Walt Disney World Resort
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ---- |
(7/30/19) A Look At Some of the Skyliner Stations
(7/29/19) NBA Experience Preview Seems To Be Lacking (MORE...)
(7/16/19) Walt Disney World Sets Disney Skyliner Opening Date (MORE...)
(7/5/19) Rumored Off-Season Improvements For Blizzard Beach (MORE...)
Resort Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Blizzard Beach - Sept. 8, 2019 through Jan. 4, 2020
Typhoon Lagoon - Jan. 5, 2020 through mid-Mar. 2020
Current Ticket Pricing - (6/19/19) Just a quick heads up for Walt Disney World Passholders, but the mouse has raised those AP prices once again, ahead of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this August. A good list of the various changes that hit just about every pass level for both regular guests and Florida Residents can be found here. The biggest hit however comes to those with Disney Platinum Passes that saw the price jump $225 from last year's price increase that actually just happened back in October 2018.
(3/14/19) With the announcement that Star Wars: Galalxy’s Edge is opening in Florida just before the end of August, Walt Disney World proceeded to put their annual price increase into effect now. It is interesting to note that the price of a one-day/one-park “Value” day ticket will remain at $109, but the price of a Regular and Peak days now have some play in them, with the average price of a Regular day being $125, while a visit on an average Peak day will cost you $139, but can cost up to $159. While discounts are available for multi-day ticket prices, if you want to park-hop with those tickets, add in an extra $60 to $80, depending on how many days you purchase. Annual Passes have not increased yet, but it is a safe bet that they will sometime before Galaxy’s Edge opens.
(2/7/19) When it comes to the price of admission, how much is too much? Surprisingly, despite what your initial take is, when you get down to it, this really is more of an individual choice question. Doubly so when it comes to Disney fans and the price of admission into Disney theme parks which have steadily been on the rise each year for the past several decades. This week I decided to take a look at past price increase trends from Disney and even predict where the price is going between now and 2030, based on past increases, all in my latest article for BlooLoop.
General Resort News - (6/19/19) Are big changes coming to the FastPass system at Walt Disney World? According to a post at Orlando Weekly changes could be in the works for the highly criticized FastPass+ program where advanced reservations have gotten so out of control that you have to pre-plan just about everything you want to do anymore. Unfortunately other than scrapping the program, or a return to the original FP system, Disney may be looking to launch a paid-tier FastPass ticket into the already crowded waters of the Walt Disney World system, perhaps not unlike the MaxPass that was added to Disneyland last year.
(5/23/19) Walt Disney World has announced that they will soon expand the ability for mobile food orders on the resort app to work at select Walt Disney World Resorts. The list of new options will include Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Disney’s Pop Centry Resort, The Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Advanced mobile ordering also works if you have a Disney Dining Plan as well.
(4/14/19) Disney has confirmed that they will soon open a new bar and lounge at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort that will be inspired by the live-action Beauty & The Beast film. The new lounge takes up the space formerly occupied by Mizner’s Lounge and the Command Porter’s shop and will feature four uniquely themed spaces, including a ‘signature bar’, a library room, garden room and an outdoor patio.
(3/30/19) HUGE news from the Disney Theme Parks hit this week as they announced a complete ban on Smoking (and Vaping) inside all of their American theme parks starting on May 1st. The only place left to smoke from that point on will be in a designated area OUTSIDE the entrance of the various parks.
Also on May 1st the park will begin restrictions on stroller sizes allowed into the parks, with a complete ban on the huge “stroller wagons”, and limiting the maximum size of regular strollers to be no more than 31” wide, and no more than 52” long.
Loose ice and dry ice will also no longer be allowed in the parks, but sealed reusable ice packs are fine. If you have a need for loose ice in the parks, it can be obtained free at any of the various quick-service food locations inside the theme parks, along with complementary cups of ice water.
Ongoing - Disney Springs Additions -
There are several additions still in the works for the Disney Springs area which I will clump together in this area and detail them in a list below:
Chicken Guy! (August 2018)
NBA Experience (Late Summer 2019)
Cirque du Soleil Replacement Show (2020)
City Works Eatery & Pour House (2019)
Ron Jon Surf Shop (2019)
Chicken Guy! (2019) - Now Open - (7/27/18) The Disney Parks Blog reports a new restaurant is coming to Disney Springs this August called "Chicken Guy!" This new quick service chicken joint comes from the mind of celebrity chef, Guy Fieri and Robert Earl. Follow the link for all the details about what will be on the menu.
NBA Experience (Late Summer 2019) - (7/29/19) While the NBA Experience at Disney Springs doesn’t open until August 12th, someone at WDWNT was invited to a preview of the new attraction and has posted a very detailed write-up of the entire experience, start to finish. Unfortunately, and much as I was expecting, the subject matter is simply focused too much on the specific audience of those obsessed with everything to do with the NBA and Basketball. Even for those who live and breathe basketball, this could end up being a “one-and-done” kind of experience that many are unlikely to return to a second time. Make the jump over to WDWNT to read the great review and decide for yourself if a visit to the NBA Experience is in your future or is this a hard pass?
