Walt Disney World Updates Mask Policy to Require Everyone to Wear Masks When Indoors

What is old is new again!

Disney has updated its mask policy following the latest CDC guidance which was published on July 27th.  The US theme parks have moved quickly to again require all guests and Cast Members to wear masks when indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The new indoor mask requirement will go into effect on July 30th at both Walt Disney World in Florida, and Disneyland Resort in California.

This policy change is a return to an earlier policy that was in place prior to the Disney updated the policy on June 15th when they eliminated mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated except when using enclosed transportation.

According to news reports, Orange County is seeing a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases. AdventHealth, the area’s primary healthcare provider, has said its ICUs are at capacity, and the system has moved to a red alert level.

Disney has updated the Health and Safety notice on its website to notify guests that policies may change at anytime.

As we have done since reopening, we’ve been very intentional and gradual in our approach to our COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Based on recent trends and regulatory guidance, Walt Disney World Resort will be making adjustments to these measures, which may continue to change at any time without notice.

We encourage people to get vaccinated.

Below is the latest Disney World mask policy in full:

Effective July 30

Beginning July 30, face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional for all Guests in outdoor common areas.

Face Covering Requirements until July 30

While face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, they are now optional in most areas for Guests who are fully vaccinated. While we do not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation except ferry boats.

Fireworks Are Returning to Disney Parks in July

Walt Disney World has just announced that rireworks will be returning on July 1st with both “Happily Ever After” at Magic Kingdom and “EPCOT Forever” at EPCOT.

Out in California at the Disneyland Resort the fun will start on July 4th with “Mickey’s Mix Magic” presented nightly throughout the summer.

Nighttime spectaculars have been missing at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort since the parks re-opened in 2020. The return of the fireworks will be a welcome addition to the light entertainment offerings at the parks.

*Updated*

Disney has released schedules for both shows now…

Happily Ever After will start at 9:15 PM and EPCOT Forever will start at 10 PM for the month of July. I expect that schedule to change in August to accommodate Disney After Hours Boo Bash and a slightly earlier sunset. 

Disney has yet to announce a return of Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular show.

Even though no details have be released, “Happily Ever After” is expected to be the same show that guests saw before the park closed in Mark of 2020. “EPCOT Forever” is expected to be an updated show with a new pyrotechnic sequence to replace the kites, because the addition of the Harmonious hardware to the World Showcase Lagoon use of the jet ski based kites is not practical.

Because “EPCOT Forever” returning in July, the brand-new Harmonious show likely will not debut until later in the year, likely in October as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

It also needs to be noted that Disney has said that with the return of fireworks to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom three will not be special fireworks shows for the Fourth of July or for the After Hours Boo Bash.

Disneyland Resort Drops Mask & Distancing Requirements

Beginning today, all fully vaccinated Disneyland Resort guests will no longer have to wear their masks. As with Walt Disney World, DLR guests will also not be required to show proof of vaccination. Guests ages two and up who are not fully vaccinated will be asked to continue wearing face coverings indoors, except when dining.

The ressort will also be eradicating physical distancing requirements for guests. Disney will be incrementally allowing more guests to attend the resort at a future time, according to a report from the Happiest Place on Earth.

While temperature checks for visitors and employees will drop, the online-only reservation system will remain in place, with no foreseeable end date. Cast Members will be asked to keep wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status, and maintain their 6 feet of physical distance.

Paradise Pier hotel will re-open today, while the Disneyland Resort Hotel will re-open on July 2.

In a letter from Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel sent to Cast Members –

As we have realized the benefits of reservations in helping to manage guest visitation and provide an even better experience, our reservation system will continue,and we will gradually increase attendance as our operations allow.

Disneyland Resort Announces the Return of More Dining

Disneyland Resort made an announcement yesterday that will please many guests. They have announced that they will be opening more restaurants at the resort.

The following restaurants will be opening –

Paradise Garden Grill – Opening May 13th

Alfresco Tasting Terrace – Opening for Legacy Passholders on May 18th

Blue Bayou – Opening May 27th.  Online reservations available on May 18th

Napa Rose – Opening May 28th.  Online reservations available May 18th

Storytellers Café – Opening May 28th for Breakfast and Dinner.  No Character Dining Yet.  Online reservations available May 18th

Avenger’s Campus to Open at Disney California Adventure on June 4th

Recently Disneyland Resort made an announcement that we’ve all been anticipating, that Avengers Campus… an entirely new land dedicated to discovering, recruiting and training the next generation of Super Heroes – will open June 4, 2021 at the Disney California Adventure!

