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.

Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort to Close due to COVID-19

As you may have heard the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort will be closing until the end of the month due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  In addition the Disney Cruise Line will suspend all departures until the end of the month.

In official statements Disney stated –

Disneyland  Resort-

While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month.

The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time.

Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period. We anticipate heavy call volume over the next several days and appreciate guests’ patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries.

Please contact The Walt Disney Travel Company for questions and cancellations at (714) 520-5050.

Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris & Disney Cruise Line –

Disney made the decision to close the Disneyland Resort following guidance from the state of California on restricting mass gatherings.

At the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney has installed portable hand-washing stations in addition to the hand sanitizer stations that have been in place for the last few weeks.

Walt Disney World has also installed new signage around the parks giving public health recommendations, including frequent hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and to seek medical attention if experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Walt Disney World has also added an FAQ section to their announcement:

PARK TICKETS

May I get a refund on my ticket?

Unexpired multi-day theme park tickets with unused days, or date-specific theme park tickets with a start date on or before March 31, 2020 will automatically be extended to use any date through December 15, 2020.

If you are unable to visit by December 15, 2020 you may apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward the purchase of a ticket for a future date.

Will the spring special Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets be extended?

Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets may be used through July 31, 2020.

What about tickets for special events slated to occur during the closure?

Guests who have purchased tickets for Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours and Disney Early Morning Magic from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 will be automatically refunded.

Will Annual Passes to Walt Disney World be extended?

Walt Disney World Annual Passes will be extended by the number of days the parks are closed.

RESORTS & HOTELS

I have a future stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel while the park is closed. What does that mean for my vacation?

Guests who have not checked in for stays between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 may modify or cancel their Disney Resort room reservation or Walt Disney Travel Company package up to their original check-in date.

If no action is taken, Disney will automatically process a refund to the original form of payment within seven days of the original check-in date. If you did not book through Disney directly, please contact your travel professional.

What if I want to cancel a Disney Resort hotel reservation after the parks reopen?

Disney will waive all Disney imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in through June 30, 2020.

DINING & OTHER EXPERIENCES

I have a pre-paid dining reservation or experience reservation like Droid Depot or Savi’s Workshop while the parks are closed. Will I receive a refund?

Yes.

All pre-paid dining and experience reservations will be automatically refunded if scheduled between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020.

What happens to FastPass+ reservations made during the closure?

They are automatically canceled without replacement.

What happens to dining reservations that required a credit card at the time of booking?

Reservations made at locations impacted by the closure will not be charged a cancellation or no-show fee.

What follows is not official information that Walt Disney World has provided, and is instead opinions made by the Disney Tourist Blog

Will the Walt Disney World theme parks reopen on April 1, 2020?

That remains to be seen.

While the official FAQ answers are treating this as everything magically returning to business as normal come April 1, 2020, we would caution you against having that expectation. It’s simply a matter of Disney wanting to be cautious and not triggering a wave of cancellations beyond then.

It’s moderately instructive to see how this outbreak has played out elsewhere, particularly in countries that have not engaged in aggressive early-stage containment. Japan is a decent example, and original 2-week closures there were just extended another 2 weeks, to be reevaluated at that time.

If the closure is extended, expect Walt Disney World’s official answers above to be modified in accordance with any subsequent extensions.

When do you think Walt Disney World will reopen? 

I don’t have the slightest idea. This such a dynamic and evolving situation–and one that remains in its early stages in the United States. I’m hopeful it can be resolved as quickly and safely as possible with aggressive measures and diligence, but I’m skeptical.

With all of that said, my personal best case scenario is Walt Disney World reopening at some point in mid to late April 2020. If I had a trip planned in or before May 2020, I’d begin processing the very real possibility that it might not occur.

Will Disney Springs remain open during the closure?

Officially, yes.

However, that’s because the vast majority of businesses there are owned and operated by third parties. Expect those to independently announce closures in turn, effectively rendering most of Disney Springs substantively closed.

What about the resort hotels?

Officially, those are remaining opening for existing bookings–primarily guests who have already arrived. Walt Disney World cannot exactly kick guests, many of whom came from literally all over the world and cannot instantly rebook return international flights, to the curb with two days’ notice.

Depending upon the actual duration of this closure, we anticipate resort operations to wind down at some point.

What about Disney Vacation Club points? 

