DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for October 2019
After much anticipation, Disney finally introduced its latest form of transportation this past month. Meanwhile, its most famous type of transportation suffered another incident. At Disney parks, the company’s gone vegan, but several shows are just plain gone. Here’s everything you need to know about DVC and Disney right now.
The Disney Skyliner Is Now Open
Let’s start with the most important story. Barely two years after its announcement, the Disney Skyliner is already in operation at Walt Disney World. This form of transportation takes Disney back to its roots, as a gondola system once wowed opening day guests at Magic Kingdom.
The original Skyway system closed in 1999 and seemed lost forever. Then, urban transportation studies showed that gondolas were an efficient, inexpensive means of alleviating automobile traffic. Disney officials conferred and decided to bring back the gondolas, albeit in a different form.
Skyway to Tomorrowland and Skyway to Fantasyland dazzled tourists back in the 20th century. The Disney Skyliner is a practical solution for reducing reliance on bus transportation. Guests may ride a gondola through the air from station to station, providing a quick, mostly direct route to specific destinations.
The Disney Skyliner currently connects guests at certain Value and Moderate Tier resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. However, the service is open to anyone, and it will become an integral part of a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) visit to the upcoming Disney’s Riviera Resort.
That hotel opens in roughly 10 weeks and will feature a gondola station as one of its chief benefits. We already know from YouTube videos that a trip on the Disney Skyliner will carry guests from the Riviera to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios in less than 10 minutes. It’s a refreshing way to side-step the mercurial nature of Disney’s bus systems. Plus, the views are spectacular!
You’ll want to take at least one ride on the Disney Skyliner during your next DVC vacation.
I can’t help but feel that the Disney Skyliner has arrived just in the nick of time. I say this because the beloved monorail system has just suffered through another high-profile snafu.
More than 100 guests left the Transportation and Ticket Center on September 20th, expecting to reach their destination expediently. That really didn’t happen, as the monorail lost power, stranding the unfortunate souls on the vehicle.
While Disney regularly manages to reset stalled monorail trains, this situation was worse than usual. Park officials had no choice but to call in the heroic team at Reedy Creek Fire Rescue. These rescue members had to break out the cherry picker trucks to retrieve passengers from the monorail.
Needless to say, the media jumped all over this story. All major Orlando outlets shot breaking news coverage of the dramatic rescue. And it once again reinforced the notion that Walt Disney World needs new monorails. Even so, Disney remains silent on the subject of a new fleet.
Significant Changes in Disney’s Theme Park Leadership
Part of the reason why Disney’s acted reluctant to spend money on updated monorail trains is that the parks have underachieved a bit this summer. While we won’t learn the exact park revenue numbers for another month, CEO Bob Iger has acknowledged in interviews that theme park attendance is down this summer.
This decline in admissions isn’t exclusive to Disney or even the theme park industry as a whole. Other entertainment options like movie theaters, Broadway shows, and sports events have reported similar downturns in recent months. Still, Iger had counted on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to cause an upsurge in traffic and (especially) revenue.
With so many questions about the disappointing attendance, Disney’s made some changes at the top of the theme park food chain. Most of them represent good news, although one unfortunate person was left standing at the end of this game of Musical Chairs.
The most important news is that George Kalogridis has earned a promotion that will take him away from Walt Disney World. The almost lifelong Disney cast member is now the President of Disney Segment Development and Enrichment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. He’ll simultaneously work as an advisor for all six Disney theme parks around the world, a fitting role for such an accomplished executive.
The replacement for Kalogridis is Josh D’Amaro. If the new President of Walt Disney World’s name sounds familiar, it should. Until this past week, he was President of Disneyland Resort. Disney’s promoted him to run the flagship theme park in the company’s lineup.
The replacement for D’Amaro at Disneyland Resort is Rebecca Campbell, who becomes the second woman to carry the title of President. Campbell, one of the most respected members of upper management, has worked with the company for more than 20 years. Most recently, she’d held the title of President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
The loser in this shakeup is, unfortunately, Catherine Powell. Disney had created a powerful role for her in March of 2018. She’d become President, Disney Parks, Western Region, placing her in charge of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris. Disney has eliminated the position. From now on, all park Presidents will report directly to Bob Chapek, Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products.
These changes have ripple effects on some of the news updates we’re about to discuss. Disney is undeniably cost-cutting a bit right now.
Delivery Policy Changes
One of the changes that will impact some DVC members the most involves the delivery procedures at Disney resorts. In recent years, resort deliveries have become a standard part of a Disney vacation for many program participants.
A few months ago, Disney changed the rules by requiring guests to pay a set fee for hotel room delivery. At the time, the company stressed that lobby pick-up was still free. I’m honestly unsure if that’s still the case or not, as conflicting information abounds on this still-developing story.
