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.



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Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2018

DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS IN 2018

Walt Disney World Spring Break crowds are typically governed by two and a quarter factors:

  • Public school Spring Break calendars, which are still largely framed around Easter but vary more than you might think
  • The demand of snow-belters for a break from winter weather, which peaks in March, and
  • The quarter factor, the date of President’s day.  Later President’s Days (which can range from February 15 to February 21) tend to make the first part of March better

An early Easter combines the first two factors, making for more than the usual horrible crowds in March but a great April; a late Easter can spread the first two factors out, yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2018, on April 1, is early in its possible range. President’s Day 2018, is also late, on February 19. As a result, my draft 2018 crowd calendar shows (generally) bad March crowds but (generally) good April crowds.

Now that I have the full set of 2018 spring breaks from 280 school districts with more than 15.3 million kids in them, I can see that this is generally right, but March (other than the first week) will be even worse than I had thought and April (other than the first week) even better.

2018 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Fine the weeks beginning February 24th and March 3rd
  • Very bad the week beginning March 10th
  • Bad the week beginning March 17
  • Very bad the weeks beginning March 24 and March 31
  • Fine April 7 and later.

I will shortly be revising my “draft” 2018 crowd calendar to reflect these new predictions.

2018 PUBLIC SCHOOL SPRING BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS

Although more and more school districts are moving away from an Easter-centered Spring Break, the plurality of kids still have the weeks before Easter or following Easter off.

As a result, the single biggest factor determining better and worse Spring Break weeks at Walt Disney World is the date of Easter–which can range from March 22 to April 25.

A later Easter has a couple of different effects: first, it spreads out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter, and second, if particularly late, will push districts that typically take the week after Easter off into the week before Easter instead, to keep from compressing their May academic calendars.  

An earlier Easter has the opposite effects.  Districts that traditionally try to take the week after Easter off will be able to do so, and districts that don’t base their calendars on Easter will be largely compressed into a couple of March weeks.

The date of President’s Day–which can range from February 15 to February 21–also has an effect. Because many northeastern districts both have a spring break and also take the week of President’s Day off, the later President’s Day is, the better early March will be–as parents avoid taking their kids out of school the weeks after a long President’s Day break.

The effect of the various dates in 2018 is to compress most school spring breaks into just four weeks beginning March 10 and continuing until the end of the week beginning March 31.

ACTUAL 2018 SPRING BREAKS

 

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 280 of the largest relevant US public school districts. 15.3 million kids–about a third of US school kids–are in the database, and they are weighted based on propensity to go to Disney World.

(For how the database is built, see the this. Weekends are in black, except Easter, in red. Holidays (Mardi Gras and President’s Day) are also in red. Click the image to enlarge it.)

When I update my 2018 Disney World crowd calendar, it will show this:

  • The week beginning February 10, 2018 has a minor bump early from the small number of kids with Mardi Gras off, and a larger bump later as long weekends for Presidents Day begin Thursday February 15. Overall I give it a 5/moderate-minus rating–better earlier, worse later
  • Presidents Day week, the week beginning 2/17, has high crowds through Tuesday and pretty high crowds the rest of the week. Overall it gets a crowd ranking of 8/high-minus, worse earlier in the week and better later
  • The weeks beginning 2/24 and 3/3 have hardly any kids on break and get crowd ratings of 4 (low plus) for the week of the 24th and 3 low for the week of the 3rd
  • The week beginning March 10 both has a ton of kids on break (thanks, Texas!) and is also attractive to snowbirds. It gets a 10/higher crowd rating.
  • The week beginning 3/17 has fewer kids on break than the weeks that surround it, but is still attractive to snowbirds. I’m giving it a rating of 8/high-minus crowds.
  • The week beginning 3/24 is the week before Easter and will be a zoo, as it usually is, and gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week after Easter (beginning 3/31/18) has even more kids on break in 2018 than the week before and also gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week beginning April 7, 2018, will be much better than I had thought. I’m now giving it a crowd rating of 5/moderate-minus. If I am wrong–it happens–this week will be better than I am forecasting
  • The rest of April will be just fine.

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July 10, 2017   2 Comments

End of Summer 2017 Crowds at Walt Disney World

This site’s Disney World crowd calendars always show crowds dropping off in later August.

