6 Disney World News Stories: Soaps & Stuff
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 Down with 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!
It has always been a treat to take home the small bottles of shampoo and soap bars as momentos of our trip. Taking a shower on a cold winter day with Disney soap and dreaming of the resort is my guilty pleasure. It won’t be as special next trip. In fact I may stay off property in protest. Walt always spoke of plussing. Maybe current management should take a refresher course on Disney principles.
Recently heard a rumor that they might change Dinorama in DAK to a South American/Indiana Jones theme. Does this have any traction? You’re the go to to see if rumors have any credibility.
When I travel to Europe I always take my own soap and shampoo. I do not like the big refillable bottles as I find them unsanitary. I will now have to start doing the same for Disney. The funny part as a lot of trips to Europe I would be taking leftover Disney soaps and shampoo.
We are super bummed the express transportation is being discontinued. Our Christmas trip would have been much smoother with fewer security lines to pass through! I believe had it been properly advertised, it would have been a popular upcharge item.
Lol. I was going to make the same comment…. That’s what refillable bottles are for! I really do love the soap. 🙂
So the new news is the Decendents are replacing the villains at the end of the Boo to You parade! I don’t like this. The movie was cute but it wasn’t iconic or classic. I think a better was to incorporate them would be to have them in a dance party or something. Anyone else have news on this??
Hi Tom! We are SoCal Disney fans and planning a trip to Florida for a number of things next May, and the last leg of the trip was going to be Disney World for three days. (All WDW first-timers — about 20 of us.) We were really counting on the Express Transportation as we heard that was what made it possible to efficiently park hop. Any idea as to when the Minnie Vans will be running?
Minnie Vans have already started operating. The roll-out is not complete, but will be within the next month or two.
We just returned from a trip to WDW . We had a party of 16 and Uber is a great way to park hop and the cost is reasonable it will probably not even come close to the price of the express would have been.
Just thought the name holiday tower of terror fit better. Thanks for all you do
This isn’t the express bus ride from the airport to the resort? Or is it? I still have a bottle of soap from 19 years ago. I still remember the memories
No for like around20 dollars per person they would take you from a point inside a park to another theme park inside point like Hollywood studios by rockin rollercoaster to epcot universe of energy
Any word on Moana returning as a character visits? We are heading to Disney 9/3.
I’d like to know too!! We’ll be there the week after Thanksgiving. I was really looking forward to tracking her down… I’m sad she’s been removed :C
Thank you so much for the wonderful information.
I never knew about the Express vans Until very recently .
It’s very disappointing to hear that they’re cutting back on giving these little gifts like soaps and shampoos that people really look forward too. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in a deluxe or or a moderate or DVC, These are those on things that people look forward to. The smells and scent that are all apart of Disney. Little Reminders of when you’re home of your Memories at Disney and what a great time you have . That make it walk over and pick up the phone, and book your next trip .
It seems they just keep taking away and not giving back . And this far as I’m concerned taking away the Osborne Christmas Lights, is a huge mistake.
Generations of families have Experienced this together and looking forward to bringing future generations to this incredible Christmas experience . To me it is a great loss .
I feel so sorry for the future generations who have never experienced this .Disney is tearing down some of the finest their rides, and putting up cheap ones. It would be nice to see some other old favorites That have kept us coming back to Disney for years .
I had the pumpkin waffle with ice cream at the party 3 years ago – it way pretty memorable to me and I was excited to see it back. (It’s nothing you couldn’t easily make at home, but still – it was good.)
Historically, does Sleepy Hollow sell the waffle/pumpkin deliciousness only during parties, or during the whole Halloween party season, all day every day?
Only on MNSSHP nights, but if you stick around until ~6 p.m., you might be able to get it even if you’re not attending the party. That’s probably a bit more hit or miss, but could work.
This is unrelated to your current post, but was wondering if you had any scoop on when the Ferrytale Fireworks Cruise will be back and operating again. This would have been a nice way to view fireworks on our upcoming trip…:)
To be honest, I didn’t even know it wasn’t being offered right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they quietly ended it because it wasn’t filling up or making money? I really have no idea. So many of these upcharges have come and gone that it’s tough to keep track of them all.
We are leaving on Thursday August 24th for Disney. We were planning Express Transportation. Less walking for my dad on dialysis. Has it already ended?
Karyn, Express Transportation will end August 23rd. I think Disney should have given more of a heads up time wise to its guests who made plans around this service. Doesn’t sound like they thought about the effect abruptly canceling it would have on guests with disabilities.
Thanks for the info. That does make it harder.
Thanks for the info. That does make it harder.
Rent a scooter. It’s about $160-200 for 7 days. Well worth it. The fit on all the buses. Not sure about if they fit in the new minnie vans. But I got to say that the scooter saved my body when I’m there. Hope this helps u and ur dad!!!
Thank you Al!!
I definitely agree about the scooter! Our last trip was 5yrs ago & on previous trips I had rented one in the parks each day but my arthritis had gotten worse so we rented one from an outside company instead. That way I could use it at the hotel too plus when we went mini golfing. Never had any trouble getting it on the buses.
I’m really glad that I did Express Transportation — if you like seeing backstage stuff, there’s no cheaper way to do it. On the other hand, the (nonsensical) need to arrive 10 minutes before departure and wait in an unshaded area dramatically reduced its actual usefulness. And while seeing backstage is great fun once or twice, the fun of that wears off pretty rapidly to the point of spoiling the proper entrances to the parks.
kudos to you on the indy jones nazi comment!!!! question? flower and garden this March? there Feb 28 – Mar 6 Will I be able to catch it?
I guess Express Transportation was so short-lived that I’d never even heard of it. I suppose that will make it hard to miss. I will miss the individual bottles of shampoo and stuff. Always hoarded those. But, the environment…
That pumpkin waffle looks amazing! Question: is that ONLY offered during MNSSHP? Or at Sleepy Hollow anytime during this time of year?
If you accidentally place Disneys soap dispenser into your bag when you leave, don’t be surprised if they charge you for it!
The end of express bus service is a bummer, staying within the parks security bubble was a plus, I was looking forward to using it since my stay is tied into park hopper tickets / free dining
I’m excited for the shared soaps…it’s like bringing a doggie bag to a buffet. H2O is expensive if you buy a full size bottle at the resorts/online.
Ha, I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to work, but with the prices those resorts charge, hard to begrudge anyone who takes advantage! 😉