What do kitchens have to do with construction? When it comes to a Remy construction update, everything! When the attraction opens we will be joining Remy on an adventure through the kitchen after all. Over the past few years, we’ve been keeping tabs on the new attraction and area, coming to Epcot’s France Pavilion. In our last update on January 27, 2020, we mentioned the attraction would be opening Memorial Day weekend (May 23rd to 25th). Then March happened and we all hit the pause button until now. Is it time to unpause for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure? Let’s dive into this Remy construction update!
Before The Pause
Is that like before the Thanos snap? If so, we’re happy to go back in time to change the course of history. Sign us up! Prior to everything being paused on March 16, 2020, we had a lot of information on the progress of Remy. According to martni1971, a well-known user for leaking Disney insider info on WDWMagic forums said the upcoming attraction was estimated to being nine weeks away from completion. This timing matches up well with our early reports of a Memorial Day opening weekend. Further confirmation came with the announcement that Spaceship Earth would close for its major refurbishment on May 26, 2020. Disney World would not close a major attraction like Spaceship Earth without another attraction ready to open.
Passholder Insights: When entering World Showcase from Future World the shortest way to the France Pavilion is to head right through both the Canada and UK Pavilions.
Game on? That’s what we’re investigating in our Remy construction update, Gareth. On May 27, 2020, Disney announced Walt Disney World would begin itsphased reopening on July 11, 2020. With the parks reopening the question turns to what about the construction projects and when will Disney give them the green to restart construction? Lucky for us, we did not have to wait long. By June 3, 2020, reports came out that projects around Walt Disney World have restarted. A few days later, we got pictures showing work being down on Cinderella’sCastle for the upcoming celebration. Additionally, we saw work on the walkwayfrom the Grand Floridian Resort to the Magic Kingdom begin as well.
Wait, this is a Remy construction update, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is. With France Pavilion expansion tucked away within Epcot’s World Showcase, its challenging to see if work has restarted. Then on top of that, the majority of the work remaining is in the attraction building, not on the exterior. With the knowledge that Disney has begun different projects around the property, in the DVC Duo house it makes think work could have restarted with Remy as well.
If, and it is still an if at this moment, progress has restarted on Remy our estimates have the new attraction opening Labor Day weekend. Hmm, didn’t something else open Labor Day weekend last year? Just a small thing known as Galaxy’s Edge. Nothing is confirmed and Disney has not commented on the attraction. However, if they were able to open Labor Day weekend, Disney could still fulfill its original announcement of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opening in the summer of 2020.
Passholder Insights: The new walkway from the Grand Floridian Resort to the Magic Kingdom will also connect with the walkway that runs to Polynesian Resort and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
There’s always a but. There are a couple of things that could slow everything down. According to Jack of DSNY Newscast, Disney’s original plan for the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure called for cast members from Disneyland Paris to fly over to Disney World to operate the attraction. The cultural representative cast members would train in their native country prior to relocating to Florida. At the moment, the international travel ban is preventing the Disneyland Paris cast members from traveling altogether. It is possible Disney moves forward without the use of cultural representative cast members in the early stages of opening, as they have announced they will have regular cast members operating the World Showcase when Epcot first opens.
The other “but” is around the announcement Bob Chapek made during the May earnings call. You know the announcement, the $900 million statement. Due to this statement, there are rumblings that Disney could continue to pause construction on the France Pavilion expansion until the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2020). If this turns out to be true, then we’re more than likely looking at December 2020 opening.
Passholder Insights: The new France Pavilion expansion will also include two new dining options. A new creperie restaurant will offer both a sit down and quick-service option.
It’s a wait and see for now. When Epcot reopens on July 15th we will get our first glimpse of the construction site. We could see Disney going either way when it comes to an opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Now that we know the Spaceship Earth refurbishment is paused, the need to accelerate the France Pavilion expansion has definitely lessened. Additionally, with lower capacity through the remainder of the year, Disney may look to hold off opening a new headline attraction. The big Remy construction update is knowing how much work is left. It is safe to say that once construction restarts we are about 9 weeks away from the opening of the attraction. Fingers crossed it is sooner than later.
Left! No, right! Oh, we’re not talking about those types of directions. We’re talking about the different directions Disney could go around rethemeing Splash Mountain. Over the last few weeks, the question within the Disney community about rethemeing Splash Mountain has gained a lot of traction. A valid question to say the least. We’re not here to make that decision, we’ll leave that to the mouse. Instead, we’re looking at the potential Intellectual Property (IP) options Disney could leverage if they move forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain. Time to dive deep into the Disney movie vault!
