This week, Disney made headlines by introducing a new tiered system of annual passes that will cost passholders who want 365 days of access to the four parks at Walt Disney World significantly more than they have paid in the past. However, even though this was the big story this week, there have been some other changes happening recently at the resort that you may not have noticed.
From the introduction of a new character around the resort, to a bizarre new feature for My Disney Experience and yet another price hike at Walt Disney World that will impact annual passholders, here’s everything you need to know that is happening at the resrot that you might have missed!
1. Tables in Wonderland price increase
Though we already told you about the parking fee increase and the annual pass price hike, there was another change in prices that happened this week at Walt Disney World that flew right under the radar. Tables in Wonderland, Disney’s discount dining program increased its annual subscription from $100 to $150 for annual passholders and from $125 to $175 for Florida residents.
This is a huge increase, and if you are a Tables in Wonderland subscriber, you may need to do some math to find out if the 20% off table service perk is still worth paying for on an annual basis, as your fee may not offset your savings anymore.
2. My Disney Experience gets additional PhotoPass functionality
Now that unlimited PhotoPass downloads are included as part of most Walt Disney World annual passes, Disney has unveiled a new feature for PhotoPass in the My Disney Experience app. Instead of scanning a MagicBand or PhotoPass card, guests can now pull up a digital PhotoPass QR code that an be displayed on screen and then scanned by PhotoPass photographers.
This is a little bit of a weird new feature, as scanning MagicBands after taking a PhotoPass picture has become second nature for most guests. However, if for some reason guests do not have a MagicBand, they can load up the QR code on their phone and have the images automatically tied to their My Disney Experience account.
3. Shellie May comes to Walt Disney World…sorta
Though Duffy the Disney Bear wasn’t exactly the most popular Disney character in the world, there was still substantial outcry when his meet and greet was retired last week. However, though guests can’t meet Duffy any more, they can still purchase Duffy merchandise. And the next time they go to buy something Duffy-related, may be surprised when they find a new friend: Shellie May
While you might not be immediately familiar with this name, Shellie May is a female friend made by Minnie Mouse for Duffy Bear. Though this character was introduced in Japan several years ago, merchandise featuring Shellie May is just now starting to appear at Walt Disney World.
While we wouldn’t imagine that Shellie May would get a full meet and greet anytime soon (especially so quickly after Duffy was retired), it is interesting that Disney is choosing to introduce this character now. Perhaps Duffy friend Gelatoni could also be introduced as well?
4. Kali River Rapids removed from Extra Magic Hours
As the weather gets cooler, changes are being made to the Extra Magic Hours attraction lineups at Walt Disney World. Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, water ride Kali River Rapids has been removed from morning attraction lineup, and will now be opening with the rest of the park at 9:00AM, as it had previously before it was added to the Extra Magic Hours lineup this past summer.
5. Celebration button availability expands
There are plenty of benefits to picking up a button at Walt Disney World when you are visiting during a birthday, anniversary or other event, but some guests may be deterred from grabbing a button by the long waits in front of guest services that happen every morning when guests are trying to get their buttons for the day.
However, it looks like button distribution has been expanded at the Magic Kingdom, with buttons now available at every merchandise location. So the next time you are celebrating something at the Magic Kingdom, skip the lines and simply head out to one of the dozens of shops around the park to get your button.
6. Facebook Place Tips feature introduced for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is well under way, and guests who have tried to use Facebook during this year’s event may have noticed something a little different: place tips that pop up while you're visiting a booth. Essentially this new feature allows guests to view and interact with virtual passports that feature the menu available at each booth, recipes, chef videos, as well as friend photos and activities related to the Food & Wine Festival.
Guests who don’t want to totally be glued to their phones during the festival will also be able to save content they see for later. In order to use this feature, guests will need location services and Bluetooth features enabled for their phone as well as the individual Facebook app.
7. Disney Springs water taxis return to full service
It feels like construction at Disney Springs has been going on forever, and while it’ll be more than a year before most of the walls come down, Disney Springs reached a milestone a week ago when The Landing boat dock (formerly known as the Pleasure Island boat dock) officially returned to operation following the opening of The Hangar bar.
The Sassagoula River Cruise transportation to Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has also returned to its original docking location following the re-opening of The Landing dock. As they have in the past, resort water taxis will run every 20 minutes during Disney Springs operating hours.