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HarmonioUS Construction Update – Where Does Everything Stand?

HarmonioUS Construction Update – Where Does Everything Stand?

Forging ahead! A lot has changed in the world since we last checked-in on the HarmonioUS construction progress. To say the world has been flipped upside down would be the understatement of the year. While many projects around Walt Disney World have hit the pause button, others like the Star Wars Resort and HarmonioUS have been full steam ahead. Why is the HarmonioUS construction work still underway? What progress has been made? And, most importantly, when could Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular debut? That’s what we here to discuss. Grab those hard hats and construction vests, it’s time to head out to the job site or otherwise known as backstage!

Concept art for Epcot's HarmonioUS

Where We Left Off

In the beginnning…no, no. We’re not going to bore you with a recap of our previous check-in of the HarmonoioUS construction process. We’ll let you check out it at your convenience, you can find it here. The two big things to note were that the show barges were delivered to Epcot and the new nighttime spectacular was penciled onto the calendar to begin October 2020. Nowadays, we say penciled over slated. What can we say a pencil is easier to erase than something etched in stone.

HarmonioUS construction work - barge docking stations. Photo credit BlogMickey

World Showcase Lagoon

The majority of the work associated with the HarmonioUS construction project occurred in Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. It’s the main reason why the temporary show, Epcot Forever, had the vast majority of its show aspects take place above the water. From the fall of 2019 to the early parts of spring 2020, different areas around World Showcase Lagoon were drained for construction teams to install the show elements for HarmonioUS. Mainly electrical work for the permit docking stations for the smaller barges. There will be four docking stations for the smaller barges with the largest bargest or the centerpiece having its own unique docking station. What is unknown at the moment is whether or not the barges will be present at the beginning of the show or brought out as an element of it. Additionally, firework stations were added around the lagoon.

From our understanding, the work associated with World Showcase Lagoon is mostly complete. So much so, that Disney has moved onto the testing phase of these elements. On September 24, 2020, after Epcot closed for the day Disney tested a variety of fireworks for the show. The testing was by no means the full production or test run through. Instead, what was witnessed from the Boardwalk Resort bridge to Epcot’s International Gateway was individual fireworks being shot into the sky. There were no musical elements or any type of theatrical presentation. In the DVC Duo house, we believe this was Disney simply testing the newly installed firework stations, docking elements, and potentially the barges (cannot be confirmed). The testing went on for about 15 minutes.

Even though it was just testing, these were the first fireworks at Walt Disney World since the parks reopened. Something tells us this could be a Disney trivia question in the not so distance future!

LED screens installed as part of the HarmonioUS construction work - Photo credit BlogMickey

The Barges

Speaking of the barges. Work on the centerpieces of HarmonioUS is well underway. Thanks to BlogMickey we got our first glimpse of the LED screens being installed to the outside framework for one of the four smaller barges. This can only mean one thing, the work on the interior of the barges is complete. Based on the concept art, the interior of the barges will have fountain and lighting aspects that will more than likely be powered by the different docking stations installed within World Showcase Lagoon. What is unknown is if the barges will also have fireworks shot from them or not. If we had to guess the centerpiece, or better known as the fifth barge could have this functionality as it’s larger than the other four.

The fifth barge will have a unique design all to itself. From the concept art, we could see a more circular shape compared to the oblong shape of the four other barges. Looking at the picture from @bioreconstruct on Twitter we can see just has massive the centerpiece will be compared to the other show elements. There is still a lot unknown about the centerpiece, especially, whether or not it will get similar LED screens installed or use something different to create visual effects within the circle.

Timing

It’s what we all want to know. When will the HarmonioUS construction be complete? And, when will the show debut? Well, those very well could be two different dates. As we spoke in a previous article, HarmonioUS has been labeled a high priority project by Disney. It’s the main reason construction has forged on. Doing a little math based on when everything was shut down and then restarted, we would expect work to be completed by end of year or early quarter one 2021.

However, that may not be the start date for the show. There are many factors when it comes to Disney bringing back nighttime spectaculars to the parks, and the majority are out of their control. The biggest is the physical distance measures and how to best manage guests. With Epcot having one of the largest viewing areas for a nighttime show, we could see it being the first to come back. Additionally, Disney is keen on restarting their dining packages associated with the nighttime shows, as well as, night time dining at Epcot. We’re not going to project a date at this time, but we will say you should keep an eye on two things, the total number of COVID-19 cases (trending down) and the ability to lessen the physical distancing requirements below six feet. This is solely based on how Disney and The Oriental Land Company have brought fireworks to the Tokyo parks.

