You can pull up the previous update here.
If you had to watch people eat Sanaa’s bread service all day, every day, day in, and day out, you’d probably look like this too. They do appreciate compliments on their plumage. But then, who doesn’t.
Dockside Margaritas at Disney Springs has reopened, ostensibly because Florida eased the laws about the specific sorts of establishments that can serve alcohol on Monday. Since we are all about “safety over profit” here in Florida (try to say that out loud without laughing), there was previously a “bar ban,” despite the fact that all of the bars that I frequent are apparently “restaurants,” even if you’d have to be 12-15 margaritas deep before you’d even consider ordering food there. That’s how you know you’re in the right place. Once one of the boys says, “Hmmmm, the nachos sound kind of good,” you know it’s time to leave, or someone is spending the night in a ditch. If that sounds oddly specific, it’s only because I have an active imagination. You’ll find the to-go bar across from the Marketplace Co-Op.
If you’re looking for a drink to-go, and don’t run into a happy hour deal elsewhere, the cocktails are largely above-average, using high-end ingredients. I wish they would add “The Trash Margarita for Trash People” at a price point closer to five dollars. I don’t even care if they use Montezuma Tequila, which tastes like a cross between the Magic Kingdom “Hub Grass” and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. If you’ve had it, you know what I’m talking about. But we’ve probably already met in a ditch.
They also accept the Tables in Wonderland discount, which is unusual for a to-go kiosk like this. Disney Springs is considerably more tolerable with a drink in your hand, but at $16 + tax and tip, I’d probably prefer to sit down somewhere. The popular Avocado Margarita is available from Frontera Cocina for $15, for example. Homecomin’ is another good option for good drinks at a bar that doesn’t require a reservation. Paradiso 37 usually offers something pretty close to The Trash Margarita from one of their bars for $5, and the House of Blues Happy Hour from 11:30am to 5pm also offers good drink discounts. I’d also check the outdoor bar at Raglan Road and to the left of Cookes of Dublin on weekday afternoons. They typically offer $5 draft beers and other drink discounts.
What is apparently called the “Keister Coaster waterslide” at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn will be closed from October 5th through October 30th, while the rest of the Luna Park Pool complex and two leisure pools remain open. That should give them an opportunity to theme the slide to “literally” anything else. It seems unlikely that out of all the angles you could take of the pool, Disney would use the one that “literally” leaves out the fact that it’s themed to Stephen King’s It. Just take a look at Disney’s header picture for the entire recreation category. No clown.
Even theming it to serial killers in general would probably be an improvement. I would go to the “Mindhunter” pool. Technically, only the DVC wing of the BoardWalk Inn is currently open. Once the rest of the resort reopens, I’m sure more of you will have an opportunity to enjoy what is probably just a fresh coat of paint.
Savi’s Workshop reopens on September 20th. Reservations are now available online here, using a booking mechanism that looks much different than the regular dining system.
You can immediately see what days have availability for the $200 experience on the calendar.
The first five days are already sold out, in addition to these three days in October, which are also running out of Park Pass availability as they prove to be popular with people whose kids have a fall break. Disney’s main page for Savi’s Workshop, with all of the details of the experience, is available here.
Disney released the list of festive fall treats that will be coming to the resorts and Disney Springs in their “Foodie Guide.” Having suffered through some number of years of people referring to themselves as “Disney Foodies,” I’ve never been particularly happy with Disney latching on to the phrase. “Foodie” and “mass-produced cupcake from the All-Star Sports with a pumpkin on it right now” probably don’t belong together. Liking food has never seemed particularly noteworthy, and putting “Disney” in front of it seems to make the phrase all the less impressive. Disney towelie, or someone who really likes Disney towels, probably makes just as much sense. We know they’re out there. On the plus side, once you hear someone refer to themselves as a “Disney foodie,” you know it’s a good time to exit the conversation and eliminate them from your life.
Considering the times that we’re still in, it “felt” a little strange that Disney announced the date that Jack Skellington and other popular Boo to You characters would first appear during regular hours, and then orchestrated an entire social media campaign to promote it.
You can’t say that everything the #DisneyCreators say is untrue. What you can say is that if they fall out of line, and don’t promote exactly whatever Disney wants highlighted, the company will choose someone else who will. You then won’t be invited back for an event that will come with anywhere from $500 to $10,000+ in free stuff. You also have to pay attention to what they do and how they do it, because it’s virtually never the same as what a regular guest would experience themselves. For some reason they never tell you about the private transportation, side door access, free buffet, or prime reserved viewing area.
