The lone Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs has apparently closed permanently as of about two weeks ago. Nobody actually noticed that it was closed for about ten days. Living alone as a complete recluse myself, it would take 6-8 weeks, or approximately the amount of time it takes to receive that infrared roasting ShamWow from the late night television infomercial, until someone might notice something nefarious happened to me. Not that that is necessarily an invitation to come get rid of me. *wink wink* I’m just saying you could probably get away with it.
I had to go pretty far back in the archive just to find a picture of the front of the building. There were approximately six exact turns that you had to make in quick succession in order to get over to this corner. The roundabout walkway made more sense in the Downtown Disney days (swoon), when you actually had to set out to find something to eat that didn’t come with a 45-minute wait to be seated. Or eat at Portobello where there was never a wait (shudder).
Since Disney Springs became Disney Springs, and added ~400 new dining establishments, I think the only people that really bothered to try to get over to wherever here is were those headed to that restroom on the left before arriving at the quick service. One wrong turn and you’d be more liable to end up at Universal than somewhere back at the Springs, and that’s where the trouble really starts. Nobody in this picture, or the person so exquisitely capturing the scene, is destined for the Express at this time. Poor Wolfgang Express was in such an awkward location that when it did operate, it was the one instance where they didn’t choose me last at kickball. Hey, you take any win over an inanimate object you can get. A second Wolfgang Puck Express used to be attached to the old Wolfgang Puck Café where Jaleo now takes up residence in a building that’s supposed to resemble an artichoke. Of all the things to be replaced by, I think an artichoke building would be on the offensive side of the spectrum. But at least it’s not a rutabaga, the scourge of the urban foraging world.
Sometimes the empty photos of dining rooms and whatnot can be tricky to time. There always seems to be some snotty child/food blogger running through the room who is a little too excited about their new cup of macaroni and cheese. That was not a problem at Wolfgang. If you ever saw anyone else here, they’d probably benefit from a map or a Garmin. Just think, if I teleported you to the TUMI store, which you probably also couldn’t locate, could you find Wolfgang Puck Express. And if you could, could you also pass up all of the other restaurants and all of the other menus that you’d walk by over the course of your journey. I would mention that I also don’t know where the TUMI store is, so it could be right next to what was the Wolfgang Puck Express.
While Wolfgang was about as easy to find as accurate information from Jim Hill, Wolfgang Puck Express may have been my favorite quick service outlet on property, offering food that was as good or better than a lot of table service restaurants at prices in between quick and sit-down meals.
With the shopping and dining district adding so many dining options during the Disney Springs transformation, and Wolfgang Puck Express not doing anything to stand out against a bevy of new, shinier options at similar price points, with better cocktail menus, and more attentive service, it simply got lost in the shuffle. Wolfgang Puck was tried and true, but nobody back home was going to be impressed when they heard you ate at Wolfgang Puck Express. “Oh yeah, in the airport? We love that place. Way better than the Sbarro unless you’re in New York in which case you have to go for an authentic slice.”
It’s my understanding that the Express locations and Wolfgang’s own restaurants are operated by different restaurant groups, so the closure of the Express on the West Side shouldn’t affect Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, which opened on the other side of the Springs as a traditional sit-down restaurant. The food at the Bar & Grill is among the best at the Springs, but the restaurant is overshadowed by the gigantic Planet Hollywood and Coca-Cola stores on either side. It also has Chicken Guy and the Sauce Boss, who are impossible to turn down, right across the way. Somebody should have done some research and built at least one of these restaurants next to UNOde50 or Kipling.
The reopening of Disney’s Coronado Springs will be delayed by a couple of days, now opening on October 16th instead of the 14th. Most of the resort’s amenities will open, along with the Gran Destino Tower, at that time. The Coronado was the last resort that the NBA stayed at while in their bubble before the Los Angeles Lakers narrowly beat out the Seattle SuperSonics in the Finals. Or it might have been the Heat. I lose track of the year. You can pull up Disney’s official list of what will reopen with the resort here.
Currently, both table service restaurants, Maya Grill and Toledo, and the main quick service, aren’t set to reopen, so we’ll see if anything changes in the next couple of days. You’d expect that at least El Mercado de Coronado, the resort’s main quick service, would reopen. Dining at Coronado is operated by a third-party, so it is possible that they’re just not there yet. It’s the same company that charges $20 for those jugaritas at La Cava, so it makes sense that there might be some cash flow problems. You know, when you are in the $20 pre-mixed drink business. Imagine selling bottles of water for $5 each, making ten billion dollars in profit per quarter, and still canning 30,000+ people. I’m not sure what they would do without a viable breakfast option unless they move quick service into Rix Lounge across the way or something.
