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 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 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.

Destination D 2018 Ends With Exciting Announcements

Along with all of the celebration of all that is Mickey Mouse and his 90th Birthday, there were a number of exciting announcements about the future of the Disney Parks in the United States

Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek earlier today revealed that the names of the two signature attractions set for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when it opens in Disneyland next summer and at Walt Disney World in fall 2019 will be Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Guests can take the controls in one of three unique and critical roles aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Here is the video that Chapek played at Destination D when he announced this attraction.

And on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, guests will join an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance, including a face-off with Kylo Ren.

And this footage of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was shot inside the actual attraction.

Of course when you think about Star Wars, the iconic music of legendary composer John Williams comes to mind. After announcing the new attractions Chapek also announced that Oscar-winning composer John Williams is creating new and original Star Wars themes exclusively for the land! The all-new music is being recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. Here is a preview of the music along with  construction progress at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Chapek also announced that a new Beauty and the Beast sing-along attraction will be coming to Epcot’s France pavilion.

This attraction will be using the existing theater, and playing in addition to Impressions de France.  The brand new attraction is being created by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action Beauty and the Beast films.

Also announced for Epcot was  a new nighttime spectacular that is planned to open at the park in 2020. This new show will celebrate how Disney music inspires people around the world, and will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics and lasers.

Before this new show opens, there will be a limited-time experience, called “Epcot Forever,” which will debut in fall 2019 after Illuminations closes and will feature classic Epcot tunes.

“Epcot Forever” will begin with a spark of imagination that swells into an epic spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers, and special effects kites.

The last announcement for Epcot was the name of the “Ratatouille” experience coming to the France pavilion, which will be called Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

This attraction which is based on the popular attraction found at Disneyland Paris is still some way off from its Walt Disney World debut.  Right now Disney is saying that it will have a Spring 2020 opening.

Chapek also announced that an all-new cinematic nighttime experience, “Wonderful World of Animation,”  will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May 2019, as part of the park’s 30th anniversary celebration.

The show will use state-of-the-art projection technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey himself.

Also announced for Disneyland was Get Your Ears On — A Mickey and Minnie Celebration, which will feature new entertainment, food and merchandise. On January 18, “Mickey’s Mix Magic” will light up the night at Disneyland  with all-new music, projections and lasers that set the scene for an epic dance party that takes over almost the entire park.

Chapek also shared that the beloved Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is set to return to Disneyland park in January 2019, with a new float with Mickey himself, who will lead the celebration down Main Street, U.S.A.

The party will get even bigger when the fan-favorite Mickey’s Soundsational Parade returns to the resort in January 2019 featuring a new float with Mickey himself, who will lead the celebration down Main Street, U.S.A.

Also coming to the Magic Kingdom will be Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration.   The celebration will run from January 18 to September 30, 2019.  Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration will feature new food, merchandise and entertainment, including a new dance party with Mickey, Minnie and their friends

During his presentation, Chapek unveiled details about Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge.  This will be a deluxe, nature-inspired resort that will feature more than 900 hotel rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas.

Not to be left out, Celebrate Your Favorite Mouse with Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Party at Sea will be coming to Disney Cruise Line  next summer.

It certainly sounds like a fun day of announcements.  I only wish I could have been there to experience all of the excitement live in person.

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.

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.