Given the FTC’s guidelines on disclosure, and what the compensation package is for all of these people, you’d think that a media conglomerate the size of Disney would be a little more transparent about something that’s clearly advertising. But the whole point of “social media influencing” is to obfuscate the fact that the people are actively being compensated to promote the product, just like any other commercial.
Disney shared a picture of the first piece of the canopy being lowered on “TRON Lightcycle / Run:”
I really hope that I don’t have to type “TRON Lightcycle / Run” too many times. The official Parks Blog post also includes a 45-second video on either the canopy first coming into place or Imagineers just pointing at things. Either is fine in my book.
Both Water Parks remain closed, despite, shockingly, Volcano Bay at Universal opening with some success back during the first week in June. The reopening date for one of the Water Parks is now March 7th, which is just in time for spring break. You can “view additional details,” or pull up the Blizzard Beach page, here.
The Park Blog has also added a Halloween Portal should you be visiting in the next ~six weeks. Or you’re simply interested in what Disney has going on this fall. I doubt we’ll see any information about the day’s wait times or how fast Rise of the Resistance boarding groups filled. But you can see how many times you can fit “bewitching” or “spooktacular” on a single page.
Since we’ve skipped a couple of days of detailed wait time posts, we’ll start with the chart of Animal Kingdom’s daily average wait since the Park reopened. The newly-added averages are highlighted:
Wait times over the last few days have been about the same as they were on the same days last week. Over the last three days, the average wait at Animal Kingdom was 15.0 minutes. During the same days last week, the average wait was 14.6 minutes. So that’s only an incremental increase. On the downside, the average for the same dates two weeks ago was 10.1 minutes. So we’re still seeing a 50% increase in posted waits versus a 20% reduction in operating hours most days.
Here’s the chart for Thursday, September 17th:
Despite weekday wait times continuing to increase, the day looks more than doable overall. With Animal Kingdom opening at about 8:35am with the official 9am open, and letting guests get in line for Flight of Passage as soon as they’re able to make it to the attraction entrance, the 35-minute wait there at 9am isn’t a surprise. That’s the wait people getting in line right at 9am can expect to experience. If you’re able to arrive before 8:45am, you should wait under ten minutes. Na’vi River Journey also has enough of a cushion to make it over there with a short wait immediately after. Everest’s 13-minute average is low, along with DINOSAUR’s 8-minute average also indicating few people in line at any given time. Kilimanjaro Safaris’ average drops to just 15 minutes from over 25 minutes this past weekend. I’d still look at saving Safaris for after lunch, when waits reliably come down from 30 to 45 minutes to 10 to 20. We probably need to get used to seeing 16-minute averages on weekdays and 30ish-minute averages on the weekend. And hope that they don’t go up too quickly from there.
Here’s Epcot on Thursday the 17th:
The distribution is just about the same as Monday and its 14-minute average. Test Track sees additional downtime for weather, but the average there is actually three minutes lower than Monday, while Thursday’s average at Frozen is two minutes higher than Monday. Both differences are negligible. The persistent 10-minute wait at Soarin’, along with short waits at other Future World attractions, are indicative of continuing low weekday crowds.
Onto the Studios:
We’ll take a look at the chart for each day at the Studios separately, since it’s often bad in new, unexpected ways. Or, at a minimum, there’s a different explanation for why waits are long on any particular day. Here on Tuesday the 15th, Smugglers Run was down all day, and Rise of the Resistance also saw extended downtime, ending with just 60 boarding groups processed. That’s about 20 below-average. Seeing 45 minutes for Muppet*Vision at 11am seems bad, but such is life when Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are all down. The actual wait probably is about 45 minutes as the line stretches outside and into the sun. We’ll see it ourselves as we go about our morning in the next series.
Here’s Wednesday, the 16th:
This is the day that we’ll cover with a lot of pictures since the website was on the ground trying to move through the attractions (all day). Despite the Park seeing one of its best operating days in some time, the average wait is still 38 minutes. Runaway Railway never went down for technical difficulty and Rise of the Resistance hit its average throughput of 79 boarding groups. Smugglers Run likely operated at half-capacity all day, resulting in longer waits there. Outside of that, this is probably the new “best case scenario.” I’m sure we’ll have more to say once we get down there.
And Thursday the 17th:
It’s another 40+ minute average day at the Studios. We’ll have to get used to it.
Here’s where those waits fit into the grand scheme of things:
This week will easily see the longest average wait times so far, with three days already over 40 minutes. Before this past Saturday, the Park rarely hit a 30-minute average. Waits on Wednesday were 26.6% higher than reopening day and all the fanfare that it brought nine weeks before. Thursday’s average is a 49% increase compared to the previous week. That basically means a 30-minute wait becomes 45+ minutes. A 60-minute wait would be over 90 minutes now. We’ll see just how rough things are in a lot of pictures shortly.
