Tutto Italia at Epcot Offering Prix-Fie Lunch this Summer – This is kind of “meh” for me. It looks like an okay deal for the price, but I’m not usually eating lunch at Epcot at all. I guess I’ll wait until I see some actual (paying for the meal) reviews before I make a final decision.
Tiered pricing for Mickey’s Not So Scary and Very Merry Christmas. – The lower-priority parties didn’t change that much, but some of the more sought after dates went up significantly (and don’t allow AP or DVC discounts.) Unfortunately, if you’ve already planned your vacation (as a lot of people have, since it’s less than 6 months out), you’re kind of just stuck with that pricing.
It’s been a little bit since we did a full version of the News Nuggets, so it looks like we’re going to need a double order! (As an aside, Elyssa and I once thought we were hungry enough to get 2 orders of corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner. It did not end well.)
Third, you can now book your 4th Fastpass+ on your phone!. This should mean that a lot (most?) people no longer will need to ever visit one of the Fastpass+ kiosks (which means maybe Disney can put staffing cuts in those areas instead of on actual attractions.)
Examining the Toy Story Land concept art. – WDW News Today takes a look at the Toy Story Land concept art that was recently posted at The Studios. There are some changes to Slinky’s Coaster that are kind of interesting.
Closures at The Studios – These were all announced months ago, but the actual closing has now happened. This is going to make The Studios feel a little more crowded while they work on all the new construction.
Changes coming to Fastpass+ system at Disney World. – A good breakdown of changes coming to Fastpass+ reservation concerning Anna & Elsa and Epcot starting May 27. This further seems to indicate that late is May is going to be when FrozenStrom might be opening up.
New Options and Perks for runDisney Events – Disney is now going to let you pay $40 and pick up your race bib “day of.” That could be useful for people who are trying to get in a runDisney race but minimize the amount time they want to spend at Disney World for the race.
Update on Nighttime Experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – In news that can only be classified as a “major bummer”, Disney is delaying the start of Rivers of Light. Based on the post saying that an “update” will be provided in mid-May, I doubt we’re going to be seeing this new show anytime soon.
New Bar Coming to Tower or Terror – I wasn’t really “pleased” with the rumors of the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay, but I also really don’t see how this bar is actually going to be “a thing.” I guess we’ll see how it plays out.
It’s Easter Weekend and and that means (among other things, obviously) lots of visitors to Disney World, and a whole bunch of new Disney World News Nuggets.
The biggest news is probably the new “extra” hours opportunities at the Magic Kingdom:
Disney “After Hours” Event Announced. – 3 extra hours at the Magic Kingdom with a low attendance sounds pretty awesome, but $150 per person is a lot of money for it. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have the option to go to this. (I’m not the first / only person to say this, but it seems like the DVC Fireworks we saw a couple of weeks ago might be a good fit for this party.)
Disney adds “Early Morning Magic” to the Magic Kingdom – Rumors are saying that $69 gets you rides on Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, as well as a “breakfast buffet” at Pinocchio Village Haus for 1.5 hours before the park opens to regular guests. I was hoping this would be $50 per person, not $70.
That wasn’t all the news from the past few days, though. Here are the rest of the News Nuggets:
We’ll end this edition of the News Nuggets with this look at what has become of Disney’s River Country “Watering Hole”. I used to love River Country, and I was sad when it was closed. It’s freaky to see what it looks like now that Disney has abandoned it. Hopefully, the rumors Jim Hill talks about (building a DVC resort in that area) turn out to be true.
Today is a big day here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ, as Elyssa and I are proud to announce a new collaboration with the fabulous Mighty Men of Mouse podcast: The Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop. The Mic Drop will be a recurring segment on the MMoM podcast (probably around every 3-5 weeks) during which Elyssa and I will discuss some of the recent happenings we’ve been writing about on the site. If that sounds good to you (and we hope it does), then you can check out the very first Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop in this week’s MMoM episode! In this segment we talk about our recent trip and highlight some of the places that we ate. We hope that you enjoy it. (Also during this episode of MMoM, Elyssa enters the Disney Podcaster’s Studio with Russ Liption and answers “the questionnaire.”)
