Leave a Legacy Begins its Return to EPCOT

As Disney began the transformation of the EPCOT main entrance area, the original Legacy sculpture were removed.  Leave A Legacy now lives on in a beautiful new setting just outside of the park.   As we can see in these images, they are in a bright new color.

The newly designed panels are the first of many that will be installed outside of the EPCOT entrance touch points.  The panels feature vibrant hues from the park’s new color palette. The new look of the panels goes along with the beautiful fountain and gleaming pylons and further illustrate the park’s transformation and the magic of possibility.

For guests who wants to search for a tile at the new location, they can use their smart device to scan the QR code at the Leave a Legacy display. This opens up the tile finder search feature, which can provide the coordinates for a tile’s location. Guests can also visit the EPCOT guest Relations team for assistance.

Walt Disney World to Replace Extra Magic Hours with Early Theme Park Entry

Walt Disney World announced today that they will be discontinuing Extra Magic Hours.  Disney will replace EMH with Early Theme Park Entry.

Early Theme Park Entry will debut later in 2021. The new early entry program will give Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests 30 minutes early access to any theme park, every day. Disney has stated that the change will allow a better spread of visitation across all four theme parks and will give guests better flexibility.

When it was running prior to its suspension following the COVID-19 shutdown, Extra Magic Hours offered 3 hours of extended operating hours in the evening, and an hour in the morning. However, the option was restricted to a specific theme park on a specific day.

Walt Disney World Announces Dates for 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

While it is cold (even in Florida) and snowing in parts of the United States our attention is turning to the 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival.

Today Walt Disney World announced that the festival will begin on March 3, 2021 and will run through July 5th.

The festival will beavailable with valid admission and a park reservation for the same date. The 2021 festival is almost a month longer than the 2020 festival.

Along with the guest favorite topiary,  there are scheduled to be more than 20 Outdoor Kitchens that will return to World Showcase.

Josh D’Amaro Confirms that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to Open in 2021

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products virtually took the stage at the IAAPA Expo: Virtual Education Conference and among his comments announced that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open sometime in 2021.

The ride which will be located in the France pavilion had been originally planned to open in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 closure in March and subsequent restrictions on theme park operations that followed the opening  was delayed.  This means that Disney will wait until it can properly market the attraction to drive guests back to Walt Disney World next year.

The exterior of the expansion is largely complete, and we have heard from sources that ride system testing is already underway inside the show building.

Walt Disney World Shortening Theme Park Operating Hours Starting September 8th

Today Walt Disney World announced that they will be shortening the operating hours of all of their theme parks beginning September 8th. Here are the updated hours:

Magic Kingdom – 9 AM to 6 PM (previously closed at 7 PM)

EPCOT – 11 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 9 PM)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 AM to 7 PM (previously closed at 8 PM)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9 AM to 5 PM (previously opened at 8 AM and closed at 6 PM)*

This announcement comes after Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted that there was less demand at Walt Disney World for vacations than expected, during a third quarter earnings report.

* – This is a correction. It was earlier reported as open at 8 AM

Walt Disney World Updates Mask Policy with More Stringent Requirements

Walt Disney World has updated its mask policy to specifically exclude more varieties of masks.

Apparently since some guests were abusing the language of the former policy Disney had to specifically exclude face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind in addition to neck gaiters, and open-chin triangle bandanas as unacceptable.

Here are the full revised guidelines for masks at Walt Disney World according to the official website –

All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:

  • Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
  • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free

At this time, Disney has specifically excluded neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind from being acceptable face coverings.

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.

Garden Grill Restaurant to Offer Modified Character Experience

The dining location list for EPCOT’s re-opening on July 15th has been updated to include a modified character experience at the Garden Grill.

The restaurant usually features table side appearances by Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale. While we are sure that table side appearances will not happen, it isn’t clear what the modified experience will be.  It seems that a walk-through would seem the most likely scenario.

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 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.