Flip a coin, any coin! We’re kidding, we’re definitely not using a coin for our DVC Reflections Resort update. Now a dartboard, that’s a strong maybe. We kid, we kid! News around the construction of Walt Disney World’s newest DVC resort has been hard to come by since everything changed in March of 2020. We’ve gathered all the intel and we believe we have a rough idea on what we should expect. Alright let’s lace up our favorite workboots, head to the construction, and get to our DVC Reflections Resort update!
The Back Story
We’re coming up on the two anniversary of the announcement of Reflections: A Disney Lake Side Lodge. Slated to be the next Walt Disney World DVC resort after Disney’s Riviera Resort opened at the end of last year. In August of 2019 at the D23 Expo Bob Chapek shared more details around the resort, including the Princess and the Frog themed restaurant. For a full breakdown of the resort, we recommend checking out the following article. Needless to say site prep and construction is well underway.
In March of 2020, all construction projects around Walt Disney World were paused due to COVID-19. As construction on a variety of projects from RemyRatatouilleAdventure to TronLifecycle PowerRun and the Magic Kingdom walkaway ramp back, will construction of Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge resume?
Our Reflections Resort update begins on April 3, 2020. On this date, Disney filed an array of permits for Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge. The permits included, bus stops, a table service restaurant, covered walkways, security kiosk, transportation dock, pool restroom building, and outdoor structures. With any construction permits, there is a cost and time limit associated with them. The permits have an expiration date of April 2021. It should be noted that Disney could always request an extension on the permits.
Breaking news! On June 14, 2020, our Reflections Resort update takes a turn. Drastic turn to say the least. On this day, multiple sources reported that Disney is cancelling the project. From what we can tell all the rumors seem to sight a comment from a well-known user on the WDW Magic forums. The user commented that construction workers were removing rebar from the Reflections Resort construction site. Based on this comment and the $900 million in savings Bob Chapek mentioned on The Walt Disney Company quarterly earnings call, many people assumed Disney is walking away from this project.
Fast-forward two weeks and we learn two more key pieces in our Reflections Resort update. First and foremost came from Jill Hill of Jim Hill Media. On his Disney Dish podcast, he makes mention that the Reflections project has been slowed, not cancelled. This would make the most sense as sales for Disney’s Riviera Resort have been slowed while the parks have been closed, as well as cost savings associated to the project would reflect in Disney’s 2020 fiscal year. The second key aspect came on June 30, 2020, when Disney filed another permit as it relates to Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge. Reported on the WDW Magic forums permit is for a natural gas line to be run to the construction site.
With this new information, especially the running of a gas line to the construction site, it could be assumed the Reflections Resort is still a viable project.
Slowly moving forward. In the DVC Duo house we believe the project is not cancelled. The takeaway we’ve gather from all the information in this Reflections Resort update is Disney is moving forward with the project, just at a slower pace. When the resort will official open is unknown, but knowing what we know about Disney Vacation Club, Disney will more than likely keep this project progressing. There is only one question left to ask on this Reflections Resort update, is it still a coin flip? If it is, we pick heads, as we believe Disney is moving ahead!
Vroom, vroom! Does a Lifecycle make the vroom vroom sound? Only time will tell. We’re back with another Tron construction update. After checking in on Remy over at Epcot, we’re continuing our adventure around the Walt Disney World construction sites at the Magic Kingdom. Over the past few years, we’ve been keeping an eye on the newest expansion to Tomorrowland and how it could set the tone for the rethemeing of Tomorrowland. In March of this year, the pause button was rightfully pushed. Has the time come to unpause? Let’s race into this Tron construction update!
Before The Incident
Like in the show Lost. The incident is what kicked everything off and put us in the place where we are today. Now, if we could only flashback like in the show to a time before the incident. Hmm, any ideas J.J.? Before March 16, 2020, we had a rough idea of when Tron Lifecycle PowerRun could open. We knew Disney planned for the new coaster at the Magic Kingdom to open at the start of the 50th-anniversary celebration. It would be one of the marquee attractions for the 15-month event. Fast-forward to today and everything regarding the schedule is a little in flux, including the start of the 50th (for more information on that, please see the following article).
Passholder Insights: The Walt Disney World Railroad is part of the update to Tomorrowland. There will be scenes added to the area, along with a new tunnel under the walkway to the Tron Lifecycle PowerRun.
Or is it gearing up? Either way, we got our first Tron construction update since everything got flipped upside down on Thursday, June 25, 2020. In an interview for D23 members around rethemeing Splash Mountain, Bob Weis (President of Walt Disney Imagineering) said construction around Tron would have a phased restart. Phased restart? Would could that mean? If we’re reading between the lines, which we like to do, it could be a nice way of saying conserving construction dollars for Disney’s 2020 fiscal year. In the DVC Duo, we believe this could be related to $900 million Bob Chapek mentioned around cost savings for 2020. Lucky for us, The Walt Disney Company’s fiscal year ends on September 30, 2020.
