Walt Disney World Ends The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra’s Run After 32 Years

In a Facebook post, The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra announced that their run at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort will end on October 3rd.

In the announcement the group stated –

It’s hard to find the words but, sadly, our days at the Grand Floridian are over. In fact, as of Oct 3, 2020, our days at WDW will come to an end as well.
The company brought us out of furlough, changed our name to “The Disney Society Orchestra,” closed us out of the GF to play a show of Disney themed show tunes at the Theater of the Stars in Hollywood Studios. We’ve been playing 9 shows a day, 7 days a week since Aug 2nd. The music is a far cry from the closely knit harmonies & sounds we became known for at the GF but. the guys are real pros and they sound great!
Well… Two weeks ago we got notice that the theater is going dark and our last day of work will be Saturday, Oct 3, 2020. As we all know, these are very uncertain times and can’t say what will happen from one day to the next.
So after 32 years of playing together and playing music we love… we’re done. We are so thankful for the opportunity to play in a beautiful setting for the hotel guests and friends we have met & made over the years. We’ll never forget you and how wonderful you’ve made us feel. We will miss you!
Thank you-thank you- thank you!
Whenever we’ve ever been to the Grand Floridian listening to the orchestra has always been a great experience.  They will be missed.
There haven’t been any details released as to why this is happening.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Candlelight Processional Go on Hiatus

It came as no great surprise that Walt Disney World announced yesterday that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Castle Dream Lights, Jingle Bell Jingle BAM! and Candlelight Processional at EPCOT will not be taking place this year. As expected, physical distancing requirements and limitations on mass gatherings make those events impossible to host.

Although the main holiday events will be missing in 2020, Disney did announce that beginning November 6th and running through December 30th this year, guests will still be able to enjoy festive décor, themed merchandise, seasonal food & beverage offerings and entertainment all across Walt Disney World Resort.

In the announcement Walt Disney World stated that the parks will continue the cavalcades that were introduced when the parks re-opened in July, this time with seasonal twists celebrating the holidays. The very popular Toy Soldiers will join the Main Street Philharmonic for one of the seasonal mini-parades at the Magic Kingdom.

When night falls,Disney plans of presenting  special projection effects that will give a festive look to Cinderella Castle this year. The appearance of the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation.

Minnie Mouse will also be hosting a yuletide gathering for all her friends at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning November 6th. Santa Goofy will also be there..

Beginning November 27th, EPCOT will  be celebrating highlights from the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Holiday kitchens will be returning around World Showcase promenade with favorites like American Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Bavaria Holiday Kitchen with dishes like Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl.

Inside the World Showplace, JOYFUL!, will present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music. Also, the Voices of Liberty will perform at the America Gardens Theatre stage for a special concert of favorite carols and songs of the season.

At the resorts, decor will be on full display, but gingerbread displays will not be present this year.

At Disney Spring snowfall will occur each night within Town Center, West Side and The Landing. In addition, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will transform into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar with a limited-time menu of festive favorites. The Tree Trail will not be returning, but the trees will be spread throughout the property.

Finally, Santa Claus will wave to guests as he makes pop-up appearances at each park, as well as Disney Springs,  but will not be available for meet and greets. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, for example, he will sail down Discovery River on a special flotilla.

Walt Disney World Delays Re-Opening of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Walt Disney World announced today that it will be delaying the re-opening of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort until summer 2021.

Disney has also indicated that it will be refurbishing the hotel beginning in October, which will include changes to the Great Ceremonial House and guest rooms.  Details on the refurbishment to be announced at a later date.

The Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will remain open during this refurbishment.

“As we continue to reopen additional Disney Resort hotels to Guests, we are modifying the reopening date for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort which will reopen next summer. This schedule adjustment also allows us to complete some refurbishment work at the Resort hotel, including enhancements to the Great Ceremonial House and Guest rooms. We expect work to begin in early October and look forward to sharing more about these changes in the future. The Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will remain open during this refurbishment.”

Here is the revised resort hotel re-opening schedule:

  • September 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • October 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • November 1 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Summer 2021 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s All Star Resorts, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney’s Beach Club and BoardWalk Inn continue to remain closed until further notice.

Impasse with Actor’s Equity Union Ends…Performers to Return to Work at Walt Disney World

In an article posted yesterday we announced that the State of Florida will begin providing COVID-19 Testing for cast members and guests the Disney Maingate Complex starting August 14th.  After this announcement, the Actor’s Equity Union signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return to work at the Walt Disney World theme parks.

Disney officials said in a notice to its workers that there would be a dedicated testing lane for its workers and their families, and that reservations could be made for testing.

“As a reminder, testing is voluntary and cast members will not be paid for testing time,” the notice said.

In a statement, Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association stated –

“We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed.  With the news that Disney will make testing available for Equity performers and others in the park, I’m happy to announce that Equity’s executive committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return.”

The Actors’ Equity Association represents 51,000 stage performers nationwide, including about 750 at Disney World.