According to Disney, resorts will no longer accept deliveries unless the guest is present for pick-up. However, the proprietor of Garden Grocer updated customers on Facebook that the change wouldn’t apply to groceries. Disney has informed this individual that the rule change primarily impacts stroller and scooter rentals.
Message boards and social media are, as usual, the source of conflicting reports. Some suggest that Disney has chosen a third-party vendor as their exclusive stroller and scooter rental company. Others have stated that Disney won’t change the rules until the end of October, giving everyone a few weeks to sort out the changes.
The advice that I’m giving (and also taking as I’m vacationing there on Halloween) is to check with your resort before you leave on your trip. Verify whether you’ll need to appear for whatever delivery you’ll require. Make sure to get the name of the cast member so that you can speak to them should any questions arise. I’m a firm believer in precautionary measures.
A Few Shows Are Closed for Good
The other major change at Walt Disney World involves some shows that you’ve watched a lot over the years. Disney’s shut down some of these live presentations, no matter how old or new they are.
The most recognizable one is The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History at Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom. Your favorite Muppets will no longer shout out the windows, as this presentation’s gone for good.
Joining The Muppets on the unemployment line are The Royal Majesty Makers at Magic Kingdom, Lightning McQueen’s Pit Crew at Hollywood Studios, the Coco Folklórico dancer show at Epcot, and the Burudika band at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Disney has also reduced the number of performances of Epcot’s Taiko Drummers and JAMMitors. Even Disneyland isn’t safe from cuts, as Laughing Stock Co. at The Golden Horseshoe and the Pixarmonic Orchestra at Pixar Pier are gone, too.
Both decisions are a bit strange. Pixarmonic became the face of Pixar Fest during the 2018 celebration of Pixar Pier’s opening. Barely a year later, the band is out. As for The Golden Horseshoe, Laughing Stock Co. already has a replacement lined up, a dueling piano show and a strolling musician.
Other closures have occurred at Epcot, but these aren’t part of any cost-cutting measures. The park’s about to begin its refurbishment in earnest. To perform the needed updates, some existing stores had to close. We’d known about them for a couple of months, but they’re finally getting phased out at the start of October.
The most noticeable changes are Fountain View Starbucks, the Epcot Character Spot, Camera Center, and Club Cool. Colortopia is also closed, and Art of Disney will soon follow, although that hasn’t happened yet. Some cast members believe it may stay open throughout the fall.
The good news is that the Epcot Character Spot already has a temporary location at the back of Innoventions West and will get a new one when the Play! Pavilion opens. If you’re wondering whether the current spot is worth a visit, it does have a different backdrop, giving your PhotoPass pictures some variety.
Eat Your Veggies
Another positive change at Walt Disney World will take place this week. Disney’s just revealed a healthy diet initiative at its parks. Starting on October 1st, Quick Service restaurants will introduce an entire line of vegan menu options. On October 3rd, Table Service establishments will follow suit.
By the end of the week, Disney will bring more than 400 vegan dishes to its eateries. It’s an aggressive step toward a healthier menu on the Orlando campus. Given the recent explosion in popularity of Beyond Meat and offshoots, such as the Impossible Whopper, it’s no surprise that Disney wants in on the trend. So, every Disney restaurant will serve some form of a plant-based dish as of this week. Bon appétit!
About Hurricane Dorian…
I wanted to add a quick update about a story from last month. As indicated at the time, Hurricane Dorian did mostly avoid Central Florida, save for rain. To its credit, Disney employed numerous safety measures to protect guests, most of which proved unnecessary.
Two DVC resorts were impacted, though. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort shut down for multiple days. The Vero Beach area didn’t suffer much from the weather event, but the South Carolina shores took a savage beating.
Thankfully, the DVC property at Hilton Head still managed to avoid the worst. And everyone’s favorite resident, Shadow the dog, was safe the entire time, too. A cast member took care of him while the resort was closed.
DVC Resort and Park News
Two of your favorite DVC resorts have added useful amenities, and a third will introduce one soon. At Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Mobile Ordering is now available at two popular restaurants. You can order ahead at Artist’s Palette and Capt. Cook’s and then grab-and-go when you’re ready!
At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, we just learned the name of the new Beauty and the Beast-inspired lounge on the lobby’s second floor. The Enchanted Rose will have a structure similar to Be Our Guest in that it will have themed sections, each of which is unique. Disney has revealed a formal library and an enchanted forest garden room. It sounds exquisite and should open soon.
The other great news for DVC members takes place on the other coast. The most treasured of all Disney holiday overlays is back for another year. Disney has opened the Haunted Mansion Holiday Overlay just in time for Halloween and Christmas seasons.
As a reminder, due to the Jack Skellington/Nightmare Before Christmas theming, this version of Haunted Mansion stays open through the end of the year. And it’s brilliant! It’s so great that it almost single-handedly justifies a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, although the hotel really does that on its own. The point is that the holiday season has arrived at Disneyland Resort. Enjoy it while it lasts!