The Cove at Disney? Construction update? We thought construction at Disney World stopped to dueCOVID-19. True, Disney World did stop all construction projects due to social distancing, but. There is always a but. Why is there always a but? Anyways, The Cove at Disney World is not a Disney construction project. It is a new resort being built by another company. Alright, I think the stage is set, let’s dig into this The Cove at Disney construction update!
What Is The Cove?
A resort? Well, yes that is a given, Nate. Within Walt Disney World, not all resorts are owned and operated by Disney. In the Epcot resort area, both the Swan and Dolphin hotels are owned and operated by Marriott. With many people preferring to use their Marriott Rewards points to travel, in 1990 Disney decided to expand its hotel offerings to include Marriott hotels with the Disney resort benefits. In addition to the hotels, the Swan and Dolphin included larger conference spaces. The Cove will be an expansion to the Marriott footprint at Walt Disney World.
The Cove at Disney will be a 14-story hotel tower with 343 guest rooms. This boutique-style hotel is mainly being added to expand the overall available conference space for the Swan and Dolphin hotels and is focused on business travelers. Included within the new resort will be 22,000 square-feet of meeting space, broken down into two ballrooms, a rooftop reception space, and 12 meeting rooms.
Passholder Insights: When staying at the Swan and Dolphin hotels you can usually find better rates via hotels search tools over booking directly through Marriott or Disney World.
Why did the guest cross the road? To get to The Cove at Disney resort! Ba Dum Tss! Oh, the dad jokes. The new resort expansion for the Swan and Dolphin will be across the street from the main resort area next to Fantasia Gardens (the yellow area). Replacing the tennis courts, the resort will be a standalone resort with its own lobby, parking, dining, etc. What is still unknown is if the resort will have its own bus stop or if guests will use the stops located at the Swan and Dolphin. We believe it will have its own.
Passholder Insights: If you’re looking to head to Fantasia Gardens for mini golf we recommend taking a bus to either the Swan and Dolphin and it’s a short walk from there.
Breaking It Down
It’s all about the details! The glass-clad tower resort is a $150-million upgrade to the Swan and Dolphin resort area. The resort will leverage a lot of the dining options and amenities of the current area. However, The Cove at Disney will have a 90-seat restaurant atop the tower, along with a 50-seat lounge, both of which will have firework views of Hollywood Studios. The food continues on the second floor with a grab and go market and lobby bar serving up craft cocktails.
Beyond the food options, the resort will have a 16,800 square foot pool area, fully equipped with a fire pit, fountains, and an array of seating choices.
With Marriott leading the construction effort for The Cove at Disney, construction has not slowed. The new resort is projected to open on March 1, 2021. At the time writing the resort tower, has reached its halfway point in height. Doing a little quick math, that means the resort is currently seven-stories tall. Everything is currently on track to meet the resorts scheduled opening date. Once complete the Swan, Dolphin, and Cove resort area will be 2,600 guest rooms and 350,000 square feet of conference space, making the area the third-largest hotel at Walt Disney World.
Passholder Insights: The Swan and Dolphin are the only hotels at Walt Disney World that have a resort fee. When booking a room the resort fee is usually not included in the pricing.
We’d go to a conference there! Ok, let’s be honestly we would take any reason to go to Disney World. We’re excited to find out more about the restaurant and lounges at The Cove at Disney, especially since the current restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin are fantastic. Alright, construction update complete! As they say the building will go on!
Million-dollar question? More like $900 million dollar question! In The Walt Disney Company’s most recent earnings call, Bob Chapek mentioned there would be Disney World project delays in order to save the company around $900 million in spending this year. Many Disneyphiles around the globe are wondering what Walt Disney World projects delays should we expect thanks to no one’s friend, COVID-19. You don’t have a friend in us! Let’s take a trip around the world and what Disney World project delays we could see.
