We’re just back from a whirlwind trip to Walt Disney World where TMR got the insider scoop on the many exciting new features coming soon to Walt Disney World. Continuing their 50th Anniversary celebration (through April 1, 2023), here’s a first look at some of the top things that’ll help encourage your client to book a Disney trip now.
We started our trip with a chat with Disney Destination’s SVP of Sales, Javier Moreno, and his insights into the best sales angles he’s most excited for: “We are continuing the celebration of the 50th anniversary with the launch of Cosmic Rewind, the return of the nighttime spectaculars and parades, and of great importance to our guests, having the chance to hug Mickey again, which is a big moment in any Disney vacation.”
From the SVP of Sales for Disney: How do you approach a client who wants to maximize value from a Disney trip?
Moreno explains that he likes to approach those hesitant about the cost of a Disney trip by offering “plenty of options, whether it’s at a Disney hotel or if it’s off property, there are multiple options available” at every price point. As Moreno’s top tip for the budget travels, “anticipation is absolutely key, the more advance you book the better options you’ll have.”
Helping your clients get the most value out of the My Disney Experience App
Moreno reports that My Disney Experience app’s “Genie+ has been a great success” and finds it “a great way to navigate the experience of the parks.” He recognized the role travel advisors play in helping to prepare guests for the sometimes confusing free and paid features of the Genie app adding that “travel advisors are doing an amazing job in explaining what it is, and helping the families to make the most out of this amazing digital tool.” Moreno also hinted at Disney’s expansive advisor-exclusive resources to learn more about the value the Disney app experience can add to your client’s vacation.
Disney recognizes the role of travel advisors
Moreno was very enthusiastic about his appreciation for travel advisors. “Their knowledge is incredible, especially as this is not just a vacation. This is a Disney vacation. It’s an important celebration and it has to be perfect. And since I've been in this role, I've seen nothing but passionate people and amazing experts. I want to send a humongous thank you to travel advisors as they are helping us tremendously, and they are such an important part of the success of our destination.”
The new Disney Magic Band Plus coming this year
The Magic Band is getting a glow-up this year – literally – as the new Magic Band Plus will soon arrive with special light-up and haptic features to enhance your experience through Disney World. The new RFID bracelet will expand on the popular Magic Band capabilities with a few exciting new features:
Feel the energy of the nighttime spectaculars
Magic Band Plus will bring you closer to nighttime spectaculars with special light-up moments and haptic movement that syncs with the shows. The bands will play a part in both Harmonious at EPCOT and Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom.
Disney’s Fab 50 Character Collection
The new Magic Band Plus will feature special interactions with 36 golden character sculptures throughout the four parks, similar to what we’ve seen with the wands in Harry Potter parks. Approach one of the golden statues throughout the parks while wearing a Magic Band Plus, wave at the statue, and you’ll receive a special recorded greeting.
Special missions in Galaxy’s Edge
The Magic Band Plus will pair with the My Disney App to guide you through special bounty hunting missions throughout Galaxy’s Edge, integrating augmented reality technology in a thrilling new way.
New Hey Disney! AI interaction set for 2022
You know (and love?!) Alexa and Hey Google, now Disney’s entering into the AI space with its very own “Hey Disney!” AI assistant. Built in partnership with Amazon, Hey Disney! will be coming to all Disney World and Disneyland resort rooms in the coming year via a custom-framed Amazon Echo Show Five. J.C. Diaz, product director for Hey Disney!, went on to explain to TMR that the new feature will offer “hands-free convenience by automatically answering guests’ questions like ‘Hey Disney! What time does Epcot open today?’ or make it easy to request amenities like ‘Hey Disney, can we have some more towels?’
The new Disney AI feature will also include new ways to interact with Disney characters, trivia, soundscapes, and messages from characters after a day in the parks. Hey Disney! will also be available as an app for purchase and use outside of the parks and resort hotels soon.
Your clients will love the many new features that will make their stay at a Disney World resort hotel even more personal.
Finding Nemo and Fantasmic! return anew
We got the chance to speak with Katrina Mena Rick, Creative Producer at Disney Live Entertainment, who was very excited about the upcoming return of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... and Beyond! and Fantasmic!
Mena Rick spoke with TMR on what to expect with the new reboot of the Finding Nemo show: “There’s going to be a brand new LED wall with over 64 million pixels, with original content – not clips from the film. We’ve created a reinterpreted version of the story as told through the eyes and the lens of the story of our storytellers, which are the [puppet] fish. It’s a shorter show at just 25 minutes, while the original musical in the same theater was about 43 minutes. But the heart of the story is still there. You’re still going to experience all the songs you're familiar with, but you’ll be completely immersed throughout the entire 25 minutes.”
The return of Fantasmic! in Hollywood Studios is the same kind of approach: the entertainment team took advantage of new technology and installed a brand new audio system, new lighting systems, laser systems, and video production systems. Mena Rick gave TMR the inside scoop on what is new on this classic show “we took the Pocahontas section of the show, and we took those six minutes and re-edited it to include new characters including Elsa, Moana, Mulan, and Pocahontas.
Mena Rick gave us an exclusive reveal “that audiences will see Maribel through projections in new return of Fantasmic.” Radiating with pride, Mena Rick added, “I'm really proud that we are intentionally creating content that is more representative of our guests that are here today.”
The inside look at EPCOT’s future from an Imagineer
Chatting with Imagineer Zach Riddley, part of the New Experience Development at Walt Disney Imagineering, we got an inside look at the future of EPCOT. Riddley notes that the EPCOT transformation is the largest park transformation Walt Disney World has ever done and that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, set to debut on May 27, the attraction will be the single biggest attraction that is a part of the EPCOT transformation.
Riddley sees EPCOT as “a park about possibility” and “a park about us, people, and the things that inspire us, and the global community that we are a part of.”
“World Celebration, a new neighborhood in EPCOT will feature an amazing arrival moment, as you circulate around Spaceship Earth that will lead to a new overlook called Dreamer’s Point. There you’ll find EPCOT’s first-ever Walt Disney statue. The statue will pay homage to Walt but also inspire us as we are all dreamers.”
And for the simpler joys and wonder of EPCOT, don’t let your clients pass up the chance to tour the stunning mural titled “Global Gathering” at the new Connections Cafe.
Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney
One of the newest Cirque shows and the first-ever to be inspired by the magical world of Disney, Drawn to Life at Disney Springs is a fun escape into Disney imagination. The 90-minute show was inspiring, beautiful, and made for a great way to end a day at the parks.
EPCOT’s Harmonious is spectacular
Debuting for the 50th Celebration in October 2021, EPCOT’s Harmonious night show is thrilling. The show which is a replacement for IllumiNations: Reflections encapsulates the entire World Showcase with an incredible 360 display of many Disney classics old and new. Advise your clients to head to either World Showcase Plaza or The American Adventure Pavilion at least 30 minutes before showtime for the best viewing experiences.
Exclusive merchandise you can only get at the parks
The Pandora candle: Disney has finally bottled up the beloved scent from the Na'vi River Journey and will be selling it as a candle in the parks.
Star Wars: Star Wars collectors will be lining up to get one of the 6,000 Ahsoka Tano Legacy Lightsaber sets available only in Galaxy’s Edge in Florida and California, while a very cool, collectors edition Darth Vader Pyre Helmet (inspired by the melted Darth Vader helmet seen in The Force Awakens) will be a bit more readily available in Galaxy’s Edge.