Our Thoughts

The show will be ready! Based on everything we’re observing the HarmonioUS construction is moving along a solid pace and it will be ready before we know it. Similar to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the biggest question will quickly become when will Disney feel comfortable debuting it. When it’s ready we’re excited to see it. We got a feeling this could be one of those all-time great Disney nighttime spectaculars. It’s time to take off those hard hats and construction vests and head back “on-stage”!

New Figment – A Journey Into What The Future May Hold

New Figment – A Journey Into What The Future May Hold

It’s imagination time! Some may say it’s a journey into our imagination to see what the new Figment means. As Mickey is the face of Walt Disney World, many Disneyphiles relate Figment to Epcot. He is the mascot for all the festivals after all. For the past few years, we’ve been tracking a variety of rumors on what the future could hold for both the Imagination Pavilion and Figment at Epcot. Recently, we got a glimpse into what a new Figment could look like and it got us thinking. Or, should we say we had a spark of inspiration! Well, let’s get this journey into what this potentially new Figment could mean for Epcot.

Tony Baxter receiving Disney Legend Award

Blast From The Past

It’s not just a Brendan Fraser movie reference. On August 21, 2020, news broke that an infamous Disney Imagineer would be willing to come out of retirement to redo the Journey Into Imagination attraction. Which Imagineer? You may know this Imagineer from his fine work on the creation of Big Thunder Mountain and the original Journey Into Imagination. That’s right, no other than Tony Baxter. The Disney Legend commented, “I just wish we could do that ride over. I would come back out of retirement to do that ride over” when speaking about Journey Into Imagination during his virtual appearance at [email protected] [email protected] is a USC student organization focused on themed entertainment.

The comment was captured on video and posted to YouTube, but was later taken down by the video owner.

It would not be surprising if Tony Baxter came out of retiring, as Disney has stated Tony would be involved in the rethemeing of Splash Mountain.

The Glimpse

Fast-forward two weeks. On September 4, 2020, the 40th episode of One Day at Disney on Disney+ premiered. The episode focused on VP of Content Innovation, Alice Taylor, and the work conducted at StudioLAB. Within the episode, viewers caught a glimpse into the potential look for a new Figment. The big change is a more “rounded” look for Figment’s face, especially through his nose.

What really caught our attention is the conversation between Alice and her team member, Nak Yong Choi (Story Artist). From what we gathered the clay model and drawing displayed in the episode were created after a review and a request from Disney Parks. It should be noted that the episode stated a clay model is usually used to make on the fly adjustments based on feedback from a variety of parties. This leads us to believe that Disney is well into the creation process.

Hmm…what could this all mean? Why would Walt Disney World leadership request the creation of a new Figment?

Play Pavilion will more than likely use Interchangeable Disney Attractions

Where Could He Go?

Immediately, everyone’s mind goes to a new Journey Into Imagination attraction. It is the most obvious choice. However, in the DVC Duo house, it doesn’t all add up. Why would Tony Baxter mention he’s open to redoing the attraction if Disney is already in the process of creating a new Figment? Based on Tony’s involvement in the Splash Mountain project, we’re sure he is still aware of the majority of projects Walt Disney Imagineering is working on. Especially, a project involving an attraction he originally created.

Diving deeper into our imagination another potential location for the new Figment could be the upcoming Play Pavilion. It has been reported that Walt Disney World is still moving forward with the project. In addition to the new Figment, we got a glimpse into a face recognition technology StudioLAB is developing around emotions. Based on your facial expression the mirror displays an Inside Out character. We even heard Alice mention the technology will detect, Joy, Sadness, Anger, and Disgust. Can you say Inside Out attraction? That is what we are thinking. Based on the concept art for the Play pavilion and how the technology works, we could see it as one of the experiences within the Play Pavilion. It also makes us think Disney used this six-minute episode to give a glimpse of experiences coming to the pavilion. Could Figment be part of a Play Pavilion experience?

The last option could be a simple redo of the character as a whole. This would be similar to how we’ve seen Disney make adjustments to other characters over the years, like Donald. With Figment being the mascot of Epcot, Disney could be working on a new version of Figment to tie in with the overall redesign of the park.

