September 8th’s update is available here. Today’s post is slightly delayed as I’m still working out a couple of kinks in how I organize things. Everyone will receive a one day extension to their memberships.
Disney confirmed that the Craft Your Own Lightsaber experience at Savi’s Workshop in Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on September 20th. You can expect some slight modifications due to physical-distancing, which will likely reduce the already limited capacity further. Reservations for the experience, which costs $200 plus tax, will be available on DisneyWorld.com and the My Disney Experience app on September 16th. Walk-ups will be accommodated when space allows, but you absolutely want to make a reservation if you know this is something that you’d like to do. Availability was spotty before and will be worse now.
You can pull up Disney’s official rundown of what to expect from Savi’s Workshop along with the reservation page here along and the Parks Blog announcement here. If you’re interested in booking the Workshop experience, I’d be ready to start refreshing the page at 7am on September 16th. Droid Depot, where guests have an opportunity to build a custom droid, reopened with the Studios back on July 15th. Savi’s Workshop sort of did too, but only as a mechanism to sell legacy lightsabers without the presentation.
The Workshop experience is a little less than 20 minutes long and receives rave reviews despite the high price point. It’s possible that we’re taking the word of people who are also happy to spend eight hours driving around to twelve different Wal-Marts in a desperate search for limited edition figurines of Star Wars characters who appear on-screen for three seconds. We’ll see about reviewing the modified experience if I can find someone to pawn off the space sword on. My mom will kill me if I bring home another “plastic piece of junk that I can’t even put popcorn in.” I try to tell her that you can put popcorn in anything if you try hard enough.
Walt Disney World reopened in July with a limited time 30% discount on most merchandise for Annual Passholders. That discount reverted back to the usual 20% a couple of weeks ago. Beginning September 15th, and continuing through October 29th, the 30% discount will return. You can confirm this discount and others available on the Disney Annual Passholder page. Also note that Savi’s Workshop and the Droid Depot are specifically excluded from the discount.
Speaking of merchandise, Cast Connection reopened on September 9th. The store, now near Disney’s Animal Kingdom, functions largely as an outlet for cast members and their guests, offering overstock and seasonal merchandise at steep discounts. Perhaps more importantly, it also operates as a small grocery store of sorts, with produce, meat, cheese, salad, and the venerable bags of bread and chicken nuggets. Some items that Disney would otherwise dispose of, like bedding, office chairs, and items unique to resort rooms are also sometimes available. Look for a post on everything you need to know about towels at Cast Connection in the near future.
One of my most prized possessions is from Cast Connection. It’s the Mickey Mouse lamp from the Beach Club Resort rooms prior to their most recent refurbishment. It’s actually the only light source in my room/basement. My mom still tries to put popcorn in it.
Cast Connection is also home to Property Control, where damaged items are available on the cheap cheap. While guests of cast members may enter the main store, they’re not allowed in the Property Control area. Apparently seeing throngs of 2019 Flower and Garden merchandise won’t send me into a tailspin, but seeing a Cinderella Castle LEGO set with a crease in the corner of the box may well send me over the edge. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never seen it. It’s also possible that they want to limit those items to only employees of the company. Cast Connection is not open to the public without a cast member escort. The last time I was there, I actually saw the vice president of Disney’s Animal Kingdom perusing the last of the Atlanta Braves spring training merchandise. Go team.
Hundreds of cars are lined up for today’s 9am re-opening of Cast Connection. pic.twitter.com/3pcszELtF6
— Tharin White (@TharinWhite) September 9, 2020
Apparently, lines were so long for the reopening that the wait to enter was three to five hours first thing in the morning and required the use of a virtual queue to enter the store. At least Disney has that one figured out thanks to Rise of the Resistance. Yeah, right. Typically, the store is much less crowded. If you do have access, a visit also serves as a preview to what you’ll predominantly find if you run a search for Disney ephemera on eBay.
There are few things we enjoy more in the Disney blogosphere than jumping to conclusions. I remember when the Lights of Winter at Epcot were supposedly coming back because Disney issued a new commemorative pin a few years ago. That might have been a stretch. In recent days, Disney removed a couple of the billboards surrounding the Voyage of the Little Mermaid building at Hollywood Studios, leading “some” to speculate that it was a sign (no pun intended) that the long-running show would not reopen. Disney has since denied that fact, citing routine maintenance. That story seems to check out given the fact that I would probably spruce up my facade if I was closed for an extended period of time too. Of course, Disney denies things all the time under the “no current plans to do this” banner. They did whip up that Princess and the Frog artwork for the Splash Mountain overlay in about 15 minutes and then announced the project immediately after so you never know. Personally, a “Voyage of the Big Blogger” musical based on my life sounds like an upgrade. We’ll see.