(3/27/19) Walt Disney World has announced that the new NBA Experience attraction at Disney Springs will officially open on August 12, 2019. For those are who basketball fans, this will be something not to miss, as the 44,000 sqft two-story structure will feature “13 interactive elements”. Check out the video below for a little more detail on what you can expect to find inside the new NBA Experience.
(12/20/18) Disney has released a piece of new concept artwork and all new details about the NBA Experience attraction opening at Disney Spring sin Summer 2019. For Basketball fans, it sounds like this could be a popular addition, especially for those who dream (or once dreamed) of playing in the NBA someday. The interactive experience will recreate moments in a players career such as being called up during the NBA Draft, hear the roar of the crowd as you step onto the court, work with an interactive trainers to improve your skills and run through drills, execute a perfect slam dunk, visit the team locker room and much more. Follow the link to read the full rundown of the new NBA Experience from Disney.
(4/15/18) With the old DisneyQuest building long gone, work crews have been quickly putting up the steel for the new NBA Experience attraction on the site. You can see they have already made a lot of progress in the photo below posted to Twitter.
(10/24/17) While the heavy machinery is now in the middle of gutting and demolishing the former DisneyQuest building at Disney Springs, the mouse has finally decided to announce more details about the attraction that will replace it in Summer 2019… NBA Experience. Based on the concept art released, the look of the new venue will closely resemble the look of a modern sport arena, complete with video displays showing game footage, current NBA scores scrolling by and so on.
The building looks kind of neat when viewed in the artwork, but when I start to try and visualize how it will look in person with the ramshackle look of the House of Blues right across from it, it makes me go, “Hmmmm….”
As for what is going to go inside… well, the details are still a bit on the vague side. For now Disney only describes it as a, “state-of-the-art space will include interactive games and competitions, immersive experiences, a retail store and an adjacent restaurant.”
(7/30/17) I don't know if the exterior work has started yet, but apparently Disney did file permits to demolish the DisneyQuest building. Interior work is said to have begun immediately after the attraction closed, and once complete and the inside gutted of anything of worth, the rest of the huge structure will begin to come down piece by piece to make way the future "NBA Experience" attraction.
I do find it a little odd that we still haven't seen any details at all about what the NBA Experience will really be like, even now that DisneyQuest is dead and gone.
(2/1/17) I've been expecting part of this announcement to come with a lot of dread, but Disney made it official a few hours ago that DisneyQuest will close forever on July 3, 2017. The big surprise was that DisneyQuest is still closing to make way for the previously announced "The NBA Experience" attraction, despite reports last year that the efforts by the NBA Experience people had fallen short and that they would be unable to move forward. Apparently they fixed whatever went wrong over the past year and The NBA Experience project is now moving forward again, following the demise of DisneyQuest.
Cirque du Soleil Replacement Show (Expected 2020) - In Development - (12/20/18) Could Cirque du Soleil be preparing to reopen their Orlando show as early the end of 2019? Quite possibly, as Cirque put out a casting call for a role to play in a new permanent Orlando show that is definitely all about Disney.
According to a storyline summary from Cirque, “This new Cirque du Soleil show in Orlando will honor Disney animation's rich history. After paying homage to some of entertainment's greatest artists, such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, Cirque du Soleil will leap into the iconic world of Disney. Cirque du Soleil is incredibly inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. Bringing Disney’s magic to life on stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”
They are seeking a female performer (child or adult between 4ft and 5ft in height) to play a non-verbal 12-year-old girl character in the show. Auditions are in mid March 2019, and job starts in Sept. 2019 for a minimum contract of 2-years.
(10/4/18) Are Cirque du Soleil and Walt Disney World gearing up to create a new show for the theater in Walt Disney World? The venue’s old show, La Nouba, ended their long running show on December 31st, 2017 and thus far the theater has sat quietly at the far end of Disney Springs. That said, Cirque du Soleil has posted an job online for a temporary position that will last 17 months starting in late October in Montreal, Canada for a “Project Manager - Set - WDI”. Just a hunch, but could be the first sign of work starting for a new replacement show.
(12/19/17) Disney has confirmed that they are indeed working with Cirque du Soleil on a brand new show experience for the Disney Springs theater, to replace La Nouba. This will be an original show designed to “pay homage to Disney’s rich history of animation, with a vivid story told in a way that only Cirque du Soleil can deliver.”