For example, in 2017, crowd rankings go from 8/high-minus at the end of July/beginning of August down to 2/lower in early September.

This page both explain how that comes about and also reviews how the site’s crowd calendars are built.

END OF SUMMER 2017 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The highest-crowd periods at Walt Disney World all have one thing in common: they are convenient times for parents to take their kids to Orlando. That is, they are times that kids are out of school and that parents traditionally can take off of work.

What’s not so clear until you do the numbers is that actual school vacation dates are much more varied than you’d think.  And there’s no good source you can go to that explains what all these varied dates are.

So usually every year about this time one of my nieces goes to more hundreds of school district websites and captures all the key vacation dates for the upcoming academic year. This year all of my nieces are distracted by babies, so I did half this data collection myself.

(This time of year because you’d be surprised many districts don’t put their calendars up for the upcoming year until June, even late June–looking at you, Michigan.)

This year I collected data on 280 school districts with 15.3 million kids–about a third of the US school-age population. These include the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., plus 180 more of the next largest school districts mostly in the more highly-populated states east of the Mississippi–that is, the states from which in particular Walt Disney World draws its visitors.

I then create a database that shows based on district enrollment every kid who is off on every date, and weight each district based on that district’s state’s proportion of total US visits to this website (because Disney won’t tell me actual visitation by state!). See the image above for a screenshot example.

Finally, I calculate percentage of total weighted kids on break by date and use that to inform the crowd calendars.

Above are the results of this for when kids go back to school in 2017.

So you can see that

  • Kids don’t start going back to school in real numbers until Tuesday 8/8
  • More than a third are back in school by 8/17
  • About half  are back in school by Friday 8/25 and
  • Almost 70% are back in school before Labor Day (noted in red)

In 2017, pretty much all kids are back in school by the Friday after Labor Day.

Moreover, vacation patterns typically don’t have people returning from their vacation the night before school begins, so the effect of these back-to-school dates is offset into earlier August by around a week.

Thus, in the 2017 crowd calendar, the week of 7/29 is rated 8/high-minus crowds, the week of 8/5 7/moderate-plus crowds, the week of 8/12 6/moderate crowds, the week of 8/19 4/low-plus crowds, and the week of 8/26 3/low crowds.
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July 9, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Big Thunder Mountain

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN IN FRONTIERLAND

By Jim Korkis

The specific details of the back story to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad story varies from Disney park to Disney park–although the basic tale remains the same, of a mountain where gold mining disturbed the spirits who took control of the mine cars.

The California and Paris versions claim the great disaster that happened to the nearby town was the result of an earthquake while the Florida and Tokyo attractions depict massive flooding.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was the first major attraction designed by Imagineer Tony Baxter in 1973 but despite its approval, its construction was continually delayed.

When the design for Big Thunder Mesa by Imagineer Marc Davis for Walt Disney World was scrapped because it was too costly and time consuming to build, Baxter took elements from it and created a runaway mine train ride with his mentor Imagineer Claude Coats. It was the first ride to be built at Disneyland without direct input from Walt Disney.

The attraction opened at Disneyland in September 1979 followed by versions at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida in 1980, Tokyo Disneyland Park in 1987 and Disneyland Paris in 1992.

The Florida version is twenty-five percent larger than the Disneyland version, and unlike Disneyland’s mountain, the Walt Disney World façade is inspired by Utah and Arizona’s Monument Valley.

In 2012, as part of a Walt Disney World refurbishment and as a tribute to Baxter who was retiring, the attraction was re-themed with the queue featuring a portrait of Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.) member Barnabas T. Bullion, “the gold magnate who rules the Big Thunder Mining Company with a golden fist,” holding an elaborate wooden cane topped by a huge gold nugget.

The portrait bears an unmistakable resemblance to the popular Imagineer and the middle initial of “T” according to Imagineering stands for “Tony”.

From the updated Walt Disney Imagineering back story:

“During the height of the gold rush, men in the town of Tumbleweed began looking for gold in the nearby mountain, Big Thunder, which was also an Indian Burial Ground. Though the mountain ‘thundered’ when anyone inspected it, these men took ore trains deep down into the caverns. They removed the gold and celebrated with poker games and parlor girls.

