DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for February 2020
The new year has started oddly for Disney. A disease has closed two international theme parks, three new shows have opened at Epcot, a beloved cast member has died, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios has changed the rules again. Here’s all the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) news that you might have missed over the past few weeks.
Bus Transportation Changes
DVC Members who stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort need to be aware of a change at the hotel. Disney has reduced the number of buses traveling to and from the property.
Now, the conventional method of transportation to Epcot and Hollywood Studios will only operate once per hour. Instead of buses, Disney wants to train guests to rely on the Disney Skyliner. The idea is to reduce bus usage, saving the company money, which was the entire point of the new transportation system.
Unfortunately, the reliability of this system remains in question. So, you may experience some issues when the gondolas shut down temporarily. Resort officials have promised to run more buses during such instances.
Hopefully, the reduction in reliance on buses will go smoothly at the Riviera and other Disney Skyliner resorts. You may want to keep an eye out on whether the system is moving before you make plans, though.
Towels Free Again! (And Other Welcome DVC Changes)
Have you ever run out of something you need during your DVC stay? You remember the annoyed feeling when you had to order new towels, right? The helpful cast member at the front desk was happy to help, only the replacement wasn’t free.
Until this month, DVC members have had to pay for more coffee, towels, or laundry detergent. In an unexpected policy change, Disney just altered these rules. From now on, you can order additional amenities free of charge! Given how quickly my family goes through towels, this new policy will definitely save us a few bucks. How about you?
Three New Shows Open at Epcot
Have you visited Epcot lately? The Future World portion of the park is undergoing dramatic changes right now. One themed land will eventually turn into three. However, to reach that point, park officials have had to shut down several parts of Epcot.
To compensate for these temporary losses, Disney has opened three new shows. The Land pavilion at Future World and the France and Canada pavilions all host new presentations now. And the China pavilion will join them soon.
At The Land, the second-floor theater has replaced the old presentation, Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. Its follow-up is Awesome Planet, a delightful story narrated by Modern Family’s Ty Burrell. The actor once again plays a real estate agent here, although he’s now trying to sell the planet Earth. The visuals in this movie are spectacular and well worth your time.
The France pavilion’s show relies on intellectual property. It re-tells the story of Beauty and the Beast, but LeFou becomes the star. Plus, it’s a singalong of your favorite songs from the movie(s)!
Finally, the Canada pavilion has introduced Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360, the most gorgeous video of all. I know that Circle-Vision isn’t for everybody, but I was absolutely captivated by this new documentary short. It could have used some curling, though…
PS: Videos of all three are available on YouTube if you want to check them out.
Everyone’s Favorite Aunt Has Died
On January 10th, DVC fans lost one of our own. Since 1971, Kau’I Brandt, aka Aunty Kau’I, has welcomed guests to her home, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Brandt accepted a job with Disney back in the 1960s and moved to Florida in time for the opening of Walt Disney World.
To many of us who have visited Disney since childhood, Aunty Kau’I exemplifies the hospitality and spirit of ‘Ohana at the resort. Over the years, she presented tens of thousands of guests with festive leis, adding a special touch to the hotel check-in process.
Brandt lived to the age of 87. Her death impacted the Disney community so much that the new President of Walt Disney World, Josh D’Amaro, participated in the ceremony honoring her.
Here’s an odd bit of trivia, though. Aunty Kau’I only signed on to work in Orlando for the first summer. After the park opened, she was supposed to return to Disneyland! So, rather than missing her now, which we all do, I take solace in knowing that we almost never met her in the first place.
Coronavirus Impact at Disney Theme Parks
This story isn’t fun to discuss, but it’s a significant concern. Coronavirus has already infected almost 12,000 people, causing more than 250 deaths. Most of the impacted victims reside in China, the location of all the people who have died thus far.
With the country in a state of emergency, many highly-trafficked tourist attractions have had to close temporarily. One of the first major places was Shanghai Disneyland, which closed on January 25th and has remained shuttered for a week now.
Hong Kong Disneyland didn’t follow suit until the next day. At first, officials there stopped character greetings but left the park as a whole in operation. On January 26th, the Hong Kong locale accepted reality and did the smart thing. Hong Kong Disneyland closed on January 26th and stayed that way this week.
Interestingly, Disney kept the hotels and restaurants at Hong Kong Disneyland open until January 31st. At that point, the company again acknowledged the severity of the problem by closing these facilities. Shanghai Disneyland had done this from the start, and so it’s fair to say this park’s management team responded more proactively.
Rise of the Resistance Opens at Disneyland
For the second straight month, a Disney theme park has just opened the most revolutionary attraction ever built. A few weeks after Hollywood Studios introduced their version, Disneyland has added theirs.
Yes, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is now open at the Happiest Place on Earth. How well did it do on day one? The entire set of digital Boarding Groups for the day sold out in a matter of minutes. Some guests showed up several hours early, only to get shut out of riding the new attraction.
This story has repeated itself at both parks. Several weeks after its release, Rise of the Resistance has booked its entire allotment every day at Hollywood Studios. It looks like Disneyland will share the same behavior for a while.
Hollywood Studios Alters FastPass Rules Again
Speaking of Hollywood Studios, the park’s management team just changed the FastPass system again. This time, it’s a good thing.
A few months ago, Hollywood Studios switched to a draconian tiered system with its FastPasses. Disney slotted every major ride except for Star Tours into the top tier. For a time, guests had to choose the one ride that they’d be guaranteed to experience during a park visit.
Thankfully, the system will improve next month. On February 19th, Hollywood Studios will change its top tier. The only two rides in this group will be Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash. Yes, a Star Wars attraction will join the FastPass lineup in a few weeks!
Meanwhile, the other beloved attractions at Hollywood Studios will drop to a lower tier. Presumably, you can go back to the way that you knew forever. Yes, pre-visit FastPasses for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith are back on the menu! It’s a good day for Walt Disney World fans.
A Quick Peek into the Future
Finally, we previously learned that Disney will construct a new property near the legendary Disneyland Hotel. Well, the Orange County Register has published information about the upcoming DVC resort. You can read the full article here, but I’ll give you a few highlights.
The reporter suggests that construction will take up to four years, potentially pushing the opening date back to 2023 or possibly even later. The 12-story hotel will primarily feature DVC studios. The writer indicates 271 of them along with 41 suites, and 38 rooms that sound like the Tower Studios at the Riviera.
So, the place sounds great. Is it 2023 yet?