News and Views around Walt Disney World- 3rd week of November, 2013

News and Views around Walt Disney World- 3rd week of November, 2013

–The Orlando Sentinel reported this week that Walt Disney World’s “billion-dollar plan to outfit theme-park visitors with wireless rubber bracelets and get them planning more of their trips in advance has fallen behind schedule.”  It is expected to take “several more months” before all of the resort’s customers can use “My Magic+” on their MagicBands.  No timetable was given for full service on the MagicBands but investors hope to see some profit by 2015.  Disney wants to maintain flexibility in being able to respond to guest’s feedback on the service.

“Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs said in the statement. ‘We’re happy with the progress we are making, and MyMagic+ is now available to all our Walt Disney World hotel guests.’ Staggs added that Disney has been making ‘modifications’ based on the feedback it is receiving from guests during testing. ‘Once we’re satisfied with those adjustments, we will continue to broaden the availability to our other theme-park guests.’”

The program has been in the works for five years.  Disney has invested  a great deal of money into this program already but they recognize if they fail to supply the seamless vacation experience MyMagic+ promotes they will fall short of guest expectations and that is not is not an option for the Disney brand.  How will Disney make money from this big program? They hope you will plan your vacation to the resort in advance, taking advantage of more time and money actually spent at Disney while at the same time they can see what guests prefer in terms of meals, tours, attractions, etc. that you seek to confirm ahead of time.  This data will guide them in future promotions and hopefully profits.

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–One of the unknowns for regular day visitors, not Disney resort guests with MyMagic+ is how long are the lines going to be now?  The toughest ride to get a FastPass on has been Toy Story Midway Mania.  TSMM has had long lines ever since it opened. Lines daily are usually an hour or more, without a FastPass.  If you are not able to get a FP within the first hour of Hollywood Studios opening, you probably won’t get one.  I was able to ride TSMM this week and discovered something new in the queue, a 5 foot high Etch-A-Sketch that draws out word games or puzzles relating to the Toy Story games.  I love that Disney tries to make their queues more entertaining for their longer lines.  Having played with an Etch-A-Sketch as a child I really enjoyed seeing this addition.  We need some fun in those lines that seem to go on forever.  I don’t know why, but that last part of the queue when you walk up the stairs and stand in that long hallway with the stripes, it just drives me crazy and feels like I will never get out of there.  I wouldn’t mind a change to that part because you can’t even avoid it with a FP the Cast Member at the merge area still points us to the left side of the stairs.  If you are a single rider you can go to the right.  If I and my companions were not so competitive we might go single rider.  TSMM joins Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, Winnie the Pooh and the new Dumbo in the group of Walt Disney World ride queues adding interactive/entertaining elements in the last few years.

–Cheshire Café cupcakes-Mad Hatter Mocha Cake Cup or the Cheshire Cupcake Cake Cup.  Which one would you like to try today? I chose the Cheshire Cupcake Cake Cup.  I am not going to sit and watch the Mad Tea Cups nearby or I will lose my cupcake.  Let’s walk over to check out the 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride progress. This cupcake is literally layers of cake in a cup, with lots of layers of buttercream icing.  It is very sweet. If you have been craving birthday cake icing, this is for you.  It was honestly too much icing and I could not finish it.

–7 Dwarfs Mine Ride, construction continues.  The Disney Vacation Club that is attached to the ride structure is open and has some limited seating.  I did not see a DVC salesperson in the building when I was there.  That is unusual. There is a book of DVC offerings at a podium outside the building.  As it faces Ariel’s Grotto it also incorporates sea creatures in the building structure.

Spice Road Table update: The DisneyParks Blog announced this waterside quick-service restaurant in Morocco at Epcot will be opening soon.  They did not give the opening date as of yet. The restaurant looks the same from the outside as they are keeping everything under wraps (behind walls and fabric). This is right next to the boat dock and the World Showcase Lagoon so it will offer great views of Illuminations as well as the promenade.  There will be inside and outside seating, similar to the set up in Mexico.  There will be 120 outdoor seats on the terrace and booths inside that will seat 60. The building itself is a showpiece of Moroccan light fixtures, tile, tapestries, and artwork representative of Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes.

They will be serving a variety of small plates and cocktails. The menu will include zesty harissa chicken drumettes; a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes and caramelized onion; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce baked in an earthenware tagine pot; Moroccan merguez sausage with a fresh tomato salad; garlicky jumbo shrimp in a spicy chile pepper sauce. The Moroccan “souk” (marketplace) plaza along the promenade side will contain various shops and a henna tattoo artist for temporary body art.

–Some sad news this week was hearing of the passing of Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter. Diane and her sister Sharon were Walt’s inspiration for creating Disneyland. She established The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and was most responsible for developing the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and a strong defender of her father’s legacy.  Diane shared her special perspective on her father allowing us a deeper understanding of Walt Disney.  Diane Daisy Miller, wife of former Disney CEO Ron Miller, mother of seven children, 13 grandchildren, and a very recent great grandchild, may you rest in peace.

–Just in time for Black Friday shopping Downtown Disney has opened a walkway that ties West Side to Pleasure Island. The walkway moves along the waters edge offering a nice view, or there is still the option of the boat transportation. If you have been at Downtown Disney lately you have seen the massive expansion going on and the beginning of the parking garage emerging from behind the wall.  Spring 2016 is the projected completion time for the Downtown Disney expansion.

–The signage for the Norway Stave Church is up, although the display is not open to the public yet.

–There is new merchandise from the It’s A Small World attraction: a line of dolls like the ones on the ride, and stuffed animals as well.

–Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground in Hollywood Studios has reopened. Let’s go check it out! Everything looks fresh and the children are having great fun here. It is also appealing to adults who marvel at how even they are made to feel very small next to these large blades of grass, insects, garden hose, and film and canister for just a few examples.  There are so many great photo opportunities in here!

–Let’s step outside of the playground and see if we can see in the daylight anything about the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  You can see the hundreds; no probably thousands of strings of lights covering the buildings and some displays stand out even without the lights.  Down the street you will come across It’s a Wonderful Shop that has snow drifts outside and is chock-full of Holiday merchandise. Hollywood Studios has Christmas decorations up mostly at the front of the park and not much in other areas.  Some areas also have Christmas music, which I often heard guests singing along with, and many areas that do not have the music.  We have not had Thanksgiving yet, but people are definitely in the mood to start celebrating Christmas, at least at Walt Disney World.

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.