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.

Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort to Close due to COVID-19

As you may have heard the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort will be closing until the end of the month due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  In addition the Disney Cruise Line will suspend all departures until the end of the month.

In official statements Disney stated –

Disneyland  Resort-

While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month.

The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time.

Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period. We anticipate heavy call volume over the next several days and appreciate guests’ patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries.

Please contact The Walt Disney Travel Company for questions and cancellations at (714) 520-5050.

Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris & Disney Cruise Line –

Disney made the decision to close the Disneyland Resort following guidance from the state of California on restricting mass gatherings.

At the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney has installed portable hand-washing stations in addition to the hand sanitizer stations that have been in place for the last few weeks.

Walt Disney World has also installed new signage around the parks giving public health recommendations, including frequent hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and to seek medical attention if experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Walt Disney World has also added an FAQ section to their announcement:

PARK TICKETS

May I get a refund on my ticket?

Unexpired multi-day theme park tickets with unused days, or date-specific theme park tickets with a start date on or before March 31, 2020 will automatically be extended to use any date through December 15, 2020.

If you are unable to visit by December 15, 2020 you may apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward the purchase of a ticket for a future date.

Will the spring special Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets be extended?

Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets may be used through July 31, 2020.

What about tickets for special events slated to occur during the closure?

Guests who have purchased tickets for Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours and Disney Early Morning Magic from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 will be automatically refunded.

Will Annual Passes to Walt Disney World be extended?

Walt Disney World Annual Passes will be extended by the number of days the parks are closed.

RESORTS & HOTELS

I have a future stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel while the park is closed. What does that mean for my vacation?

Guests who have not checked in for stays between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 may modify or cancel their Disney Resort room reservation or Walt Disney Travel Company package up to their original check-in date.

If no action is taken, Disney will automatically process a refund to the original form of payment within seven days of the original check-in date. If you did not book through Disney directly, please contact your travel professional.

What if I want to cancel a Disney Resort hotel reservation after the parks reopen?

Disney will waive all Disney imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in through June 30, 2020.

DINING & OTHER EXPERIENCES

I have a pre-paid dining reservation or experience reservation like Droid Depot or Savi’s Workshop while the parks are closed. Will I receive a refund?

Yes.

All pre-paid dining and experience reservations will be automatically refunded if scheduled between March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020.

What happens to FastPass+ reservations made during the closure?

They are automatically canceled without replacement.

What happens to dining reservations that required a credit card at the time of booking?

Reservations made at locations impacted by the closure will not be charged a cancellation or no-show fee.

What follows is not official information that Walt Disney World has provided, and is instead opinions made by the Disney Tourist Blog

Will the Walt Disney World theme parks reopen on April 1, 2020?

That remains to be seen.

While the official FAQ answers are treating this as everything magically returning to business as normal come April 1, 2020, we would caution you against having that expectation. It’s simply a matter of Disney wanting to be cautious and not triggering a wave of cancellations beyond then.

It’s moderately instructive to see how this outbreak has played out elsewhere, particularly in countries that have not engaged in aggressive early-stage containment. Japan is a decent example, and original 2-week closures there were just extended another 2 weeks, to be reevaluated at that time.

If the closure is extended, expect Walt Disney World’s official answers above to be modified in accordance with any subsequent extensions.

When do you think Walt Disney World will reopen? 

I don’t have the slightest idea. This such a dynamic and evolving situation–and one that remains in its early stages in the United States. I’m hopeful it can be resolved as quickly and safely as possible with aggressive measures and diligence, but I’m skeptical.

With all of that said, my personal best case scenario is Walt Disney World reopening at some point in mid to late April 2020. If I had a trip planned in or before May 2020, I’d begin processing the very real possibility that it might not occur.

Will Disney Springs remain open during the closure?

Officially, yes.

However, that’s because the vast majority of businesses there are owned and operated by third parties. Expect those to independently announce closures in turn, effectively rendering most of Disney Springs substantively closed.

What about the resort hotels?

Officially, those are remaining opening for existing bookings–primarily guests who have already arrived. Walt Disney World cannot exactly kick guests, many of whom came from literally all over the world and cannot instantly rebook return international flights, to the curb with two days’ notice.

Depending upon the actual duration of this closure, we anticipate resort operations to wind down at some point.

What about Disney Vacation Club points? 

As DVC members are not doubt aware, there are a lot of intricacies and nuance (for lack of better terms) governing the rules of DVC point use years, banking, holding accounts, and so forth.

We have a trip starting in 4+ days and I have a unique question, what should I do?

Wait and see.

The above FAQ was posted as Walt Disney World scrambled to address common questions because they’re website went down last night and call volume was so high that the lines were literally busy. Unless your trip is starting in the next 2 days, we would encourage patience (and we know that’s difficult).

You’ll save yourself stress and headaches in calling, waiting on hold for 5 hours, only to find out the answer is “I don’t know yet.” Everything we’ve seen thus far indicates Disney is going above and beyond to make things right here, and your answer will probably come to you if you’re just patient.

