Disney World News: Hollywood Havoc, Hours Extension & DVC Discount
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!
Visiting hopefully February 2021 4 sons desperate to make lightsabers at savis workshop. I have our tickets on Disney experience app. I have been trying to book since available to do on the 16th but says no time available.
I have rung Disney to be informed can only book 60 days in advance. But booking calendar dates are lit up for 6 months all dates say no times available (yes I have checked every day for six months!).
I am looking for confirmation whether it is 60 days in advance or 6 months and every time slot has gone.
If all gone do they have walk up slots on the day?
This experience was to be the main highlight of our holiday all Star Wars nerds! Thanks
We were at HS on Sept 14th. It was a really aggravating day. There were major technical difficulties for ROTR, including not even being able to attempt to join a boarding group. The app wasn’t even recognizing that people were in the park. Guest relations lines around the park were an hour or more long all throughout the park. At 3:00 in the afternoon they were only boarding group 20. At 2:00 in the afternoon you could here a loud “Awe!” as it seemed nobody got a boarding pass for that time frame. We waited 2 hours for Mickeys RR. It broke down twice while we were in line. My family left mad and disappointed.
For you all there since it has gotten crowded, what is it like in the boiler room of Tower of Terror? It is the only ride I go to DHS for, but I will try M&M Railway this year. But that boiler room is always such a crowded mess, like Haunted Mansion line to board doom buggies. I am concerned how social distancing is maintained there—–not how it is intended to be, but how it is in real crowds. Your experiences?
Here since Labor Day and we cancelled our 4th HS day due to the sheer craziness. I gave up yesterday and went to resort hop. Today was our 3rd Epcot day and it was low crowds and fantastic. We are using our last day tomorrow at Epcot. Definitely a strange trip. Huge swings between parks.
Tom has a great post about Ride of the Resistance strategy! Worked for us!! I realize lots of variables here but worth the read!!
Hi Ryan!! We just returned to Michigan from our “home” at Boardwalk on 9/5 and I completely agree! Hotel, pool, parks and grounds were meticulously clean and protocols in place were followed. It was so good to be back home!! I missed it so much! Hope you had a wonderful time and November sounds awesome!!
I need to know, Tom-is the title of this article a wrestling reference or just a happy coincidence? Halloween Havoc brings back some childhood memories…
As always love reading your posts Tom. I am getting concerned for our Dec holiday trip and the crowds increasing. I have changed our park reservations and have HS down now for 2 days in fear we won’t get a boarding pass on the first day’s try but now I am starting to get concerned we won’t get one at all. Disappointed to see this continues to happen with ROTR.
Hoping Disney see’s they need to increase park hours to help with the crowds and does so respectively across all parks. Staying hopeful!
We, also, were in HS yesterday. Our luck was not as good as others. We followed all the tips and tricks we have read for getting a Rise of the Resistance queue but we were unsuccessful at both 10 and 2. We had one phone on wifi and one on a network but no luck. We do not have the newest phones so I don’t know if that makes a difference. In addition to being unable to do RoR or Smugglers Falcon, we were held up in line on Mickey’s railroad for an extra hour due to a malfunction. This was our first trip back since the shutdown. While I was pleased with the mask and distance compliance it was a disappointing day.
FYI Florida residents also get a 20% merch discount through 10/29. Apparently you have to mention it at discount and show your FL ID.
I am on the fence here, and I would love some input. My kids are older, and we have been to Disney many times. We live close enough to drive – albeit a long drive. We are crazy Star Wars fans, but we have not yet visited Galaxy’s Edge. We recently received a PIN code, and I have been considering a quick trip, primarily to visit Hollywood Studios. I fear that once the masks are off and all travel bans are lifted, it will be bonkers, but after reading this post, I’m wondering if it will be a sea of masked crowds enjoying limited experiences this fall. Should we make a trip down for a few days this fall to experience all of the new things in Hollywood Studios, or should we wait and chance it next year? The inability to Park Hop or FastPass anything, coupled with the increasing capacity has me hesitant. We would, of course, visit the other parks too.
