DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for December 2019
Well, we’re down to the last month of 2019. As a new decade approaches, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members have plenty of cause for excitement. In recent days, we’ve learned about a new resort, witnessed the debut of Disney+, and watched holiday decorations pop up at our favorite hotels. Disney’s had an unusually hectic month. Here’s the latest DVC News for December of 2019.
A New DVC Resort at Disneyland!
Disney’s Riviera Resort hasn’t even opened yet, but DVC members are already anticipating more in 2022. That’s the year when Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge arrives. DVC members had hoped for a second resort around that timeframe, but the plans fell through in 2018.
The Anaheim City Council refused to modify the rules for a $267 million tax credit. Disney wanted to construct a property at Downtown Disney. Unfortunately, they chose a place that was two blocks beyond the agreed-upon building zone. Anaheim wouldn’t budge, which caused Disney to cancel the project.
Only 13 months later, Disney has come up with an impeccable Plan B. The company has submitted the paperwork for a 350-room sky-rise hotel at Disneyland Resort. Specifically, Disney wants to build right by Disneyland Hotel, a strategy similar to Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
The planned 12-story resort will possess only half of the proposed rooms as the Downtown Disney property would have. However, the new plan calls for a full DVC resort rather than a shared hotel space. So, it’s terrific news for those of us who would love to visit Disneyland, if only we could ever book a room there.
The inventory at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the smallest among DVC properties. Obviously, adding 350 rooms will dramatically increase Disneyland Resort inventory.
Disney+ Demolishes Expectations
The Walt Disney Company features four distinct divisions. While Disney Parks, Experiences and Products stands as its own entity, the financial performance of the other three segments impacts it significantly. In other words, the parks are best when all four Disney sectors work well.
CEO Robert Iger’s massive gamble on the future of Disney didn’t even involve the parks, though. Instead, Iger attempted to disrupt the over-the-top (OTT) streaming media industry with a new app, Disney+.
This service contains a massive back catalog of Disney movie and television programming, along with some modern blockbusters. In fact, Iger somehow managed to include Avengers: Endgame as part of the Disney+ debut.
Over the past few months, Disney has gambled significant resources on this project, with some analysts stating that the future of the company depends on the service. Well, Disney fans can all rest comfortably.
Disney+ immediately became a jaw-dropping success. Streaming service analysts had forecasted somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.8-3.2 million first-day subscribers for the new product.
A day later, these estimates seemed laughably low when Disney confirmed 10 million subscribers to Disney+. A later report suggested that an average of one million people sign up for the service each day. Several financial gurus had indicated that Disney would gain 10 million subscribers by the end of calendar 2020. Disney+ might double those estimates in a single month.
Not coincidentally, something amazing happened with Disney’s stock over the last few days. The publicly traded stock reached historic highs and gave the company its largest valuation ever. This happened three times in ten days. Iger’s gamble on Disney+ has paid huge dividends already, and the product won’t even be available in many international markets until March!
A Strange FuelRod Update
Last month, Disney unexpectedly changed the signs for FuelRod kiosks. The service had formerly presented itself as a one-time purchase. Park guests pay $30 once, and then they get to swap out their empty FuelRod batteries for charged ones. The selling point is that guests can do it as often as needed, thereby assuring that smart devices remain charged.
Then, Disney announced that they’d introduce a new surcharge of $3 per switch. This change did not prove popular with the Disney community. Frequent visitors, especially the ones who live in Orlando and Anaheim, railed against the policy update. They decried yet another price increase, one that could add up quickly.
Some enterprising individuals filed a class-action suit against the two companies that own FuelRod. Had the suit moved forward successfully, the companies reasonably could have had to file for bankruptcy. Sensing the precarious position that their partners were in, Disney relented and threw out the proposed rule change.
FuelRod battery swaps will remain free for the foreseeable future. It sounds like the contract legalese didn’t favor FuelRod’s owners. Plus, Disney would have irritated a lot of loyal customers for a modest financial gain.
Space 220 Coming in 2020
Epcot fans have witnessed a great deal of change in recent months. As park officials plan for a better tomorrow, several stores and attractions had to close. Disney needed the space.