Of course, this post would be incomplete without thanking Dutch, Russ, and Kip for inviting Elyssa and I to join them on their show. Elyssa and I have been singing the praises of Mighty Men of Mouse since long before we started Rope Drop [dot] Net, and we are honored that the guys asked us to be even a small part of it.
We talked yesterday about the changes coming to Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend at Disney World, but what are we to do with the news of menu changes, new dessert parties, and (sadly) more price increases? Sounds like it’s time for another edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets! Before we get to the majority of the Nuggets, we should need to point out one huge item:
With that out of the way, let’s get to the rest of the News Nuggets:
New Wishes Dessert Party Debuts at Narcoossee’s – Huh. I know Disney loves it’s dessert parties, but this location seems like a bit of a stretch. I really like Narcoossee’s, but I don’t think of it as a great place to watch Wishes from.
Special Easter Entertainment Coming to the Magic Kingdom – The Easter season is an especially busy time at Disney World, so it should be no surprise to see Disney adding a bunch of extra entertainment during that period. That said, the other recent cutbacks on staffing, etc… mean these additional offerings were a little more ‘up in the air” than in past years.
Here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ we’re still recovering from the price increase that happened this weekend. Of course, even 8-10% ticket price increases can’t stop us from publishing the next edition of the News Nuggets!
Kylon Ren joins Jedi Training at The Studios – I’m surprised with how quickly they’ve integrated Kylo Ren into the various Star Wars attractions at The Studios. I’m probably equally surprised that they haven’t done something to allow photos with BB-8, yet.
Toy Story Midway Mania Closed March 15 to Prepare for Third Track. – The third track is rumored to open in summer 2016. It should help a lot with the capacity issues for this attraction. Also, re-book you Fastpass+ for March 15 so you can do what you want instead of the backup Disney gives you (I might just plan to go to another park that day).
Phew. That was a lot of News Nuggets. Let’s take a quick break to relax in the early morning glow of World Showcase:
A light test of Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom? – Speaking of Rivers of Light, this picture seems to be a test of the lighting effects they will be using during Rivers of Light at the Animal Kingdom. I wonder how close they are to really having that show ready.
No more Turkey Legs at the Animal Kingdom – Elyssa and I aren’t big turkey leg people, so this doesn’t really impact us too much. That said, it’s always a little weird when something iconic is removed from one of the parks.
The next Phase of the Disney Springs Expansion Announced. – Wow. This is a ton of stuff. I definitely am looking forward to trying out the burger place, and I am hoping Fulton’s really steps up its game. I understand people are “upset” that stores “they have in their local mall” are showing up at Disney Springs, but it doesn’t really bother me.
Same Day Reservations at the Skipper Canteen Extended. – Personally, I’m glad that Skipper Canteen exists and allows me to get a reservation in the Magic Kingdom almost any day. That said, I have to wonder how long it will be before it starts using a more traditional ADR system.
Elyssa and I just got back from a recent trip to Disney World. Though we anticipate doing more in-depth posts about various parts of the trip, here are some initial thoughts:
The location for the new Flamingo Crossing hotels is pretty awesome. It’s too early to really review the hotels themselves (they had opened only a week before our 1 night stay there), but the concept seem promising. I wonder how different it’ll feel when there is more than just 15 people staying in them, though.
Breakfast at Kona is the real deal. Tonga Toast, the Big Kahuna platter, etc…are great. If there’s a day where you don’t want to be waiting at the turnstiles at rope drop, then definitely stop by. (Same goes for Whispering Canyon, where we ate breakfast twice on the trip. Skillets AND giant Mickey Waffles, baby.)
Speaking of “real deal” food options, both Sanaa and The BOATHOUSE are great places to have lunch. Sanaa’s bread service is always good (TIP: You can order more bread for it if you want (and we almost always do)), and the filet sliders are The BOATHOUSE are delicious (and a complete steal at only $12.)