Disney released a statement later Wednesday stating that allowing the testing location was not in response to union demands.

“Our actions support all cast and our community at large,” the statement said.

The union began pushing Disney World to offer testing for its members in late June, before the park’s July reopening. The actors could not do their jobs wearing masks or keeping social distance, according to the union.

Equity Cast Members make up a significant portion of Walt Disney World’s live entertainment performers, which include shows such as, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, Festival of the Lion King and various castle shows.

The return of those performers would pave the way for Disney to resume shows should it wish to do so. It needs to be stated though that though a return of these shows is possible and very likely at some point, no return date or time table for their return has been indicated by either Disney or the Equity Union.  Presumably rehearsals would need to take place.  How long this could take is unknown at this time.

So, even though we don’t know a return date, it appears another part of the special Disney magic will be returning to Walt Disney World.

 

Maria and Enzo’s, The Edison and Enzo’s Hideaway Re-Opening at Disney Springs

Patina Group will be re-opening three of its Disney Springs restaurants on August 13th.  They have been closed since mid-March 2020.

Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideway and The Edison will all reopen for dinner starting Thursday.

All three will open with Patina’s updated health and safety measures.  These include increased physical spacing, mask requirements, and screening of employees.

State of Florida to Begin Providing COVID-19 Testing at Disney’s Maingate Complex Near Animal Kingdom

The State of Florida announced that they will be opening a new testing site in Osceola County at Disney’s Maingate office complex near Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Maingate complex is on the south end of the property off of West Ilo Bronson Memorial Highway (US 192), located at 3010 Maingate Lane.

Testing will begin on August 14th and will be available from 7 AM to 4 PM, serving Disney Cast Members and their families, along with members of the public. Cast Members can register for a test at disneycovid19test.com, and the public can register at doineedacovid19test.com.

The test for those with or without symptoms, is self-administered with a nasal swab from inside your car, and results are delivered in 3-5 business days.

It is important to note that the tests are being offered to the public and not required.

 

Walt Disney World Shortening Theme Park Operating Hours Starting September 8th

Today Walt Disney World announced that they will be shortening the operating hours of all of their theme parks beginning September 8th. Here are the updated hours:

Magic Kingdom – 9 AM to 6 PM (previously closed at 7 PM)

EPCOT – 11 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 9 PM)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 8 PM)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9 AM to 5 PM (previously opened at 8 AM and closed at 6 PM)*

This announcement comes after Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted that there was less demand at Walt Disney World for vacations than expected, during a third quarter earnings report.

* – This is a correction. It was earlier reported as open at 8 AM

Mulan to be Released on Disney+ as a Rental on September 4

In a major development Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced, during their earnings call, that Disney will be releasing Mulan directly to Disney+ on September 4th as a rental..

Unlike the rest of the content available on Disney+, Mulan won’t come with a subscription to the service. Consumers in the U.S. and other territories will have to pay $29.99 on top of the streaming service’s monthly subscription fee of $6.99. In markets where Disney+ isn’t available, “Mulan” will play in cinemas…assuming theaters are open there.

“We’re looking at ‘Mulan’ as a one-off as opposed to say there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” Chapek said on the company’s earnings call.

It’s also notable that that Disney is testing is very different and potentially more lucrative than others deployed by studios. Mulan will cost roughly $10 more than Universal charged for “Trolls World Tour” and it’s sticking the price of a subscription on top of that bill. It remains to be seen if that will be too rich for consumers.

Initially I was upset that in order to watch Mulan when it’s released I would have to pay roughly $30 on top of my Disney+ subscription.  Then I realized if it had been released to the local theater I would have paid more than $30 to take the entire family, even if I went on a discounted day, especially when you add on what I would have paid for snacks.  Even if I had waited for it to come out on video that would have been $20-25.  That’s on top of if it had been released to theaters, I would have gone to see it.  So, thinking about it…I’m okay with this.

Walt Disney World Expands Temperature Screenings

Walt Disney World has expanded its temperature screenings to include some of its resort hotel restaurants.

Prior to this expansion Disney was taking guest temperatures on arrival at Disney Springs and the theme parks.  Now a temperature measurement will also be taken at table service restaurants inside Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Based on guidance from health authorities, Disney will continue its policy that anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.

Walt Disney World Adjusts Re-Opening Schedule of Remaining Resort Hotels

Walt Disney World announced that it will be delaying the re-opening of some of its Walt Disney World resort hotels and cancelling others.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will now re-open on October 4 instead of the previously announced August 12.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will now re-open on November 1 instead of the previously announced August 12.

Disney’s Beach Club and BoardWalk Inn will now remain closed until further notice.

The revised re-opening schedule looks like this:

  • July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • August 24 – Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • September 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • October 4 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • October 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • November 1 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

The following resort hotels do not have free-opening dates:

  • Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

At this time Disney has not specifically stated why the re-opening schedule has been changed, though it’s like due to a lack of demand.