Lightspeed to fabrication! Ah, construction dad jokes, what will we think of next? We’re in a time period where the majority of construction around Walt Disney World has been paused, except for The Cove resort. It doesn’t mean progress has halted. When it comes to the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort it’s all systems go for the Disney legal team. Can you say patents and permits galore? Ok, it’s Nate’s favorite time, off to the patent office we go!
A unique experience to say the least. The Galactic Starcruiser Resort will be a one of kind uber-immersive Star Wars adventure. One could say it will bring Live Action Role Playing (LARP for short) to the next level. Since our last update, many of the details we speculated have been confirmed. From the cruise-like experience (2-night adventure) to the transportation from the resort to a special entrance to Black Spire Outpost, details continue to emerge thanks to Disney filing new patents and permits. On to the construction updates!
Passholder Insights: The upcoming Space 220 restaurant will use the same technology as the Galactic Starcruiser Resort to create “windows”.
A big thank you to Adirondack Scenic! Who are we thanking? Adirondack Scenic is the contractor associated with the Galactic Starcruiser hotel. On May 13, 2020, Disney filed permits with the county for the installation of sets associated with Project H. Project H is the code name for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Within the permit Disney names Adirondack Scenic as the contractor associated with the project. You may know Adirondack Scenic from their previous work in the form of Belle’s Castle within the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, as well as, Storybook Circus area within the park.
Looking at the permit, there is one piece that stands out and that’s the expiration date. The permit for construction is set to expire on January 29, 2022. Traditionally, when Disney files these type of permits they usually expire within a one year. It makes us ask the question, will the Galactic Starcruiser still open in 2021 as previously announced. In the DVC Duo house we could seeing it going two ways, first is Disney is being careful by pushing out the date as they do not know when construction can resume. The second could be speaking to the overall plan to move the timing s around the 50th-anniversary as we discussed here.
Passholder Insights: At the moment, the Disney World website still says the Star Wars: Galactic Starship Resort will open in 2021.
No, we’re not talking about the Jedi Training within Hollywood Studios. We’re talking about taking Jedi training to the next level. One of the patents the Disney legal team filed outlined how to recreate the Jedi training ball scene from the movies. After guests create their lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop, they will be able to head back to room aboard the Galactic Starcruiser to hone their skills. Within the room could be a mask that when worn creates an augmented reality (AR) where a guest would see the training ball.
Using AR makes a lot of sense as a guest would be able to swing their lightsaber without fear of knocking over the lamp. According to Len Testa of the Disney Dish, this technology would be limited to the Galactic Starcruiser Resort.
Passholder Insights: If you’re unable to make an advanced reservation for Savi’s Workshop when recommend heading there first thing in the morning to see if they have any stand-by spots.
Here A Droid
There a droid! Everywhere, there could be droids. Yes, you heard us right, the resort could have droids. On April 10, 2020, Disney legal filed a patent for an interactive autonomous robot configured for deployment within a social environment. Immediately, everyone believed the patent was for the roam around droids within Galaxy’s Edge but was it? Disneyland already has plans for a roam around R2-D2, which means Disney has completed this project. Then what’s this new patent for, Nate? We’re glad you asked!
According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, the new patent is for the Star Wars Resort. Reviewing the patent, Disney Imagineering is taking the autonomous robot to the next level. The patent discusses how the robot would react and interact based on sounds and vocal tones within the environment, for example, happy beeps or navigate to a point. Diving deeper in the patent we learn how the autonomous robot will be able to manage safety and malfunctions concerns. For example, a guest is in distress, the robot would be able to “help” without breaking character.
In conjunction with the safety protocols is the technology around an ability for a droid to stay upright. That’s right, we’re talking about anti-tip tech. The patents shows how an autonomous robot would use a special floor to create an anti-tip environment. The autonomous robot would not move beyond this floor.
It’s not to say we would not see this new technology used within the parks, but it would make more sense for this technology to be first deployed within the resort. The resort is a controllable environment compared to the parks. If Disney were to bring the technology into the parks we would believe it would be used in a stage show, parade, or as an aspect of an attraction. With potentially having more the autonomous droids roaming the parks once the technology is perfected.
Passholder Insights: At the DroidDepot within Galaxy’s Edge you can build your own droid. If you opt for the personality chip your droid will be able to interact with other droids.
Raising the bar! The more and more details we learn about the Galactic Starcruiser, it’s becoming clear that Disney is not holding back with the development of this resort. In the DVC Duo house, we believe Disney will bring resort experience to the next level, similar to how they elevated cruising with Disney Cruise Line. After sifting through all these patents, it’s time for a Blue Milk!
