Imagineer Kevin Rafferty to Retire After 42 Years With Disney

Walt Disney Imagineering will be losing another legendary talent later this year when Kevin Rafferty retires after 42 years with the company.Rafferty, is the Imagineer who conceived, designed, wrote, and oversaw the creations of some of Disney Parks’ most memorable attractions and lands, announced in a memo to staff that he will retire from Walt Disney Imagineering, effective April 1, 2021

Following both the publication of his book, Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career, and the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway—the first-ever ride-through attraction to feature Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse—at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rafferty says his nearly 43-year journey with Disney has reached its peak. “I wanted to go out at the top of my game, if you will,” he explains. “It just felt right.”

From D23 –

Rafferty will leave behind a legacy that few can rival—one that began with the incredibly talented Imagineers who mentored him who, in turn, led to the long list of those whom he inspired. “When I started, there were only two Disney parks in the world. It’s really been my honor, my pleasure, and my joy to be around and watch the expansion of the magic that Walt Disney Imagineering has made,” he says. “I’ve been there for all that. It’s been an amazing ride.”

 

Walt Disney World to Discontinue Disney’s Magic Express in 2022

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced that it plans on discontinuing Disney’s Magical Express airport transportation service in 2022.

In a statement, Disney said:

Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

After the theme parks re-opened this past July, Disney’s Magical Express service did return from the COVID-19 shutdown, but they didn’t resume luggage service.

Mears has issued a statement regarding this –

Walt Disney [World] made us aware of their decision. While we are disappointed Disney will no longer offer this service, we intend to continue offering transportation services between the airport and all area theme parks and hotels to meet the demand of our visitors now and in the future.

UPDATE – Commentary:

I have no data to support this…but Disney wouldn’t be doing this if they felt that the current business model was sustainable.  I have a belief that Disney had noticed a decline in DME usage well before the park closures in March 2019. There were just too many options that got you to your resort with your luggage available.  There were Uber, Lyft, car services, shuttles, and car rental to name a few.  On top of this, the Brightline trains is scheduled to be coming in 2022.

Also…this isn’t happening now.  It’s going to be 11+ months until this happens.  Some company or start up will fill the gap and take advantage of this.

Walt Disney World to Replace Extra Magic Hours with Early Theme Park Entry

Walt Disney World announced today that they will be discontinuing Extra Magic Hours.  Disney will replace EMH with Early Theme Park Entry.

Early Theme Park Entry will debut later in 2021. The new early entry program will give Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests 30 minutes early access to any theme park, every day. Disney has stated that the change will allow a better spread of visitation across all four theme parks and will give guests better flexibility.

When it was running prior to its suspension following the COVID-19 shutdown, Extra Magic Hours offered 3 hours of extended operating hours in the evening, and an hour in the morning. However, the option was restricted to a specific theme park on a specific day.

Disney Legend Ron Dominguez Passes Away at Age 85

Disney Legend  and former executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, Ron Dominguez,  passed away early today, January 1, 2021. He was 85.

Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro released a statement –

We are saddened to have lost a very dear member of our family, Ron Dominguez.  Ron’s contributions to Disneyland are nearly incalculable. He was well-known among the cast and community throughout his tenure at the park and continued to show his support long after his retirement, guiding and mentoring leaders, including me, for decades. I am personally grateful for all that he has done for Disney, and want to express my deepest condolences to his family on behalf of every Disney Parks cast member around the world.

Known as a “native Disneylander,” Dominguez’s family originally owned and lived on 10 acres of the orange grove-covered property that was purchased by Walt Disney for his theme park in 1954.

Ron Dominguez retired in August 1994 after 39 years of service to The Walt Disney Company.

He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2000 and has a window on Main Street, U.S.A at Disneyland park.