News and Views around Walt Disney World, fourth week of February 2014
Ticket prices on the rise here have the attention of everyone. The price for a Magic Kingdom one-day pass will remain just below that $100.00 mark. One day, one park pass for Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom has a hike from $90.00 to $94.00. Magic Kingdom costs more due to the high number of attractions and greatly extended park operating hours. The Annual Pass increased from $609.00 to $634.00 + tax. Premium Annual Pass moves from $729.00 to $754. 00. Florida Resident Premium Annual Pass from $584.00 to $605.00. Florida Resident Seasonal Pass increased from $309.00 to $319.00. 4-day adult ticket $294.00; 5-day $304.00; 6-day $314.00; 7-day $324.00. This is the second ticket price increase in less than a year. The last time was on June 2, 2013. The cost of the Water Parks has not increased. This most recent jump in prices is not in line with the annual rate of inflation since the last price increase. Annual rate of inflation for that time period was 1.4% the increase for the Magic Kingdom ticket is a 4.2% increase. (Thanks to WorldofWalt.com for those figures.)
Walking into Hollywood Studios I see the additional charge of $60.00 guests can still add the Park Hopper option with the purchase of a 4- to 10-Day base ticket. Next to the Guide Map and Times Guide are the FastPass+ cards with the FastPass+ experiences on one side that you can mark on, and the other side lists where you will find FastPass+ kiosks. The Guide Map also has the locations indicated on the map. There are only three locations at Hollywood Studios, one by the old Tip Board, which is hidden behind a construction wall along with the fountain that stood in front of it. There is a FP+ kiosk sign visible on the shortened section of sidewalk remaining. Upon approaching the sign I see there is one actual computer built in here. Surprisingly no one is using it. Let’s go down the steps here and grab something for dessert before Starring Rolls Cafe closes for the day. I decided on a cupcake. They have Butterfinger cupcakes and a Red Velvet cupcake that has a mountain of cream cheese icing sprinkled with pieces of a toffee bar. It is really big and I wish I had a buddy with me today to share it with. The cake was moist and fresh and the cream cheese icing was thick and full of flavor. I liked the cake, icing, and pieces of a chocolate covered toffee bar, the flavors and the textures made for a great tasting cupcake. I love sitting here under the umbrellas at the Starring Rolls patio tables. This is a great place for people watching. Back on the street I run into a Citizens of Hollywood show underway. We are hearing jokes from a turn of the century bar scene, all done in good taste. I am glad to see the street performances here in Hollywood Studios is ongoing while mourning the loss of the candy-sculptor in Japan, PUSH the talking trash can in Tomorrowland, the Italian sisters show, and more performance cuts to come?
Popping into Beverly’s I find chocolate roses left from Valentine’s Day, St.Patrick’s Day antenna toppers both right next to Easter Bunny and Easter Egg crispy rice treats. On the shelf behind it are three new mugs that depict the Tree of Life, the Castle (My favorite and really cool!) and Spaceship Earth. Where is the one for Hollywood Studios? I find this especially odd since we are in Hollywood Studios. There is an absolutely adorable Jack Skellington fuzzy hat here too!
Down at the end of the street I see the new FastPass+ Kiosk location; it is where the Tower of Terror Fast Pass machines had existed. There are quite a few people waiting in line here with no one waiting on the other end of the street by the Tip Board. There is a 70 minute wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and a 40 minute wait for Tower of Terror. TOT it is! Let’s go! Wow, what a great ride. I think we had two extra lifts and drops that time! And what a great view of the park when those doors open up. The BBQ place here next to Scoops has signs for a special cupcake featuring Mickey’s Blue Sorcerers Hat and it is a Blueberry cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing for $5.19. That sounds good, but still dealing with the sugar rush caused by eating the Red Velvet Cupcake from Starring Rolls. This Blueberry one will have to wait until next time, or have you tried it? Tell us about it if you did.
I like trying to get spontaneous photos of my family when we are together in the parks. Today I saw the cutest young boy circle the old Taxi Cab sitting next to Disney Vacation Club recruitment and just as he came around the driver’s side he reached up to try to open the door. These are the kind of moments it would be great for parents to get while at Disney. You can get photos of rides and attractions online any day, but capturing moments of curiosity, joy, even emotions like disbelief on your child’s face –is priceless.
Dinosaur Gerties Ice Cream of Extinction is open today! It is a mild day and perfect for ice cream. But I had that giant cupcake, so I will have to pass this time. Inside the shops I find a new line of shirts that look like neon signs featuring Mickey, Minnie, Cinderella Castle, on a black t-shirt and a black sweatshirt that has the Tree of Life, Castle, Mickey Hat and Spaceship Earth. They all say Walt Disney World and have a sticker on them indicating that they glow in the dark! There are two button front cotton shirts in the Men’s section here one with Goofy Gutter Balls and the other with Oswald that says Main Street Billiards Trick Shot Challenge. At the doorway to the next shop there is a large Oswald display. T-shirts, hats, two styles of coffee mugs, antenna topper, lanyards, and a metal sign replicating the sign from California Adventure at Oswald’s gas station sells for $35.00.
Star Wars Weekends will run for five weekends this year for the first time. AND, this is so great, Star Wars fireworks for each of these weekend nights! I saw this show last year and was blown away by how awesome it was. The Star Wars music and the show itself was one of the best I have ever seen at Walt Disney World. If you are a Star Wars and Disney fireworks fan, you don’t want to miss this. The 2014 Star Wars Weekends are: May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8, and June 13-15. The theme this year is “Join the Rebellion”. I am in, how about you?
