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Cinderella’s Castle Makeover – More Than Just One Celebration?

Cinderella’s Castle Makeover – More Than Just One Celebration?

Cinderelly, Cinderelly! If you’re going to head to the biggest celebration in Walt Disney World history, you got to look your best. Cinderella’s Castle definitely knows this. With Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary less than a year away, are you we seeing an early glimpse of the celebration decorations? As Neil Patrick Harris would say, let’s suit up! Off the Magic Kingdom, we go.

Cinderella's Castle as a Birthday Cake

What History Tells Us

A lot! As they say, we can learn a lot from history. When it comes to Walt Disney World or Disney Park celebrations, everything usually centers around the castle. In Disney World, that’s Cinderella’s Castle. Over the years, we’ve seen Cinderella’s Castle take on many different looks for a variety of celebrations. For the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World, the castle transformed into a pink birthday cake. Additionally, when Disneyland celebrated it’s 60th anniversary all the Disney castles from around the globe transformed for the occasion.

Passholder Insights: One of our Magic Kingdom Rope Drop strategies is to head through Cinderella’s Castle towards Fantasyland for Peter Pan’s Flight.

Changes for Cinderella's Castle

What We Know

It’s the 70th anniversary of the movie Cinderella! To celebrate the occasion Walt Disney World will be adding a few golden touches to Cinderella’s Castle. On February 17, 2020, Disney Parks announced the project for transforming the castle would begin in a few days and completed by the summer. By adding accents of gold and hints of rose gold Cinderella’s Castle is definitely becoming the bell of the ball. Nothing will be impacted while the transformation occurs, including Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire stage show and Happily Ever After.

Passholder Insights: Examining the concept art it looks the hints of purple iridescent paint could be added to the spires to creating a “shimmering” look.

Cinderella's Castle decoration for Disneyland's 60th anniversary

Fast Forward

Ok, Nate, what does the 70th anniversary have to do with the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary? Everything and nothing all at once! In the DVC Duo house, we believe the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Cinderella is a way for Disney World to take the first step in transforming the castle for the big event. With the 50th anniversary expected to begin in January of 2021, Disney would have to paint the castle prior to the holiday season in order to meet the deadline. During the holiday season, Cinderella’s Castle is draped with Christmas lights which would prevent any type of painting to occur.

By pre-painting Cinderella’s Castle Disney would be able to make the transition to the 50th Anniversary version of the castle very quickly. It is still unknown exactly what Disney has planned, but we would project it to be something simple so it would not impact the castle projections for Happily Ever After.

Passholder Insights: One of the best times to book a Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom is during the busiest times of the year, like Christmas.

Our Thoughts

Beautiful! Looking at the concept art what Disney has planned for Cinderella’s Castle is both elegant and fitting for the 50th anniversary. Afterall the 50th anniversary is the “golden” anniversary. Well, Cinderelly it looks like you’ll be turning heads at the celebration!

Disney Skyliner Expansion – Will We Soar Around More Of The “World”?

Disney Skyliner Expansion – Will We Soar Around More Of The “World”?

Let’s take flight! Where are we off to, Nate? We’re off to talk about a potential Disney Skyliner expansion. With four months in the books, it’s safe to say the Disney Skyliner is an overall success for Walt Disney World. With success comes the big question, what’s next? When looking at Disney’s newest transportation system everyone is wondering, if and when would we see Disney Skyliner expansion. Let’s board our Skyliner gondola and take a look at what we can “see”!

reduced bus service could mean further Disney Skyliner expansion

What We Know

Disney World is excited! On January 5, 2020, Walt Disney World announced a change to the bus service to Disney Resorts that have access to the Disney Skyliner, like Pop Century. Resorts with Skyliner stations now have reduced bus service to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, with signs suggesting guests use the Disney Skyliner.

Disney felt comfortable reducing the bus operations for two reasons. The first being the improved operations of the system as a whole. After a few bumps out of the gate, the Disney Skyliner has been operating smoothly since. The second is reported guest satisfaction around the reduced wait times when moving to and fro the parks and their resorts.

Passholder Insights: When staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, you can either board the Disney Skyliner via the Caribbean Beach Station or Disney Riviera Station.

Starting our Half-Day Plan for the Animal Kingdom in Harambe

Where To Next?

Westward we go! The rumored next phase of a Disney Skyliner Expansion is west towards the Animal Kingdom. Currently, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the only park without multiple transportation options. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, the Disney Skyliner expansion would run from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Coronado Springs Resort area, and ultimately ending at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Passholder Insights: An alternative to go from Epcot to Hollywood Studios (and vice versa) then Disney Skyliner is either the walkway or a Friendship Boat.

Potential path of a Disney Skyliner expansion

Potential Pathway

It’s all about speed. When looking at potential routes for the Disney Skyliner expansion there’s one thing we’ll need to keep in mind, and that’s speed. One of the big takeaways from the launch of the Skyliner is the shortest routes do the best. If Disney World were to connect the Animal Kingdom with Hollywood Studios the most logical spot for a midway station would be Coronado Springs Resort. Rumor is if there is a Coronado Springs station it would be a bigger hub.

