Big Disney News!

I watched a two hour panel on Disney’s Parks & Resorts today. TWO HOURS. Some of it was like “okay, yeah, whatever” and some of it was “holy crap, I’m crying because I’m so excited”. You guys, SO MUCH IS HAPPENING. And I’m gonna detail all of that here along with my thoughts, but spoiler, they’re basically all super positive thoughts… so.

Disney Cruise Line

Two big things were sort of announced - both things we already knew, but expanded on at D23:

  • Disney’s new private island, Lighthouse Point, is joining the ranks of Castaway Cay as a port destination on Disney Cruise Line’s Bahamian & Caribbean itineraries. But, we already knew that. What we didn’t really know is that Disney’s legendary imagineer, Joe Rohde (famous for bringing together Animal Kingdom!), is at the helm of this project! He is a MASTER at creating culture-specific experiences and staying true to that culture. I’m so excited to see what he will do with Lighthouse Point - he said that they are dedicated to preserving the nature & working with its natural state. I am beyond excited for this new cruise stop!

  • Secondly, they announced a while back that Disney was acquiring 3 new ships to add to its existing fleet of 4 ships, for a total of 7! During the panel, they announced that the fifth ship will be named Disney Wish (omg) and the feature character on the stern of the ship will be Rapunzel (OMG). The ship will be delivered in late 2021 and will officially set sail in January 2022… so I will keep you updated when the new ship is ready to book! Here’s a video look at the new ship.

Disneyland

Marvel Land, in Disney California Adventure, officially has a name: Avengers Campus. It will open in two phases, the first phase will open next year (2020), but the second phase does not have a specific date yet. My best guess will be mid to late 2021, but take that with a grain of salt! Incuded in Avengers Campus will be A LOT of experiences including -

  • a neighborhood called Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB, for short!), which will house the Spiderman attraction, as well as PYM Test Kitchen, a dining location.

  • Characters available to meet in the area will be Ant Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Star Lord, Gamora, Groot, Thor, Loki, and Black Panther. (I assume Captain America, Spiderman and Captain Marvel will also be included since these are characters that currently meet in the parks, but who knows.)

  • In the second phase of Avengers Campus, we will get a bran new E-Ticket attraction, which means it’s gonna be a hella big attraction to do, based on Black Panther and Wakanda. This, to me, is the biggest news for Disneyland. Like, huge.

Also coming to Disneyland — a new parade! “Magic Happens” will be debuting at Disneyland Park in Spring 2020, with floats featuring classic and new animation including new favorites like Coco & Moana. The concept art for these floats are GORGEOUS. I’m so happy to see both movies getting a bigger presence in the Disney parks. It’s well deserved.

Coco themed float for Magic Happens parade at Disneyland. Concept art via Disney Parks Blog.

Coco themed float for Magic Happens parade at Disneyland. Concept art via Disney Parks Blog.

Disney World


First things first - the “little bits” of Disney World news:

  • A new Cirque du Soleil show is coming to Disney Springs in April 2020. This marks the first time Disney & Cirque has partnered to create a show together. So, it’ll feature Disney music, as well as animated characters that will “interact” with the performers. I’ll be honest - I’ve never been too into Cirque du Soleil, and I never saw La Nouba when it was at Disney Springs… but I think I’ll be seeing this on a future trip. It sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun and very nostalgic of Disney animation history.

  • Disney Genie is a brand new app coming in late 2020 for Disney World guests. It sounds very much like it’s going to be a paid service, in my ~*professional opinion. I don’t think it’ll completely replace My Disney Experience….? But rather, give you an intuitive planning experience. Though, in an email sent to travel agents, it says some features of Disney Genie will be able to be accessed through our Disney Travel Agent website, so… WHO KNOWS. Guess we’ll find out about a year from now… ha.

  • Reflections: a Lakeside Lodge is the newest proposed DVC resort coming to WDW, and will be situated near Fort Wilderness. It will feature A Frame Houses & Treehouse Suites. It will also feature a new table service restaurant inspired by Princess and the Frog. Honest opinion? I am excited about a Tiana presence outside of her meet and greet in Magic Kingdom, BUT I think a retheme of Boatwrights (the table service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside) would’ve been more… appropriate.

  • The 50th Anniversary of Magic Kingdom will be celebrated across the four parks, not just at Magic Kingdom.

