DVC Resale Market’s Disney News for July 2018
Disney fanatics just experienced one of the best months during the entire 21st century. Two different themed lands opened, one at each American park. Plus, another Pixar movie entered theaters and became an instant classic. We’ve got all the details on these three events and much more in this month’s DVC Resale Market News.
Pixar Pier Debuts
The first huge Disney theme park arrival in June was Pixar Pier. An overhaul of the existing Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure Park, Pixar Pier turned the area into a series of four “neighborhoods.”
Three of these neighborhoods have a specific Pixar movie connection. At Pixar Pier, you’ll find Incredibles Park, Toy Story Boardwalk, and Inside Out Headquarters. The fourth neighborhood is more sweeping in nature. It’s Pixar Promenade, and it’s home to all of the other Pixar movies that don’t have a specific neighborhood at the park.
Incredibles Park received most of the attention during opening week at Pixar Pier. It has the new themed area’s highlight, the Incredicoaster. This rollercoaster is a repurposed version of California Screamin’, one of the two best original rides at Disney California Adventure (along with Soarin’ Over California).
The Incredicoaster has left the ride track and ride path intact. The changes are cosmetic, as the attraction draws inspiration from The Incredibles 2. Specifically, it plays out the idea that babysitting Jack-Jack Parr, the youngest member of the Parr family, is almost impossible. He has nearly 20 superpowers. When he escapes, he’s difficult to trade down. So, his parents and siblings must employ all of their superpowers to track Jack-Jack down.
The ride’s new theming is impeccable. You can see it for yourself here. You should also watch this comparison video to appreciate what has changed versus what has stayed the same. The most realistic evaluation is that Disney took the strong core of California Screamin’ and then elevated it by integrating characters from The Incredibles organically. It’s a tremendous feat of Imagineering.
Pixar Pier has much more than just one ride, though. The food is the breakout star thus far. This area has introduced delightful counters and carts like Senor Buzz Churros, Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums, and Abominable Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats. There’s also a new restaurant called Lamplight Lounge, and this place is so wonderful that it even has a secret room plus a patio with a spectacular view of the Incredicoaster!
Pixar Pier is an unqualified triumph for The Walt Disney Company. What’s stunning about the situation is that it might not be the best themed land that Disney debuted over the past couple of weeks. That honor might belong to…
Toy Story Land
“It’s the pictures that got small.” That quote from Sunset Boulevard is one of the most famous lines of dialogue from the classic Hollywood era. It’s also applicable to the hot new place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Land is where guests shrink down to the size of something from a motion picture. Specifically, they become small enough to see the world from the perspective of toys in Andy’s bedroom. Yes, it’s a Toy Story life that you’re living when you visit here.
While Pixar Pier is a reboot of a previous themed land, Toy Story Land is entirely new. Disney shut down several former attractions and shops to create this space. In their place sits a small-scale toy utopia with 11 acres worth of miniaturized fun.
Describing the conceit of a shrunken land isn’t easy. Let me provide an example. Children during the early 1970s had a lot of Fisher-Price toys. They were the unquestioned masters of tiny toys. Your parents or grandparents probably had the Play Family Camper, a toy RV. At Toy Story Land, you’ll see a life-sized version of this premise. It’s a permanent outdoor store that maintains the illusion that you’re in Andy’s bedroom, looking at his toys.
Toy Story Land features two new attractions plus a Disney staple. The ride that you already know and love is Toy Story Midway Mania! Disney’s modified its entrance and line queue, creating an entrance in the themed area rather than the one you’re accustomed to seeing.
The E Ticket attraction is Slinky Dog Dash, a brilliant roller coaster design whose theme enriches the ride experience. You’re onboard the Slinky Dog, and he’s going bounce you along as he runs through the new, unfinished course that Andy has built. In other words, you’re riding a gigantic slinky as a roller coaster.
Somehow, Imagineers have built a slinky simulation that will speed up or slow down a bit from your perspective, depending on where your part of the slinky is. When you’re “stretched out,” you feel like you’re going slower. When you spring back to the middle of the dog, you accelerate. Since all of this happens at high speeds, it’s a subtle effect akin to the rocking coaster carts on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Disney has once again integrated the premise of the ride directly into its construction.
The other new attraction is Alien Swirling Saucers. It embraces the idea of the Little Green Aliens from Toy Story. Their life’s purpose is to get chosen by The Claw. The story is that Andy won a playset while visiting Pizza Planet. He went home and constructed it. Then, he stuck his three-eyed toys on the new “ride.” From their perspective, they have a new Claw that might choose them.
My best description of Alien Swirling Saucers is that it combines the spinning premise from Mad Tea Party with the style of Astro Orbiter. This ride skews younger, making it a terrific choice for families. You can also control the amount of spinning, which means that it’s less of a vomit comet than Mad Tea Party.
The ride has one other clever quirk. Several concentric circles comprise the floor of the attraction. At various points, you’ll detach from one circle and then join another. It creates a level of intrigue about which way you’ll go. Here’s a video that aptly summarizes how much enjoyment people have on Alien Swirling Saucers. It’s a true crowd-pleaser.
