DVC Resale Market’s Disney News for October 2018
September featured one bombshell announcement after another for Disney fans. We learned that Walt Disney World ticket prices have changed again, a couple of beloved attractions are closed for the next six months, a prize-winning fireworks display is ending and a new character meal is available. This month’s Disney Vacation Club (DVC) news includes a lot of important information.
New Disney Ticket Pricing
Remember when The Walt Disney Company altered their ticket prices? You’re thinking, “which time?” And that’s valid. I’m referencing the change to surge pricing — the system wherein the cost of admission changes depending on the season.
After a couple of years of research, Disney’s decided that they’re all in on this pricing model. This week, the Disney Parks Blog revealed a new online ticket pricing page. Starting on October 16th, this destination will show date-based ticket costs. The charges will vary not just by date but also by park. You may discover that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is regularly cheaper than Magic Kingdom in the short term. When Star Wars Land opens, this situation could easily reverse.
Disney’s goal here is the same one that it always is. They want to maximize revenue for park days without increasing foot traffic. They know precisely how many people the parks can hold before guest surveys indicate that customers become dissatisfied. Disney claims that these changes are necessary to balance park attendance throughout the year. You can watch this video to learn how the new Disney date-based ticket system.
Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch on Hiatus
The introduction of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has caused unexpected issues. Park planners have been forced to deal with the reality that some portions of the park are in need of dramatic updates. The brilliance of Pandora causes the lagging sections to seem mediocre by comparison … and mediocre isn’t acceptable to Imagineers.
This week, Disney announced to cast members at two of its attractions that their jobs would change for a while. The workers at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station are receiving new assignments in the short term. This has happened because those two attractions will mostly close until the spring of 2019. The lone exception is the veterinary hospital, which will remain in operation.
Disney’s effectively closing an entire themed land for six months or more. The decision is a bit curious since Animal Kingdom has experienced record traffic over the past calendar year. The company deems the closure necessary in order to repair several elements of the area. The current plan is to renovate Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch to modernize the experience for guests. During the downtime, the Wildlife Express Train won’t operate, either.
IllumiNations Ending in 2019
Since September 23, 1999, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth has signaled the end of an era at Epcot. Park guests hang out at the World Showcase and watch the pyrotechnics display before heading to the front gate. It’s one of the longest running and most successful shows in theme park history. In fact, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and the Golden Ticket Awards have both awarded IllumiNations with prizes for its excellence.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. At some point next summer, Disney will end the run of IllumiNations. They plan to replace it with another World Showcase fireworks exhibition later in the fall. The belief is that IllumiNations has run its course. With digital projection technology advancing so rapidly over the past 20 years, Disney wants to host a new state-of-the-art show akin to Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom.
So, people who are huge fans of IllumiNations should plan to attend at some point over the next 10 months. Otherwise, you’ve already watched IllumiNations for the last time. *sniffle*
You Can’t Keep a Good Earl Down
Last month in our September Disney news blog post, we discussed shocking decision to shut down the Downtown Disney hotel project at Disneyland Resort. The surprising aspect of this move was that Disney had already closed several revenue-generating businesses. The corporation suffered those financial losses for a project that was no long assured of moving forward.
Park planners have come up with an immediate fix for at least one of the issues. Earl of Sandwich, the beloved counter service restaurant, is no longer dead! Disney had closed it in anticipation of breaking ground on the new hotel. With that project on hold, the best sandwiches at Disneyland are back on the menu! October 1st marks the return of the previously dead restaurant. They should serve some sort of zombie or phoenix sandwich to celebrate!
A New Character Meal at a Beloved DVC Resort!
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a favorite of DVC members. We love it so much that DVC doubled up on the resort ownership options here. Whether you’re welcomed home at Boulder Ridge Villas or Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, you’re still spending your nights at Wilderness Lodge. And you know that the resort is home to one of the best signature dining experiences at Walt Disney World!
Artist Point is a hidden gem that DVC members suggest to one another like it’s a secret club. Located just past the lobby of the hotel — it’s easy to find and wonderful to experience. The savory foods on display here are staggeringly tasty. As I type this, it’s one of the top 150 restaurants in all of Orlando. There’s just one problem. It’s never super busy.
