Disney to Layoff 28,000 Cast Members at US Parks

Today Disney has announced that it will make a drastic reduction in its workforce at its domestic parks.  Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that Disney will be laying off 28,000 cast members. He also stated that  67% of these layoffs will be part-time cast members.

In a statement, D’Amaro publicly mentions the state of California’s reluctance to allow for the re-opening of Disneyland as one of the driving factors. In a note sent to cast members. D’Amaro states that, “We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days.” It appears the action will happen soon.

Walt Disney World currently employs approximately 70,000, with Disneyland Resort employing around 30,000. It isn’t at this time clear how the layoffs will be distributed across the two coasts.

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World closed in mid-March due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Walt Disney World re-opened in mid-July.  Disneyland Resort still remaining closed.

Disneyland Resort Cancels Oogie Boogie Bash for 2020

On Friday the Disneyland Resort announced that they were canceling this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash.

On the Disneyland website Disney made the announcement with this brief statement –

We have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party.

The OC Register has reported the news that event has been canceled by Disneyland officials, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was expected to start in September and run through Halloween.

Park officials addressed this by stating –

“Given theme park guidelines have yet to be released by the state, and Oogie Boogie Bash requires a substantial amount of planning and coordination, we are unable to bring the event back at this time.”

The park’s announcement came as Governor Gavin Newsom issued new safeguards for the state’s essential workers impacted by the deadly global pandemic, including cashiers and kitchen staff.

To many, this didn’t come as a huge surprise, though I’m sure to many this is disappointing.

Walt Disney World canceled their Halloween event, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a few weeks ago, so it really isn’t much of a surprise that Disneyland canceled as well.

Both Disney and Universal said they plan on bringing back their Halloween events in 2021.

Walt Disney World Committed to Open on July 11th…Releases Commitment to Health and Safety Measures

Today in the Disney Parks Blog Walt Disney World stated that they are committed to opening the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11th and then Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

This came in a personal address by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products where she lays out Disney’s commitment to the health and safety of both guests and cast members for the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort.

In the announcement Dr. Hymel states –

As we continue the phased reopenings of our parks and resorts across the world, promoting health and safety for our guests, cast members, and the larger community is a responsibility we take very seriously.

On Saturday, we will continue the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort, marking the first of our domestic theme parks to welcome guests back to the magic. While we await California guidelines for reopening Disneyland Resort, and will adjust as necessary, we wanted to share more information on our approach to health and safety in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks. 

We remain deeply committed to focusing on your well-being when you visit or work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. From increased cleaning and disinfecting across our parks and resorts, to updated health and safety policies, we have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly. We implemented our health and safety measures after considering the guidance of government and local health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to the U.S. Travel Association and Disney’s team of health experts.

Together, we are a Disney family, and while COVID-19, and the risk of contracting it, is present in public places, there are many important ways that we can all help promote each other’s safety.  As we implement our guidelines at our parks and resorts, we want to thank our guests and cast members for all they do to care for one another by doing their part.

1.  Health & Wellness

At Disney, our approach emphasizes a combination of measures to help reduce risk in the carefully managed environment of our parks and resorts. 

  • Limited and carefully managed attendance: All guests will be required to make advanced ticket purchases and reservations.
  • Reduced capacity and physical distancing: We’re reducing capacity by letting fewer people enter our parks and are adjusting experiences to allow for physical distancing, a key measure reinforced by the CDC. This includes physical distancing in dining experiences, attractions, queues and other locations. Additionally, physical barriers have been installed in areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, like cash registers.
  • Temperature checks: Quick temperature checks are required for all guests at entry to our theme parks.
  • Face coverings: We will be requiring both cast members and guests ages two and older to wear a face covering – unless swimming or when eating or drinking – and enforcing this policy across our parks and resorts.
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer: We have increased the number of hand sanitizer locations and handwashing stations throughout our parks and resorts.
  • First Aid locations: Our first aid locations are staffed by experienced nursing staff and have updated their protocols for responding to symptoms of illness.

2. Cleaning & Disinfecting

We’ve updated our already high standards for cleanliness across our parks and resorts, with a special emphasis on areas such as attractions, queues, dining, lobbies, transportation and other common spaces.

  • Increased cleaning & disinfecting: We’re increasing the frequency of cleaning, especially for frequently-touched surfaces and high-traffic areas. Following park close, each park will receive an enhanced cleaning before guests arrive the next day.
  • New procedures for resort stays: In addition to increasing cleaning in areas such as elevators and escalators, handrails, tables, handles, and restrooms, we’ve updated our procedures for guest rooms at our owned-and-operated Walt Disney World hotels. Before arrival, every room will be given an enhanced cleaning and a light cleaning service (including removal of trash and replenishment of towels and amenities) will be offered every other day during the stay.

3. Technology Solutions

We are tapping into Disney innovation to help promote health and safety for our guests and cast members.

