DVC Resale Market’s Disney News for September 2018
The city that The Walt Disney Company turned into a tourist mecca is feuding with the theme park inexorably associated with it. Yes, Anaheim and Disneyland are in a public tiff, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this month’s Disney news.
Downtown Disney Hotel Project on Hold
Over the past year, Disney’s planned the construction of a much needed resort at Downtown Disney. They went so far as to close several businesses at the entertainment district. A theater, some restaurants, and some stores all shut down in anticipation of Disney breaking ground on their new property. Disney Vacation Club (DVC) fans were ecstatic at the thought of this new resort, as rumors suggested that it would include new ownership options at some point.
An unexpected turn of events has stopped this construction project in its tracks. Disney ran into a bit of political strife as they dealt with Anaheim’s city council. The details of it are a bit maddening. A couple of years ago, the local government authorized $267 million in tax breaks to Disney as a way of incentivizing the company to add more jobs to the Anaheim economy.
The stated address for this project was 1401 Disneyland Drive. Park planners later altered their build plans a bit, choosing a preferred location at 1601 Disneyland Drive. Yes, that’s only two blocks away, a distance approximately 1,500 feet south of the original build site.
Amazingly, the city council pushed back at this move, announcing that the tax incentive only applied to the exact location of 1401 Disneyland Drive. It’s important to add that after the tax deal was announced, a few people decided to run for Anaheim’s city council specifically to oppose this deal. Some of them won, meaning that the composition of the board is no longer the same. The opponents of the tax incentive have won, too.
What changed? After Disney threatened to shut down the resort’s construction, Anaheim’s city planners cordially invited them to do so, thereby calling what may or may not have been a bluff. As a counter, Disney requested that the city end a decades-long practice in place. The corporation is no longer the recipient of a tax ban.
You’re probably wondering why Disney would do this. The short answer is that they believe they can save money. By ending their tax deal with the city of Anaheim, Disney is no longer subject to the proposed minimum wage increase coming to the area. Early estimates suggest that the corporation could save $100 million annually by avoiding these salary increase triggers that will become permanent in 2022.
The good news for Disney is currently bad news for you. DVC fans are well aware of the limited inventory available at the Happiest Place on Earth. The Grand Californian is the only option, and it’s frequently booked prior to the opening of the seven-month window. A new resort could double the amount of DVC rooms available. Stay tuned to see whether Disney moves forward with the project in the wake of their major changes in Anaheim-based corporate taxes.
One DVC Resort Is Almost Here
While bureaucrats and bean counters debate the fate of the Downtown Disney resort, DVC members did get some good news this month. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation awarded the company a timeshare license for the upcoming 15th resort. Yes, Disney has the official governmental authorization to start selling points at Disney’s Riviera Resort, which will open in 2019. So, the corporation gets along better with the Floridian governments than the Californian ones at the moment.
Straws and Lids Are off the Menu at Disney Theme Parks!
Welcome to the future of Disney theme park visits! This piece of Tomorrowland is a bit different than the one you’ve known. It’s largely plastic-free. In last month’s article, we discussed the corporation’s decision to reduce the number of straws, lids, and stirrers at their theme parks. The stated goal is to improve the environmental friendliness at Disney.
What we couldn’t have anticipated is how quickly the changes have come. As of this week, Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland no longer provide straws, at least not automatically. Your server will provide them on request, but the hope is that when you’re not immediately given a straw, you won’t think to order one. In the process, the restaurants will need millions less annually.
Similarly, counter service restaurants have eliminated lids on their standard cups. The downside of this decision is that spills have increased at these Quick Service eateries. We’re confident that Disney’s working on a solution for this new problem, too. One thing’s for sure. We’re not going back to a strong reliance on plastics at Disney theme parks.
New Walt Disney World Restaurants and Experiences Coming
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is in the midst of a major overhaul. As part of the project, Disney has shuttered Shutters (sorry). The former restaurant space will soon become a more tightly themed eatery.