The $900 Million
The date, May 5, 20202. The place, The Walt Disney Company earnings call. On this date, we learned from Bob Chapek about the $900 million Disney is looking to save this year. First and foremost, it is important to understand what this year means in terms of Disney. The Disney year runs from Oct 1st to Sept 30th. When Bob Chapek mentioned saving $900 million this year, he is referring to the next six months.
Another key aspect to understand is how Disney recognizes expenditures as it relates to Disney park projects. To keep costs and spending down, Disney will usually spread the spending of updating or building of a new attraction over the course of many quarters. For example, if a project is expected to cost $80 million dollars to construct, we could see cost spread over 18 months or more, compared to a lump sum.
When Bob Chapek stated Disney would save $900 million we immediately knew there would we see Disney World project delays. More than likely not canceled, just delayed to when the projects would begin or would be completed. Additionally, with Disney having a multitude of projects around the world, the savings will also come from outside of Walt Disney World. The question now becomes which projects could be impacted at Walt Disney World.
The Magic Kingdom. We’re looking at you Tron Lifecycle Power Run. Slated to be the new cornerstone of Tomorrowland, the Tron coaster could see its opening pushed out further. From what we understand, the original plans were looking for the coaster to be completed within the first half of the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration in 2021. It was meant to be one of the projects that drew guests to the parks earlier parts of the celebration. With the attraction being a mirror image of the Shanghai Disneyland attraction, Disney knew exactly how long it would take to construct the new attraction and there would not be any delays.
According to Jim Hill, of Jim Hill Media, Tron could be one of the attractions where we could see Disney World project delays take effect. With the attraction not within the park limits, it would be easy for Disney to slow construction progress to spread out the cost associated with the attraction and have minimal impact on the guest experience.
On to Hollywood Studios. After the completion of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the park has minimal construction projects. The one project mid-stream is the new Toy Story Restaurant. Our original estimates had the restaurant opening for the first half of the 50th anniversary celebration.
With recent opening of Regal Eagle Barbecue in Epcot’s American Pavilion and location of the Toy Story Restaurant Disney could easily pause the project. Currently everything is behind the scenes (off-stage, in Disney terms), Disney could easily pause the progress with no guest impact. Based on the current social distancing requirements for restaurant this is a project would make a lot of sense to delay.
It’s the one everyone has been waiting for, Epcot. Just prior to everything getting flipped upside down Epcot was in the early stages of its major overhaul. The multi-year project including changes throughout the park and now we could see Epcot having most Disney World project delays. Let’s go around the horn and start with the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The first of its kind coaster includes scenes filmed by the movie’s cast. The plan called for the scenes to be filmed in conjunction with the filming of the third movie. This is a similar approach that Disney used with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout in California. With the movie production facing delays, it is safe to assume the attraction will face delays as well. These scenes play a critical part in the attraction and until they can begin production on the movie, Disney is unable to create what is needed for the attraction.
Next door to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the Play Pavilion. The Play Pavilion has been one of the projects Disney has kept mostly under wraps. It is unknown when it could open, what the experiences will be, and everything in between. With the pavilion having gone used for many years prior to COVID-19 and every being 100% indoors, the Play Pavilion is an easy attraction for Disney to delay. There would be zero guest impact.
Off to the World Showcase Lagoon. When Epcot Forever debuted in Oct of 2019, everyone knew the nighttime show would be a temporary offering until HarmonioUS took its place. Epcot Forever was projected to have a 12-month run before making way. Now, it is looking like HarmonioUS could be delayed for some time. With social distancing being the new norm in the short-term, we would expect Disney to hold off on any nighttime shows in order to prevent “large gatherings” of guests. This could be one of the easiest Disney World projects delays to assume, as Disney will want to make a splash with the new nighttime show.
