For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


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Category — zzzz. Rumor-mongering

Possible September Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

MNSSHP DATES IN SEPTEMBER 2020

While as of this morning, Disney World’s official calendar only goes through August 17, September dates are beginning to leak.

One unofficial calendar that I have found to track quite well with actual operating hours shows the Magic Kingdom closing at 6p on the following September dates:

  • Tuesday September 1
  • Friday September 4
  • Monday September 7
  • Friday September 11
  • Sunday September 13
  • Tuesday September 15
  • Friday September 18
  • Sunday September 20
  • Tuesday September 22
  • Friday September 25
  • Sunday September 27
  • Tuesday September 29

The odds are pretty high that these  represent September 2020 dates for the 2020 version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (“MNSSHP”—for more on this party, see this), as they are fully consistent with the 2019 and 2018 patterns.

OPENING DATE FOR 2020 EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL

I should have noted this when I published about possible August 2020 dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but analysis of the same sources suggests that the 2020 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will open the week of 8/23 in 2020, likely on 8/27 or 8/28.

 

 

 

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February 9, 2020   No Comments

Possible August Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

While as of this morning, Disney World’s official calendar only goes through July 20, August dates are beginning to leak.

One unofficial calendar that I have found to track quite well with actual operating hours shows the Magic Kingdom closing at 6p on the following August dates:

  • Thursday, August 13
  • Saturday, August 15
  • Tuesday, August 18
  • Friday, August 21
  • Tuesday, August 25
  • Friday, August 28

The odds are pretty high that the last four represent dates for the 2020 version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (“MNSSHP”—for more on this party, see this), as they are fully consistent with the 2019 pattern, and largely consistent with the 2018 pattern.

The first two dates are off pattern—based on 2018 and 2019, one would have expected to see the first Party Friday the 14th, not Thursday the 13th, and Saturday parties are quite rare—I can recall seeing them only at the end of October.

Moreover, if both these are parties, there would be an unprecedented six parties in August—compared to five in 2019, and four in 2018. But I would not read too much into this, as a way for Disney to grow earnings year over year is to have more parties.

Magic Kingdom closes at 6p for reason other than parties—for cast member appreciation events, and, more rarely, if a big-pocketed convention is in town and buys out the park for the evening.

Based on all this, I’d put the odds at greater than 90% that the last four dates will be the 2020 version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, about 80% that the first date will be, and about 50-50 that the Saturday date will be.

The party dates for 2019 were announced on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, so we may get the official answer to this quite soon.

(Update February 9–the Disney calendar is now out through 8/17, so the first two 6p closes are official–although the official 2020 party dates have not yet been released.  For thoughts on September dates following the same approach, see this.)

 

 

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January 12, 2020   No Comments

Free Dining Early Next Week…or Not?

“We’ve announced that already, right?”

–Bob Iger, Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, 2/26/18

Free Dining may drop as early as Monday April 23, later that week, or as late as Monday April 30. The earlier dates (that is, the 23rd or 24th) are widely believed to be the most likely.

Update 4/23: No free dining today. Many rumors that it will come out tomorrow! Rumors also that the first eligible check in date for the general public will be 8/20.

The rumor I posted about last week had it coming out April 27. The source of that rumor—a post from a Brazilian travel agent—has been taken down.

There’s a couple of ways you can check to see if it’s out and what the details are.

However, I can think of one reason why Free Dining might come out later than the common view of April 23 or 24th. Recall that when Disney raised ticket prices in February, it noted that “later this year” it would be shifting multi-day tickets to seasonal pricing—in effect, a ticket price increase, at least for certain dates.

I’ve thought since that announcement that one of the most sensible times for Disney to move to seasonal multi-day ticket prices would be after the Toy Story Land mania started, but before Free Dining was announced. That way, the new ticket prices would be in effect for many free dining packages.

Well, with the announcement of FastPass+ tiers at Toy Story Land earlier this week , I think we are in that period. So I would not be surprised to see the new set of multi-day ticket prices come out on Sunday April 22 or early next week, and Free Dining to come out in turn a few days after that—so that folks have some time to calibrate their free dining plans in the context of the new ticket prices.

I am posting this as speculation—it’s based neither on a rumor nor a leak. The Walt Disney Company has been—with one exception—pretty tight-lipped about its timing plans for the new ticket pricing other than “later this year.”

The exception was a comment by Bob Iger in late February at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that “we have talked about putting into place flex pricing on the multi-day pass, and that’s coming sometime towards the end of the year.”

The bald words make an introduction of multi-day pricing in April perhaps look unlikely, but there were a couple of times during this conference when Iger seemed not fully in command of his memory (see the quote at the head of this page). So it is at least conceivable to me that he misspoke…or that seasonal multi-day ticket pricing would go into effect for visits after, say, August 31, still “towards the end of the year,” but announced in April…

If something else happens, which I suppose is likely, you can complain to me in person on April 28 at Epcot.