Sebastian’s Bistro will serve Latin and Caribbean cuisine, presumably featuring ingredients that come from under the sea. Yes, the star here is Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, who hopefully won’t serve any crab dishes. That would be creepy.
Disney’s adding a second new restaurant onsite. Centertown Market is a Quick Service restaurant that will have what the company describes as an “indoor street market vibe.” It’ll quickly become one of the best places to nosh among all Disney resort counter service options.
Another restaurant at this resort also received some delightful news. Spyglass Grill is only a few months old, but Disney’s already plussed it. They’ve added Mobile Ordering as a feature, making this the first counter service resort restaurant to claim this feature. Yes, you can grab your food and go here, taking it back to your room or the pool or wherever. It may fundamentally alter your dining patterns during a Disney vacation.
Meanwhile, a different Walt Disney World resort is getting a new character meal. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, home to two different DVC properties, will alter the dinner concept at its Signature Restaurant. Artist Point has struggled to book all of its tables in recent years. In an attempt to enhance its appeal, Disney’s introducing a few new friends.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will become the stars of Storybook Dining at Artist Point. And yes, a certain Evil Queen will also hold court at this character meal. Disney promises an Enchanted Forest setting for the dinner. It will feature a “uniquely themed prix fixe menu.” If this dining experience maintains the Signature Dining status of Artist Point, it’ll be the second prix fixe meal involving a beloved Disney character the company’s added in 2018, following on the heels of Be Our Guest.
The New Digital Room Key at Resorts
You always have your phone with you. Don’t even try to pretend that you don’t. It’s your most important device, and Imagineers know this. You may forget your Magic Band or room badge, but you would NEVER forget your phone.
For this reason, Disney’s introduced brilliant new technology called Digital Key. With this feature, you can unlock your hotel room door by using your phone! You simply pull up your reservation, load the My Disney Experience app, and tap the “Unlock Door” menu option. Voila! You’ve performed a magic trick that would impress Sorcerer Mickey!
Digital Key debuted earlier in 2018. As of this month, it’s now available at all Walt Disney World resorts. From now on, your phone will unlock the door at all of your DVC rooms. It’ll provide you access to hotel pools and other private access areas, too. Yes, Disney just made your phone better than ever!
Huge Changes Coming to Tomorrowland
Disney revealed that the Tomorrowland you know and love will soon look quite a bit different. In anticipation of the upcoming Tron Lightcycle Power Run, this themed land requires some changes. The stadium for the new roller coaster is huge, and it will need more space.
For this reason, Disney will close Tomorrowland Speedway in early 2019. No, it’s not going away for good. Instead, Disney’s altering the tracks and possibly making some other changes to the ride experience. They were a bit coy with the details, but one thing’s for certain. If you love the current version of Tomorrowland Speedway, ride it as much as you can over the course of 2018. After that, it’s going away for a while, and it may look and feel quite a bit different when it returns.
A Few Quick Hits
Here are a few other Disney news items that you might have missed. Disneyland Resort will host Día de los Muertos from September 7th through November 2nd this year. It’s a wonderful event highlighted by Plaza de la Familia, a digital tribute to loved ones you may have lost over the years.
Owners at Bay Lake Tower received a bit of sad news this week. Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre has closed after 20 years in operation. Disney fans have loved the hobbies available here such as parasailing and waterskiing. Alas, water sports on Bay Lake have shrunk in popularity in recent years, and the indemnification concerns here must be significant. It’s a disappointing but understandable decision.
The final huge announcement for Disney fans this month is that D-23 tickets are now on sale! The 2017 version of the event rivals any Disney event since Walt Disney revealed Epcot in 1966. We previously listed 17 different spectacular reveals from D-23 2017. The 2019 version of the event could be every bit as gripping. It’ll be the time when Disney reveals the road map toward the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021. D-23 2019 is certain to sell out, so you should buy your tickets now. I already got mine and hope to see you there!