Bigger news: the Star Wars hotel. A long awaited topic. Here’s what we know:

  • the hotel will be called “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser” and the name of the fictional starcruiser is the Halcyon.

  • All guests will check in and out together, much like a cruise, for a 2 day, 2 night itinerary.

  • Price is essentially all-inclusive similar to a cruise, and will include your “onboard” activities, dining and accommodations. I’m not sure if this will include a park ticket for your day in Galaxy’s Edge, but I assume yes.

  • Your “port day” will be at Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios, and I’m assuming that things like Savi’s Workshop, Droid Depot, etc will be treated like excursions and cost extra.

  • One onboard activity will include lightsaber training. It sounds REAL dang cool and the concept art makes it look like a batting cage, haha.

  • Immersive and interactive, where your choices onboard direct your overall experiences.

  • No prices as of now, but speculated price comes in at a sky high $3000-ish for one person, or in multi-person “cabins”, around $1000 per person. Cabins will sleep up to 5 people. In my opinion, $500-600 per person, per night is not totally unreasonable.

  • No opening date set either, but they said it will be “booking soon” and it’s speculated that it’ll be open in time for the 2021 celebrations.

Alright, main event - Epcot. I have two pages of notes on the changes coming to Epcot, and this is already a lengthy post as is.
I’M SORRY BUT I’M ALSO NOT.

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Okay, in the past, Epcot was branded as “EPCOT”, all caps, and “EPCOT Center”… it seems that is a thing of the past and it is strictly “Epcot” with the new tagline “The Magic of Possibility”. Personally, I really like this! The all caps EPCOT was abrasive, and the new tagline really integrates the ideals of Epcot + the “magic” aspect of Disney as a whole. All in all, big fan of this “rebrand” of Epcot.

Future World, as we know it, is dead. (If we are being honest, it’s been dead for a really long time, but it is officially dead and it ain’t ever coming back.) The area we know as Future World will now be categorized into 3 different neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and culminating in World Showcase in the rear of Epcot. Okay, to break down these neighborhoods!

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World Celebration will begin at the entry gates to Epcot, lead to Spaceship Earth and back toward World Showcase. What’s new & different for this area:

  • This will include a brand new entry to Epcot, which they’ve already started on - if you’ve been to Epcot anytime in the last few years, you’ll remember the big Leave a Legacy monoliths that you saw first thing when you entered the park - those are gone.

  • Spaceship Earth will get an update with a focus on storytelling, featuring updated technology, new scenes (but still keeping some old scenes, too - crossing fingers we get to keep Rome burning!), and a new narrator known at the “story light”, which will be central to the attraction’s story. I think this is going to be a very cool update to a classic ride.

  • A new exit for Spaceship Earth will lead to what they are calling “Dreamer’s Point” which will feature a brand new statue of Walt Disney, looking toward World Showcase. This gives me MAJOR FEELS, you guys.

  • There will also be gardens, a wishing tree, story fountain and a 3-level pavilion that will serve as the home base to Epcot’s (many) festivals, as well as on that third level, a fantastic viewing location for the lagoon fireworks show.

World Discovery will be the area that currently houses Mission Space & Test Track. New for this area:

  • The Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which officially has a name: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which will feature Disney’s first reverse launch. Choosing to leave my feelings of how GOTG does not belong in Epcot in the past, I’m now SUPER stoked on this one.

  • The Mission Space pavilion will have an elevator that transports you into space to dine at the new space themed table service restaurant, Space 220. This is opening Winter 2019, which in Disney speak, is late December, and not a moment before then.

  • The Play Pavilion will also be coming to this area in 2021. This will feature…. a lot of things. Ranging from Edna Mode to DuckTales. There’s just a lot going on that I don’t really understand but I think it’ll be cool? If anything, it’ll be a great AC break.

World Nature will be where the Land and Sea pavilions currently are. As far as we know, the actual Land and Sea pavilions will remain relatively untouched, if anything, they’ll get a slight remodel to fit the new feel of the area. What’s new for this area:

  • In the Land pavilion, there will be a new film called “Awesome Planet” debuting in January 2020.

  • Journey of Water will be a Moana-inspired water attraction, which will be a display of the importance of the natural water cycle. I don’t think this will be very character-centric, but rather a small bit of tie-in to grab the interest of little ones, in a teachable moment.

