DVC Parks and Resorts Update for November 23rd

Walkway to Magic Kingdom from Grand Floridian DVC Resort

Hey Disney Vacation Club members, Thanksgiving’s just around the corner, and Disney’s like everybody else. The company is scrambling to get all its work done before the holiday. I’ve got a lot of important stories for you in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update.

The Grand Floridian Walkway Is Open

For most of the year, DVC members have monitored the status of the previously announced walkway to Magic Kingdom. Visitors at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa have wanted a walking path to the park for decades now, and it’s finally come to pass.

This past week, Disney finished this connecting route between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom. Plenty of guests have taken a stroll down this path already, and the results speak for themselves. Someone staying at the resort can walk to Magic Kingdom in 10 minutes.

I actually checked several YouTube videos to compare. The average person can reach Magic Kingdom in about 10 minutes and 45 seconds. For comparison, the walking path from Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort takes roughly nine minutes. So, you’ll get in a bit more exercise, but the timeline only differs by a couple of minutes.

Walking trail to Magic Kingdom from the resort

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Also, guests at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort should take this update as good news. You can already walk from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian. Add another 12 minutes or so to that trip, and you’ll reach Magic Kingdom.

DVC Reveals 2021 Maintenance Fees

With everything that’s happened in 2020, DVC members have felt understandably concerned about the impact on maintenance fees. The pandemic has forced an unprecedented level of cleaning services at the resorts. Meanwhile, Disney has suffered mightily from a financial perspective.

Some owners had worried that a hefty price increase might be in the offing. Well, DVC has revealed the maintenance fees, and they’re thankfully reasonable. Here’s a full list:

Resort Proposed 2021 Annual Dues  2020 Annual Dues Growth 2020 to 2021 Inception to Date CAGR*
Animal Kingdom $8.07 $7.67 5.3% 4.0%
Aulani** $8.35 $8.33 0.3% 3.8%
Bay Lake Tower $6.90 $6.58 4.9% 5.4%
Beach Club $7.44 $7.06 5.3% 3.7%
Boardwalk $7.81 $7.37 6.1% 3.0%
Boulder Ridge $8.11 $7.78 4.2% 4.3%
Copper Creek $7.59 $7.45 1.9% 0.8%
Grand Californian $6.99 $6.60 5.9% 5.1%
Grand Floridian $6.81 $6.56 3.8% 2.9%
Hilton Head $9.97 $9.10 9.6% 7.1%
Old Key West $8.36 $7.84 6.7% 4.2%
Polynesian $7.05 $6.79 3.9% 2.8%
Riviera Resort $8.38 $8.31 0.9% 0.9%
Saratoga Springs $7.11 $6.77 5.1% 3.7%
Vero Beach*** $11.23 $10.13 10.9% 4.8%

*Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the year over year growth rate of the dues over a multiple-year period
**Aulani Contracts that originated pre-July 6th, 2011 have proposed dues in 2021 of $6.28/pt.
***Vero Contracts that originated pre-January 1st, 1996 have proposed dues in 2021 of $8.86/pt.

You can read more about the annual dues here. Overall, I think most people feel relieved, though. As always, you should consider these numbers as estimates until the annual DVC meeting occurs. Disney will ratify the maintenance fees at that time.

Park Hopping Will Return! Huzzah!

Okay, I’m going to project a bit here. I visited Magic Kingdom a couple of weeks ago and caught a bad break with the crowds that day. By 1 p.m., we were ready to leave, but we couldn’t park hop.

So, we went resort hopping instead, and it was lovely. Disney’s Riviera Resort never fails to take my breath away. Still, I slightly resented that my Platinum Annual Pass didn’t get me into the other parks. It’s absolutely a selfish feeling during a pandemic, but I still felt annoyed at the time.

Disney Skyliner gondolas aerial view

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

I know from speaking with other DVC owners and annual passholders that you sometimes share that frustration. Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that Disney is nearly ready to allow park hopping once again. Starting on January 1st, guests may leave one park and visit another.

