Disney World Free Dining 2014 Dates

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Walt Disney World has not yet announced 2014 free dining dates for the general public, but we have reason to believe that Free Dining may be offered to Disney Visa credit card holders beginning on May 1 for arrival dates the entire month of September, with the possibility of some blockout dates. The general public would then be able to book Free Dining packages approximately 3-4 days later. Given that the bounceback offer covered the entire month of September 2014 (and last few days of August–which also might be included in this promo), we aren’t too surprised by the earlier than normal start-date. However, we would expect a later end-date, which likely means that this is going to be the “Late Summer 2014″ Free Dining offer, with a “Early Winter 2014″ covering dates in October through December 2014 to be announced at a later time.

If you will be traveling during these dates, we highly recommend making Advance Dining Reservations now, before the promotion is announced and everyone gobbles up the good ADRs. You also might want to start preparing September travel dates that might work and be ready to call (or have your travel agent call) bright and early on the morning the promotion is released to book it. Some popular/low capacity resorts (like Port Orleans French Quarter and Art of Animation, if it’s even offered for these resorts) book up fast.

It is important to remember at this point that these dates are purely rumor at this point–nothing has been confirmed by Disney. However, by looking at dates from past years, we can get an idea of when the discount will likely be offered, as the dates are typically substantially similar (minus differences in blockout dates) each year. Walt Disney World last ran its “Free Dining” promotion for Fall & Winter 2013 guests with arrival dates most nights between September 29, 2013 and December 22,  2013. At present, there are no 2014 Free Dining dates for the general public, although it is expected that dates will be announced in late spring 2014. When the promotion is offered, Value Resort guests receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan during the promotion, and all other guests receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. 

See below for block out dates and details for the previous Fall/Winter 2013 Free Disney Dining Plan promotion. Barring a substantial change in strategy, expect similar dates for 2014. (more…)

Avatar Land Coming to Disney World!

Plans for AVATAR Land have been posted online, and on October 12, 2013 at the Japan D23 Expo, Disney released concept art seeming to confirm these plans. While Disney didn’t explicitly say so, the concept art features a boat floating through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants (think Living with the Land, except breathtaking “Imagineered” plants), a sim ride where you soar into the sky riding a Banshee (think Soarin’), and an incredible environment based on AVATAR, with mountains that appear to float, and other mythical environments. All of this roughly matches those plans that leaked back in 2012.

For some, the even bigger news is that the new plans call for nighttime entertainment on Discovery Island. Based on the description and concept art, this new show sounds like a combination of the Disney Dreams (at Disneyland Paris) tech and the type of pageantry from Tapestry of Nations, the parade that ran in Epcot’s World Showcase during the Millennium Celebration.

This all comes just a couple of months AVATAR Land was teased at the Anaheim D23 Expo, effectively putting to bed months of rumors that the project was on life support or dead (to be honest, we still had our doubts that it would happen…we totally believe it will now, but Disney projects have been killed in later stages than this before!). It sounds as if an agreement between James Cameron and Disney has been reached concerning the content of AVATAR Land, and the pace of the project is set to pick up. After the colossal success of the Disney California Adventure overhaul, let’s hope AVATAR Land is similarly well-done. (more…)

2013 Disney D23 Expo Recap & Impressions

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Disney’s 2013 D23 Expo occurred over the weekend in Anaheim, and we were there for days 2 and 3. The Expo is the bi-yearly event where each forward-facing division of Disney can show off what it’s doing, and where fans can meet and interact. I intended upon doing a blog post with real-time updates throughout the Expo, but that would have been a lot of work and like 1,304 other blogs were already doing that, so it seemed pointless.

Instead, here’s a recap of what happened at the 2013 D23 Expo. Following that are some of my impressions of our first Expo (since this weekend probably doesn’t merit a full trip report) and a ‘review’ of sorts.