Skipper Canteen was pretty good. We both really liked the theming of the place (but I would have been fine with a few more puns from our “Skipper”.) Once you get past the slightly flowery “garnishes” to the dishes, they really are serving steak, chicken, pork, and mac ‘n’ cheese with beef. My pork was fine. Elyssa enjoyed her mac ‘n’ cheese (but not as much as the mac ‘n’ cheese from the BOATHOUSE which is probably now her favorite thing in Orlando). In an interesting twist, the $1.75 “Kid’s Volcano” dessert tasted better than the $8 Kungaloosh (so we’ll probably just 4 kid’s desserts next time instead of getting “grown up” desserts.)
The construction around the Wilderness Lodge right now is kind of bummer. I knew to expect it, but seeing so much of the resort closed and the trees near Bay Lake being removed is a bummer. I’m sure the new DVC rooms will be nice, but I’m going to miss that little buffer between the lodge and rest of the World that the “Woods View” rooms used to have.
There’s a few running jokes about Elyssa’s and my visits with Tinker Bell, but the cast members who portray her are consistently some of the best we interact with. We had one who must have dropped 15 “leaf” puns in the span of 2 minutes, all while carrying on conversations with Elyssa and I about running, pixie dust, and various other things that she was “tinking” about.
I’ll end by saying that the logistics that must go on behind the scenes at a runDisney race have to be insane. So many people getting moved around, running down World Dr., through theme parks, etc… while being provided with various character meets, and other entertainment. It has to be a tremendous effort. Our local races might get choked up if we get 2,000, but Disney handles close to 20,000 really, really well.
As I said, there will be more coming from this trip (hopefully, at least 2 or 3 of the 3,000 pictures Elyssa and I took turn out to be worthy of being included in a few posts), but these are some of the major takeaways from our 5 days down there.
Permits might show the Route for the AVATAR Boatride. – I know people like to complain about how Avatar isn’t really that popular of franchise, but–regardless of the movie–it sounds like Pandora in Animal Kingdom is going to be really, really cool. Yes, people might not have the same emotional connection to the world as something like Star Wars brings, but that doesn’t mean that Disney can’t make some top-tier attractions out of the concepts.
With the storm taking place last week, it was a good chance for us to put together a pretty significant helping of News Nuggets. The theme for this edition: “changes”. We have closings at The Studios (shocking, I know), as well as other various changes and new entertainment offerings. Let’s get to it!
Lights, Motors, Action! to close on April 2, 2016 – There were rumors about more closures coming to the Studios, and now we have the date for Lights, Motors, Action!’s official closing. The Disney Parks blog post also indicates that “nearby locations will be closing”, but doesn’t specify what those are. On Twitter, WDW News Today suggests those nearby locations include Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Backlot Catering Co., Watto’s Grotto, Youse Guys Merchandise, and the Mnnsters, Inc. meet-and-greet (which would seem to make sense.) The big question though: What is going to happen with MuppetVision?
Flights of Wonder at Animal Kingdom to close for refurbishment – A 2 month closure from January 25th until approximately March 17 to add a new roof over the arena. It always stinks to have an attraction down for an extended period, but adding a new roof is probably as good a reason as you can get for why something has to close.
I’ll finish up this post by urging you to check out a new feature that Josh at easyWDW has been doing: daily wait times analysis. It’s a nice “only at easyWDW” feature that it is worth checking out if you’re into that kind of in-depth analysis of crows at Disney World.
Though we still haven’t recovered from Monday night, we can’t keep our loyal Rope Drop [dot] Net Readers waiting any longer. It’s time for a new edition of the News Nuggets!
Let’s jump right in:
Zooptopia preview coming to Hollywood Studios – I don’t mind Disney showing these previews, but I am bummed that it’ll be at One Man’s Dream. It’s just another strong indicator that One Man’s Dream is not long for this (Disney) World.
I’m surprised no one thought of this sooner, but Elyssa and I recently joined the guys from Mighty Men of Mouse and Wes James to record a podcast about a recent movie that might have slipped under your radar: Star Wars – The Force Awakens.
You can see the Dumbo and Ariel shoes on the New Balance page, and you can see a sneak peak of the Minnie & Mickey shoes right here:
If you want to get a pair of these new shoes at a runDisney event, you should sign up at the NB Virtual Queue as soon as possible for the day you’re attending your event expo. For Marathon Weekend, the NB Virtual sign-up queue timing is listed as:
To begin, runners can sign up at www.NBVirtualQueue.com using your bib number starting Wednesday, January 6th, at 6:00 AM EST, and all other guests can sign up Thursday, January 7th, Friday, January 8th and Saturday, January 9th, starting at 6:00 AM EST each day.