No word yet on when it will be ready to opening, but I’m sort of picturing something along the lines of Cirque’s “The Beatles: Love” show, but with a Disney animation theme. Meanwhile you’ve still got a few days left to catch a final performance of La Nouba before it is gone forever when the curtain goes down on New Years Eve.
(3/6/17) In a somewhat unexpected announcement, Disney and Cirque du Soleil have announced that their long-running La Nouba show at Disney Springs will finally come to an end at the end of 2017. Several years ago we had reported that Disney had been asking Cirque to start looking into making a new show for the venue, though instead it looks like Cirque opted to simply begin a program of replacing and refreshing many of the various acts in the show instead in an attempt to keep things fresh and new. It worked... for a time at least, but rumors report that La Nouba seldom sells out anymore outside of peak season and after a nearly 20 year run, the time has come to simply let it ride off into the sunset.
Neither Disney, nor Cirque, will confirm what the future has in store, but I'd say it is a fairly safe bet that they've already got a brand new show concept in production already to swoop in and replace La Nouba with an all new experience sometime in 2018. Until that time however, the extreme West End of Disney Springs is going to end up being somewhat of a ghost town when La Nouba goes dark, as DisneyQuest next door is also pulling the plug on the video-game fiesta this July.
In the meantime, I'm sure sales of La Nouba tickets will soar once again for the rest of the year and everyone scrambles to see this awesome show "one final time", or finally get around to seeing it if they've been putting it off. So whichever camp you fall into, I'd look to pick up your tickets sooner than later.
City Works Eatery & Pour House (Late Summer/Fall 2019) - (10/12/18) Walt Disney World has confirmed that they will open a new sports bar concept at Disney Springs in 2019 called City Works Eatery & Pour House. The location will focus on craft beers (80 on tap) and classic American style food offerings when it opens on the West Side next summer, featuring tons of TVs showing off various events, including a massive 165 inch screen. There are seven existing City Works Eatery & Pour House locations already, so if you’ve been to one, shoot us some comments about how your experience was.
Ron Jon Surf Shop (Late 2019) - (2/17/19) Who hasn't driven around the Orlando area and come across one of the many Ron Jon Surf Shop billboards, advertising the retailers shop in Cocoa Beach or the many other locations around region?
Walt Disney World has now announced that a new Ron Jon Surf Shop location will open by the end of the year inside the Disney Springs retail area at Walt Disney World. The new Disney Springs location will feature a 10,000 sqft retail store located close to The Polite Pig.
2019 - Disney’s Coronado Springs Expansion - (5/17/19) A new construction update for Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort can be seen over at MouseSteps this week. Check it out.
(2/20/17) Walt Disney World has announced a large 15-story tower will soon be added to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort that will add an additional 500-rooms onto the property. As this is regarded as a very popular "convention" hotel it isn't uncommon for the resort to run out of rooms far short of the overall demand for some of the events held on site here, so the additional 500 rooms are very much needed.
According to the release from Disney we can expect the new tower and other changes to be open in about 2-years, so look for it in 2019. The new tower will feature suites and concierge level service as well. The new tower will also feature a unique rooftop dining opportunity that will offer a unique view of the popular nighttime fireworks visible from the nearby theme parks.
Meanwhile over the same time-period you can look forward to the existing rooms to also be upgraded and refurbished, as well as see the addition of other features to the landscape. One such mentioned was a "floating garden" and an "island oasis that connects the resort through a series of bridges".
Fall 2019 - Disney DVC Riviera Resort / Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Improvements - (4/19/19) A new construction update all about what’s going on with the new Disney’s Riviera Resort has been posted to MouseSteps this week, along with a look at the Skyliner system installed to run by there and through Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. This includes a look at the massive central station that all three of the Skyliner lines will connect to that is still under construction.
(7/20/17) As expected, the next official DVC Resort was confirmed as coming to take over the site that was previously used as the front half of Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The new DVC Resort will be called the Disney Riviera Resort, and it will be attached to the new Disney Skyliner aerial tram transportation service that will connect guests right to the Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks.
Disney Riviera Resort is planned to open in Fall 2019 and feature 300 units along with a new rooftop restaurant that will allow for great views of the big nighttime spectaculars over at Epcot and the Studios.
2020 - Blizzard Beach Improvements - RUMOR - (7/5/19) According to a source Blizzard Beach may be getting some extra attention during the off-season that may result in a longer closure than normal. How long? According to our source Blizzard Beach could close for the season as early as Sept. 7, 2019 and stay closed through to January 5, 2020 when Typhoon will then close for it’s off-season rehab. This is much longer than normal as typically neither of Disney’s waterparks closes until at least mid to late October.
So why the longer than normal off-season for Blizzard Beach? Rumor has it Disney wants to make some improvements and needs the extra time. There are always rumors of a new slide being added but until we see some early signs of pre-construction taking place (clearing, ground survey markings, etc…) then I’d take that one with a grain of salt.