Passholder Insights: Outside of Space Mountain Disney has set-up a couple of the coaster cars for guests to try out the ride vehicles. From our understanding Disney is using this to see how easy it is for guests to enter and exit the vehicle.
Garage Is Opening
Do you store a Lifecycle in a garage? Like a Tesla? Looks like we’ll have to do more research around Lifecycles prior to our next Tron construction update. Anyways, thanks to Blog Mickey on June 30, 2020, we got our first siting of construction workers back on the Tron worksite. From what we can tell in the images it looks like its mostly site prep to start. Which would make a lot of sense. Additionally, we learned that Disney is asking for workers to park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Within the parking lot, the workers are being tested for COIVD-19 prior to being transported to the worksite. Tools in all. This is a new safety measure deployed by Disney, as previously the workers would park around the site.
Passholder Insights: Disney is deploying an array of safety measures around the parks and resorts for both guests and cast members. For more information please reference the following article.
We are just filled with questions on Lifecycles today. For example, can they stall like a car? Either way, there is a key piece in this Tron construction update that we will have to keep close tabs on. Supplies. While the workers have returned to the construction we’ve heard from Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, that supplies, primary concrete are very limited. Some estimates have Disney waiting until October of 2020 to receive their shipments. This could be one of the primary reason Bob Weis said phases and why lower cost could be reflected in the $900 million in savings.
If this true, our estimates have the Tron coaster opening closer to the end of 2021/beginning of 2022. This may work well if Disney moves forward with shifting the dates around the 50th anniversary.
Passholder Insights: The limited construction supplies could impact a variety of projects around Disney World. The one project moving forward quickly is the addition of The Cove to the Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
Small, but note worthy Tron construction update. The key piece to all the new information is Disney is 100% not delaying or stopping the progress of the new attraction. It may be delayed a few months, but we fully expected that to happen. For now we’re heading to the research room to learn more about Lifecycles!
Say that again! That’s right, news broke a few weeks back regarding Walt Disney World 3D mapping the parks. But, why? What could Disney be working on? Like any Disney rumor, there are many directions it could take us and this especially holds true with the Disney World 3D mapping project. The time has come to take a birds-eye view of the different options. Just like 3D mapping, the only way to get a birds-eye view is from a helicopter!
OnJune 17, 2020, news broke around the possible of Walt Disney World 3D mapping the Magic Kingdom. Thanks to BlogMickey, we got information on a low flying helicopter making a grid pattern over the house of the mouse. Attached to the front of the chopper was a special camera that was later confirmed to be for 3D mapping. Fast-forward a few days and we saw the same grid pattern take place over the other Disney World parks.
If Disney were looking for an opportunity to 3D map the parks, there is no time like the present. It’s not often Disney has the opportunity to film the parks empty, especially midday. With the Disney World parks gearing up to begin reopening on July 11, 2020, Disney is definitely making the most of the opportunity.
Passholder Insights: When the Disney World parks reopen all guests will be required to make a park reservation for entry to any of the parks. For information on how to make parks reservations please reference the following guide.
Park Operations. As Aladdin would say, it’s a whole new world. One of the options for the Disney World 3D mapping is around managing crowds as it relates to social distancing. By creating a 3D environment Parks Operations and Imagineering could in theory test out every possible vantage point for new nighttime shows while keeping social distancing measures in check. For example, fireworks at the Magic Kingdom that would not require all guests to be in front of the castle. Instead, Disney could use the majority of the park to create viewing areas to keep guest social distant while providing a nighttime show.
Additionally, Park Options could apply this technology to a variety of situations from character caravans to how to best handle crowd control when the parks close for the night.
Passholder Insights: History tells us that Disney create a variety of projects that we as guests may or may not see.
Imagineering. Have you seen the Imagineering Story on Disney Plus? If you haven’t, as part of the show Disney shows you a room where the Imagineers can use Virtual Reality (VR) to see how new ideas fit within the parks. The framework of the current VR technology uses basic graphics. Think of a simple layout like Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch. The second option for the Disney World 3D mapping is for an upgrade version of the Imagineering VR technology.
With an updated VR the Imagineers could use the new Disney World 3D mapping of the parks for better visualizations on how new rides, shows, and experiences could fit into the park. We could see this being used for more realistic presentations on potential projects and how they’re revealed and viewed within the parks, in conjunction with the infamous concept art of the project.