Disney is talking about including bridges and pathways from a Coronado Springs station that would connect to Blizzard Beach. We would project a potential location for the station would be on the southern side of the resort, near the main entrance.

Passholder Insights: Atop the new Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort is Toledo that has grand views of Walt Disney World.

Disney Skyliner expansion could see a change in cabins

What Else Could Change?

Wait there’s more! As part of the Disney Skyliner expansion, we could see a change in the cabins. Based on observation it appears guests prefer the cabins without the character wraps, as they have better views. The wraps around the cabins make it more challenging to take in the Disney views. Disney is considering moving away from the wraps when it’s time to purchase/update the cabins in three to five years.

Passholder Insights: For the Skyliner station in Epcot it is located at the International Gateway in the World Showcase between the France and UK Pavilions.

Our Thoughts

It’s only a matter of when. When the Disney Skyliner was originally announced, Disney World already has phases for a Disney Skyliner expansion. What surprised us the most is how the character wrapped cabins are being received. Originally, we thought this would be a home run and guests would be lined waiting for a specific character. At the moment there is no defined timeline to when the expansion would begin. If we had to guess, we would think an announcement during the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World would make sense. Our cabin is here, it’s time to take flight!

Is James Cameron Spreading His Wings? – Pandora Expansion

Is James Cameron Spreading His Wings? – Pandora Expansion

He’s back! At least that’s what that rumors are saying about a potential Pandora expansion. Word on the Disney street is James Cameron is itching to add more to the land he helped develop at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The big question is whether or not Disney is ready for a Pandora expansion. Looks like we’re plugging into our Avatar and taking a trip to Pandora. No better way to travel than on the back of a banshee!

Extending the themeing would be needed in a Pandora Expansion

What Do The Numbers Say?

Success! On May 27, 2107, Walt Disney World opened the gates to Pandora, The World of Avatar. The 12-acre land consisted of two attractions in the Navi River Journey and Flight of Passage. Rounding out the land is the quick-serve location known as Satu’li Canteen and the Pongu Pongu beverage stand. Since the land’s opening, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has scene guest attendance increase by ~26% to 13,7500,00 guests per year. The park now ranks as the second most popular park in total guests per year, only behind the Magic Kingdom.

Flight of Passage continues to be one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World with an average wait time surpassing 2 hours.

Passholder Insights: One of the best ways to experience Flight of Passage without a FastPass is to rope drop the Animal Kingdom.

Could we see a Pandora Expansion?

Original Plan

Plans always change and the same holds true when it comes to Walt Disney World. The original plan for Pandora The World of Avatar included three attractions. Flight of Passage was slated to be the mid-level attraction with the attraction that was removed from the plans being the headliner. It’s unknown what the third attraction entailed.

Passholder Insights: By the main entrance of Pandora you’ll find the spot for the iconic picture of the floating mountains. Usually, there is a PhotoPass photographer in the area.

Potential location of a Pandora expansion

Hey, Jim!

Yeah, we’re on that level with Mr. Cameron. As the rumor around a Pandora expansion goes, James Cameron approached Disney about Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm working together on an expansion. His idea would be to have the new area opening in conjunction with Avatar 2 in theaters.

The potential landing spot for a Pandora expansion would be in the cast member parking adjacent to the land. To the left of the Navi River Journey (when facing the entrance), there’s a plot of land that was originally slated for the third attraction. What’s Jim thinking about for a new attraction?

It’s still very early and at the moment it is what Disney would call “Blue Sky”, or still at the concept level. There are two options that are rumored to be on the table – one is a more thrilling attraction and the other a walk-through attraction. A thrilling attraction could be a variety of things, and at the moment everything would be sheer speculation. Whereas, the walk-through attraction is a little more fleshed out. According to Jack from DSNY Newscast, the experience would be Pandora’s version of an animal encounter where the animals are animatronics. The centerpiece would be a massive banshee.

Passholder Insights: Just outside Pandora The World of Avatar you’ll one of our favorite lounges, the Nomad Lounge.

Our Thoughts

We’re always up for new experiences. A Pandora expansion would definitely make a lot of sense. As we spoke about in our Zootopia Land article, Disney World is looking at updates for the Animal Kingdom post-50th Anniversary in 2021. Connecting the dots, this could fit. The one piece we’re unsure about is Disney moving forward with a Pandora expansion prior to the release of Avatar 2. We’ll have to wait and see if Jim nailed his pitch!

Could We  See Changes To The Walt Disney World FastPass System?

Could We See Changes To The Walt Disney World FastPass System?

Changes? Yes, we’re talking about potential changes to the Walt Disney World FastPass system. The Disney rumor mill has been working overtime with this one. Every six months or so, the topic of changes to the Disney World FastPass system pops up. It’s that time again. Time sure flies by! Let’s grab our Magicband and head to the parks. We’ve got some investigating to do!

Disney World Fastpass System started as paper.

