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

Walt Disney World Expands Temperature Screenings

Walt Disney World has expanded its temperature screenings to include some of its resort hotel restaurants.

Prior to this expansion Disney was taking guest temperatures on arrival at Disney Springs and the theme parks.  Now a temperature measurement will also be taken at table service restaurants inside Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Based on guidance from health authorities, Disney will continue its policy that anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.

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.

Walt Disney World to Update Virtual Queue for Rise of the Resistance

Walt Disney World just announced on the Disney Parks Blog that they will be changing distribution times for the virtual queue at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Beginning July 24th the new distribution times will be 10 AM and 2 PM.  Currently the distribution times are 10 AM, 1 PM and 4 PM.

In the announcement Disney stated –

As you’ve also heard here on the Disney Parks Blog, new health-and-safety measures include limiting theme park attendance and implementing new measures to promote physical distancing. This includes requiring extra space between groups in queues and on attraction vehicles. With all of this in mind, we are not able to accommodate as many people on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as we could before we implemented physical distancing.

It has been reported that the distribution times have been allocated very quickly for each distribution time.

Because of this Disney re-iterated these guidelines:

  • First, make sure you have the My Disney Experience app. Once you enter the park, log in to your account at one of the distribution times (10 a.m. or 2 p.m.).
  • Once you have logged in, select “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue” on the home screen. You will be able to view the current status and next steps for joining the virtual queue.
  • The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time. Some guests may join backup groups.
  • As long as your My Disney Experience account is linked to park tickets for you and the others in your group, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time. In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to join the Resistance, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
  • Make sure push notifications are turned on for My Disney Experience so you will be alerted if your group is called to return. You’ll have up to an hour from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  • Guests who are enrolled in the virtual queue will be able to see an estimated return time indicating when they may be called back to experience the attraction. This time may change throughout the day, so continue to check the app for updates. Also, the tip boards around the park will display the boarding groups that have been called back.
  • Please note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Walt Disney World Permanently Closes Rivers of Light, Primeval Whirl and Stitch’s Great Escape y

Today Walt Disney World has announced that Primeval Whirl, Stitch’s Great Escape! and Rivers of Light are now permanently closed. This was announced in a memo to Cast Members

Stitch’s Great Escape! had been seasonal, essentially closed since late 2016.  At one time  it was strongly rumored to be replaced by a Wreck It Ralph attraction that did not ultimately get approval. The show’s lobby area had been host to a Stitch meet and greet prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. Since Magic Kingdom’s reopening, Stitch has been appearing at the Rockettower Plaza Stage.

Primeval Whirl, which is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been closed for more than a year due to a series of technical and operational difficulties.

Rivers of Light opened with great excitement after a series of delays due it’s ground-breaking autonomous technology, but ultimately failed to meet guest expectations. Disney made budget cuts to the show last year, which saw the live performers removed, but this failed to save the show from cancellation.

Walt Disney World has not made announcements of any plans for replacements at this time. With great uncertainty and budget constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be a while before we hear anything.

I for one will only slightly miss Primeval Whirl. It was a fun attraction, but with it being down for more than a year I kind of accepted that it wasn’t coming back.

Stitch was sort of cute, but won’t miss it.

I found Rivers of Light to be a beautifully looking show, but poorly executed. It was a slow moving show with too much “downtime.” I found it boring. I saw it once and that was more than enough. I won’t miss it.

Walt Disney Company Announces Management Shake Up

The Walt Disney Company announced a couple of changes in their management yesterday.

Jill Estorino was named President and Managing Director of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products International, effective immediately.

Estorino has been been at Disney for 29 years, most recently as Executive Vice President, Global Marketing and Sales, and will now overseeing parks and resorts’ international operations and development, including Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort with the Oriental Land Company, Shanghai Disney Resort and Disneyland Paris.

She replaces Michael Colglazier who was in the job for the past three years and has jumped to Virgin Galactic Holdings. The aerospace and space travel company announced his appointment earlier today and will assume this role effective July 20.

Disney also announced Jackie Swisher as the new Vice President, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Jackie Swisher will be replacing Phil Holmes who had previously announced his retirement this August, after almost 50 years with Disney, but the change appears to be effective immediately.

Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios received a push notification through the My Disney Experience app that identified Swisher as the Vice President of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Previously, Swisher was the Vice President of Worldwide Safety Services at Disney Parks.