If there is one attraction that has the highest likelihood of being canceled it would have to be Mary Poppins. Since its announcement at D23 back in August of 2019, the project has been the most up in the air of any announced Disney World related attraction. With estimates of the attraction costing around $80 million to build, we could see this attraction being put back in the Imagineers file cabinet for a bit. This would similar to when Disney canceled the Main Street Theater in order to reallocate the money to other projects.
The time has come to tackle the project that is front and center at Epcot. We’re talking about the Epcot spine project or what will be known as World Celebration. With buildings already torn down and the Fountain of Nations removed, Disney will have a major decision to make as it relates to this area of Epcot. Currently, navigating Epcot is not easy and Disney planned to make updates to this section of the park as fast as possible. This is the one project impacting the guest experience. Rumors are floating around Disney could be looking a lighter version of the planned overhauled. We’ve heard everything from not opening Epcot for some time to finish construction to paving over the area in the short term, and even scraping the idea around the festival center building. With nothing confirmed by Disney, we’re saying everything is on the table. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, Imagineering is evaluating an array of potential options for the area.
There is one delay we should expect and that will be a major overhaul to Spaceship Earth. We’re projecting Disney to go one of two ways, either the lightweight update we spoke about a previous article or holding off altogether. We should know more come the end of May and the originally planned date for Spaceship Earth closing.
Disney World project delays will all depend on when Disney can reopen. There will be a definite balancing act Disney will have to consider, as many of these projects are expected to be headliners for the Walt Disney World 50th-anniversary. A portion of the $900 million in savings is occurring already with all construction being on hold. Additionally, another portion of savings is related to global construction projects like the Disneyland Marvel Campus being delayed. The remaining amount will come from slowing down these projects and potentially resuming normal construction efforts in October of 2020. For us, the next big question is how will this impact the 50th-anniversary celebration. But, that’s a question for another day or maybe next week. Hint, hint! Did we answer the $900 million question? Maybe, as Disney has not officially announced any Disney World project delays. For now, we’re off to work on that next article!
Wait, what? Did you say Bob Iger is returning to Disney? Yes. Yes, we did. Well, in all truth he never left, as he moved from CEO of Disney to Chairman of the Board. On April 12, 2020, the New York Times broke the news of Bob Iger returning to the helm of the Walt Disney Company. Cheers from Disneyphiles around the globe could be heard by all. The question remains, what does Bob Iger returning really mean? Let’s take a look at what we could expect with the return of the king!
A Little Background
It’s all about history. If you know us, you know all our great stories start with a little background. No need to break from tradition! Our story begins on February 25, 2020, a day that we will always remember. On this day news broke that Bob Iger was stepping away from his position as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Bob Chapek would be taking over. Effective immediately. It was a changing of the Bob’s. Or as they are called within the company Bob and Bob C. Of course, the original Bob should be called Bob.
Fast forward a few weeks, March 16, 2020, to be exact, and everything around the world changed. Thanks, coronavirus! (#sarcasim). For a full breakdown on how the Walt Disney parks have been impacted by COVID-19 please reference the following article. Needless to say, Bob C was stepping into a situation that not many leaders have ever experienced.
Why The Return?
The big question! Why is Bob Iger returning? There are a couple of reasons why Bob is retaking the helm of The Walt Disney Company. First and foremost is experience. Not many leaders, especially with Disney knowledge, have experience with a large downturn in the economy. If we look to the future, a day when the Disney parks reopen, it is projected that it will take upwards of 18 months for tourism around the world to rebound. The last time we saw this type of drop-in travel was 2008 and then previously in 2001.
Who worked for Disney during both those times? That’s right, Bob Iger. He was COO in 2001 and CEO in 2008. No one is better equipped to guide The Walt Disney Company through the coming months than Bob. Especially, with his experience during 2001 and restructuring of how the parks operated as it relates to the safety of all its cast members and guests.
The second big reason for Bob Iger returning is his media experience. No, we’re not talking media in the form of interviews, but as it relates to content creation. Disney’s original plan had Bob focusing on the creative side of the company, mainly Disney+, while Bob C got his feet under him. In a time where streaming services and at-home content are at a premium, it would make sense to have the person leading the content charge take the lead.