The Background

As Dr. Marsh would say, the future is truly in the past! Oh, how we love Dinosaur at the Animal Kingdom. On with the Disney history discussion. The Walt Disney World FastPass system began in July of 1999 with a paper/ticket style FastPass. Over the years, it has a couple of iterations including MyMagic+ and ultimately transforming into what we know today as FastPass+ as part of My Disney Experience.

Throughout all the variations of the Disney World FastPass system, one thing stayed consistent, it was free. Every guest who purchased a park ticket could use the system at no additional cost.

Passholder Insights: Our favorite time to book our FastPass selections is midday when the parks tend to get the busiest.

Rise of the Resistance should be part of the Disney World FastPass system

What We’re Hearing

Major changes! Or so they say. For years, the parks down the street, you know the ones we’re talking about, the one with the young wizard. These parks have been offering a similar system called Express Pass for an additional cost. In 2018 the rumor started that the Walt Disney World FastPass system would be transitioning to a paid-for system as well. From that day forward about every 4 to 6 months the rumor within the Disney community resurfaces and the latest round started at the end of December mainly due to Disney Parks offering a virtual queue, in lieu of a FastPass for the new Rise of the Resistance attraction.

As the rumor goes, a new Disney World FastPass system would move FastPass selection to a pay model. The model would still include a subset of attractions included as “free” with potentially moving the marquee attractions to an upcharge option.

Passholder Insights: You can add additional FastPass selection after completing your first three selections. To find out more we recommend the following article.

Guest staying in a grand villa can purchase more selections from the Disney World FastPass system

Is It True?

Can we say yes and no? For about six months Walt Disney World has been offering guests staying either in a concierge level room or a Disney Vacation Club Grand Villa the option of purchasing additional FastPass selections. The initial 3 selections are still free, but guests can choose to add 3 more selections for $50 per person per day. They can choose to add it for a single day or every day of their trip.

At the moment, this is as far as Disney World has taken the paid for FastPass offering. According to many Disney insiders, there are no plans to scale-out this option any further. The plan for the Walt Disney World FastPass system is rumored to be a larger project and could entail a complete overhaul to the FastPass program. In the DVC Duo house, we believe any changes to the system would be tied to the Disney Genie project (a new Disney trip planning tool) which would debut at some point in 2020. More to come on the Disney Genie project.

Passholder Insights: When staying in a concierge level room guests who choose to purchase the additional FastPass selections are able to make their choices 90 days in advance compared to the standard 60 days for Disney World Resort guests.

Our Thoughts

We love FastPass! It has definitely destressed our vacations over the years. We’ve seen the Disney World FastPass system grow and expand in each of its iterations. Looking to the future we would expect some level of change to come. Ultimately, we would project that Disney World would keep the FastPass system as part of the part tickets. What we could see happen is Disney offering guests the option to add additional FastPass selections as an upcharge in the form of packages. For now, Disney World has not announced any changes to the system. We’ve got to go, time for us to ride Dinosaur!

Is Muppet Vision 3D On The Rise at Hollywood Studios?

Is Muppet Vision 3D On The Rise at Hollywood Studios?

It’s all about the rise! Everything appears to be on the “rise” at Hollywood Studios. The big question: is Muppet Vision 3D included in the movement to the top? We’ve heard through the grapevine that changes to Muppet Vision 3D are underway. What is being changed, and what does it mean for the Muppets at Walt Disney World? The curtain is rising, let’s head into the show, we’ve heard it’s a glorious 3-hour event!

Muppet Vision 3D Sam Eagle

Here Today, There Tomorrow!

The Muppets have been making moves! As Serena would say, money moves. At the end of 2019, the Muppets present Great Moments in America History had its last performance at the Magic Kingdom. Many believed, we included, this may be the curtain call for Muppet Vision 3D. Fast forward a few weeks and we find out Sam Eagle is migrating from the Magic Kingdom to be the new mascot of the Regal Eagle Smokehouse in Epcot’s American Pavilion. All rise for the Muppets!

Passholder Insights: While experiencing Muppet Vision 3D make sure to look all around the theater. You never know who may be behind you!

inside Muppet Vision 3D theater

Remodeling

Every home at some point needs a facelift. The Muppet Vision theater is no different. On Monday, January 27, 2020, the attraction closed its doors and began work on the theater. Disney Parks has not officially released what updates they will be making during this refurbishment, but we have a rough idea of what we should expect.

Muppet Vision 3D is expected to be under refurbishment until February 9, 2020. During this time Disney is rumored to be addressing two major items, the curtains, and the seats. With the short downtime, there is a limited amount of items Disney could tackle and it’s more than likely to be cosmetic related changes over a major update like shifting the show to 4K.

Passholder Insights: On the other side of Grand Ave you’ll one of the best places to take a break and enjoy a pint and light bite. We’re talking about Baseline Tap House.

Our Thoughts

This is big news! A lot bigger news than it may appear on the surface. With Disney taking the time to make the attraction a better experience, it shows they see the show being part of the park for a bit. How long? Great question, we’re not sure at the moment. However, with the success of the Muppet Babies, there could be a resurgence of the Muppets. For now, it looks like the Muppets are on the rise!