September 9th’s update is available here.
Disney announced a harvest of details concerning the Halloween entertainment arriving at Magic Kingdom this year in lieu of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The festivities begin September 15th and continue until October 31st.
According to the company:
Throughout the day, special Halloween cavalcades will pop up on the parade route and head down Main Street, U.S.A. You could come across Mickey Mouse and his pals, all dressed up for the occasion in Boo-tiful Halloween costumes. On select days, you may even encounter a cavalcade of Disney Villains – from Gaston and Maleficent to Queen of Hearts and Jafar – creeping down the path, or a nightmarish procession featuring the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington!
We’re all familiar with the lack of scheduled parades, fireworks, and other nighttime spectaculars across all of the theme parks in the wake of physical-distancing.
Magic Kingdom’s surprise cavalcades full of popular characters progressing down Main Street are probably the best change that we’ve enjoyed since the Parks reopened. You could probably make an argument for low wait times too.
The various cavalcades offer a largely hassle-free opportunity to see, interact with, and take pictures of a number of characters that would otherwise be unavailable or require long waits to get a glimpse of. They’re also minimally disruptive to the flow of traffic up and down Magic Kingdom’s main boulevard.
The fact that we’ll be able to see many of the characters from the Boo to You Parade without having to purchase a separate, expensive ticket for the nighttime event is a big plus.
The “on select days” part is worth noting for the characters unrelated to Mickey and friends. It “feels” like there are fewer of the cavalcades now than when Magic Kingdom first reopened. I will admit that I have not stood there on Main Street for the nine or ten hours and counted. We’ll have to see if some of the rarer characters are relegated to the weekends or don’t arrive until later in October. If I was Jafar (and I’m totally not *wink*) I would probably wait a bit to make my entrance as grand as possible, particularly if I had to travel from the ends of earth.
But I think all of us will be happy if we have the opportunity to hear “boo to you and you and you and you” this Halloween season. It takes me 364 days to get the song out of my head, so we should be right on schedule for its materialization. While Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade historically takes over for Festival of Fantasy Parade around the very busy and very expensive holiday season, the only opportunity to see characters like Jafar and Jack Skellington is typically at the upcharge event. The Halloween plussing also means we’ll likely see a similar Christmas upgrade to the cavalcades in early November. You know it’s time to start thinking about Hanukkah sock shopping when Pluto dons his red and green collar with the jingle jangles.
In another move that Disney certainly wasn’t obligated to undertake, the Cadaver Dans will appear in place of the Dapper Dans beginning September 20th and continuing through October 31st.
It’s possible that there are fewer of the Cadaver variety. Even Maleficent can probably conjure up only so much. But any money Disney is saving with fewer Dans probably goes right back in to those sharp-looking hats.
Yesterday, we learned that Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would offer the Christmas version of its socially-distanced character meal for the holidays.
Today, we learned that the Halloween Dine version will begin September 25th. Hollywood & Vine did not open with Hollywood Studios in July, so this will mark the first time that the restaurant has prepared “food” since March.
A monster feast will be served to your table, and favorite Disney friends will make special appearances in the restaurant. You can wave and snap photos of your hostess, Minnie Mouse, dressed as a happy witch. Goofy is coming as a spooky cowboy, with Mickey Mouse as a funny vampire, and his best pal, Pluto, gets into the act wearing a cute Halloween collar.
Instead of the usual buffet, the meal will be served family-style, not unlike what we’re seeing at other restaurants that have traditionally been buffets, like Biergarten and Chef Mickey’s.
Considering we’re talking about Hollywood & Vine, less variety likely means fewer opportunities for food poisoning.
Disney continues to roll out discounts for Florida residents. In addition to ticket and hotel savings, “Florida Residents will be able to receive a 20% discount on select merchandise at Walt Disney World Resort owned and operated locations. This special new discount runs Mondays through Thursdays—September 15 through October 29, 2020 (proof of residency required).” I’m always a little concerned that someone is going to cart me off to jail when I show my Florida ID out of state, but you are among friends here. I doubt the potential for a merchandise discount will keep too many people around for a Monday, but the discount is something you want to consider if you’re planning on making any big purchases during the eligible dates.
