Walt Disney World Committed to Open on July 11th…Releases Commitment to Health and Safety Measures

Today in the Disney Parks Blog Walt Disney World stated that they are committed to opening the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11th and then Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

This came in a personal address by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products where she lays out Disney’s commitment to the health and safety of both guests and cast members for the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort.

In the announcement Dr. Hymel states –

As we continue the phased reopenings of our parks and resorts across the world, promoting health and safety for our guests, cast members, and the larger community is a responsibility we take very seriously.

On Saturday, we will continue the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort, marking the first of our domestic theme parks to welcome guests back to the magic. While we await California guidelines for reopening Disneyland Resort, and will adjust as necessary, we wanted to share more information on our approach to health and safety in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks. 

We remain deeply committed to focusing on your well-being when you visit or work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. From increased cleaning and disinfecting across our parks and resorts, to updated health and safety policies, we have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly. We implemented our health and safety measures after considering the guidance of government and local health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to the U.S. Travel Association and Disney’s team of health experts.

Together, we are a Disney family, and while COVID-19, and the risk of contracting it, is present in public places, there are many important ways that we can all help promote each other’s safety.  As we implement our guidelines at our parks and resorts, we want to thank our guests and cast members for all they do to care for one another by doing their part.

1.  Health & Wellness

At Disney, our approach emphasizes a combination of measures to help reduce risk in the carefully managed environment of our parks and resorts. 

  • Limited and carefully managed attendance: All guests will be required to make advanced ticket purchases and reservations.
  • Reduced capacity and physical distancing: We’re reducing capacity by letting fewer people enter our parks and are adjusting experiences to allow for physical distancing, a key measure reinforced by the CDC. This includes physical distancing in dining experiences, attractions, queues and other locations. Additionally, physical barriers have been installed in areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, like cash registers.
  • Temperature checks: Quick temperature checks are required for all guests at entry to our theme parks.
  • Face coverings: We will be requiring both cast members and guests ages two and older to wear a face covering – unless swimming or when eating or drinking – and enforcing this policy across our parks and resorts.
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer: We have increased the number of hand sanitizer locations and handwashing stations throughout our parks and resorts.
  • First Aid locations: Our first aid locations are staffed by experienced nursing staff and have updated their protocols for responding to symptoms of illness.

2. Cleaning & Disinfecting

We’ve updated our already high standards for cleanliness across our parks and resorts, with a special emphasis on areas such as attractions, queues, dining, lobbies, transportation and other common spaces.

  • Increased cleaning & disinfecting: We’re increasing the frequency of cleaning, especially for frequently-touched surfaces and high-traffic areas. Following park close, each park will receive an enhanced cleaning before guests arrive the next day.
  • New procedures for resort stays: In addition to increasing cleaning in areas such as elevators and escalators, handrails, tables, handles, and restrooms, we’ve updated our procedures for guest rooms at our owned-and-operated Walt Disney World hotels. Before arrival, every room will be given an enhanced cleaning and a light cleaning service (including removal of trash and replenishment of towels and amenities) will be offered every other day during the stay.

3. Technology Solutions

We are tapping into Disney innovation to help promote health and safety for our guests and cast members.

  • Disney apps: With the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps our guests already know and love, guests can view hand sanitizer locations, explore digital menus, and more.
  • Limited-contact options: From Mobile Order and cashless payments, to Walt Disney World’s MagicBands and online check-in at select locations, we’re offering technology solutions that can make it easier for our guests to minimize contact and maintain physical distancing.

4. Cast Member Training & Workplace Safety

Safety starts with our cast, and we’ve adopted a number of new policies and practices for cast members at work. 

  • Training: Cast members are receiving additional training on both new measures and the continued importance of personal health and hygiene, such as handwashing and of course, staying home when ill. For some, this includes training on how to help everyone who visits to follow new health and safety measures, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing. 
  • Workplace health and safety: We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning in work areas, adjusted our work practices to promote physical distancing, and introduced new protocols for temperature checks and face coverings. 
  • Health screenings: Cast members will self-screen for temperature and symptoms of illness before each shift and will stay home if they are not feeling well.

5. Working Together

Because each of us shares a responsibility for the health of our community, we’re making resources available to make guests aware of our new policies, so they too can do their part.

  • Guest communication: We’re proactively sharing information with guests about what to expect ahead of their visit to support their planning. In our parks and resorts, we have added signage about personal health and hygiene measures, physical distancing, and more. 
  • Following our guidelines: A special group of cast members will also be present in the parks to explain our new procedures, answer questions guests may have, and encourage everyone to follow these measures to promote the well-being of us all.
  • “Together We Can Make Today Incredible” campaign: In June, we introduced “Together We Can Make Today Incredible,” a health and safety campaign that spotlights healthy behaviors featuring fan-favorite characters from the Incredibles animated movies. The campaign emphasizes that everyone has an important role to play in health and safety while engaging guests in a uniquely Disney way.

