Walt Disney World Updates Operating Hours, Universal Orlando Announces Planned Opening

Earlier today Universal Orlando presented it’s plans to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force.

In that plan, Universal Orlando stated that the plan is to open June 1st, with a gradual capacity managed opening for employees only. Passholders would be added on June 3rd, followed by an opening to the general public on June 5th.

Even though Disney opened Disney Springs yesterday, Walt Disney World updated its operating hours calendar to show that the theme parks will be closed through June 13th, it previously stated June 7th.

Walt Disney World Resort hotels and theme parks are currently closed until further notice. Disney recently began accepting hotel reservations for July 1, although as explained by a senior figure at Disney, that does not mean the park will be open at that time.

While Disney has not announced an opening date and as stated above in regards to opening, one would have to think that since Disney have been somewhat working together with the task force, that Walt Disney World will be opening sometime close to when Universal Orlando opens up.

While nothing definite from Disney, Universal’s announcement would seem to be good news.

There appears to to be light at the end of this tunnel.

Walt Disney World Updates Website….Includes COVID-19 Liability Statement and Warning

Ahead of the opening of Disney Springs on May 20th, Walt Disney World has updated its website today with a COVID-19 warnings notice.

The thing to note is the wording that indicates that “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

Below it the entire COVID-19 warning from the Walt Disney World website…

COVID-19 Warning

We have taken enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other Guests, and Cast Members. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting Disney Springs.

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

Let’s keep each other healthy and safe.

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Outlines Next Steps In Theme Parks’ Reopening Path

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday outlined what may be the next steps for the state’s theme parks on their paths to reopening, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

In a press conference, DeSantis asked park operators to submit their reopening plans to the state, saying that they would “need to have an endorsement of the relative official in their locality — Orange County mayor, wherever you’re talking about,” he said.

Extending the previously announced plans for the reopening of Florida, the state will move forward with:

  • Restaurants allowing 50% capacity (up from the previous 25% occupancy limit)
  • Retail moving to 50% capacity (up from the previous 25% occupancy limit)
  • Gyms operating while respecting social distancing and sanitizing measures

Theme parks can now submit plans about reopening to the state and will need endorsement from the Orange County Mayor. Movie theaters will remain closed at this time.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told local media later in the day that he has not received any reopening plans from the parks, and that he doesn’t expect any reopenings until June at the earliest.

 

Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line COVID-19 Updates

No big stories today, just a few updates….

First with the good news.  Walt Disney is one step closer to opening.  Yesterday, it was announced that Disney had reached an agreement with the unions that represent workers at Walt Disney World on safeguards to protect employees from coronavirus, removing one of the company’s hurdles to reopening its popular theme parks.

In the agreement Disney ensured that anyone who contracts COVID-19 will have paid time off to quarantine.  Also, Cast Members will be trained on how to conduct self-assessments regarding symptoms of COVID-19 at home..  Disney will provide a thermometer to anyone who requests one.  Cast Members who have COVID-19 can call in free of attendance discipline.

The safeguards include social distancing practices, increased cleaning and mandatory masks for workers and guests, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council Union, which represents about 43,000 workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

And now the bad news….

The Walt Disney World operating hours calendar now shows the parks closed through June 6th (previously it was May 30).

With that, Disney is in the process of cancelling Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations for early June.  According to sources, the latest cancellation notification we have seen so far is for an arrival on June 7, although some guests with earlier stays are yet to be contacted.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney Cruise Line won’t sail again until at least July 31 after announcing another round of cruise cancellations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on its website, the cruise line said it was suspending departures through Monday, July 27. That means the earliest any of its four ships would sail would be Disney Dream from Port Canaveral on July 31 and Disney Fantasy also from the port on August 1.

Disney Magic, which would be sailing in Europe, would not have its first sailing until August 5 and Disney Wonder, which would be sailing Alaska would not sail until August 3.