Here’s the fine print:
Off the record, you may be able to bribe a Florida resident to make your purchase for you should the total be worth your while. You can usually identify us because we’re missing a key article of clothing such as pants. You may want to key in on someone missing a shoe or otherwise less likely to run away with your money. Don’t assume that just because someone looks older that they’ll turn out to be slower. Illegal, souped-up ECVs with a maximum speed of seven or eight miles per hour aren’t uncommon in these parts.
Disney offers a rundown of the current Florida resident discounts here. Disney has also increased the merchandise discount to cast members to 50% off most items through February 21st of next year.
I had joked back in July about waiting until coupon day to purchase items at the Food and Wine Festival. We’re not quite there yet, but Goofy’s Candy Co., Chip & Dale Snacks, and Chocolate Factory items are all buy one get one free across property at the moment. Most importantly, the offer is good for anybody, so you don’t even have to maintain residency by opening a shell company in Florida to save $6 on 35 cents worth of pretzels. As someone who has tried to run away from tourists with the money they gave me to buy them their Mickey plush at a 20% discount on more than one occasion, I can tell you that the shell’s liability shield can still come in handy. So can wearing both shoes on the correct feet.
Food does expire, and with the Parks closed for about four months, a lot of those candy products are probably nearing their sell-by dates. Historically, Disney would just glue it all together and serve the amalgamation as carved beef surprise at Chef Mickey’s, but that’s current off the table in more ways than one. If there’s anything I’m nostalgic for at Disney World, it’s not being able to open my mouth for a while after taking a bite at Chef Mickey’s. To this day, I don’t know if it was a physical or a psychological limitation.
Narcoossee’s is slated for a September 21st reopening. You can read my most recent review of the restaurant here.
The signature restaurant has always suffered from a sort of strange vibe in my opinion, mixing lackadaisical service and a surprisingly casual atmosphere with the highest average entree price of any restaurant on property. With Citricos still out, you may want to consider Narcoossee’s for a romantic rendezvous if other options remain unavailable.
Animal Kingdom’s average wait went up 1.5 minutes day-over-day. We see some unusually long waits at Kilimanjaro Safaris in the morning, perhaps because an animal on the tracks slowed things down. It’s possible that there are fewer trucks out on the savanna now, but DINOSAUR’s consistent 5-minute wait is indicative of reasonable staffing. If we continue to see longer waits between 9:45am and 11am, we’ll likely want to hold off on visiting Safaris until after lunch, and head towards Asia or DinoLand after Pandora. Flight of Passage’s 31-minute average is also about 30% higher than either of the last couple of days and the highest of any weekday since the Park reopened. Those longer waits are consistent with what we would expect given shorter operating hours and a reduction in supply.
Yesterday, you’ll remember that Disney Park Pass availability “improved” across all three ticket segments. It wouldn’t surprise me if Disney is now quietly increasing each Park’s capacity. Unlike a concert or a movie theater, where we can see how many seats or tickets are typically available, Disney has never publicly acknowledged how many people they’re letting into the Parks. I’m not sure anybody of consequence has thought to ask, but they also wouldn’t tell you.
Here’s Animal Kingdom’s daily average since reopening:
Thursday’s 15.3 minutes is certainly no cause for alarm, but it does look to be the second-highest average on a non-holiday weekday yet. And the only weekday with a longer average was the Friday leading up to the busiest weekend since the Park reopened. It’s also almost 50% higher than the previous Thursday. None of that sounds particularly positive, but Flight of Passage’s 31-minute average is still about 80 minutes shorter than it would have been last year. We still don’t enjoy the ability to use FastPass+ to bypass however long the wait might be. But that’s also a big reason why wait times are shorter. One of these days, we’ll run the same plan as we did in the FastPass+ times and see if we actually end up waiting less over the course of the day.
Erin and I are not famous for this, because nobody else knows, but we are both very bad at getting popular sayings exactly right. Like I will say, “You really hit the pigeon on the head with that one.” Or, “You’re as cool as a pickle.” In metaphysics, or specifically the possibility of unperceived existence, there’s the question of whether or not a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if nobody hears it. In a similar vein, I wonder if Epcot didn’t open if anybody would notice. I’m not sure if that’s what Irish philosopher George Berkeley had in mind when he was developing the idea of subjective idealism, but wait times at Epcot continue to climb as well with an average that was about 20% higher than the day before it.