We’re looking forward to upholding this plan each day, and to the return of our guests and cast members to our parks and resorts. 

The Disney Parks Blog also included a short video summarizing Disney’s commitment.

Commitment and announcements like this is what makes Disney special and why I love this company and the parks.  I hope this sets your mind at ease if you have a trip planned in the near future.  We have a trip planned for early September and it does a lot for my family.

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 Resort Proposes Plans to Begin Phased Re-Opening

Sixty-five years to the date after the historic opening of Disneyland, Disney is planning to welcome guests once again to the Disneyland Resort on July 17, 2020.

This is great news, especially when there had been rumors that the resort may not open until September.

Today Disney Parks, Experiences and Products announced proposed plans for a phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort. Pending state and local government approvals, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen on July 23, and Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park will plan to reopen on July 17. Additionally, Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9.

Oddly…there is no mention of the Disneyland Hotel.  I’m hoping this is just an oversight in Disneyland’s announcement or it could be tied to park capacity.  I will update this if Disney corrects or updates this information.

In the announcement Disney added….

Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited to comply with governmental requirements and promote physical distancing, the Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests, including Annual Passholders, to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. Theme park reservations will be subject to availability. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon. At this time, there will also be a temporary pause on new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals. Additional details will be available soon. Please check Disneyland.com for the most current information. 

Once approved, the Disneyland Resort will reopen with enhanced health and safety measures. In addition, a Guest Experience Team will be available throughout the parks and Downtown Disney District to assist guests with questions regarding these new policies.

Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings – such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. While character meet and greets will be temporarily unavailable, characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests.

Pending governmental approval, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are planned to reopen to guests and members starting on July 23. Plans to support physical distancing as well as increased cleaning measures, along with a number of other health and safety protocols, will be implemented as part of the phased reopening of the hotels and the Vacation Club. 

Downtown Disney District will begin reopening on July 9 in line with the state’s reopening guidelines, with its unique variety of shopping and dining experiences, including the flagship World of Disney store. With the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of planning, several operational changes will be implemented based on guidance from health authorities to promote physical distancing and cleanliness throughout the Downtown Disney District.

Additional information on enhanced health and safety measures and operational changes for reopening locations will be shared soon. These policies are under continuous review and are subject to change as the Disneyland Resort monitors conditions and receives guidance from health and government authorities.

Disneyland holds a special place in the hearts of people around the world. It was created as a place where family members of all ages could have fun together – a place to “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Sixty-five years later it still is.

It’s time for magic – and we look forward to welcoming you back. 

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 –

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

 

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.

World of Color Returning to Disney California Adventure

It looks like World of Color, the fan-favorite nighttime water-based show at Disney California Adventure,  is finally making its long awaited return.

Based on the availability of the World of Color Dessert Party reservations for  booking, it appears that the show will be returning at or around Friday, February 22nd. It appears that Friday is completely booked and has no availability, while there are still open reservations for Saturday the 23rd and beyond.

The special ticket event includes reserved seating in Paradise Gardens Park and access to a dessert selection and sparkling beverages and costs $79.

 

Disneyland Putting Limits on Annual Passholders for 2019…May Be Hinting at Possible Opening of Galaxy’s Edge

Today Disneyland announced what may be the first of sweeping changes coming to its annual passport program.  For the first time, Disney may limit which parks some passholders can visit on specific days.

These changes come at a time when officials for Disneyland Resort are debating what is the best way to manage enormous crowds that are expected when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next summer in Disneyland.

It’s being reported that Disneyland will be sending out, possibly as early as today, an email to passholders explaining the new program.  Sources say that they will be creating two new admission calendars.  This means that some passes will be good at certain parks on certain days, but not necessarily both parks on the same day.

According to Disneyland spokesperson Liz Jaeger, “As our business evolves, this is the first step in reshaping our Annual Pass program, which will better manage the guest experience and allow all Disneyland Resort visitors to have a great visit, particularly as we look forward to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in summer 2019.”

Reportedly, starting next June, passholders will see two calendars,  one for each park. Passholder will then need to check both calendars to see which park they can visit on which day. It’s being reported that the biggest changes will be coming to holders of the Deluxe passport, while higher levels experiencing no change at all.

As what happens currently, annual passholders will go online and use drop-down menus to see which park or both they can visit on a chosen date. A green date means yes. Gray means no.

With this announcement, Disneyland is extending its planning calendar to 13 months to allow passholders to look now and see which days they can visit in June 2019. Normally the calendar would only have been visible through May.