Our Thoughts

Solid update! For us, the biggest thing we gathered from the new Figment is his place within Disney World. Over the years, rumors have circled around Disney moving away from Figment all together. With Alice Taylor and the rest of the StudioLAB team working on a version, it is all but certain Figment will have a place at Walt Disney World. In regards to which direction Disney World decides to go with the new Figment, only time will tell. Until then, let’s let our imagination run wild!

Connecting The Dots Around The Most Recent DVC Rumors

Connecting The Dots Around The Most Recent DVC Rumors

Every action has a reaction. Thanks, Newton! In the case of DVC rumors, every one has a reason behind it. Over the 25+ years of being DVC members, we’ve learned that more often than not DVC rumors are all connected. At least in some way, shape, or form. Recently, a variety of rumors and adjustments to the DVC website have popped-up and it got us thinking. What’s the connection between them all. Alright, we got our pens in hand, let’s see if we can connect the dots between all these DVC rumors!

The Good To Know

Motivation. Every action has some type of motivation behind it. For our most recent DVC rumors, we believe the motivation behind them stems from the resale of DVC points. After speaking with a variety of current and former DVC agents we learned Disney Vacation Club is focused on minimizing one aspect of the DVC community, the reselling of points. Or otherwise known as the DVC resale market. A resale is when a DVC member decides to sell their allotment points and the remaining years of their DVC membership to someone else, through a broker. This can be done, as DVC points are recognized as real estate. Similar to selling your house.

Disney Vacation Club is looking at minimizing the resale market for a variety of reasons, but the main one is the devaluing of points. More often than not, points are sold at a lower price per point when compared to the retail market value. For example, Disney Vacation is currently selling points to Disney’s Copper Creek Villas for $220 per point. Whereas, you could buy resale Copper Creek points for about $145 per point within the resale community. Additionally, in Disney Vacation Club’s eye, the resale market is taking away from potential sales of the most current resorts.

Entrance to Disney Beach Club

The First Dot

New rules! On January 19, 2019, news broke on the new rules around purchasing resale contracts. The change centered around how DVC members who purchased resale points could book resorts. Basically, Disney Vacation Club drew a line in the sand and stated from this date forward anyone who purchased a resale contract would fall into one of the following categories:

The category was determined by the home resort of the resale contract. For example, if you bought Boardwalk Resort points, then you would fall into the original 14 DVC resorts for booking options. There was one exception and that was if a member had already purchased a minimum of 100 points directly through Disney Vacation Club, then the rule did not apply.

New DVC request tool

The Second Dot

Website updates! On July 29, 2020, in the Disney Vacation Club newsletter members learned of a new way to buy points. For many years it was known that you could buy resale points directly through Disney Vacation Club, but it was never advertised or heavily promoted by the DVC agents. While this is no longer the case. The new way to buy points for previously sold-out resorts is front and center on the Disney Vacation Club website via their new tool. This tool shows members the price per point and allows them to request points at all of the previously sold resorts. Additionally, the points will have all the perks associated with buying directly through Disney. For more information on the DVC perks, please check out the following article.

The Third Dot

The return of the Right of First Refusal. Or, better known as RoFR. Every Disney Vacation Club contract includes language that allows Disney the ability to buy back your points if the member decides to sell their membership. Every time a resale purchase is made it is sent to Disney first and Disney has 30 days to decide if they want to buy back the points at the offered price or let the resale purchase go through. It’s an unwritten rule that if the resale is for a current member, Disney will most likely let the transaction happen. For non-members, it can a little bit more of a coin flip.

Rumor has it that recently Disney Vacation Club has been invoking their RoFR more often. That’s right, they are buying back contracts at a higher rate than previously.

Four And Final Dot

Upping the minimum! At the time of writing, it has not been confirmed by Disney Vacation Club, but one of the biggest DVC rumors is the minimum number of points to qualify for the membership benefits (like Moonlight Magic, discounts, etc.) will increase to 125 points. Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen the minimum quickly increase from 75 points to 100 points and now potentially 125 points. It should be noted that the minimum is not associated with any type of minimum purchase requirement, it is only associated with the membership benefit extras. And, only impacts new purchases going forward.

Connect Four?

The writing is on the wall. At least that is what we’re thinking in the DVC Duo house. Disney Vacation Club seems to be making a concerted effort to bring the majority of the DVC resale market in house. With the launch of the website and the potential upping of the minimum, it is clear they are looking to deter people from the resale market option, especially potential new members. To us, it makes a lot of sense, especially since it looks like they will be slowing down the addition of new DVC resorts in the short term. Ultimately, time will tell how everything plays out. For now, we think we’re safe to say we’ve connected all the dots around the recent DVC rumors!