As DVC members are not doubt aware, there are a lot of intricacies and nuance (for lack of better terms) governing the rules of DVC point use years, banking, holding accounts, and so forth.

We have a trip starting in 4+ days and I have a unique question, what should I do?

Wait and see.

The above FAQ was posted as Walt Disney World scrambled to address common questions because they’re website went down last night and call volume was so high that the lines were literally busy. Unless your trip is starting in the next 2 days, we would encourage patience (and we know that’s difficult).

You’ll save yourself stress and headaches in calling, waiting on hold for 5 hours, only to find out the answer is “I don’t know yet.” Everything we’ve seen thus far indicates Disney is going above and beyond to make things right here, and your answer will probably come to you if you’re just patient.

We have a trip slated to start during the closure but continue when the park is slated to reopen in April. What should we do?

Wait and see. (Are you spotting a trend here?)

As noted above, there’s no guarantee that the parks will reopen at the beginning of April 2020. Moreover, you have some time before you “need” an answer, so we’d encourage waiting for more info–it’ll be released as it becomes available.

We have a vacation scheduled for April 2020 or beyond, what should we do?

Wait and see.

There’s truly no benefit to acting preemptively. If Walt Disney World reopens and you’re comfortable to travel, great. If the parks do not open or you’re not comfortable to travel, you will certainly have the option to cancel or postpone without penalty at a later date.

UPDATE: The Walt Disney Travel Company is requesting that anyone with a check-in date after March 2020 not call right now so the lines are clear for more urgent travelers.

Should I call Walt Disney World now for [insert question or concern]?

Phone wait times in the next couple of days will be measured in hours, and will put Free Dining release day to shame.

Before calling, ask yourself what your time is worth, what the likelihood is of receiving an answer that satisfies your question, and the chances that Disney won’t proactively address your concerns at some point in the near future.

I spoke with a clueless customer service rep after waiting on hold for 6 hours, should I scream at them?

There’s a good chance that “clueless” customer service rep was totally in the dark about this (and to a large degree, still is) until arriving at work. There’s an even stronger probability they’ve been dealing with not-so-patient customers all day, and that they are overstressed, underpaid, and overworked.

Finally, there’s 100% certainty the person at whom you’d be yelling did not personally and unilaterally choose to close Walt Disney World or craft the policy you dislike. If the idea of kindness for its own sake is too much to grasp, just remember that (selfishly!) you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

We booked tickets/hotel/etc. via a third party, what is their refund policy?

We’d recommend contacting them directly. No third parties were consulted or notified about Walt Disney World’s plans to close, meaning all of them were caught off-guard and left scrambling to come up with policies.

This is an unprecedented and already catastrophic event for businesses–they’re figuring it out on the fly. We’d stress patience.

Normally we don’t report news from “that park down the road” aka Universal Studios Orlando, but they will also be closing –

Out of an abundance of caution and to assist with our nation’s preventive efforts, Universal Orlando Resort will temporarily close its theme parks. The closure is effective Monday, March 16th. We anticipate remaining closed through the end of March – but will continue to evaluate the situation.

Universal Orlando’s hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open.

We have created flexible programs for those guests who have booked travel packages or tickets with us. Guests can call this number for more information: 877-801-9720.

 

 

Walt Disney World Announces Details and Opening Dates for Disney Parks Experiences

For some time we’ve known that Walt Disney World Resort is probably undergoing its most significant period of growth in quite some time.  Today, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek made public some exciting updates on a few of the experiences currently in development across the resort.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be opening on March 4, 2020, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  On Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you’ll step through the movie screen and join Mickey, Minnie and friends like never before – bursting into a world where mouse rules apply.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will begin “transporting” guests to a galaxy far, far away in 2021!  In this new type of immersive vacation, guests will become the hero of their own adventure in an experience that surrounds you 24/7 in Star Wars storytelling.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open summer 2020 in the France pavilion at Epcot. Today Disney shared the image above showing Disney Imagineers at work creating the immersive attraction. The attraction brings guests on an adventure with Chef Remy through Gusteau’s restaurant.

Mickey Shorts Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will show an original short film in the style of the popular Disney Channel animated series “Mickey Mouse,” and will feature photo-opportunity locations for guests.  Today Disney shared a rendering that shows the interior of the theater, including fun Mickey Mouse-themed seats.

Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure is coming to Epcot!  Guest are now invited to join Scrooge McDuck, Donald, Launchpad, Webby and the nephews in search of priceless treasure. Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, guests will take a trip around World Showcase discovering exotic destinations, exciting mysteries, and maybe even a few thieves, villains and supernatural guardians of ancient artifacts.

