We’re back with another Walt Disney World news and rumor round-up. This one is not so much a round-up as it is a discussion of two pieces of (if we’re being honest) pretty insignificant news stories that have garnered a lot of negative reactions which are an excuse to get to the main event: dinosaurs.
Let’s start with what’s actually a pretty big deal if online buzz among Disney fans is our metric: Walt Disney World is now cancelling FastPass+ reservations when a hotel reservation is cancelled. This closes a FastPass+ loophole that was, apparently, pretty popular.
Previously, visitors intending upon staying off-site would book a Walt Disney World hotel reservation, which would provide access to the 60-day FastPass+ booking window. Once they hit their window, they booked FastPass+ reservations, and cancelled their hotel reservation, keeping whatever elusive FastPasses they booked.
I guess I haven’t been trudging through the dark side of Walt Disney World hacks lately, but it never occurred to me that people would do this. Upon learning about it, I tipped my hat to them, as my policy with this sort of thing is always don’t hate the player hate the game.
I’m no longer surprised that others don’t share my same perspective on this, so it was no shock that the general sentiment among Disney fans was disparagement (the words “fraud” and “scam” were tossed around pretty liberally) towards people who did this, and praise towards Walt Disney World for fixing it.
I likewise share the sentiment that it’s good this is fixed. I’m skeptical that such a heinous offense was being perpetrated on as colossal of a scale as others might believe; we’re a bit of an insular niche online, and there’s a tendency to assume things are more widespread than actuality. (Sort of like when people think they can beat crowds by doing the opposite of a Walt Disney World Touring Plan because everyone is following those!)
Nevertheless, it’s already difficult enough to get popular FastPass+ reservations when the booking windows open, and I anticipate that’ll only get worse once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge starts releasing FastPasses. This also should make room inventory a bit more stable, although the way Disney toys with that is probably a far bigger issue.
I do wonder how (or whether) this will work with the third-party hotels, like the Disney Springs Resort Area properties, that also offer the 60-day booking window. Not to doubt Disney’s very robust and incredibly reliable online systems, but I could see them lacking the ability to apply the same fix there, which would mean that the sophisticated loophole exploiters will just move to those. Hopefully that won’t work, and this is a universal solution.
Next, the new World of Dreams VIP Tour, or “that $12,000 tour for fools with more money than sense.” At nearly double the hourly cost of a regular VIP tour, this is (to our knowledge) the most expensive tour that Walt Disney World has offered. Like other VIP tours, there’s front of the line access to all attractions and preferred viewing for nighttime spectaculars.
Unlike those “normal” VIP tours, there are two guides, backstage areas can be used as shortcuts, and there’s access to the Cinderella Castle Suite. The tour also includes up to three table service meals (even at fully-booked restaurants), snacks, and alcohol. There are probably other tour perks, but Walt Disney World hasn’t released (and likely won’t) an official fact sheet about the tour.
The online community’s reaction has been fierce and strong. It kind of surprises me that Disney fans have expended so much energy criticizing this tour and trying to break it down from a value perspective to demonstrate that it’s a rip-off when it’s clearly not an offering aimed at most (all?) of them. Let’s say I drove a Toyota Yaris (I don’t, because everyone knows only a Kia can handle my need for speed), and was a serious enthusiast about all things Toyota.
One day, I’m reading the latest breaking news from ToyotaDriveristBlog.com, and I learn that a new Lexus LFA has been announced. I’m very excited as I love Toyota, owner of Lexus. That is, until I see the MSRP. $700,000. How dare they?! The last Lexus LFA was only $375,000, so what makes this one nearly twice as good?! It turns out it doesn’t matter, because I was never the target audience for the car and had no legitimate intent upon purchasing one.
VIP tours aren’t something that interests me, but I know others justify the normal ones from a perspective of getting a group together, pooling money, and splurging on something the per person hourly cost of which (according to them) is “not too bad.” I’m guessing those people are trying to apply the same logic here and coming up empty, but the difference is that this tour is aimed at people for whom money is no object.
It should come as no surprise. Development continues at Golden Oak and the even pricier Four Seasons Private Residences, plus resorts like the Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and aforementioned Four Seasons Orlando cater to levels of affluence that make services like the World of Dreams VIP tour in-demand.
When it comes to things like this, the questions we’ve long asked are whether the offering furthers in-park class stratification and whether it lessens the experience of regular paying guests. Assuming we’re okay with VIP tours, a practice that dates back decades, as a baseline, it’s hard to take issue with this. Presumably, these guests would otherwise by doing a normal VIP tour, so there’s no appreciable difference to other guests–they’re just paying more for a different type of service.
Seems like Magic Kingdom train berm is being extended flat.
A guess: for a show building containing Universe of Energy dinosaurs. Similar to Disneyland, which has same characters but from 1964-65 World’s Fair. pic.twitter.com/dffvXbXJ2B
Finally, we’ll end with a tidbit that is most exciting to me: the above work that’s happening around the Walt Disney World Railroad. I’ve wanted to get over to the Contemporary all week to take my own photos, but I’ve been so sick that I’ve barely gotten out of bed in 5 days. (I even missed Moonlight Magic!)
Please note that this is not a rumor. That tweet’s author is an insightful guy who posts excellent construction photos from around the Orlando parks, but he’s guessing. We’ve likewise guessed in the past that this would make complete sense given Walt Disney World now has the makings of a Primeval World (a la Disneyland) just sitting around.
It also makes sense when you take into account the likelihood of an extended Railroad closure, which would be sufficient time to build the show buildings (which would mirror Disneyland both in general contents and location). With Magic Kingdom likely to see an influx of guests for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, enhancing the Railroad would also help with ridership numbers. From a practical perspective, it’d be a way to help soak up crowds by filling empty seats.
However, this is Walt Disney World we’re talking about. And these are Audio Animatronics not associated with an IP, which would be used to enhance an existing attraction that’s not a headliner. All of this has a monetary cost, and there would be an ongoing maintenance cost, too.
Basically, this is our way of saying that while we really want this work to be for a Primeval World diorama, we can’t will it into being, and we aren’t going to get excited prematurely. A potential change at Walt Disney World being plausible and logical doesn’t make it true…or even an actual rumor. To the contrary, there are no credible rumors on this–which normally would leak out by now if that’s what this were for. That alone is probably telling.
What do you think of these stories? Glad the FastPass loophole has been closed, or were you one of the treasonous heathens who exploited it? Thinking of booking the $12,000 VIP tour, or are you waiting for the $20k Platinum version? What about the plausibility of dinosaurs being added to Magic Kingdom? Think it’ll happen or would it be out of character for Walt Disney World? 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!