Theme Park Insider

News update: Less Stitch at Disney World, and maybe less AP access, too

September 21, 2016, 8:30 PM · Disney fans are buzzing about a customer survey from the company that asks fans' opinion about an annual pass that would block out days after new attractions open. Typically, Disney's annual pass blockout days have been scheduled around high attendance periods: holidays, school vacations, and (in the case of Disneyland) weekends. The more blockout days, the cheaper the pass. But Disney seems to be mulling the idea of a pass that uses blockout days to try to limit park attendance in the days and weeks after a big new attraction opens, instead of just on traditionally high attendance days of the year.

That's not really necessary when Disney opens a big new ride or land just as the summer blockouts hit. But if Disney were to open, say, Pandora: The World of Avatar or Star Wars Land during a non-peak season, this new approach to blockouts could help ensure that "regular" guests get access to the new attractions without annual passholders overwhelming the queues.

Disney's usually very good about not messing with blockout dates once it has sold an annual pass. (Yes, we're sub-talking about you, Universal.) So we're assuming that these blockout dates are something that potential passholders would know about before they buy. Ultimately, then, it comes down to value. Would you be willing to consider another category of restricted AP, if it were priced low enough?

Speaking of limited access, Walt Disney World has confirmed that Stitch's Great Escape will switch to seasonal operation, closing Oct. 2 - Nov. 19. Disney often shuts locations in the parks during lower-attendance periods, but it's rare for Disney to close an indoor attraction in the Magic Kingdom, rather than just trim its hours. But Stitch has been the lowest rated attraction by our readers pretty much since it opened in 2004, so we doubt that many people will miss it. If you really must see furry creatures devoted to mayhem while visiting the Magic Kingdom next month, Oct. 2 is the day that the new Muppets show debuts across the park in Liberty Square, so head over there instead.

Can't get enough food and wine while visiting Epcot? Head out the Interntional Gateway over to the Swan and Dolphin next month, where The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic returns for its seventh year October 28 – 29. The hotels are promising their largest event to date, with 50 food and wine stations and multiple seminars with opportunities to meet award-winning chefs. Visit swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com for details.

Update: Big fire near Universal in Japan.

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Replies (23)

September 21, 2016 at 8:50 PM · They keep adding restrictions and raising prices, and still people shell out the money.
September 21, 2016 at 9:00 PM · Bring back 'xtra terrorestial alien encounter'
September 21, 2016 at 9:18 PM · So instead of replacing Stitch, it's just going to be left to ROT. Typical of the Bob Iger tenure at Disney. Why not close a few more attractions down and save money - they did that at Hollywood Studios.
September 21, 2016 at 10:00 PM · They're most likely replacing stitch with a wreck it Ralph attraction. It's not going to rot
September 21, 2016 at 10:57 PM · Stitch is not very popular nor a good attraction, but at least it absorbs some of the crowds in Tomorrowland. Thus, it's not an improvement when they arbitrarily close it during a time of big crowds at WDW; now we can look forward to longer lines for everything in Tomorrowland.
This is just a tight-wad cost saving measure, nothing more. As usual, they do it because they think they can get away with it.
September 21, 2016 at 11:25 PM · I'd say if you're going to close it, close it. Nome of this seasonal stuff.

If an attraction needs to be closed for any reason other than maintenance/refurbishment, it means people don't like it very much, and it is therefore dead weight.

Close it. Give another IP a chance, or allow it to be torn down and replaced with something completely new. Better yet, follow DHS's plan, and make it the first of several closures within an area, where a large new area can vecome a blank slate for a real game changer of an attraction or land.

Close Stitch. Close Laugh Floor. Close the racetrack. Overhaul Tomorrowland.

'Nuff said. Make Mine Marvel.

Or you know...whatever.

September 22, 2016 at 1:10 AM · Just close Stitch forever...
September 22, 2016 at 4:59 AM · Close this Stitch, make a new better Stitch. He has staying power in the Disney fandom that Wreck It Ralph doesn't.
September 22, 2016 at 5:39 AM · They really should just close it down and replace it. It's by far the worst ride in MK. I think it's telling that attendance for that ride is super low when they use it as a Halloween party treat station instead of actually having it run.
September 22, 2016 at 7:27 AM · Disney should close down all their attractions. Just turn Disney World into a giant toy store with terrible restaurants. Wall Street will love the jump in quarterly profits.

What do I think about reduced prices for AP holders who accept block-out dates for new attractions? DISNEY OPENING A NEW ATTRACTION IN THE USA? SINCE WHEN?

September 22, 2016 at 7:52 AM · Yeah, save money on seasonal operation. It's not like Disney is charging over $100 for tickets to the MK.

BTW I must be the one person that likes Stitch's Great Escape.

September 22, 2016 at 8:15 AM · DISNEY IS EVIL thay a horrible
September 22, 2016 at 9:09 AM · I like the idea of a Wreck-it Ralph overhaul, I really miss Alien Encounter, it was the perfect scare ride for me.

