We’re back with another Walt Disney World news and rumor round-up. This time, we cover the Beauty and the Beast bar rumored for Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s plan to enforce stroller size restrictions, NBA Experience at Disney Springs details, and more.
Let’s start with one that’s a mix of news and rumor. Last week, Walt Disney World announced that Mizner’s Lounge at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa would be closing for refurbishment starting April 4, and concluding sometime in Fall 2019. During the closure, a temporary lounge would be available on the ground floor by the Garden View Team Room, with the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra also performing on the ground floor.
Additionally, Commodore Porter’s, the menswear store adjacent to Mizner’s Lounge, will be closed to accommodate for a lounge expansion. Summer Lace on the ground floor will consolidate men’s and women’s apparel in one storefront. No details, concept art, or other info about the scope of the project were released at that time. Until now…
However, rumors have started to surface that the reimagined lounge will be themed to the live action Beauty and the Beast. No, this is not an early April Fool’s joke. The best I can tell, this rumor originated with Mizner’s Lounge regular @SchuckJH on Twitter, and has subsequently been corroborated by a slew of other insiders.
Per these rumors, the new Beauty and the Beast bar will consume much of the second floor, with 3 themed rooms. The Library will occupy the space of the existing lounge, with plush couches and a fireplace. Commodore Porter’s will become the main bar, themed to the Ballroom. Finally, the hallway area and outdoor patio will become a forest-like area.
There are a few things that gave me pause about this rumor. First, the Grand Floridian is not themed to France. Second, this is Walt Disney World’s flagship resort and arguably the most adult lounge, and one associated with Victoria & Albert’s and other Signature Dining. Finally, Walt Disney World is big on character integrity, and having a bar themed to characters and places strongly tied to an animated film is a questionable choice.
These are all reasons it should not happen, which should not be confused for reasons that it will not happen. Wilderness Lodge isn’t themed to Germany, and yet it recently received Storybook Dining. As for the other points, I’m guessing someone looked at the numbers Trader Sam’s is doing and thought, “Wow. We could increase these even more if we had souvenir mugs themed to an animated Disney film and more colorful, Instagram-friendly drinks.”
I’m still skeptical, but suffice to say, I won’t be at all surprised if this comes to fruition. Walt Disney World is becoming less and less about theme, and more about characters. Kids love them, and modern adult fans seem more interested in them than immersive theming that isn’t explicitly Disney.
As an old school Walt Disney World who fell in love with the place thanks to its rich theming, transportive environments, and original ideas, part of me wants to yell, “get off my lawn” to the people who don’t “get” what made Walt Disney World special for the first four-ish decades of its existence. However, another part of my recognizes that the times they are a-changing. As someone who cares less about Disney movies, I don’t get what makes Walt Disney World special to these new fans.
Nevertheless, I still don’t have to like an adult bar becoming a more juvenile environment that is at odds with an existing theme, nor do I have to be on board with the current IP-laden trajectory. Beyond that, I’m skeptical that what sounds like an ambitious project can be accomplished in the span of around 6 months.
One possibility is that Imagineering won’t go all-in on the Beauty and the Beast theme, but instead create environments that evoke settings from the live action film without expressly invoking them. In addition to being a quicker build and one that’s not quite as jarring in the context of a resort with a Victorian theme, this might serve to sidestep issues of character integrity.
If there’s a backdrop that vaguely resembles a library and a souvenir mug that looks like one of Belle’s books, that’s probably sufficient to get the Instagram crowd to drop $30 on a drink so they can post a photo with a clever caption about their ‘dreamy far off look with their mouth stuck in a booze book’ or something.
Either way, I’m now dreading what I initially felt was an overdue refresh of Mizner’s Lounge. If this rumor comes to pass in any sense, it’ll either be a half-hearted overlay that is bewildering and slightly out of place, or a whole-hearted overhaul that has depth but is completely out of place and at odds with the theme and sophisticated elegance of the Grand Floridian.
It also wouldn’t be the first time both Disneyland and Walt Disney World contemplated doing something to enforce those rules. The same policy was on the cusp of being implemented last year, with size check stations outside of security, and a guest recovery protocol. For reasons unbeknownst to me, that enforcement never began and was shelved.
This would eliminate the large novelty strollers (the royal carriages that are more like undersized parade floats than oversized strollers), which have become a burgeoning small business around Walt Disney World. It’d also ban the stroller wagons that are pulled and loaded with enough rations to traverse the Oregon Trail.
Presumably, the goal is to roll out enforcement with enough lead time before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens that word starts to circulate about the new stroller policy so people leave their kids’ Cadillacs at home. For all parties involved, it’ll be better if the crush of crowds is reduced as much as possible.
As a non-parent, I’m not about to touch this topic with a 10-foot pole in terms of offering commentary. I will say that I’ve unintentionally locked eyes with a parent trying to navigate an oversized stroller amidst the gridlock of post-fireworks crowds in Magic Kingdom, and seeing the desperation and dejection in their face is something I can never unsee or forget. You could call it a cautionary tale, I suppose.
Next, NBA Experience will officially open August 12, 2019 at Disney Springs in the offer location of DisneyQuest. This one-of-a-kind environment will feature 13 interactive elements and hands-on activities across 44,000 square feet and two floors. Specifics are here, for those who care.
This has been under construction for a long time, as progress has been slow-going. I’ve questioned in various posts whether Walt Disney World has a sufficient NBA fan demo to make this a hit, and I’ll continue to wonder that until this opens and is or isn’t a hit. I think the Disney fan community (me included) isn’t qualified to answer this, as we probably have blinders on. The NBA is very popular with begrudging dads, international guests, and locals who also aren’t necessarily Disney fans.
Finally, there’s a new “Queue Re-Entry Pass” now in use at Avatar Flight of Passage in Pandora at Animal Kingdom. If a guest needs to leave the line to use the restroom, they can find a Cast Member who will give them a lanyard with the pass attached, which allows one person (or an accompanied minor) the ability to leave the line, use the restroom, and re-enter to meet back up with their party.
This is hardly major news, but it’s a welcome and overdue addition for anyone who has ever waited 3 hours in line for Flight of Passage. Unfortunately, sources inform us that Avengers: Endgame will not have such a pass, but here’s hoping that it has an intermission. (The last film I saw with an intermission was The Hateful Eight, and that was a welcome addition, and nice chance to process what had happened–I’m sure Endgame could use the same.)
What do you think of these stories? Thoughts on potential stroller restrictions? Excited about the prospects of a Beauty and the Beast themed bar, or think it’s inappropriate for Walt Disney World’s flagship, Victorian-themed resort? Think it’ll happen or would it be out of character for Walt Disney World? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!