By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Category — p. News and Changes

Disney World Refurb News, Speculation, and Updates

DISNEY WORLD REFURB NEWS

“We also have other kinds of expansion opportunities, like hotels… where not only do we have the property but we’ve seen such high occupancy rates in Orlando … that we believe that it would be smart for us to build more hotels out.” Bob Iger, Q4 2016 Earnings Call.

Disney World made some announcements last week about its Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach resorts.

These, coupled with some other Caribbean Beach rumors, and continuing interest in the Wilderness Lodge refurb, made me think it’s time for a brief refurb update.

MAJOR CONSTRUCTION AT CORONADO SPRINGS

Disney announced an expansion at Coronado Springs that will add rooms, dining, and fireworks views

“The expansion at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will include a new 15-story tower that will add 500 rooms, featuring suites and concierge level services. The resort will also refurbish its current resort rooms and transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island oasis that connects the resort through a series of bridges.”

“The new tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort’s centerpiece lake, will allow guests to experience something truly unique, rooftop dining with panoramic views of popular nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.”

The new building will be in the area that until recently was Cabana 9b—the “business class” part of Coronado Springs (Coronado Springs is the only convention resort among the moderates, and so has always had more amenities than the other moderates).

Buzz, author of an unofficial Coronado Springs website, has also predicted that the Coronado Springs lobby will shift to the new building. My guess is that the new building will likely gain a bus stop as well.

Demolition work has reportedly already started—this shot is from my visit in late January, when 9b was cordoned off, but demolition had not yet begun.

Between demolition and construction noise, my previously-recommended best buildings at Coronado Springs, 9a and 8b, are probably no longer the best choices. 8a will be the best choice until the construction noise settles down.

The new rooms and amenities in a compact footprint will make Coronado Springs more attractive to the convention market. I expect the “regular” new rooms to be priced with at least the 40-50% premium over standard view Coronado Springs rooms that 9B business class rooms used to show.

Also over the next year or two the rest of the Coronado Springs rooms in the Casitas, Ranchos and Cabanas areas will see a refurb, which began in January. Refurbed rooms in the current buildings will have a simpler, cleaner look, and have the two sinks common at the other moderates rather than the one sink found in the current CSR rooms. Concept photos for this refurb are here.

This room refurb will happen building by building and will not be disruptive the way the new tower will be.

CARIBBEAN BEACH PATHWAY UNCLEAR

The same Disney announcement had this to say about Caribbean Beach:

“Also during this exciting time, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be reimagined with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.”

This announcement comes on top of recent rumors, based on permits, that

  • The Caribbean Beach resort footprint will also see a new higher-rise tower, in the current Barbados area
  • That this new tower might be a new Disney Vacation property
  • And that a new gondola system might be built that would interconnect Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Caribbean Beach (and for all I know, Coronado Springs, although the permit rumors have not included that last point).

Focusing for the moment on what Disney said, note its last sentence: “This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.” (Emphasis added.)

If you know Caribbean Beach, you already know that all services here are already “centralized” except the check-in building, the Custom House.

So is that what is going on here? Dining and retail are being moved to the waterfront to create a footprint so that the spaces where they currently are can be turned over to a check in area? If so, then that would get rid of one of the major issues with Caribbean Beach right now—the distance of the check in area from every other part of Caribbean Beach.

On the other rumors I am more agnostic.

  • Certainly the old Barbados footprint and, if I am right, the Custom House footprint could be carved off into a new DVC property—especially if the gondola rumor is real (although speculation that the gondolas will also run to Pop and AofA suggests no necessary tie to exclusive DVC amenities).
  • However, much of the DVC-here speculation came from no one being able to imagine that CB would get a tower. Now that Coronado Springs is getting a tower, I think a little more skepticism is in order here.

Interestingly, the clearest evidence of DVC on part of the old Caribbean Beach footprint would be Disney not talking about it, as there are regulations that apply to premature marketing of timeshares that don’t apply to straight hotel rooms. So if unexplained accommodations buildings start emerging, perhaps the less we hear the more we will know.

Regardless, expect construction and noise along the waterfront in Old Port Royale, which likely will make the rooms in the nearer part of Martinique and Trinidad North a little less comfortable to stay in, because of noise.

WILDERNESS LODGE REFURB UPDATE

The Wilderness Lodge refurb that’s been going on for a while now is coming to a close.

The new counter service, between the pool and beach, Geyser Point, is open—I’ll check it out in my March visit

Strong progress is being made on the replacement of the second pool by the current Villas—in this shot from my late January visit, you can see its concrete form is done:

It’s hard to tell how much progress is being made in the rooms that are being converted to DVC villas and studios.

It looks to me—and I have no inside knowledge here, but am rather guessing based on the pace of change—that the amenities could all be done by the summer, but I have no idea when the new rooms will be available, in what order they will open, or when the construction walls in the upper reaches of the lobby will come down. For most of this, though, mid-2017 is probably a better bet than the end of 2017.