According to Disneyland the current two-park-per-day system on a single calendar will continue intact for the coming year and then through the end of May 2019.

The SoCal Annual Passport, which is geared to Southern California locals, admits these passholders only on weekdays and during the off-season. The highest level, which allows visits every day of the year, even the most crowded ones, which are typically around Christmas.

Ticket type June 2018 admission days (both parks) June 2019 admission days (both parks)
So Cal Annual Passport (on hiatus – only renewals) 19 0 (20 for DCA only)
Select Annual Passport 4 0 (3 for DCA only)
Deluxe Annual Passport 25 13 (Plus 17 for DCA only)
Signature Annual Passport 30 30
Signature Plus Annual Passport 30 30

Currently, if they are not blocked out, passholders can visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure or both. It’s common for people to hop between the parks in one day.

With the change announced this today, Disneyland is hoping to reduce crowding in Disneyland during the summer of 2019, by sending many visiting passholders to Disney California Adventure instead.

According to the new calendar for June 2019 Deluxe passholders (currently priced at $729/year) will be able to visit both parks on 13 days, while on 17 days they can visit only California Adventure, for a total 30 days of admission.

This compares to this June, when Deluxe passholders could visit either park on 25 of the month’s 30 days.

This is where speculation for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge comes in.  Some astute Disney observers are speculating that the highly anticipated land will open on or shortly after June 21st.

With the announced changes, Disney experts are saying that the changes were much less draconian than was speculated, and that they expect to see another big price increase as well to control passholder levels.

Disneyland Resort Announces Locations for New Mobile Ordering Service

About 6-7 weeks ago I reported that some of the Quick Service and Fast Casual restaurants at the Disneyland Resort were going to be getting the Mobile Ordering Service, which has been very popular at Walt Disney World.

Today Disneyland has announced the initial locations that will be getting the new service.

The Mobile Ordering Service will be available at six Disneyland locations.  The six locations that will be getting the service are Bengal Barbecue, Galactic Grill, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Hungry Bear Restaurant, Jolly Holiday Bakery Café and Red Rose Taverne.

Nine Disney California Adventure locations will be getting Mobile Ordering and they are – Award Wieners, Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Corn Dog Castle, Flo’s V8 Café, Lucky Fortune Cookery, Pacific Wharf Café, Paradise Garden Grill and Smokejumpers Grill.

Guests can customize their orders directly on the app, including allergy-friendly offerings.

According to Disneyland, “This new service is just one more way we’re enhancing the guest experience. Mobile ordering and the recent launch of Disney MaxPass provide convenient options that maximize each visit to the Disneyland Resort with family and friends.”

This service has been Immensely popular at Walt Disney World and I’m sure it will be a big hit at the Disneyland Resort once guests start using it.

At this time Disneyland has not indicated an implementation date for the new Mobile Ordering System.

Avengers and Other Super Heroes to Assemble in New Themed Area at Disney California Adventure in 2020

Yesterday Disney announced that new Marvel-themed areas will be coming to Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland in the near future.

The new Super Hero-themed land at the Disneyland Resort will begin recruiting guests in 2020.  Spider-Man and the Avengers will be joining Guardians of the Galaxy in a completely immersive Super Hero universe in Disney California Adventure. The new land will be anchored by the immensely popular Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, in the area that is currently occupied by “a bug’s land.”  “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” already closed on March 19 and the rest of the land is scheduled to close later this summer.

Disney also announced that as part of the transformative multi-year expansion announced for Disneyland Paris, the new Marvel-themed area at Walt Disney Studios Park will include a reimagined Rock ‘n Roller Coaster where riders will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers on a hyper-kinetic adventure in 2020.

Also announced were multi-year expansion plans at Hong Kong Disneyland, including a new themed area that will include an exciting attraction where guests team up with Ant-Man and The Wasp.

It was great to finally get some details about the Marvel-themed land at Disney California Adventure.  This area has been hinted at by Disney for a while now, so it was nice to finally get some official “vague details” to hype-up the fanbase.

I for one am very excited about this new area.  While there is a portion of the Disney fan community that are upset that in getting this new land means the extermination of “a bugs land,” I am not one of those.  The movie “A Bug’s Life” that the area was based on has never been one of my favorite Pixar movies and I’ve not been all that fond of the attractions is this land either.  In other words, I’m not all that broken up to see the bugs go away.

If Walt Disney Imagineering can replicate the great work that they were able to do on Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! the area could be amazing.  Personally, the year 2020 cannot come soon enough….I am really excited and am already planning on a possible trip for when it opens.

Disney Marvel fans….ASSEMBLE!!!