It seems like all we have lately are big news weeks out of Disney. This week was no different. Several big news stories out of Disney World and a handful of smaller items as well. Long overdue changes to FastPass+ announced will have big impact. This week brought big changes at Hollywood Studios including the debut of a new stage show and the closure and reconfiguration of large portions of the park. Two bad news stories this week as the opening date of a major attraction is pushed back and Disney make significant changes to DVC benefits policy. Finally, several cool dining items of note. Details below.
1 – Big Changes Coming for FastPass+
This is without question the biggest story of the week. Most guests like FastPass+, but there are a handful of suggestions for improvements you hear a lot. Disney has obviously been listening and significant changes are coming. In many ways, the next version of FastPass+ combines the best of FastPass+ and the old paper ticket system. The biggest change coming is that guests will no longer need to use a kiosk to change or make additional FastPasses. Guests with smart phones will now be able to use the MyDinsey app to do both. Also, once your pre-booked FastPasses are used or the windows have expired, you will be able to use your phone to make an additional FastPass reservation and then another after each FastPass is used (like the old paper ticket system). Changes go into effect April 10, 2016.
This is just the top of the list. There are several other changes we’re just as excited about and we think makes FastPass+ nearly perfect. For full details on all changes coming, click here.
2 – New Stage Show Debuts at Hollywood Studios
A brand new Star Wars stage show debuted this week on the stage in front of The Great Movie Ride. This show has been both highly anticipated and highly reviled. Love it or hate it, it’s been a hot topic of discussion. We were there for opening day and the show didn’t disappoint. Fans of Star Wars will likely enjoy it and it does add a much needed entertainment attraction in a shrinking park.
3 – New Nighttime Spectacular Delayed
Another major entertainment offering scheduled to open in April has been delayed. Disney announced that the April 22 opening of Rivers of Light, the brand new nighttime spectacular has been pushed back until mid to late May. We did, however, get a sneak peek with a photo from a recent rehearsal. I have to say, the concept art didn’t do it justice. It looks amazing.
4 – Hollywood Studios Construction Update
The construction walls are up and attractions are coming down. The massive slate of closures at Hollywood studios announced months ago have taken place and demolition has begun. A significant portion of the back half of the park is now blocked off. This, of course, is the next step in the construction of the new Star Wars and Toy Story lands.
5 – Disney Vacation Club Discontinuing Added Benefits for Some Members
This one is going to make a lot of people angry. DVC announced that moving forward, DVC members who purchase vacation points via resale versus directly from Disney will no longer be entitled to the additional benefits such as discounts, special events and vacation exchanges. DVC ownership is deeded property in some ways similar to owning a piece of a house. Like purchasing a home, you can buy new from the builder or used from an existing owner.
The move is obviously intended to entice new members to purchase points directly from Disney at their new properties at substantially higher prices versus purchasing a resale from an existing member. Moving forward, guests interested in DVC will need to determine for themselves if those added benefits are worth paying a premium to purchase directly from Disney. However, the real losers in this policy change are the existing DVC members who just had the value of their ownership significantly impacted.
6 – Early Morning Magic Breakfast Now Official, Reservations Open
We reported a couple weeks ago on a new breakfast offering with a twist when details were accidentally made live on the Disney website for a brief time. Well, it’s rumor no more. The new Early Morning Magic breakfast in Magic Kingdom is official and reservations are available. The breakfast will be buffet style and will be held at Pinocchio’s Village Haus. The twist is that breakfast attendees will get access to three of Fantasyland’s most popular rides 1.5 hours before the park opens to other guests. Featured rides are Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarves Mine Train and the Winnie the Pooh ride.
7 – Ample Hills Creamery Opening at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas This Spring
A brand new ice cream shop will be opening at the Boardwalk this spring. If you’ve been visiting DisneyLists for awhile you probably know how we feel about ice cream and how excited we are about this announcement.
From Disney writer Rachel Bshero:
At Disney Parks, we all scream for ice cream! A re-imagined take on the turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor is set to open this spring at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas. Ample Hills Creamery, a Brooklyn-based company known for their creative approach to all things ice cream, will open its first location outside of New York City.
The new creamery will be located on Disney’s BoardWalk, overlooking Crescent Lake—a short walk from Epcot and a relaxing boat ride from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests will be able to peek into the promenade-facing kitchen windows, where ice cream and mix-ins will be handcrafted the old-fashioned way.
Inside, guests can sample as many flavors as they’d like, including signature creations like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Coffee Toffee Coffee, Malty Salty Pretzel Punch, Cotton Candy, and more. They’re even working on a special one-of-a-kind flavor developed exclusively for Walt Disney World Resort.
8 – Menu for Tiffins Released
The menu for the new signature dining restaurant in Animal Kingdom, Tiffins, has been released. No surprise, the food looks good and features culinary influences from around the world.
From Disney writer Pam Brandon:
Tiffins, the newest restaurant in the Discovery Island area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, opens this summer, and the Disney chefs have been hard at work to create inventive dishes inspired by the world travels of the park’s creators.
From the familiar to something new, the menu offers something for everyone – from a berbere-spiced lamb chop to a New York strip steak or beef short rib with potatoes. Starters include a Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup with Basil and Peanuts (Asia/Africa) to marinated grilled octopus (Europe). Sustainable seasonal fish crudo (South America) and a salad of roasted baby beets and goat cheese with walnut granola and a sun-dried cherry vinaigrette Discovery Island (North America) round out international creations.
Entrées include Berber-Spiced Lamb Chop with Mustard Greens, Lentil Stew and Mint Chutney (Africa); Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Huitlacoche Tamale, Hominy Succotash and Red Mole Sauce (South America); Miso-glazed Black Cod with Forbidden Rice in Steamed Bok Choy with Turmeric Sauce (Asia), and Grilled Head-on Shrimp with Tomatoes, Roasted Fennel, Olives and Sea Urchin Butter Sauce (Europe). For vegetarians, the Roasted Market Vegetable Curry with Quinoa, Zucchini and Lime Chutney brings a taste of Asia.
Beverages focus on Africa, Asia and South America, including handcrafted cocktails and beers. Non-alcoholic beverages include exotic-fruit- flavored lemonades, Asian and African premium loose-leaf teas and coffee beans from Columbia, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Tanzania.
“With a focus on South American and South African wines, the beverage program is very special – we don’t have another one like it at Disney,” said Master Sommelier Brian Koziol, Food & Beverage Concept and Development director for Disney Parks & Resorts. “The program will focus on environmentality: producers that focus on sustainability, organic wines, and bio-dynamic viticulture,” he explained. “Environmentality is a core value at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and this beverage program is a great way to share that with our guests.”
With 55 seats inside, and 46 seats in a covered outdoor area, Nomad Lounge offers a half- dozen small bites such as a vegetarian summer roll, a seared Wagyu beef skewer, honey-glazed coriander-spiced pork ribs, Indian butter-chicken wings, seasonal fish balls with shishito peppers and house-made head cheese and chicken liver pate with chutney.
Like Tiffins, the lounge offers handcrafted cocktails with African, Asian and South American flavors, imported beers and a South American and South African wine list. Non-alcoholic beverages include exotic-fruit- flavored lemonades, Asian and African premium loose-leaf teas and coffee beans from Columbia, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Tanzania.