From hotel room soaps to the demise of Express Transportation, a lot of news has been coming out of Walt Disney World, but not all of it has been worthy of a standalone article, in my estimation. In this post, we’ll round up some of these smaller bits of news from August 2017, and share some info and our reaction to each piece of WDW news.
We’ll also cover a couple of rumors–nothing major–of projects that sound highly plausible. To be honest, none of this is anything major that will have a huge impact on your vacation. These are the smaller pieces of news that generally fly under the radar.
Before we get going with these six stories, another quick plug for our non-Disney travel blog, TravelCaffeine.com. As we shared a couple of weeks ago, we relaunched the site and are giving away a free eBook, 101 Things to Do in Southern California. We’re doing regular posts on there, so please check it out! With that out of the way, let’s move on to the Walt Disney World news!
First up is the aforementioned Express Transportation, which has stopped being offered after a run of less than a year. We tested out the service for a day earlier this summer, and I opted against even writing a review, figuring this will never last given the lack of other people using it.
When the Minnie Vans were announced, a more flexible and customizable–albeit potentially pricier and less convenient for Park Hopping–service, that was pretty much the death knell for Express Transportation.
I don’t really have anything to say about it ending. As far as upcharges at Walt Disney World went, the value proposition on Express Transportation actually was not too shabby.
Its demise is fascinating to me, as I think it demonstrates just how hastily-developed some of these upcharges have been. It seems there’s a group within Walt Disney World management that has been tasked with coming up with different options, throwing them at the wall, and seeing what sticks.
Most have been accompanied by little-to-no marketing, and pricing schemes that are totally arbitrary. If you’re planning a trip 6 months or more from now, I wouldn’t get too excited about any new upcharge you might book–it very well could be gone by the time you travel.
Next is a piece of news–or rather, a teaser for a piece of news–about which we’re pretty excited. During a recent episode of Attractions – The Show, Show Director Tom Vazzana indicated there would be “big news” breaking soon about Disney’s Hollywood Studios this Christmas, with two new holiday offerings in addition to Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam.
Before we get caught up in the excitement here, it’s worth noting that Vazzana speaks in hyperbolic terms throughout the video, so the “big” news might not be so big. The thing many people are probably going to jump to is a return of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and that’s just not happening.
Even with the opening of Grand Avenue this fall, there is not the space for that display, which is gone, anyway. This doesn’t mean a smaller light display is not a possibility; in fact, we would not be at all surprised to see this added to Grand Avenue for its first Christmas.
Another possibility is a seasonal overlay for Toy Story Mania. This is something that was touted years ago, around the time when characters were added for Toy Story 3, and has been rumored off and on since. Now that the attraction’s popularity has died down a bit, we could see this being a logical change. Who knows, maybe the overlay is “Hollywood Tower Holiday,” and all of the bellhops will be wearing Santa caps.
Or, perhaps Walt Disney World will take a page from Red Sleigh Downwith Santa and others fighting Nazis in a special edition of Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular…it seems like some could use a history refresher on that one. Other possibilities include a Christmas concert (akin to Pixar Live) or some sort of upcharge event in one of the soundstages. (Upcharges are always a smart bet!)
The next one isn’t news, but rather, a rumor being reported by WDWNT that the All-Star Resorts will have a table service buffet added in the parking lot between All-Star Music and All-Star Movies.
Nothing is confirmed, but this is highly plausible. The All-Stars are three of Walt Disney World’s largest resorts, and they are all within walking distance of one another. Between that and the large groups (Pop Warner!) that often stay at the All-Stars, there’s undoubtedly the market for this. While there aren’t dedicated paths between them conducive to guest flow between all three, that could easily be remedied.
What worries me is that this won’t be done to Disney standards. Since it’s “only” the All-Stars, I could see this being pitched as a temporary/test offering in a tent akin to Caribbean Beach Resort’s current buffet during that resort’s refurbishment.
Walt Disney World has shown an unwillingness to invest infrastructure in these recent pilot programs, which is part of the reason some have failed. Just because All-Star guests are staying in cheaper accommodations doesn’t mean they want to enjoy dinner in a zombie apocalypse recovery tent.
One surprising piece of ‘big’ news this week is that Walt Disney World is replacing individually-packaged soaps and shampoos with larger, refillable dispensers in the shower. Thus far, this change has been occurring at Value and Moderate Resorts; it’s unclear whether Deluxe and Disney Vacation Club Resorts will go the same route.
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, this is more environmentally-friendly, and is a trend in the larger hotel industry far beyond Disney. It’s especially popular in Europe (we’ve experienced this even at high end and boutique hotels there), but has been standard practice in U.S. National Park lodges for a while, too.
The flip side to that is it’s another cut at hotels with ever-increasing prices. It’s one of those things that just feels like a cost-savings measure being implemented under the guise of environmentality. It’d be one thing if this savings were passed along to guests or used to improve another amenity, but I think we all know that’s not how it will play out.
On a personal note, I’ll also miss collecting and bringing home the little bottles of soaps, but that’s not really influencing my opinion on this. I’d be perfectly fine with this if it actually were motivated by environmental concerns, and were made alongside a ‘plussing’ to the amenity slate.
There was one piece of news that was surprisingly controversial recently, and it was that One Man’s Dream attraction is currently being reimagined into Walt Disney Presents. Like its predecessor, the ‘new’ attraction will showcase historic items from Walt Disney’s history, such as sketches, photos and storyboards, and the video about his legacy.
In addition, Walt Disney Presents will also act as a preview center where guests explore what’s next for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In mid-September, concept art, ride vehicle maquettes, and a never-before-seen model for Toy Story Land will also be on display. Likewise, a portion of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model shown at the D23 Expo will be on display, as well as concept art for the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction.
People are upset about this, worried that Walt Disney history is being replaced with a preview center. This is what the attraction has always been, though. Not too long ago, there was a gigantic New Fantasyland model in the final room. This is simply a new name (and replacement marquee) that offers a nice nod to the old television series, plus the addition of models in flex space that has always highlighted recent stuff…and that’s it.
We’ll end on an unequivocally positive note. Halloween kicks off early this year in Magic Kingdom Park, with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on select evenings beginning August 25, and starting on that date, there will be more than a dozen specially-created Halloween treats.
Most notably, this spells the return of the pumpkin waffle with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles and caramel sauce at Sleepy Hollow. This dessert has developed a cult following among fans, and this year is being “plussed” with the addition of Mickey Waffles. Personally, I think they should double the pumpkin-y flavors and do both pumpkin waffles and pumpkin ice cream (which is being sold at the Plaza).
Last time we had this, the pumpkin flavor was too understated, and we found this highly-hyped dessert to be a bit overrated. We’re going to give it another try this year, along with all of the Halloween desserts (in the name of research!); we’ll keep you posted on our scientific results.
What do you think about these six pieces of Walt Disney World news? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!