“Acts of God struck back. Mysterious spirits took control of the trains and spun them out of control, a flash flood inundated the town, and an earthquake hit. Everything was lost…

“Barnabas T. Bullion is the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain.

“According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since. And yet the Big Thunder Mining Company is still in operation.

“In fact, Bullion is discovering new veins of gold and digging new shafts every day, offering a closer look at the Big Thunder mining operation than ever before. But a word to the wise for anyone attempting to visit the mountain: watch out for runaway trains.”

A portrait of another S.E.A. member, Harrison Hightower III at Tokyo Disneysea’s Tower of Terror, resembles Baxter’s fellow Imagineer Joe Rohde.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! There’s more on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers here. And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
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July 7, 2017   No Comments

Next Week (July 8 through July 16, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JULY 8 TO JULY 16, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on July 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 7/8/-7/16/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-10p every day

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9.30p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-10p every day

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 7/8-7/16/17

Saturday 7/8 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: Animal Kingdom

Sunday 7/9  Morning:  Hollywood Studios  Evening: Animal Kingdom

Monday 7/10 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: Animal Kingdom

Tuesday 7/11 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot, Animal Kingdom

Wednesday 7/12 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom

Thursday 7/13 Morning: Epcot Evening: Animal Kingdom

Friday 7/14 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: Animal Kingdom

Saturday 7/15 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: Animal Kingdom

Sunday 7/16  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: Animal Kingdom

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 7/1-7/9/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 7/8-7/16/17

Happily Every After at Magic Kingdom: 9p 7/1, 7/2, and 7/5 through 7/9

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9.30p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom 9.15p and 10.30p every night

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 7/8-7/16/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

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July 6, 2017   No Comments

Disney World Resort Price Changes for 2018

Disney World’s 2018 resort hotel prices were released on June 20.

You can book them by contacting Kelly B at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

The prices that came out June 20 were a bit of a mess, particularly for January 2018, and have changed several times since–see the Art of Animation example (click it to enlarge it):

They seem to have stabilized, however, so I’ve been analyzing a sample of resorts, and the upshot is that compared to the quite restrained price increases we saw in 2017, prices are up substantially in most–though not all–resorts in 2018.

Only Caribbean Beach and Grand Floridian see very small price increases for 2018. 2018 Value resort prices are up 6-9%; 2018 moderate resort prices (except Caribbean Beach) are up 5-7%; and 2018 deluxe prices (except for Grand Floridian) are up 5-7%.

(Reviews of all Disney World resort hotels mentioned in this pricing round-up are linked to from here–I’ve stayed in more than 140 different Disney World hotel rooms, and my reviews are based on these stays.)

The other thing that’s new for 2018 is more distinctions among day prices in the same price seasons.  For many (but not all) major seasons, you’ll see new Thursday prices, and in the moderates and values some new Sunday prices as well.

Analyzing Disney resort price changes is difficult—there’s more than 20 hotels, many differently-priced room and view types within them, seven to nine different major price seasons over the course of the year, additional weekend and holiday upcharges, and more. As a result, unless you have a LOT of time on your hands you need to sample, and that’s what I’ve done.

In general, I gather daily price data on the lowest and next-highest priced rooms at all of the resorts (and from more room/price combos if a resort looks odd, as Caribbean Beach and Grand Floridian do in 2018), and then analyze:

  • Season price increases across all the major Disney World price seasons—e.g. “Regular” season prices for 2018 compared to 2017
  • Changes in the dates covered by price seasons that have an impact on price levels—only a bit of that happened for 2018
  • Changes in the relative price levels of hotels in a single price class—2018 saw little change here.

For 2018 I sampled 40 room types across the seven major price seasons at the values and moderates and the nine major price seasons at the deluxes.  This yielded more than 500 points of comparison between 2018 and 2017 prices.

In what follows, when I talk about price changes for the entire year I mean seasonally-weighted price changes (that is, weighted based on the percentage of 2018 days in each major price season–there’s seven major seasons at the values and moderates, and nine at the deluxes), and when I talk about a specific price season increase I am comparing average Sunday night to Saturday night prices across the two years, to account for the different prices on different days problem.  So yes, it is some spooky genius math shit.