SOME OTHER REFURB NOTES

Pop Century is expected to kick off a room refurb in March.

Speculation is that the current two full bed rooms will be replaced with rooms with one queen and one full murphy bed that is a table when not deployed, similar to the ones in the suites at Art of Animation (above).

The Yacht Club refurb should be done soon—I’m hoping to get a refurbed room in my March stay there.

The room refurb at the Dolphin is on hiatus until the summer, I was told, when refurbs will kick off in the east (closer to Epcot) side.

I stayed in a refurbed room here in my January visit, and will do a full report soon. The main difference is the simplified bath, above.

The Kidani Village refurb is complete.

I’d stayed in a refurbed Studio in 2016, and stayed in a refurbed One Bedroom in January. A full report will come out soon, but changes are minor.

The 2017 easy Guide

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February 19, 2017   4 Comments

The 2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

DISNEY WORLD’S 2017 INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL AT EPCOT

The 2017 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from yourfirstvisit.netEvery year from late summer into mid-November Walt Disney World presents the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

In 2017, the Festival will run from August 31st through November 13th.

There are two components to the festival, one available to all Epcot visitors, and another made up of a bunch of events which have limited capacity and require reservations.

Neither has an extra ticket admission cost–you get to participate by virtue of your theme park ticket–but there are cash costs for the food, beer and wine, and for entry to some special shows and events. [Read more →]

February 14, 2017   No Comments

Most Relevant Disney World Ticket Prices Increase 8-12%

As expected, on February 12, 2017 Disney World put into place new ticket prices.

There’s a couple of new twists to the ticketing model, too—multi-day tickets now have an expiration date (12/31/2018 at the moment) and those buying three day and longer ticket options will pay an extra $20 if they do not get their tickets in advance and online.

The full set of new multi-day Disney World ticket prices is here.

A couple of observations about this latest price increase:

  • While short non-hopper tickets showed some price stability and even decreases, four day and longer non-hopper tickets—the sort most will buy—went up 8% to 11.5%
  • The biggest driver of this is a major increase in the cost of the fourth ticket day, which for those 10 and older went from $346.13 to $372.75 (up $26.63).
  • On top of this increase to a four day ticket, Disney World increased the cost to add days 5 through 7—from $15.98 a day to $21.30 per day, or an increase of $5.33 per day.

Here’s a chart of the increases in prices compared to the last set of prices by length of ticket in days for non-hopper tickets. Price increases for tickets for those 10 and older are in blue, and kids 3-9 in red.

Disney World 2017 Percentage Ticket Price Increases from yourfirstvisit.net

In addition, Park Hopper prices went up more than $10 for tickets longer than three days, so Park Hopper tickets show as a result an increase in four day and longer tickets of 9% to 12%.

I had expected Disney World to shift to seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets in this round. Instead, the main package change is the new expiration date. This date of course allows it to enforce seasonal multi-day prices later. (The price of totally unused expired tickets can be credited towards the price of new tickets.)

These price increases are quite steep. In business terms, they allow Disney to recapture the value of the investment it is putting into the Animal Kingdom park, with Pandora opening in late May 2017, and into Hollywood Studios, with Toy Story Land there perhaps opening in 2018.

It also creates headroom for when, and if, it changes multi-day tickets to seasonal pricing, allowing “value season” dates to show little increase…at least the first year…

My friends at the Official Ticket Center likely will have tickets at the older price levels available for a bit.

The 2017 easy Guide

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February 14, 2017   No Comments

Halloween 2017 at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD’S SPECIAL HALLOWEEN PARTY

Halloween 2017 at Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netWhile Halloween itself is October 31st of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Halloween celebration at the Magic Kingdom many evenings in September and October 2017, and possibly even August.

This celebration is called “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” or “MNSSHP” for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open, and trick or treating, special events, and different parades and fireworks are offered.

The official Disney World page (and actual dates and prices, when they are out) for this event can be found here.

Click the images below for the 2016 offerings.

And you can find a review of the 2016 MNSSHP party here.

Map Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016 Page 1 from yourfirstvisit.net

Map Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016 Page 2 from yourfirstvisit.net

MORE ON MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY IN 2017

[Read more →]

February 13, 2017   4 Comments

Disney World 2017 Ticket Prices

WALT DISNEY WORLD 2017 ADMISSION TICKET PRICES

theo_rev6(This page is sponsored by the Official Ticket Center. Check them out for reliably lower-priced Disney World tickets!)

Updated after February 2017 price increase.

Three types of Walt Disney World prices are important to think about:

  • Walt Disney World theme park admission ticket prices—the tickets that grant you admission to the parks
  • Walt Disney World resort hotel prices, and
  • Park and hotel food prices

Disney World ticket prices were last updated in early February 2017. This page focuses on Walt Disney World theme park admission ticket prices from now until they go up again.

