We’re just cross pollinating the internet with the full text of Iger’s letter to congress retorting the privacy issues with MyMagic+ and the MagicBand. The most notable take-aways are that guests will have a card option that wont transmit long range like the bands, that the bands aren’t GPS enabled in any fashion, and that guests using FastPass in the future will have to provide at least their name and email address.
Disney filed a permit today to begin installing FASTPASS signage at several attractions in Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The attractions listed below will receive FASTPASS in the near future. As you may notice, several of these attractions were outfitted with FASTPASS+ RFID scanners as we’ve documented here on the Epcyclopedia blog.
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Turtle Talk
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Muppetvision 3D
- The Great Movie Ride
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Americal Idol
- Disney Jr Live on Stage
One address, 396 Cypress Drive we don’t recognize, but if we had to guess we’d say it’s the Studio Backlot Tram Tour.
When the Living Seas pavilion was modified to become the Seas with Nemo and friends many fans were aghast that the simple mural of the sun-setting-into-the-sea aesthetic was thrown aside from the main entrance for giant cutouts of the characters from the Finding Nemo franchise. Well, now with the forthcoming addition of a FASTPASS line at the attraction there’s been yet another major change in the look of the building.
Though not entirely complete, the entrance “statement” (we’re really not sure what to call it) is obviously outfitted with electrical outlets for the forthcoming FASTPASS and standby queue signage that will soon dangle down from its awning. Further back at the entry doors to the pavilion itself, work is finishing up on the second set of sliding doors that have been punched into the aforementioned modified mural. The new tunnel for the FASTPASS queue on the inside of the building looks to be complete and the cast members manning the attraction expect it to be opening any day now for testing. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the old Living Seas pavilion, you can always relive its glory days in the text of The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.
A quick photo update from Test Track 2.0 – as Disney has begun calling it internally, though this is unlikely to become its name formally. As always, click to enlarge.
It’s a bit hard to see from the photo from shot taken from the monorail, but two of the six auxiliary doors on the front of the building have been completely filled in with masonry and are now part of the main wall. We were about to say “again” but that area wasn’t originally a wall when the building was World of Motion. You can of course read about the whole history of the pavilion in our freshly revised book The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia as a primer for the upcoming Epcot 30th Anniversary.
Do notice that the FASTPASS machines are still there in the slightly overexposed photo of the area. Sadly, overexposure didn’t help reveal any more details of the area.
Nearby, they’ve begun to unclad the Cool Wash piece by piece and the structure is likely to come down soon. You can see the exposed steel toward the real of the building if you enlarge the image.
Also nearby there’s still plenty of other remnants of the old test Track aesthetic that are going to be ripped out. However, over at the ride’s actual exit the Inside Track signage has been completely removed and the building facade repaired to cover the blemishes.There has been a large emphasis on returning the building itself to a more sleek appearance.
There’s more to come as the expansion of the New Fantasyland – nearly doubling in size — continues at Walt Disney World Resort. In fact, so many more attractions are coming on line later this year that Dec. 6, 2012 has been set as the Grand Opening of Fantasyland. Previews begin Nov. 19.
Slated to make their debuts:
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a major attraction where guests will travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves – all against a musical backdrop of songs from the film. The new attraction combines the enduring appeal of a classic Disney “dark ride” with wonderful technological innovations to offer guests a personal journey into the scenes of the film. Adventurers will feel as if they are descending below the ocean’s surface. Once “under the sea,” guests will find themselves immersed in the story of “The Little Mermaid,” sharing Ariel’s adventure through a magical cast of characters and a captivating musical score that will entice everyone to sing along. this attraction will offer FASTPASS. The fun continues at “Ariel’s Grotto,” a meet-and-greet with the mermaid heroine herself.
- The castle of the Beast stands majestically upon a hill across an old stone bridge from Ariel’s new home. The Be Our Guest Restaurant will feature a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, gallery, and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle. With seating for 550, this magnificent facility will offer “great food fast” service by day and full table service dining in the evening. Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.
- Just outside the village is Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. The adventure begins in Maurice’s workshop, where a magical mirror is the doorway to a captivating new kind of storytelling experience: guests will be transported to the Beast’s library to meet Belle and Lumiere, and share in a lively, interactive re-telling of the “tale as old as time.” This attraction will offer FASTPASS.
“Fantasyland is a place where a very special kind of memory is made: where children just old enough to understand the moment come in contact with princesses and heroes and meet their most beloved friends,” said Meg Crofton, president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, United States and France.
“We are excited about sharing our treasured stories in new ways and giving guests the opportunity to interact with their favorite characters like never before.”
Beyond 2012, there’s more in store for Fantasyland guests:
- Located in the Castle Courtyard in the center of Fantasyland, Princess Fairytale Hall will be the new home for visiting royalty in the Magic Kingdom. The castle-like entrance will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows, opening up into a large gallery – an airy space with a high ceiling, where portraits of the Disney princesses adorn the walls. When it’s time for their audience with a princess, guests will proceed to elegantly finished rooms to meet Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel (2013).
- The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take guests on a rollicking, musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.” The coaster will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system with a train of vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track. The journey will be accompanied by music from the classic Disney film and animated figures of Snow White and the Dwarfs (2014).
