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.

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 –

Walt Disney World to Begin Phased Opening of Disney Springs on May 20th

Walt Disney World announced earlier today that they will begin a phased opening of Disney Springs on May 20th.

Below is the full release from Matt Simon, Vice President Disney Springs –

A phased reopening of Disney Springs will begin on May 20. Following the guidance of government and health officials, a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during this initial phase. The rest of Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed, including theme parks and resort hotels.

As we continue to monitor conditions, and with the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of our planning, we are making several operational changes. 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.

We will apply learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries, and we’re also talking to our unions as we prepare for some cast members to return to work.

During the initial opening phase, Disney Springs will have limitations on capacity, parking and operating hours. Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through this process as responsibly as we can. Additional protocols and procedures may be announced closer to the opening date. Please check DisneySprings.com as we get closer to May 20 for the most current information on operating hours, locations and safety procedures.

For those of us anticipating the opening of Walt Disney World, this certainly is good news.

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

Walt Disney World Hints That it May be Anticipating Opening Around June 1st

Walt Disney World did a couple of things yesterday that hint that the powers that be may be seriously thinking about opening the resort at or around June 1, 2020.

Yesterday,  Walt Disney World announced a free dining plan that states –

The Free Dining Plan offer is available when you purchase a non-discounted package that includes Theme Parks tickets and accommodations at a select Disney Resort hotel. It is valid for arrivals June 1 – September 30, 2020, with booking available though May 31. The offer is valid only for guests who booked a vacation package or room reservation to stay at a Disney Resort hotel during the dates Walt Disney World is closed. Offer not valid for reservations canceled before March 1 2020.

Walt Disney World also announced that they are accepting reservations starting June 1st –

For Guests who are interested in modifying their existing travel dates or making a new reservation for a future vacation, reservations are currently available for travel dates June 1 and later. As always, Guests are able to modify these bookings if Walt Disney World Resort opens before or after that time.

This is only my opinion, so until Disney actually announces a re-opening date, this amounts to being only speculation.  I personally find it hard to believe that they would announce this and rebook vacations/reservations only to have to rebook them at a later date because they haven’t opened.  We need to remember though that things could change they may not actually open around June 1st.

It also needs to be mentioned that even if the resort open, there is no way to know or anticipate to what degree the resort will be open and functioning.

I know that I don’t like to propagate rumors or rely on too much speculation, but to me this just make too much sense.  But what do I know…I could be totally off base on this.  I could also be biased because we have a trip for mid-July, so subconsciously I probably want this to be true.

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.

Disney Confirms Postponement of Mulan, New Mutants and Antlers

Mulan, Disney’s live-action version of its 1998 animated movie, is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be postponed as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the entertainment industry.

Disney also confirmed that the release of the movies The New Mutants and Antlers will also be postponed.

Part of a statement from Disney is below –

As you know this has been a rapidly evolving situation and we wanted to make you aware that we are postponing the releases of MULAN, THE NEW MUTANTS and ANTLERS out of abundance of caution.  Media preview screenings will be rescheduled once we have a new release date.

Director Niki Caro announced via Instagram late Thursday that Mulan will not roll out globally later this month as originally scheduled.

“We are so excited to share this film with the world, but given the current ever-shifting circumstances we are all experiencing, unfortunately, we have to postpone the worldwide release of Mulan for now,” Caro wrote. “Our hearts are with everyone the world over who is affected by this virus, and we hope that Mulan’s fighting spirit will continue to inspire those who are working so hard to keep us all safe.”

 

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