DVC Parks and Resorts Update for November 8th

Christmas character Cavalcade at Disney's Magic Kingdom

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort no longer operates a monorail station, at least for the time being. We’ll talk about that, holiday decorations, a Disney reservations snafu, and more in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts update.

Polynesian Visits Are Different Now

Friends, it’s now official. For the next six months, the monorail station at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is closed.

This past week, I was one of the last three guests out on Blue monorail at the Polynesian. We’d wanted dinner at Capt. Cook’s, and we forgot that the monorail station would shut down the following morning.

The following day, we ate at Gasparilla Island Grill, and the cast members there commented to us that the monorail closure had confused guests. We’re all conditioned to expect the Polynesian to include a monorail rail stop.

The Polynesian DVC Resort at Disney World

Honestly, now that it doesn’t, DVC guests at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort enjoy better logistics. There’s one less stop on the Resort Monorail line to Magic Kingdom. You get there several minutes faster!

For guests at the Polynesian, Disney’s running frequent boat service to the park to offset the loss of the monorail. Ergo, nobody’s suffering any during the renovations. It’s just a weird happening right now that we’ll forget in a few years, like much of 2020.

The other thing to know about a Polynesian visit is that the Magical Express drop-offs now occur at Pago Pago. You should have known this already, but we watched someone miss a bus over the confusion. So, I’m reiterating it just in case.

The Great Ceremonial House operates as usual during the renovations. The only real difference is in getting there. You’ll either want to take a boat or bus from Magic Kingdom or ride the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center. If you do any of the three, you’ll walk a bit to the majestic hotel lobby.

Other DVC Changes

You may have another option soon. The walkway from the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom is nearly complete. At that point, you can take a stroll from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian and then keep walking to Magic Kingdom.

However, cast members indicate that this new path won’t officially open until sometime in 2021. It’s entirely possible that the Polynesian’s refurbishment finishes before the walkway debuts. Disney doesn’t appear to be in any hurry on it, which is understandable given the pandemic.

The other significant DVC change this past week occurred at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. Hawaii’s back, y’all!

Aulani DVC Resort in Hawaii

As part of the new visitation experience, the resort has released an Aulani app, which you can download in the Apple or Google Store. Disney has introduced this app to minimize interactions between guests and cast members. You’ll find it extremely useful, though.

You can retrieve meal reservations, check daily activities, and plan your week. The app displays activities for the next five days, enabling you to decide whether you must do something quickly or not.

The other terrific feature is the map, which provides directions everywhere on the Aulani campus. You can maximize the map to learn the best route to reach a destination. The app also shows various guest service options and will eventually include character experience information once those return.

Perhaps most importantly, the new Aulani app provides guests with details about what they must do before arriving at the resort. Hawaii restricts travel to qualifying guests only. You must pass a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of your arrival. The app provides the necessary clarity.

Simply stated, any current or future guest at Aulani must download this app. It’ll enrich your vacation and reduce your stress.

Disney Switches Holidays

I think most guests would agree that Disney approached Halloween festivities cautiously. Sure, plenty of merchandise was available in stores, and decorations were visible. Also, guests got to wear costumes for the first time.

Beyond that, the holiday felt muted at Walt Disney World, and I say that as someone who spent Halloween night at Disney Springs. For this reason, people naturally wondered whether they should expect the same for Christmas.

Well, Disney answered the question this week with an emphatic, NO! Christmas decorations started to pop up in late October. By early November, Magic Kingdom looked like it was ready for Santa Claus to deliver presents to all the good girls and boys. In fact, Santa is already appearing at a Cavalcade!

By watching the video above, you’ll get a taste of several different Cavalcades, all of which are running at the park as we speak. In addition to Santa, Goofy and Max appear in one. Mickey & Minnie Mouse star in another and the Dapper Dans sing their way through their show.

As with other Cavalcades, these events appear randomly, thereby preventing crowds from forming. However, I should alert you that Magic Kingdom gets crowded on the weekends anyway. And the Cavalcades tend to draw a crowd.

More Holiday Changes

Magic Kingdom isn’t the only park offering yuletide Cavalcades and decorations. All four of your Walt Disney World favorites have switched to Christmas floats!

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll discover a flotilla of boats featuring favorites like Donald and Daisy Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale. Perhaps the best one involves a performance by the Discovery Island Drummers.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has brought back one of the shiniest holiday offerings. Yes, the Hollywood Tower Hotel once again lights up with breathtaking digital projections. You can take a look here:

The one with people walking through the streets completely blows my mind. The Muppets one is pretty great, too. Speaking of which, the Jim Henson creations have come back to Liberty Square for a holiday presentation. Yes, that one’s a surprise, as Disney closed the show earlier in 2020.

At Cinderella Castle, you’ll also find digital projections at night, and they’re better than ever. Of course, the park wouldn’t feel like Christmas unless Main Street, U.S.A., had its Christmas tree. Thankfully, it went up on November 2nd, which allowed me to text some envious friends a few photos. The tree is up at Echo Lake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, too.

At Disney Springs, the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll has also arrived. Other decorations populate the various sections of the entertainment complex as well. However, I should alert you to the fact that EPCOT hasn’t fully transformed yet. It’ll go all-in when the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays begins on November 27th.

A Disney Dining Mistake May Have Impacted You

On Tuesday, November 3rd, you may have noticed an unexpected abundance of Disney dining availability. On that morning, Disney’s automated system accidentally released a vast amount of reservations, even at restaurants that were previously booked.

Disney social media posts highlighted the sudden availability, leading to a surge in Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) bookings. Alas, that shouldn’t have happened. So, if you snagged any ADRs from 2 a.m. through noon on that day, you should pay attention.

A system glitch caused the problem. For this reason, Disney will not honor any reservations that people made on the morning of November 3rd. It actually can’t allow them due to pandemic capacity limits at these locations.

Instead, Disney has sent out an apology email to everyone that the bug impacted. If you were one of the unfortunate folks who scheduled a reservation that morning, you’re going to lose that ADR. In Disney’s estimation, it’s not valid.

However, the company understands that it messed up and must make good on the mistake. Impacted customers will receive a $25 digital gift card from Disney as an apology for the snafu. Ergo, if you did book that morning, you’re out of luck on the meal, but you’ve got $25 to spend somewhere else at Disney. That’s a pretty decent trade.

If you didn’t book a dining reservation that day, you’re fine. November 3rd was the only time that Disney experienced the glitch. So, all other reservations in the system are valid.

Okay, that’s everything for this week. It’s time to put up your Christmas trees, everyone! As soon as Disney does it, you should, too!

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