I just got back from Disney World where I spent 4 days with my daughter for her birthday. We did Studios on an Friday late afternoon and all Monday. We found fairly short lines (<45 minutes for all rides) in the late afternoon on Friday and could even walk onto Toy Story Mania.
We arrived at Studios on Monday, 9/14, morning at 8:45 am for the 10 am opening. We were through temperature screening, security, and into the park at 9:20. Some of the rides started operating early. We were able to do the new Runaway Railway, Slinky, and Smuggler's Run all before 10:45 am. While waiting in line for Slinky, we were able to get Boarding Group 20 for Rise of the Resistance. Rise didn't open until 11:30 am that day and we didn't get called for our boarding group until a bit after 2 pm, so I think this post's comments of about ride issues are accurate.
Overall wait times were between 40 – 70 minutes for most rides by noon. My feeling was this wait times were a bit conservative probably due to a challenge to give accurate times with social distancing in the queues and it felt shorter while in queue. You could find some shorter ones, we were able to walk onto Toy Story Mania again around 1:30 pm.
If Rise of the Resistance is the goal of your trip be sure to plan multiple days at Studios. We've been lucky and gotten into the virtual queue both times we have tried, but I know that lots of people don't.
We visited DHS today (Sept 15) and got boarding group 52 for RoR. My hopes were not high seeing how slow things were going during the morning, but a lot of people must have bugged out because we made it on by 6pm. When we left they were on boarding group 65, so maybe that made up a little for being such a mess the past few days. Smugglers Run was down ALL DAY, which was a major bummer!!! It is very disappointing that they are still having so many technical problems nearly a year later. The new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was fantastic and a great new addition.
Hey Ed! I hope you get a better day at DHS. Major bummer with Smugglers run being down for the entire day. And other technical issues with ROR on top of that.
For all the lucky people to be at Disney world right now… How are the resorts? Enjoyable? Pools crowded? Clean? Thanks:)
We’re at Caribbean Beach which is in very nice shape. Seems quite full and only the main pool is open, but it’s not that crowded. Only been to DHS so far and it was packed this morning, but thinned way out by about 2pm.
Thanks for responding 🙂 we’re going in November for 12 nights. Only doing the parks for three days. (Figured we would do those during weekdays) To try to maximize the lower crowds, if the low crowds are even a thing in November LOL ! mainly hoping for a resort staycation. Hence, asking how the resorts were. Wondered If the resorts increased capacity, thus, restricting guests at the pools. That would definitely be a bummer. I’m hoping Disney sees how poorly the sudden increased capacity/reduced park hours, is affecting guests satisfaction. And, increases park hours, or, decreases the capacity at the parks.
I was just at Boardwalk Villas for 4 nights. Resort was spotless and super clean. Since the hotel side is closed, the resort never felt crowded at all. My daughter ended up spending multiple hours in the pool each day due to the shorter park hours. Even in the evening when all the parks were closed, there were probably only 15 to 20 people at most in the pool total at a given time. There were several times that there were less than 10 people swimming.
I thought Disney did a great job of setting up the chairs around the pool to help with social distancing. They also give reminders to set your chair in certain position when you left so they could disinfect it. There was at least one dedicated Cast Member who’s only job was to disinfect the pool chairs and tables. It was also expected that you wore masks to the bars and restrooms. The only time you could go without a mask was in the pool or sitting at your chair.
We are planning to be back in November and I have no reservations about going again.
Thanks Ryan! Sounds great 🙂 we’re going in November For 12 nights 🙂 so excited.
Sounds like you had a nice trip 🙂
Hi Tom, this is super helpful! We’re taking your advice and planning to visit the first week of Dec (Nov 29- Dec 7). If we buy a 5 day ticket, can we only make 3 park reservations at a time? We’re planning to stay offsite.