UPDATE: On July 17, 2020, we received confirmation that work on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort has resumed. Workers were seen outside applying the first coat of paint to the building, tan. It’s unknown if the outside of the building will be painted another color or not. Tan could be the choice to help it “hide” behind the trees. We do know that the majority of the outside of the building will not be “themed”. The only part that will receive themeing will be the entrance or what will be better known as the launchpad to the Starcruiser.
Is that an NBA Experience joke? Yes, yes it is. What can we say, some times the jokes write themselves. We’re not here to talk about the Disney Springs NBA experience, as there’s not a lot to say about it. Wow, the jokes just keep coming! When we say the NBA at Disney World, we’re talking about the remaining games and playoffs being played at Disney’s ESPN Wide World Sports. While the ink may still be drying on the contract, we couldn’t think of a better time to look at what the NBA at Disney World could look like. Lace-up your hightops we’re going to break some ankles on this one!
We have an agreement. Well, kind of. More like we have an agreement in principle for the NBA at Disney World. Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner) and the rest of the NBA have agreed if the NBA moves forward with restarting the league they will do so at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Sorry Las Vegas, you may have gotten Space 220’s chef, but you’re getting beating out Disney this time. On May 27, 2020, the NBA released that they agreed in principle with The Walt Disney Company to move the remaining regular seasons games and playoffs to Disney World.
The baseline for the agreed would have the NBA using all three arenas at the Disney’s Wide World of Sports beginning at the end of July. The three arenas are the HP Field House, The Visa Center, and the Arena, which could accommodate up to 13 courts for games and practice. Additionally, some reports are hinting that arenas in the Orlando area, including high school arenas and UCF (University of Central Florida) facilities, could be used as practice and training facilities or even potential games.
All Systems Go?
Kind of, but not really. But, there’s always a but. While hosting the NBA at Disney World for the remainder of the 2020 season is agreed upon between the two companies, nothing has been finalized with the players. At the time of writing, the NBA is still in negotiations with NBA Players Associations on what a restart of the season would entail. From our understanding, everything is on the table, from playing a few regulars seasons to a modified playoff schedule and even a potential March Madness-style tournament. There are up to four different scenarios of how the NBA at Disney World could be played. NBA insiders like Brian Windhorst of ESPN are saying the NBA is leaning towards going straight into the playoffs, as it would require less people.
Beyond the games, the two parties still have to agree upon a pay structure for the players, along with player safety and housing. All of which we can assume to be close to wrapping up, as it is known both the players and league want, more like have to, resume play. From our understanding, a large portion of the money the NBA receives is from TV contracts and a majority of the money is paid in advance. If the NBA is unable to resume play a portion of the money that has been paid to the league and players would have to be returned. Additionally, the head of the players association, Chris Paul, and Adam Silver have been daily since the season paused to work on a restarting plan. We should officially know by Friday May 29th, as the NBA owners are meeting to vote on restarting the league. In the DVC Duo house, we’re saying it’s all systems go.
Disney World Impact
It’s the question on every Disneyphile’s mind. What does this mean for upcoming trips to Walt Disney World? With the NBA at Disney World, it’s safe to assume the players will be staying at the resorts in the area. What is unknown is if they will be staying at a Disney resort or one of the many offsite locations. These are details the league and players are still negotiating. If we had to guess, we would expect the players to stay at Disney resort.
Doing a little back of the napkin math, we could assume there would be anywhere from 900 to 1200 people that would need hotel rooms. Rumors have been everywhere from the players staying Caribbean Beach to the All-Star Resorts or Coronado Springs. In the DVC Duo house, we believe the front runner has to be Coronado Springs (with the Gran Destino Tower) for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the capacity. With the addition of the Gran Destino Tower, the resort has 2,384 guest rooms. Additionally, the Gran Destino Tower was designed for conferences and mainly expanding Disney’s offering of suites for executives. With the resorts 50 plus suites on top of the regular rooms, Coronado Springs is isolated from all other areas. Whereas, a resort-like Caribbean Beach has a walkway that connects it to Disney’s Riviera Resort, along with the Skyliner passing through. Lastly, doing a little digging, it looks like Coronado Springs is the only Disney resort without availability starting in July.
If a Disney resort were to be used for housing the NBA 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.
Let’s fast forward to a time where the NBA at Disney World is a real thing. The big question becomes will guests be able to go to a game. With the main arena holding up to 8,000 spectators (2,000 if you assuming 25% capacity for social distancing), we’re assuming that it would be a hard no mainly for player and guest safety. Similar to how we would not expect to see any of the players in the parks while games were taking place. Sorry, Brooke Lopez, you may have to plan another trip. Now, a lot could change between now and start of the NBA at Disney World, but the only way we would see guests being able to see a game live is if a vaccination became available for COVID-19.
