It’s time for another Walt Disney World news and rumor round-up, and this time we have a range of interesting stories. Everything from a new DVC discount to more Park Pass inventory to an extension of park hours. The most interesting tidbit is our report from a havoc-filled day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
First up, yet another merchandise discount. You might recall from our last Walt Disney World news & rumor roundup that Annual Passholders can now receive 30% off merchandise purchases through October 29, 2020. Additionally, Cast Members can now receive 50% off select merchandise now through February 2021.
With the parks operating at significantly reduced capacity, Walt Disney World must have a surplus of souvenirs they want to unload, as yet another merchandise discount was just announced. From now through October 29, 2020, Disney Vacation Club Members can save 30% on purchases at Disney owned-and-operated merchandise locations at Walt Disney World…
A valid Disney Vacation Club Member ID must be presented at time of purchase to receive the discount (meaning those who bought via resale and are not grandfathered in are not eligible). As is typical, there are a ton of exclusions and rules.
Below is a look at where this discount is and is not valid. To my knowledge, it’s all of the same locations as the AP offer. In the name of research, we will be testing to confirm that it’s valid at Karamell Küche in EPCOT’s Germany pavilion. Stay tuned for full details!
Next, in yesterday’s Walt Disney World Crowds Continue Increasing commentary, we pointed to September 19, 2020 as a date to watch, as Disney Park Pass availability was unavailable for all four parks across all three reservations buckets. Our expectation was that availability for the weekend would be “refilled” on Thursday afternoon, which has become the standard drop time for more Disney Park Pass reservations.
As it turns out, we didn’t have to wait that long. Disney Park Pass inventory is back for every park except Disney’s Hollywood Studios on this coming Saturday. To reiterate what was discussed in the aforementioned post, this is not a reallocation. Nothing was available and, as such, there was nothing to reallocate. It’s a quiet increase to park capacity.
That date is not the only one that has more availability, but it’s the most prominent and “interesting.” If you’re an Annual Passholder, you might want to check other days as options have changed throughout September. It’s also potentially worth noting that weekends in October and November are filling up, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that–yet.
If recent precedent is any indication, those dates will be refilled many times over. Booking dates in October and November now only limits your near-term options since you can only simultaneously hold 3 Disney Park Pass reservations. That is, unless you have a resort reservation, in which case this is moot.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World this Saturday and are wondering which park to visit, our first recommendation would be Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Keep an eye out Thursday afternoon to see if that’s replenished.) Failing that, it’s hard to say which option is best. Normally, it’d be Magic Kingdom–but that will be the first weekend of Halloween. EPCOT typically sees the biggest increase on weekends as compared to weekdays, so that’s also out.
Animal Kingdom would thus be our pick. Partly for lack of better options, and partly because we suspect more guests will be drawn to it on Sunday.
The reason we’re anticipating a slight bump at Animal Kingdom on Sunday is because Walt Disney World extended park hours there by one hour on September 20, 2020. Previously, Animal Kingdom was open from 9 am until 5 pm. Now, it’s open from 9 am until 6 pm.
No other parks or any other dates have been adjusted. Beyond that, there’s no obvious rationale for this. Part of me wondered if it was a Disney IT error at first, but it’s been that way for a full day now, so it being a mistake seems unlikely at this point. Here’s hoping Walt Disney World extends operating hours at other parks and for other dates–with increased capacity, it’s necessary.
Finally, we popped into Disney’s Hollywood Studios yesterday for what we hoped would be a reprieve from the weekend crowds. Instead, the park was pretty chaotic.
Our initial plan was attempting the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance afternoon boarding pass drop, further refining our late afternoon DHS itinerary, and eating all of the new Halloween snacks. That went out the window pretty quickly.
For starters, significant issues persist with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–for the third day in a row the attraction didn’t manage to get above boarding group 40. We didn’t get a chance to experience it (and haven’t in a few weeks now), but there are reports of widespread technical issues, including one of the elevator lifts being down.
That down elevator is significant, as it would effectively halve the hourly throughput of the already reduced-capacity attraction. As a reminder, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance had issues with downtime and reliability even before the closure of Walt Disney World (hence the virtual queue system–it never had anything to do with popularity). Given the current policy of one party per ride vehicle on top of the other woes, its hourly numbers are likely pretty abysmal.
Due to a mix of the problems with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, downtime at other attractions throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and increased park capacity, wait times were high and lines were long throughout the park. Days like this lay bare the park’s lack of crowd-absorbing options. When an attraction or two goes down at Magic Kingdom, wait times elsewhere tick up a bit; when something goes down at DHS, it wreaks havoc on lines throughout the rest of the park.
Even MuppetVision 3D was using its overflow queue, and while I’d like to believe this is because guests have finally come to their senses and are embracing this masterpiece, I’m somewhat skeptical. (In case it’s not clear from the photos, that’s the queue for Tower of Terror extending halfway down Sunset Boulevard and the queue for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster spilling beyond that ride’s courtyard.)
After Mobile Ordering all but one of the Halloween snacks we “needed” to eat, we bounced fairly quickly. While our visit was insufficient for a full photo report, I wanted to share brief thoughts and a few photos in the interest of balance. We’ve gotten lucky with a lot of “better than expected!” days at DHS (like the Saturday of Labor Day weekend) that only tell half of the story. This is the other half of that story, and was far worse than expected.
In taking a quick look at My Disney Experience, it appears to be a similar situation today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The good news is that other parks aren’t experiencing a similar surge in wait times. We’ll have a report from Halloween at Magic Kingdom tonight (a park with its own physical distancing issues this morning, but no problems in terms of big picture crowds or wait times), so stay tuned for that!
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 of this Walt Disney World news? Concerned about the growing crowds and longer wait times at Walt Disney World? Have you been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the last few days? If so, what was your experience? Thoughts on the changes to hours or Disney Park Pass availability? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!