The great thing about rumors is that you can say just about anything and you’ll eventually be right. Will there be a Fantasmic! replacement? Yep, it’s certainly going to happen. A new Pavilion in World Showcase? Eventually. A new nighttime parade at Magic Kingdom? The crystal ball says yes. Any time soon? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t refer back to podcast 327 of 6,242 when you “called it” eight years before it happened. Jim Hill has made a living based on supposedly walking into abandoned conference rooms full of detailed secret plans for upcoming attractions for a hundred years. Not only do we not have “Night Kingdom,” but we don’t even have any Parks currently open after dark. Go figure.
In boring permit world, Disney filed a Uniform Commercial Code Financing Statement Form against the operators of the restaurants in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot because they apparently owe Disney a lot of money. The procedural form lists Morocco’s assets that Disney could seize should payment not be received. While I do accept donations in the form of untraceable cryptocurrency, I would prefer to not be paid in couscous and frozen baklava. But at some point, you take what you can get.
I would guess that there aren’t a lot of places that charge higher rent than on Disney property. Restaurant Marrakesh remains closed. Tangierine Cafe originally reopened with Epcot, but then closed due to a lack of demand. Spice Road Table, Walt Disney World’s least popular restaurant, is the only one currently open. That’s probably not a good sign. If there’s anyone reasonable in this world, I’m sure it’s megacorporation lawyers, so things should be resolved in ways that neither of us understand. Hopefully Morocco gets to keep their couscous.
Here’s today’s chart for Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
We’re another day removed from the busy Labor Day Weekend and wait times at Animal Kingdom dropped for a second day in a row to 13.8 minutes. The recent loss of the 8am hour does mean the wait for Flight of Passage will rise much faster, but afternoon waits remain more than manageable at 15 to 30 minutes. Some late afternoon rain pushed a lot of people to the exit, to the point where the simulator posted just a five-minute wait to close out the day. DINOSAUR’s constant 5-minute wait is a good indication that crowds remain virtually nonexistent and Expedition Everest’s 12-minute average is also a good sign of low attendance. The higher average wait for Na’vi River Journey than Flight of Passage continues to upset me more than it probably does you.
Here’s the updated overall chart of daily averages for the Park:
Wednesday’s 13.8-minute average is one of the longest during the middle of the week since the Park reopened, but it still seems unlikely that it’s cause for concern. Most of that rise is due to longer waits at Flight of Passage.
Here’s a chart of Flight of Passage’s average wait over the last month:
As you can see, the last two weekdays, after the Park cut its operating hours by 20%, are significantly higher than previous weekdays. At just under 25 minutes on Tuesday and Wednesday, the average is about twice as long as the same days during the previous week, thanks largely to those 8am opens and the 5-minute waits that they provided in the mornings. Still, Flight of Passage’s waits are about 80 minutes lower than this time last year.
Wait times are virtually identical to yesterday. Test Track had a particularly rough time, operating for fewer than three hours over the course of the day. Some late afternoon rain/lightning closed the ride in the early evening, but other technical difficulties would be the culprit for the earlier downtime. Back in the FastPass+ days, we prioritized Test Track because if it went down during our FastPass+ window, we could return to the ride after it came back up and enjoy the shortest possible wait possible outside of the single rider line. Some of us also went back and forth on whether it made sense to start the day with Test Track given its propensity to be down at Park open.
On this particular day, starting with Test Track would be your only viable option unless you rushed over there between 1:30pm and 2:15pm. While Test Track routinely goes down for weather during the summer, this much downtime is uncommon. You will want to keep an eye on the weather report and potentially plan part of your day around being at Test Track when sunshine is more likely. Of course, Florida has figured very few things out, and the weather is still not one of them. But even with Test Track down, Soarin’ still posts that 10-minute wait all day and Frozen remains relatively reasonable as well. If I was still funny, I would make Soarin’s wait times on the chart tilt to the left. Maybe tomorrow. Any other Future World attraction would be a walk-on all day along with Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico.
And onto Hollywood Studios, only because we have to:
Hollywood Studios had a significantly better day than yesterday, in large part due to Tower of Terror operating at “full” capacity for most or all of the day. Yesterday, they were down to love in just the one elevator in the morning, halving the ride’s capacity that is already limited by physical-distancing. We also see waits drop in the evening like they have in the past, though part of that is likely due to the rain, which closed Slinky Dog for about an hour and a half over the course of the late afternoon and evening.
On the less positive side of things, Rise of the Resistance went down for about an hour early in the morning, which is never good. It obviously means fewer people will be able to ride over the course of the day, but it also means the people who would be in line there are in line somewhere else, in turn increasing waits. Slinky’s 45+ minute waits in the early morning are a little high before they drop in the afternoon.
