Disney Legend Jim Cora Dies at Age 83

Disney Legend, who began his Disney career at Disneyland in 1957 as a part-time attractions host polishing 3D glasses at the Mickey Mouse Club Theater and retired 43 years later as chairman of Disney International, passed away on March 21st at the age of 83.

Cora’s influence at the company was vast,  stretching around the globe from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, so much so that it took multiple windows dedicated in his honor on Main Street U.S.A. to capture all of his contributions.

According to the Orange County Register, Cora credited his rapid rise to company founder Walt Disney who set his career path in motion with a promotion into a training and development role. The boss sent the teenager over to the Disneyland administration building to find Disney University founder Van Arsdale France with the admonition: “Tell him Walt sent you. I think he may have something for you.”

Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and former Disneyland resort president Josh D’Amaro called Cora one of the company’s last connections to Walt Disney.

Very few people have a Disney legacy that reaches as far and wide as Jim Cora,” D’Amaro said in a statement. “His dedication to bringing Disney magic to people around the world was only matched by the passion he exuded throughout his career and for the many years that followed. I always loved hearing Jim’s thoughts about our business. He was one of our last connections to Walt Disney and he will be missed dearly.

In 1971, Cora instituted the “Disney Way of Leadership” program at the Magic Kingdom with the opening of Walt Disney World.

Prior to the 1983 opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Cora was named managing director of operations for the that theme park.  He was then promoted to vice president of Walt Disney Productions Japan, overseeing Disney’s operational and design standards.

After Tokyo Disneyland, Cora was put in charge of master planning and site research for Euro Disneyland, which would later became known as Disneyland Paris.

In the 1990’s, Cora was responsible for the creative direction of Tokyo DisneySea. He retired as chairman of Disney International in 2001. Cora was named a Disney Legend in 2005.

Disney Cruise Line Announces 2022 Itineraries and Departure Dates

Disney Cruise Line announced itineraries and departure dates for Summer 2022.  You will be able to sail to the ancient shores of the Mediterranean to explore must-see destinations such as the Greek Isles, a fan favorite offering stunning landscapes and archeological wonders. Visit other enchanting areas in Europe such as Norway and the British Isles. Voyage to Alaska for breathtaking scenery and adventure. Or cruise to the Bahamas and the Caribbean for relaxation on tropical beaches.

In addition, for the first summer ever, embark from Miami on select tropical adventures.

If you’re currently a Platinum, Gold or Silver Castaway Club member, take advantage of the opportunity to book our new cruises before they go on sale to the general public on March 25, 2021. You’ll be able to book Summer 2022 itineraries online or by phone during a designated booking window.

When to Book

  • March 22, 2021: Platinum Members
  • March 23, 2021: Platinum and Gold Members
  • March 24, 2021: Platinum, Gold and Silver Members
  • March 25, 2021: All Guests

How to book

  • Online: If you’re an existing member, simply log in to your account now to verify your Castaway Club status, so you’ll be all set to book on your designated date.
  • By Phone: Call (866) 784-1592 starting at 8:00 AM Eastern Time —or contact your travel agent.

If you have any questions about your Castaway Club status, please contact Disney Cruise Line at (800) 449-3380. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

If you’re currently a Disney Vacation Club Member, an Adventures by Disney Insider or a Golden Oak Club Member, you’re invited to enjoy the exclusive opportunity to book our new cruises before they go on sale to the general public on March 25, 2021.

When to Book

  • Golden Oak Club Members – Begins March 22, 2021 at 8:00 AM Eastern Time
  • Disney Vacation Club Members and Adventures by Disney Insiders – Begins March 24, 2021 at 8:00 AM Eastern Time

How to Book

  • Golden Oak Club Members: contact Golden Oak Club Member Services
  • Disney Vacation Club Members: to book with Reservation Points, call Member Services at (800) 800-9800; to make a cash-only booking, call Disney Cruise Line at (866) 325-6348 —or contact your travel agent
  • Adventures by Disney Insiders: Call (888) 272-0644 —or contact your travel agent

Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

Disneyland Resort to Re-Open on April 30th

Earlier today, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced on CNBC that both of Disney’s theme parks at the Disneyland Resort will re-open April 30th.