Ultimately, these two areas are what is going to help The Walt Disney Company rebound from this crisis. It is well-known these are the two areas that Bob C needs to as part of his six-month ramp-up to leading the company.
What About Bob C?
How could we not make that joke? Give yourself 10 points if you got the reference to the quirky 1991 film. With Bob Iger returning as the company’s leader, what does it mean for Bob C? On April 15, 2020, a few days after news broke of Bob Iger returning, The Walt Disney Company announced Bob C has been elected to the Board of Directors.
The election to the Board of Directors sends a clear message to Bob C. That message is The Walt Disney Company still believes in him as CEO and does not want to lose him as the heir apparent. Things could change depending on how everything plans out in the coming months, but more than likely Bob C will return as the leader of The Walt Disney Company.
One word, comforting. There is something comforting knowing the person leading The Walt Disney Company through this crisis has somewhat been there before. We are surely heading into uncharted water for when the parks reopen and it could be some time before things “return to normal”. One thing is for certain with Bob steering the ship, The Walt Disney Company is in good hands. There is only one thing left to say, welcome home Bob!
Is it the final countdown? Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant is one of the most anticipated restaurants coming to Walt Disney World. At least it is in the DVC Duo. We are foodies after all. Part entertainment and part dining experience, everything about the restaurant says it will be a shining star. With opening dates pushed back on multiple occasion could the stars finally be aligning? Is Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant in its final countdown to opening its doors? Lets spacesuit up and head 220 miles above Earth.
Ready, Set, Oh
Originally projected to open Winter 2019, Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant has hit a few bumps along the way. As we previously about in Space 220 update in November of 2019, the first bump was the loss of its chef to another opportunity outside of Walt Disney World. The job posting went up, a chef was found, and rumor had it Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant could open somewhere between February of 2020 to even late March.
Not another one! Those bumps. They get us every time. In early February reports surfaced around another potential delay. This delay is could blow the roof off the previous delay, both figuratively and literally. According to multiple sources, one of the large screens within the restaurant has a crack and needs to be swapped out. The crack occurred during construction. This isn’t like a crack in the windshield and making a call to Safeway. It is a custom piece of glass that takes about 8 weeks to have delivered. Additionally, the glass within this screen is so large in scale that it may require Disney to create an access point in the roof to make the swap.
According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media the updates for screen have been as of mid-April 2020. It looks like it’s all systems go, or is it?
Passholder Insights: Next door to Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant is one of our favorite Epcot attractions, Test Track. The attraction reopened at the end of February after an update to attractions software.
What Does This Mean?
It’s the million-dollar question. After a little research, we found the Pantina Group (the restaurant proprietors) were in the final stages of opening the restaurant. The question becomes when. Hmm, 2020? With everything happening in the world today, an opening date is definitely hard to pinpoint. As we discussed, in our “When Walt Disney World Reopens” article, there are rumors the parks will only open at half the capacity to start, and restaurants potentially lessen the number of tables. Not the ideal situation for a new restaurant.
We would not expect Disney and Patina Group to announce an opening date for Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant until the final decisions are made around how Disney World will reopen and what is the best situation to introduce a new restaurant. We would expect Disney to follow the traditional soft opening strategy where the restaurant opens a few days prior to the official date.
Passholder Insights: Early reports say Epcot’s Space 220 restaurant will not be part of the Disney Dining Plan when it first opens. This wouldn’t be a surprise as the other Pantina Group restaurant Via Napoli at Epcot is not either.
We’re getting closer! For a restaurant themed around space and traveling away from Earth, this is a project that has trouble lifting off. The end is definitely near and we’re crossing our fingers we’re experiencing Epcot’s Space 220 open in 2020. If this restaurant is anything like the Patina Group restaurant, we’re looking at you Morimoto Asia, it’s worth the wait! Until then, we’ll keep refreshing our My Disney Experience app.