What’s New With Disneyland’s Avengers Campus? – A DVC Duo Update

What’s New With Disneyland’s Avengers Campus? – A DVC Duo Update

Let the building resume! A lot has changed since construction on Disney’s Avengers Campus resumed. At the time of writing, both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) are currently closed due to COVID-19. However, it doesn’t mean work on DCA’s newest land cannot continue. Some may even say construction can move even faster with the park currently being closed. Does this mean Disneyland’s Avengers Campus could open earlier than some expect? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s head west to see what’s happening!

The Pause

If only the pause was Dr. Strange having some with the time stone. On March 23, 2020, Disneyland closed its doors and stopped all construction. The original plan called for Disneyland’s Avenger Campus to open on July 18, 2020. Needless to say, that date and came and left without the land opening. As we spoke about in our previous article, this “pause” could play a major role in when we could see the land’s major attraction open.

On May 7, 2020, reports came out that construction on the land had resumed. However, we later found out that the California government only approved essential workers to return to the site. The approval conceded with a major storm heading to the west coast and approving workers to head back to the site to make sure everything was secure to hopefully prevent minimal damage. It wasn’t until June 27, 2020, when we got word that construction officially resumed on Disney’s Avengers Campus. Only a 3rd of the contractors and essentials workers were allowed at the construction site and it was at a limited capacity. Overall, the project was paused for about 3 months.

The Progress

So, what’s happened in the past two-plus months? We’re glad you asked. Ever since work has resumed on Disneyland’s Avengers Campus it appears to be ramping up at a good clip. Aerial photos from @Bioreconstruct (Twitter) on July 11, 2020, showed a variety of angles and the overall progress. With the big news being the Quinjet arriving onsite and further progress of the Web Slingers attraction queue and entrance area. Additionally, the images highlighted a lot of exterior work on the building that will house the Pim Test Kitchen (quick service), and the Avengers HQ building.

On August 20, 2020, we got our first official look at the Quinjet thanks to the Chairman of Disney Parks, Josh D’Amaro via Instagram. As Josh toured the construction site to check on the land’s progress he snapped a few pics of the newly installed Quinjet atop the Avengers HQ building. What is unique about this Quinjet is the overall design. It is not a copy of the Quinjet from the Avenger movies, it has a few modifications in its wing design. It makes us wonder if it’s a look at a Quinjet we will see in a future Marvel movie. We all know how Disney likes to tie the lands directly to the movies.

Our progress doesn’t end with the Quinjet. Five days later news broke around Disneyland reopening its casting call for stunt performers for the land. Originally, the casting call was opened in March but later paused due to, well, the “pause”. The casting call is for two key roles in the show, Captain America and Black Panther. The stunt show will take place atop the rooftops and around the Avengers HQ. If Disneyland is already starting to look for performers, it must mean the land is close to opening, right?

Josh D'Amaro with the Quinjet at Disneyland's Avengers Campus

The Potential Opening Date

While nothing official has been announced around the opening of Disneyland’s Avengers Campus, we have some key pieces that may help us identify a date. First, we know that Disneyland is ready to reopen, as stated by Josh D’Amaro in an interview. All Disney is waiting for the approval to open from the California government. According to Len Testa from Touring Plans, Disney is very hopeful to open Disneyland by the October timeframe. It should be noted that nothing is official and a park opening date is mostly out of the control of Disney and in the hands of the California government. It should be noted Disney has canceled resort reservations at Disneyland through September 26, 2020 (at the time of writing).

With the rumors circling around the October opening date, many believe we could see Disneyland’s Avengers Campus open by the end of October. Or, even the best case with the rest of the park. In the DVC Duo house, we have other ideas around when the land could open. Based on the timing of the casting of the stunt performers it leads us to believe the land is still about four months from opening. It will take time for casting to find the right performers, as well as the performers to learn the show. This would put a potential date closer to December 2020 or even the first quarter of 2021.

Additionally, another piece that could delay the opening is the Web Slingers attraction. The new attraction will rely heavily on a new type of 3D glasses that will connect (digitally) with the ride vehicle to able to capture a riders hand movements (i.e. shooting webs). With this type of advancement in technology, we would expect the ride to have fewer glasses than your typical 3D attraction. Fewer glasses, mean more cleaning. Now, this could all change and Walt Disney Imagineering could already have a solution for the glasses to work in our “new world”.