Yesterday, I pointed out that Muppet*Vision didn’t post a wait after 6pm, despite Disney’s site saying the show would continue running until 7pm. They’ve since updated the hours to show the earlier 6pm closure:
With the last hour of operation as your best opportunity to visit the rides, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to be at Muppet*Vision at 6:30pm anyway, but it is potentially something that you’ll want to keep in mind. Vacation Fun in the Mickey Shorts Theater also closes at 6pm.
Here’s our Studios chart of average daily waits:
Our hypothesis is that Disney is distributing the same number of Park Passes now as they were when the hours were open longer. The 28.3-minute average is a drop from the previous two days, but it’s also longer than any Wednesday since reopening day and about 20% higher than the overall average since the Park reopened on July 15th. That’s with rain sending a good number of people to the exit in the evening.
While the website would never celebrate a reduction in operating hours, we can certainly understand why Disney would do so. “They are a business” as the enlightened like to remind us. Considering the Studios’ crowding, and how often it ran out of Park Pass availability with the later 8pm closes, the shorter hours are harder to defend. If anything, they should be opening the Park at 8am now that Animal Kingdom has moved to a 9am open, even if it means closing at 7pm instead of 8pm. But the people are obviously still going. We’ll have to see if the longer wait times continue as we see a 38% increase over last Wednesday.
One other slightly curious thing is that Rise of the Resistance actually moved through more boarding groups than it did the day before, despite being down for technical trouble in the morning. The fact that the ride moves through more boarding groups isn’t necessarily indicative of more people getting to ride – it likely means that more people gave up and left. Disney calls boarding groups over to the ride as the line dissipates. If they call group 63 in the pouring rain and only nine people show up, they’re going to call over group 64 a lot sooner. I would imagine that there is a strong correlation between the number of groups Rise moves through and the amount that it rains. I hope I’m never bored enough to run those numbers.
But things don’t look to be getting better at the Studios with the shorter hours and the likelihood that it will sell out of Park Pass availability. It’s a pretty rough time, particularly with the stress of joining a Rise of the Resistance boarding group and the heaviest crowds of the day before you’ve had your cup of coffee. I think I’ve canceled my own Studios’ Park Pass each of the last five days, but we will get back over there next week as long as I’m feeling masochistic.
Onto Magic Kingdom:
As expected, wait times dropped day-over-day as Wednesdays have routinely proved to be the best day to visit Magic Kingdom. It remains strange to see Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train all with average waits that are within a minute of each other, along with small world posting a longer average wait than Peter Pan’s Flight. Space Mountain’s 11-minute wait for the day is indicative of low overall crowds and little to no reduction in staffing.
Here’s the overall chart of daily averages for Magic Kingdom:
The average is longer than the previous three Wednesdays, but shorter than a couple of others. It’s also within about 30 seconds of the overall average since the Park reopened. We’ll have a better idea about how things are going when rain doesn’t come into play. Precipitation both decreases waits because people leave and increases waits because there are then fewer opportunities to board the outdoor rides once they reopen. A real pair of docks. That’s a Jungle Cruise joke.
Current Disney Park Pass System Availability
Disney replenished Park Pass availability for all three ticket segments. Passholders now see more availability and Disney Resort Guests and Theme Park Tickets Guests can now book any Park on any date.
You can pull up the current version of the calendar here. It is worth noting that the calendar is not updated in real time and may show availability only when there are a large number of spots. If you’re interested in actively booking a Park Pass, it’s better to go to the Park Pass reservation signup page and try than to rely on the calendar.
Operating Hour Changes
Nothing since yesterday. We’re still waiting on Thanksgiving Week.
Today’s Featured Forum Thread
We’re sharing the last ride we experienced at Walt Disney World in this thread. Some poor soul’s was actually Na’vi River Journey. Hopefully they get back sooner rather than later. I felt so bad about it that I made my last ride Space Mountain as of early this week.
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.
WDW News Today brings us a review of a new Dole Whip concoction from the Polynesian Village Resort. Despite the resort being “closed” until next summer, the DVC buildings and bungalows remain open, along with many of the other amenities. That means Tambu Lounge, Captain Cook’s, the Pineapple Lanai, some of the stores and kiosks, and other things are open for business to far fewer guests. The same is true at resorts like Wilderness Lodge and BoardWalk Inn. The DVC wings are open, but the main resort rooms remain unavailable for booking.
DisneyTouristBlog offers some pictures from Epcot on one of its busiest days yet. It’s still nothing compared to a traditional Saturday during Food and Wine.
VincentVision takes us on a video tour of Magic Kingdom on Labor Day in this YouTube video.
That should get you caught up with the day.