  • Disney apps: With the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps our guests already know and love, guests can view hand sanitizer locations, explore digital menus, and more.
  • Limited-contact options: From Mobile Order and cashless payments, to Walt Disney World’s MagicBands and online check-in at select locations, we’re offering technology solutions that can make it easier for our guests to minimize contact and maintain physical distancing.

4. Cast Member Training & Workplace Safety

Safety starts with our cast, and we’ve adopted a number of new policies and practices for cast members at work. 

  • Training: Cast members are receiving additional training on both new measures and the continued importance of personal health and hygiene, such as handwashing and of course, staying home when ill. For some, this includes training on how to help everyone who visits to follow new health and safety measures, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing. 
  • Workplace health and safety: We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning in work areas, adjusted our work practices to promote physical distancing, and introduced new protocols for temperature checks and face coverings. 
  • Health screenings: Cast members will self-screen for temperature and symptoms of illness before each shift and will stay home if they are not feeling well.

5. Working Together

Because each of us shares a responsibility for the health of our community, we’re making resources available to make guests aware of our new policies, so they too can do their part.

  • Guest communication: We’re proactively sharing information with guests about what to expect ahead of their visit to support their planning. In our parks and resorts, we have added signage about personal health and hygiene measures, physical distancing, and more. 
  • Following our guidelines: A special group of cast members will also be present in the parks to explain our new procedures, answer questions guests may have, and encourage everyone to follow these measures to promote the well-being of us all.
  • “Together We Can Make Today Incredible” campaign: In June, we introduced “Together We Can Make Today Incredible,” a health and safety campaign that spotlights healthy behaviors featuring fan-favorite characters from the Incredibles animated movies. The campaign emphasizes that everyone has an important role to play in health and safety while engaging guests in a uniquely Disney way.

We’re looking forward to upholding this plan each day, and to the return of our guests and cast members to our parks and resorts. 

The Disney Parks Blog also included a short video summarizing Disney’s commitment.

Commitment and announcements like this is what makes Disney special and why I love this company and the parks.  I hope this sets your mind at ease if you have a trip planned in the near future.  We have a trip planned for early September and it does a lot for my family.

Disneyland Re-Opening Delayed

BREAKING – The Planned Re-Opening of the Disneyland Resort Has Been Delayed.

Below is the full announcement from Disney…

We previously announced a proposed phased reopening of our theme parks for July 17, pending government approvals. We developed enhanced health and safety protocols for both cast and guests at Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort that have been approved, allowing us to reopen in a responsible manner and bring our cast members back to work.

The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date.

Our Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9 as previously announced with health and safety protocols in place for our cast members and guests. The opening of our Downtown Disney District has been previously approved in line with restaurant and retail openings throughout California. The Master Services Union, which represents our retail cast at this location, previously signed an agreement for members to return to work.

In order to reopen our theme parks we need to negotiate agreements with our unions to return employees to work. We have had positive discussions and are very pleased to have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates, including the Master Services Council, which represents more than 11,000 of our cast members. The signed agreement details plans that include enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen, and get thousands of our cast members back to work.

We thank our cast and guests for their patience during this unprecedented time while we await approval from government officials.

Disneyland Resort Proposes Plans to Begin Phased Re-Opening

Sixty-five years to the date after the historic opening of Disneyland, Disney is planning to welcome guests once again to the Disneyland Resort on July 17, 2020.

This is great news, especially when there had been rumors that the resort may not open until September.

Today Disney Parks, Experiences and Products announced proposed plans for a phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort. Pending state and local government approvals, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen on July 23, and Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park will plan to reopen on July 17. Additionally, Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9.

Oddly…there is no mention of the Disneyland Hotel.  I’m hoping this is just an oversight in Disneyland’s announcement or it could be tied to park capacity.  I will update this if Disney corrects or updates this information.

In the announcement Disney added….

Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited to comply with governmental requirements and promote physical distancing, the Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests, including Annual Passholders, to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. Theme park reservations will be subject to availability. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon. At this time, there will also be a temporary pause on new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals. Additional details will be available soon. Please check Disneyland.com for the most current information. 

Once approved, the Disneyland Resort will reopen with enhanced health and safety measures. In addition, a Guest Experience Team will be available throughout the parks and Downtown Disney District to assist guests with questions regarding these new policies.

Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings – such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. While character meet and greets will be temporarily unavailable, characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests.

Pending governmental approval, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are planned to reopen to guests and members starting on July 23. Plans to support physical distancing as well as increased cleaning measures, along with a number of other health and safety protocols, will be implemented as part of the phased reopening of the hotels and the Vacation Club. 

Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9 in line with the state’s reopening guidelines, with its unique variety of shopping and dining experiences, including the flagship World of Disney store. With the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of planning, several operational changes will be implemented based on guidance from health authorities to promote physical distancing and cleanliness throughout the Downtown Disney District.