The line is offering either a full refund or the option to rebook the sailing with a cruise credit incentive for any sailing within 15 months of the canceled departure.

 

Walt Disney World Now Only Accepting Reservations from July 1st and Beyond

Walt Disney World has pushed back its open reservation window from June 1st to July 1, 2020.

Shortly after the resort shut down from COVID-19, Disney began accepting reservations from June 1 on March 29, but will now not accept new reservations during June.

What isn’t clear yet is if the move of the date is due to capacity being reached for June, or if Disney has no plans to operate during June.  People in the know state that the hotels/resorts are not full, but there is speculation that capacity could have been capped to keep attendance reduced. Cancellations of existing reservations are taking place on a rolling basis through late May.

Walt Disney World Announces Guidelines for Phased Reopening of Disney Springs

Walt Disney World President, Josh D’Amaro has sent out an email regarding information on the partial reopening of Disney Springs. The biggest thing that we’re seeing from the information released by the company earlier involves the language used when discussing face coverings.

A portion of the email is below –

Hello everyone,

Following recent state and local guidelines permitting the reopening of some Florida businesses, we’ve seen a strong interest in what our next steps may be. As we plan for the future, we’re keeping the health and well-being of both our cast members and our guests at the forefront of planning efforts.

Today, I’m pleased to share that we’re preparing for a phased reopening of select locations owned by third-party operating participants in the Disney Springs shopping and dining district, starting on May 20. We continue to monitor conditions and look forward to welcoming each of our guests back with enhanced health and safety measures in place including the changes below:

  • Limited capacity based on Florida state and local guidelines
  • Appropriate physical distancing
  • Requiring both our cast members and guests to wear face coverings
  • Additional cast safety training with a focus on limited-contact guest services and enhanced cleaning procedures

Disney Parks Blog stated earlier today stated that, “Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.”

Josh D’Amaro has now clarified that the face coverings will indeed be required by both Cast Members and guests.

Shanghai Disneyland is implementing similar measures when it comes to face coverings.

VP of Disney’s Hollywood Studios Phil Holmes Announces Retirement in August 2020

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President Phil Holmes announced that he will be retiring from the Walt Disney World Resort in August 2020 after almost 50 years with the company.

Holmes started his career in 1971 delivering blueprints to construction sites throughout the Magic Kingdom Park. He has handled a number of roles and locations as a Cast Member, including Attractions Host in Magic Kingdom Park and leadership roles in Bus Operations and Training and Development. A run of theme park openings followed, including EPCOT, Disney-MGM Studios and Euro Disneyland.

Serving most recently as a park vice president, Holmes was at the helm of opening and operating groundbreaking new experiences, starting with New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park and culminating with last year’s debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Walt Disney president Josh D’Amaro said this about Holmes –

“Phil has had a tremendous impact on Walt Disney World Resort during his nearly 50-year career. His legacy will be his outstanding leadership and passion for the guest and Cast experience.  We’ll miss him, but we’re thrilled he will be with us through August, and we’ll be sure to celebrate his countless accomplishments before his departure.”

Holmes will be joining his wife Linda in retirement. They first met at Magic Kingdom Park.  He looks forward to spending more time with family, especially their two granddaughters.

 

Disney Parks Releases Statement Regarding Reopening of Parks

Earlier today Disney released a statement on their plans and processes for reopening its theme parks.  Although it doesn’t offer any specifics on dates or what specifically they’ll do once the parks do open, it does present the first official details on what Disney is planning.

From Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel:

Dear Guests, 

As you may have heard at Disney’s Q2 FY20 Earnings Results Webcast, our CEO Bob Chapek announced that Shanghai Disney Resort will begin the phased reopening of Shanghai Disneyland on May 11 – an encouraging sign for Disney parks and retail locations all over the world. After so much time at home, I know many of you are eager to enjoy the magic of a Disney parks visit, and we can’t wait to welcome you back.

