You can pull up yesterday’s update here.
Fortunately, I don’t think we have any specific layoff news to cover in this edition. If depressing is what you’re after, and reading about a couple of burnt out lightbulbs in an obscure portion of the Grand Floridian isn’t doing it for you, the last two updates probably will. There’s just something about the termination of 28,000+ domestic cast members that makes it more difficult to get excited about downloadable paper crafts. Now, we can focus on happier things, like new shrimp-based quick service food at ABC Commissary that neither of us wants to eat, but we both know I’ll be ordering.
According to the attraction page on DisneyWorld.com, Frozen Ever After, the ride in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from Monday, November 2nd, through Friday, November 6th. Quietly making “the announcement” less than four weeks in front of the closure doesn’t seem like a tremendous amount of notice, but it’s possible that having a negative number of things to do at Epcot will make the two things that you’re actually able to experience at Hollywood Studios feel like that much more of an accomplishment.
Considering we know how much busier weekends are at the Parks, it makes sense that Disney would try to complete the work during the week. It’s probably also not a coincidence that the refurbishment comes about a week before Veterans Day and about three weeks before Thanksgiving. I would guess that the work is cosmetically focused as it typically takes Disney three or four days just to find the right toolbox, let alone make any substantive improvements. It takes me a similar amount of time to get ready to go out on the town for shrimp at ABC Commissary. When you’re competing against the other bloggers solely on looks, you’ll take any advantage the toolbox might offer.
If your visit coincides with the refurbishment dates, then you may need to move things around in order to experience Frozen. If you can do Sunday, November 1st, you’d be in a lot better shape than if you try for Saturday, November 7th. I’d expect overall waits on the 7th to be more than twice as long as waits during the week. Suffering through waits that are twice as long may not be worth it for Frozen on this particular trip, particularly if Harold from Milwaukee is seating you in place of Helga from Oslo. The ride still averages a wait of 45 to 85 minutes most days, with the likelihood that it will be on the longer end heading into the refurbishment. It’s also somewhat likely that something will go wrong during the refurb, causing the ride to at least open late on Saturday. Someone usually remembers how to turn the thing back on eventually. Sunday the 8th should also be better than the 7th as far as crowds and wait times are concerned.
If Frozen’s closure is the tipping point that causes you to choose to visit another Park, then you’ll likely want to make that Park Pass switch sooner rather than later. Epcot offers the most Park Pass availability, particularly during the week, so switching back will be easier than moving away if you change your mind. I’ve been trying to get away from Epcot for ten years and you’ve seen how much luck I’ve had. The other negative consequence of Frozen being down is that 75 minutes worth of line will have to try to find something else to occupy their time, making just about anything else busier.
Probably not happy with the currently-low price point or lack of demand, Mickey & Friends are set to return to Chef Mickey’s on December 16th. It sounds like it will be more of a sit-down experience without a buffet portion, like Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios. You can read all about that experience for Halloween, and what to expect from socially-distanced character meals that were once lousy buffets, in this WDWNT review.
According to Disney, as far as Chef Mickey’s goes:
That’s $17/adult and $13/child more than the current, characterless meal.
Here’s more from the Parks Blog:
You can pull up their full post here. The one thing that sounds somewhat ambiguous is the end, where they say you can “taste all three as part of an all-you-care-to-eat family style feast.” Perhaps that will come with three smaller versions of each dish. I don’t think I’m familiar with a character meal that isn’t a set price, so my guess is the $42/adult and $27/child price is what you’ll pay, whether you order a glass of water or go all out with whatever the options end up being. The glass of water is probably the safer choice.
I have been to the Mickey-less character meal at Chef Mickey’s and it is a little on the depressing side knowing how much energy there used to be with the characters on hand and our newfound appreciation for the quality and availability of the linens we’re used to twirling around. Just look at the excitement of these people who haven’t received the bill yet.
And compare it to the current scene, which looks like this. You could make a strong argument that this is what the dining room should ordinarily look like given the quality of the food and the price point, but we are a positive blog now, so I won’t have any of that.
