Winter Summerland Mini Golf to Re-Open at Walt Disney World

With the fall season beginning and the winter season on the horizon in Florida, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf will be re-opening to guests beginning on November 6th at Walt Disney World Resort.

Winter Summerland Miniature Golf offers two uniquely themed 18-hole courses, each with their own distinct musical soundtrack. As the name implies, one course draws inspiration from the winter season, including snow castles and ice hockey rinks. The second course represents all things related to summer. Guests navigate surf boards, sand sculptures and even a melted snowman.

When Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf re-opens, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf will close for the season on November 5th and re-open on January 31st next year.

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.

D23 Announces Move of Next D23 Expo to 2022

In an announcement made on Twitter earlier this evening, D23 stated that the next D23 Expo will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center September 9-11, 2022.

“We are to announce the next D23 Expo will be held September 9-11, 2022 at the Anaheim Convention Center. D23 Expo 2022 will be a celebration unlike any other, as we give fans a first look at the incredible plans for the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company.”

With all that’s going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, this announcement shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. I personally suspected that this might happen when D23 announced back in June that Destination D was moving from this fall to 2021. When D23 hadn’t announced a sale date for Expo tickets, it seemed apparent to me that it was getting postponed.

No date has been announced when tickets for D23 Expo will be available. Typically D23 begins sale of tickets about a year in advance, so I wouldn’t expect an announcement until at least sometime in early 2021 with a sale date of September 2021.

Will we see you there?

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.

 

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 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.

Walt Disney World Updates Mask Policy with More Stringent Requirements

Walt Disney World has updated its mask policy to specifically exclude more varieties of masks.

Apparently since some guests were abusing the language of the former policy Disney had to specifically exclude face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind in addition to neck gaiters, and open-chin triangle bandanas as unacceptable.

Here are the full revised guidelines for masks at Walt Disney World according to the official website –

All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:

  • Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
  • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free

At this time, Disney has specifically excluded neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind from being acceptable face coverings.

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.