Garden Grill Restaurant to Offer Modified Character Experience

The dining location list for EPCOT’s re-opening on July 15th has been updated to include a modified character experience at the Garden Grill.

The restaurant usually features table side appearances by Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale. While we are sure that table side appearances will not happen, it isn’t clear what the modified experience will be.  It seems that a walk-through would seem the most likely scenario.

Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf Course Opens at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World has reopened the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf today for Guests staying at the Walt Disney World Resort.

One of Walt Disney World’s two miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens, reopened Saturday without a previous announcement.  Guests will need to reserve a tee time before going by calling (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529.Fantasia Gardens will be open from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

  • Click here to visit Walt Disney World’s Fantasia Gardens page for more information.

 

Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to be Re-Themed to “Princess and the Frog”

Earlier today Disney announced that Splash Mountain at both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland will be re-themed to “Princess and the Frog.” The version of the attraction located at Tokyo Disneyland will retain the “Song of the South” theme…for now.

From the Disney Parks Blog where the announcement was made –

The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.

Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks

The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

Charita Carter, the senior creative producer leading the project at Walt Disney Imagineering shared, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”

As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.

According to reports, Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter, who designed the original Splash Mountain, will be brought out of retirement in order to serve as a creative designer on the new “Princess and the Frog” attraction. “Following conversations with Imagineering’s leaders about the new attraction’s scope and resources, I had a great sense of reassurance, the attraction will be one to be proud of, bringing to life places, characters and music from the animated classic The Princess and the Frog…I look forward to being a part of a new adventure in Disney magic and fun!” said Baxter about the overhaul.

Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, lead on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, stated on Twitter that he’s “been stealth working on this for quite a while and happy to finally share!”

While the current attraction has been controversial at times, mainly because the attraction is themed to a movie that many, if not most younger guests have never seen and Disney has refuses to re-release in any form in the United States, the re-theming will also likely be controversial.  While it is comforting to see that key imagineers like Carter, Trowbridge and Baxter associated with the re-theming, there is probably going to be a certain portion of the Disney fan base that will say that Disney is buckling to protests.  As stated above, Disney says that this is not the case, but I’m not sure that will placate some people, especially with the timing. There is also a certain portion of the Disney fanbase that are as we shall say, “reluctant to change.” These fans aren’t likely to be happy.

Though on the other hand, a lot of people will be very excited about this news.  The movie is very popular.

The one problem that I see is that Disney appears to be solving one theming problem with a new theming problem.  They’re replacing a controversial theming of the attraction with a theming of the attraction that isn’t controversial, in fact very popular, but will the theme fit into the respective lands that it will reside in.  Does this theme fit into Frontierland…maybe, but what about Disneyland’s Bear Country?

Because Disney is still working on a timeline for the re-theming, we’re don’t know if the current attraction will open when the US parks re-open.  Will fans of the current theme be able to get a “final ride” before it goes away to be re-themed.

How do you feel about this announcement?

Me…I’m cautiously optimistic.  I think “Princess and the Frog” is a wonderfully fun movie.  I’m sure Imagineering will do a wonderful job. I’m sure it will be beautiful.  I’m just a little confused as to the why.

 

Walt Disney World Announces More Resort Hotel Openings

Today Walt Disney World announced a schedule of openings of more resort hotels as part of its phased re-opening.  Previously Disney had announced that it was opening it’s Disney Vacation Club Villas and Fort Wilderness Campground on June 22.

Below is Disney’s announcement:

We currently plan to open the following resort hotels to booked Guests on the following dates. Please note, that given the fluidity of the current environment, these dates are subject to change and Guests’ reservations could still be modified to other resort hotels if needed.
  • July 10 – Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Aug. 12 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Aug. 24 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Sept. 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Oct. 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
  • Oct. 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Guests with current reservations at impacted Disney Resort hotels can request help with modifying their reservation starting Monday June 22. Reservations for stays in 2021 will begin booking on Wednesday, June 24. Only Guests with a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass will be able to access the Disney Park Pass reservation system.

Given the current situation, there are some resort hotels and other areas that are not, as of this time, being scheduled for reopening yet. We will continue to evaluate the situation and reopen more locations when the environment is right to do so.