Currently, you just get the same food brought over from the buffet that they used to serve before the March closures, so any innovation is probably welcome, even if the new ingredients are primarily sourced from things that fell off the Frozen ride during its refurbishment. Reservations for the new experience will open up 60 days in advance of the first date of the new pricing structure/menu, on October 17th. While I’m hoping there is a 0% chance you try to come back here in eleven days to find this link instead of typing “Chef Mickey’s” into DisneyWorld.com, here’s the direct link anyway. You can at least familiarize yourself with what the page looks like now so you don’t accidentally book something at Epcot in the heat of the moment. Disney resort guests may still book up to ten days extra based on the length of their stay.
Chef Mickey’s still serves breakfast-only, currently with seating between 7am and 11:30am. As we’ve discussed, you could use an early breakfast reservation for the easiest walkway access over to Magic Kingdom after. You could also see about booking the latest breakfast reservation possible, for around 11:25am, and head over after two hours at Magic Kingdom. It would be a nice break as crowds at the Park begin to peak.
Disney will be hosting its first-ever virtual pin trading event:
Perhaps they could do it on the same date as the virtual marathon so people on their treadmills can virtually multitask. Though I’m not sure how much overlap there is in the “I ran 200 miles this week” and “I spent $400 on this framed collection of three oversized pins” crowd.
A bit more on the event:
Not having to deal with the pin-binder-people face to face would be worth just about any price to me, but it’s possible that I only own three or four pins, largely on accident. Registration for the $50/person virtual event opens at 1pm on October 7th. Pull up the Parks Blog post here, with more information about the specific event here, under “All Things Pins.”
Through October 9th, you can download an eBook version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate for free:
Available through Books by Disney in a number of formats, you can pull up the direct link here, with the Parks Blog post introducing the initiative here. The 350+ page book that came out in August of last year has reviews that are much better than what we originally heard about the new land after the bad part of it opened in Disneyland last summer. Hitting the download button on the freebie page should also not result in needing to visit the Guest Experience Team after it says all copies have been distributed. Or, at a minimum, you have a few days to grab the book, instead of the ten seconds you have for the Rise boarding group.
We’ve got even more freebies:
With a four-part series of printable activity sheets relating to Halloween and the Haunted Mansion. Pull up the Parks Blog post here or go directly to the activity sheet download here. At 20+ pages, the PDF looks too complicated for me to figure out, but there are certainly some activities there to fill your time. You may also cut yourself fewer times than trying to put together one of those Disney Metal Earth sets. The last time I tried to put one of those things together, I spent three days crying at First Aid before I even got the first piece attached. Disney also offers their Halloween Playlist of spooky tracks here.
It was just a couple of days ago that we sat down to PizzeRizzo’s Sausage-less Vegan Sub.
We’ll now have fewer opportunities to grab one as Disney has reduced the hours from 11am to 6pm to 11am to 5pm for the foreseeable future. Currently, the hours don’t waver on weekends or holidays, including the week of Thanksgiving. That may change with a surge in demand for reheated pizzas.
With access to the Galaxy’s Edge Marketplace limited to basically just one entrance, and all of the confusion already surrounding mobile order, etc. Ronto Roasters will now operate from just 9:30am to 3pm.
Fortunately, Ronto Wrap enthusiasts don’t need to be too concerned.
You can order one from Docking Bay 7, the quick service next door in Galaxy’s Edge, after Ronto Roasters closes. Phew.
Backlot Express, on the other hand, adds an hour. You can always search DisneyWorld.com and change the date on the little calendar icon to pull up the known hours for known things, knowing that they may change. I would hate for you to be shut out of the Sausage-less Sausage Sub over an accounting error.
ABC Commissary is set to reopen on October 8th with a very different menu:
We’ve seen the Mediterranean Salad (good) and Chicken Club (bad) before, but the Taco options and Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich are new. You can pull up the full menu here. More fast food shrimp. From ABC Commissary. If it isn’t what the doctor ordered, we’ll probably be headed their way after.