Wreck-It Ralph could breathe life into what was silly with Stitch, along with giving many older guests a big hit of 8-Bit nostalgia, Especially now that we've lost Disney Quest.

Disney really does seem to be dishing out a less for more model at the moment, losing lots of the magic that I so fondly remember back in the early 2000's.

September 22, 2016 at 9:11 AM · Omg I love the stitch attraction ! Leave it open ! Cut back the hrs. I went a few years ago during x ma's and new years..The stitch ride was one of my favs. On new years eve. I can think of different things to close outside than a inside attractioan. Inside attraction's during hot seasons a place to cool off..
September 22, 2016 at 9:44 AM · Wouldn't the AP restrictions mess up people's vacation plans? They should only restrict for local residents who normally can come back on another day. They should be able to restrict on ability to get a Fastpass when a new ride opens. Also, hotel guests should have a higher priority. Would they disallow Standby lines? It sounds like they have no idea on when to open a new attraction. APs shouldn't be problem. They need longer break-in times to moderate the crowds. Frozen Ever After had 5 hours waits and now its barely 90 minutes. This means they didn't have a soft opening. They just opened, which was a bad idea since the ride broke down often.
September 22, 2016 at 10:35 AM · I don't think passholders are a major problem at Disney World when a new attraction opens. It's more of a problem at Disneyland where they make up the majority of guests. When a new attraction opens, its the regular customers that miss out because they can't just come back another day and are paying way more than passholders. The solution would be to give passholders exclusive access before the offical opening. They won't need to come out on opening day because they got exclusive access for a few weeks. Regular customers might feel excluded, but technically they're not because passholders are just getting an early showing, the attraction wouldn't officially be open yet, because they came before the offical first day. The passholders are just getting to see it early so they don't crowd the attraction once it's open to everyone. Kinda like critic screenings.
September 22, 2016 at 11:21 AM · It makes sense that if the blue alien koala "attraction" ain't attracting many people anymore and it's not reaching it's percentage threshold that they would just open it during peak times. I've never seen it and have no desire to so I could not care less. I don't think MK's Tomorrowland needs a complete overhaul just yet. Disneyland's needs it first. At least visually MK's is pretty decent (if a little too cartoonish for my taste). As in every good Disney themed environment it's the little details that matter. So while the attraction line up isn't necessarily any better the setting at least does what it's supposed to do. DL's T-land on the other hand just looks like an outdated suburban mall.

Can't speak to AP restrictions since I don't know enough about the Orlando market and tbh I don't have to worry about admission costs but I can understand how that would be terribly frustrating for some. But I'm pretty sure Disney isn't doing this just to be greedy.

September 22, 2016 at 11:51 AM · Funniest thing I've heard all week: "I'm pretty sure Disney isn't doing this just to be greedy." Thanks, MarkSharp!
September 22, 2016 at 2:04 PM · If Disney tries to add blockout days for two months after Star Wars Land opens in Disneyland, mark my words, there will be an uproar like no one has ever seen.

You can limit entrance into the land as a crowd control measure, or even limit entrance into the park because of overcrowding, but don't add more blockout days. This is exactly the reason why they made a big mistake not building the third park.

Let people wait 5 hours if they want to, or they can choose to come at a later date. But don't take the choice away from them, and especially don't take away Disneyland as a whole for an extra two months.

Some passholders will voluntarily wait to see Star Wars Land, but it's another thing entirely if they are denied access to the rest of Disneyland.

September 22, 2016 at 9:57 PM · I'm speaking more for Disneyland, but I would be okay with this blockout idea provided that A. The additional blockout days were not added and instead replaced other blockout days (i.e. if 10 additional weekdays are blocked out on the SoCal Select, 10 normally blocked weekend days become unblocked), B. Any changes to the blockout calendar were announced far enough in advance (likely three to six months) for those planning lengthy trips to alter their plans if necessary, and C. Passholders were given an alternate way to experience the attraction rather than being forced to wait until the blockout period ends (for example, for two months before Star Wars Land opens all passholders are given the option to preview the area during an AP only preview, then they are blocked out for two months after opening). If measures similar to these weren't used, I probably wouldn't consider a pass with variable blockout dates unless it was significantly cheaper than the current pass options (say 30-40% less).

As for Stitch, I've got a feeling it is on the way out as soon as Disney gets approval for a replacement attraction, so I see this as a way to close the attraction while keeping it available for days the extra capacity is needed. Considering the attraction is considered mediocre by most, I don't see anything wrong with this approach.

September 23, 2016 at 12:59 PM · I vote to turn stitch back to "Mission to Mars" but updated to what the future mission will be like.
September 23, 2016 at 5:47 PM · So please,please, please bring back Alien Encounter!
September 28, 2016 at 5:39 PM · There shouldn't ever be restrictions for annual passholders...seasonal attractions...that's ridiculous.

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