Let’s fast forward! Fast forward to the day where we here the news that Walt Disney World and Disney parks around the world reopen. Why are we looking to the future? Great question. We’re looking to future to see how coronavirus could impact Disney Vacation Club resort options and how things could change when Walt Disney World reopens. It’s the question that every DVC member is wondering about. How will I use my points? Let’s jump in our time rover and blast to the future to see how Disney Vacation Club resort options could change!
We can’t look to the future without knowing where we currently stand. On March 16, 2020, Walt Disney World closed for the foreseeable future due to the global crisis, and the ripple effects of this announcement spread from there. For a full breakdown of the impact of COVID-19, please reference the following article. Among the ripples the Disney Vacation Club resorts and its members. Members reserve rooms with points that are distributed on a yearly basis.
At the moment, Disney Vacation Club is handling the member’s reservations and points in the following manner. Any reservations booked while Walt Disney World or the associated Disney Vacation Club Resort is closed will automatically be canceled and the member’s points are returned. If the points were borrowed from the future, the points will be returned to the associated use year. There are many more questions and loose ends around how Disney Vacation Club points will be handled. For our understanding, Disney Vacation Club is working on a solution and answers to all the associated questions around points.
One of the major questions is how Disney Vacation Club resort options could change in the future?
Disney Vacation Club Resort Options
How could the resorts be impacted? Traditionally Disney Vacation Club resorts operate at 95% capacity throughout the year. Yes, there is usually no “quiet-period” when talking about Disney Vacation Club resorts. When Disney Vacation Club points are sold to members the assumption is the resorts will be open 365 days a year and the total number of points sold across all members matches this assumption. No one could have expected Walt Disney World to close for an extended period of time and it has a direct impact on members and how they are able to use their points. In short, a portion of members will have extra points due to the resort not being open for a period of time and demand would exceed 100% of the possible capacity.
Let’s channel our inner Dr. Marsh, as the future could truly be in the past! One of the potential Disney Vacation Club resort options could be opening up more resorts to members. Traditionally, Disney Vacation Club members can book non-DVC Disney resorts with their points, but at a much higher per night rate than DVC rooms. Previously when the Disney Vacation Club resorts reached capacity Disney has opened up the option for members to the book rooms at the moderate resorts. We’re looking at you Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, and Riverside/French Quarter. This could be a potential option, as early thoughts believe it could take up 18 months for tourism across the board to rebound from the global crisis.
Additionally, the idea around opening up Disney Vacation Club resort options was mentioned by Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media. With the idea members may be able to book at a variety of resorts around Walt Disney World, with points per night options being on par with traditional Disney Vacation Club studio rooms. For example, Disney would lower the points per night for a night a Contemporary to make equal to a studio night at Bay Lake Tower. This would open up more rooms for DVC members and help with the use of points and dealing with higher demand. Disney would only be able to do this option if demand for non-DVC Disney rooms were less.
Another option on the table could be incentives. Traditionally, a Disney Vacation Club studio would we equal to a deluxe guest room. If Disney is in a situation where deluxe non-DVC rooms are not available they may pivot to an incentive. For example, if you stay at Pop Century, you may receive a guaranteed boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. Or something along these lines.
At the moment, these are just rumors and nothing is confirmed by Disney Vacation Club.
We like it. If this Disney Vacation Club resort option turns out to be the solution, we would be good with it. Usually, non-DVC resorts cost more points per night than DVC resorts, so having the option to try other resorts is a win our books. Overall, we believe Disney Vacation Club will have to be flexible with options, as all members will be effected differently by the global crisis. Whether it’s exceptions for resort options, banking points, etc. everything should be on the table. Based on our experience, we fully expect Disney Vacation Club to rise to the occasion. Time to jump back into our time rover and head home!