This is why we’re leaning towards a December 2020 or first quarter 2021, especially since we assume Disney will look to make a splash with the land’s grand opening.

Our Thoughts

It’s fantastic to see progress being made on Disneyland’s Avengers Campus. There is still a lot of gray area around when the new land will open. Especially, since part of the opening is out of Disney’s control. For now, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for more updates and surprise Instagram pics from Josh. Well, it looks like it’s time for us to head back east!

Project Nugget – What’s Banging On The Magic Kingdom’s Door?

Project Nugget – What’s Banging On The Magic Kingdom’s Door?

Oh, the pun! We’re not going to lie, we really like this one. Could skippering a Jungle Cruise boat be in our future? With puns like this how can not? It will all make sense in a minute, trust us. Anyways, you’re not here for puns, you’re more than likely here to learn more about Project Nugget. When word came out on August 10, 2020, about a new permit Disney World filed called Project Nugget, everyone wondered what it could be. From potential work on Big Thunder Mountain to a new fireworks show, rumors were all the board. To make it simple, it’s almost certainly a fireworks show. Now you get the pun, pretty good right? Bang, firework, ah-ha! But, could there be more to it? That’s what we’re here to talk about. The door is a knocking, let’s see what’s behind it!

permit associated to Project Nugget

The Permit

What makes the Project Nugget permit different than the average Disney World permit is the naming convention. Most Disney World permits for projects usually are simple, like Project “A” or another letter. This leads most to believe that this permit is for a larger project that’s associated with the Magic Kingdom. Additionally, it’s assumed it’s fireworks-related as the address on the permit is the fireworks station behind the park.

The permit itself doesn’t provide a lot of details beyond electrical work, materials, and labor. Pretty standard things. It’s the name that is giving the rumor all its momentum.

Why A Fireworks Show?

Disney World is just over a year away from its 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021. In true Disney fashion to celebrate the monumental occasion, a new nighttime spectacular is a must. Say hello to Project Nugget. It may or may not be known that the current nighttime show, Happily Ever After, was supposed to be a temporary show. However, it became a huge success, and Disney World filed away its replacement for a rainy day. Whether or not Project Nugget will be this show is currently unknown.

What we do know is the new show is only supposed to run for the duration of the 50th Anniversary. About 15 months. Whether or not that holds true, time will tell. Similar to Happily Ever After, it will all depend on guest satisfaction.

How Big Is the Project?

That’s the big question. Right now, Happily Ever After centers around the castle, whereas the previous show could be enjoyed throughout the park. We’re looking at you, Wishes! The majority of Happily Ever After involves projections on the castle to help tell the overarching story. Well, that may not be the best thing going forward.

We love the castle projection shows! However, when everything changing due to COVID-19, having the majority of park guests pack into a small area in front of the castle may not be the best idea. This leads us to believe that Project Nugget will more than likely not center around the castle, especially since we still don’t fully know what the world will look like in 2021. At the time of writing, nothing has been announced by Disney around Project Nugget.

In the DVC Duo house, we believe the new show could still involve both projections and fireworks. Remember when Disney was 3D mapping the parks prior to their reopening? If not, definitely check out our article, as it could definitely relate to Project Nugget. One of the ways Disney Imagineering could use the 3D mapping is for both projections on other areas of the park, say Main Street USA, as well as vantage points for a new fireworks show. Projection mapping on Main Street USA is nothing new, as Disney does this today at Disneyland. However, maybe they extend that to other areas of the park to allow guests to spread out for the show. Disney could then designate different areas around the park for viewing and help with the necessary social distancing. For example, the back of the castle or Space Mountain. Additionally, each area could have a similar but different projection show, increasing the rewatchability of the spectacular.

This should be treated as just blue-sky ideas as we’re looking to connect the dots. However, if we’re right, you heard it here first!

Our Thoughts

This is a very good thing! As we spoke about in a previous article, one of the top items on Disney’s list to bring back to the parks is the nighttime spectaculars. This was confirmed when word came out of fireworks returning to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea on September 1, 2020. These are the first two parks with fireworks since March 2020. We should continue to find out more in the coming months, as Disney will more than likely need more permits associated with Project Nugget. Until then, we’ll keep an eye peeled for more guests banging on the door!

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