You can pull up the previous update here.
There may not be too many things more cringeworthy than referring to yourself as a “foodie.” “Oh, you like food? How novel.”
And it’s possible that a blue Choco Taco from Pecos Bill stuffed with icing instead of ice cream may not put the Magic Kingdom quick service in the crosshairs of the Michelin Guide, but Disney does offer an overwhelming number of holiday treats this year. You can pull up the full list here should you be visiting between now and December 31st.
Imagine waking up as an ordinary citizen who eats food and consumes beverages just like everyone else. Then imagine putting an old churro in a vanilla milk shake and going to bed as an ordained Disney Foodie. If only we could all be so lucky.
The same company who promised you Hyperion Wharf, a Mary Poppins attraction in the UK Pavilion, and a new theater behind Main Street, among other things, has entered into an agreement with Brightline to bring a medium-speed train to Disney Springs:
An efficient train system connecting Florida has been a pipe dream for decades and Walt Disney World’s president Jeff Vahle goes on to say how excited they are to watch Brightline, “pursue the potential development of a train station at Walt Disney World,” sort of like I’m pursuing the potential development of a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t include blue Choco Tacos that only the elevated palates of Disney Foodies would appreciate. It’s probably not a good sign if your own press release cops to the fact that your company hasn’t yet cleared government approval at the end of the first paragraph.
But unlike the last twelve times they’ve announced that trains will begin transporting the people easily and efficiently to and from Walt Disney World, only to then need to transfer to some sort of non-car-free connection to head to their final destination, there is a chance that this privately-funded operation will actually make its way here. But even if it does, it seems unlikely that it would catch on. You’d need to drive and pay to park at the origin station, which is unlikely to be convenient for most people traveling within the state. But the train will apparently travel about the same speed as your automobile, cutting the time that it takes to travel from Miami to Orlando from about 3.5 hours to about the same 3.5 hours. Add time to go out of your way to the station, board the train, wait for it to depart, and then figure out some way to get to wherever you’re actually going once you arrive, and it’s not particularly surprising that Virgin Trains USA pulled funding from the project months ago. But come 2025, you may just be able to board a train operated by one of Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.” Since trains have been around since the early 1800s, you wonder where the hammer lobby went wrong in getting one of their companies on the same list.
Joe Rohde confirmed his departure from the company as one does in 2k20, via Instagram:
You can pull up the full post here. He mentions needing to escape now before becoming embroiled in yet another big project, despite the fact that he is currently in the middle of a big project overseeing Lighthouse Point, which is to become Disney Cruise Line’s second private island as announced at least year’s D23 Expo. Joe did deserve to go out gracefully, and it’s nice that Disney offered him that opportunity, unlike many of the other 400+ people in Imagineering who will be laid off before the end of the year.
Disney followed up last week’s Epcot announcements with a formal press release:
Half of the “sweeping lineup of new experiences” have already come to pass in Regal Eagle Smokehouse, which is quite good, “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360,” which is just fine, and the “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” which is quite tragic. Disney goes back and forth on describing “Harmonious” as either the largest nighttime spectacular of all time (of all time) and “one of the largest.” It seems like the promised replacement for Reflections of China is off as Disney has failed to mention it in any context since announcing it would arrive seamlessly some time ago.
World Celebration will apparently “offer new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them” via “new pathways” and “three…new pylons.” It’s hard to argue with that. Disney refers to what was supposed to be a new multi-level Festival Center as a “newly reimagined festival area.” Maybe the story fountain will wax poetic about what could have been if even half of what Disney announced for Epcot…sorry…EPCOT came to pass. It may not be the time to reassert that the previously-announced overhaul of Spaceship Earth is still coming down the line, but they’ve had about six opportunities to bring it back to the forefront of the conversation in the past week.
“World Nature will be dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world” on top of part of the 30,000 acres of beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world that Disney began paving over a little more than 50 years ago. But if we can’t have the original swamp back, at least we can save ourselves a visit to the Lawn and Garden department at Home Depot by taking a walk through Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. I’m not sure I’ve ever formally met “magical, living water” before, so that is something to look forward to. Since Disney very rarely spends their own money on anything at EPCOT, it will be interesting to see what natural-resource-sucking company sponsors the walkthrough. Nestlé, the same company that forced the World Water Council to reclassify access to potable water from a “right” to a “need” would be the logical choice.
