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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
“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.
February 19, 2017 4 Comments
By Jim Korkis
One of the iconic food treats at Walt Disney World is the infamous, enormous Turkey Legs that made their debut in Frontierland in the late 1980s.
Originally, they were sold at only one food cart location, but the demand grew so large that they expanded to other Disney parks including Disneyland.
Weighing roughly one and half pounds each, the legs have a taste that vaguely resembles ham thanks to being cured in a similar salt and sugar solution. The legs cost up to twelve dollars each.
Each leg is roughly 730 to 1,136 calories with a minimum of 36 to 54 grams of fat, according to the size of the leg. Orginally, Disney sold legs that were 22 ounces but today the “jumbo” leg is closer to 34 ounces.
The Turkey Legs are not unique to Disney and are sold at carnivals, state fairs and other amusement venues around the United States.
A persisent urban myth was that the legs were so huge that they couldn’t possibily be from an actual turkey and must be from another bird like an emu or an ostrich.
“People are accustomed to Thanksgiving turkeys, which are female birds, or hens which are traditionally much smaller; the males, called toms, are bigger — up to fity pounds apiece — and their legs are the ones that Disney serves,” said Keith M. Williams, a vice president at the National Turkey Federation, an industry trade group. Federal law prohibits the use of steroids to make turkeys and their legs meatier. However, farmers are raising larger turkeys because of demand and so the legs are larger as well.
Turkey legs are a favorite food of Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods:
“With the turkey, I can walk, I can gnaw, I can pull pieces off, I can put it down. And I just love salty, smoky, meaty. … It’s an American classic. It’s Americana.
“I can put everyone’s mind at rest. It can’t be emu. I’ve eaten emu. It’s too big, And the meat would be a little more beefy. Emu has the consistency of turkey leg but the flavor of roasted veal. It’s got mild beefiness to it and a little more metallic.”
In general, an emu leg would be about eight times the size of a turkey leg.
Marc Summers of Food Network’s Unwrapped: Walt Disney World stated,
“Many guests aren’t familiar with smoked poultry, so they pick up on the salty flavor. Disney injects their legs with a salt water cure for moisture, then smoke them. Turkey legs have pink meat because of the six-hour smoking process. It flavors the legs and keeps the inside meat pink and moist.”
The food treat became so popular that in 2010, Disney created a line of merchandise souvenirs including hats, pins, magnets, t-shirts and even air fresheners featuring an image of the item and the slogan “Nice & Juicy!” Disney bakeries even produce Rice Krispie Treat versions with chocolate icing as the skin.
By 2013, it was estimated that in Disney’s North American theme parks over two million of the jumbo turkey legs were sold and consumed each year. Turkey legs are no longer available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since March 1, 2016.
Disney has stated that the legs are meant to be shared and that the average park visitor walks about seven miles during a visit or enough to burn most of the calories from eating the leg. They state that the popularity of the food item is due to its novelty and its “comfort food” factor.
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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!
In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
February 17, 2017 1 Comment
DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: FEBRUARY 18 TO FEBRUARY 26, 2017
OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/18/-2/26/17
The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12Mn 2/18 and 2/19, 9a-11p 2/20 and 2/21, 9a-10p 2/22 through 2/24, and 9a-11p 2/25 and 2/26
Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-8p 2/18 and 2/19, 9a-7p 2/20, 9a-8p 2/21 and 2/22, 9a-7p 2/23, and 9a-8p 2/24 through 2/26
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-8p 2/18 through 2/26
EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/18-2/26/17
Saturday 2/18 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
Sunday 2/19 Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none
Monday 2/20 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
Tuesday 2/21 Morning: none Evening: Epcot
Wednesday 2/22 Morning: none Evening: Magic Kingdom
Thursday 2/23 Morning: Epcot Evening: none
Friday 2/24 Morning: Magic Kingdom Evening: Hollywood Studios
Saturday 2/25 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none
Sunday 2/26 Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none
The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day
FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/18-2/26/17
Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p 2/18 and 2/19; 8p 2/20 and 2/21; 9p 2/22 through 2/25; 8p 2/26
IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night
Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 7p every night
Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 7.45p 2/18, 2/19, 2/21, 2/22, and 2/24 through 2/26
Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7.15 and 8.30p 2/18 and 2/19; 7.15p 2/21, 2/23, 2/25 and 2/26
SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/18-2/26/17
See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.
February 16, 2017 No Comments
OVERVIEW: SEPTEMBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD
September combines low crowds with low prices, and typically also has OK room rates and free dining deals as well.
This makes it a great month for returning visitors.
But it has lousy weather, combining continuing summer heat and humidity with the peak of the hurricane season, making me not so keen on the month for first time visitors who may never return.
February 15, 2017 5 Comments
DISNEY WORLD’S 2017 INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL AT EPCOT
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
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.
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.
February 14, 2017 No Comments