You know us, we always need a little background. Anytime the rethemeing of an attraction comes up we like to put some context around the feasibility of the project as we did with Indiana Jonesor Primeval Whirl. Keeping with our tradition, we’re doing the same with rethemeing Splash Mountain.
In the United States, Splash Mountain an attraction in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Almost identical attractions outside the ride vehicle design and that extra 5 feet of track in Orlando. The main difference between the two variations is where they are located within their respective parks. In Disneyland, you’ll find Splash Mountain in Critter Country, whereas the attraction is located with Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.
The flume based attraction is themed around the movie, Song of the South. With the attraction being water-based Disney decided to build the attraction out of concrete to ensure its structure for years to come. The changing of track or scenes may take a jackhammer or two, to say the least.
It should also be noted that Disney rightfully no longer sells or promotes the movie Song of the South due to its racial discrimination. Additionally, within Splash Mountain Disney never used the Uncle Remus character as the ride’s narrator and instead opted to create a character known as Baer Frog.
The Obvious Option
You know the one. It’s the one everyone is talking about, The Princess and the Frog. Some may say it’s a cult classic within the Disney community. Released in 2009, The Princess and the Frog is a wonderful story of Tiana and her journey to opening her own restaurant in Louisana. (#nospoilers here). The movie jumps to the forefront for a couple of reasons, the first is where the movie is set, New Orleans. Secondly is the inherent nature of the water-based attraction. The majority of the movie takes place on a Louisana Bayou.
Looking at the map of Disneyland it’s easy to see how rethemeing Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog would make sense. Currently, the attraction sits on the border of New Orleans Square and Critter Country within the park. If Disney were to make the switch to The Princess and the Frog it raises another question. What would Disney do with the rest of Critter Country? Directly across from the entrance to Splash Mountain is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, along with the Hungry Bear quick-service restaurant.
For Disney to move forward with The Princess and the Frog concept we would expect a whole rethemeing to Critter Country. Could we see a Princess and the Frog land? Disney could easily change over Hungry Bear to be Tiana’s Place. From there Disney could retheme Splash Mountain as the headliner attraction then potential switch Winnie the Pooh back to a show style attraction (previous home to Country Bears). What show? How about a show filled with New Orleans jazz music featuring everyone’s favorite trumpet-playing alligator Louis! Maybe they could even use some of the advanced audio-animatronics we discussed in the Star Wars resort article.
The only hick-up we could see with this option is Walt Disney World. With Splash Mountain located in Frontierland, the New Orleans backdrop of The Princess and the Frog would not work well.
Revisiting An Idea
Wait. Has Disney thought about rethemeing Splash Mountain before? It’s a firm kind of. When Disney was looking at ideas for attractions for Disneyland Paris, Splash Mountain was under consideration. At the time, Disney’s main concern was how the European market would relate to the southern-inspired theme. Similar to how Disney has used different concepts for the Haunted Mansion around the global they considered the same with Splash Mountain for Disneyland Paris. What IP did they consider? We’re glad you asked!
Say hello to, Pocahontas! That’s right, Disney considered going around the riverbend and rethemeing Splash Mountain to this 1995 movie. Taking a step back, the idea makes a lot of sense, even today. We can easily picture the scene where Pocahontas is canoeing down the river being the main concept for the ride. The drop would be where she and Meko head over the waterfall. Disney could have Grandma Willow as the narrator and Just around the Riverbend as the attractions song.
Beyond the attraction itself, Pocahontas would fit perfectly into both Critter Country and Frontierland without much additional work to the rest of the respective areas. Could this be the perfect fit? If we look beyond just the IP, Pocahontas is a top 10 grossing film for Disney within the hand-drawn animation category.
The Long Shot
Let’s think way out of the box! How far? Pretty far. We may even have to go across the northern border. If Disney wants to get off the beaten path with rethemeing Splash Mountain look no further than Brother Bear. From a box office perspective, the movie is not a great fit. Recent history shows us that Disney prefers to use the $500 million mark to decide if a movie should get an attraction or not. Needless to say Brother Bear is just little behind that number.
However, from a theme perspective, it could work well for both parks. With the majority of the movie taking place in the frontier (Canadian frontier, but frontier none the less) the IP would not detract from either of lands. Additionally, it’s an IP that Disney could center around a flume attraction. The big concern comes with guest relatability, as the movie is not as big of a hit as either The Princess and the Frog or Pocahontas. However, neither was Song of the South when Disney originally decided to use it for Splash Mountain. Well, we’ll give it a solid, maybe?