World Discovery will bring a storytelling coaster to go along with our storytelling fountain that promises to bring storytelling to life. Space 220 continues to get the nod, now with more signage than it has people hired to work in the kitchen. The next time my wife asks me what I’m thinking for dinner, I’ll have to tell her, “Oh, probably just a culinary experience offering the celestial panorama of a space station.” Despite having no menu, no chef, no opening date, and no wife, “fantastic meals” await. Maybe they will bring the Chili Dog from The Edison, which Patina also operates, over here.
Disney does promise more information is coming, but you wonder why a fresh press release talks about six things that have all opened 6+ months ago, one thing that was supposed to open a year ago, and then basically reaffirms exactly what we already knew from last week’s Disney Parks Blog post. Notably absent is any mention of the PLAY! Pavilion, which could be another casualty of reduced capital spending in the theme parks. Of course, it doesn’t make much sense to play up the promise of meet and greets and interactive activities in our current climate. On the other hand, the PLAY! Pavilion is not going to drive attendance higher quite like exploring the similarities between the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar might.
Disney is apparently replacing the quasi-outlet-store dedicated to Annual Passholders at Epcot with the opportunity to purchase merchandise based on the current Magic Kingdom Castle Projections through the end of the year:
I think they’re down to just 400 million Sven Sippers to move.
We begin with our usual chart of Animal Kingdom’s average daily wait since it reopened on July 11th:
The Thanksgiving crowds did indeed arrive with wait times on Monday and Tuesday that were almost twice as long as the week before. Monday’s average also eclipses the busiest day since the Park reopened .with 50.5 minutes beating the previous “best” of 48.6 minutes from a little over six weeks ago.
Here’s Tuesday’s chart:
While we wouldn’t ordinarily be surprised by much higher waits during holiday weeks, the Disney Park Pass system should theoretically cap attendance at a certain level, and with it, contain waits at a certain threshold. Waits so far this week are considerably higher than they have been even compared to previous days that also sold out of Park Passes. With twelve operating hours, it’s likely that the day’s capacity was calculated to be higher, and thus, more Park Passes were distributed.
But those peak afternoon waits are certainly rough with Flight of Passage staying above 75 minutes almost all day, DINOSAUR peaking at 70 minutes before 11am, Everest hitting 75 minutes, It’s Tough To Be A Bug posting 40 minutes for two hours straight, Safaris coming in over an hour and then closing at 5pm, River Journey averaging 54 minutes, and even our beloved TriceraTop Spin forcing us off without a re-ride and a 15-minute posted wait. The good news is the Park should have opened around 7:15am, which will give you an opportunity to stay ahead of the game in the morning and not start the day right at 8am with those longer waits. The last hour remains a good time to tour, but posted waits are still longer than the beginning of the day. You could still do River Journey and Flight of Passage in that last hour without much trouble. The actual wait for Flight of Passage for those getting in line around 7:55pm should be 30 to 50 minutes. I’d be in line for Na’vi an hour before close to be on the safe side of things if you’re planning on doing Flight of Passage after. You don’t want to risk getting shut out there.
Tuesday was the worst day to visit since the Park reopened in July based on the fact that it had the highest overall average wait. Test Track was basically down for over two hours to start the day, and then shortly after, Frozen went down for two hours. We see triple digit waits at both priorities most of the day. With the later close, you can still do well in Future World after 7pm, but Mission: SPACE is still posting 70 minutes then and Test Track is still at 85 minutes at 8:15pm. Still, you could close out the night at both by getting in line for Mission: SPACE an hour before Park close and then heading to Test Track right after.