Instead the biggest rumor claims that they may opt to install a full park wide lighting package that would allow Blizzard to be open after dark to offer special after-dark extra-ticket events like the H2O Glow Nights events at Typhoon Lagoon. These special night-party events allow Typhoon to offer something a little different after dark, typically from 6pm to 11pm, with DJs playing music, a dance party on the beach, special characters, and due to the limited number of tickets sold for these, the crowd levels are way down so you can actually enjoy more time on the slides, all with no risk of sunburn.
There may also be another long overdue improvement coming to Blizzard Beach, a tube lift is also rumored to be added to serve the three Red Slope slides, also known as Runoff Rapids, located at the back of the park. In addition to the convenience of not having to make the hike up the stairs while lugging a tube, having the tubes already there also makes the slides immediately accessible to those riding to the top of the mountain on the chairlift from the front of the park. I’m sure more will be revealed on these rumors as we get closer to the end of the Summer.
???? - Star Wars Starship Hotel - (6/2/18) I came across a few fun aerial photos discovered on Twitter to share this morning from Bioreconstruct. For starters, the site for the future Star Wars Hotel site has been apparently confirmed as going into the large open area to the right of the parking lot toll plaza. A very large clearing has been made here on both sides of the little creek that runs through the site, so I'm not sure if the hotel will take up all this property, or just be on one side, though I suppose the resort could be closer to the park and the further away site used for parking.
Speaking of parking... WDW Resort guests visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios will eventually be entering the parking lot through a whole new access road and parking toll plaza off the Osceola Parkway exit from I-4. The next photos down show off the new massive clearing for this new road into the park, along with the already installed new parking toll plaza already in place. From the look of things, guests may be exiting the park out to Osceola Parkway as well once this is complete, leaving the current parking lot exit in use for the busses.
(2/24/18) Disney has released a couple of new animated art previews showing off what guests can expect to see inside the new Star Wars themed resort planned for Walt Disney World. While the themeing inside is wonderful, the point being driven home is that when you stay here, there will be no windows to the "real" outside world, but instead every giant window you come across will be a display portal showing off the outer space realm of the Star Wars universe, which is alive with stars, planets and passing starships.
The other very cool aspect of staying at this resort is apparently guests will be given the opportunity to have a Star Wars themed wardrobe experience before boarding the "starship", so you can dress is appropriate themed clothing for the experience to a Galaxy Far Far Away. I'm kind of envisioning this as more of a "Westworld" kind of arrival experience rather than a Bibbidi Bobbidi Bouttique experience, but you never know.
The new starship resort will also have a seamless connection right into the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This makes me wonder if there could be some kind of after-hours resort-guest only activities planned in the theme park land as well, once the park closes and all the day-guests are gone.
(2/14/18) A few new details were revealed by Disney about their plans for the upcoming Star Wars Resort.
"This first-of-its-kind resort will combine luxury with complete immersion into an authentic Star Warsstory. Guests’ journey through space will start when everyone departs together for a multiday Stars Wars adventure by boarding a starship alive with characters and stories that unfold all around them during a voyage through the galaxy."
"At the resort, guests immediately become active citizens of the galaxy and can dress up in the proper attire. Every resort window will also have a view into space. The opportunity for immersion at this resort will also stand out among all Disney resorts around the globe, as it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, allowing guests a total Star Wars experience."
(7/20/17) Remember those rumored plans and dreams for a Star Wars themed resort hotel? Disney just confirmed all of it, calling it part of a new 'Disney 360 vacation concept" that will create a "living adventure that allows guests to immerse themselves in an entirely new form of Disney storytelling."
“It’s unlike anything that exists today.” Bob said. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
No timeline was mentioned as to when it might open however, so we'll have to wait and see.
(7/11/17) Like everyone, I heard the first rumors of a possible Star Wars themed hotel concept pitched for Walt Disney World and once the initial “Oooohh!” moment passed, I had to scoff at the idea. The cynic in me was pretty sure that nothing like that would ever happen, at least not like what was being shown in the survey’s Disney was quietly showing off to select guests.
Yeah… while I don’t think the project has been given the final green light to proceed, apparenly Disney really is developing a Star Wars themed hotel concept that would be built right at the Studios park next to the Star Wars Land itself. Don’t look for anything to happen until they get their new parking lot configuration up and running, but once they are ready to close down the current toll plaza entrance off World Drive in favor of the new park entrance off Osceola Parkway, work could begin on the new hotel concept.
