Disney Cruise Line to Require COVID Vaccination on Bahamian Cruises

Disney Cruise Line announced today that it will require all eligible passengers on Bahamian cruises to be vaccinated against Covid-19 due to government regulations in the Bahamas, as other cruise lines have already done.

The vaccine mandate will affect all of Disney Cruise Line’s current U.S. cruise ship sailings, since its two ships sailing now out of Florida are only traveling to the Bahamas.   A third ship is sailing out of the United Kingdom and is unaffected by the mandate.

How Disney and other cruise lines’ vaccine mandates will square with a Florida law that prohibits companies from requiring proof of vaccination is unknown  at this point. Florida law currently prohibits cruise lines from mandating vaccines on ships sailing from the state’s ports, with the cruise lines potentially subject to a $5,000 fine per instance. A federal judge has given Norwegian Cruise Line clearance to impose a vaccine mandate on its cruises, but the ruling applies only to that cruise line and not the others that are now imposing their own requirements. Prior to its vaccine mandate announcement, Disney Cruise Line was in compliance with the state law by recommending but not requiring vaccines.  There has been no comment from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office in response to the new cruise ship vaccine mandates.

Guests who choose not to provide proof of vaccination to meet the requirements of the Bahamas will not be permitted to board.Meanwhile, those under the age of 12 must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken between five days and 24 hours prior to the sail date by uploading their test results to the Safe Passage website. They will also be required to undergo a second PCR COVID-19 test administered by Inspire Diagnostics at the terminal prior to boarding.Guests looking to modify or cancel their reservations for sailings departing between September 3rd and November 1st can do so without any Disney-imposed cancellation fees by contacting (866) 325-6685 or (407) 566-7797. Guests and travel agents will receive an email from Disney Cruise Line outlining additional details and next steps.

Walt Disney World Updates Mask Policy to Require Everyone to Wear Masks When Indoors

What is old is new again!

Disney has updated its mask policy following the latest CDC guidance which was published on July 27th.  The US theme parks have moved quickly to again require all guests and Cast Members to wear masks when indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The new indoor mask requirement will go into effect on July 30th at both Walt Disney World in Florida, and Disneyland Resort in California.

This policy change is a return to an earlier policy that was in place prior to the Disney updated the policy on June 15th when they eliminated mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated except when using enclosed transportation.

According to news reports, Orange County is seeing a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases. AdventHealth, the area’s primary healthcare provider, has said its ICUs are at capacity, and the system has moved to a red alert level.

Disney has updated the Health and Safety notice on its website to notify guests that policies may change at anytime.

As we have done since reopening, we’ve been very intentional and gradual in our approach to our COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Based on recent trends and regulatory guidance, Walt Disney World Resort will be making adjustments to these measures, which may continue to change at any time without notice.

We encourage people to get vaccinated.

Below is the latest Disney World mask policy in full:

Effective July 30

Beginning July 30, face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional for all Guests in outdoor common areas.

Face Covering Requirements until July 30

While face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, they are now optional in most areas for Guests who are fully vaccinated. While we do not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation except ferry boats.

Walt Disney World to Phase In Reducing Physical Distancing; Snack Kiosks Re-Opening at Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World announced that they will soon begin the phasing in of reducing physical distancing at the following updated guidance from Orange County.

Disney has not made any immediate changes following the announcement, by Orange County, but has started to notify Cast Members that the process will take place over the upcoming few weeks.

Walt Disney World has stated that the reduction from 6 feet to 3 feet will take place only in certain areas at the parks, resort hotels and Disney Springs. The reduction won’t apply to dining areas, shopping areas or any area where guests can remove masks.

Disney has updated its website with the following description of its physical distancing policy:

Temporary adjustments are still in place to promote physical distancing. While we will reduce physical distancing measures for Guests across many areas with a gradual, phased approach, six-feet distancing measures will continue in all dining locations, merchandise stores and in areas where Guests can temporarily remove their masks.

Walt  Disney World also announced that Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be re-opening more of its snack kiosks this week as the park’s phased re-opening continues to move forward.

Terra Treats, located on Discovery Island just across from Starbucks will be re-opening and serving up pizza slices.

Dino Diner, located in Dinoland U.S.A. will re-open and will offer hot dogs and churros.

Walt Disney World Ending Temperature Checks

Walt Disney World has just announced that they will be phasing out temperature checks for cast members and guests within the next two weeks.

From the Walt Disney World website…

Since reopening, we have considered guidance from public health authorities, government agencies, and our own team of health and safety experts as we assess and update health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

As this guidance continues to evolve, and with the support of local health and government officials, we are making some additional adjustments. Following the advice of the CDC and our local health officials, we will phase out onsite temperature screenings at Walt Disney World Resort for Cast Members beginning May 8 and Guests on May 16. 

We will continue to follow the guidance of health and safety leaders going forward and most importantly encourage people to get vaccinated.