Disney also confirmed what will be opening with the Art of Animation Resort on November 1st. That resort’s opening has already been delayed a couple of times, but I’m feeling good about it now:
That’s just about everything possible reopening. Do note the Big Blue Pool’s planned refurbishment from January 11, 2021 through early April 2021. Imagine making it all the way to April 2021. That’s like eight years away. Take your vitamins and maybe we will see each other then, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You never know. 2020 has been a strange year, but I don’t feel like we’re about to strike an about face because the calendar year changes. The pool refurbishment is the sort of project that you would think they could have completed while the resort was closed for almost seven months. But why do it then, when you can do the work when the people are there? Disney updates the resort pages often with new and different things that will be open. Check their official page as your stay approaches. Please All-Star Sports, you’re our only hope.
Speaking of things you won’t find at All-Star Sports, at least without the help of the Property Brothers, some sledge hammers, and the discovery of water damage that will narrowly put us over our renovation budget, suites are now available for booking, where applicable. Club Level service is still unavailable. Pictured above is a 2-bedroom suite at the Beach Club. I only visit when I am truly slumming it or there is an ex-girlfriend waiting for me back at Bay Lake Tower “with power of attorney documents” and “a divorce.”
The Lunching Pad has indeed reopened at Magic Kingdom, now offering all three of Disney’s popular warm pretzels:
And a Pork Sandwich that I might not eat even if it were the last food on earth.
Then again, you are talking to the guy who spent over $18 at Cosmic Ray’s for this Vegan Sloppy Joe. You don’t want to see what’s inside the foil, there are inexplicably three fries stuck to the side of the tray, and the orange is just there for holiday merriment. I sat on a panel that voted this as Walt Disney World’s best quick service. This.
On weekdays beginning October 14th, and currently continuing through November 17th, Annual Passholders will have an opportunity to stop by the Der Teddybar store in the Germany Pavilion for an assortment of exclusive merchandise. A limit of 10 units per item per transaction means a family of six can come home with a mere 60 of anything each time they go through the line. You’d think a max of one or two would do it. Keep an eye on the Passholder Specials page for additional deals. Disney also extended the 30% Passholder discount for shopDisney and in the Parks until October 29th, with a reminder of all of the exclusions at that previous link.
Apparently, I purchased this “The Child” Animatronic back in February and it just shipped. Of all of my drunken 2am Amazon buys, I’d put this in the top 50%. If you notice more typos than usual, it’s because I’m playing my harmonica at the same time as I type this up, It came last week. It’s in the key of G if anyone wants to blow along.
My purchase of this Yoda doll that I don’t want is not the point. The point is that Disney is undergoing a major restructuring of its entertainment division, now focusing on streaming content. This Collider article explains what’s happening better than I can. Well, it probably doesn’t, but whatever is coming to Disney+ is coming to Disney+ whether you understand who the boss is or not.
Basically, it sounds like more things are coming to Disney+ under a variety of leadership groups. I think I’m on the hook for three years of Disney+ for a total of about $70, thanks to a D23 promotion. If Disney is going to invest more money into Disney+, they may shoot themselves in the foot if the price increase offsets some of the increase in subscribers. I watch so little of Disney+ at the moment that $70 for three years may have even been too much. “The Imagineering Story” is really good though, and I’m looking forward to Pixar’s Soul on Christmas. Recently, Pixar has been inside the brain in Inside Out, they’re apparently headed into the Soul in…Soul, so you’d think the natural end to that trilogy would be inside the life of the Disney World blogger. Wet Hot American Summer may already be a movie, but Sweaty Depressed Florida Year has just as much of a ring to it. It’s not like there are going to be any movie theaters to see it in, anyway.
That should sum it up.
We begin, as always, with the daily averages at Animal Kingdom since the Park reopened:
Since we’re coming off of 2,500+ words of wait time analysis in Wait Time Trends Since Walt Disney World Reopened and the Best Days to Visit Each Park, we won’t spend too much time considering the same things here. One interesting thing at Animal Kingdom is that wait times on Tuesday, with shorter operating hours, were actually longer than the holiday Monday before it. You can chalk that up to a 7am open on Monday and a 9am open on Tuesday. Peak crowds and waits would have been longer on the Monday, but you could have potentially gotten more done with a 6:30am arrival and quick morning touring. If that doesn’t sound like a relaxing vacation, I don’t know what does.