Monday 11/29 – EPCOT
Tues 12/1 – DHS
Wed 12/2 – MK
Thurs 12/3 – AK
Fri 12/4 – maybe Universal
Mon 12/7 – back to MK with our 3 yo niece
Does that seem like a smart plan?
I’m pretty sure the 3 day thing only refers to annual pass holders. If you buy a 5 day ticket, you’ll be able to make 5 reservations 🙂
Book your reservations to the park fast because if you aren’t a resort guest they fill up fast for ticket holders and AP.
Went to Hollywood studios today. Left room at Caribbean Beach at 830 am and walked to skyliner. Got there at 840, boarded at 915 (was shocked at this long line). Went straight to mickey railroad and entered that line at 930. Was able to complete ride and walking back into park at 955 (was shocked again, this time positively, at how quick we got through the ride). Hung out by bathrooms there until 10 to enter rise queue. Snagged group 18, with 3 adults trying at the same time (and cheered along with the crowds who also snagged boarding groups). Headed to tower of terror based on the 30 minute posted wait time. Planned our day around rides with waits at 40 minutes or less. Very disappointed to not ride millennium falcon due to it being down all day. However we know we had a great, lucky day to hardly wait for m/m and get such a low number for rise. Didn’t read any of your spoiler posts on either ride and am so glad I didn’t because they both exceeded my expectations. Overall we’ve been disappointed with how crowded our visit has been. Went to magic Kingdom Sunday and all the waits were long. We go back tomorrow and are hoping for shorter lines. Resort was really busy Saturday night but crowds have decreased since. So glad I’ve been reading your blog for months, as its really helped plan! Our trip was originally planned for May, but got rescheduled to this week due to covid. Thanks!
We were at HS today… by some MIRACLE, we got a ROR pass, group 22. But, with so much downtime we didn’t ride til 1:30… was supposed to be around 11. Smugglers run being down the ENTIRE day was so disappointing for our kiddos. We did get to ride everything else- toy story mania 3 times and slinky twice… which would never happen during the holidays when we typically go. Walt times for rockin rollercoaster and tower were half of what was posted! Overall, it was a good day- but we got lucky.
Getting all confused about parks and crowds
It’s WAY busier than I expected. But, wait times are still low!
Here’s another reason HS gets so crazy where there are crowds with no Park hopping . The harder it is to get on Rise, the more times a guest has to go in order to try to experience it. I know for my family in September that’s like the ONE thing on our list (we know chances are slim tho). However, because if that you get a lot of bodies in the park. All these ppl either got a pass and have to wait all day for it, so bodies in queues, or they didn’t but can’t park hop, so to make the best of it try to get on the rides. With no Indiana Jones and Frozen to eat up the excess people it’s just lines all day. I’m very disappointed in this because I’m certainly not looking forward to waiting one hour for every ride, in a mask, in the sun! To me the mask trade off is that crowds are low. So this is a very disappointing development. Why in the world would they increase capacity there until shows open?? And why on earth are there still no shows? Even a modified version. Universal’s shows the actors have masks on, and it’s fine. It doesn’t hinder the show. This park has always had a lot of issues and obviously that continues. 🙁
I didn’t know Universal was doing shows with masks! That’s great! Personally I think that’s what they all should do – get the actors back to work, especially in the open-air theaters. Actors are really struggling right now. I know that wearing masks doesn’t “fit” the production, but I for one am willing to overlook it in exchange for them being safe.
(I also support actors not working in a risky environment, especially the tiny indoor theaters with no ventilation.)
Always appreciate your insight! We are planning a trip Oct. 15-19. Our itinerary includes DHS on Thursday (already maxed), AK on Friday, Epcot on Sunday and MK Monday. Would you advise any changes?
October 8 : Hollywood studios
October 9: MK
October 10: AK
October 11: Epcot
October 12: Hollywood Studios
October 13: MK
Should we change any of these? Thank you for your opinions.