 

Walt Disney World Will Not Use Virtual Queues or Single Rider Lines When Parks Re-Open

Despite rumors about virtual queues, according to sources, Disney has informed Cast Members that they will not be using them when the parks re-open on July 11th and July 15th.  This includes Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It appears that Disney is confident that it can control attendance at the park, which probably will mean manageable queues at the attractions.

While we have known that FastPass+ will not be available for some time, it appears that Single Rider lines will also no longer be available.

From everything that we’ve been told, Disney will be using every inch of its vast queue capacity to maintain social distancing.

So assuming you can secure a reservation into the park, the lack of queue complications should make for a very pleasant, no-planning experience.

Walt Disney World Provides Key Attraction and Entertainment Details for Phased Re-Opening

In the Disney Parks Blog earlier today, Walt Disney World provided key information regarding its attractions and entertainment during the phased re-opening of its theme parks.

Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open on July 1th and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open on July 15th.

In the blog post, Disney states that most attractions will be available at each park.  While Disney does not provide an exhaustive list, they do provide the names of key attractions in each park that will be open.

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Flight of Passage

Epcot

  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Test Track

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

As I’ve mentioned, this is not an exhaustive or extensive list.  Based on the wording of the blog post, many if not all of each parks could be open.  I believe that nearly all of the attractions of each park will be open and Disney only managed to mention the major attractions in order to alleviate fears of attending guests that these attractions might not be open.

It is also important to note that the refurbishment of Spaceship Earth has been postponed, or as Disney states “paused” during this phased re-opening.

If you’re worried about seeing characters, Disney addressed this….

Just as you may have seen recently at Disney Springs, our characters will appear in new and different ways that bring a smile to your face while also being mindful of physical distancing. From special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom Park parade route and friends sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, to processions along the World Showcase promenade at EPCOT and motorcades on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard, each area will come to life throughout the day. You never know when a party of your pals may come by, so be prepared for plenty of surprises!

For example, after rocketing through space in Tomorrowland you might see that famous Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear; or discover a captive Captain Jack Sparrow as you traverse the Castillo del Morro on your way to Pirates of the Caribbean. You could cross paths with Queen Anna and Elsa as they venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase at EPCOT or spy members of the Resistance hiding out from the First Order throughout Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu.

Disney added that guests will also be returning several musical groups to the parks.  When we return home to the theme parks we can look forward to seeing Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom Park, plus the Mariachi Cobre and everyone’s favorite funky drumming crew the JAMMitors at EPCOT, plus many more.

While we won’t be seeing parades, in the traditional sense, and there won’t be any character Meet and Greets, it is good to see that we will still will be able to see the characters that make trips to Walt Disney World special each time.  I’m also glad to see some live entertainment returning, even if it is at a distance.

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders Will Be Able to Make Theme Park Reservations for 3 Days Beginning July 26th

According to the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to make reservations for up to three days at a time using the new Disney Park Pass System beginning July 26th.

From the website:

  • During the limited capacity period, it may be difficult for Annual Passholders to get park reservations to visit on certain dates.
  • All Annual Passholders are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for up to 3 days at a time, or Annual Passholders staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for their entire Resort length of stay. All reservations are subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates.
  • Some pass benefits and features will not be available during periods of limited capacity. Also, park experiences and offerings will be modified and subject to limited availability or even closure.
  • Guests should ensure their pass type is valid for park entry prior to making a park reservation.

It is important to note that the July 26th date applies to Annual Passholders who DO NOT have existing Disney Resort reservations.

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders to Get Passholder Preview

According to the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website, passholders will get a preview of the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 9th and 10th.

From the website –

Weekday Select, Theme Park Select, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus and Premier Passholders will have the opportunity to register for a special preview at Magic Kingdom park or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park on July 9 or 10. Email invitations with registration details will be sent out soon.

Reservations are required and limited, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. An eligible activated annual pass is required to register.

If a Passholder would like to register a Guest to accompany them, that Guest must also have a valid Weekday Select, Theme Park Select, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus or Premier annual pass, be listed on your Family & Friends list and have opted to share “All My Plans” with you.