Toy Story Land has one more outstanding selling point. Woody’s Lunch Box is a restaurant that will make anyone salivate. The kitchen here serves nothing but child-friendly comfort food, the kind that your mother or father made when you needed cheering up. After you’re done with your mood-altering grilled cheese sandwich, you WILL want dessert. They serve “lunch box tarts” here that I can only describe as Pop-Tarts with bacon bits sprinkled on top. Your mind is blown, right?
The Incredibles 2’s Explosive Debut
With two themed lands on opposite coasts pleasing guests, you’d think that Pixar’s success story would end there. Nope! The Incredibles 2 opened into theaters in June and quickly became the most successful Pixar blockbuster ever.
The film opened to $182.7 million domestically, $47.6 million more than any previous Pixar title. It has a running total of $439.7 million after 17 days and will soon surpass Finding Dory’s $484.1 million to become Pixar’s number one film in North America. Suffice to say that predicating the Incredicoaster on The Incredibles 2 was a prescient decision on Disney’s part.
Disney Spring’s New Restaurant – Terralina Crafted Italian
Disney Springs has another new restaurant! Terralina Crafted Italian opened to the public on June 28th. This restaurant features a menu crafted by Top Chef Masters contestant Tony Mantuano. The James Beard Award-winning chef has replaced his prior eatery, Portobello, with this more stylish offering.
The building recreates the northern lakes of Italy, creating a soothing backdrop for guests. As for the food, it’s decidedly Italian, making it the ideal place for fans of Italian cuisine who are getting tired of eating at the Italy Pavilion…assuming that’s possible.
On a different note that might impact some Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, a popular lounge has closed for the summer. According to Tikiman’s Facebook feed, Tamu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is scheduled to close sometime soon. It will undergo refurbishments that are expected to last a couple of months. Tikiman, the world’s foremost expert on this resort, originally indicated that the closure would occur just after July 4th. A poster has since indicated that it might not happen until early August. If you’re staying during this timeframe, you should have alternative plans in place just in case.
The Passing of a True Disney Great
Everyone who has visited Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has a favorite employee. His name is Richard Gerth, and he chose an odd retirement strategy back in 1991. He got a new job working at the Grand Floridian. He was a greeter who held the door for guests entering the facility. Due to his stylish attire, his twinkling eyes, and his unmistakable grin, Gerth cast a commanding figure at the resort. He managed this feat despite his smallish stature.
Known for his kindness and customer service acumen, Gerth befriended thousands of guests over the years. Alas, his rich, full life ended early in June. He was 92 years young and one of the most impacting Disney resort employees in the company’s history. As a sign of gratitude for everything that Mr. Gerth did for Disney fans over the years, open the door for a stranger today.
Moonlight Magic Registration Is Open
Epcot at Walt Disney World is hosting a pair of Membership Magic events this summer. On July 16th and August 15th (a Monday and a Wednesday), guests with membership cards can enjoy this free event. Disney recently opened up registration for this event. If you’re interested, you should book now as sellouts are likely.
What is Moonlight Magic? It’s a fantastic opportunity to feel like you have an entire theme park to yourself. You’ll have exclusive park access from 9:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on these days, giving you three hours to ride the most popular Epcot attractions. Moonlight Magic will also include a deejay playing music and some rare character meeting opportunities. It’s a great event AND it’s free. So, if you have a membership card and will be in the area on either day, you should sign up immediately.
DVC Website Revamped
For years, DVC members have requested upgrades to the official DVC website at DisneyVacationClub.com. A few days ago, they got their wish. Disney has refreshed the website with a new look on many key pages plus a new design.
Based on my initial experiences, the new version of the site will take some practice to get used to the changes. It’s a vastly superior way to book a room, though. You can now see a monthly calendar that displays all of the days that have available.
You can also look at multiple rooms at once. A date that’s in white is booked while one that’s dark blue is open for booking. This enhancement gives DVC members a much easier way to plan a trip and/or schedule a waitlist. It will take some practice to master, though. Even if you’re not quite ready to book a trip, I’d suggest that you pull up the website and play around with the new functionality. You’ll be better prepared when you are ready to get welcomed home.
Speaking of Welcoming Home…
Our final news item for the month is that we have a new boss at DVC. Members who have opened the latest DVC mailing know that Ken Potrock received a huge promotion. The former head of DVC is now Disney’s President of Disney Products Commercialization. After a recent reorganization, Disney has four main silos. Potrock gets to lead one of them, making him one of the most powerful people in the company.
Given his current stature, Potrock obviously leaves huge shoes to fill. His replacement and the new head of DVC is Terri A. Schultz. She was previously DVC Vice-President of Finance, and so she has tremendous familiarity with this business. Schultz was also Vice-President of New Vacation Operations & Disney Cruise Line Finance. This promotion gives her the new title of Senior Vice President of Disney Vacation Development. With three (at least) three VP titles on her resume, Schultz seems like an impeccable choice to lead DVC into its next era of greatness.