There are options. If decides to move forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain, they’ll have couple IPs to choose from. Knowing Disney they may even use an IP no one is expecting. In the DVC Duo house, we leaning towards the Pocahontas concept for a couple of reasons. First is we believe The Princess and the Frog concept deserves its own attraction, not a rethemed attraction. Second, is how Pocahontas could work for both parks. Who knows, maybe we’ll get Pocahontas in Walt Disney World and a Princess and the Frog land in Disney land. For now, there is only one question left to answer, which movie should we watch from the Disney vault?
UPDATE: On June 25, 2020, Disney announced they’re moving forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog. For more details on the announcement check out the following Disney Parks Blog article. In the DVC Duo house, we’re thrilled to see Tiana have her own attraction at both US parks. Additionally, rumors have already started that we could see Tokyo Disneyland retheme their version of Splash Mountain as well.
For a nostalgic Disney fans perspective of the rethemeing of Splash Mountain check out Season 2 Episode 50 from our friends over at Dillo’s Diz.
It’s update time! We’re back to expand upon ourDisney World Reopening Guide with a Disney World dining update. With the first set of guests set to arrive on June 22, 2020, many have patiently waited for Disney to announce how sit-down dining will work. We no longer have to wait as we got the Disney World dining update we were looking for. On June 16, 2020, Disney released more information around the steps we’ll take to enjoy a meal at either the resorts or parks (once they open starting July 11, 2020). Let’s take a look at the new process and procedures!
Let’s start with the good stuff, or the most important stuff, reservations. This is the key piece of the Disney World dining update. Starting on June 18, 2020, guests with confirmed reservations for stays from June 22, 2020, through July 10, 2020, at either a Disney Vacation Club Resort or Fort Wilderness Resort can begin making dining reservations. A reservation will be required for all guests to dine. At the initial opening, there will be no general availability or walk-in options. Reservations will be made over the phone by calling one of the following options:
Disney Reservation Center at (407) 824-1391 – for all guests
Disney Vacation Club Member Services at (800) 800-9800 – for Disney Vacation Club Members only
It should be noted that the Disney Reservation Center phone line will open at 7 am EST on June 18, 2020, and the Disney Vacation Member Services line with open at 9 am EST.
Where can we eat? We’re glad you asked! At the start, there will be a limited number of restaurants available. Below is a breakdown of the dining options. Please note which dining establishments require reservations.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Wave…Of American Flavors (Reservations)
The Wave Lounge
Beach Club Villas at Disney’s Beach Club
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (Reservations)
Beach Club Marketplace
Boardwalk Villas at Disney’s Boardwalk
Trattoria al Forno (Reservations, no character dining for breakfast)
Leaping Horse Libations
Boulder Ridge Villas/Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Whispering Canyon Cafe (Reservations)
Geyser Point Bar & Grill
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
P&J’s Southern Takeout
Meadow Snack Bar
Disney’s Old Key West
Olivia’s Cafe (Reservations)
Good’s Food to Go
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Topolino’s Terrace – (Reservations, modified character dining for breakfast)
Le Petit Cafe
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
The Artist Palette
The Paddock Grill
On the Rocks Pool Bar
Grand Floridian Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian
Grand Floridian Cafe (Reservations)
Gasparilla Island Grill
Beaches Pool Bar & Grill
Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Kidani Breakfast at Sanaa
Maji Pool Bar
Polynesian Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Kona Cafe (Reservations)
Barefoot Pool Bar
Beyond the resort dining options, Disney Springs is open with a variety of the restaurants taking reservations. For the Disney Springs locations, you’re able to make reservations either through the reservations numbers above or a lot of the locations will take reservations directly through their website or services like OpenTable.
Reservations made, now it’s time to eat! The other big Disney World dining update is around the arrival experience at a sit-down restaurant. To help with social distancing Disney will be moving to an online check system via My Disney Experience. Prior to arrival at the restaurant, you’ll receive a push notification from the app to begin the check-in process. All guests will have an arrival for their reservation. The other option for checking in your reservation will be to use My Disney Experience to scan a QR code at the entrance of the restaurant to begin the process.
After checking in you’ll receive another notification letting you know your table is ready. The notification will include a specific location to proceed to.
Two very important things to note are around My Disney Experience. You will want to make sure you’re running the most up to date version of the app on your smartphone (iOS and Android). Additionally, make sure your location services are enabled for the app. For more information on how to use My Disney Experience, please reference the following guide.