And finally, World Showcase, where a ton is happening! The area itself is not changing (ugh, although, I was really hyping myself on the potential of a new country being added to the showcase!), but a lot is being added, changed, etc.

“Cherry Tree Lane” addition to Epcot’s United Kingdom. Concept art via Disney Parks Blog.

“Cherry Tree Lane” addition to Epcot’s United Kingdom. Concept art via Disney Parks Blog.

  • China is getting a new 360 Circle Vision film titled “Wondrous China” - sometime in 2020, I’m sure, though no date was revealed for this one.

  • Canada is getting a new 360 Circle Vision film titled “Canada Far & Wide” - January 2020

  • France will be getting a double feature: a Beauty and the Beast Sing Along will be paired with Impressions de France, beginning in January 2020

  • Also in France, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will debut in Summer 2020 - FINALLY

  • Also, also in France will receive a new quick service/table service restaurant called La Crêperie de Paris, in Summer 2020. I think this will be very similar to Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom - quick service at lunch, table service at dinner. Reservations likely to be required for both?

  • Mary Poppins is coming to the United Kingdom, y’all!!!!! I am STOKED ABOUT THIS. A new street is being added to the United Kingdom pavilion (likely where the small hedge maze is, and where British Revolution currently performs. This street will essentially be Cherry Tree Lane, including Admiral Boom’s house (yessss!!!!), and you will enter #17 Cherry Tree Lane (where the Banks family lives, of course). The actual attraction inside the house is yet to be known, but my best guess is more of a walk through attraction with rooms in the house….? I don’t know. Don’t care. I just love Mary and I’m happy to have her here!!

Elsewhere in Epcot….
Epcot Forever will be replacing the current nighttime show Illuminations beginning October 1, 2019. There’s no timeframe as to how long Epcot Forever will run, but that it is most definitely a temporary show, and it’s official replacement will be called “HarmoniUS” and will be debuting sometime in 2020. It’ll also be the biggest nighttime spectacular in Disney parks history… which is saying something because, uh, Disney nighttime fireworks are freaking huge displays. So… I’m pretty excited to see it when it debuts next year!

There’s no official time table on when the expansion of Epcot will be completely finished, other than it is a “multi-year expansion”. The bulk of the new attractions are slated to be done in time for the 50th anniversary in 2021. Disney isn’t always totally respectful of their own timelines, so we will see if some of the bigger things actually are completed in the said timeframe, but… I’m hopeful!

Okay. If you made it to the end of this, boy do I commend you. This was a TON of info but it’s all EXCITING info! Anything in particular you love? Hate? Don’t even slightly care? Let me know! Either way…so much is happening and 2020/2021 are going to be AMAZING years to visit the Disney Parks!

Disneyland Trip Report

Vacation Dates: March 28 - 31, 2019
Crowd Levels: Busy, but not totally horrible. It’s the middle of Spring Break season, though, so I knew it would be busy!
Weather: The weather the first two days was absolutely gorgeous (low 70s), Saturday was a bit warmer and Sunday was HOT.
Parks visited: Both (Disneyland Park + Disney California Adventure)

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Where to even start!? First of all, I love Disneyland with everything I am. This was my second visit and it was SO NEEDED, but I’ll get to that in a sec.

Thursday: My trip started out with a bit of a bummer - my flight ended up being delayed about an hour and a half, so I landed much later than anticipated, so I didn’t get into the parks nearly as early as I’d hoped I would. Then, upon landing at LAX, I could not find the Disneyland Express! It’s not as clearly marked as the Magical Express at Disney World, and add in that I was at an airport that I’d never been to before - I was STRESSED. So instead of walking around another 30 minutes, I decided to eat the $24 DL Express cost and take a different shuttle - I used Super Shuttle and it was GREAT. Highly recommend.
Upon arriving in the DL area, I checked in at my hotel for the night - I stayed the first night at Grand Legacy at the Park. it was nothing special, just a run of the mill motel-type room, but it was SO close to the park entrance — like, less than 10 minutes from my room to the security check point.
I got to the park, I picked up my tickets, purchased MaxPass for the day (which I’ll post a blog on soon, because it’s amazing!), and started walking around at Disneyland. I know it sound silly, but I just wanted to take it all in and enjoy just being there. So that first night, I didn’t do much, aside from ride Haunted Mansion & Buzz Lightyear and I ate dinner at Cafe Orleans (a must on my trips!). I left early because girlfriend cannot hang anymore.

