Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to be Re-Themed to “Princess and the Frog”

Earlier today Disney announced that Splash Mountain at both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland will be re-themed to “Princess and the Frog.” The version of the attraction located at Tokyo Disneyland will retain the “Song of the South” theme…for now.

From the Disney Parks Blog where the announcement was made –

The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.

Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks

The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

Charita Carter, the senior creative producer leading the project at Walt Disney Imagineering shared, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”

As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.

According to reports, Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter, who designed the original Splash Mountain, will be brought out of retirement in order to serve as a creative designer on the new “Princess and the Frog” attraction. “Following conversations with Imagineering’s leaders about the new attraction’s scope and resources, I had a great sense of reassurance, the attraction will be one to be proud of, bringing to life places, characters and music from the animated classic The Princess and the Frog…I look forward to being a part of a new adventure in Disney magic and fun!” said Baxter about the overhaul.

Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, lead on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, stated on Twitter that he’s “been stealth working on this for quite a while and happy to finally share!”

While the current attraction has been controversial at times, mainly because the attraction is themed to a movie that many, if not most younger guests have never seen and Disney has refuses to re-release in any form in the United States, the re-theming will also likely be controversial.  While it is comforting to see that key imagineers like Carter, Trowbridge and Baxter associated with the re-theming, there is probably going to be a certain portion of the Disney fan base that will say that Disney is buckling to protests.  As stated above, Disney says that this is not the case, but I’m not sure that will placate some people, especially with the timing. There is also a certain portion of the Disney fanbase that are as we shall say, “reluctant to change.” These fans aren’t likely to be happy.

Though on the other hand, a lot of people will be very excited about this news.  The movie is very popular.

The one problem that I see is that Disney appears to be solving one theming problem with a new theming problem.  They’re replacing a controversial theming of the attraction with a theming of the attraction that isn’t controversial, in fact very popular, but will the theme fit into the respective lands that it will reside in.  Does this theme fit into Frontierland…maybe, but what about Disneyland’s Bear Country?

Because Disney is still working on a timeline for the re-theming, we’re don’t know if the current attraction will open when the US parks re-open.  Will fans of the current theme be able to get a “final ride” before it goes away to be re-themed.

How do you feel about this announcement?

Me…I’m cautiously optimistic.  I think “Princess and the Frog” is a wonderfully fun movie.  I’m sure Imagineering will do a wonderful job. I’m sure it will be beautiful.  I’m just a little confused as to the why.

 

Disneyland Re-Opening Delayed

BREAKING – The Planned Re-Opening of the Disneyland Resort Has Been Delayed.

Below is the full announcement from Disney…

We previously announced a proposed phased reopening of our theme parks for July 17, pending government approvals. We developed enhanced health and safety protocols for both cast and guests at Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort that have been approved, allowing us to reopen in a responsible manner and bring our cast members back to work.

The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date.

Our Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9 as previously announced with health and safety protocols in place for our cast members and guests. The opening of our Downtown Disney District has been previously approved in line with restaurant and retail openings throughout California. The Master Services Union, which represents our retail cast at this location, previously signed an agreement for members to return to work.

In order to reopen our theme parks we need to negotiate agreements with our unions to return employees to work. We have had positive discussions and are very pleased to have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates, including the Master Services Council, which represents more than 11,000 of our cast members. The signed agreement details plans that include enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen, and get thousands of our cast members back to work.

We thank our cast and guests for their patience during this unprecedented time while we await approval from government officials.

Disneyland Paris Announces Phased Re-Opening on July 15th

Disneyland Paris has announced that they will reopen on July 15 with a strict set of safety rules for guests.

The resort said it will begin a “phased reopening” on Wednesday, July 15 with its two parks as well as Newport Bay Club Hotel and Disney Village.

The resort has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the strict safety rules which will be implemented once it reopens include the mandatory wearing of face coverings for visitors aged 11 and older “at all times except when eating”.

There will be no meet and greets with characters, some seats will be kept empty on roller coasters to enable social distancing, and more than 2,000 hand sanitiser and hand-washing stations will be available.

