DVC Parks and Resorts Update for January 11, 2021

Spaceship Earth Fountain at EPCOT in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Disney just announced the closure of a (formerly) popular Magic Kingdom game, the delay of several attractions, the renovation of a pool play area, and changes at an international park. Also, a future Disney Legend has officially retired, and a festival has returned.

I’ll bring you the latest in this week’s DVC Parks and Resorts Update.

DVC News

Let’s start with the news that impacts you the most. For starters, I mentioned the matter last week, but it’s crucial now. DVC has scheduled your Annual Dues payment for January 15th.

You should log into the member console and make a payment. Remember that you can use any Disney gift cards and Disney Rewards Redemptions that you own. I use the Disney Rewards Visa for this very reason.

Target also sells discounted Disney gift cards occasionally, but that’s something that probably won’t help you this week. It’s more of a future strategy tip.

In other DVC news, guests at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort won’t have access to the pool splash pad for a while. Disney shut down this area on January 6th and will keep it offline for a month or so. “Early February” is the current word.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

You can still use the Bay Lake Tower pool and waterslide during the downtime. You just can’t play in the nearby water springs area that kids love. So, if you’re traveling with children, please be aware of this change. Also, remember that you can use the main pool at Disney’s Contemporary Resort instead.

A DVC Ticket Deal of Interest

The other update for card-carrying DVC owners involves ticket sales. Disney has uploaded an offer for Magic Your Way tickets. When you purchase these tickets directly from Disney – and only from Disney – you will get two extra days added. You must buy a ticket that lasts at least four days, though.

When you buy a four-day ticket, Disney will provide you with a six-day ticket. A five-day ticket turns into seven days and so forth. However, if you buy a three-day ticket, you do not receive the two-day bonus.

Living Seas Monorail at EPCOT in Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

The tickets will expire 14 days after first use. So, you cannot do two stays with the same ticket, as was once the case with non-expiring admissions back in the day. The only way it would work is if you do something like a Disney visit, a Universal trip, and then a return to Disney within the same 14-day window. A cruise trip would also work.

These tickets will expire on September 26th. That’s significant since it’s a few days before Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration. Disney intentionally timed this offer to end before the big event starts.

Speaking of Big Events…

Last week, I listed the Food Studios for Taste of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. I’m happy to report that the event has started and received rave reviews.

Disney hosted this event for the first time in 2017, making this variant the fifth edition. The first version operated from Friday to Monday in January and February. Since then, the exhibition’s popularity has caused EPCOT to expand the dates. It’s now a daily affair that runs from January 8th through February 22nd.

You still have six weeks to enjoy the festivities. This year’s event obviously required modifications, just as was the case for Taste of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Cooking classes are a non-starter, but the menu for this year’s Food Studios will blow your mind. Here’s Disney’s official description of the offerings.

France Pavilion at EPCOT in Walt Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Disney has brought back some children’s favorites for this year’s festival. Chalk drawings return to sidewalks of various EPCOT locales, particularly in the World Showcase. Also, kids can draw on Expression Section: A Paint-By-Number Mural. They can participate in the Figment’s Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt as well.

This festival always highlights the performing arts. Despite the pandemic, Disney has uncovered some ways to do that in 2021. At the Canada pavilion, the JAMMitors will hold down the fort at Mill Stage. Then, you can wander over to America Garden Theatre at The American Adventure pavilion. The Voices of Liberty will sing titles from “the Disney Songbook.”

EPCOT also hosts the Art Defying Gravity acrobat team again this year. That’s a big deal since most tumblers got laid off during the park closure and have yet to return. Finally, the festival guide lists an EPCOT Pianist at World Showplace.

Disney Attraction Delays

USA Today writer Arthur Levine published an article about everything coming to Disney parks in 2021. Unlike most of the others on the internet, Levine’s includes comments from Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. So, we can trust the accuracy of this piece.

In the story, Levine updates the status of various Disney projects, most of which align with rumors I’d heard over the past few months. Unfortunately, some of them will break your heart.

For example, Disney had eyed late-2021 as the target arrival date for TRON Lightcycle Power Run. According to this article, “The coaster isn’t expected to open during the park’s 50th birthday year.” It’s unclear from that wording whether that means Disney pushed the ride into early 2022 or whether it’s now unlikely to open before November of next year.

Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana also experienced a delay. Levine indicates that it will “probably open after 2021.” On the plus side, he states that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will debut this year. It’s probably only months away, as I mentioned last week.

Similarly, Harmonious remains on schedule for 2021. The writer provides no timeline for the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, though. Also, while there’s some discussion of Space 220, he doesn’t confirm 2021. My understanding is that it’s finally going to open this year, though.

Other Park Updates

Disney has suffered some attraction-based challenges at the start of 2021. Nobody knows why, but Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith didn’t work at the beginning of the year. It remained offline for nearly a week before returning the other day. Park officials were tightlipped about the problem, but it’s thankfully back in operation now.

The other headscratcher happened on Saturday when Space Mountain stayed down all day. Guests who loaded My Disney Experience received quite the surprise. A message from Jason Kirk, Vice President of Magic Kingdom Park, popped up via push notification. It stated the ride was down, and he was sorry. Thankfully, Space Mountain returned without incident the following day.

Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom in WDW Orlando, Florida

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Overall, Tomorrowland has overcome a lot in recent weeks. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover never reopened with the rest of Walt Disney World. For longtime Disney fans like me, not having this option for six months has felt somewhat disconcerting. And Disney just delayed its return again. The PeopleMover will remain out of action through at least January 30th. Hopefully, this delay proves to be the final one.

More Disney Updates

Another significant 2021 change involves Disney’s Animal Kingdom…well, its creative lead. Joe Rohde has officially retired from The Walt Disney Company after 40 years of tremendous service. Rohde’s resume includes that park, its Pandora – The World of Avatar expansion, and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, among others. He’s an icon who will be missed.

Aulani DVC resort in Hawaii

Over at Tokyo Disneyland Resort, another pandemic outbreak has caused park officials to change several operational aspects. For now, the park has suspended all ticket purchases. If you already have tickets, you’re unaffected, as the parks aren’t closing again.

Instead, Tokyo Disneyland has reduced attendance to a hard count of 5,000 daily guests. According to the Japan Times, it’s 5,000 guests per park, which means a maximum of 10,000 total guests. The park has also reduced operating hours by an hour to honor the government’s request for an 8 p.m. curfew. These changes will apply to Ikspiari restaurants and stores as well.

Okay, I know a lot’s happening after a trying few days. I hope you’re all doing well and have a terrific week!

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