Recap

There isn’t a whole lot to recap. Most of what was covered at the 2013 D23 Expo was already known. Additional details were provided or clarified in some cases, but not a whole lot of “news” came out of the D23 Expo. Here are a few quick hits that are noteworthy, though:

  • The Haunted Mansion Hatbox Ghost Audio-Animatronics figure was shown in the Journey into Imagineering booth. Inside the Magic shared a video of that.
  • By all accounts, Frozen looks absolutely awesome, and is going to have a great soundtrack. Here’s hoping the sneak peak of that is as good as the film.
  • The Star Wars project code-named “Orange Harvest,” was displayed in the Imagineering both. It hints at the Star Wars Land said to be in development for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. TheForce.net has more on this.
  • AVATAR Land was a non-topic, but the Imagineering booth contained a work station with “artifacts” from an Imagineering scouting hunt in Pandora. Sometimes, nothing is better than something. (more…)

Journey into Imagination 2014 Refurbishment?

We recently shared that the popular rumor that Journey into Imagination will receive an extensive overhaul is making the rounds again. This time, there’s a twist, as there’s an actual rumored closure date (January 2, 2014) and Cast Members are reportedly being trained on other attractions. This signals that something big is potentially in store for the Imagination pavilion, the only question is “what?”

That’s unclear at this point, but the downtime is rumored to be for almost all of 2014. All signs point to Captain EO being jettisoned to the outer limits, with a new 3D film replacing it, and a substantial overhaul to Journey into Imagination. With the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening early 2014 and other expansion rumored for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom not opening until 2016 at the absolute earliest, it seems possible that an overhaul of Journey into Imagination will be Walt Disney World’s “big” move for 2015.

Whenever a pavilion at Epcot is expected to have significant downtime, there is always the understandable concern that the downtime is actually Walt Disney World’s way of quietly killing the attractions inside. Fans have witnessed this happen too many times to be completely trusting of the “refurbishment” designation for a pavilion that is only moderately popular. For a number of reasons, I highly doubt that’s what’s going to happen here, but the concerns are still valid.

I have no inside information on this potential refurbishment, but some of you have been asking for my take on these rumors as you know that I’m a huge Journey into Imagination fan, so here goes… (more…)

Disney Springs Announced for Downtown Disney

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Disney Springs is the redevelopment of Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, announced March 14, 2013 and set to complete construction in 2016, but open in phases prior to that. It is a shopping district concept that is intended to revitalize Downtown Disney and replace the disjointed Westside and Pleasure Island with a single, cohesive concept, separated into four areas: Town Square, Landing, Marketplace, and Westside. Construction begins April 2013.

Once complete, Disney Springs will have over 150 establishments (double Downtown Disney’s current number of approximately 75). The redevelopment is designed to evoke the feeling of turn of the century Florida, and Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs focused heavily on the redesign being a place for families. No announcements have been made concerning the shops, restaurants, and entertainment that will operate at Disney Springs, but speculation is rampant based upon previously leaked plans and a presentation containing the names of numerous third parties, as well as a few Disney-operated restaurants.

The facts of the announcement are covered here and the leaked plans are available here, so we’ll spare you that regurgitated info. Instead, we’ll share our reaction to the news… (more…)

Disney 2013 Promotion: “Limited Time Magic”

Walt Disney World’s and Disneyland’s 2013 promotional celebration was announced today, and it will feature 52 weeks of small celebrations dubbed “Limited Time Magic.” This “Limited Time Magic” campaign replaces “Let the Memories Begin,” which has been the loosely-utilized promotional campaign for the last two years that has really only featured a marketing campaign along with the introduction of The Magic, The Memories, and You!, a nighttime show on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and on ‘it’s a small world’ in Disneyland (this show will be plussed and reintroduced as Celebrate the Magic (click for information about and our reaction to the announcement of the show) in late 2012). Disney made the announcement in for “Limited Time Magic” in New York and followed with a blurb on the Disney Parks Blog offering additional information. A website has also been launched for the campaign.

“Limited Time Magic” continues Disney’s tradition in recent years of offering a yearly marketing-driven celebrations, but “Limited Time Magic” will undoubtedly offer more for guests in the way of entertainment than “Let the Memories Begin!” or several more recent offerings. (more…)