Walt Disney World Advises That It May Be Difficult for Annual Passholders to Get Reservations on Re-Opening

As Disney continues to update us as they prepare to re-open the theme parks, Disney has updated the official Walt Disney World website to include details for Annual Passholders during the re-opening of the theme parks.

In the update, Disney advises that it may be difficult for Annual Passholders to get park reservations to visit on certain dates, and that total reservation days held at one time will be limited.  Basically saying that just because guests have an Annual Pass they will not be guaranteed reservations.

Disney also stated that some pass benefits and features will not be available during periods of limited capacity.

The full update to the website is below –

Our Annual Passholders are some of our most loyal and valued Guests. We truly can’t wait to welcome you back—and we will do it with great thought.

With that in mind, when the parks reopen, park capacity will be significantly limited—and may continue to be for a period of time, based on guidance from health experts to promote physical distancing.

We understand how much excitement, thought and time goes into planning your Disney visits and realize some new changes may be disappointing. For example, during this unprecedented time, an annual pass will not guarantee park entry and Annual Passholders will be required to make an advance reservation to enter a park.

Please note that:

During the limited capacity period, it may be difficult for Annual Passholders to get park reservations to visit on certain dates. To help manage capacity, total reservation days held at one time will be limited. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.

Some pass benefits and features will not be available during periods of limited capacity. Also, park experiences and offerings will be modified and subject to limited availability or even closure.

Annual passes are subject to blockout dates. Guests should ensure their pass type is valid for park entry prior to making a park reservation.

As we prepare for the reopening of the parks, we’re planning a special preview opportunity for Annual Passholders. We look forward to sharing details with you soon.

Please know we will be here to help you as we remain focused on delivering a wonderful experience for everyone who visits.

If you have any questions, please contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277. Options to manage your annual pass continue to be available during the closure period.

Walt Disney World Updates Reservations, Suspends FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours

Thursday evening Walt Disney World announced more details on its plans to reopen the resort beginning on July 11th.

The big take is that Disney announced that FastPass+ will be suspended, along with Extra Magic Hours.

Effective Thursday Disney will be cancelling all dining reservations, experience bookings, Disney dining plan and FastPass+ selections. Disney also stated that guests with existing Resort reservations will have priority access to the new park reservation system when it becomes available. Also, guests who had existing reservations will receive priority access to rebook reservations when reservations for dining and other experiences resume.

Guests who purchased a Disney dining plan and tickets for dates between May 28, 2020 and September 26, 2021 will receive an automatic cancellation and refund of their Disney dining plan.

Guests who booked Resort hotel reservations with a Free Dining package for dates between May 28, 2020 and September 26, 2021 will receive an automatic cancellation of their Disney dining plan and are invited to rebook their vacation for a later date with a 35% room discount.

The details of the release are below –

  • New Ticket Sales and Hotel Reservations: At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations. Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make a theme park reservation before new tickets are sold; we will be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details. We will resume new sales of tickets and Disney Resort hotel reservations after that period of time. Theme park reservations will be limited due to attendance limitations and will be subject to availability.

 

  • Dining and Experiences: In order to foster physical distancing during this time, upon reopening, our offerings, restaurants and other experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours will be limited in capacity, and other experiences may remain closed. As a result of limited capacity, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages. We will reopen dining and experience bookings with more limited numbers closer to when the parks reopen. We will also shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings going forward to allow Guests to make their plans closer to their visits.

 

  • FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours: As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being as we plan to use additional queue space to manage capacity at our attractions and maintain physical distancing. We will automatically cancel existing FastPass+ selections and share any future updates on the service at a later date. Also, please note that upon reopening, Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.

 

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels to Begin Re-Opening on July 11th

Although it was not mentioned during this morning’s presentation by Disney, the Walt Disney World’s website appears to confirm that the  hotels will open with the Magic Kingdom on July 11th.

While the hotels are planned to open on July 11th, Disney has announced that they are temporarily suspending new reservations at this time.

Below is the updated message on the website –

Pending approval from government officials, the phased reopening plans we submitted calls for Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Resort hotels to open beginning July 11 for Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Additionally, Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen to Members and Guests on June 22. Disney Vacation Club properties in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will open on June 15. Disney Springs has begun a phased reopening. Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort Hotels, restaurants and other offerings may be modified, limited in capacity and subject to availability or closure.

Walt Disney World Sets Opening Dates

Walt Disney World announced minutes ago that they will be opening in phases. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open on July 11th, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studio will open on July 15th.

The phased reopening  will come with limits. Disney indicated that guests will need park reservations each day to enter a theme park.  There will be no fireworks or parades.  There also will be limited to no character meet and greets.

I will update this later today if I see more detailed information or as soon as Disney provides more details.

Walt Disney World Updates Operating Hours, Universal Orlando Announces Planned Opening

Earlier today Universal Orlando presented it’s plans to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force.

In that plan, Universal Orlando stated that the plan is to open June 1st, with a gradual capacity managed opening for employees only. Passholders would be added on June 3rd, followed by an opening to the general public on June 5th.

Even though Disney opened Disney Springs yesterday, Walt Disney World updated its operating hours calendar to show that the theme parks will be closed through June 13th, it previously stated June 7th.

Walt Disney World Resort hotels and theme parks are currently closed until further notice. Disney recently began accepting hotel reservations for July 1, although as explained by a senior figure at Disney, that does not mean the park will be open at that time.

While Disney has not announced an opening date and as stated above in regards to opening, one would have to think that since Disney have been somewhat working together with the task force, that Walt Disney World will be opening sometime close to when Universal Orlando opens up.

While nothing definite from Disney, Universal’s announcement would seem to be good news.