Good luck! (And make sure you ask if they accept any discounts! I know they’ve given us an Annual Pass discount in the past.)
Saratoga Springs might become a higher value DVC – This is an interesting look at how the DVC point charts for 2017 might make Saratoga Springs a more desirable destination. Combine this with its location near Disney Springs and it seems like a pretty good option for DVC members.
Merry Christmas to all our readers from Elyssa and me (and Fenway!). Thank you for all your kind words and support during our first few months running Rope Drop [dot] Net. We hope y’all have a magical holiday season.
Memory Maker gets lower pricing. – I’m glad to see Memory Maker get a price decrease, but it makes the Annual Pass price increase earlier this year a little tougher to swallow. That said, the ability to get photos via the My Disney Experience app for easy social media posting makes Memory Maker a better value than it used to be.
Pizzafari now has handmade pizzas! I thought Josh had lost his mind when he said the new pizzas at Pizzafari aren’t that bad. Looking at the pictures in his post, however, I am optimistic about this change.
It’s about time for a hearty helping of news nuggets. As you are probably aware, new Star Wars offerings opened at The Studios this week, but since Star Wars is so important (both to Disney, and to Elyssa and me), I will be saving a recap of that coverage for another post.
On an upcoming episode of the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast, I briefly discuss my thoughts on the price increase of Disney World annual passes. I frame those thoughts on the idea that they impact “people in Florida” at a much higher level than they impact Disney World guests at large. Thinking things through a bit more, I think my explanation on the podcast lacked some of the nuance that I intended to convey.
When people listen to my reasoning tomorrow, I would anticipate that one major criticism of my opinion is that I fail to account for the impact the price increase has on DVC members. Ultimately, I think is more a failure in my word choice than an actual point against my position. I should have said that the changes in annual pass pricing impact “people in Florida AND DVC MEMBERS” at a different level than it impacts other people who may purchase annual passes. My thoughts are the same for both groups.
My position (which I share with various other theme park commentators) is that Disney World has a certain, definitive capacity that, at peak times, is actually reached. Disney, therefore, has determined that if people who have the “option” of attending the park other times during the year (such as Florida residents and DVC members) want to attend at peak times, those people will pay a premium to do so. Basically, Disney is saying “if you want to take the spots that could go to a family making their only Disney World trip in 2 or 3 years, then you’re going to have to compensate us for that privilege.” I’m not saying thats “right” or “fair”, but it’s the decision that Disney appears to have made. (And it shouldn’t really be a surprise to DVC members who sometimes have to spend almost twice as many points to stay during Christmas as during September.)
A common attack on this pricing approach by Disney has been the idea that “Disney World is punishing its best customers.” I understand that position (and frankly, I would much rather pay the previous $535 to renew my annual pass than the new $635 (before tax)), but Disney has determined that attempting to funnel these “best” customers into non-peak seasons is a better economic strategy than trying to preserve the “loyalty” of certain repeat guests. Only time will tell if this strategy pays off, but I think it’s clear that the strategy is in place.
Lastly, I want to show some of the math that fueled my position that these prices had a disproportional impact on Florida residents and DVC members. As a non-Florida resident, non-DC member, it will cost me $676.28 (including tax) to renew my annual pass next year. Here are a couple of possible trip plans that Elyssa and I have for 2016, along with their combined prices for a Park Hopper pass:
Five Day Trip ($367.50) + 2 Two Day Trips ($257.30 * 2) = $882.10
Five Day Trip ($367.50) + Three Day Trip ($325) + Two Day Trip ($257.30) = $949.80
Five Day Trip ($367.50) + Four Day Trip ($367.50) = $735.00
Buying individual tickets for these trips still comes out to be more expensive than buying an annual pass, even without including the benefits like free parking, photopass downloads, and restaurant discounts that an annual pass provides. (Also, these ticket prices are almost surely going to go up next year, probably in February. At that point, these numbers will look even better.)
