At Travel Beat we have all the “other” news from the last week or so—the stuff that wasn’t big enough to stop the presses for. What did the newsroom bring us this week? (Sneak peek: some observations from our parks team.) Bullets are just ahead if you’re in a hurry, and more details follow below. Don’t forget to check out the Headline News Recap, in case there was something you missed!
- New Buses Join the Disney World Fleet
- Disney Announces $60 Billion Spend in Parks & Experiences Over Next Ten Years
- Did Spaceship Earth Get a Little Stealth TLC?
- Disneyband+ Available on Upcoming Disney Wonder Sailings
- Spotted in the Parks: New Refreshment Stop on Grand Avenue
- Typhoon Lagoon Reopens March 17
- Reservations for New DVC Cabins Open March 21
- Headline News Recap
New Buses Join the Disney World Fleet
A member of our team happened to be on the maiden voyage of a new model of bus rolled out at Disney World this week as part of the resort’s transportation for guests. According to the bus driver, 90 of these new-style buses have been added to the existing fleet. So what’s different?
You won’t notice anything as the bus pulls up to the stop; comparing our photos side-by-side it seems like the front window is a little rounder. But when you board, you’ll find that the lower level is all stadium-style seating (with USB ports!) that offers more flexibility to fold up and make space for strollers or mobility vehicles. The older style buses can hold two ECVs, but the new ones can hold three and use new Q’Straint securement systems that offer better safety in case of an emergency or sudden stop.
Disney Announces $60 Billion Spend in Parks & Experiences Over Next Ten Years
At this week’s earnings call, Disney announced a $60 billion investment in Parks & Experiences worldwide over the next 10 years. Does that sound familiar? It should, since we heard the same thing in 2023. This time, Disney clarified that 70% of that money is earmarked for increasing capacity. But when you hear that, don’t forget that capacity can be anything from attractions (yay!) to restaurants, and even merchandise locations. So it sounds like we got more detail … but I kind of feel like not really.
Did Spaceship Earth Get a Little Stealth TLC?
Our parks team got a little extra support this week as a few of our regular blog writers were also in the parks, and we noticed something interesting. The opening scene of Spaceship Earth is brighter, and the backwards descent – which has been rough and bumpy for quite a while – was noticeably smoother. Since there hasn’t been any refurb downtime, we can only conclude that work has been done off-hours. You can go ahead and laugh at the idea that we’re riding Spaceship Earth often enough to notice these little things. But it’s a good reminder that a ride doesn’t need to be offline for a few days to be getting attention and upkeep.
Disneyband+ Available on Upcoming Disney Wonder Sailings
The Disneyband+ (a MagicBand+ with a cruise line name) has already rolled out to the Disney Wish, Fantasy, Dream, and Magic. Now the last ship in the current fleet is hopping on board the tech train, as guests sailing on the Wonder after March 19 will be able to order the bands and use them on their cruise.
Spotted in the Parks: New Refreshment Stop on Grand Avenue
Our parks team has been watching construction of a small building on Grand Avenue since early last summer, and this week they passed by a paint crew in action. The sign seems to confirm that this will be a new food stand of some sort. Disney’s “it’s a mystery” approach to this construction is a little unusual for them, but we expect we’ll have all the answers by early summer at the latest. Maybe even in time for spring break.
Typhoon Lagoon Reopens March 17
When Blizzard Beach reopened in November 2023, Typhoon Lagoon closed alongside it – just as it has every year since the pandemic closure. And now the earth has turned, the sun has risen and fallen, many moons have passed, and Typhoon Lagoon’s time to shine has arrived once more. Beginning March 17, the water park will open its gates again to those hankering for a visit to the Surf pool or a float around the park on Castaway Creek.
Of course, when the open/close water park swap was announced, we all knew Typhoon Lagoon would be returning in the spring. The question on everyone’s minds (for a broad definition of everyone) is whether this would be the year when Disney would return to operating both water parks during the hot summer months. The answer? Nope. Blizzard Beach will be closing when Typhoon Lagoon reopens.
Reservations for New DVC Cabins Open March 21
Disney had previously announced the opening date for the Cabins at Fort Wilderness (July 1) and the dates when points for this new Disney Vacation Club resort would go on sale. If you want to use existing points, or just want to pay cash out of pocket, reservations for the new Cabins open on the following dates:
- March 19 – Disney Vacation Club members can begin to make rental reservations online or by contacting Member Services at (800) 800-9800.
- March 20 – Disney World Annual Passholders can start booking rental reservations by contacting (407) 934-7639.
- March 21 – All guests can make reservations online or by contacting (407) 934-7639.
Headline News Recap
Univeral’s Mardi Gras festivities kicked off last week and we’ve got everything you need to know about the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2024 Best Bites & Menus
One of the last remaining pandemic closures is returning to service with a new character lineup: 1900 Park Fare Reopens April 10 at Disney World
That’s it for this week’s Travel Beat. What news are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!