Walt Disney World Updates Rules for Merchandise Locations and PhotoPass During Re-Opening

Walt Disney World has updated it’s website with updated temporary rules for its merchandise locations and its PhotoPass service.

Below are the new temporary rules.  The big take-aways for merchandise locations appear to be that new product launches will not be available in the parks, pin trading with Cast Members will be via pin boards and there will be package delivery to the front of the parks or to Disney Resort hotels .

As for Disney’s PhotoPass service, the biggest thing to note is that the photographers will not be able to take any pictures with cameras that belong to guests.  This is new on the website, but I recall it being mentioned before.

Merchandise Locations:

In select merchandise locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, Guests will continue to discover favorite Disney items, with some modifications to the shopping experience that will help us manage capacity and foster physical distancing.

  • New Product Launches: New collection product launches and limited-edition merchandise will not be available for in-person purchases at Walt Disney World Resort until further notice. Guests can find these items on shopDisney, subject to availability.
  • Pin Trading: We will continue to offer Guests the opportunity to pin trade with Cast Members through the use of pin boards in select locations. Cast pin trading with lanyards will not be available at this time to maintain physical distancing.
  • Delivery Option: Package delivery to the front of our theme parks or to Disney Resort hotels will be suspended. However, shipping merchandise to Guests’ homes in the US will continue to be available. Certain restrictions apply.
  • Dressing Rooms: For the time being, dressing rooms will not be available.
  • Returns: In-person returns of merchandise will be permitted upon the reopening of our merchandise locations.

Disney PhotoPass Service:

To promote cleanliness, physical distancing and reduced contact, you will notice some temporary adjustments to Disney PhotoPass Service to provide an enjoyable environment for everyone:

  • Handling Guest’s Personal Devices: Disney PhotoPass photographers will not handle Guests’ personal devices such as cellphones and cameras.
  • Photo Prop Usage: Where photo props are in use, they will be thoroughly cleaned between Guests. For select props, your photographer may request that you stand next to or behind the prop without making contact with it. In these scenarios, your photographer will endeavor to capture your photos with the best angles and perspective in mind.
  • Photo Linking: Before the photographer takes your photo, please have your MagicBand or Card ready for the photographer to scan so they can quickly link your photos to your account. Photographers will keep as much distance as possible during this process.

Walt Disney World Announces Details for its Disney Park Pass System

Walt Disney World finally has announced full details on its Disney Park Pass System that will attempt to manage attendance at the Walt Disney World theme parks when they begin their phased reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The important take aways are that park hopping will not be allowed, and reservations will be taken through to September 26 2021.

Booking Dates for Park Reservations:

The Disney Park Pass system will be available soon to select Guests. Booking dates vary based on your plans.

  • Beginning June 22, 2020, Disney Resort and other select hotel Guests with valid theme park admission can make reservations.
  • Beginning June 26, 2020, Annual Passholders without a Resort stay can make reservations.
  • Beginning June 28, 2020, existing ticket holders can make reservations.

Park reservations will be available through September 26, 2021, based on your Resort stay and ticket eligibility or ticket eligibility window.

Here are the full details –

  • You’ll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
  • You’ll also need a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that’s linked to your My Disney Experience account.
  • If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your My Disney Experience account beforehand, as well.

Once you’ve logged into your My Disney Experience account and linked your ticket, you’ll have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit. Families and friends can link their tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time.

Please note, park reservations are limited in number and subject to availability. Availability can change until the reservation is finalized. At this time, guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.  We hope to bring back the ability to visit more than one park per day soon and will continue to offer these add-ons for 2021 ticket purchases.

For Existing Ticket Holders and Annual Passholders:

Beginning this week, we will reach out to existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders with more information on when they will be able to check availability to make their park reservations. We will open the Disney Park Pass system to these guests in phases, beginning with those with future Disney Resort and other select hotel stays. Later this summer, we will resume sales of 2020 tickets and Disney Resort hotel arrivals, based on availability of park reservations, while we continue to provide guests with existing tickets and Annual Passholders the opportunity to make park reservations for 2020 dates.

Walt Disney World also provided a video to help explain all of this.

Know Before You Go