Inside this fully immersive land, guests will be invited to team up with the Avengers and their allies and live out your Super Hero dreams. Avengers Campus is comprised of several super hero locations, each hosted by a different Avenger to share their unique powers, technology and knowledge with recruits.

The first key area is the Worldwide Engineering Brigade, also known as WEB. This area will bring together bright innovators like Peter Parker who have been assembled by Tony Stark to invent new technologies and equip everyday people to become Super Heroes like the Avengers. WEB will house the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature the iconic friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!

The second anchor attraction will be a fan-favorite that opened in 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

When it is time to take a break from all of the heroics, several new dining spots at Avengers Campus will offer dishes that are rich in both flavor and storytelling. One of these is Pym Test Kitchen,  a food innovation science lab where the food and drinks tell a story. Just as Ant-Man and The Wasp use “Pym Particles” to grow and shrink just about anything, Pym Technologies applies this science to the creation of shareable bites, inventive entrees and sweet treats. You will be able to savor such items as the Impossible™ plant-based large and micro meatballs with pasta, or the “Pym-ini,” a panini served by the slice or as a long, multi-portion sandwich.

Adjacent to the Pym Test Kitchen, an oversized beer can overhead signals that grown-up beverage tastings are available at Pym Tasting Lab. You can order a craft beer, ranging from a blood orange hefeweizen to an amber lager, or try one of the Pym Research Staff’s Pym Particle-infused cocktail experiments.

Both of these locations will be offering mobile ordering via the Disneyland app.

Guests can visit one of The Avengers favorite food joints, Shawarma Palace. There they can enjoy a shawarma wrap at this food cart, which is decked out with memorabilia for Avenger fans. Lastly, Taneleer Tivan did not limit his collection to lovable misfits; he is also curating a weird and wonderful menu of intergalactic eats at the Terran Treats food cart near Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Super Heroes will come to life in more exciting ways than ever throughout Avengers Campus. You may have heroic encounters with Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, the Dora Milaje, Black Widow, Ant-Man and The Wasp, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor and even villains like Loki, some of whom are making their first appearances at the park.

Guests may even have the chance to witness Spider-Man swinging into action high above Avengers Campus with gravity-defying, acrobatic feats never seen before in a Disney theme park.

At a nearby ancient sanctum, Doctor Strange will be training recruits in the mystic arts by bringing this ancient sanctum to life with powerful spells. At night, the area will glow even more vividly with majestic colors and lights, pulsating with mystic energy.

There also will be plenty of shopping locations.

The WEB Suppliers store will offer the latest inventions, including interactive Spider-Bots much like the ones you will see in the new attraction, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Each Spider-Bot has a remote control, and all eight articulated legs move forward and backward. You may customize your Spider-Bot with tactical upgrades to harness the powers and style of favorite Super Heroes, including Black Panther, Iron Man and Black Widow, as well as Ant-Man and The Wasp.

Other must-have items at WEB Suppliers include a specially-designed backpack to carry Spider-Bots when they are not in action, Spider-Man light goggles, a take-home spider web kit and Funko Pop! vinyl figurines of Spider-Man and Iron Man.

The Campus Supply Pod is the place to power up with official Avengers Campus gear, including performance fleece hoodies and tees, headwear, drinkware and other Super Hero supplies.

Disneyland Resort Announces Ticket and Park Reservation Information for Re-Opening

As previously announced, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be re-opening on April 30, with limited capacity.

When Disneyland Resort re-opens its two theme parks, they will have enhanced health and safety measures, and will limit capacity through a new theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. Theme park reservations will only be available online, in advance only, and for a specific date, subject to availability.

Disneyland provided some important information to help you plan ahead:

Theme Park Reservations:

To enter Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park, both a theme park reservation and valid admission ticket for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up. Guests must have a valid theme park admission ticket in order to make a reservation. Theme park reservations will be limited and subject to availability and, until further notice, only California residents may visit the parks, and in groups no larger than 3 households, in line with current state guidelines. 