Another step towards life returning to normal at the parks in Florida.

Disney to Layoff 28,000 Cast Members at US Parks

Today Disney has announced that it will make a drastic reduction in its workforce at its domestic parks.  Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that Disney will be laying off 28,000 cast members. He also stated that  67% of these layoffs will be part-time cast members.

In a statement, D’Amaro publicly mentions the state of California’s reluctance to allow for the re-opening of Disneyland as one of the driving factors. In a note sent to cast members. D’Amaro states that, “We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days.” It appears the action will happen soon.

Walt Disney World currently employs approximately 70,000, with Disneyland Resort employing around 30,000. It isn’t at this time clear how the layoffs will be distributed across the two coasts.

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World closed in mid-March due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Walt Disney World re-opened in mid-July.  Disneyland Resort still remaining closed.

State of Florida to Begin Providing COVID-19 Testing at Disney’s Maingate Complex Near Animal Kingdom

The State of Florida announced that they will be opening a new testing site in Osceola County at Disney’s Maingate office complex near Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Maingate complex is on the south end of the property off of West Ilo Bronson Memorial Highway (US 192), located at 3010 Maingate Lane.

Testing will begin on August 14th and will be available from 7 AM to 4 PM, serving Disney Cast Members and their families, along with members of the public. Cast Members can register for a test at disneycovid19test.com, and the public can register at doineedacovid19test.com.

The test for those with or without symptoms, is self-administered with a nasal swab from inside your car, and results are delivered in 3-5 business days.

It is important to note that the tests are being offered to the public and not required.

 

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.

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 Cancels Tours, Dessert Parties and Dining Events

While not making an official announcement, Walt Disney World has updated their website to confirm that the vast majority of tours and special dining events have been cancelled and will remain unavailable for some time.

Impacted tours include:

  • A Path Less Traveled Tour
  • Backstage Magic
  • Behind the Seeds
  • Caring for Giants
  • Dine with an Animal Specialist
  • Disney Private VIP Tours
  • Disney’s Family Magic Tour
  • Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour
  • Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
  • Epcot Seas Adventures – Aqua Tour
  • Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest
  • Epcot Seas Adventures – Dolphins in Depth
  • Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience
  • Sense of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Starlight Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
  • The UnDISCOVERed Future World
  • Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
  • Up Close with Rhinos
  • Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
  • Wanyama Safari
  • World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
  • Wild Africa Trek
  • Wild Africa Trek (Morning)

Impacted dining events include:

  • Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room
  • Cake Decorating Experience at Amorette’s Patisserie
  • Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night
  • Dine with an Animal Specialist
  • Dining with an Imagineer – Cítricos
  • Dining with an Imagineer – The Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Disney Early Morning Magic – Fantasyland
  • Epcot Forever Dining Package
  • Fantasmic! Dining Package
  • Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Package
  • Highway in the Sky Dine Around
  • Jiko Wine Tasting
  • Rivers of Light Dining Package
  • Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience
  • Sense of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Signature Celebration at Cinderella’s Royal Table
  • Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
  • Tiffins Talks
  • Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table Dinner
  • Wanyama Safari
  • Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare

Impacted dessert parties include:

  • Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience
  • Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise
  • Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace
  • Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing
  • Frozen Ever After Dessert Party
  • Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage
  • Rivers of Light Dessert Party
  • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Walt Disney World Cancels Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Updates International Food and Wine Festival

In an announcement late Thursday, Walt Disney World announced that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party would be cancelled and that an abbreviated International Food and Wine Festival would be returning.

Due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, Disney has cancelled Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for 2020. While disappointing, I’m not surprised by this at all.  In fact when MNSSHP wasn’t cancelled when everything else was when Walt Disney World announced their re-opening plans, I was surprised.  I couldn’t see how they could pull off the party adequately when they were canceling parades and fireworks for the parks.  Disney says as much in the announcement….

While assessing another fall special event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, we determined that many of its hallmarks – stage shows, parades and fireworks – are unable to take place in this new, unprecedented environment. With that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Also in the announcement, Walt Disney World has canceled H2O Glow Nights, the nighttime special ticket event at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, will not take place for the remainder of 2020.

Guests who have already bought tickets to these events will be assisted with refunds over the coming weeks.

With all of this disappointing news, how about some good news?

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will be returning, though in an abbreviated form and with a new name.

In the announcement Disney says –

One staple of the fall season at the Walt Disney World Resort is the annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. Today, we’re pleased to share that not only have we cooked up a creative, modified festival experience, it will also be our longest festival yet – giving you plenty of time to enjoy “A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival!”

This take on the foodie festival will debut July 15 and continue through the fall, offering over 20 signature global marketplaces like Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean, spaced out around the park.

While announcing the return of the festival, Disney also stated that the “Eat to the Beat Concert Series” will not be returning this year. Disney did add that there will be plenty of music to enjoy at America Gardens Theatre with local EPCOT entertainment such as Mariachi Cobre, the JAMMitors and more.

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