 

Walt Disney World Annual Pass News – Expanded Discounts, Additional Park Capacity, Refunds & Extensions

Walt Disney World announced some updates for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders on the passholder website.

The first update was that through August 14th, 2020 Passholders can receive 30% off select merchandise purchases at Walt Disney World Resort owned and operated merchandise locations.  For limitations, passholders should consult the website.

This expanded discount had been reported by some passholders prior to it showing up on the website.

Walt Disney World also announced that starting July 16th, there will be additional Disney Park Pass reservation availability offered to Annual Passholders on select dates in July and August at the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney has been careful to point out that this additional Disney Park Pass reservation availability does not reflect an increase in park attendance, which remains limited during this reopening period.

If you’re an Annual Passholder and were looking for more information regarding needing a refund or an extension due to the parks being closed, Walt Disney World has released more information on its plans to extend or refund Annual Passes.

If you are an Annual Passholder that has paid in full, your options are:

  • Receive an additional one-month (30 days) extension to your pass (unless you choose to cancel your pass). This additional month will automatically be processed and visible in your My Disney Experience account over the coming weeks.
  • If you prefer, and in lieu of the one-month extension, you may choose to cancel your annual pass(es). Your pass will remain valid through August 11, 2020 and will be canceled effective August 12, 2020. You will be refunded for the remaining access days of your annual pass from July 11, 2020 through your pass expiration date (as extended, if applicable). Refunds to original form of payment can be expected by mid- to late September. Refunds may take up to an additional month to receive if original form of payment is not available. To request this option, contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277.

If you are an Annual Passholder on the monthly payment plan, your options are:

  • Receive an additional one-month (30 days) extension to your pass(es) (unless you choose to cancel your pass(es)). This additional month will automatically be processed and visible in your My Disney Experience account over the coming weeks.
  • If you prefer, and in lieu of the additional one-month extension, you may choose to cancel your annual pass(es). If you choose this option, monthly payments will be stopped starting August 12, 2020. Your pass(es) will remain valid through August 11, 2020 and will be canceled effective August 12, 2020. Any payments made between July 11, 2020 and August 11, 2020 will be retroactively refunded. If you made a payment between March 14, 2020 through April 4, 2020 that was not already refunded, that payment will also be retroactively refunded. Refunds to original form of payment can be expected by mid- to late September. Refunds may take up to an additional month to receive if original form of payment is not available. To request this option, contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277.

Passholders that are affected by this have until August 11 to make a selection.

Swan and Dolphin Resort Announce Opening Date

Today the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort announced that they will be opening on July 29th.

While the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be opening tomorrow to be followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th, and many of Disney resort hotels have been open for a few weeks and most of the rest will be opening within the next few weeks, the Swan and Dolphin Resort had chosen not to open until this announcement.

Sean Verney, the hotel’s new general manager stated in the announcement:

“With the Disney parks reopening, we are thrilled to open our doors again.  We are committed to providing a relaxing and revitalizing experience but doing so in a responsible manner.”

Rise of the Resistance to Use Virtual Queue When Disney’s Hollywood Studios Re-Opens

Walt Disney World has announced that when Disney’s Hollywood Studios re-opens on July 15th that they will be using the virtual queue system that was introduced when the attraction originally opened.

In the Disney Parks Blog, Disney stated –

We wanted to share an update about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which will once again be using virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app.  

Walt Disney World also stated in the announcement that instead of it being what many called a lottery at park opening, there will be instead three distribution times (10 AM, 1 PM and 4 PM).

Because of this, there is no need to arrive early to the park to check the virtual queue, according to Disney.

In the announcement Walt Disney World offered these guidelines:

  • First, make sure you have the My Disney Experience app. Once you enter the park, log in to your account at one of the distribution times (10 a.m., 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.).
  • Once you have logged in, select “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue” on the home screen. You will be able to view the current status and next steps for joining the virtual queue.
  • The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time. Some guests may join backup groups.
  • As long as your My Disney Experience account is linked to park tickets for you and the others in your group, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time. In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to join the Resistance, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
  • Make sure push notifications are turned on for My Disney Experience so you will be alerted if your group is called to return. You’ll have up to an hour from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  • Please note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.