So what this really supposed to be? Well, you can see some concept art used for a guest survey posted here, but in the end it may be more simple to explain the basic premise like this... imagine going on a cruise ship... that really goes nowhere at all. The concept is a something of a dream for some designers out there that has never really been built out as far as I know, but some refer to it as a LBC... aka: Land Based Cruise. The hotel would be themed as a giant Star Wars Universe themed starship... an interstellar cruise ship experience... and guests would book a stay for several days, much like they would at a normal WDW hotel, expect you can expect this one to cost much much more. The idea is that while guests would leave the hotel during the daytime to visit the Disney theme parks as normal, they would return to the starship in the evening hours which would offer extra dining, exclusive entertainment, and even special themed excursions and adventures themed to the Star Wars Universe. In short all these bonus adventures are only available to the guests of Star Wars hotel, and unlike the other Walt Disney World Resorts, other guests would not be permitted inside to visit.
I’m told that Disney pitched a similar idea several years back, before Disney bought Star Wars, that involved building a similar themed hotel experience that would have been based on the myths and ghoulish legends of the Haunted Mansion, allowing guests to experience something akin to spending the night inside the Haunted Mansion with lots of themed spooky fun events to take place throughout the evening hours.
The Star Wars idea is an interesting one, and it would finally give Disney something they’ve been after... an upscale park experience that guests will pay top dollar to experience much like SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove. Except this isn’t just an upscale park experience, this bundles in a whole new resort category into the mix as well. It should be interesting to see if Disney goes through with it or not, and if guests are willing to drop around $1000 per person for a 2-3 day experience.
2020 - The Cove (3rd Dolphin / Swan Hotel) - Confirmed - (3/1/19) As you can see in the latest update to Orlando Parks News, demolition of Disney’s Fantasia Gardens special event pavilions have begun, clearing the site to make room for the new “The Cove” hotel next to the Swan & Dolphin hotels.
(12/20/18) OrlandoParkNews reports that the first sections of a construction barrier are now going up at the tennis courts so that work can begin on The Cove.
(11/30/18) The name and new details for the third hotel joining the Swan and Dolphin at Walt Disney World came out this week. The new hotel, opening in 2020, will be called The Cove and feature a 14-story tower on the site of the old tennis courts. It will include 22,000 sqft of meeting/event space, 349 rooms, and is supposed to have a rooftop viewing area that should be able to see the fireworks from the nearby theme parks. You can find some of the new concept art posted to Attractions Magazine.
(11/4/18) In the middle of an article about how a new $627 million debt package deal was struck between Bank of America and Tishman Hotel & Realty and MetLife that is secured by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, it confirms at the bottom that the deal will provide the funding to build that rumored third hotel next door to the Swan and Dolphin on land leased to Tishman & MetLife for 99 years.
The new hotel will be branded as an “Autograph Collection by Marriott" and is expected to be ready to open by early 2021, so I’d expect serious construction to begin on the site very soon. According to Marriott, their “Autograph Collection” resorts are as small collection of smaller “boutique hotels” each with a unique design that will offer an custom experience that reflects the local culture as well as the vision of the creator.
When finished, all three hotels will still be run by Marriott, though the Swan is under their Westin brand and the Dolphin is under their Sheraton brand.
???? - Reflections - Disney’s Lakeside Lodge - Under Construction - (4/24/19) In the lower half of the latest update to Disney & More you can see that crews are finally clearing out the site of the former River Country waterpark at Walt Disney World. The site is being cleared for future use for a new resort property being called “Reflections - Disney Lakeside Lodge” project anticipated to open sometime in 2022.
(10/19/18) Walt Disney World has announced the plans for their next resort project this week that will be a “mixed-use” resort with a “nature’ theme that will open along the shore of Bay Lake in 2022 between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The new unnamed resort will feature over 1,700 rooms (including DVC villas)
(6/4/18) According to several reports Disney may be planning on pushing ahead in the next year or so on their next Walt Disney World / DVC combo resort project, which is said to be dubbed internally as "Project 89". The interesting thing is that the new resort site is expected to take over the site of the former River Country water park.
This isn't the first time that Disney has drawn up plans for a new resort for this site, but with the newest DVC resort, Disney's Riviera Resort, under construction and taking over part of the Caribbean Beach Resort site, I wouldn't expect actual construction to begin here until that project is finished up at the end of 2019 at the earliest. It is also my understanding that typically Disney doesn't start work on the next DVC Resort until the previous one has sold out as well. With all that in mind, this one may not be ready to open until 2021/2022, especially as an increased interest in the Star Wars Resort project could possibly slow DVC sales.
???? - Epcot Resort - Rumor - (2/6/18) BlogMickey has posted a great look at some Epcot area permits that may give us a clue about that rumored hotel project for Epcot, along with the planned creation of a large new body of water. According to the report, Disney may be tipping their hand as to the location of the new hotel project, because a large area right outside the park entrance that runs west all the way to the new body of water is marked some some future development purposes. This also matches up with a second rumor Screamscape was sent, claiming that there were two possible locations for the proposed Epcot hotel: either right over the main entrance, or if not there, they were looking to place it behind The Living Seas and Land pavilions just to the west of Epcot's main gate.