Park hours are only to 6 or 7PM this week but there will be hours added March 8 with closing time at 10PM and then holding from 9AM to 9:30PM through March 31 with Fantasmic being offered those nights at 8:30PM and 9:30PM.
Construction of a walkway that will connect Saratoga Springs resort to Marketplace at Downtown Disney is underway. The area for The Boat House restaurant coming to The Landing area of Disney Springs has been seen in the form of pilings in the water. If you would like to see this beginning of the 22,000 square foot restaurant look between Raglan Road and Paradiso 37, along the water side. It is exciting to see the parking garage finally moving upwards. This West Side garage is scheduled to be completed late this year or early next year. The second parking garage in the Marketplace area of Downtown Disney will begin next year. There is a causeway being constructed between Rainforest Café and the T-Rex restaurants. The newest Starbuck’s location has a sign on its construction wall. It looks like it is surrounded by the World of Disney store on three sides. The Starbuck’s location on the West Side is moving along at a quicker pace and will probably open first. Did we really need two Starbuck’s locations in Downtown Disney? I would have rather seen the Disney food trucks here in the Marketplace area.
It is a beautiful mild evening here and most of the outdoor tables are full of guests relaxing, enjoying the nice temperatures, a cold beverage and some enjoying singers, like here at the Margarita Bar alongside the water’s edge. There is a talented young man playing his guitar and singing. He is doing a nice job. Two young ladies pass by, then are drawn over to the ledge that looks over the area where the singer is. He is wearing sunglasses but flashes a big smile at the young ladies as he continues to sing. Walking past the Margarita Bar menu something catches my eye : The Habanero Margarita with 1800 Silver Tequila, Sweet-and-Sour, Habanero Lime and Lime Juice. There is a line forming, I wonder how many are going for that Margarita special. The waterside Promenade is very popular this evening. It is easy to see the two boat docks here too. I need to head out, so I walk to the parking lot sidewalk to see if I can get a glimpse of the parking garage horizontal work on the first level but it is blocked. Phew! The water in the T-Rex fountain on the parking lot side smells terrible today. Hope they can fix that because it is really unappetizing. Walking on I come across a Mickey topiary and fountain with dozens of potted flowers with water spilling out over several empty flower pots. It sounds refreshing and is quite beautiful. You will find it outside of Basin. There are so many great photo ops here in Downtown Disney, and it is a nice spot to come on your day off from the parks. There is still a lot of free Disney magic to be experienced here.
March 9 the Festival of Fantasy Parade will step off for the first time! Should we start holding our space on Main Street right now? I am only halfway kidding. I am wondering where the best place will be to watch this from, keeping in mind the floats are said to be very big, and tall, and some characters are actually soaring above their floats. Where do you think would be the best place to watch the parade from?
Cinderella Castle moat has been drained for refurbishment. The question now is when is the water coming back? When the moat was previously drained, in 2010, the refurb lasted almost five months. Could this be the case this time? Since there is a big annual media event the end of April, it is more likely that everything will be looking good by then. There have been alterations to the sidewalks in the area around the hub, Crystal Palace and Casey’s Corner area. There are no longer the beautiful trees, bushes, grass, adjacent to Casey’s Corner outside eating area. What is going on? There are additional changes that will be taking place to the hub/sidewalks area according to permits acquired by Disney. It looks like we will soon be saying good bye to the Rose Garden walk area below the Plaza outside eating area as a roadway will be going right through it. It is part of a large project adding a roadway from the circle, past the current tables for Plaza and cuts through the area between the Plaza Restaurant and Tomorrowland Noodle Station. If you have been in the hub with at-capacity crowd levels, these changes may look good to you as it opens the area up a bit more to handle the 21st century crowd levels. I appreciate the work to make the crowds flow more efficiently and safely through this area. I trust the Imagineers to make this area functional, yet beautifully themed. It will shake up the look of things here.
Splash Mountain is still down, not scheduled to be open before March 22. 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride is “on schedule for spring” and has been doing ride testing, without guests. Cast Members will be the first to participate in the ride testing with actual humans in the cars, then Passholders, and regular guests.’
There are new boat docks going in for the Ferry Boat between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom. Check them out in the photos below. There are also photos of the 7Dwarfs Mine Ride in New Fantasyland. Imagineers are still placing landscaping, tearing down scaffolding, putting straw roofs on the buildings, installing lights, and who knows what is going on inside the mountain that we cannot see. I had a Cast Member today tell me that we should expect it open in May sometime. The trains are running at night for ride testing, without humans aboard yet.
ALL PARKS: Currently closed for refurbishment are Pinocchio Village Haus (reopens Mar.31); Plaza Restaurant (reopens March 16); Monorail System (closed periodically through Feb.28); Winter course of Winter Summerland Mini Golf(reopening date not known); Splash Mountain (Mar. 22 reopening); Studio Backlot Tour (reopens March 2); Festival of the Lion King (reopens July 1); and Blizzard Beach (reopening March 17).
Princess Half Marathon took place this weekend and the winner, Kim Smith, set a new course record of 1:11:39. She blew away the previous course record beating it by almost six minutes. Smith is an Olympian and elite runner for New Balance joined this runDisney event for the first time and found it to be “just a lot of fun” to run through Disney parks. She was among 24,000 race participants on Sunday and this New Zealand native beat out all the competition with the closest runner finishing almost 15 minutes after Smith crossed the finish line.