We have a trip slated to start during the closure but continue when the park is slated to reopen in April. What should we do?

Wait and see. (Are you spotting a trend here?)

As noted above, there’s no guarantee that the parks will reopen at the beginning of April 2020. Moreover, you have some time before you “need” an answer, so we’d encourage waiting for more info–it’ll be released as it becomes available.

We have a vacation scheduled for April 2020 or beyond, what should we do?

Wait and see.

There’s truly no benefit to acting preemptively. If Walt Disney World reopens and you’re comfortable to travel, great. If the parks do not open or you’re not comfortable to travel, you will certainly have the option to cancel or postpone without penalty at a later date.

UPDATE: The Walt Disney Travel Company is requesting that anyone with a check-in date after March 2020 not call right now so the lines are clear for more urgent travelers.

Should I call Walt Disney World now for [insert question or concern]?

Phone wait times in the next couple of days will be measured in hours, and will put Free Dining release day to shame.

Before calling, ask yourself what your time is worth, what the likelihood is of receiving an answer that satisfies your question, and the chances that Disney won’t proactively address your concerns at some point in the near future.

I spoke with a clueless customer service rep after waiting on hold for 6 hours, should I scream at them?

There’s a good chance that “clueless” customer service rep was totally in the dark about this (and to a large degree, still is) until arriving at work. There’s an even stronger probability they’ve been dealing with not-so-patient customers all day, and that they are overstressed, underpaid, and overworked.

Finally, there’s 100% certainty the person at whom you’d be yelling did not personally and unilaterally choose to close Walt Disney World or craft the policy you dislike. If the idea of kindness for its own sake is too much to grasp, just remember that (selfishly!) you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

We booked tickets/hotel/etc. via a third party, what is their refund policy?

We’d recommend contacting them directly. No third parties were consulted or notified about Walt Disney World’s plans to close, meaning all of them were caught off-guard and left scrambling to come up with policies.

This is an unprecedented and already catastrophic event for businesses–they’re figuring it out on the fly. We’d stress patience.

Normally we don’t report news from “that park down the road” aka Universal Studios Orlando, but they will also be closing –

Out of an abundance of caution and to assist with our nation’s preventive efforts, Universal Orlando Resort will temporarily close its theme parks. The closure is effective Monday, March 16th. We anticipate remaining closed through the end of March – but will continue to evaluate the situation.

Universal Orlando’s hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open.

We have created flexible programs for those guests who have booked travel packages or tickets with us. Guests can call this number for more information: 877-801-9720.

 

 

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

 

Brand-New Walt Disney Archives Exhibit Celebrating Disney’s Most Iconic Heroes and Villains to Open at D23 Expo 2019

The Walt Disney Archives returns to D23 Expo with an all-new exhibit, “Walt Disney Archives Presents Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume.” From the classic Mary Poppins to this year’s live-action retelling of Aladdin, more than 70 costumes from 55 years of Disney movies and television shows will be on display from August 23–25 at the Anaheim Convention Center during the biennial event, presented by D23: The Official Disney Fan Club.

Guests entering the 12,000-square-foot exhibit will be greeted by “Cinderella’s Workshop,” a gallery featuring the beloved fairy-tale character’s dresses from her numerous Disney incarnations, including 1997’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; the gown worn by Scarlett Johansson for Annie Leibovitz’s 2007 Disney Dream Portrait series; 2014’s Into the Woods; the 2015 live-action reimagining of the animated masterpiece Cinderella; and the ABC hit series Once Upon a Time.

The main gallery will be broken into three sections: “Disney Heroes,” “Disney Villains,” and “Spaces Between,” reserved for the antiheroes whose fascinating journeys make them among Disney’s most complex characters.

Among the costumes included in the “Disney Heroes” section are Belle’s village dress and ballgown from 2017’s Beauty and the Beast; creations worn by the Genie, Aladdin, and Jasmine in this year’s live-action Aladdin; and—for the first time ever displayed together—three iconic Mary Poppins “traveling dresses” worn in three Poppins productions: the 1964 original film, 2019’s Mary Poppins Returns, and the Broadway musical. “Disney Villains” ensembles include the trio of wonderfully wicked witches from 1993’s Hocus Pocus, the duo of dresses worn by the stepsisters in 2015’s Cinderella, and the dress worn by the incomparable Bette Davis in 1978’s Return from Witch Mountain. And “Spaces Between” includes Maleficent’s gown from the 2014 film, as well as the Evil Queen and Hook’s costumes from Once Upon a Time.

The exhibit includes costumes from some of Hollywood’s preeminent designers, past and present, including Academy Award ® -winners Colleen Atwood, Sandy Powell, and Tony Walton, as well as Emmy ® winner Ellen Mirojnick and Emmy nominees Eduardo Castro and Penny Rose.

Many of the costumes on exhibit will be featured in The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between, a dazzling new book out this September from Disney Editions. The book will also be available in advance exclusively at D23 Expo.