As the new lake is built up, in two phases, it should be an interesting site to see from the Epcot line of the monorail, as the northern shore of the lake conforms perfectly to the monorail beam in and out of the Epcot area. This is assuming that there wont be a need to suspend operations to allow for excavation work to be done.
(12/1/17) I haven't heard this rumor myself, but WDW News Today has posted an interesting rumor claiming that Disney may be looking into the idea of building a new resort hotel over the entrance plaza of Epcot. I can't imagine they would want to block the iconic view of Spaceship Earth, so I can only imagine that the hotel would be divided into a couple of huge but taller wing structures on either side of the entrance, allowing the view of Spaceship Earth to remain. Another big benefit is that this would also likely become a new Monorail Resort, as I'm sure they would attach any new hotel structure to the existing monorail station.
The idea is interesting for certain, but with Disney focused on building a number of other resort projects, like the Coronado Springs expansion tower, the new DVC Riviera Resort and the planned Star Wars resort attached to the Studios park, it may be a few years before they get around to finalizing any plans for an Epcot resort. Plus it also follows along with the rumors of a Haunted Mansion themed resort concept also being floated around.
OTHER WALT DISNEY WORLD PROJECTS:
Fall 2019 - Disney Skyliner - (7/30/19) Blog Mickey has posted a great look at the Disney Skyliner aerial gondola stations nearing completion at Disney’s Riviera Resort and the Caribbean Beach Resort.
(7/16/19) Walt Disney World has announced that the Disney Skyliner system will official open to guests on Sept. 29, 2019.
(6/16/19) While Disney hasn't set a date to open their new Skyliner system, they are now testing gondolas (covered and uncovered) on the line leading from Epcot’s International Gateway station. It is also interesting to note that they have built some kind of “rescue” boat that is now on site at Houseglass Lake (between the Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts) just in case they need a way to get guests out of the gondolas while over the water. For any ground-based evaculations that need to take place, Disney also has a mobile rescue vehicle fixed with a boom-arm with a very large platform at the top.
(6/4/19) Want to see a neat feature of Disney’s new Skyliner system? Watch the video in action below of the system making test runs and you’ll notice that there is a side track where certain gondola’s pull off into a separate unload/load zone and actually stop moving, while the rest of the system remains in constant motion. This is how the system will be able to accommodate slower loading guests and those with mobility issues.
From what I’m told every 9th gondola entering the station will pull off into this secondary loading zone where they will stop in one area for 50 seconds to allow for unloading and move to a second spot for 1:10 for loading, before moving into position to rejoin the main-line, filling the gap vacated by the next gondola to switch out to the secondary line. It is an impressive bit of engineering and design to allow for a steady stream of gondolas to be used for this purpose without requiring the stopping of the main-line.
(5/17/19) Disney has released a new video as they unwrap 55 of the Disney Skyliner gondolas to show off all the unique custom art on the various cars, which looks fantastic. There is even a Haunted Mansion themed car which I'm sure is going to be a popular one.
(3/9/19) It finally happened… either on purpose or by accident, but one of the Disney Skyliner cars was spotted out in the wild taking a test flight uncovered, but also still without any of the Disney Character themed graphics skins applied. She’s a beauty though, and we can also see the windows cracked open to let cool air in. Click here to see the photos.
(3/3/19) The ongoing testing of the new Disney Skyliner run between Disney Hollywood Studios and the triple-station at Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort where you will switch lines to go to other destinations has gotten to the point where they look as if they have now fully loaded the line to test cycle the gondolas. A great little video (see below) from the air shows off the entire run from the park to the resort, and you can see just how often they are dispatching the cars onto the line at regular intervals.
(2/1/19) Walt Disney World reports that some initial testing is now underway for the new Skyliner Gondolas, even though it isn’t scheduled for a grand opening until sometime in the Fall of 2019. You can see a video of some of the testing taking place down below, meanwhile some new examples of the graphics that will adorn each of the gondolas can be found on the Disney Parks Blog.
(11/21/18) We’ve got a few more details about the Disney Skyliner system to share. Disney apparently did not let anyone get too close to the one car they had on display at Destination D, but from those who saw it up close, they said it looked like it may hold about 6 passengers, possibly with room for a couple extra small children. The seats, assuming this isn’t a standing room only system, will likely be bench seats along two of the walls. There is always a chance that the benches may to able to fold up into the wall for extra room if needed, but this was not confirmed. Disney did confirmed that you will be able to roll a wheelchair inside without issue (which also means strollers), so again… but of course this will affect overall capacity as well.
Perhaps the biggest item of concern however was the confirmation from Disney that the gondolas will not have air-conditioning, which could very well make a long ride in them a bit on the uncomfortable side during peak summer heat. They will instead feature some kind of ‘air flow' system to channel air through the gondola, but I guess we'll have to wait and see how it feels when it opens in 2019 to make a final call on this issue.
