DVC Resale Market’s Disney News for May 2018
The Walt Disney Company has announced a lot of exciting changes at their various theme parks over the past month. They’ve also introduced some new features at the parks and on the My Disney Experience app. They’ve even broken the most important of all movie box office records. Let’s take a look at Disney’s most important news over the past 30 days.
New Character Meetings and Attractions
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney California Adventure both introduced impressive character events in April. UP! A Great Bird Adventure opened as a permanent successor to Flights of Wonder, the now-retired bird show. UP! has a similar theme, educational information about various species of birds. The difference is that the hosts are Dug and Russell from the beloved Pixar movie, Up. The show is already available online if you want to watch it.
Animal Kingdom also has a giant mech wandering through Pandora – The World of Avatar. Befitting the movie on which it’s based, this mech grabs attention to its size. A cast member rides inside of it as the “driver,” and this person hosts an environmentally friendly discussion about the world of Pandora. The meeting also includes a “Banshee Calling” competition. You can watch it here to appreciate the novelty of a massive robot.
The Epcot character spot is a bit different. It’s a show at the America Gardens Theatre in the World Showcase. Here, you can watch Star-Lord and Gamora dance and sing five times a day during a special event called Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live!. Disney will host this show from June 9th through August 19th. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise will relish this opportunity to get Hooked on a Feeling Peter Quill style.
Not to be outdone, Disney California Adventure (DCA) has become the functional headquarters for The Avengers at the Disneyland Resort. DCA announced the arrival of Doctor Strange earlier in the month, and that seemed like a huge character meeting at the time. Since then, the Disney Parks Blog has revealed that Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Gamora, Loki, Spider-Man, and Thor are all appearing at Hollywood Land throughout the day. That’s almost enough Avengers to have an Infinity War! Speaking of which…
Avengers: Infinity War Breaks the Biggest Box Office Record
After a decade of movies that take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), everything had led up to one title. Avengers: Infinity War finally debuted in theaters and, as long expected, it became an immediate box office phenomenon. To wit, it did something that most box office analysts had deemed impossible.
Avengers: Infinity War just earned $258 million in domestic box office during its opening weekend. Presuming that the estimates hold – and since both films in question are Disney titles, it should – Infinity War has usurped the greatest box office record in existence from another Disney movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which earned $248 million over its first three days.
In the process, Disney claimed the top two spots on the all-time opening weekend list, the most sacred of all box office records. More impressively, Disney now owns nine (!) out of the ten best opening weekends ever in North America. Jurassic World, which debuted to $208.8 million, is the only non-Disney title in the top ten.
In a humorous turn of events, the opening of Infinity War reminded people that they needed to see Black Panther, too. That film returned to the top five after a two-week absence, giving two MCU titles in the top five. On many levels, this was a historic weekend for Disney. Infinity War also broke the new-ish record for biggest global release. Its $630 million worldwide take is more than $88 million more than the previous record. Yes, Infinity War just did 14 percent better than any film ever before.
Improving the Tech for Disney Theme Park Guests
Over the past 30 days, Disney illuminated theme park guests about several upcoming changes to their various parks. Some of them are simple ones that won’t be a big deal most of the year. For example, Disney Annual Pass holders and anyone who wants to become one will like a new feature. Guests can purchase an Annual Pass through My Disney Experience. It’s an added level of convenience that streamlines the process. It only helps you once a year, though.
Several other changes are much grander in scope. The most important one in the United States is that Mobile Ordering is about to debut at Disneyland. The system isn’t quite a year old at Walt Disney World, but it’s already revolutionized the way that park visitors eat. With Mobile Ordering, a person can grab their smart device and load the My Disney Experience app. Then, they can pull up the Mobile Ordering service to choose a restaurant, order a meal, and pay for it.
Once they arrive at the restaurant, park guests enter a special line where their food is waiting for them. You may worry about the food getting cold, but you have more control over this aspect than you might expect. When you’re in the general vicinity of the restaurant, the app will ask whether you’re ready to have your food prepared. So, if it gets cold, it’s on you for saying you were ready when you weren’t. Mobile Ordering will be available soon on the Disneyland app.
New Tech and Features at Wilderness Lodge
The Walt Disney World app will also provide a new feature in the coming days. Starting at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in a matter of days, Disney will add a digital key option to the My Disney Experience app. The idea is that people carry their smartphones with them at all times. So, Disney might as well give phones the ability to unlock hotel room doors.
As long as you link your cell to your My Disney Experience account, you can wave your phone at the same spot on your door where a Magic Band unlocks it. The door should open just the same with the phone’s digital key. And yes, the twin DVC properties at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will participate in this program. Disney has also indicated that the service will expand quickly to the other properties on site, meaning that this is the future of door opening at Walt Disney World.
While we’re talking about Wilderness Lodge, the hotel has created a new private lounge at Reunion Station. This area is for certain Disney Vacation Club members, cardholders. Presuming that you are one, you have access to delicious foods and beverages plus special classes. These tutorial sessions are workshops like “Phone Photography” and “Animation 101.”