Additional information on enhanced health and safety measures and operational changes for reopening locations will be shared soon. These policies are under continuous review and are subject to change as the Disneyland Resort monitors conditions and receives guidance from health and government authorities.

Disneyland holds a special place in the hearts of people around the world. It was created as a place where family members of all ages could have fun together – a place to “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Sixty-five years later it still is.

It’s time for magic – and we look forward to welcoming you back. 

Disneyland Resort Updates Opening Information – Taking Reservations July 1 and After

Disneyland Resort has updated their website in regards to possibly opening. According to the statement, they are now taking reservations for travel dates of July 1 and later.

No definite information regarding an actual opening date at this time.

The full statement is below –

Disney Retires Shop Parks app, shopDisney to be Sole Online Shop

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that shopDisney.com is set to become the one-stop online shop for all things Disney as the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired at the end of the month.

According to Disney, the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired on May 31.  When this happens shopDisney.com and the shopDisney app will become the ultimate online retail location for all things Disney including Parks merchandise.

If guests go to the Shop Disney Parks app they will see a message upon opening which explains the retirement of the shopping application and providing a link to download the shopDisney app.

Disney has stated that shopDisney will offer an even larger selection of favorite items from Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and more.

At Walt Disney World Resort, My Disney Experience will continue to offer popular shopping features for guests including an availability map or the ability to ship select merchandise to home (U.S. addresses only) when guests order through the My Disney Experience

Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Members will also continue to receive their eligible discounts through the My Disney Experience app.

This does not really surprise me.  Disney had to have realized what I have always experienced with the Shop Parks app.  I have rarely had a pleasant experience.  The availability function with the app was essentially useless.  There have been many times when the app said that an item was out of stock at particular locations, yet there were dozens on the shelves. That was on top of the duplication of the shopping experience.  You never knew where to look for things.  Stuff that should have been park exclusive was seldom available on Shop Parks, yet at times could be found on shopDisney.

I admire the intention of developing and implementation of Shop Parks, but it just never met expectations and was a disappointment.  I’m glad Disney realized this and is moving on.

 

Reservations for Access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland to Open May 2

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that beginning May 2 at 10 AM (Disneyland Time), guests will be able to start making reservations to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.

Specific details on how to make reservations will be available on the Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland.com on May 2 at 8 AM PT.

In order to be able to make a reservation guest will have to be staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel.

As Disney has stated…

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay. One reservation per registered Guest. Each Guest is required to have valid theme park admission. If the hotel reservation is cancelled, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will be cancelled. Access to certain experiences in the land are subject to capacity and other factors. Additional restrictions apply.

While Disney has not officially stated on the Disney Parks Blog, reports are stating that Disneyland will restrict guests with free Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservations to a 4-hour time limit during the initial “soft opening” period.

Disneyland has stated that no stand-by visitors will be permitted to enter Galaxy’s Edge.

As stated by Jeffery Epstein of D23 –

“So please don’t lurk around the entrance like a Jawa trying to hawk a droid.”

After June 23 reservations will not be required and Disneyland has not specifically mentioned how crowds will be handled for this highly anticipated land, though there has been rumored to be some sort of FastPass system that will be implemented.

If you have any questions on regarding Galaxy’s Edge during the initial opening period, I would suggest contacting Disneyland or checking out the Disney Parks Blog for more information.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Coming to Disneyland

Disney just announced that guests will be able to step into a cartoon world and join Mickey and his friends on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which will be coming to Mickey’s Toontown in 2022!

This attraction will be the first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction at Disneyland.  It will put guests inside what Disney describes as the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse cartoon short where anything can happen!

In a announcement Disney states –

Once you step into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie, you’ll board a train with Goofy as the engineer. Then, one magical moment after the next leads you to a zany, out-of-control adventure filled with surprising twists and turns.

Also tucked into the announcement was that  the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been pushed back to sometime in the Spring of 2020.

While Disneyland’s version will be located inside Mickey’s Toontown, an exact location was not mentioned in the announcement.

Disney Parks Going Smoke-Free May 1st

In the Disney Parks Blog today Disney made a series of announcements that will affect many guests.  The biggest of which was that beginning May 1st, smoking will no longer be allowed inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.  In the announcement Disney stated that designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances of the areas listed above and at Disney Springs in Florida.  For guests who have room or dining reservations, smoking areas are also available at Disney Resort hotels.

The next announcement was in regard to strollers.  Also beginning May 1st, Disney is requiring that strollers be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long.  According to the announcement many strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.  They also reminded guests that wagons will not be permitted in the parks beginning May 1st.  According to Disney, these updates are designed to help with guest flow and ease congestion.  While Disney is stating that this is an “adjustment” to the stroller guidelines, I’ve been told that this might actually be an “emphasis of enforcement,” but I don’t have definite information on that.

The final announcement affects guest bringing in coolers into the parks.  Beginning today, loose or dry ice are no longer permitted in the parks.  Ice packs will be permitted though.