The Walt Disney Archives Exhibit at D23 Expo has alway been a favorite of mine.  It is always well done and is very interesting.  The exhibit at D23 Expo 2017 was dedicated to Pirates of the Caribbean and was incredibly detailed.  I cannot wait to see this in August.

Single-day tickets for Friday and Sunday of D23 Expo 2019 are available for $89 for one-day adult admission and $69 for children 3–9. Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club can purchase tickets for $77 for a one-day adult admission and $59 for children 3–9. Single-day Saturday tickets and three-day passes are sold out. For more information on tickets and D23 Expo 2019, visit D23Expo.com.

Disney Retires Shop Parks app, shopDisney to be Sole Online Shop

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that shopDisney.com is set to become the one-stop online shop for all things Disney as the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired at the end of the month.

According to Disney, the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired on May 31.  When this happens shopDisney.com and the shopDisney app will become the ultimate online retail location for all things Disney including Parks merchandise.

If guests go to the Shop Disney Parks app they will see a message upon opening which explains the retirement of the shopping application and providing a link to download the shopDisney app.

Disney has stated that shopDisney will offer an even larger selection of favorite items from Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and more.

At Walt Disney World Resort, My Disney Experience will continue to offer popular shopping features for guests including an availability map or the ability to ship select merchandise to home (U.S. addresses only) when guests order through the My Disney Experience

Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Members will also continue to receive their eligible discounts through the My Disney Experience app.

This does not really surprise me.  Disney had to have realized what I have always experienced with the Shop Parks app.  I have rarely had a pleasant experience.  The availability function with the app was essentially useless.  There have been many times when the app said that an item was out of stock at particular locations, yet there were dozens on the shelves. That was on top of the duplication of the shopping experience.  You never knew where to look for things.  Stuff that should have been park exclusive was seldom available on Shop Parks, yet at times could be found on shopDisney.

I admire the intention of developing and implementation of Shop Parks, but it just never met expectations and was a disappointment.  I’m glad Disney realized this and is moving on.

 

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.

Reservations for Access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland to Open May 2

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that beginning May 2 at 10 AM (Disneyland Time), guests will be able to start making reservations to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.

Specific details on how to make reservations will be available on the Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland.com on May 2 at 8 AM PT.

In order to be able to make a reservation guest will have to be staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel.

As Disney has stated…

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay. One reservation per registered Guest. Each Guest is required to have valid theme park admission. If the hotel reservation is cancelled, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will be cancelled. Access to certain experiences in the land are subject to capacity and other factors. Additional restrictions apply.

While Disney has not officially stated on the Disney Parks Blog, reports are stating that Disneyland will restrict guests with free Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservations to a 4-hour time limit during the initial “soft opening” period.

Disneyland has stated that no stand-by visitors will be permitted to enter Galaxy’s Edge.

As stated by Jeffery Epstein of D23 –

“So please don’t lurk around the entrance like a Jawa trying to hawk a droid.”

After June 23 reservations will not be required and Disneyland has not specifically mentioned how crowds will be handled for this highly anticipated land, though there has been rumored to be some sort of FastPass system that will be implemented.

If you have any questions on regarding Galaxy’s Edge during the initial opening period, I would suggest contacting Disneyland or checking out the Disney Parks Blog for more information.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Coming to Disneyland

Disney just announced that guests will be able to step into a cartoon world and join Mickey and his friends on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which will be coming to Mickey’s Toontown in 2022!

This attraction will be the first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction at Disneyland.  It will put guests inside what Disney describes as the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse cartoon short where anything can happen!

In a announcement Disney states –

Once you step into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie, you’ll board a train with Goofy as the engineer. Then, one magical moment after the next leads you to a zany, out-of-control adventure filled with surprising twists and turns.

Also tucked into the announcement was that  the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been pushed back to sometime in the Spring of 2020.

While Disneyland’s version will be located inside Mickey’s Toontown, an exact location was not mentioned in the announcement.

Disney Parks Going Smoke-Free May 1st

In the Disney Parks Blog today Disney made a series of announcements that will affect many guests.  The biggest of which was that beginning May 1st, smoking will no longer be allowed inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.  In the announcement Disney stated that designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances of the areas listed above and at Disney Springs in Florida.  For guests who have room or dining reservations, smoking areas are also available at Disney Resort hotels.

The next announcement was in regard to strollers.  Also beginning May 1st, Disney is requiring that strollers be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long.  According to the announcement many strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.  They also reminded guests that wagons will not be permitted in the parks beginning May 1st.  According to Disney, these updates are designed to help with guest flow and ease congestion.  While Disney is stating that this is an “adjustment” to the stroller guidelines, I’ve been told that this might actually be an “emphasis of enforcement,” but I don’t have definite information on that.

The final announcement affects guest bringing in coolers into the parks.  Beginning today, loose or dry ice are no longer permitted in the parks.  Ice packs will be permitted though.