Disney does charge for these classes at a cost of $40 per person. The lounge itself is $50 per adult and $33 for each child aged 3-9. In addition to the food, the ostensible selling point is that Reunion Station also provides concierge services. For that price, you also get a continental breakfast and access to an evening mixer for (paying) DVC members. It’s yet another questionable upcharge at Walt Disney World.
Tech outside the United States
This month’s major news updates contain a lot of tech-related news as Disney continues to emphasize a streamlined guest experience. Fans of Tokyo Disneyland have clamored for such convenience since the advent of the Magic Band. They’re finally receiving a long-needed smartphone app a la My Disney Experience.
The goal is to reduce the stress of park visitors who face constant mobs. Park congestion at Tokyo Disneyland is almost unimaginable. The app’s functionality should alleviate some of the admission issues while providing a ShopDisney-esque way to buy park merchandise without waiting in a huge line.
Amazingly, this news item wasn’t the biggest one at Tokyo Disneyland last month. Park officials finally confirmed a longstanding rumor that a huge expansion is in the offing. This resort is already considered one of the finest Disney parks in the world, even though Disney doesn’t technically own it. The Oriental Land Company does instead, using a Disney license for their intellectual property.
Tokyo DisneySea, in particular, is beloved by theme park enthusiasts, many of whom hoped that a third gate would happen soon. Alas, this dream died hard when The Oriental Land Company confirmed that the expansion would involve existing gates. The Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea parks will receive all of the new attractions and expansions, which is still amazing news. These two gates are already amazing, and new areas will siphon some of the park traffic to new places. The expansion kills two birds with one stone.
DVC News That Affects You!
There was a pair of DVC reveals this month that either directly or indirectly impact you as a program participant. The indirect impact stems from a change in management. The Walt Disney Company reorganized their divisions in March, and these decisions have had ramifications on several departments. In particular, Disney Signature Experiences has new leadership.
You may not be familiar with the name, but this branch of Disney oversees several aspects of theme park and cruise line businesses within the company. It’s previously been subject to some turnover, as Karl Holz retired from the position in 2017. His replacement, Anthony Connelly, apparently didn’t work out as he’s apparently not working for Disney these days.
The new person in charge of Disney Signature Experiences (and DVC) is Jeff Vahle. He is best known as the leader of Disney’s Facilities and Operations Services, a job title he will maintain. He’s simply been assigned new duties as part of the reorg. Vahle also holds an esteemed title on his resume. He was the General Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom the year that it opened. That tidbit alone should make you believe that the DVC program is in great hands.
Whether Vahle is responsible for the initiative or not, Disney has introduced another wonderful idea at their DVC resorts. Upon check-in, you’ll discover a customer satisfaction survey in your room along with a note from the General Manager requesting this feedback. The letter even includes an email address when you can’t fill out the survey during your stay.
The goal is to understand the minds of DVC program participants to learn what they love and don’t love about their rooms and hotel stays. Each time that you stay at a resort, PLEASE take the time to fill out this survey while it’s fresh in your mind. Everyone benefits from Disney receiving honest feedback about their resorts.
Even More Park News!
Let’s close out this month’s news update with a few miscellaneous items. A fun one involves the Norway Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase. Disney has constructed a new exhibit with the color name of Gods of the Vikings. This display highlights several of the beloved characters from Norse mythology, some of whom you know from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The next time that you’re at Epcot, you need to check this out.
On a transportation note, park officials have decided that the Minnie Vans are here to stay. The new ride-sharing service was the talk of Walt Disney World when the snazzy vehicles arrived. Since then, they’ve only grown in popularity to the point that guests are clamoring to make Minnie Van airport transports possible.
Disney actually consented, at least for concierge floor guests at certain resorts, although rumors suggest that this service might also become permanent and readily available to everyone soon. When you ride in a Minnie Van, you feel like park royalty. Disney was smart to add this service and now to finalize its sustained presence at the parks.
We also learned the Fast Pass tiers for the new Toy Story Land expansion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. To no one’s surprise, the two new attractions, Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash, are both in the A Group, the top tier. They join Toy Story: Midway Mania! on this level.
The pleasant ripple effect of these new attractions is that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will drop to the second tier in a couple of months. That will make FastPass decisions so much easier. You’ll pick the Toy Story Land attraction that you prefer, and then you can add Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster as your second and third options. It makes park planning that much easier.
Disney also unveiled the menu for Woody’s Lunch Box. I’ll link it here along with a few magic words: Bacon on a Pop-Tart! Everything about this restaurant looks equal parts adorable and delicious. I’ll link you to the menu, but you shouldn’t read it until your stomach is full. Otherwise, you’ll get the munchies!
Finally, Pixar Fest is underway at Disney California Adventure! This special event lasts through September 3rd, effectively making this the summer of Pixar at DCA. The early highlights are the two parades, the Pixar Play Parade and the Paint the Night Parade. Both of them have received updates to make them more Pixar-y than ever before.
Disney’s also created a wonderful fireworks exhibition entitled Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular. You can watch highlights of it here. The event also includes special Pixar-based food and merchandise that’s only available for a limited time. Over the next few weeks, other additions will arrive at Pixar Fest, most notably the debut of the Incredicoaster. The Parks blog just revealed the gorgeous, colorful coaster carts for the attraction. DCA is THE Pixar park moving forward, and Pixar Fest is the event that starts the transition!