This summer at Walt Disney World got off to a blockbuster start this year with the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar as well as the debut of the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular at the Magic Kingdom. However, now that things have cooled down a little bit, let’s take a look at some of the more subtle changes around the resort that have been happening over the past few weeks that you might not have noticed!
1. Talking skull and photo op added to Pirates of the Caribbean
Guests who ride the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Magic Kingdom will now be able to view an on-ride PhotoPass photo that will be taken during the first third of the ride, right before guests take the plunge down the ride’s flume. And interestingly, Disney is using an old-school animatronic to take this new photo: a talking pirate skull! Old school fans of this attraction may remember the talking skull, who has been inexplicably absent for many years. And while this prop doesn’t look exactly the same (and now functions as a camera for the PhotoPass feature), it is still a fun little addition to this attraction. You can check out this skull in action in the video below:
2. Star Wars characters now meeting in the center of Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Though Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away is going to be down a few weeks longer while mobile stages are installed during an impromptu refurbishment, an interesting side effect of this development is that the Center Stage area of this park is now completely clear, which is a rare sight indeed. However, in an effort to keep the presence of Star Wars felt in this area, characters like Boba Fett from this universe have been roaming around this area, meeting guests and posing for photos. This is expected to be a temporary measure, and when the mobile stages for the regular Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away are installed, these impromptu character meetings will end.
3. IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party to end next month
Last week it was announced that, beginning in July, Epcot will begin offering the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party, which is a new upcharge experience that will provide guests with dessert, reserved viewing for IllumiNations, and immediate access to the Frozen Ever After attraction with no wait. However, unfortunately that means that the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party is being discontinued after July 14th. And since the new Frozen Ever After Dessert Party costs a lot more than this previous offering (admission for this new event costs $79 per adult and $47 per child, while the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party costed just $49 for adults and $29 for children), it looks like guests who want reserved viewing for this nightly spectacular as well as sweet treats will have to pay the increased cost.
4. FuelRod Kiosks expand to Walt Disney World hotels
Last year Disney started installing FuelRod kiosks that allowed guests to purchase fully-charged FuelRod portable charging device for $30. These kits include a FuelRod charger, 6” USB Type-A to micro-USB cable (compatible with most Android devices), an Apple 30-pin to USB cable (compatible with iPhone 4S and below), and an Apple Lightning to USB cable (used for iPhone 5 and above). And perhaps most conveniently, guests can exchange depleted chargers at any FuelRod kioks for another fully charged FuelRod charger instantly whenever they would like, for as long as they want.
This addition has proved to be quite a hit, with Disney installing almost a dozen additional FuelRod stations around the theme parks and Disney Springs over the last year. And now, to cope with even more demand, Disney has installed FuelRod kiosks at every single resort, effective this month.
5. Disney Pixar Short Film Festival gets new shorts
6. Disney cracks down on unauthorized FastPass+ usage
Though it wasn’t heavily publicized, earlier this month Disney closed a MyMagic+ loophole that was allowing guests to book FastPass+ reservations through My Disney Experience using an unexpired ticket or a MagicBand without any attached admission, and then use those FastPass Reservations in the park (presumably in addition to their other FastPass+ reservations). However, Disney has now added a stipulation that guests must use the same account to both make FastPass+ selections and gain entry into the park on the day the FastPass+ selections are to be used.
Guests who have previously made FastPass+ selections on tickets not used for theme park admission on same day may see their My Disney Experience app temporarily locked, and the app will prompt them to call the My Disney Experience Support Center to solve the issue.
-From Theme Park Tourist, June 20, 2017 by Amanda Kondolojy
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