There appears to to be light at the end of this tunnel.

Disney Announces Leadership Restructuring – Josh D’Amaro New Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman

Earlier today, Bob Chapek, the Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company, announced today that Walt Disney World President Josh D’Amaro would be promoted to his former position as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

The position of Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products has been vacant since Bob Chapek moved from the role into the position as Disney CEO when Bob Iger retired. Josh has been Walt Disney World President for less than a year, taking over from George Kalogridis in September 2019.

In his new role, D’Amaro will oversee Disney’s travel and leisure businesses, which include six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a cruise line; a vacation ownership program; a guided family adventure business; and Disney’s global consumer products operations, which include the world’s leading licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; Disney store locations around the world; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.

Succeeding D’Amaro as President, Walt Disney World Resort is Jeff Vahle, a 30-year cast member who most recently served as President, Disney Signature Experiences.

“I’m incredibly proud of the new leadership team at Parks, beginning with the segment’s Chairman, longtime Disney veteran Josh D’Amaro, and his newly announced team of Jeff Vahle, Ken Potrock, Kareem Daniel and Thomas Mazloum,” said Chapek. “These talented executives played pivotal roles while leading our exceptional cast members during the largest period of growth in the segment’s history, which included the expansion of our parks and resorts around the world, the addition of new attractions including two highly acclaimed Star Wars-themed lands, and a shift to more personalized experiences for guests. And I am confident that as they assume even greater responsibility and pursue new opportunities, these proven leaders will have an even bigger impact on the future of our company.”

In response to this promotion, D’Amaro stated –

“I want to thank Bob for giving me this opportunity, and I look forward to following his record of driving innovation, value and growth at Parks.  I am honored to be able to lead this newly announced team of exceptional senior leaders as we assume our new roles and continue to deliver unforgettable experiences for our guests. Even during this challenging time, the enthusiasm of our dedicated cast members for what we do is unwavering, and my goal is to bring them back to work as soon as possible so they can continue to create that magic.”

Disneyland Resort President Rebecca Campbell will now become the Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and International. Both Campbell and D’Amaro will report directly to Chapek.

 

Walt Disney World Updates Website….Includes COVID-19 Liability Statement and Warning

Ahead of the opening of Disney Springs on May 20th, Walt Disney World has updated its website today with a COVID-19 warnings notice.

The thing to note is the wording that indicates that “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

Below it the entire COVID-19 warning from the Walt Disney World website…

COVID-19 Warning

We have taken enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other Guests, and Cast Members. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting Disney Springs.

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

Let’s keep each other healthy and safe.

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Outlines Next Steps In Theme Parks’ Reopening Path

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday outlined what may be the next steps for the state’s theme parks on their paths to reopening, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

In a press conference, DeSantis asked park operators to submit their reopening plans to the state, saying that they would “need to have an endorsement of the relative official in their locality — Orange County mayor, wherever you’re talking about,” he said.

Extending the previously announced plans for the reopening of Florida, the state will move forward with:

  • Restaurants allowing 50% capacity (up from the previous 25% occupancy limit)
  • Retail moving to 50% capacity (up from the previous 25% occupancy limit)
  • Gyms operating while respecting social distancing and sanitizing measures

Theme parks can now submit plans about reopening to the state and will need endorsement from the Orange County Mayor. Movie theaters will remain closed at this time.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told local media later in the day that he has not received any reopening plans from the parks, and that he doesn’t expect any reopenings until June at the earliest.

 

Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line COVID-19 Updates

No big stories today, just a few updates….

First with the good news.  Walt Disney is one step closer to opening.  Yesterday, it was announced that Disney had reached an agreement with the unions that represent workers at Walt Disney World on safeguards to protect employees from coronavirus, removing one of the company’s hurdles to reopening its popular theme parks.

In the agreement Disney ensured that anyone who contracts COVID-19 will have paid time off to quarantine.  Also, Cast Members will be trained on how to conduct self-assessments regarding symptoms of COVID-19 at home..  Disney will provide a thermometer to anyone who requests one.  Cast Members who have COVID-19 can call in free of attendance discipline.

The safeguards include social distancing practices, increased cleaning and mandatory masks for workers and guests, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council Union, which represents about 43,000 workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

And now the bad news….

The Walt Disney World operating hours calendar now shows the parks closed through June 6th (previously it was May 30).

With that, Disney is in the process of cancelling Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations for early June.  According to sources, the latest cancellation notification we have seen so far is for an arrival on June 7, although some guests with earlier stays are yet to be contacted.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney Cruise Line won’t sail again until at least July 31 after announcing another round of cruise cancellations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on its website, the cruise line said it was suspending departures through Monday, July 27. That means the earliest any of its four ships would sail would be Disney Dream from Port Canaveral on July 31 and Disney Fantasy also from the port on August 1.

Disney Magic, which would be sailing in Europe, would not have its first sailing until August 5 and Disney Wonder, which would be sailing Alaska would not sail until August 3.

The line is offering either a full refund or the option to rebook the sailing with a cruise credit incentive for any sailing within 15 months of the canceled departure.

 

Walt Disney World Now Only Accepting Reservations from July 1st and Beyond

Walt Disney World has pushed back its open reservation window from June 1st to July 1, 2020.

Shortly after the resort shut down from COVID-19, Disney began accepting reservations from June 1 on March 29, but will now not accept new reservations during June.

What isn’t clear yet is if the move of the date is due to capacity being reached for June, or if Disney has no plans to operate during June.  People in the know state that the hotels/resorts are not full, but there is speculation that capacity could have been capped to keep attendance reduced. Cancellations of existing reservations are taking place on a rolling basis through late May.