*Note by the way that you can no longer link to this site from Disboards, because an inadvertent, but totally real and totally my fault, violation of its terms of service has led to my site being censored on it until the Second Coming. And don’t try to get around the filters, or the entire thread you are posting on might be removed—there’s a reason why the free dining thread there is now on its third iteration…

You can still refer to “Dave Shute’s site” with no link.

However, I’ve not yet been banned from Josh’s forum, so there’s that…

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April 19, 2018   2 Comments

2018 Disney World Free Dining Rumor

2018 FREE DINING RUMOR FOR DISNEY WORLD

Update 4/23: No free dining today. Many rumors that it will come out tomorrow! Rumors also that the first eligible check in date for the general public will be 8/20.

Update 4/19: The most common rumor now is that 2018 free dining will become available April 23 or 24.

One of my buddies was kind enough to translate a post from a South American travel agent today for me about Disney World free dining.

While all the specifics largely match what I’d expect except the early August start, treat this more as a rumor than as a leak until other confirmatory (or not!) material comes out.

Free Dining Booking dates: 4/27/18 to 7/7/18 (other rumors suggest it will start April 23 or 24)

Free Dining Eligible arrival dates:

  • 8/2 to 9/29/18 (8/2 seems awfully early to me, and may be for just the Brazilian market; other rumors suggest a start much later in August)
  • 11/24 to 11/27/18
  • 12/7 to 12/23/18

Value and Moderate Resorts Eligible for Free Quick Service Dining Plans:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Deluxe and DVC Resorts Eligible for Free Regular Dining Plans:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows (Studios)
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Tickets must Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus.

For more on Free Dining, see this.

If you book your vacation through my travel agent partner Kelly, she will automatically get it moved into Free Dining* if you end up being eligible and rooms are available ! Contact her via the form on this page.

*and if it’s the best deal for you–others might save you more!

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April 11, 2018   27 Comments

Thoughts on The Possibility of More Hotels Getting 60 Day Access to FastPass+

“And of course, we’ve got … a number of other plans as it relates to our hotel business.”
–Bob Iger on Disney’s Q2 earnings call

Note 12/18: this is real.

A couple of weeks ago, Tom Corless at WDW News Today reported that he expected the ability to book FastPass+ at 60 days to be extended to “every hotel in the Disney Springs Resort Area on Hotel Plaza Boulevard” and that “there should also be additional Good Neighbor Hotels on the list when announced by Disney.”

I’ve not written much before about this rumor, but if it is true, there’s a chance it will be announced before or as part of tomorrow’s Q4 and FY2017 earnings call, so I thought I’d put in a bit of context and speculation about impact in advance of that.

WHY DOES FASTPASS+ AT 60 DAYS MATTER

Disney’s FastPass+ system, fully implemented in 2014, allows you to avoid waits by pre-booking what are essentially appointments at up to three rides per day. So far, anyone with a ticket could begin booking their FastPass+ 30 days before use, and those staying in a Disney-owned hotel or the Swan or Dolphin could begin booking 60 days ahead.

While there’s actually been pretty good availability for most rides at 30 days ahead, those with 60 day rights have a much better chance of getting a FastPass+ for the hottest rides (currently Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) and generally have more flexibility in booking their FastPass+ on the days and times that best suit their other Disney World plans.

WHO CURRENTLY GETS FASTPASS+ AT 60 DAYS

There are on the order of 25,400 bookable Disney World owned rooms and another ~2,260 rooms at the Swan and Dolphin, so currently around 27,660 rooms are bookable with the opportunity to get FastPass+ at 60 days. (Shameless plug—for my reviews of all of these, see this.)

HOW MUCH MIGHT ACCESS TO 60 DAY FASTPASS+ EXPAND

There’s three groups of potential additional rooms worth noting:

  • Those in the Disney Springs Resort Area, which Tom says should “all” get 60 days FastPass+: seven hotels with around 3,700 rooms.
  • The WDW Good Neighbor hotels, which are scattered all over the place to the south and west of the Convention Center, but are largely concentrated in the Palm Parkway and US 192 areas (although you’ll also find them near the Convention Center, in Flamingo Crossing and on Chelonia Parkway, just to the east of Pop Century): 52 hotels with around 17,000* rooms.
  • Shades of Green and the Four Seasons, both nearer the core of Disney World than any Disney Springs or Good Neighbor hotel (except maybe for those on Chelonia Parkway), but not part of either of the above two groups. Two hotels with about a thousand rooms between them.

WHAT MIGHT THIS MEAN FOR THOSE BOOKING A HOTEL

If this happens, its impact is profoundly shaped by how many Good Neighbor rooms gain access to FastPass+ at 60 days—and where they are located.