I’m fortunate to work with Disney’s extraordinarily talented team of health and safety experts who are some of the most experienced in the industry. Together, with our colleagues in operations, and local health and government authorities, we’re evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to do our part towards helping us stay well while we work, stay, and play at a Disney resort and a Disney store. I’m also working closely with the US Travel Association on a set of guidelines the travel industry may tailor to their individual businesses to help demonstrate that safety of travelers is a top focus.

To that end, I want to share an update with you about our plans and considerations as we prepare for the reopening of our parks, resorts and stores. At Disney, we’re exploring:

  • Phased reopening: We’re looking at all of our locations and how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of our theme parks.
  • Physical distancing and capacity measures: As you can imagine, managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort is a major focus, as we implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies. This will likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. We’re also exploring ways to use technology to aid us in these efforts, like with our Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Cleanliness and sanitization: We’re planning increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes we’ll use.  
  • Screening and prevention support: We’ll follow guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across our resorts, have already been implemented.
  • Cast training: We’re further emphasizing our strong culture of health and safety amongst our cast members, and will continue to provide new training and reinforcement as we get closer to reopening.

These are just a few examples of the many areas we are developing plans for, so please keep an eye on our online channels, where we’ll provide more details as we confirm and begin to implement our plans. Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening.

In the meantime, our focus remains on the health and safety of the entire Disney community – including the wellbeing of the Cast Members who are caring for and securing our parks and resorts during the closure. We have already implemented a number of enhanced health and safety measures, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in work areas, adjusting practices to promote physical distancing, and providing Cast with access to necessary PPE, including face coverings. We continue to learn from these experiences and will carry these lessons into reopening and beyond.

Finally, I want to recognize the medical professionals working to bring care and comfort in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to do what we can to help support the medical community and our local communities during this time.

We’re looking forward to welcoming all of you back to our Disney parks, resorts and stores. Until we are together once again, we wish you and your families health, hope, and happiness.

Thank you,

signature of Dr. Pamela Hymel

Disney Announces Walt Disney World/Disneyland Resorts Will Remain Closed Until Further Notice

Disney announced this afternoon that its domestic theme parks, which include both Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California, will remain closed until further notice due to the impacts of the coronavirus.

In the announcement Disney states –

While there is still much uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, the safety and well-being of our Guests and employees remain The Walt Disney Company’s top priority.

As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice.

The Walt Disney Company has been paying its Cast Members since the closure of the parks, and in light of this ongoing and increasingly complex crisis, we have made the decision to extend paying hourly parks and resorts Cast Members through April 18.

What this means in terms of cancellations, modifying reservations, and rebooking is currently evolving.

DisneyWorld.com’s notice has been modified in several spots, and now reads:

To provide additional flexibility, we are waiving Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees up to the day of check-in for reservations with arrivals through June 30, 2020. And soon we’ll share additional options for booking and modifying vacations.

If no action is taken by you before your check-in date for arrivals during the closure period, Disney will automatically cancel your reservation within 7 days of the original check-in date and process any refund due to the original form of payment.

Since the closure period is now currently undefined, this presumably means that auto-cancellations will simply occur on a rolling basis a week before check-in.

 

Important Update: More Disney Closures due to COVID-19

Late Sunday night Disney announced that they would be closing all Disney Stores in North America beginning March 17. Guests will still be able to shop at shopDisney.com. Disney will also be closing all of it’s owned and operated locations at Downtown Disney in Anaheim and Disney Springs in Orlando, beginning March 17. Individual tenants […]

Late Sunday night Disney announced that they would be closing all Disney Stores in North America beginning March 17. Guests will still be able to shop at shopDisney.com.

Disney will also be closing all of it’s owned and operated locations at Downtown Disney in Anaheim and Disney Springs in Orlando, beginning March 17. Individual tenants will be making decisions on whether to close, continue operating or adjust operations.

In addition, all Disney owned and operated hotels at Walt Disney World Resort and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort will be closing at 5 PM on March 20.

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