MORE DETAILS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD ADMISSION TICKET PRICES 2017: HOW THE TICKETS WORK

There are multiple types of Walt Disney World theme park tickets, but the one most relevant to most first time visitors is the Magic Your Way ticket, with or without the Park Hopper option.

You buy one theme park ticket for each person who will be three years old or older at the time of your visit (kids younger than three enter the parks for free.) The tickets have two pricing levels: one for kids who will be younger than ten at the time of your visit (but 3 or older) and the other for people ten or older.

When you buy your tickets, you also say how many “days” you want—from one to ten. Each “day” you buy permits unlimited visits to one theme park on one day. If you also add the Park Hopper option, you can make unlimited visits to any of the theme parks in one day–one theme park, two, three, or all four theme parks.

  • For example, if you buy a three day ticket without the park hopper option, you could make two visits to the Magic Kingdom on day one, three visits to Epcot on day two, and two visits to the Animal Kingdom on day 3
  • If you have a three day ticket with the park hopper option, you could for example make two visits to the Magic Kingdom and one to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on day one, one visit to Epcot and two to Disney’s Animal Kingdom on day two, and one to Epcot and two to the Magic Kingdom on day three
  • What you can’t do without a park hopper ticket is visit more than one theme park on the same day. For example, you can’t, on November 25th, use one day of your three-day ticket to visit the Magic Kingdom, and another day of this same ticket to visit Epcot that same day. More than one theme park in a day requires a park hopper

You do not have to use your days all in a row boom boom boom—e.g. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Once you use your first day, you have 14 days to use all the days on your ticket. So on a three-day ticket you could visit the theme parks Monday, Thursday, and Sunday.

  • You can also add days at the same price that you would have paid had you bought all those days at once, but have to do so no later than the day you use the last day of your original ticket (and within 14 days of the first day, and before the tickets expire–12/31/2018 for tickets bought now)
  • So if you buy a three-day ticket, and realize a few days later that you need more days, you can add two days and they will cost only the difference between what you paid originally for a three day ticket, and what you would have had to have paid for a five day ticket, so long as you add these days no later than the day you use your third day
  • You can also add stuff like the Park Hopper during the same day window at the same price as you would have paid when you first bought your ticket

However, you can’t “subtract” days if you overbuy.

HOW WALT DISNEY WORLD PRICES ITS THEME PARK ADMISSION TICKETS

Disney World Ticket Prices as of February 2017 from yourfirstvisit.net

1. While Disney typically increases ticket prices at least once a year–late February in 2014 through 2016, and early February in 2017—it changes theme park admission prices based on the seasons of the year only for One Day tickets, which also have another curious characteristic–different prices for the Magic Kingdom vs the other three parks. Multi-day tickets–which most people buy–are the same price whenever you plan to visit, but as of February 12, 2017 do have an expiration date–12/31/2018 (you can trade in unused expired tickets towards a new ticket.)

(Note that all my prices assume you buy online; as of February 2017 most in-person purchases cost an extra $20.)

2. Disney sells tickets by the day—one through ten days. The way it prices these days, the first four days are very expensive, while days after the fourth are comparatively almost free. See the image for exact Disney World prices.

For example, a four day ticket costs (including tax) an adult $372.75, or an average of $93.19 a day. A ten day ticket would cost the same adult $468.60. The added 6 days cost in total around $96 more—or just about $16 per day. For a 4-6 day ticket, it costs $21.30/day/person to add more days–and on and after the 7th day, just $10.65/day/person to add days.

3. A park hopper costs (after tax) about $80 for all ticket lengths longer than three days..

I have also uploaded an excel spreadsheet with the same data in it as the chart, so that you can multiply by the number of members of your own family.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD THEME PARK TICKETS

There are other ticket types than the ones discussed above—less relevant for first time visitors. For details on all of them, see this page on MouseSavers.com.

While it’s hard to find discounts on tickets, it is sometimes possible, especially for longer-stay tickets. Check sponsor the Official Ticket Center, MouseSavers.com, Triple A if you are a member, and if you have military ties, this page and also MilitaryDisneyTips.com.

Since you can add on to your tickets–days, park hoppers, etc.–but can’t subtract, it doesn’t really pay to overbuy. Start with the minimum you think you need (but at least two days) and add on later if needed.  Remember to add no later than the day you use your current last day!

All of this site’s To-Do Lists tell you exactly what ticket type you need for their associated itineraries.

FREE TICKETS ON YOUR BIRTHDAY?

Disney world no longer offers free tickets on your birthday.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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February 13, 2017   No Comments

Rivers of Light to Open February 17

For the details, see this.

I’m not sure how stable the calendar is yet, but it looks like after the opening weekend that it’ll be on (until early April) Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with one show a night.  After that it’s expected to be on nightly.

February 9, 2017   No Comments