Disney cannot stand when one of their restaurants suffers from low attendance. In an effort to heighten awareness of this truly spectacular restaurant, the company’s introducing a new character meal to boost sales. Yes, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will host a meal at Artist Point! Their mortal enemy, the Evil Queen, will make an appearance, too. I should note that the logistics of nine characters is functionally impossible. As such, only Dopey and Grumpy are guaranteed to appear out of the dwarfs.
The official name of the experience is Storybook Dining at Artist Point. Disney has indicated that the meal will be available for dinner only. Promising an Enchanted Forest-like setting and a prix fixe menu akin to the one that was recently introduced at the Be Our Guest restaurant. The meals will begin “this winter”, although no official launch date has been announced yet.
Free advice, don’t eat the apple!
Alcohol at the Happiest Place on Earth?
Anyone who has visited a Disney-based message board recently has almost assuredly heard the news. Star Wars Land will include a new smuggler’s hotspot called Oga’s Cantina. Since Black Spire Outpost is on the edge of the galaxy, its population consists of roughnecks and outlaws. And these folks need a drink!
Yes, Oga’s Cantina will open when the new themed land debuts during the summer of 2019. When it does, the cantina will become the first mainstream restaurant at Disneyland to sell alcohol. I’m not including Club 33 in this discussion since it’s a members only establishment.
Disney’s decision to sell alcohol onsite has caused a firestorm of media attention and a large amount of internet debate. The same thing happened in the months leading up to the opening of Be Our Guest, of course, and Magic Kingdom’s alcohol sales proved to be a non-issue. It’s still a trigger for those who maintain that Disneyland should respect all of Walt Disney’s wishes, one of which was never to sell alcohol at a family-friendly theme park. I have no strong opinions either way, but I do admire people who are so respectful of Uncle Walt’s beliefs.
Let’s close this month with a series of quick notes that will cause DVC members to smile.
The first one is that Disney has confirmed dates for half of its 2019 Epcot festivals. The Epcot Festival of the Arts will take place from January 18th through February 25th, 2019. A few weeks later, the storied Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will return. Its 2019 dates are March 6th through June 3rd. At this point, four festivals per year are the norm at Epcot. It’s a good reason to pick up a DVC contract at either Disney’s Boardwalk Villas or Disney’s Beach Club Villas.
Speaking of Walt Disney World resorts, Disney’s taken some longstanding criticism to heart. The company’s rededicated itself to delivering high-quality WiFi network feeds at their resorts. Given the reliance on My Disney Experience, it’s an overdue decision.
The first resort to receive upgraded WiFi is Disney’s Pop Century Resort, but the expectation is that all Walt Disney World properties will have superior connectivity by the time Disney’s Riviera Resort debuts in 2019. You can safely livestream all your favorite park moments without fear of those dreaded “I’m getting buffering messages” complaints from your followers!
One of the oddest reveals in September involved Splash Mountain and…Ziploc bags? Yes, Disney has a new sponsor with a clever tie-in to a beloved attraction. Quick, what’s your worst fear about a wet ride? You worry that your phone will get wet, forcing you to stick it in a bag of rice while you frantically read your warranty.
Well, Disney and Ziploc have a solution! They’re giving out Ziploc bags large enough to store your primary electronic devices while you take a ride through the Laughing Place. Once you exit Splash Mountain, you can take your electronics out of the Ziploc bag and either deposit it in the nearby recyclable station or keep it for future use. Give Disney credit — as far as corporate sponsorships go, this one fills a need.
PhotoPass and Memory Maker fans also got some great news this past week. Disney Springs has a special PhotoPass center where Disney fans can take special commemorative photos. During October, unique photo ops will be available to guests. You can see the Fall Virtual Backdrops here, but the primary selling point is obvious. During October, you and your traveling party can take three different Haunted Mansion-related pictures! There’s also a “Maleficent” themed one if you feel like fighting a dragon. Yes, I’m serious.
Finally, Disney movie lovers should hit YouTube ASAP. You’ll discover new trailers for Captain Marvel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Mary Poppins Returns. If the sight of Dick Van Dyke dancing at 90 doesn’t make you smile, you and I are very different people. Also, I should mention that production on Jungle Cruise has wrapped. You can watch The Rock and Emily Blunt talk about it here. Also, if you missed the set reveal, you should look at this tweet too.