The detailed results follow.

DISNEY WORLD VALUE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure changes

2018 largely maintains the recent 2017 seasonal structure at the values, although with the day changes noted below. One minor twist is the addition of a few days of Regular season in February (beginning 2/11/18) that were Value season in 2017. (This is a reversion to a pattern we first saw in 2016.)

For those who were not paying attention, several years ago Disney introduced the “Fall” price season, which replaced what used to be Value season dates in late November and early December. In 2016, Disney implemented more seasonal changes at the values and moderates, in effect raising prices by moving various dates from lower to higher-priced seasons. Value 2 dates in later August and early September shifted to Fall, and Fall in later September to almost the end of October was shifted to Regular.

Up until 2018, rooms typically had one or two prices during a season. If two, there was one price for Sunday-Thursday and another for Friday and Saturday.

2018 sees more variety in daily prices during the Value, Regular, Fall and Peak seasons. The typical pattern is now Price A Sunday, Price B Monday-Wednesday, Price A again Thursday, and Price C on Fridays and Saturdays.

Here’s an example from Art of Animation during the 2018 Value season:

The effect of this is to make long weekend stays more expensive, and Monday-Wednesday stays less expensive, than would otherwise be the case. This is a somewhat mechanical start (mechanical because at the values, the difference between Price A and Price B is typically a flat $10 across resorts and seasons) to a set of prices that more fully reflect differences in demand by night.

Finally, the much earlier Easter in 2018 means that many more days in March-April will be regular season, and that many less Peak or Easter seasons, than in 2017.  The difference is about two weeks more worth of Regular season prices, mostly in April.

Price level changes

The basic pattern among value resort standard rooms of Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms being most expensive and the All-Stars being least expensive continues in 2018.

Pop Century rooms see the highest increases for 2018, bringing them a bit closer to the Little Mermaid rooms, but prices in the other value resorts go up quite a bit as well. Little Mermaid rooms remain shockingly close to standard moderate room prices some dates (especially in the Summer season in 2018, where a week in a Little Mermaid room averages $223 a night and a week in Caribbean Beach, which sees no material 2018 price increases until its Fall season, $234 a night).

On average across 2018, Little Mermaid rooms are ~$30 more expensive per night than Pop Century and ~$45 more per night than the All-Stars. These differences are shown for standard rooms across the prices seasons in the chart.

Family Suite options at the values also continue their basic price structure.  The suites at All-Star Music are the least expensive, The Cars and Lion King suites at Art of Animation are at a much higher level–averaging $100 more a night than those at Music—and the Finding Nemo suites at Art of Animation remain the highest-priced suites, at around $25 dollars on average more per night than Cars or Lion King–and $125 more a night than All-Star Music.

Season price increases

For 2018, average year-round prices in standard rooms in the All-Star Resorts are up around 7.5%, with the lowest increases of ~1.5% in the Easter and Holiday seasons and large increases of 6-9% the rest of the year, especially in the Fall season. Preferred rooms show similar patterns but at lower levels, averaging a 6% increase. Moreover, more rooms seem to be priced as preferred than before, such as Jazz at Music and Touchdown at Sports, itself in effect a price increase. Family Suites at Music are up 6.2% and show the same seasonal patterns, including the highest increase of 7% in the Fall season.

Pop Century standard rooms showed the highest increases for 2018 among the values, up year-round at 8% in both standard and preferred rooms. The largest standard room increases are in the Value (9.3%), Regular (9.1%) and Fall (8.1%) price seasons, and the lowest (but still >5%) are in the Easter and Holiday seasons. Preferred rooms at Pop also went up an average of 8% and show similar seasonal patterns, but here the biggest increase is for the Regular season at 9.7%. The price increases are likely related to the new queen beds and coffeemakers that are beginning to show up at Pop Century.

Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation followed up their 9% increase in 2017 with more moderated 6.4% increases for 2018.  Increases are highest in the Regular (9.1%) Value (8.2%) and Fall (6.7%) seasons, and lowest in the Peak, Summer and Holiday seasons.

Art of Animation Family Suites at Cars and Lion King are up an average of 6% for 2018. Increases are pretty tightly grouped across the year, but are highest in the Fall season (7.1%) and lowest in the Easter and Holiday seasons (both 4.6%). Finding Nemo 2018 increases are similar.

