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This is the weekly rumor and refurbishment update for Orlando-area theme parks for the week of November 2, 2013.

Walt Disney World:

MyMagic+:

There are a few more changes coming to MyMagic+ at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort will be the first resort at Walt Disney World to only issue MagicBands instead of the Key to the World cards. Starting November 14, 2013 guests will only be able to use the customized MagicBands they received in the mail prior to their vacation as means to access the benefits of MyMagic+. If the MagicBands were not customized prior to arrival, generic grey bands will be distributed. Although guests will not be given a Key to the World card at check-in, if requested at the front desk, a Key to the World card can be issued to use instead of the MagicBand. The Key to the World card will have the same functionalities as the MagicBands being able to access the touch points. A major difference now is that the new Key to the World cards will not be able to access the legacy paper FastPass machines.

The process of eliminating the Key to the World cards for Disney resort guests have begun. I expect this procedure to follow to the other resorts on property within the coming weeks and months. If you are going to be participating in the testing of MyMagic+, I encourage you to not have any expectations of using the paper FastPasses during your visit. The new cards are starting to be distributed to all the resorts and there are reports of Cast Members being told to not allow anyone with MagicBands to obtain paper FastPasses.

Spaceship EarthSpaceship EarthEpcot has implemented a Tiered FastPass+ system

Last week we mentioned that FastPass+ selections for Epcot will be split into two tiers. Guests can then choose one FastPass from the Tier One selections and two FastPasses from the Tier Two selections.

FastPass+FastPass+FastPass+ selections now available at Epcot via MyDisneyExperience

Now Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be implementing a similar system starting next week.

The Tier One attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are:

The Tier Two attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are:

Much like in Epcot, this means that you cannot make FastPass+ selection for the two most popular attractions such as Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in the same day. It is interesting that Fantasmic! is considered a Tier One attraction. That could possibly decrease the amount of FastPasses distributed for the more popular attractions and decrease the wait times. That is very optimistic thinking, because now everybody will have to wait in a Standby line to experience the best Hollywood Studios has to offer.

Sorcerer Mickey's HatSorcerer Mickey's HatTiered FastPass+ coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios

If you have already made your FastPass+ selections for Hollywood Studios, the change will not affect you unless you wish to modify your FastPass+ selections. The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have not implemented grouping attractions into tiers, although that will most likely change in the future.

Notice:

A new Walt Disney World reservation policy will now start on November 19, 2013. The new policy was originally going to begin on October 31, 2013 but was delayed. Under the new policy a credit card must be provided to hold a restaurant reservation and a $10 service fee per person will be charged if the reservation is not met and was not cancelled at least one day in advance. This used to be the rule for signature restaurants only, but has now been adopted at all the restaurants in Walt Disney World.

Downtown Disney:

Downtown Disney began its festival of seasons on November 15, 2013. Guests will be able to enjoy seasonal entertainment, food and shopping. Santa will also be appearing to visit next to World of Disney in Marketplace.

Santa will be available from:

  • November 15 – 28/5pm – 10pm
  • November 29 – December 24/12pm (noon) – 10pm

Of course starting Christmas day, Santa will no longer be available (he has plenty of work to do) and Santa Goofy will replace him.

Santa Goofy will be available from:

  • December 25 – 29/3pm – 10pm
Glow with the Show:

Glow with the Show ears already made their intitial debut during Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then went on to make their debut during Celebrate the magic and Wishes Fireworks Spectacular at The Magic Kingdom. Now the ears have come full circle and have made their debut during the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It seems as though Glow with the Show and the Osborne lights were always meant to be. Here’s a great video by WDWMagic that shows the Glow with the Show ears during the musical sequences.

Universal Orlando:

There is a great video posted here, possibly showing details about the Gringotts Bank roller coaster at Universal Studios. If the attraction is similar to the video, I expect the roller coaster to be more than just a steel trill ride, but rather a complete experience much like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I really wonder how Disney will continue to prove its excellence in theming and ride experience with Universal pushing the boundaries on new technology and ride systems. Maybe the answer is a new Star Wars themed land. You can read more about hints given towards Star Wars in the Disney Parks here.

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