Sounds easy. When taking a high-level look at the Disney World dining updates everything appears simple. In the DVC Duo house, the question we have is around the next steps for making reservations. Once the parks reopen we wouldn’t be surprised if Disney expands upon the call-in only option. Our assumption is there will be further updates to the My Disney Experience to enable guests to make reservations online or via the app. Bon appetite!
It’s getting busy! What’s getting busy you may ask, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. First, it was the NBA (National Basketball Association), and now we’ll the MLS at Disney World (Major League Soccer). It’s safe to say the sports world is descending upon the mouse’s house. While the NBA will be restarting their season, could we see something different from the MLS at Disney World? As they in the futbol world, let’s lace up our “boots” and head out onto the pitch!
Resolution is the word. When discussions began around having the MLS at Disney World there was much hesitation from the players. The combination of bringing all players to Orlando and the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the league and players that ran beyond the current year put everything in flux. The season could no resume until both parties sorted out a new agreement.
When there’s a will there is a way. On June 3, 20202, the league and the players found the middle ground on a new collective bargain agreement. The new agreement will run through 2025. It was clear both parties were looking to restart the season, as the players took a pay cut and adjusted the how revenue would be shared in order to offset the revenue losses facing ownership. Pack those bags, we’re going to Disney World! With the agreement signed next stop is bringing the MLS at Disney World.
Ah, yes the World Cup reference we made in the title. When we see the MLS at Disney World it will not be in its traditional fashion. From what we understand the league and players have agreed to play a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Early indications point to a World Cup-style tournament for all 26 teams. There would be group play first, followed by a single-elimination knockout tournament to crown a champion.
Champion? Well, champion of the tournament. The tournament champion would earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. Both the players and league agreed that tournament would mark the restart of the 2020 season. More or less like pre-season to get ready for the rest of the league. The plan is once the tournament is completed the teams would return to their respective cities with the hopes of continuing the season. A league champion would be crowned at the completion of the playoffs. The tournament will consist of 54 matches and run from July 8, 2020, to August 11, 2020.
Disney World Impact
It’s the question we’re asking ourselves. How will the MLS at Disney World impact upcoming trips to Walt Disney World? Similar to the NBA, we’re hearing the players will stay in “close” proximity to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With the NBA more than likely setting up shop at Coronado Springs Resort, we could see the MLS stay at another Disney World moderate resort.
Hmm…which resort? Before we can answer this question we have to do a little math to estimate how many people in total the teams will bring to the tournament. Based on the number of players on each team and additional staff members, we’re estimating 45 people per team. This means a safe estimate would be 1,170 people in total. In theory, both the NBA and MLS could fit at the Coronado Springs Resort, if they decided to go down this path. This may make the most sense as Coronado is in close proximity to the ESPN Wide World Sports Complex and secluded for regular Disney World guests.
Another option would be Port Orleans Riverside if the leagues would look to separate players for safety. The resort has many similar characteristics as Coronado Springs. Additionally, Disney has not recalled food and beverage cast members for the resort. This is similar to Coronado Springs Resort. If Port Orleans Riverside were to be used for housing the MLS teams we would expect any guests reservations at the chosen resort to be moved. Historically, if Disney needs to move guest reservations it would usually involve some type of upgrade or compensation for the change. With Disney reopening with at much lower capacity there will be plenty of rooms for all current reservations to be moved.
The under that radar option would be the Swan and Dolphin resorts. With reservations at these two resorts officially canceled through July 29, 2020, we could easily see the players stay here. Reports are strongly hinting that when the MLS at Disney World kicks off the players will be close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, but not saying they will stay at a Disney resort. When looking at the NBA negotiation Disney resorts were mentioned on multiple occasions. With both the Swan and Dolphin resorts being operated by Marriott and close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, we could easily see this being the spot.
Lastly, it is expected that the players will not have access to the parks and will not count towards the over capacity of Walt Disney World.
MLS at Disney World is all systems go. Games will begin on July 11, 2020. While nothing has been announced regarding guests being able to attend the games, we’re expecting there will be no fans. This would be similar to how the European soccer leagues restarted their season. The one thing to watch for is if the games would be simulcast into the Walt Disney World guest rooms. According to ESPN, Walt Disney World will be taking over the production of the tournament games and they could simulcast the games for guests to enjoy as well.
Plenty of fields! With 17 outdoor fields, there is plenty room at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the MLS. The part we find most interesting is the timing. It looks like the tournament could conclude by the beginning of August which could match up well with potential increases to guest capacity. This leads us to believe the players may be at a different resort than the NBA. Disney would have plenty of time to reset the resort for regular guests after the tournament concludes. No matter what, this will be a fun tournament to watch! Alright, we got to run and work on our plenty shots!