(11/20/18) Walt Disney World confirmed that guests will be able to start using the Disney Skyliner transportation system starting in Fall 2019, probably coming online just before the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge if I had to guess. Construction is moving right along with the various towers now installed, and work to finish up the various stations and turning areas taking place now. They have also strung the cable on the line that crosses over the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot as well, as you can see in a photo update posted to OrlandoParksNews. Disney also put the first gondola up for display at the Destination D event.
(10/20/18) Walt Disney World released a new promo video for the Disney Skyliner system which is growing at a rapid pace now. It’s a fun video with some interesting factoids about the system, along with a collection of concept art. For example, did you know the system when finished will run on 6 miles of cable?!
While they aren’t ready to list an opening date, at the rate the system is going up, I’d expect this to launch sometime in mid 2019.
(5/24/18) Some new pictures from the Disney Skyliner construction project over at the Caribbean Beach Resort station site have been posted to DisneyGeek this week.
(12/11/17) Disney released some great new artworks showing off the Skyliner stations at Epcot's International Gateway, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney's Hollywood Studios will look. The Caribbean Beach Resort station is especially interesting, as they confirm that this is where "passengers will be able to transfer gondola routes to reach their destination."
Not shown yet is the forth station that will service Disney's Pop Century and Disney's Art of Animation Resorts. They do describe it as a "station that feels whimsical and contextual with both resorts. Upon departing the gondola station, Skyliner passengers will ascend over Hourglass Lake and enjoy a panoramic view of these two colorful resorts."
Speaking of views... this got me thinking of what the awesome view of Epcot would look like if you timed your journey towards the park to coincide with the nightly Illuminations show. It should be fantastic!
(7/20/17) Walt Disney World has now confirmed their plans to build a new aerial tramway system to be called the Disney Skyliner. The new transportation system will connect Epcot's International Gateway to Disney's Hollywood Studios, with connections for resort guests staying at Disney's Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century resorts, as well as the new DVC Riviera Resort when it opens. Some of the cars will even be decorated and themed to some of your favorite Disney characters or attractions.
No word on when it may be ready to open however, but as we suspected from what was seen in the early permits filed for it, it will depart from just outside of Epcot's International Gateway, make a turn at the back of the Boardwalk's parking lot, and run over to turning station that will sit between Caribbean Beach and the new Riviera Resort site before moving down to a 3-way station building to the south. From here different Skyliner lines will depart off to the south to service guests at Pop Century / Art of Animation and another line will run West over land just out front of Disney's Hollywood Studios park.
(4/11/17) It's been awhile since we discussed the rumored Walt Disney World Skyway plans but according to the local news reports new permit filings were released indicating a "notice of commencement" to begin work on the required footers for the system. On a related note, there is an interesting website out there that actually tracks the installation of new ski and gondola lift systems from all the major manufactures called LiftBlog.
While I'm not sure how 100% accurate this is, they are listing three Doppelmayr systems (10-MGD) being slated for installation at Walt Disney World for 2018. This would match up with the expected rumors of the Disney system to be made up of three separate systems that would run from the large triple-junction station between the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century/Art of Animation Resorts, featuring runs to Epcot, the Studios and a third down to Pop/AoA. The Doppelmayr 10-MGD system is the same one currently being used in London I believe which can hold 10 riders, though I do have to think that whatever goes into WDW has a good chance of using bigger gondolas in order to accommodate the needed traffic.
???? - Mark VIII Monorail Fleet - In Development - (11/20/18) I’ve got a quick correction to post about that monorail door story from last week. While I was in Orlando over the past few days I was told that the door of the monorail did not simply break off on its own, as the initial posts on Twitter wanted us to believe. Instead it seems a guest riding “a mobility scooter” rammed into it and broke it, which makes a heck of a lot more sense than the door simply falling off.
Also keep in mind that Disney has yet to confirm the rumors that they are working on a new fleet of monorails to replace the existing ones. Those who have asked through official channels have gotten the standard answer that nothing is planned or budgeted for at this time, despite the statement from Bob Gurr back in April who claimed during a Q&A session on Facebook that “contracts were underway” for a new fleet. We can hope, but nothing is official until they announce it.
(11/14/18) Next time you ride the Walt Disney World monorail and they say to stay no lean on the doors… they really mean it. According to a report posted at WDWNT it looks like one of the doors to Monorail Lime detached in the station while loading at the Grand Floridian Resort. Lets hope that the rumor from earlier this year claiming that a new fleet of monorail trains had been ordered was legit... because they may want to speed up production a bit.
(UPDATE - Correction posted above... the door did not just fall off.)