The theme park reservation system will launch on April 12, and guests with existing valid theme park tickets can begin making park reservations for the days that their ticket is valid. Theme park ticket sales will resume on April 15, and guests without park tickets may begin purchasing tickets and making park reservations. As a reminder, ticket expiration dates were extended for many outstanding tickets. To accommodate as many types of ticket holders as possible, park reservations for select dates may be made available on a rolling basis. Ticket calendars will be updated on a rolling basis. Check for updated availability.

Here are some key dates to remember:

  • April 9: If guests currently hold a theme park ticket, they can check available days for your 1-day ticket type beginning April 9 on Disneyland.com/ParksUpdates.
  • April 12: The theme park reservation system will open no earlier than 8 AM PT on April 12.  Guests who already have valid theme park tickets may begin making park reservations at that time.
  • April 15: Theme park ticket sales will resume no earlier than 8 AM PT on April 15.. Guests without park tickets may begin purchasing tickets and making park reservations at that time.

Disneyland is asking guest to make sure that guests log in to their Disney account first to link valid theme park tickets prior to accessing the park reservation system.

See how to make a park reservation, below –

It is important for everyone to note that a hotel stay DOES NOT guarantee a theme park reservation. Guests with valid theme park admission tickets who are planning a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will also need to book a theme park reservation.  Disney is advising guest who plan to visit the theme parks during their stay to get their theme park reservation prior to making a hotel reservation.

If you have park hopper tickets, there is some good news. Guests with Park Hopper tickets may choose, pending availability, which theme park to start their day, when making their theme park reservations, and then will be able to visit the other park beginning at 1 PM that day. Guests with multi-day tickets will be required to make a separate park reservation for each day they plan to visit the theme parks.

Park Hours:

At this time Disney is planning that daily park hours for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be 9 AM to 7 PM.

Parking:

Theme park parking will be available at the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures, located off Disneyland Drive.

Dining: 

Disneyland Resort is planning to re-open dining bookings for select locations on April 22, with limited capacity. Guests will be able to book their dining reservation 60 days in advance on Disneyland.com or with the Disneyland App, subject to availability.

Disneyland Resort is also encouraging guests to use the mobile order service for a contactless and cashless experience.

Disneyland Resort Unviels Longterm Expansion Plans

Disneyland Resort has unveiled long-term plans for theme park, retail and parking expansion. Disney plans to work with the City of Anaheim to reimagine what the resort district will look like over the next couple decades.

Disney said that they will be asking the city over the next few weeks and months for more flexibility in plans that were approved in the 1990s in order to be able to add a mix of theme park, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment on the eastern and western edges of the Disneyland resort.

Disneyland portfolio executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Jeanette Lomboy said during a media briefing on Thursday, that the DisneylandForward plan includes what could be possible in the future at the Disneyland resort with more flexibility and approvals from the city.

Because of the current rigid district structure, we just need more flexibility.  We’re excited about the possibilities and ready to dream. Believe me, we have no shortage of ideas, content or stories to tell or build.

The westside expansion envisions a theme park on the Downtown Disney and Lilo and Stitch parking lots woven around the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.

Disney officials stated that the westside site bounded by Katella Avenue, Walnut Street, Magic Way and Disneyland Drive as more of a theme park expansion than a new “third gate.”

Concept art of the site shows a central mountain surrounded by water with buildings interspersed on the south end of the property. A mountain ridge to the west separates the theme park from nearby neighborhoods.

The westside site will connect with Downtown Disney near the unused AMC Theater and ESPN Zone.

Concept art of the northern end of the westside site shows an Autopia-like car course and a Dumbo-like spinning ride.

The eastside expansion would bring together theme park experiences, hotels, retail, dining and entertainment on the Toy Story parking lot next to the Anaheim Convention Center.

Concept art of the eastside retail area features a central lagoon surrounded by shops and a low-rise hotel with a parking structure near the corner of Katella Avenue and Haster Street.

Lomboy added –

What we do know today is that guests need and want more.  In order to give guests what they want, we need more flexibility here in Anaheim. Guests are demanding immersive integrated experiences that are not singular in their uses. We no longer think of uses as separate. Retail, dining, entertainment, theme parks and hotels are all part of the same experiences in the same place. And we need the space in our lands to create story-rich environments.

The DisneylandForward plan also includes possible new parking along Disney Way.

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.”

 

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.

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.