For weeks, we’ve seen Soarin’ as a consistent 10-minute wait. It now posts 15 minutes for the majority of the day. If I was in the freakout business, I could title a post, “WAITS AT THIS POPULAR EPCOT RIDE ARE SKYROCKETING BY MORE THAN HALF!” But that’s also a 3-minute average increase. Elsewhere, Frozen is up to 37 minutes. The Seas with Nemo going down for about three hours is unusual, and Test Track’s 3+ hours of downtime doesn’t help the overall situation. But there does seem to be increases in wait times with the shorter hours and the new increase in Park Pass availability. The removal of cast member blockouts may also be attributing to heavier crowds.
To the Studios:
Hollywood Studios’ average dropped by a minute over yesterday. Finally some good news.
Still, 27+ minutes remains higher than most weekdays and the 24.6-minute overall average.
And Magic Kingdom:
Magic Kingdom is also up over yesterday.
With the longest average wait on a Thursday yet. A lot of this could be due to residual crowds from the holiday weekend and we won’t see a bigger September drop until next week. Ostensibly, Disney reduced hours because they were expecting a decrease in demand. If waits continue to climb with the shorter operating hours and the likelihood that Disney has increased the attendance capacities at its Parks, then we may see longer waits persist later into the month. Still, the day is more than manageable.
We’re almost exactly a month away from Columbus Day Weekend, which is the next big driver of crowds before Thanksgiving. As I mentioned a couple of Roundups ago, September staffing reductions and operating hour reductions have caused longer waits during the least busy month for years. The shortest waits may be behind us, even if they were during what used to be the peak summer months.
Current Disney Park Pass System Availability
Theme Park Tickets Guests can book any Park on any date in September or October. Disney Resort Guests see the same availability. A couple of days ago, we would have seen some days with a Park sold out.
Annual Passholders used to be shut out of much of September, but now can book any Park on the majority of the remaining dates in September.
October availability for Passholders looks even better:
I’m not sure how this is possible without a substantial increase in the number of Park Passes available. I’d be more enthusiastic about it if it didn’t come at the same time as the Park hour reductions.
Operating Hour Changes
Disney is still coy on Thanksgiving. We don’t have any hours available after Saturday, November 21st. But that 60-day restaurant booking window is approaching. We may see Disney release the hours on September 11th.
Interesting Things From Around the Internet
If you find something of value that you’d like to see included in one of these roundups, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Ideally, this would not be your own content unless you know I like you. And if you don’t like me, I’m happy to remove any content that may be linked or embedded. Either email me or make a public stink about it on Twitter.
Since shopDisney can’t get it together and is cancelling EPCOT poster orders, here are our pics/links to full res
— BlogMickey.com (@Blog_Mickey) September 10, 2020
Blog Mickey includes direct links to the full resolution images of the Epcot posters that shopDisney seems to have bungled the orders on once again. I really like that IllumiNations one, but sometimes I wonder if it’s only because I can’t have it. I see a lot of the merchandise from Tokyo and Hong Kong and think that I would definitely buy it if I had the opportunity, but I purchase virtually none of the domestic merchandise that’s right in front of me. If scotch can’t go in it or my mom can’t verify that popcorn would easily fit inside then it’s usually a no go.
We are rescinding amended EO 20-09 from DBPR as of Monday. Starting Monday, all bars will be reopened at 50% occupancy. pic.twitter.com/YqQR2MkJpR
— HalseyBeshears (@HalseyBeshears) September 10, 2020
Bars in most of Florida will be allowed to open at 50% capacity beginning on September 14th, including most or all on Disney property. Most outlets that serve alcohol have been able to get around the previous bar ban because they’re now technically considered “restaurants.” Laws are made for loopholes. I even bought a pan-seared Cheeto for a dollar from one bar just so they could say they were operating as a full-fledged restaurant. Look out for that incoming review.
That should get you caught up with the day.