Epcot will debut three new films on Jan. 17, 2020:

“Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion showcases the Earth’s beauty and diversity in a 10-minute film featuring spectacular imagery, in-theater effects and an original musical score from Academy Award-winning® composer Steven Price.

“Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in the France pavilion is directed and produced by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films, and invites guests to participate in a twist on a tale as old as time. It also features narration from Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film. The new sing-along will run in rotation with “Impressions de France,” which will receive an upgrade to 4K projection.

“Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” in the Canada pavilion is an update to the previous “O Canada!” film with new scenes, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and new narration by award-winning actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

Space 220 Restaurant will be debuting this winter!  Space 220 is a new table-service restaurant at Epcot that will be located next to Mission: SPACE. When guests enter the restaurant, they will step into a special space elevator that will take everyone 220 miles above the earth’s surface and offer incredible celestial views.

Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue will be the new fast-casual restaurant that’ll open this winter at The American Adventure in Epcot serving classic barbecue and home-style craft brews. Regal Eagle will celebrate American backyard barbecue with flavors from different regions around the United States. This is a restaurant that I’m really looking forward to eating at.  This is a restaurant that many people have longed for for some time.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant will be coming to Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2020 and invites guests to a rootin’, tootin’ rodeo right in Andy’s backyard! This immersive restaurant will provide yet another unique, fun, family-friendly dining experience that could only be had in Toy Story Land.

 

 

Pictures, Videos and More Pictures…Oh My!

I first of all would like to apologize for not posting anything for a few months, but things have been a little hectic around here.  I was away at the D23 Expo in late August and visited the Disneyland Resort on that trip.  Immediately after I got home we had to take my daughter back to college.  Along with this…since I don’t due rumors and try to stay away from speculation the Disney news cycle kind of dried up just prior to the Expo.

When I go to the Disney parks….I take pictures and videos….a LOT of pictures.  It takes me a while to process all of these images and videos…because there are a lot and because processing the images around my job that pays the bills and allows us to eat.  I know….I need to re-evaluate my priorities…right?

Anyhow….I promise to get back into the swing of things and start posting again…very soon.

In the mean time, here are links to a collection of images and videos that I took while at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the D23 Expo 2019.  Enjoy!

Videos

Disneyland Resort/D23 Expo in Black & White

Disneyland Resort

D23 Expo 2019

 

We Say….IT’S NOT US!

Earlier today a website that sounds very close to our site reported another in a series unsubstantiated rumors and for the second time in a few weeks got called out by Disney and the Disney Parks Blog that the rumors were false and what was reported isn’t going to happen.  Yes….you read that right…Disney called them out.  Think about that.

What I want to assure you all is….IT’S NOT US!

It’s not what we do here.  We report the news and my take on those stories.  We don’t do rumors.  I don’t report news or even anything that sounds like a rumor unless it comes directly from Disney or is independently reported by at least two sources (and I mean independent sources, not two sources citing the same original source).

I value your time, intelligence and business.  I’m not going to waste my time and yours reporting a rumor that came from some Disney Transportation driver’s third cousin’s hair stylist.  Also….I don’t want to piss off the mouse.

Again, thank you for visiting this site.

Tale of The Lion King Coming to Disney California Adventure

The Disneyland Resort announced today that they will celebrate the beloved characters and music of Disney’s “The Lion King” with an creative new adaptation of the popular and timeless story this summer. This celebration will be presented as a highly-theatrical outdoor musical production entitled, “Tale of the Lion King.”

“Tale of the Lion King” will take place on the Palisades Stage at Disney California Adventure for a limited time this summer, starting June 7.

According to Disney…

The show will feature a cast of 18 performers, including actors, singers, dancers and drummers, who form an ensemble called the Storytellers of the Pride Lands. This traveling troupe specializes in retelling revered stories in their own contemporary style, weaving their tale through language, song and dance.

Creative Director Susana Tubert and the team at Disney Parks Live Entertainment are in the midst of a series of workshops and rehearsals with the cast in preparation for the opening of “Tale of the Lion King” later this summer. Here’s a look behind the scenes.