Dumbo, the Flying Elephant is now double the fun at Walt Disney World Resort. On June 22, a second Dumbo – flying counterclockwise – soft opened to the public. With the March opening, guests got to experience the first-ever Dumbo flying clockwise. Dumbo, one of the circus’ most famed acts now flies twice as many guests around the Big Top area – featuring shiny new red and gold colors inspired by ’50s- and ’60s-era tin toys. Here’s a video of the two attractions in action:
Also, Dumbo now offers FASTPASS service. The distribution kiosks at located at Mickey’s Philharmagic in central Fantasyland, splitting the available machines with the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction. The FASTPASS riders will return directly to the Dumbo loading area while standby riders will enter a longer queue, and new interior interactive tent queue experience when it is available to guests.
Disney has announced today that the Art of Animation Resort will be opening its wings in the following order:
Finding Nemo (Grand opening) – Opens May 31
Cars – Opens June 18
Lion King – Opens August 10
Little Mermaid – Opens September 15
And if this all isn’t good and well exciting enough – Ok, for most of us who has been to a Disney resort, it really isn’t – there’s now been hard hat tours of the resort site. These tours have revealed that the Art of Animation Resort is going to be the first to deploy the all-important RFID-embedded Room Keys.
What are those? Why are they important? Remember this?
That’s a wristband room key from the DizFanatic article back in August of 2011 that detailed in-depth the whole NextGen project. Disney essentially made a internal video about what “NextGen” was going to be and DizFantatic got their hands on a copy so the world found out what NextGen was – wristbands. The future was wristbands, in particular, wristband room keys.
Well, now we know it wasn’t hot air because we saw the turnstiles tested at Epcot in November of 2011. We even had little RFID chips stuck to our tickets!
RFID and the NextGen project really is going to mean a whole new way to experience the Walt Disney World Resort. Little by little Disney has been installing NextGen systems at existing attractions. The wristbands are just part of the new systems, allowing ticket-like access.
The bigger data-based back end of the system will allow a new version of FASTPASS to be introduced into the parks and that’s really what seems to be next down the pipeline. Disney has been modifying attraction queues at a fevered pace since last fall. Most attractions should be ready for the system for an October 1st, 2012 roll-out per the paperwork Disney has filed.
Will the Art of Animation Resort guests be the first to experience the NextGen experience in the parks? That remains to be seen, but it seems likely at this point. The resort will have the technology in place and will be using it, it’s simply a matter of when the parks will be ready to flip the switch on their end.
If you’ve been following our past updates then you know there have been refurbishment walls at the entrance of the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion at Epcot for a while. That work appeared to be adding some sort of secondary entrance to the building by cutting a hole into the wall covered with the big curved mural and fish icons.You can find our update on the first walls and FASTPASS addition rumors here.
Well, a few weeks later the interior queue got some black drops thrown up and a bit of poking around revealed they were constructing a tunnel within the queue that connected to roughly where the outside hole in the wall would be. You can find the photos of the tunnel being constructed in our last update here.
But now things have gotten serious as even more refurbishment walls have been added to the exterior of the pavilion. Guests entering the pavilion now have to get past a new group of walls that entirely obscure the original entrance, walk around them, and then double back to enter the building (still passing all the previous exterior and interior walls as well). It’s a veritable Wallapalooza going on over there now. Special thanks to @OhMeylaWeyla for these photos from the park today:
Still, no one really knows what all this work is for and what it’s going to become. Some say FASTPASS, some say it’s for a “NextGen” entry system, and some just think it’s to give Turtle Talk with Crush its own entrance at the front of the building. Whatever it is, it’s becoming very involved and reworking the way the Seas pavilion operates. We’ll keep you updated if/when more details become available.
A friendly reminder: the Walt Disney World resort will begin enforcing return time windows at all FASTPASS attractions on March 7, 2012. Previously guests were allowed to show up after their stated return window as long as the pass was from the same day. This was considered a courtesy extended to guests in the event of delays, ride breakdowns, etc..However, with the expansion of the FASTPASS system and “NextGen” upgrades coming in the future (likely October), Disney feels the need to tighten the operation a bit.
Some leeway is being built into the new policy – guests can now return 5 minutes prior to the window (eliminating the backlog of guests who arrive a few minutes early), and Cast Members are being instructed to accept a guest’s FASTPASS up to 15 minutes after the formal end of the window as a courtesy.
Research has shown that 80% of FASTPASS guests return within the first 10 minutes of their allotted window, suggesting the in-park operational effect of this change should be minimal. As of the morning of March 7th, Disney has prepared for the event by putting signs atop every FASTPASS machine with a reminder to return within the window, another printed reminder on the park times guides, “Not able to accommodate late arrivals” notice printed on the FASTPASS itself, and extra staff at each distribution location informing guests of the policy change.
By this point, if you commonly watch Walt Disney World and Epcot rumor blogs you’re probably quite accustomed to seeing photos of the black curtains hung up in the queue of The Seas with Nemo and Friends. They probably look something like this:
Well, with a little bit of exploring, and the brilliant idea to simply walk RIGHT instead of left when leaving Turtle Talk with Crush (it exits into a hallway attached to the side of the Nemo and Friends queue) we discovered it’s a tunnel under construction that leads to the front entrance of the building.
As you can see, it’s a walkway tunnel under construction. For what purpose? We don’t really know – speculation says it is either a FASTPASS entrance for the Seas with Nemo attraction, possibly the preparation for a “NextGen” queue, or even a dedicated entrance to Turtle Talk with Crush from the main entrance of the building. We’ll post more information as it becomes available.