For this reason, anything new seems like a significant enhancement at Epcot right now. Park fans had looked forward to the impending debut of Space 220, the outer space-themed restaurant that will reside beside Mission: SPACE. Unfortunately, those plans got delayed for a strange reason.
The Patina Group, the company operating Space 220, had hired two chefs to lead the staff. A competing organization, Wynn Vegas, poached the employees only weeks before the restaurant’s scheduled opening. Since the sous chef and executive chef have significant input over the menu, their absence forced a delay.
Disney now plans to open Space 220 in 2020, which seems like a numerically correct decision anyway. Space 220 opening in 2019 doesn’t look right, does it? Nevertheless, the replacement chefs are already in the fold, and so the restaurant should be ready in another two to three months.
It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas
DVC members know that the best place to be during the holiday season is at a Disney theme park. Nobody does holiday decorations like Disney. And the company seems like it’s on a mission to make the 2019 yuletide celebration the best one ever.
Starting on November 1st, Disney converted several DVC resorts to their holiday style. Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened its annual Gingerbread display/kitchen, and the fourth floor smells so incredible that I wished I could upload the scent to the internet. That fragrance could bring about world peace.
At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the beloved Gingerbread House is back for the 20th year. Similarly, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn brings back the Boardwalk Bakery for another year. The hotel’s exterior decorations this year are absolutely breathtaking, too. And Disney’s Beach Club Resort brings back the always-popular Gingerbread Carousel.
The surprise for 2019 involves the lobby at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Disney caught everyone off guard by adding something new. The lobby now features a Gingerbread Cabin where Chip and Dale make an appearance. This breathtaking creation has quickly become my favorite holiday decoration in several years. Don’t worry, though! The giant Christmas tree is still in the lobby, too!
As always, Disney has made the holiday season feel magical for all guests. It’s why DVC members love visiting during November and December.
Some Park Updates
As the year concludes, Disney has announced several exciting park updates for 2020. The most notable ones involve the Disneyland Resort. At Disneyland Park, Disney plans to plus a couple of staples.
Indiana Jones Adventure will close for a while so that Disney can perform some much-needed repair work. The famous bridge for the attraction has required an update for a while now. As usual, Disney will also plus the ride with some enhancements, but the company’s tight-lipped about what those will be.
Similarly, Snow White’s Scary Adventure will also get plused. Imagineers are in a tricky position with this one, as it was an opening day attraction at Disneyland. However, it’s seemed somewhat outdated for a while now.
Park officials will attack that concern by adding new scenes, music, and technologies to refresh the experience. Interestingly, Disney’s promising a happy ending scene, which means that a name change might be in order, too.
Blizzard Beach also appears likely to receive a new ride in 2020. ProSlide, an industry leader in the water park attractions, appeared at IAPPA last week. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo honored the company with the IAPPA Impact Award. So, the company hosted a vendor booth that included a sign indicating their upcoming projects. A Blizzard Beach attraction was listed as coming in 2020/2021, so…
Over at Epcot, Disney’s emphasizing character greetings right now for obvious reasons. While Mickey Mouse already appears at the Epcot Character Spot, the Parks Blog recently announced that more are coming. Your favorite (or second-favorite) mouse will soon start appearing at the Imagination! pavilion in a new location. This character greeting will begin in early 2020.
At the back of the park, the Norway pavilion has spiced up Anna and Elsa’s Royal Sommerhus. The characters have new outfits that reflect the events of Frozen 2. They’re actually a bit spoiler-y, so you shouldn’t visit until you’ve seen the film. But the new look for Elsa is terrific, and Anna’s changes are even better. Plus, Olaf is currently visiting!
Finally, there’s a bit of good news for DVC members and annual passholders interested in the NBA Experience. Presumably, due to lackluster ticket sales to date, Disney announced lower admission prices for qualifying guests. Adults can spend the day at NBA Experience for $19 while children pay only $14. These lowered prices are available until March 31st.
Okay, that’s the DVC News for the month. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to watching hundreds of hours of Disney+ programming.