Behind the Scenes Video

In this creative theatre production, the scenic, prop and costume designs celebrate the spirit of Africa.  According to Tubert new musical arrangements have been written for the most treasured songs from “The Lion King,” creating a score for the show with elements we associate with the emotional sweep of the original compositions, yet focused on the vocal performances of the actors and music from the drummers to drive a unique percussive sound.

I can’t wait to see this new show this summer when I’m there prior to D23 Expo.

Disney to Launch Disney+ November 12th

Earlier today at Disney’s 2019 Investor Day, Disney announced that they will be launching Disney+ in the United States on November 12, 2019. The subscription VOD service will cost $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

The streaming service will represent Disney’s most aggressive move into the video-streaming market. By pricing it well below Netflix’s $12.99 per month Disney is apparently betting that it can drive up its customer base with its mix of content that appeals to multiple demographics which includes Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney brands.

In the announcement Disney CEO Bob Iger stated, “This is our first serious foray in this space, and we want to reach as many people as possible with it.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this and they basically have my money for Disney+. November cannot come soon enough.

Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dead at Age 78

Dave Smith, the founder of Walt Disney Archives, died earlier today at the age of 78.

The Walt Disney Company honored Dave with this –

Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith passed away in Burbank, California, on February 15, 2019. He was 78. Dave dedicated his four-decade career at The Walt Disney Company to preserving Disney’s precious treasures from film, television, theme parks, and beyond. Named a Disney Legend in 2007, Dave was beloved by fans around the world for his wide knowledge of the Company’s rich history, which he shared in books and through his popular magazine column “Ask Dave.”

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story. Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future.”

Dave was hired in 1970 by Walt’s brother—and The Walt Disney Company co-founder—Roy O. Disney, and his first responsibility was cataloguing every item inside Walt’s office suite, which had been left untouched after Walt’s passing four years prior. Thanks to Dave’s meticulously detailed notes and records, the Archives was able to restore the suite in 2015, and today Disney employees are able to visit and draw inspiration from this remarkable space. During his time as Disney’s Chief Archivist, Dave grew the Archives from a simple one-person department to a model among corpo­rate archives. He was regarded by fans and historians as the final authority on matters of Disney history, and was an active member of the Society of California Archivists. He served from 1980 to 2001 as Executive Director of the Manuscript Society, an international association of collectors, dealers, librarians, archivists, and others interested in manuscript material.

Born and raised in Pasadena, California, the child of librarians and educators, Dave earned a B.A. in history and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before coming to Disney, he gained library and archives experience working in the Manuscript Department of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, interning at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and serving on the staff of the Research Library at U.C.L.A. 

Dave wrote extensively about Disney history, with regular columns in Disney fan publications and websites, as well as authoring, co-authoring, and editing numerous articles and books on Disney history, including the official Disney encyclopedia Disney A to Z, Disney: The First 100 Years, The Quotable Walt Disney, Disney Trivia from the Vault, and The Ultimate Disney Trivia Books 1, 2, 3, and 4.

In October 2007, Dave was honored with the prestigious Disney Legend Award. A resident of Burbank, California, Dave retired in 2010 after his 40th anniversary with The Walt Disney Company and continued working for the next nine years as a consultant for the Company, with the title of Chief Archivist Emeritus.

Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.

Dave Smith was a true Disney Legend. I’ve met him once and he was the real deal. I loved his books and his ‘Ask Dave’ contributions in The D23 Magazine twenty-three. Dave will be missed.

Walt Disney World Announces Plans to Build New Nature-Themed Resort

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced plans to build a nature-inspired resort along the shores of Bay Lake.  The new resort will be located between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge on land that previously was the long time closed River Country water park.

The deluxe resort will be themed to complement its natural surroundings.

Disney said the new resort, which has not yet been named, will open in 2022.  The new resort will include 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.

“Walt Disney World is in the midst of our most significant expansion in the last two decades and the combined 1,700 new hotel rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas we are building at four different resorts will create thousands of new construction and permanent jobs and will drive economic opportunity and incremental revenue for Central Florida,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We continue to add new attractions, new lands — and these beautiful accommodations will be right in the heart of all that magic.”

The resort has not been named as of yet will be Disney’s 16th Disney Vacation Club property.

“This resort experience will be a celebration of Walt Disney’s lifelong love and respect for nature, with some fun and even surprising accommodation types that families will find irresistible,” said Terri Schultz, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club. “It will give our members and guests yet another opportunity to stay in close proximity to all the newest attractions and experiences in our theme parks, and with the flexibility, value and world-class service families expect from Disney.”