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Friday: I got up and at em early and was grabbing coffee at Starbucks in Downtown Disney at 7:30 am and in California Adventure by 7:45 am! PRO TIP: the Downtown Disney Starbucks uses mobile order on the Starbucks app, so you can order your coffee on your app, pick it up and bypass the long lines, both at that location and avoid the in-park locations. Easy peasy, you’re welcome.
I didn’t ride a ton in California Adventure this day — but I did knock out Soarin’, the Little Mermaid ride and Radiator Springs Racers this day. I also moved over to Disneyland and rode It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion again. I spent this day taking ALL THE PHOTOS in California Adventure. It proved to be such a wonderful place to just hang out.
In the evening, I spent some time trying a handful of things from the DCA Food and Wine Festival. It’s super different from Epcot’s Food & Wine, so that was exciting to do! I have to say, Epcot’s is superior in terms of the amount of offerings, but I love the way DCA handles their ordering process much more.
I walked up to the outdoor patio area of Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier and ordered a drink & appetizer - that was great, too!
Somewhere in the middle of this day, I checked out of Grand Legacy and moved a little further down the street to The Anaheim Hotel. I LOVED this hotel - it’ll get a post on its own sometime next week!

Saturday: Another early day, and my last day in the parks. I had a 7:30 breakfast scheduled for The Plaza Inn, but I arrived around 7:05 and they seated me immediately. I cannot say enough good things about this breakfast. It was $36, the breakfast buffet was better than most and I met TEN CHARACTERS. TEN. You don’t get that sort of experience at Disney World ever. So, an amazing start to the day.
After breakfast, I walked out of the restaurant, and just standing there was Bert, from Mary Poppins. We took a picture and he walked me down the street a little and we parted ways. Since it was my last day in the parks, I got started on doing all the things I wanted to be sure to do before leaving — so in Disneyland, I rode Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion (again), Roger Rabbit, Mr. Toad, Snow White, Pinocchio, and then stood in the 40 minute line in Mickey’s House to meet Mickey Mouse. Whilst wandering around New Orleans Square, I also met Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog - he was just lurking in a corner, had zero line to meet him, so I popped over and took a picture and kept going.
That night I went back over to California Adventure, tried a few more food items from Food & Wine, road the Incredicoaster & Radiator Springs Racers again, and headed out. Because I really, really can’t hang.

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Sunday: I packed up, checked out of my hotel, then took a Lyft over to the Grand Californian for my breakfast at Napa Rose. They JUST introduced a new princess breakfast while I was there, and it deserves a post of it’s own, so I’ll save my thoughts for later - but man, do I have some thoughts.
After breakfast - which was a 2 hour experience - I had some time to kill before my Disneyland Express bus. I went to Downtown Disney, grabbed a coffee, then went back to the hotel…. where I promptly fell asleep. Disney exhaustion is REAL. Anyway, I woke up due to a text from a friend…. only to realize, I had missed my Disneyland Express bus by ten minutes. I was so frustrated and nervous!! Buses arrive every hour, so I could’ve waited a bit longer for the next bus to arrive, but I didn’t want to risk it, not knowing LA traffic and not knowing what security lines would be like at LAX - so I took a Lyft - it was a $60 ride, but for my peace of mind, it was worth it. (Turns out, I could’ve waited for the next bus, with TSA pre-check, it took me an entire 90 seconds to get in and out of security, ha!)

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Overall — I had the most wonderful trip. Being that my first Disneyland experience was more of a work thing, this felt like my first real Disneyland vacation. And oh, it was so good. I did what I wanted, whenever I wanted, and just took it slow and easy. I never felt rushed the way I do at Disney World - it was just a really relaxing park experience.
I almost hate admitting this, because truly, I am so blessed that I get to go to Disney World so often, but with that… I start to get burnt out on it. I start to feel like I’ve been there, done that, and it starts to feel old. I never want to lose my passion for Disney, so it was my hope that this Disneyland trip would reinvigorate that love I have for the Disney theme parks… and it did just that. :)
I’m so grateful for all of these experiences - I’m really, really lucky that not only do I get to experience the magic of Disney so often, but that I get to share it every single day with my clients. <3

Until next time!