Here are the plant-based options and kids’ meals. Interestingly, the California Burger doesn’t specifically mention it’s Impossible Foods, even if they are supposed to be the official provider of the meatless meat for the resort:
Hopefully the Commissary will stay open later with other quick services now closing at 3pm, 4pm, or 5pm, despite the Park staying open until 7pm or 8pm. On the downside, you would also find yourself at ABC Commissary and then have to awkwardly stand there at First Aid for some Pepto while I cry into my Cinderella Castle Metal Earth set.
Over at Magic Kingdom, The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland, and underneath the Astro Orbiter, is set to reopen on October 9th.
We’ll see if Disney changes the menu between now and then, but here’s the standard list of offerings:
It’s typically a quick, easy stop for a Slushy or free cup of water. It would also be a win if they actually added all three kinds of Warm Pretzels. I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve seen the Pepper Jack and the Sweet Cream Pretzel together in one place.
The Frozen Sing-Along returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on October 5th. You can pull up the official showtimes at DisneyWorld.com here for a given date.
Currently, shows begin at
- 10:30 AM
- 11:30 AM
- 12:30 PM
- 1:30 PM
- 2:30 PM
- 3:30 PM
- 4:30 PM
- 5:30 PM
- 6:30 PM
Or basically on the half hour. The show’s popularity, and how early you may need to arrive to see the show, remains to be seen. But from early reports, it looks like there are plenty of available seats, at least at earlier showings. We do see every other row closed off and three empty seats between parties, like we do elsewhere. The Sing-Along was probably the easiest major stage show to rework with the characters rarely in close proximity to each other and the total on-stage cast coming in at six or seven people.
The show will offer people one more thing to do at the Studios, which is good, but if Disney also increases the number of Park Passes available by the total number of people who can see the shows, that’s a lot more guests getting in line for other things when they’re not spending 45 minutes for the Sing-Along.
Keystone Clothiers, the popular store on Hollywood Boulevard, reopened.
The Joffrey’s stand at the Transportation and Ticket Center, in between the walkway down to the Ferryboat and the walk up to the resort monorail, has also reopened.
Disney will release its fourth quarter and full fiscal year results on November 12th at their Disney Investors Portal. It will certainly be an interesting one with so many firings, Disneyland still closed, movie losses, and a lot more happening.
To get us started, here’s a look at Animal Kingdom’s average daily wait since reopening:
Last week, I mentioned that we were likely in a bit of a crowd lull between the end of September and beginning of October. Last week was the first week in over a month that average waits went down. Demand in October is typically higher with Columbus Day and Fall Breaks in the south on the horizon. It looks like that prediction has come to fruition with waits this week back on the rise. The 33.1-minute average from Sunday is the highest for that day of the week yet. It may also be the longest average overall, though there are a lot of numbers on the chart now. Monday’s 26.9-minute average is also the highest for any Monday yet realized.
Here’s the specific chart for Monday:
A big part of what’s driving these waits higher is Flight of Passage, which now posts 60+ minutes from Park open, before typically peaking at 90+ minutes soon after. We’ll take a closer look at what’s going on in our rope drop series, but it’s a lot of people heading to Pandora first thing again. For whatever reason, waits for Flight had been incredibly low for about eight weeks, even as capacity and demand increased. We also see higher waits at other attractions, from Everest’s 28-minute average and 60-minute peak to 50+ minutes for Safaris beginning at 10am. Compared to the previous Monday, the average is over 50% higher. Sunday’s rise of a little over three minutes is closer to a 10% increase, but is another example of waits poised to rise more.
Here’s Epcot on Monday:
Waits are a little above-average with Soarin’ sticking out as seeing 40-minute waits in the afternoon. Short waits at most low-priority Future World attractions point to a reasonable day. Frozen and Test Track both see below average….average waits. Still, that’s a 55-minute average for Frozen with its limited capacity given physical-distancing and the lack of things to do in World Showcase. Bring on Ratatouille.
