We’re back with another Walt Disney World news & rumor roundup! In this post, we’ll share the latest on reopening, Park Pass reservations, a potential Hall of Presidents redo in Magic Kingdom, new dining at Disney Springs, modifications made for the NBA at the resorts, and more!
Let’s start with the news from Disney Springs. Just a couple weeks ago came the huge news that Gideon’s Bakehouse–literally the best cookies we’ve ever had–would be opening in The Landing across from Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. Now, we have another dining option coming soon to the Walt Disney World shopping and dining district, joining Beatrix (did you forget about that?) and Ample Hills Creamery (hopefully–assuming they emerge out of bankruptcy reorganization).
Disney Springs has announced (via their official Twitter account) the opening of the all-new restaurant concept: Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew. As the name suggests, this dining spot will serve donuts and cold brew coffee. Aside from a likely location–replacing the creepy Pop Gallery, that’s all we know. Everglazed does have a website and social media accounts, but they’re all totally devoid of information.)
Next, the latest on Disney Park Pass availability. If you’ve been stalking the Disney Park Pass Availability Calendar like us, you’ve probably noticed that daily inventory has fluctuated. Notably, some previously fully-booked parks becoming available for certain dates, particularly for resort guests.
The bad news for Annual Passholders is that all but two dates in July are totally booked. The good news is that the system in use is dynamic like FastPass+ or Advance Dining Reservations. This means that more inventory can be released or reallocated.
Right now, there are three separate buckets for Disney Park Pass: resort guests, theme ticket-holders, and Annual Passholders. Of those, the only one that is even remotely low on inventory is (unsurprisingly) Annual Passholders. The dynamic system is significant because it means that Walt Disney World can reallocate unfilled resort guest or ticket-holder capacity to Annual Passholders.
Doing so at the last minute would certainly make sense. It gives Walt Disney World’s more lucrative on-site guests priority (and makes them far less likely to ever be ‘shut out’ of the parks), while also placating Annual Passholders. As locals and Annual Passholders will be integral to Walt Disney World during the next couple of years due to plummeting tourist numbers, it’s imperative that Disney doesn’t alienate its most diehard fans (anymore than they’ve already done the last few weeks).
Speaking of reopening, Cast Members returned to work last week to begin training in preparation for reopening. In celebration, Walt Disney World released the above video of Cast Members preparing for reopening with health and safety as a focus.
We have very mixed emotions about the reopening, especially as juxtaposed against the local news. With that said, there’s something heartwarming about the video, and you can feel the excitement and energy as Cast Members don their costumes and are reunited with their work locations and fellow cast, and began their first days of training to learn new health and safety protocols.
I’m really excited to see how this plays out. Not just because I’m eager for more live sports, but because I find the logistics of this fascinating, and am intrigued by how Disney will attempt to leverage the synergy of the NBA at Walt Disney World to its full advantage.
The NBA and Major League Soccer coming to the ESPN Wide World of Sports are probably more lucrative and important for the Walt Disney Company than guests returning to the parks. A lot of Disney fans are still complaining about the MLS and NBA, but these leagues are unquestionably doing more to help Walt Disney World get back on its feet than they are hurting.
Finally, an intriguing tidbit. Disney is rumored to be in negotiations with Lin Manuel Miranda and Weird Al Yankovic to write and direct a new Hall of Presidents theater show that would be non partisan and more timeless, per WDW Pro on the WDWMagic forums.
We cannot speak to the veracity of this particular rumor–there is a lot of wishful thinking going on concerning Liberty Square and Hamilton right now. While it’s the first time we’ve heard an iteration of this with Weird Al attached, it’s not the first time we’ve heard credible rumors involving Liberty Square and Lin Manuel Miranda. Moreover, this makes sense and passes a cursory smell test.
We personally love Hall of Presidents–it’s a moving tribute to the presidency and how that office has shaped (and been shaped by) America since the nation’s founding. However, it’s clear that in this hyper-partisan era many people simply cannot separate the office from its current occupant. This is nothing new–it has been true for each the last four presidents–and is unlikely to change.
Additionally, many people want escapism out of Walt Disney World, making Hall of Presidents a non-starter for them irrespective of their political persuasions. Beyond that, there has been a chorus of (apolitical) complaints for decades that Hall of Presidents is overly long, boring, and dry.
Even though it is now seasonal, Walt Disney World already did an exemplary job of edutainment in Liberty Square with the Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History (one of our favorite additions of the last decade). This clever show did an exemplary job of incorporating actual lessons from American history with the trademark quick wit of the Muppets.
It’s tough to gauge the likelihood of this Hall of Presidents rumor coming to fruition. It makes a lot of sense, but the timing is both good and bad. Walt Disney World faces a long and challenging recovery over the next few years, and budget cuts are inevitable during that time. We’re almost certain to see some previously-announced projects abandoned, making the green-lighting of unannounced projects less likely.
On the other hand, Hamilton hype is at a fever pitch. If Imagineering can accomplish this change on a modest budget, it’d unquestionably generate immediate return on investment while also eliminating the attraction’s controversy. Two birds with one stone. However, if Walt Disney World is going to make this change, it would be savvy to announce it before the next election (like, now) before the outcome is known to avoid the appearance of partisan motivations.
Also over the weekend, we saw Hamilton for the first time on Disney Plus. Honestly, I was prepared for disappointment. We tried for about a year (to no avail) to score tickets to Hamilton at the Pantages, and have heard nothing but rave reviews from friends and family who have seen it. It’s rare for something so highly-hyped and anticipated to actually live up to that, but wow did Hamilton ever.
Not that you need our recommendation to see the cultural phenomenon, but we’ll nonetheless offer it. Hamilton is everything that everyone raves about it being: powerful, catchy, incisive, energetic, endlessly smart, thought-provoking, and addictively good. It’s basically Schoolhouse Rock for adults. If you haven’t yet watched due to preconceived notions (or were simply holding out for an endorsement from a blogger with zero expertise in musical theater), I’d strongly recommend watching. Hamilton is a transcendent and historical piece of pop culture that people will be talking about for decades.
Ultimately, the question with regard to Hall of Presidents is not whether Hamilton is good, but if/how Lin Manuel Miranda and Weird Al Yankovic could use their collective talents to transform the attraction into something engaging, timeless, and non-controversial. I truly have no idea there, but after seeing what Lin Manuel Miranda did with Moana and Mary Poppins Returns (and what Weird Al has done with many things), I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Given Disney’s recent success doing something similar with the Muppets’ Liberty Square show, I’m also inclined to give Imagineering the benefit of the doubt on this. Here’s hoping this comes to fruition, and ends up being something special that all guests will enjoy!
What do you think of these Walt Disney World news and rumors? Excited for Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew, or were you a big fan of the creepy doll paintings at Pop Gallery? What about the NBA taking up residence at Coronado Springs Resort? Intrigued by the rumor of Lin Manuel Miranda and Weird Al Yankovic helping to overhaul Hall of Presidents? Would you welcome something in the vein of Hamilton, or do you prefer the classic Hall of Presidents? Think it’ll actually happen, or is the timing not right? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts and commentary? 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!