Tokyo Disney Resort to Open July 1st

The Oriental Land Company announced earlier today that Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will reopen on July 1st.

The theme parks have been closed since February 29 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Japan. The four-month closure is the longest since Tokyo Disneyland first opened in 1983.

In order to keep visitors safe after the reopening, the parks will let in set numbers of visitors the parks will open at 8:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM. Tickets will only be sold online, starting on June 25. Visitors will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken at the park entrance. And some attractions and live entertainments will remain on hiatus.

Walt Disney World Releases Full Listing of Theme Park Dining Locations

Walt Disney World has released the full list of dining locations that will be open when the theme parks open in a few weeks.

Magic Kingdom

When Magic Kingdom park reopens on July 11th, the following locations will be available for dining:

Aloha Isle
Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
Liberty Square Market
Liberty Tree Tavern
Main Street Bakery
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Pinocchio Village Haus
The Plaza Restaurant
Sleepy Hollow
Storybook Treats
Sunshine Tree Terrace
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park reopens on July 11th, the following locations will be available for dining:

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck
Creature Comforts
Dawa Bar
Dino-Bite Snacks
Flame Tree Barbecue
Harambe Fruit Market
Isle of Java
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Mr. Kamal’s
Nomad Lounge
Pongu Pongu
Rainforest Cafe® at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Restaurantosaurus
Satu’li Canteen
Tamu Tamu Refreshments
Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks
Tiffins Restaurant
Trilo-Bites
Yak & Yeti™ Local Food Cafes
Yak & Yeti™ Restaurant

EPCOT

When EPCOT reopens on July 15th, the following locations will be available for dining:

Biergarten Restaurant
Choza de Margarita
Coral Reef Restaurant
Crepes des Chefs de France
Fife & Drum Tavern
Funnel Cake
Garden Grill Restaurant
Gelati
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Joy of Tea
Kabuki Café
Katsura Grill
L’Artisan des Glaces
La Cantina de San Angel
La Cava de Tequila
La Hacienda de San Angel
The Land Cart
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Popcorn in Canada
Refreshment Outpost
Refreshment Port
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue
Rose & Crown Dining Room
Rose & Crown Pub
San Angel Inn Restaurante
Spice Road Table
Sunshine Seasons
Tangierine Café
Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival kiosks
Traveler’s Café
UK Beer Cart
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

When Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopens on July 15th, the following locations will be available for dining:

50’s Prime Time Café
Anaheim Produce
Backlot Express
BaseLine Tap House
Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
The Hollywood Brown Derby
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Milk Stand
Oga’s Cantina at the Walt Disney World Resort
Peevy’s Polar Pipeline
PizzeRizzo
Ronto Roasters
Rosie’s All-American Café
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
Sunshine Day Bar
The Trolley Car Café

Walt Disney World Announces More Resort Hotel Openings

Today Walt Disney World announced a schedule of openings of more resort hotels as part of its phased re-opening.  Previously Disney had announced that it was opening it’s Disney Vacation Club Villas and Fort Wilderness Campground on June 22.

Below is Disney’s announcement:

We currently plan to open the following resort hotels to booked Guests on the following dates. Please note, that given the fluidity of the current environment, these dates are subject to change and Guests’ reservations could still be modified to other resort hotels if needed.
  • July 10 – Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Aug. 12 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Aug. 24 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Sept. 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Oct. 1 – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
  • Oct. 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Guests with current reservations at impacted Disney Resort hotels can request help with modifying their reservation starting Monday June 22. Reservations for stays in 2021 will begin booking on Wednesday, June 24. Only Guests with a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass will be able to access the Disney Park Pass reservation system.

Given the current situation, there are some resort hotels and other areas that are not, as of this time, being scheduled for reopening yet. We will continue to evaluate the situation and reopen more locations when the environment is right to do so.