Passholder Insights: At Disney Springs you’ll find an AR experience called the VOID. The VOID usually offers a couple of different environments to explore and partake in like Star Wars and Wreck-It Ralph.
You leave the best for last, right? Is that how this blogging thing goes? Well, we hope so or we’ve been doing it all wrong. The last option for the Disney World 3D mapping is for the guest experience. We’re talking updated maps either within the My Disney Experience app or potentially a new app. This would be similar to the 3D mapping you’d find within Google maps today. Could you imagine clicking on a restaurant and getting a 3D map on how to find it?
The guest experience expands beyond just the maps. What if Disney used the technology to improve Memory Maker? No one wants a castle picture with the cranes in the background. If Cinderella’s Castle and the surrounding areas are mapped Disney could remove aspects of the picture like the cranes very easily.
Passholder Insights: The traditional castle picture is in front of the castle. If you’re looking for a different angle head towards Sleepy Hollow Refreshments and look for the PhotoPass photographer for a side angle picture.
The options are endless. Disney could go a variety of options with the Disney World 3D mapping. At the moment, Disney has not announced or stated how they plan to use the 3D maps. More than likely we may never find out, especially if the project is used for behind the scenes type of work. For now, we can let our imaginations run while on what Disney could be up to. Alright, looks like it’s time to land this helicopter!
Let’s talk about rumors! No, we’re not talking about the famous Fleetwood Mac album, as that’s spelled Rumours. A great album for sure, and definitely worth a listen. We’re talking about rumblings around a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot. This is no new rumor, as we’ve been tracking it together for some time now. The idea of Brazil Pavilion coming to Epcot usually surfaces around D23 Expo (Disney’s bi-annual fan event), with last year many predicting we’d hear an announcement. Us included. With no event this year, why could it pop up again? We’re glad you ask. Let’s find our favor marker and see if we can connect the dots!
Last D23 Expo
For years, the idea of a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot has enchanted many Disneyphiles. To say a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot would be welcome by everyone is an understatement. Leading up to last year’s D23 Expo it looked to be a foregone conclusion we’d finally hear Bob Chapek announcement the new project. As the event wrapped, and no word of a Brazil Pavilion coming to Epcot, many believed the project was being held due to political conflict within the country. But, could it have been something else? Could Disney be waiting to make another announcement first? Then, announce that there will be a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot.
Passholder Insights: At the moment, the only presence Brazil has within Epcot’s World Showcase is during the International Food and Wine Festival. If you’re there during the festival definitely try the Brazilian cheese bread. You’re welcome!
Thanks to The Dis Insider news broke on June 22, 2020, around a new Walt Disney Animation Studios film called Encanto (tentative title). The new animated feature centers around a young girl and how she is the only family member without magical powers. What’s interesting is the rumored location of the movie, Brazil. We’ve noticed the location of the film flip flops back And forth between being set in Columbia and Brazil. However, Drew Taylor on episode 84 of Fine-Tuning (part of the Jim Hill Media Network), confirmed the details around the storyline and setting in Brazil. Drew is a former Disney employee, now animation media report with many ties within the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The only person referencing Columbia is Lin-Manuel Miranda, as he is writing the musical score. Additional, information around the production is still being kept close to the vest.
Could an announcement around a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot be linked with Encanto?
Passholder Insights: The Dis Insider believes we could see Encanto in November of 2021 in theaters, as Disney has a untitled movie list in this release slot. A lot could change with movie release dates due to COVID-19.
We’ve seen this play before, right? Oh, yes we have! Do we remember the movie Gigantic? Back in 2015 at the D23 Expo Disney announced the animated feature called Gigantic. A new version of Jack and Beanstalk set in Spain. As the project moved forward we heard confirmation from many Disney insiders, including Jim Hill, that Disney planned to open a Spain Pavilion with a Gigantic attraction. Unfortunately, In October of 2017, Disney announced the movie was canceled due to a variety of complications around the script and production.
In the DVC Duo house, we believe we could see something similar happen as it related to Encanto and a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot. It is well-known that Disney is working to bring more Intellectual Property (IP) to Epcot’s World Showcase. For example, Remy Ratatouille Adventure within the France Pavilion. Many believe Disney would look to move the Three Caballeros from the Mexico Pavilion to make way for Coco, to a new Brazil Pavilion. Instead, we could see a whole new IP brought a Brazil Pavilion and the success of Encanto could be a key component in seeing a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot.
Passholder Insights: Adding Brazil to the World Showcase would help Disney reach its goal of having a country from each continent.