To Magic Kingdom:
Here’s the chart of daily averages filled in:
Potentially, if wait times normalize at these levels, we’ll be able to easily reassess what we’re able to do moving forward. Wait times over the last three days were higher than the previous week, but the increase was a minute at most. That means wait times are still going up, and they’re still considerably higher than they were in July and August, but it’s no longer the exponential increases that we first started seeing around Labor Day.
Here’s the most recent chart from Thursday, September 17th:
A 17ish-minute average on weekdays is probably a safe bet for the time-being. On Thursday, the Magic Kingdom area in particular saw some afternoon rain, which likely sent some people to the exit around 3:30pm, and then reduced waits after. Nothing else is sticking out as particularly unusual. Space Mountain’s 11-minute average is a good sign that crowds are manageable and staffing remains adequate. Of course, the last time I said there was probably no cause for alarm, there ended up being a lot of cause for alarm. We’ll see how this weekend stacks up.
Current Disney Park Pass System Availability
Disney Park Pass availability looks to track together for both Theme Park Tickets Guests and Disney Resort Guests, meaning they see the same available Parks on the same dates. About a week ago, Saturday, September 19th, was showing no availability whatsoever for any Park for either ticket type. Earlier this week, Disney replenished availability, and all the Parks were available again. Saturday is back down to just Animal Kingdom.
Somewhat interestingly, Animal Kingdom on September 20th was the only Park that wasn’t available to regular ticket holders or Disney resort guests in September. Now that Disney has extended the operating hours to 6pm, it’s available again. Hollywood Studios is the Park that isn’t available on the 20th, 26th, and 27th.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Park that’s unavailable for both Resort Guests and Theme Park Tickets Guests from October 9th through the 16th. That should be a busy week.
Add the Friday after Thanksgiving to the list of days that Hollywood Studios is unavailable for Theme Park Tickets Guests or Disney Resort Guests. Thanksgiving remains available, which makes sense, since I also would not want to celebrate anything there. Every day in December, including every Park from December 25th through January 1st, remains available.
Here’s Passholders in September:
For Annual Passholders, it’s the weekends that remain problematic.
Here’s October with a lot of yellow on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, which means some Parks have already sold out 30+ days in advance:
Passholders can also book the Studios for some of those weekdays in October that are currently unavailable to the other ticket types. Differences in guest behavior with different ticket types are pretty obvious from the Park Pass calendar. Passholders, who are more likely to be relatively local, are in turn more likely to visit on the weekends, when most have more of an opportunity. We probably don’t need to run a regression analysis to come to that conclusion. But, if we did, I bet we’d find that the weekends aren’t busy because they’re booked earlier. They’re busy because you have more local Passholders visiting the Parks alongside the tourists who are already in town. If you’re a Passholder trying to make a reservation for a particular Park on the weekend, you also might book the next available date, which could already be into October or November.
Here’s Passholder availability in November:
Even the week of Thanksgiving is wide open for Passholders, while each of the previous weekends are showing at least some lack of availability. I’m guessing that this is not an indication that Thanksgiving will not be crowded, particularly when days are already filling for other ticket types.
Since Passholders without a resort stay can only book up to three Park Pass days at a time, it makes sense that dates closer to the present are being keyed in on. I carry three Park Pass reservations at any given time, almost all of which are over the course of the next week, and virtually none of which are for Hollywood Studios. You’d also have to look at Annual Pass blockout dates as a reason for why some dates aren’t yet filling.
For example, Theme Park Select Passholders can’t book Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios during the week of Thanksgiving:
If they could, they might. And if they did, Thanksgiving would be more likely to show less availability. That’s why they’re blocked out in the first place. If you want to go during a naturally busier time, like the week of a holiday, you have to upgrade your pass to a more expensive type. You can pull up the blockout calendar for each Pass type here.
Operating Hour Changes
Disney has made its second and third extensions since Disney reduced operating hours across the board last month. On Saturday, September 26th, which is a week from this Saturday, both Animal Kingdom and Epcot are slated to stay open one extra hour. You’ll remember that previously, Disney extended Animal Kingdom’s close to 6pm on Sunday, September 20th. It will be interesting to see if wait times go down with the longer hours, or if capacity is raised enough to make it a wash.
We still don’t see any extensions at Hollywood Studios, despite the preponderance of days where Park Passes aren’t available months in advance. Magic Kingdom is also sticking to its 9am to 6pm day so far, even on the busy weekends, when waits are routinely 25%+ higher than weekdays.
That should get you caught up.