DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for September 2019
While the most important news of the month occurred at the 2019 D-23 Expo, the Walt Disney Company still made plenty of headlines in other ways. Here’s the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) news that you missed for the month.
Galaxy’s Edge Is Open
The moment that Star Wars and Disney fans have anticipated for years has finally arrived. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open at Walt Disney World. While the Disneyland version has suffered a few negative headlines based on attendance, the overall reception to this themed land is quite possibly the best ever.
Disney executives bragged that Galaxy’s Edge enjoys the highest survey results of anything they’ve ever built. Also, TIME Magazine recently named the Anaheim version as one of the best 100 places in the world to visit in 2019.
Expectations are sky-high for the version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and park officials have introduced a couple of rules to head off some of the biggest issues at Disneyland. You must book reservations to visit Savi’s Workshop and Oga’s Cantina. Those places are, respectively, a themed store where you can build a unique lightsaber and an intergalactic bar similar to the one seen in the original Star Wars.
Also, don’t forget to visit the Droid Depot at Galaxy’s Edge where you can build your own custom R2-D2 or BB8 unit.
I can say from experience that you should start checking now for the dates of your next vacation. We struggled to find availability for our upcoming November visit and didn’t have much better luck for January of 2020. These two forms of Galaxy’s Edge entertainment are wildly popular and in high demand.
Check Your Calendar. It’s Halloween.
The 2019 Edition of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party returned in August. In fact, we’ve already had five different nights of it thus far. Park officials have changed things up this time so some elements are a bit different than you remember.
For starters, Hallowishes is gone. Disney has replaced it with Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular, a gorgeous nighttime show featuring fireworks and digital projection on Cinderella Castle. They also introduced new Tomorrowland floats to the beloved Boo-to-You parade. It stars the Incredibles, Edna Mode, Buzz Lightyear, and some aliens… and Disney’s having trouble keeping the Elastigirl float in operation thus far.
The live actors at Pirates of the Caribbean have also returned this year. In fact, they’ve introduced a new one. Redd will now question you as you sail by her section.
Perhaps the most significant news about the party is a new kind of ticket. For the first time ever, frequent guests can and should purchase the Party Pass. This special ticket provides access to every night of the event except for Halloween itself. Since the Party Pass costs only $299, which is the equivalent of two and a half standalone tickets, you can celebrate Halloween more than 30 times this year. Party Pass tickets are limited, though.
One story that’s still evolving as we enter September involves Hurricane Dorian. For a time, the Category 5 hurricane seemed destined to hit Orlando. The Walt Disney Company understandably canceled a lot of stuff in anticipation of the possibility. All sporting events and Blizzard Beach are currently closed as precautionary measures.
At this point, Orlando appears likely to miss the primary path of Hurricane Dorian. The Walt Disney World campus should get some rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the current trajectory takes the storm more to the South Carolina/North Carolina parts of the East Coast. Any deviation of the path would change the situation, of course.
Even so, many guests have understandably canceled reservations. I spoke to a harried Disney cast member this morning (September 1st) right as the customer service phone lines opened. The woman informed me that hold-times for hurricane rescheduling were already over 30 minutes…and that was literally one minute after Disney’s customer service opened.
Those of you who are visiting Walt Disney World this week should be perfectly safe. After all, many Orlando residents check into Disney hotels during hurricanes since they’re so well-operated. But please be safe, my friends. Don’t be a hero just because you see that the line to Avatar Flight of Passage is only 20 minutes long.
Disney did something unprecedented in August. They added mid-day theme park admission tickets. For a set fee, guests may enter their park of choice at noon and stay through closing. It’s a fantastic way for late risers to save some money at Walt Disney World.
Two-day tickets start at $88 per day. The one caveat is that they expire four days after start, an unusually short time for a valid admission window. Like most Disney tickets, prices go down when you purchase more days. A three-day ticket starts at $84 per day, while a four-day ticket is $79 per day and allows guests one week after the start date to use them.
If you’re wondering about savings, a normal two-day ticket starts at $116 per day. So, you save 32 percent by sleeping in and ceding rope drop to others.
NBA Experience Open
July 2, 2017, was a black day at Disney Springs. A nearly 20-year-old closed for good. Disney Quest was Disney’s failed attempt to create standalone amusement centers in several cities. The Orlando location was the last one standing. Almost immediately afterward, Disney announced its replacement, and that facility is finally open.
The NBA Experience is precisely what it sounds like, an entertainment complex celebrating professional basketball. It finally opened to the public on August 12th and has quickly gained acclaim for its interactive entertainment. Would-be basketball stars can live out their hoop dreams in several competitive activities like Draft!, Dribble!, Dunk!, Shoot!, and Slingshot! It’s by all accounts a lot of fun, although the price of $34 plus tax per person is a sticking point to some.
Epic Universe Is Coming
While this isn’t Disney news per se, a significant number of DVC members perform some ultimate park-hopping during Orlando vacations. They visit Universal Studios, too. I have amazing news for those people, presuming that you’ve been living in a cave somewhere and haven’t heard it already.
Universal Orlando Resort will add a third theme park and fourth park overall. Called Epic Universe, this place will reside in a different part of Orlando, approximately 12 minutes from the current parks. It will reportedly include themed lands based on Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, Fantastic Beasts (aka even more Harry Potter), and Universal’s Classic Monsters (such as Dracula and the Wolf Man). No one is exactly sure which characters will have a presence, though.
Imagineering in a Box
Do you have a child who dreams of being an Imagineer? For that matter, would you like to know how Disney creates immersive themed experiences? If so, I have the YouTube series for you. Disney recently introduced Imagineering in a Box a series of 36 videos about the magic of Imagineering.
By watching the various clips, you’ll learn the thought process behind some of your favorite theme park innovations. The series is free on YouTube and comes with interactive study guides to aid the learning experience. I’ve watched the first several and highly recommend these videos to all Disney fans. They’re thoroughly enlightening.
DVC Resort News
There was an unusual amount of great news at DVC Resorts this month. For starters, Mobile Ordering expanded into seven new locations at official Disney resorts. The most important two for DVC members are The Mara and Contempo Café. You’re smiling knowingly at the thought of using mobile ordering to pick up your food at your favorite places at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
If you’re interested, the other impacted restaurants include End Zone Food Court, Everything POP Shopping & Dining, Intermission Food Court, and World Premiere Food Court at various Disney’s All-Star resorts. The other one is Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory at Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter. Seriously, this is phenomenal news for DVC members, and for some people, it might not even be the best news of the month.
Disney has also started a fantastic experiment. They’re hosting character meetings at six different DVC resorts. The list of participating hotels is:
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
The characters tend to match the theme of the resort. You’ll see Chip & Dale at Wilderness Lodge, Lilo & Stitch at the Polynesian, and Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter at the Grand Floridian. Disney has tried this before, so there’s no guarantee how long it will last. Enjoy it while you can.
Speaking of the Grand Floridian, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is now open. Disney has also introduced a photo opportunity in the same area, which occasionally co-stars Beast. This is part of the ramp up for the Beauty and the Beast bar and lounge coming to the hotel sometime soon(ish).
The final DVC note for the month is that Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has started a major refurbishment. The 15-year-old resort will need multiple years to renovate the facility. The first impacted neighborhood is Congress Park, which currently has two buildings closed. This impacts inventory in the Preferred room type.