resort.  Chapek announced that Pixar Pier will open June 23 at Disney California Adventure park.  Pixar Pier will be featuring four whimsical neighborhoods representing beloved Pixar stories with newly themed attractions, foods and merchandise.

As announced earlier, Pixar Pier will also include the Incredicoaster.  This coaster will be a super combination of character figures, lighting and special effects that that is being promoted, will bring the Parr family racing alongside you in a high-speed adventure.

I am a huge Incredibles fan.  I think that it’s one of my favorite Pixar movies.  Of all of the things coming to Pixar Pier, this attraction is the one that I am looking forward to the most.

In addition to the Incredicoaster the announcement, Disney also announced that in June a dazzling new float for the popular “Paint the Night” parade featuring Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone from “The Incredibles” will be coming to Disney California Adventure.

I absolutely love the “Paint the Night” parade.  In my opinion it’s the best nighttime parade Disney has ever produced for the domestic parks.  Adding an Incredibles float makes it even better.

Chapek also announced that Disney’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be  opening next year.

According to Chapek, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have a new catchy theme song created especially for the attraction as well as a new experience that defies logic that we’re calling 2 ½-D.”

While I will really miss “The Great Movie Ride,” I am really looking forward to this attraction.  I’m hoping that it’s done really well making it a fun attraction for the Studios.  The “2 1/2 – D” sound like it might be a lot of fun.  In Disney’s description it is supposed to be like 3-D except without the glasses.  What can I say….except….sign me up!

As for Disneyland Paris, Disney is re-imagining one of its resort hotels into Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. Chapek shared a sneak peek into one of the rooms that will open the re-imagined hotel in 2020.

Chapek also announced that the Marvel Super Hero universe will be coming to Walt Disney Studios Park.  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will be totally reimagined as a high-speed, hyper-kinetic adventure where guests riding the coaster will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get to Disneyland Paris, but if I ever do get there, this attraction will be on the top of my list to see and do there.

I like what Disney announced at D23 Expo Japan 2018.  What do you think?

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?

Disney Announces Performer Line-Up for Epcot International Festival of the Arts Broadway Series

Walt Disney World has announced the performer line-up for the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts – Disney on Broadway Series.

The Disney on Broadway Series takes place on Fridays through Mondays at the America Gardens Theatre, with showtimes at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 PM, and is included with theme park admission. Dining packages with reserved seating are also available.

The performer line-up is:

  • January 12-15 and 19-22: New this year, Kara Lindsay will join returning performer Kevin Massey, performing songs from Tarzan, Aladdin, Newsies, and Frozen.
  • January 26-29 and February 2-5: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White, performing songs from Tarzan, The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.
  • February 9-12 and 16-19: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland, performing songs from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, Newsies, and Frozen.