DISNEY WORLD MODERATE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure

The moderates saw for 2018 the same insertion of Regular season nights into early February, and the same new Sunday and Thursday pricing in some price seasons, that the values did.  See the discussion above for details.

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

Price level changes

Until 2016, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Port Orleans Riverside standard rooms had the same prices, while Coronado Springs tracked them some nights and other nights was $3-5 more.

In a major change, in 2016 Riverside and French Quarter became the most expensive moderates. This gap widened substantially in 2017, and widens a bit more in 2018.

In 2018, standard rooms at the Port Orleans resorts average $23 a night more than Coronado Springs, and most of the year $32/night more than Caribbean Beach. (Caribbean Beach largely returns to prices comparable to Coronado Springs in late 2018.)

Season price increases

Coronado Springs standard rooms show average price increases for 2018 of 5.7%, with the biggest increases in the Value (8.4%) and Fall (7.2%) seasons. Preferred rooms at Coronado Springs are up 4.6% with a range across seasons of 4-5%, except the Easter season, up only 2.8%.

Caribbean Beach prices for 2018 show a fascinating pattern, with almost no increases in any room type (I checked out 5 types) during any of the seasons that launch in the first half of the year, but 4-6% increases in the two seasons that first appear in the second half of the year–the Fall and Holiday seasons. I imagine this pattern is from the refurb/construction that’s happening there, and the pattern–the Fall season opens in late August–gives a suggestion as to when this work will be done.

Prices for Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside standard rooms, after rocketing up 7-9% across all the major seasons in 2017, see an average increase of 6.4% in 2018, with prices across all major seasons going up 5.5 to 7%. This is higher than the 2018 increases at either Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach, and thus widens the price differential of the Port Orleans resorts with the other two traditional moderates that we first saw in 2016.

Preferred rooms at Riverside and River View rooms at French Quarter show similar increases.

DISNEY WORLD DELUXE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure

The deluxe resorts run to a different price season calendar than the values and moderates, especially from early July through mid-November.

Their 2018 price season calendar is similar to that of 2017, with the main change being the addition of a few more days of Peak season pricing the week after the Easter season.

The deluxes also see in 2018 the added complexity in day-by-day prices as the values and moderates, but not so much–only for three seasons (Value, Peak, Regular), not four, and typically only for Thursday nights, not the Sundays and Thursdays of the other resort classes.

Price level changes

There’s a bewildering plethora of price points at the deluxes—many view options, with “Club” service options as well. I sampled the full set of price changes in eighteen deluxe room types, and based on that saw no material changes among the overall resort price standings.

The Grand Floridian is still the most expensive, and standard rooms at the Wilderness Lodge are still largely the least expensive (some seasons, standard view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge are cheaper).

In general, there’s three price groupings among standard deluxe rooms.  The three monorail resorts–the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary–have the most expensive standard deluxe rooms, the Epcot resorts the Yacht Club, Beach Club, and BoardWalk Inn the next most expensive, and standard rooms at the Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges the least expensive. Price differences vary across the year, but as you can see in the chart above, are on the order of $100/night for each group.

Season price increases

After restrained price increases in 2017, most deluxe rooms are up 5-7% for 2018, with the exception being the Grand Floridian, which for the second year in a row has seen next to no increases.

Polynesian Village standard view room prices were essentially unchanged in 2017, and have gone up 5.1% for 2018. Prices increases are tightly grouped in all principal 2018 seasons except the Regular 2 season, when they go up only 2.6%. Poly lagoon view prices are up 4.2% for 2018, tightly grouped all major seasons except for the Fall season, when they go up just 2.6%.

Contemporary Resort Tower Bay Lake view rooms were unchanged in 2017 in most seasons, and have increased by 5% for 2018.  Increases are tightly grouped around 5% except for the Regular 2 season, up 7.1%. Theme Park view Tower rooms here saw 3.4% increases in 2017, and are up 7.4% for 2018.  Peak, value and regular season prices all went up more than 8%. Other seasons see increases of 5-7%.

Grand Floridian standard view rooms had an average increase of 1.3% in 2017, and in 2018 have no increase.  Two other view types I checked also had no increase for 2018.

