DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for April 2019
Disney enthusiasts have had quite a month. It seems like The Walt Disney Company had one of the most active months in recent memory. The honest evaluation is that three of the stories that just broke could end up among the top 10 Disney updates of the year. A lot’s happening. Let’s examine all of the highlights.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Is Just around the Corner
In last month’s DVC News, we discussed all of the updates about the park’s stores, restaurants, and attractions. Disney saved the biggest tidbit for this month, though. We now know the opening date of Star Wars Land at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Disneyland will host the world’s first version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On May 31st, the themed land will open to the public…with a few conditions. First of all, one of the attractions, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, won’t be open. Disney is saving that for an undetermined time that they’ve named Phase Two.
Phase One is the official opening day. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will be the only attraction open on May 31st. Everyone won’t gain admission to the themed land, though. Disney will require reservations during this timeframe, which ends on June 23rd. Guests without reservations are out of luck, as Galaxy’s Edge won’t have standby admission during its first 3 ½ weeks.
The main way to guarantee a reservation for Galaxy’s Edge is by staying at an official Disneyland resort. In other words, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members booked at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa are in business. Everyone else must get a reservation there or at Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel. Otherwise, your only other option is to participate in a lottery system for advanced reservations to Star Wars Land. Disney hasn’t published details about this system yet.
At Walt Disney World, the opening date is much earlier than expected. Galaxy’s Edge will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29th, 2019. It will apparently not have a reservation system in place. Instead, Disney will use Grand Avenue as a holding area for guests waiting for Star Wars Land entrance.
DVC members who want to visit Disney’s latest and presumably greatest themed land should start booking now. Park officials are understandably expecting hotels to approach maximum occupancy throughout the first few months of the opening of Galaxy’s Edge.
Disney’s Fox Purchase Is Complete
On March 20th, 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger cut a check for $71.3 billion. On that date, Disney officially acquired most major assets of 21st Century Fox, a transaction that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. In the process, your favorite company gained the entire Fox library of television shows and movies. The reality is that Disney effectively doubled the size of its media assets.
The explanations for Disney’s interest in Fox are plentiful. Later this year, the company will debut Disney+, their streaming service frequently described as a Netflix killer. They can populate the Disney+ library with several Fox films and TV programs. In addition, all of the prominent licenses like The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Futurama are now a part of Disney. While licensing rules mean that Universal Studios still has rights to The Simpsons, Disney merchandising is still possible. And I’m sure that high-priced attorneys are currently researching every possible loophole to give Disney a chance at adding Homer and Marge to the Happiest Place on Earth. Don’t hold your breath, though. Even so, Disney can and will sell plenty of Simpsons merchandise, a lucrative revenue stream.
Finally, all of the characters from the Marvel universe that Fox previously licensed are now back at Disney. The X-Men, Fantastic Four, and even Deadpool are all potential teams and characters available to add to the Marvel Cinematic Universe now. Many of them are also eligible for park presences, too. The only ones that would be problematic are characters like Doctor Doom and Spider-Man, Marvel icons who already have rides at Universal.
The Riviera Resort Points Chart Is Published
In any ordinary month, information about an upcoming DVC resort would be the lead story. This month, it’s clearly third…at best. Still, Disney’s Riviera Resort is only a few months away from opening to the public, and DVC recently revealed all the important details about the resort.
For starters, the points chart is now published. The hot topic over the past few months is how much a one-night stay in a Tower Studio would cost. We have that answer. These rooms start at 11 points on a weekday during Adventure Season. They max out at 26 points on a weekend night during Premier Season.
Deluxe Studios fall into the middle tier of DVC resorts. The range is 15-26 points nightly most of the year, although Premier Season is as much as 39 points. All non-Tower Studio rooms except for the three-bedroom grand villa have two categories based on views. Standard is the cheaper booking, while Preferred requires more points, as you’d expect. The Preferred rooms will look out at Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Please remember that Disney has altered ownership rules for Disney’s Riviera Resort. You should read about the changes before deciding to buy a direct contract here, as there’s some question about whether DVC has devalued this particular property.
