Walt Disney World doesn’t often surprise us. Though the park is continuously making changes and improvements, Disney typically does a great job of keeping guests informed about what’s closing, what’s going under refurbishment, and what we can expect from new attractions at each of the resort’s four parks. However, in the past few days, Disney has surprised long-time Disney fans with a number of unexpected moves, many of which have been more than a little perplexing…
1. Skipper Canteen finally starts accepting reservations…sort of
Though the Jungle Cruise-themed Skipper Canteen table service restaurant has been open for several months now, one weird holdover from this dining location’s soft opening days is its walk-up only dining policy. While guests are able to make reservations for every other table service restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, this location has strangely remained off-limits for guests looking to plan their meals at Walt Disney World in advance, which would seem to run counter to the park's overall strategy of getting fans to plan as much of their vacation as possible beforehand. However, in recent days it was announced that Disney is finally changing their reservation policy for this dining location. But don't get too excited, as the change isn't exactly what we were hoping for...
Now in addition to walk-up diners, guests wanting to eat at this establishment can make same-day reservations from February 12th-27th in what looks like a limited time test of a very limited reservation ability. The fact that Disney still isn't willing to allow guests to make reservations 60 or even 30 days out is really weird, but the implementation of same-day reservations could perhaps at least get a few guests who haven't had their meals all planned out months in advance to at least be able to guarantee themselves a spot at this eatery during a specific time.
Looking more broadly, though unconfirmed, several reports have insinuated that the Skipper Canteen has had a rough start, with this location failing to attract adequate guests on a nightly basis. Whether that is due to the unconventional menu, recessed location within Adventureland, lack of reservation ability or some combination of all three, we’ll leave to speculation. However, the move to begin offering same-day reservations (at least on a temporary basis) seems like a good one, and we’ll be interested to see if business at this table service restaurant picks up as a result.
2. The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable closes...possibly for good?
The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable has been playing in The Land pavilion for nearly 20 years, and while this short film was effective at getting its message of conservation across in a kid-friendly way several years ago, many have complained that the 70mm film is outdated, and needs to be updated to draw guests to this section of The Land. And it looks like Disney may have actually heard those complaints.
Rather unexpectedly Disney closed The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable on February 7th, 2016 and now several sources are being told that this film will not be returning when this space opens back up, potentially ahead of the grand re-opening of Soarin', which will be in a few months. Interestingly, a refurbishment for this attraction was not announced in advance, and Disney didn’t give fans any kind of head’s up that this attraction might be being phased out, which is certainly unusual for them, especially since they've been announcing closings for everything from food carts to merchandise stands at nearby Disney's Hollywood Studios months in advance.