Wilderness Lodge standard rooms, after an average 5.4% increase in 2017, are up another 5.9% for 2018. Season increases are tightly in the 5-7% range. Courtyard view rooms here average a 6% increase.

BoardWalk Inn standard view room prices, after being largely unchanged in 2017, are up on average 5.7%, tightly grouped among the seasons with 4.6% to 6.3% increases. Water view rooms here are up 5% and show the same pattern of a narrow range of increases across all 2018 major seasons.

Standard view rooms at the Yacht Club and Beach Club are up for 2018 5.5% on average, grouped among seasons from 4.5% to 6%. The next most expensive room class in each are both up around 5%, also with a tight grouping in price increases for the seasons.

Animal Kingdom Lodge standard room prices are up an average of 6% in 2018 after a 2% rise for 2017. Increases are tightly grouped across the major seasons in the 5-7% range.  Savanna view rooms went up about 3% in 2017, and are up 6.2% for 2018.

Lava Pool Disney's Polynesian Village Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

MORE ON THE DISNEY WORLD RESORTS

I’ve stayed in more than 140 different Disney World-owned rooms, suites, villas, and such. Reviews resulting from these stays are linked to here.

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July 5, 2017   5 Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Sunshine Tree Terrace

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE SUNSHINE TREE TERRACE IN ADVENTURELAND

By Jim Korkis

Walt Disney Productions entered into negotiations with the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) for a Florida Citrus Growers sponsored Magic Kingdom attraction in 1967. A contract was signed on Oct. 22, 1969, formalizing the FCC’s underwriting of a “tropical bird show” at a cost of three million dollars. The following year, 1970, WED Enterprises created the Orange Bird character to serve as the FCC’s official mascot in promotional campaigns.

The final design of the character was by C. Robert “Bob” Moore who handled many special projects for the Disney Company, including designing the Walt Disney postage stamp and the eagle mascot for the 1984 Olympic games.

(c) Disney

When the Tropical Serenade show (a duplicate of Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room show) finished, guests exited by the Sunshine Tree Terrace for drinks, slushes, Orange sippers and the Citrus Orange Swirl. Strangely, only frozen—not fresh—orange juice was used.

From the back of the Terrace was the Florida Sunshine Tree — a large replica of a citrus tree with artificial fruit, blossoms, and leaves — which was the creation of Disney technicians who studied Florida citrus trees a long time before putting the tree together limb by limb in a combination of reality and fantasy. The tree was the icon for the Florida citrus industry and adorned the costumes worn by the cast members who worked at the location in the early days.

In its branches was the little Orange Bird. Above his head was a small screen upon which was shown happy orange thoughts from a projector in the back wall. Since, according to the song about him, the bird was unable to talk, he communicated through these orange thoughts that would appear over his head.

A fifteen minute loop of tropical music played at the location. In addition to the little figure in the branches of the tree, there was a walk-around costumed character Orange Bird with a big head and a pajama suit type body.

When the contract with the Florida Citrus Commission ran out, the bird was removed in 1986. But in April 17, 2012, the Orange Bird returned to Sunshine Tree Terrace signage and a new line of Orange Bird merchandise appeared on the shelves.

An Orange Bird statue that was on display at Sunshine Tree Terrace in the 1970s was retrieved from the WDI Sculpture Studio in California where it was found untouched and forgotten in a drawer, and after restoration was re-installed.

Over the years there were two distinct orange birds that swung on a little perch at the Terrace. The first one was a static figure on a moving swing and was there when the pavilion first opened in 1971. One of the reasons it still existed and was in good shape was that it was soon replaced at the Terrace with an improved and upgraded version that moved its green leaf wings up and down, as well as its head, as it swung back and forth giving it more of an illusion of life. That particular figure still seems to be unaccounted for at the moment.

On March 15, 2015, the Sunshine Tree Terrace traded locations with Aloha Isle Refreshments but both kept their same menus. The Orange Bird was relocated to the new location on May 29.

The figureheads of water buffalo on top of the original location were chosen because the building was so tall that it could be seen in Frontierland. It was hoped that the long horns on the stylized figures might be mistaken by guests as Wild West long horn cattle when viewed from that other land.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

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June 30, 2017   No Comments