The other thing we know about the cost of ownership here is that the maintenance fees are starting high at $8.31 per point. Presumably, part of this explanation is the cost of adjoining Disney Skyliner connection, which is frankly worth whatever price Disney wants to charge members for it. While the Riviera looks lovely, the reality is that direct transportation to Hollywood Studios and the World Showcase at Epcot is the main selling point of the hotel. DVC members will delight in the logistics here.
A Few Major Park Changes
With Star Wars Land just around the corner, park officials seemed to put all of their affairs in order over the past month. They altered several aspects of park visits, starting with the price. Walt Disney World joined Disneyland in raising 2019 prices by a significant amount. They also increased the cost of parking as well. There’s a new tiered pricing system just to park. We’ve reached the point where we need a calendar and an abacus to know how much we’ll pay for a Disney park visit.
The other huge news at Disney is that they’ve altered some rules for park attendance. The major ones impact smokers and parents who use strollers. Smokers took the brunt of it, as Disney has finally joined most other major establishments by banning smoking in its parks. This change applies to the vape crowd, too.
As for strollers, those oversized novelty strollers shaped like royal carriages have caused too many problems. Disney’s updated rules state that strollers wider than 31 inches or taller than 52 inches are no longer allowed. Park officials will work with guests who attempt to bring oversized strollers into the parks.
Oh, loose and dry ice are on the bad list, too. Guests will be asked to remove them from coolers. All of these changes go into effect on May 1st, just in time for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Disney wants to streamline and enhance the park experience for all guests.
New and Coming Soon to Disney Parks
With so many significant stories this month, you may have missed a few others that will enrich future park visits. Let’s start with the two that will impact the hotel stays of DVC members the most.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas is among the most beloved of all DVC properties. The explanation for its appeal is the proximity to Epcot along with the resort’s mini-water park, Stormalong Bay. As mentioned last month, Disney added cabanas at Stormalong Bay in March. They are now open to guests at the cost of $299 for a full day or $199 for half a day from March to the end of September. Disney views the offseason as October through the end of February. Prices are lower then, at $249 for a full day or $149 for half a day.
Guests at other resorts have Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach as their main options. I mention this because Disney’s modified their bus routes. You can now take a bus from your DVC resort straight to the water parks. The change is that the theme parks no longer have direct routes to the water parks. When you want to leave a theme park and head over to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, you must first catch a ride to a resort. Then, you’ll take a bus from there.
Speaking of the parks, Hollywood Studios received a new attraction this past week. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy opened and immediately delighted guests with its child-friendly show. In this presentation, characters from the world of Cars offer race tips, but the description undersells the digital mastery on display in this theater. The Lightning McQueen audio-animatronic is extremely impressive, and there are high-tech digital displays seemingly everywhere.
Meanwhile, on the other coast, Disney California Adventure will get something that fans have wanted for a long time. Mickey’s PhilHarmagic will open at Sunset Showcase Theater in April. When this happens, Shanghai Disney will become the only Disney park without a PhilHarmagic attraction. I will point out that Sunset Showcase Theater has previously hosted Muppet*Vision 3D and the Frozen Singalong. So, based on recent history, PhilHarmagic isn’t guaranteed to last. Plan to visit over the next 18 months just to be safe.
At Hollywood Studios, Disney’s making another Galaxy’s Edge-related change. They’re enabling Advanced Dining Reservations at a Quick Service restaurant. ABC Commissary, one of the most crowded eateries at the park, will accept reservations beginning on June 2nd.
The process will work similar to Be Our Guest’s lunch service. You’ll check in, order, and receive a pager. Then, you’ll sit down at a table and wait for the pager to notify you that the meal is ready. The goal here is to prevent a lot of aggravation at ABC Commissary when Star Wars Land opens. You’ll know ahead of time that you need a reservation to guarantee your party a table. It’s a smart move.
Finally, Disney’s opened twin restaurants at Disney Springs. The new eateries are Jaleo and Pepe, both of which are from celebrity chef and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jose Andres. Pepe is the counter service side of the restaurant, while Jaleo, the high-end Table Service establishment, is a tapas lover’s dream. Tim Tracker recently visited and has an excellent display of many menu items in this video. Warning: you may salivate when you see the various small plates.