A match made in heaven. It’s the perfect pairing and makes sense for all parties. Even before the global crisis the NBA and Bob Iger had a close relationship, and with Bob now back at the helm, we’re sure negotiations were pretty straight forward. The one interesting piece will be the TV rights, as currently they are held by TNT, ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV. Can you spot the odd duck out? With everything taking place at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports it will be interesting to see how TNT handles their portion of the rights. While we got to split, time to work on our free throws!
UPDATE: On June 4, 2020, the NBA board of governors approved the return of the NBA season at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Starting on July 31, 2020, 22 NBA teams will return play. Teams will be assembling in their homes towns for a one-week training camp starting on June 30, 2020.
On July 7, 2020, all 22 teams will travel to Orlando to be able to quarantine for two weeks before starting practice and exhibition games. When the season kicks off the teams will play 8 games for playoff seeding purposes. A play-in tournament may be used for the teams who have not already secured a playoff spot. The season and playoffs will run from July 31, 2020, and end no later than October 12, 2020.
All signs still point to Coronado Springs being the resort to house the teams. Each team is able to bring up 35 people, making for a total 770 people plus NBA officials and staff that would need rooms. Players will not be bringing family members. Final sign-off from the NBA will occur on Friday June 5, 2020. All signs point to approval.
You can’t change an anniversary! Fact, an anniversary is the same date every year. But, Disney World’s 50th anniversary could be on the move. How so? No, we’re not talking about using the quantum realm and to travel back in time like the Avengers in an attempt to change the past. As we all know that will only create another universe. We’re here to talk about Disney World’s 50th-anniversary celebration. The celebration of all celebrations. With everything that’s happening in the world today, the question becomes could we see Disney World’s 50th celebration change timeframes? Let’s gas up the Delorean, it’s time to travel the future!
October 1, 2021. It’s the day every Disneyphile remembers like their own birthday. Or if you’re like Nate, then maybe a better than your own birthday. The date marks Disney World’s 50th anniversary and the day The Walt Disney Company has been building to for the past 5 plus years.
Similar to how The Walt Disney Company celebrated the 25th anniversary, it’s been rumored Disney World’s 50th celebration could run for 12 to 18 months. With Disney projecting a record number of guests returning to the area to celebrate the occasion it only makes sense for a year-plus type of event. The 25th-anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World ran for 15-months. From our understanding, the 50th celebration was set to kick-off in early 2021 and build-up to the big day, October 1, 2021, then everything would be wrapping up in the first half of 2022.
The year of 50! Details around the celebration have been hush, hush, but one thing is well-known. To celebrate Disney World’s 50th anniversary Disney has plans for 50 new “things” within the Florida parks. The “things” range from new attractions like Tron Lifecycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to smaller things such as a special edition Cinderella’s Castle or minor updates to attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, Disney planned for Epcot to be the celebration center for the anniversary.
You know the change. It’s the change we’re all working together to resolve. To say it threw a wrench into Disney World’s 50th anniversary plans would be to say the least. From the new world of social distancing to construction delays and the world’s ability to travel, Disney is considering rethinking how to celebrate the monumental occasion. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, one of the ideas Disney is considering is shifting the timeline of the celebration. Could we say changing the date? Kind of, more like changing the dates. The idea being considered is making Oct 1, 2021, the beginning of the year plus long celebration over the end. This would mirror how Disney celebrated the 25th-anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Why? Why would they make this change? With the delays related to the major projects previously mentioned, along with social distancing impacting key aspects of a Disney vacation, like nighttime spectaculars and parades, Disney may not be able to provide their preferred guest experience. Additionally, one of the key pieces could also be the construction within Epcot’s Future World. If Disney planned to make Epcot the celebration center, the construction within the center of Future World, soon to be World Celebration, would need to be finished.
Makes sense. At this time it is safe to say everything around Disney World’s 50th anniversary is fluid. Nothing has been confirmed by Disney. As the days pass and Disney works towards reopening the parks and operating in a “new world”, we should learn more about the celebration and how everything will play out. For us, one of the key aspects will be people’s ability to travel to Walt Disney World from around the globe, as Disney is looking to make this a global celebration. Alright, time to hop back into the Delorean and head back to the present!
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.
It is rumored that construction will resume on Tron in the October timeframe as Disney is waiting on construction materials. Many construction materials are in limited supply due to the global crisis.
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.
UPDATE: On June 3, 2020, we learned that the Spaceship Earth refurbishment will be on hold. For more details check out the following article.
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!