If only the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels and one or the other of Shades and Four Seasons gets 60 day access, then I don’t expect much impact, as the number of eligible rooms would go up only 15% and lower occupancy at the Disney Springs hotels (compared to the Disney owned hotels) would reduce the impact even more.

If these hotels plus all the Good Neighbor hotels get access, then a total of around 21,000 rooms would be added to the FastPass+ at 60 days pool. Correcting this for lower occupancy, and also for the fact that many of the guests of these hotels are in them for reasons other than Disney World (conventions, Universal), the effective total increase is likely on the order of 10,000 rooms, or about a 36% increase. This would make the hottest rides even harder to book, even at 60 days, and would pull more capacity out of the FastPass+ system for those who can only book at thirty days.

But, if this happens, I don’t expect all the Good Neighbor hotels to be in it—as I would expect Disney to be charging them for it, and not all of them would find the extra cost to make business sense.

At least until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens…

WHY ON EARTH MIGHT DISNEY WORLD DO THIS

I can think of two reasons why Disney might do this, and of course some reasons why it might not.

At the basic level, for the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, helping them become more attractive would be good for the dining and shopping venues at Disney Springs, into which a lot of capital has been poured over the past few years

Expanding beyond the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels into some or all of the Good Neighbor Hotels (and/or Shades and Four Seasons), if done for a fee charged them by Disney, is a way for Disney to additionally monetize what Disney is likely to view as extremely high incremental hotel stays related to its 2018 Toy Story, 2019 Star Wars and other later Disney World expansions.

Disney World does not have enough capacity in its own hotels (which average nearly 90% occupancy) to serve these incremental guests, and while a couple of additions/expansions are planned/underway, these will also not be sufficient nor even all that timely.

Even more Disney hotels are possible—likely, even—but not in any reasonable timeframe. Moreover, new hotels absorb capital and impose operating risks, which are avoided by monetizing someone else’s capital and operations (this is essentially the logic of DVC, except that Disney fronts the capital which is then bought down by DVC owners).

So expanding access to FastPass+ at 60 days, but charging hotels offering it for the privilege of doing so, would add essentially costless and riskless revenue, which by my back-of-the envelope calculations could easily drop another $100 million a year to Disney World’s bottom line.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT DO THIS

But of course it would not really be costless or riskless, as it would be removing some of the value of the 60 day window at the hotels that currently offer it, diminishing the reason to stay at one of these hotels instead of one of the (typically much less expensive) other hotels newly added to the 60 day FastPass+ window. The fixed cost economics of hotels are such that Disney would lose much more income from a hotel guest who does not stay in one of its own hotels than it could possibly gain from a fee paid by the off-site hotel that that this guest actually stays in.

But recall that the distinctive 60 day window is a perk that’s less than five years old. There are many other good reasons to pay the premium (which can be very high, especially at the moderates and deluxes) to stay in a Disney World hotel besides the 60 day FastPass+ access—I recommended the Disney hotels to first-timers even in the old days when all guests were treated equally in the parks, except for Extra Magic Hours.

And speaking of Extra Magic Hours… The example of Animal Kingdom this summer, when Pandora was open an extra 14 hours a week to Disney World (and Shades of Green and Swan and Dolphin) hotel guests, can be replicated (and expanded, to e.g. 21 or 28 hours) at Hollywood Studios for Toy Story and Star Wars. Differential perks can be added and expanded, so that the Disney-owned hotels can continue to command their premium pricing, which we all complain about on the way to filling them.

 

*I could not find the size of three of these 52 hotels, so used the average of the other 49 for them; a point of moderate confusion is that these are two different groups—that is, the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are not WDW Good Neighbor hotels…

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November 8, 2017   1 Comment

Free Dining Deal Expected to Open Tomorrow; Quick Service for Moderates

Update: the 2017 deal is out, see this for details.

The Disney World deal Free Dining is back this year–with one major change. Guests booking a moderate resort stay will now only be receiving for free the Quick Service Dining Plan, rather than the “regular” Disney Dining Plan which includes table service meals that they have received in past versions of this deal.

Values and deluxes will get the same deal as in recent years–quick service at the values, and the regular plan at the deluxes.

In order to get the deal, guests must book a minimum 3-night-stay with 2 days of Park Hopper or Park Hopper+ tickets.

Booking for the package will open tomorrow, Monday, April 24th, 2017. Available arrival dates will be between August 21st* and September 30th, 2017, as well as select dates between November 14th through December 23rd.

Rumor has it that the November and December eligible arrival dates will be 11/14-11/20, 11/25-11/27, and 12/8-12/23.

To get a travel agent to make over your reservation, contact Kelly at 980-429-4499 or kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com.

*Beginning August 13th for Disney Visa Cardholders, and Canadian guests.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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April 23, 2017   2 Comments