Average waits will be lower now with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway loading every row and effectively doubling capacity. That has reduced waits there by more than 40%. With the Studios’ limited number of attractions that post a wait, the Railway dropping from an average of 80+ minutes to about 45 minutes pulls the overall average down by about five minutes. If the Railway posted an 80-minute average on Tuesday, instead of the 43 minutes that it realized, the average for that day would be 42.4 minutes. But with no extended hours this week for whatever reason, and no increase in the number of people Disney is letting inside, every day at the Studios is basically the same.
Here’s Tuesday’s chart:
This should be the standard distribution until something else changes touring patterns. Look at how short those Railway waits are at the end of the day. Even Star Tours posts a longer wait at the end of the night. Hopefully you’re following along with our current visit to the Studios, which discusses in more depth than either of us would like how to go about planning your day. You can pull up the first part of that series here and the second part here.
Waits had stabilized over the last month or so, with weekly averages between 23.2 minutes and 25.7 minutes. This looks to be the busiest week yet with 30+ minute averages over the first three days.
Here’s Tuesday’s chart:
While a 35-minute average is higher than usual, it’s certainly not unprecedented. Fourteen other dates since October also saw 30+ minute averages, though those usually come on the weekends.
Waits should increase a bit over the coming days as more people arrive for the holiday. The Park Pass system should limit those increases as we’ll see below, Magic Kingdom doesn’t have any more spots available for the rest of the week.
Current Disney Park Pass Availability
For the rest of Thanksgiving Week, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are booked solid, while Epcot and Animal Kingdom still have availability. On November 29th and 30th, only the Studios is currently booked.
Disney replenished availability throughout most of December again:
After the first week, any Park is available on any date for Disney Resort Guests or Theme Park Tickets Guests, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In 2021, the only booked date is the Studios on January 3rd. Disney has not yet replenished that date, but they very likely will in the upcoming days.
Passholders not looking to visit on Black Friday have some options to fill out the month:
Lower-level Passes are blocked out over Thanksgiving, which likely helps.
This is almost identical to what we saw last time, but Disney has added more availability in late December, opening up every Park on every date from the 14th on.
In 2021, the Studios is showing no availability on the 3rd, 9th, and 16th at the moment. Those dates should be replenished in the future. Magic Kingdom on October 1st also remains unavailable.
Operating Schedule Changes:
We should see another round on Friday.
Interesting Menu Changes:
The Lunching Pad, underneath Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom, added breakfast:
You can pull up the hours for a given date here. It looks like they’re opening early enough most days that this will be a semi-permanent offering.
With Kusafiri still closed in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, Tamu Tamu Refreshments will begin offering similar items:
This also looks to be a permanent offering with Tamu now opening with the Park.
San Angel Inn added the $13.50 “Tostada De Pollo – Crispy corn tortillas topped with beans, chipotle chicken, crema Mexicana, queso fresco and avocado-tomatillo sauce” appetizer and $36 “Pescado A La Veracruzana
Red snapper atop potatoes with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette made with capers, olives, bell peppers, Spanish onions and tomatoes” entrée.
They also overhauled their dessert menu. Other items changed in price or description. You can pull up the full menu here.
The Wave at the Contemporary added their delicious $14 “Bacon and Eggs – Maple-lacquered Pork Belly with Perfect Egg and Smoked Cheddar Grits” appetizer back to the lunch and dinner menus.
Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge added Spiced Surabat Cider for the season. Ronto Roasters also serves it next door.
Woody’s Lunch Box reopened on November 25th with the following menu:
They ended up adding not only the regular Totchos to the menu, but a Plant-Based version with “Chili” and “Cheese” that may complement the “Cheddar” on the Sandwich nicely. “Served over Potato Barrels,” as the Plant-Based version promises, does sound like high-class dining. You can pull up the full menu here. The $1 Cheese Sauce is also available again.
P & J’s Southern Takeout at Fort Wilderness is offering a Pumpkin Spice Cupcake.
La Hacienda de San Angel also added some new menu items:
- Crema de Elote $11
- Flautas $13.50
- Parrillada del Mar $64
- Cochinita Pabil $31
- Horchata Cheesecake $10
You can pull up that menu here. They run odd hours, so double check those too if you’re planning on eating there.
That should get you caught up, albeit a bit late.