To the Studios with the daily averages first:
The trends are similar to what we saw at Animal Kingdom. Sunday’s 40.1-minute average is the longest of any Sunday yet and Monday’s average of 48.6 minutes is the second-longest we’ve seen there.
Here’s Monday’s chart:
Those morning crowds and waits are only getting worse, compounded in this instance by Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway not opening until a half hour after the rest of the Park. It then posts more triple digit waits than we’d like. We just finished up a long series covering how to visit the Studios with some amount of success, but if you go down the list of wait times at 11am, there aren’t many opportunities to wait less than a half hour, even if you subtract 30% from what’s posted to account for exaggeration. Slinky starts at 90 minutes, goes up to 100 minutes immediately after, and doesn’t drop below 55 minutes until about a half hour before Park close. Falcon isn’t much better and posts longer waits later into the afternoon, ending with an average wait over 70 minutes, just like the Railway and Slinky.
October 5th was also the first day that the Frozen Sing-Along opened. While it’s too early to say with certainty that the show isn’t doing much to quell the exorbitant waits that we’ve seen over the last several weeks, it certainly didn’t get off to a great start.
And Magic Kingdom:
The news is slightly better here. Sunday’s average of 26.9 minutes is high, as we might expect from a weekend, but it’s actually lower than the week before. The same is true for Monday, where we see a slight drop, even if it’s the second-longest wait we’ve seen on a Monday yet.
Here’s Monday’s specific chart:
It looks pretty clear that we’re seeing capacity reductions come into play with the way wait times now increase substantially at the likes of Big Thunder and Space shortly after open. For months, Space averaged a wait of around 15 minutes, with Big Thunder coming in around 25 minutes. Space has just about tripled, while Big Thunder’s average is up to 47 minutes and is an hour for most of the day. If you look down the chart of wait times at 11:30am, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to enjoy a wait of under 20 minutes. Last week, we saw a big drop-off in waits on Tuesday. We’ll see if that continues.
Current Disney Park Pass System Availability
For Theme Park Tickets Guests and Disney Resort Guests, Hollywood Studios is currently unavailable from October 6th through the 17th, and then again on the 23rd. Magic Kingdom on Halloween in the one Park currently full on the 31st, while the Studios actually has availability. All other Parks on any other date in October would be available for either segment.
Add the Friday before the week of Thanksgiving to the list of days that the Studios isn’t available for Disney Resort Guests or Theme Park Tickets Guests. That means that as of right now, if you were planning on visiting Disney World over Thanksgiving and haven’t yet booked a Park Pass, there would be no availability whatsoever. Hence, the Studios’ ever-increasing “capacity.”
The first days in December are also filling for the Studios for Disney Resort Guests and Theme Park Tickets Guests:
The Studios sees no availability on four days so far. At least as far as the current capacity and the calendar are concerned.
Here’s Passholder availability in October:
Passholders may want to glance at the Park Pass calendar, which is always available here. As usual, weekdays show far more availability than weekends. If you’re ready to book a date, it makes more sense to go directly to the reservation page to try. The calendar doesn’t update in real time and may only show availability if a relatively large number of spots are available.
It’s interesting to see the differences in availability as Passholders strongly favor the weekends when they’re more likely to visit. Resort Guests and Tickets Guests can’t book the Studios on several days over Thanksgiving, but some of us Passholders still can. I might stop by the Studios on Thanksgiving for exactly one second to thank it for the fact that I won’t be spending my day there.
As Park Pass availability does begin to fill, those with tickets will want to begin booking their Parks as early as possible. With the Studios proving the most difficult to book, I’d select two days there to start. If you can get what you want to get done on your first day, or absolutely do not want to return after experiencing the crush of that first morning, it will be easier to move the second day away from the Studios and to another Park.
That may be less true when demand is incredibly high, like it will be on holidays, and all Parks are basically sold out. Those may also be the weeks when you’ll be more likely to want or need two days at the Studios. Two days means four total chances at a Rise boarding group and less pressure to get in long lines when there will be another opportunity on a second day.
Operating Schedule Changes
Look for another set on Friday.
That should get you caught up.