Walt Disney World Delays Re-Opening of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Walt Disney World announced today that it will be delaying the re-opening of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort until summer 2021.

Disney has also indicated that it will be refurbishing the hotel beginning in October, which will include changes to the Great Ceremonial House and guest rooms.  Details on the refurbishment to be announced at a later date.

The Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will remain open during this refurbishment.

“As we continue to reopen additional Disney Resort hotels to Guests, we are modifying the reopening date for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort which will reopen next summer. This schedule adjustment also allows us to complete some refurbishment work at the Resort hotel, including enhancements to the Great Ceremonial House and Guest rooms. We expect work to begin in early October and look forward to sharing more about these changes in the future. The Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will remain open during this refurbishment.”

Here is the revised resort hotel re-opening schedule:

  • September 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • October 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • November 1 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Summer 2021 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s All Star Resorts, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney’s Beach Club and BoardWalk Inn continue to remain closed until further notice.

Impasse with Actor’s Equity Union Ends…Performers to Return to Work at Walt Disney World

In an article posted yesterday we announced that the State of Florida will begin providing COVID-19 Testing for cast members and guests the Disney Maingate Complex starting August 14th.  After this announcement, the Actor’s Equity Union signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return to work at the Walt Disney World theme parks.

Disney officials said in a notice to its workers that there would be a dedicated testing lane for its workers and their families, and that reservations could be made for testing.

“As a reminder, testing is voluntary and cast members will not be paid for testing time,” the notice said.

In a statement, Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association stated –

“We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed.  With the news that Disney will make testing available for Equity performers and others in the park, I’m happy to announce that Equity’s executive committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return.”

The Actors’ Equity Association represents 51,000 stage performers nationwide, including about 750 at Disney World.

Disney released a statement later Wednesday stating that allowing the testing location was not in response to union demands.

“Our actions support all cast and our community at large,” the statement said.

The union began pushing Disney World to offer testing for its members in late June, before the park’s July reopening. The actors could not do their jobs wearing masks or keeping social distance, according to the union.

Equity Cast Members make up a significant portion of Walt Disney World’s live entertainment performers, which include shows such as, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, Festival of the Lion King and various castle shows.

The return of those performers would pave the way for Disney to resume shows should it wish to do so. It needs to be stated though that though a return of these shows is possible and very likely at some point, no return date or time table for their return has been indicated by either Disney or the Equity Union.  Presumably rehearsals would need to take place.  How long this could take is unknown at this time.

So, even though we don’t know a return date, it appears another part of the special Disney magic will be returning to Walt Disney World.

 

Maria and Enzo’s, The Edison and Enzo’s Hideaway Re-Opening at Disney Springs

Patina Group will be re-opening three of its Disney Springs restaurants on August 13th.  They have been closed since mid-March 2020.

Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideway and The Edison will all reopen for dinner starting Thursday.

All three will open with Patina’s updated health and safety measures.  These include increased physical spacing, mask requirements, and screening of employees.

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.

 

Walt Disney World Expands Temperature Screenings

Walt Disney World has expanded its temperature screenings to include some of its resort hotel restaurants.

Prior to this expansion Disney was taking guest temperatures on arrival at Disney Springs and the theme parks.  Now a temperature measurement will also be taken at table service restaurants inside Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Based on guidance from health authorities, Disney will continue its policy that anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional rescreening and assistance. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.

Walt Disney World Adjusts Re-Opening Schedule of Remaining Resort Hotels

Walt Disney World announced that it will be delaying the re-opening of some of its Walt Disney World resort hotels and cancelling others.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will now re-open on October 4 instead of the previously announced August 12.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will now re-open on November 1 instead of the previously announced August 12.

Disney’s Beach Club and BoardWalk Inn will now remain closed until further notice.

The revised re-opening schedule looks like this:

  • July 29 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • August 24 – Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • September 21 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • October 4 – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • October 14 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • November 1 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

The following resort hotels do not have free-opening dates:

  • Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

At this time Disney has not specifically stated why the re-opening schedule has been changed, though it’s like due to a lack of demand.

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.

Swan and Dolphin Resort Announce Opening Date

Today the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort announced that they will be opening on July 29th.

While the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be opening tomorrow to be followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th, and many of Disney resort hotels have been open for a few weeks and most of the rest will be opening within the next few weeks, the Swan and Dolphin Resort had chosen not to open until this announcement.

Sean Verney, the hotel’s new general manager stated in the announcement:

“With the Disney parks reopening, we are thrilled to open our doors again.  We are committed to providing a relaxing and revitalizing experience but doing so in a responsible manner.”

Walt Disney World Resuming 2020 Theme Park Ticket Sales and Resort Hotel Bookings

In just a few days, Walt Disney World will begin welcoming the first guests back to the theme parks, with Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom opening on July 11th and EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

If you recall, Disney had temporarily paused 2020 ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel bookings so that they could focus on helping existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders plan their visits. Today Walt Disney World has announced that beginning tomorrow, July 9th, ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel bookings for 2020 will resume.

In the announcement Disney added a word of precaution for guests trying to book stays or purchase tickets tomorrow….

For those looking to make their plans right away, please note that tickets and Disney Resort hotel bookings may be released at different times throughout the day tomorrow. In addition, we will use virtual waiting rooms as needed to manage the high volume of guests looking to plan their visits.

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.