MickeyBlog News for January 26, 2020
One theme park added a FastPass and altered its FastPass tiers, while two others closed. Yeah, this was a strange week for The Walt Disney Company. Let’s bring you up to speed in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
The Less Than Magical Word is Corona
Something I adore about Disney is the way it blocks out the real world. I just had lunch with a fellow workaholic, and we discussed how we can forget about our to-do list while we’re at Disney. Importantly, we were talking about this while we sat in sight of Cinderella Castle.
The Disney Bubble is (blessedly) real.
Unfortunately, real-world events sometimes seep into the Disney Bubble. This past week provided one such example. The nation of China currently faces an epidemic in the form of a contagious disease.
Coronavirus has already infected at least 1,372 people and caused 42 fatalities. And those numbers may have escalated even higher, depending on when you read this. It’s a nightmare for all affected.
For Disney, the situation has forced park officials to make some decisions. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, Shanghai Disneyland risked spreading the epidemic by remaining open. So, company officials have wisely chosen to close Disney’s newest theme park for at least a couple of days.
Shanghai Disneyland was closed on Saturday and Sunday. Park executives will monitor the situation carefully until everyone believes that opening the park is safe once more.
Something that surprised me was that Hong Kong Disneyland didn’t follow suit at first. The other Disney park in China remained open on Saturday. However, the company took steps to ward off the spread of Coronavirus.
Hong Kong Disneyland eliminated character greetings Saturday before deciding to close entirely on Sunday. Guests with reservations and tickets to Shanghai Disneyland will receive refunds.
This situation is obviously fluid and still evolving. Please keep reading MickeyBlog News to stay up-to-date on how Disney’s handling the situation.
A Few Notes about Coronavirus Considerations
I realize that some of you reading this will travel to Disney theme parks this week. And you’re understandably at least somewhat concerned about the events. I want to pass along a couple of tidbits from my situation in case they’re useful.
First of all, I’m currently working on a book project for an established author who lives in Hong Kong. He’s reporting the situation there for some media companies. He’s indicated that standard masks don’t do anything to prevent the spread of the virus. So, unless you have access to an industrial-strength mask, you have no reason to wear one while you travel.
We flew into Orlando International Airport (MCO) on Friday and only noticed a handful of people wearing masks. Airport officials didn’t express any serious concern about the matter, although that can always change.
My wife and I took a bit more precaution. We carried disinfecting wipes that we used on our plane seats and the touchscreen panel on the seat in front of me. Once we checked in, we wiped down the hotel remote, and some other spots that I know are the likeliest places for germs to spread.
I don’t think that the average person even needs to take those steps right now. I only did it because I get sick regularly. Beyond that, our Disney vacation has been business as usual, so to speak.
The one request that I would make stems from anecdotal observation. A kindly Chinese couple sat one row behind us on the airplane. Other passengers stared at them with open-mouthed horror and fear, both in the airport and during the flight.
Should you see people like this, PLEASE don’t be rude like that. They’re traveling thousands of miles to experience a Disney theme park. Treat your fellow Disney lovers like the new friends they should be!
Hollywood Studios Has Changed Again
Since the introduction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge last August, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been in flux. Park officials have spent the past several months trying to master the flow of traffic.
Now that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is five months olds, Disney’s ready to adjust FastPasses to make things better at Hollywood Studios. Starting on February 19th, you can book FastPasses for this ride!
As part of the change, Disney will reset the park’s FastPass tiers again. The last time that the company did this, the alterations weren’t great for customers. Virtually every major ride at Hollywood Studios became a Tier One option. Guests had to pick one – and only one – ride per visit, along with Star Tours.
After a few months of this, Disney has gone an entirely different way now. Starting on February 19th, Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash will be the ONLY Tier One attractions at the park. Yes, you can pick one of them and still add Toy Story Mania! or Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or both! The playing field is level once again!
This change has negated a couple of FastPass articles I’ve posted here on MickeyBlog. I’ll get an updated one published in a few days, I promise.
A Disney+ Update for Our European Friends
Disney didn’t feel comfortable simultaneously rolling out the Disney+ service in all major markets. So, the company employed a staggered launch that wasn’t great for Western Europe.
Thankfully, the problem will correct itself in a few weeks. Disney has moved up the release of Disney+ in specific markets. On March 24th, residents of Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland can finally subscribe.
Of course, by now, they all know the big reveal in The Mandalorian’s pilot episode. Still, at least they finally get to enjoy Baby Yoda in two months!