Each of the last three days saw the longest average waits that we’ve seen on that particular day of the week yet. That goes back to the fact that Animal Kingdom waits are up almost 300% since the first week in July. The last Monday holiday, on the week of September 6th, saw a 23.8-minute average. Columbus Day’s 30.1-minute average is a 26.5% increase. We thought Labor Day was about as bad as things would get with the Park Pass system routinely running out of Park Passes, but we were very wrong. The fact that standby waits were still so long on Sunday and Monday, even with 7am opens, doesn’t bode well for future holidays. The Parks just don’t have the shows, entertainment, characters, and other diversions to absorb guests. Who thought we would want to rewind to July? I still don’t. But look at those average wait times over the first week in July.
Since we don’t have a long chart for Epcot, we’ll take a wide look at each attraction over the course of the day on Tuesday, October 13th:
Waits at Epcot were above average too, but it’s a far cry from the 40+ minute averages that we saw over the weekend. While we probably can’t say Epcot is cursed, if it’s not one major attraction going down, it’s another. Frozen Ever After saw three hours of downtime to end the day, making it impossible to stop there last thing at night. That is the potential risk you run of saving a ride for the very end of the day. The relatively small chance that Frozen will be down after 6:30pm may be worth the bet against waiting 50 or more minutes earlier in the day. Soarin’s waits are also higher than what we’ve seen for much of the past few months, with the 60-minute peak not far off of what we saw when FastPass+ priority was a thing. It’s possible that it was another case of people calling in and the ride running at a reduced capacity without the intention of doing so. What you see above, minus the downtime at Frozen, is probably pretty close to what we’ll see on weekdays for a couple of weeks. Waits are still better than just about any weekend outside of a complete rainout.
Here’s the Studios:
Potentially, if there’s any saving grace, it’s that things can’t get much worse. The weekly average wait time will likely exceed 45 minutes this week, making it the 4th week in a row where you can expect to wait 45 minutes per attraction, on average. We’ll take another stab at trying to figure out a smart way to tour the Park, but there just aren’t many opportunities to wait less than 45 minutes for the headliners. And there are basically four headliners at the Studios. Even with the Studios only has about a dozen attractions that post a wait time, you can still expect it to take all day to make it through all of them along with Rise of the Resistance. There’s no way around it with so many people arriving before 10am for the Rise of the Resistance and then getting in line somewhere.
And Magic Kingdom:
Like Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom’s overall average wait was actually shorter on Tuesday, despite being open three fewer hours than the Monday holiday. Tuesday’s average is still almost twice as long as the week before and nearly twice as long as the overall average wait for that day since the Park reopened on July 11th. Like the other Parks, this should prove to be the busiest week yet, with crowds persisting with fall breaks in the south.
Overall, we do at least have another busy holiday weekend behind us. Waits will likely drop a bit next week, but it’s unlikely to be a massive plunge. We’ll see how things shake out.
Current Disney Park Pass Availability
While curling up in the fetal position and repeating “No,” and “Absolutely not under any circumstances,” are the first words that come to mind when anyone says Hollywood Studios to me, it doesn’t seem to make the people choose to do something else with their day. Every yellow day you see in October is a day where the Studios has filled to capacity for Theme Park Tickets Guests and Disney Resort Guests, with the exception of Saturday, October 31st, when Magic Kingdom is the only Park without availability. I’m not sure what extras anybody is expecting from Disney on Halloween, but there are quite a few people who would like to spend a spooky Saturday there. Disney Resort Guests should currently see availability for the Studios on the 16th, but that’s the only difference between the two segments in October.
Every yellow day you see in November is also a day where the Studios is filled to capacity. The only other Park without availability for either Disney Resort Guests or Theme Park Tickets Guests is Magic Kingdom on Thanksgiving Day. That’s always a popular one.
That’s seven days currently without availability at the Studios for both Resort Guests and Tickets Guests. If we can get eight in a row, we probably have to start lighting the Menorah. I hate to say it, but get those Studios dates in as soon as you can, particularly if you’re going during a traditionally busy time.
Every Park on every date is available for both Resort and Tickets Guests from January 2021 on.
Here’s Passholders in October:
As has been true for a while, Passholder availability is wide open during the week, and much tighter on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Thanksgiving is wide open for us. Neener-neener.
You can pull up Disney’s version of the Park Pass availability calendar at any time here. If you’re ready to book a specific Park on a specific date, you’re best off going straight to the reservation page here. Disney’s version of the calendar doesn’t update in real time and may only show availability when there are a larger number of available spots.
Operating Schedule Changes
See this post if you missed the more than one hundred changes Disney made over the weekend. We may see some more updates on Friday, along with another week of hours extending into next year. Pull up Disney’s official calendar here.
That should get you caught up.