It’s an emotional roller coaster! No, we’re not talking about the Emotional Whirlwind attraction at Disneyland’s California Adventure, we’re talking about the refurb project associated with Epcot’s iconic attraction, Spaceship Earth. One minute it’s all systems go and then it’s we got a change in plans. Now we could see a Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s peel back the layers of this emotional onion! We’re not crying, you are. Oh, the onion jokes. We’ve been holding on to that one for a while. Alright, time to explore the Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay.
We can’t get to the center of this emotional onion without peeling back the first layer. February 25, 2020, is a day most Disneyphiles will remember for years to come. Some may say it could become a tale as old time. Sorry, Belle, we’re borrowing that line. On this date Disney made two announcements, first and foremost was the announcement of Bob Iger stepping aside for Bob Chapek to become CEO. We’ll CEO for a minute. (find out more on that topic here) A moment later Disney announced Spaceship Earth would be closing down for a major refurbishment on May 26, 2020.
Needless to say Disneyphiles around the global we filled with emotion. Everyone knew an update to Spaceship Earth was on the horizon, but it was not real until a date was finally set. They were only a few months left to experience the attraction as it stands, and enjoy the soothing sounds of Dame Judy Dench’s voice taking you through the history of communication.
On to the next layer of our Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay. No more than a few weeks following the groundbreaking announcement did more information trickle out. As we discussed in the detail in the following article, changes to the potential project were already being discussed. There were two options with one being a lighter, faster, and ultimately a way for Disney to spread the cost of the refurbishment over a longer period of time. Additionally, it would ensure Spaceship Earth would not be under refurbishment during Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Everything changed. By mid- March Disney parks around the global closed to help combat the global crisis around COVID-19. As weeks and weeks passed it became apparent that many projects around the Walt Disney World property could be in jeopardy. Fast-forward to May and Bob Chapek announced during the Walt Disney Company’s quarterly earnings report that the company would be reducing its spend by $900 million this fiscal year, as it relates to theme park projects.
On May 26, 2020, the Walt Disney World website updated the status of Spaceship Earth to “refurbishment”. Days later, Walt Disney World announced its plans to reopen the Walt Disney World parks, with Epcot reopening on July 15. The question became, will the Spaceship Earth refurbishment still occur?
Thanks to a few cast members news broke around a Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay. With cast members stating the attraction would reopen on July 15, 2020, when Epcot reopens.
Why? That’s the big question. Well, more like why is there a Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay? At the core of it, it makes a lot of sense. See what we did there, another onion reference. We may have to use this onion reference more often. Anyways, as we discussed in the article on how Disney could save $900 million, the Spaceship Earth project was one of the projects on the chopping block or more like the delay block. There’s more to it though. With the Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay, Disney is doing more than just saving money, they are also trying to create a better guest experience when Epcot reopens.
As we understand it, the original plan was for Spaceship Earth to close as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opened in the France Pavilion in early June. With the theme parks closed during the global crisis, no construction progress could take place. Without a new attraction at Epcot, it would not make sense to close down another attraction for refurbishment. Earlier reports estimate that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure has about 8 weeks of construction left. It’s unknown to when Disney will restart construction on this area, as well as there could be other factors that would delay the project, but that’s an article for another day. #teaser!
In the DVC Duo house, we have another reason for the Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay. Beyond the cost savings and timing, Spaceship Earth could be the perfect attraction for social distancing. Here us out on this one. It is a continuous moving attraction where creating space between the vehicles for guests could be easily accomplished. How could Disney do it? Disney could alternate which ride vehicles are loaded to allow plenty of time for cleaning between guests. For example, with two trips around the track, cast members could have two opportunities to clean the vehicle. Once when guests step out and a second time when it returns empty. This assumes each car would be used once per two trips. Additionally, the attraction has built-in spacers between the vehicles helping with social distancing.
The keyword is delayed. An update to Spaceship Earth will still happen, it is now a matter of when. In the DVC Duo house, we believe the project could be delayed until the first half of 2021. This assumes Disney ends up shifting how they will celebrate to the 50th anniversaryof Walt Disney World to the end of 2021 over the start. Once the project is restarted, we would expect Disney to go with the lighter weight option of the two plans. From both a cost and timing perspective, it appears to be the best path forward. Please note at the time of writing Disney has not confirmed the Spaceship Earth refurbishment delay. The only confirmation we have is from a cast member. There is only one thing left to say, welcome back Spaceship Earth!