 

Walt Disney World Will Not Use Virtual Queues or Single Rider Lines When Parks Re-Open

Despite rumors about virtual queues, according to sources, Disney has informed Cast Members that they will not be using them when the parks re-open on July 11th and July 15th.  This includes Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It appears that Disney is confident that it can control attendance at the park, which probably will mean manageable queues at the attractions.

While we have known that FastPass+ will not be available for some time, it appears that Single Rider lines will also no longer be available.

From everything that we’ve been told, Disney will be using every inch of its vast queue capacity to maintain social distancing.

So assuming you can secure a reservation into the park, the lack of queue complications should make for a very pleasant, no-planning experience.

Walt Disney World Provides Key Attraction and Entertainment Details for Phased Re-Opening

In the Disney Parks Blog earlier today, Walt Disney World provided key information regarding its attractions and entertainment during the phased re-opening of its theme parks.

Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open on July 1th and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open on July 15th.

In the blog post, Disney states that most attractions will be available at each park.  While Disney does not provide an exhaustive list, they do provide the names of key attractions in each park that will be open.

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Flight of Passage

Epcot

  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Test Track

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

As I’ve mentioned, this is not an exhaustive or extensive list.  Based on the wording of the blog post, many if not all of each parks could be open.  I believe that nearly all of the attractions of each park will be open and Disney only managed to mention the major attractions in order to alleviate fears of attending guests that these attractions might not be open.

It is also important to note that the refurbishment of Spaceship Earth has been postponed, or as Disney states “paused” during this phased re-opening.

If you’re worried about seeing characters, Disney addressed this….

Just as you may have seen recently at Disney Springs, our characters will appear in new and different ways that bring a smile to your face while also being mindful of physical distancing. From special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom Park parade route and friends sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, to processions along the World Showcase promenade at EPCOT and motorcades on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard, each area will come to life throughout the day. You never know when a party of your pals may come by, so be prepared for plenty of surprises!

For example, after rocketing through space in Tomorrowland you might see that famous Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear; or discover a captive Captain Jack Sparrow as you traverse the Castillo del Morro on your way to Pirates of the Caribbean. You could cross paths with Queen Anna and Elsa as they venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase at EPCOT or spy members of the Resistance hiding out from the First Order throughout Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu.

Disney added that guests will also be returning several musical groups to the parks.  When we return home to the theme parks we can look forward to seeing Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom Park, plus the Mariachi Cobre and everyone’s favorite funky drumming crew the JAMMitors at EPCOT, plus many more.

While we won’t be seeing parades, in the traditional sense, and there won’t be any character Meet and Greets, it is good to see that we will still will be able to see the characters that make trips to Walt Disney World special each time.  I’m also glad to see some live entertainment returning, even if it is at a distance.

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders Will Be Able to Make Theme Park Reservations for 3 Days Beginning July 26th

According to the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to make reservations for up to three days at a time using the new Disney Park Pass System beginning July 26th.

From the website:

  • During the limited capacity period, it may be difficult for Annual Passholders to get park reservations to visit on certain dates.
  • All Annual Passholders are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for up to 3 days at a time, or Annual Passholders staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for their entire Resort length of stay. All reservations are subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates.
  • Some pass benefits and features will not be available during periods of limited capacity. Also, park experiences and offerings will be modified and subject to limited availability or even closure.
  • Guests should ensure their pass type is valid for park entry prior to making a park reservation.

It is important to note that the July 26th date applies to Annual Passholders who DO NOT have existing Disney Resort reservations.

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders to Get Passholder Preview

According to the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website, passholders will get a preview of the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 9th and 10th.

From the website –

Weekday Select, Theme Park Select, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus and Premier Passholders will have the opportunity to register for a special preview at Magic Kingdom park or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park on July 9 or 10. Email invitations with registration details will be sent out soon.

Reservations are required and limited, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. An eligible activated annual pass is required to register.

If a Passholder would like to register a Guest to accompany them, that Guest must also have a valid Weekday Select, Theme Park Select, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus or Premier annual pass, be listed on your Family & Friends list and have opted to share “All My Plans” with you.