According to the new guidelines issued by the State of California, theme parks will be able to operate at between 15% and 35% capacity depending on levels of COVID in the area . For reference, Walt Disney World re-opened in last July at a 25% capacity.

In the announcement Chapek stated –

We’ve seen the enthusiasm, the craving for people to return to our parks around the world.  We’ve been operating at Walt Disney World for about nine months, and there certainly is no shortage of demand.

I think as people become vaccinated, they become a little bit more confident in the fact that they can travel, and stay Covid-free,” he added. “Consumers trust Disney to do the right thing and we’ve certainly proven that we can [open] responsibly whether it’s temperature checks, masks, social distancing, [or] improved hygiene around the parks.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa will re-open April 29th with limited capacity ahead of the parks. The Vacation Club Villa at the Grand Californian will re-open on May 2 and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel will re-open at a later date.

Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. In order to enter a park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up. Theme park reservations will be limited and subject to availability and, until further notice, only California residents may visit the parks in line with current state guidelines. Disney says that more details about this new reservation system will be available soon.

Prior to the full public opening on April 30, Disneyland Resort will invite cast members and members of the local community as part of a soft opening.

Re-opening Disneyland will return more than 10,000 Cast Members back to work.

“The day all of us have long been waiting for is almost here,” said Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort. “We’re excited to have more than 10,000 cast members returning to work as we get ready to welcome our guests back to this happy place.”

 

Walt Disney World to Start Phasing in Disney MagicMobile Service

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced the next evolution of Disney MyMagic+ and the successor to the MagicBand, Disney MagicMobile.

Disney Magic Mobile will be launching in phases starting later this year.  The service will be a convenient and contactless way to access MagicBand features like theme park entry through the power of your iPhone, Apple Watch or other smart device.

Guests will be able to create a Disney MagicMobile pass through the My Disney Experience app and add it to their smart device’s digital wallet. Most features will be available by just holding up the smart device near an access point, just like you do with a MagicBand.

Disney said that the service and its features will roll out first on Apple devices.

Guests may choose to use Disney MagicMobile service or a MagicBand, and can alternate between the two for added flexibility.

Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger Reiterates That He Will Leave the Company at the End of the Year

During his introductory comments during today’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman Bob Iger reiterated that he will leave the company at the end of his current contract on December 31st.

Just to remind everyone, Iger stepped aside from the role of CEO in February 2020, with Bob Chapek taking over the role. With this, he assumed the role of Executive Chairman and has directed the Company’s creative endeavors, while leading the Board and providing assistance to Bob Chapek during the transition period.

Iger’s comments are very significant because he has, on multiple occasions, reversed course and extended his stay at the company.

Bob Chapek Announces Disneyland Resort Will Re-Open in Late April

During today’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, Bob Chapek announced that Disney is planning for late April for the opening of both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Theme parks can re-open starting April 1st, but Disney is choosing to use some additional time to prepare the parks for guests.

Bob Chapek said further details on the full re-opening of the Disneyland Resort will be shared at a later date.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Get’s Opening Date

During today’s virtual Shareholders Annual meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT will be October 1st.

Chef Remy will help kick off “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” in Parisian style.

In this new attraction, guests will feel like they’ve shrunk to the size of Chef Remy as you scurry through Gusteau’s famous restaurant on a wild adventure for the whole family.  I’m sure all parents will appreciate, this attraction will have no height requirement! Based on Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award-winning “Ratatouille,” the experience will be part of a newly expanded France pavilion inside EPCOT that will also open Oct. 1.