NOTE: All ticket prices were found using the lowest price available from the TouringPlans Ticket Calculator (And, yes, the 4 day and 5 day passes do cost the same according to that calculator)
In other words, as someone who is purchasing an annual pass as a way make multiple trips a year, I am still saving money versus buying individual trip tickets. (And also getting some benefits I’ve questioned the value of in the past.) That said, there’s a good chance that I “make up” some of the difference in my annual pass renewal price by having an extra meal or two offsite during those visits (Always feel free to let me know if you want to meet up with Elyssa and me for some G-Mac and Cheese).
In summary, I stand by my position that the annual price increase impacts certain types of guests (Floridian residents and DVC members) more than it impacts regular Disney World travelers, but I wanted to “show my work” a little more than I did when I made those statements on the (soon to be released) podcast.
For Non-Florida residents, the Annual Passes now come in two options: “Platinum Plus” and “Platinum”. Both passes include admission to all 4 parks (with park hopper privileges), free parking (which has been raised from $17 to $20 per day) and photopass downloads (a new addition this year). The Platinum Plus option also includes admission to Disney’s waterparks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Oak Trail golf course. There are also a number of changes to the Florida resident pass options ,which can be seen at WDW News Today and TouringPlans. These changes include new “Gold” and “Silver” options that include certain blackout dates, and could possibly point to the tiered pricing structure that we have seen hints of over the past couple of months.
Looking at the numbers, renewing my annual pass as a new “Platinum Pass” is going to cost $102.24 more this year than it did last year (including tax). I had assumed that the amount would be closer to a $50 increase, but I can (kind of) stomach the larger increase because of the inclusion of Photopass downloads as part of the pass (especially since I have previously said that I don’t think Memory Maker is worth its cost.)
In a related move, Disney has increased the cost of Tables in Wonderland by $50 for annual pass and DVC members. Translated, this means that you have to spend $750 in food at Disney World in a given year to break even on your Tables in Wonderland purchase (up from $500 a year.) Based on Elyssa’s and my eating habits on our Disney World visits, this price increase might mean we will no longer be purchasing Tables in Wonderland.
For those of us who like to plan far, far in advance, Dave Shute of Your First Visit has posted his projections for Disney World’s 2017 pricing “seasons”. If you’ve been following Walt Disney World pricing for any length of time, you know that Disney World’s seasons don’t really parallel the traditional “spring, summer, fall, winter” calendar. Thankfully, Dave’s post gives us some early indications about when prices at Disney World might be at their highest and lowest.
This information might be especially interesting if there is a Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Vacation in October 2017. According to Dave’s analysis, the end of October (starting with October 15th) might end up having Deluxe Resort prices only 6% higher than the lowest prices of the year.
Earlier today, Disney released a press release that goes into some of the details about the Wilderness Lodge DVC expansion. As someone who loves staying at the Wilderness Lodge (John & Elyssa’s Favorites article preview?), I have been interested in seeing how Disney positioned this expansion.
Based on the press release, it appears that Disney is going to create an entirely new condo association for this expansion. My immediate reaction to that news was “shoot, that means they might not extend the contracts for the original Wilderness Lodge villas” (which are currently set to expire in 2042.) This post from DVC News, however, suggests some other potential issues:
Points Charts could be different;
Annual Dues could be different; and
The 11-month “home resort” booking window might not be good for the original Wilderness Lodge Villas if you buy a contract for the “new” ones.
At this point, that is a lot of speculation (and things with Disney are always subject to change), but even the possibility of those things happening is making me hesitate about buying an original Wilderness Lodge contract on the DVC resale market in an effort to take advantage of the new construction. With so much in flux, I think I’m going to spend a little more time observing before I make any moves.
Josh at easyWDW has posted updates to Disney World’s operating schedule for October, December, and January. The December update is especially important since it includes a number of new Extra Magic Hour mornings around Christmas.
As a general note, I always check easyWDW for schedule updates before any trip. I know that I could pull the information directly from Disney but Josh’s layout and information is way more convenient. (I even prefer it to using MyDisney Experience to look for future park hours.)