(4/29/18) In an interesting update on the Walt Disney World Monorail situation, a special live stream Q&A session was held on Facebook last night with Disney Legend, Bob Gurr who discussed a number of topics. In the later half of the live stream a guest at the event asked Gurr if we would see a new updated monorail rolled out to WDW within the next 3 years or so.
Gurr, as someone involved with some of the early versions of the monorail, joked that while systems like this are typically designed with a 20 year service lifespan, the WDW version was quickly approaching 30 years of service, and he liked to call it the "duct tape monorail".
Following that, Bob Gurr did confirm that "contracts were underway" for a new fleet and if all goes well, they will come from Bombardier, who designed the current fleet.
(4/26/18) While I haven't had time to do much digging into this rumor, the word going around is that Walt Disney World may have finally bit the bullet and entered into the starting phase of a deal with Bombardier to design, engineer and build a new fleet of Monorails (Mark VIII?) for Walt Disney World.
According to the rumor-mill, the funds needed to begin this project may have been appropriated by the sudden dropping of the plans to build a Broadway style theater off Main Street USA at the last second earlier this year. The theater was said to be ready to begin full speed construction within a week or two of the rumored cancellation, and shortly after the incident in mid-January where a monorail door opened in mid-ride between Epcot and the TTC.
If this is true, I'm all for it, as the idea of a Broadway theater on Main Street always struck me as kind of an odd choice anyway, and anything that results in the continued operation of the Walt Disney World Monorail system is news to my ears. Anyone else know more?
(1/17/18) As many other news source have jumped on our story about the possible future closure of the Epcot monorail service, please keep in mind that according to our anonymous sources, this is simply a possible plan that was being discussed, but one that they felt at the time would likely have to happen SOMETIME in the near future… but not right now… not just yet. Of course, Disney could reverse course on this idea completely and opt to build a completely new fleet of monorail trains and refurbish the beamways as well. At this point, nothing is supposed to have been decided either way just yet.
Backing this fact up is an official response from the Walt Disney World Communications department, who states: “We wanted to reach out to you to let you know this is not true. There are no plans to end the system.”
Certainly this seems to be good news, as the existence of the Walt Disney World Monorail is simply an deeply embedded part of the entire Walt Disney World experience. The sight of the trains sailing across the “highway in the sky”, the sounds… the smells… it just isn’t a proper trip to Disney World without a little bit of Monorail as a part of your day, which is why fans have been begging for decades to see the system expanded to add destinations to the Studios and Animal Kingdom parks, or to add stops to other Disney Resorts or locations like Disney Springs.
For now… hold on tight and stay clear of the doors. A world of adventure awaits...
(1/12/18) Crazy news from Walt Disney World this week, as an interesting incident apparently took place on Monorail Red as it was running on the Epcot beam. If you haven't seen it, the video speaks for itself... as one of the doors opened by itself and stayed open while the monorail ran down the line. (See below)
We've talked for years about just how OLD the current fleet of monorails are, living and running daily, long past their expected lifetimes. This adds into another rumor I've quietly been hearing... that the time of the Walt Disney World Monorail may be coming to an end.
How?! WHY?! According to one source, Disney has run the numbers forwards, backwards, upside-down and sideways and determined that in no uncertain terms that the ongoing operation of the existing monorail system has become nothing short of a nightmare. The system has aged to the point where reliability has become a major concern, the cost to update it is said to be beyond anything they are willing to pay. On top of this, the rising costs and downtime issues to try and maintain the current system as-it-is, has risen to the point of just being almost unfeasible to continue to due for the long term.
So what is the plan? Lots of options are being discussed... but the one item that I'm told has become 100% necessary is the eventual closure of the Epcot Monorail line. In light of this latest incident... this could happen much sooner than later. This would be the first phase, allowing Disney to take an entire beam-offline and give them time to do some proper refurbishments to those trains to allow the two Magic Kingdom lines to keep running for a time. Ironically, I'm told the plan to close the Epcot line is also one of the reasons the concept of building a new giant resort hotel project over the entrance to EPCOT has come up.
The buying of time for the MK beams also gives Disney time to decide if perhaps they could fund a refurbishment of a smaller system that could continue to see the Resort and Express beams continue to operate. If not, eventually the Express Beam will also close, and Disney will use what's left of the fleet to keep a single monorail beam running for the resort guest line only.
So for now the monorails will continue to run, but from what I'm hearing, the clock is ticking and someday the monorail may depart to Neverland. For now, we'll just keep an eye on the future of the Epcot line, as any future incidents like this latest one can only serve to shorten the lifespan of that route. Of course, the performance of the new Skyliner system that will run between Epcot and the Studios may also factor in heavily. If successful, the distance traveled by Gondola between Epcot and the Studios is about the same as the distance between the front of Epcot and the TTC, and they could even re-use the same travel pathway is they so desired.