California Governor Newsom Updates Guidelines Clearing the Way for Disneyland Resort to Re-Open

The State of California has indicated that California theme parks, which includes the Disneyland Resort, will be able to re-open as early as April 1st.

Under the new guidance rules, theme parks will be able to operate at 15% capacity once the county they operate in are in the Tier 2 Category.  Orange County, the home of the Disneyland Resort, expects to reach this level possibly next week.

According to the Orange County Register, initially entry will be restricted to California residents. It was explained that this is because of the statewide travel advisory that remains in place.

Ken Potrock, President, Disneyland Resort issued a statement –

“We are encouraged that theme parks now have a path toward reopening this spring, getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community. With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”

It is important to mention that this means that the Disneyland Resort CAN open as early as April 1.  It does not mean that it WILL

When do I think that the parks will open?

There are a number of things to consider.  Some people have stated that the parks could  open in early April.  My guess is that it may not be until mid-May.

How do I come to this date…or period of time?

First of all, back on February 23rd Disney Vacation Club announced that the villas at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa would re-open on May 2nd.  Now, I know that initial entry will be restricted to California residents, but it should be noted that a good portion of DVC Members at this resort probably are California residents.  I believe that Disney would like to have the villas available for the re-opening of the parks.

More importantly, Disney needs to recall laid off Cast Members.  And since they’ve not been working for nearly a year, they will need to be re-trained.  This all takes time.  I just don’t see this happening in the next 3-4 weeks.

I know there is pent up demand for the Disneyland Resort and that the resort will initially be restricted to California residents, but let’s look at the re-opening of Walt Disney World.  Disney announced re-opening dates of July 15th on May 27th last year.  That was about 6 weeks.  The DVC resorts at Wall Disney World re-opened on June 22nd.  That was about three weeks ahead of the parks re-opening.  Granted, the DVC presence at the Disneyland Resort is much smaller.

Based on all of the above factors, I still think mid-May looks good to me.  If I’m wrong and the parks in California open sooner, I’ll be happily wrong.

Walt Disney World Updates Mask Policy for Table Service Dining

As of today, Walt Disney World has implemented a stricter new rule for table service restaurants. The language of the old rule on the webpage was that face masks “must be worn in all public areas of the restaurant—including while entering and exiting—and can be removed while eating or drinking.”

The new rule states:

“Face coverings for each Guest age 2 and up, which must be worn in all public areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations.”

The previous rule was enforced so that guests could remove their face masks upon being seated, and leave them off for the duration of the meal, so long as they were at their table.

Even with this rule, some guests chose to leave their masks on while waiting or when interacting with Cast Members.

In my opinion the change is pretty minor. The new rule, would appear that with this clarification Disney will now require guests to stay masked except while actively eating their food or drinking, which is consistent with the regular in-park signs and announcement. I don’t think that the change will necessarily mean putting the mask back on in between bites, but it probably does mean being masked while ordering and waiting for drinks and appetizers or entrees to be delivered, and when waiting for the bill.

The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa to Re-Open

In a email sent out to Disney Vacation Club Members, Disney Vacation Club has announced that The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa  will re-open to members on May 2nd.

In the email DVC said –

Our Cast Members on the West Coast are excited to make their magic once again and “welcome home” Members with enhanced health and safety measures based on guidance from health authorities and appropriate government agencies.

It is important for guests to note that while the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will open for Members and their guests, the rest of the hotel, as well as the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, remain closed for normal operations and will re-open at a later date.

The Downtown Disney District is currently open with select shopping and dining experiences.

DVC pointed out that it has successfully re-opened Disney Vacation Club resorts and other Disney hotels at destinations around the world since last June, with each of them prioritizing the health and well-being of our Cast Members and those who visit us.

Guests will need to remember that during the initial re-opening period of The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, most dining, amenities, activities and services will be modified, limited in capacity or unavailable based on physical distancing and health guidelines. In addition, some areas and offerings will remain temporarily closed or unavailable.