Some caveats exist, though. You must still book a Park Pass for the place you’ll visit first. Disney needs accurate daily headcounts for its four theme parks. Otherwise, its current attendance plan collapses.

Once you show up at the first park, you activate your ability to park hop. Yes, you must physically enter before you activate your park hopping ability. Then, starting at 2 p.m., you can visit one of the other three parks. Obviously, capacity limits remain in place, but the parks tend to empty out during the afternoons. Sellouts shouldn’t be an issue often.

For this reason, at this time, Disney will not require a Park Pass for your second park when you park hop. However, the company stresses that this policy could change depending on how many people take Disney up on its kind offer. I’ll let you know if Disney modifies the policy. Even if it does, we’re still only six weeks away from the return of park hopping!

Disney Updates from IAPPA

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAPPA) held its annual convention this past week. Obviously, this event played out unlike any ever before. IAPPA switched to a virtual convention due to the pandemic, and Disney provided most of the highlights.

During its IAPPA presentation, Disney updated fans on several projects that have remained in limbo throughout 2020. Enough news came from this event that it could have comprised the entire update this week. Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights.

While we don’t have a final date yet, we learned that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open in 2021. Everyone who has visited EPCOT lately knows that the ride building’s good to go, at least from the outside. However, Disney wisely decided not to open a new attraction during a pandemic.

During the presentation, Disney also revealed interior shots from a couple of projects. Space 220, the restaurant that should have opened a year ago at this time, is nearly ready. Images showed wall-sized digital monitors that create the illusion that you’re looking down at Planet Earth from outer space. It looks phenomenal, and I hope it’s open in time for our next trip.

Plans for Disney restaurant Space 220

Next, we received the first images of an actual hotel room at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. You may recall that Imagineers are constructing this resort to simulate an interstellar vacation cruise. Disney has completed at least one room and proudly showed it, revealing that the final product looks eerily similar to the early illustrations.

Plans for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel room

The only difference is that the final plan includes a smaller monitor than in the initial pictures. Recent images have previously reflected that change, though. The actual hotel and the restaurant images both indicate that Disney has brought its ambitious floorplans into reality.

Finally, Disney revealed the ride carts for its upcoming storytelling roller coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. These vehicles combine remarkable visuals and technical wizardry and look like the latest Imagineering triumph. Cast members are understandably proud and posted a video of the ride carts in action.

You’ll notice that the coaster cart spins, giving the designer full control of the line of sight. The idea here is that the rider won’t control their line of sight as with a standard coaster. Instead, Disney will spin the ride cart to keep the person’s eyes on the storytelling elements. It looks spectacular.

View of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Disney

Disney Park Updates

I’ve got a few tidbits for you about the parks and resorts. We just learned that when Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa returns, none of its restaurants or shops will reopen yet. In fact, the only amenity available along those lines will be one pool (Mariposa). Otherwise, the hotel will return with limited services.

Speaking of Disneyland Resort, California has scaled back its reopening plans due to another outbreak. You may have heard that the United States registered more than 200,000 new cases in one day this past week. Unfortunately, California is over 10,000 daily cases again. Orange County has returned to the Purple Tier and includes a 10 p.m. curfew now.

On the plus side, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have advanced with their coronavirus vaccine candidates. Pfizer’s openly campaigning for emergency FDA approval, and both companies have indicated that they can produce millions of doses by the end of 2020.

Moderna claims it’ll only charge roughly the same as the flu shot, too. Presuming at least one of these companies can meet projections, Disney trips are looking solid for 2021.

For now, Disney’s doing everything it can to make the holidays seem special. I mentioned the decorations and Christmas Cavalcades last time. Well, two DVC resorts got even better! The giant Christmas tree has returned outside Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Meanwhile, the team at the Grand Floridian couldn’t go a full year without a gingerbread house. They built a miniature version that guests may admire. It’s like a dollhouse version of the real deal, and it’s encased so that guests can look but not touch.

Okay, that’s everything for this week. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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