Strong possibility! There is a lot of runaway between now and next year’s D23 Expo. With many projects at Walt Disney up in the air right now, from hotels to attractions and even movie productions, we will have to wait and see. Traditionally, animated movies can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to complete. If Encanto is released to theaters and is set in Brazil, we would not be surprised to see a Brazil Pavilion at Epcot with an Encanto attraction. With it being unknown where Encanto stands the development process we could see an official announcement at the next D23 Expo in 2021. For now, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, we got the itch to listen to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac!
We know it’s swimming! We’re sorry, Dory. But, you cannot swim into a Walt Disney World theme park. Well, if it’s July then it does feel like you’re swimming through the humidity. Anyways, we’re here today to talk about security checks at Disney World. It’s everyone’s favorite topic. (#sarcasm) While it may not be our favorite topic, it’s definitely a must for theme parks today. Some may say the less magical part of Walt Disney World is the bag check prior to entering the parks. Could that be changing? Let’s remove all metal, unzip our park bag and raise our cell phone above heads, as we’re off to investigate new security checks at Disney World!
What They’ve Done Thus far
Walking into a Disney park you’re heading one of two ways, guests with bags or guests without. While the parks up the road use x-ray machines and metal detectors for scanning, Disney World has taken a different approach since September 12, 2001. All guest’s bags are manually checked by Mouse Security and guests walk through a metal detector. The process is slower than other parks, but we have to say it’s more thorough.
Over the past 2 years, Disney has continued to improve the guest experience when entering the parks by redesigning the security checkpoints. Larger, more expansion security entrances have greatly improved guest flow into the park. All while moving the security checks at Disney World further away from the park entrance. At the moment, Hollywood Studios is the only park that has completed its design. The Magic Kingdom and Epcot are not too far behind, and the Animal Kingdom just started.
Passholder Insights: To save time when heading through security always make sure to unzip all compartments within your bag or stroller.
Here comes the walking reference. Thanks to BlogMickey we got an early glimpse of what we could see as the new security checks at Disney World. On Monday, June 15, 2020, Disney was testing a new technology by Evolv Technology at Disney Springs for contactless entry. Yes, contactless entry. We’re talking about no x-ray machines, no manual bag searches, and no metal detectors. You just keep walking!
So, who is Evolv Technology? We were thinking the same thing. Just like NBAor MLS referees, if you don’t know who they are that’s a good thing. Evolv Technology is a company out of Waltham, MA that specials in contactless entry systems for screening employees entering a building, students on campus, and visitors entry large venues. For example, Gillette Stadium and Oakland International Airport are a couple of places with Evolv Technology in place.
Digging a little deeper into the company we learned that they have an impressive list of advisors ranging from the CIA, FBI, and TSA. Additionally, one of the primary investors in the company is Bill Gates. He may know a thing or two about technology. It’s safe to say that Disney World would not be the company’s first major or high profile client.
Please note that Disney does not allow for any pictures of their security areas or protocols, including if they are only testing new technology.
Passholder Insights: Under Bob Iger, the focus for Disney has been technology. From Magicbands to Disney+, Disney continues to adopt technology in all aspects.
Why The Change?
It’s all about the guest experience. As we spoke about in our Disney Reopening Guide, everything is going to be a little different when the parks reopen. One of the big changes will be temperature checks. With the addition of temperature checks, the process for entering a park got a little bit longer. On average it took us about 10 to 15 minutes to get through the bag check prior to the addition of temperature checks. It’s safe to say we should expect that to double with the new process. The big concern for Disney comes with how to manage the larger security lines while maintaining social distancing.
In the DVC Duo house, we believe Disney is looking to be proactive and add the new security checks at Disney World to resolve the crowding issue. We’ve been fortunate to experience the Evolv Technology system previous at Gillette Stadium, and it worked flawlessly. No stopping or removing of anything, just walk through the sensors. If Disney were able to add this system it could greatly reduce the time to enter the parks. Additionally, it would eliminate the need to manually check bags and provide a safer work environment for Disney Security.
Passholder Insights: To save time going through security checks at Disney World we recommend only sending one person with the your bags through the bag check and have everyone else go through the non-bag line.
The sooner the better. With everything going on in the world today, the more Disney can do to make things “contact-less” the better. Based on the research we’ve done Evolv Technology has a fantastic track record and many other high profile clients similar to Disney World. If we had to guess we’re thinking may see new security checks at Disney World sooner than we would expect. With the lower crowd levels this summer, it is the perfect time to test/deploy a new system. Alright, we’re made it through the new security checks at Disney World, what should we ride first? Hands down, it’s Rise of the Resistance!
UPDATE: On July 7, 2020, we received confirmation the new Evolv Technology will be used Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If testing goes well it will be rolled out to all the remaining theme parks. The new system is now in place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the cast member previews.