MickeyBlog News for March 29, 2020
Disney fans got kicked in the teeth yet again this week. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The latest edition of MickeyBlog News is a bummer. Let’s quickly pull off the Band-Aid here.
Parks Closed Indefinitely
Assuming that you’ve read MickeyBlog this week, you already know what I’m about to say. Park officials have correctly decided to close Disneyland and Walt Disney World indefinitely. Here’s the official tweet:
— Disney Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) March 27, 2020
Yeah, that’s not good news. It’s certainly not surprising, though. Coronavirus infections in the United States have occurred at an alarming rate. On March 22nd, the country had confirmed 33,592 cases. We’ve added more than 100,000 infected patients since then, with a total north of 140,000.
The pandemic has hit America more than any other country, at least as long as you believe published data. Disney officials didn’t have a choice here. Until the situation improves in the United States, theme parks can’t open. The risk of the spread of COVID-19 is too high.
The second important part of Disney’s announcement involves the timeline. Cast members will receive payment until April 18th. They’re currently sitting at home waiting to return to the job that they love. However, the lack of information has caused some anxiety. Also, not everyone is thrilled about the specific date.
The Service Trades Council Union, which represents more than half of all Walt Disney World cast members, had requested additional information from Disney on March 27th. Specifically, the organization had also asked for cast member benefits and payment through the end of April.
So, Disney met the union more than halfway. Union members would have preferred 12 more days of financial security, though. I mean, who wouldn’t right now?
Other Disney News
Let’s start in Tokyo. The Oriental Land Company (OLC) owns and operates Tokyo Disneyland in the city. It’s arguably the most revered theme park on the entire planet, especially Tokyo DisneySea.
I mention this because Tokyo Disneyland closed due to Coronavirus concerns. However, Disney had only a small amount of input with the decision. Well, all of this happened on February 28th, but OLC planned to re-open the facilities on March 16th.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Tokyo Disneyland will remain closed until at least April 20th. Similarly, the official Disney hotels on the Tokyo campus won’t re-open until then, either. So, those of us looking for good news from the Eastern Hemisphere are pretty bummed out right now.
The situation isn’t any better with Disney’s other tourism businesses. The company has canceled almost all Adventures by Disney trips between now and the end of May. Now, these probably wouldn’t have been popular vacation options anyway. It’s a common-sense choice as much as anything.
Meanwhile, Disney Cruise Line had closed all scheduled cruises through April 12th. However, a previous trip has caused additional headaches. The Disney Wonder returned on March 19th after an ill-fated journey that involved several unexpected problems.
Many of the scheduled ports had closed due to the outbreak. When the ship docked in San Diego, all people onboard received testing for Coronavirus symptoms. At the time, only one person showed any, but a different passenger has since tested positive.
The good news for the individual is that they already lived in San Diego, lessening the inconvenience. For Disney, it’s more bad press during what’s seemed like an endless onslaught.
The city of Orlando isn’t having much luck, either. Its primary counties have announced stay-at-home measures through April 9th. And the Orlando International Airport has just had its seventh TSA agent test positive for COVID-19.
About the Disney Reservation System
Disney recently reduced the number of cast members working the phones, which seems like the worst possible timing with the benefit of hindsight. As you might imagine, the remaining employees are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of phone calls from displaced customers.
A lot of people have had their Disney reservations canceled due to Coronavirus. It’s creating a weird form of gridlock that impacts Disney’s online services as well. To prevent extra site traffic, the company has just made an interesting decision.
Disney won’t accept reservations again until June 1st. No, this doesn’t guarantee that the park will remain closed through the end of May. We’re nowhere near that point yet. However, it does indicate that Disney officials aren’t sure about anything during the next two months.
With so much in flux, Disney would waste resources booking reservations for trips that may not happen. While I expect the parks to reopen before then, nobody can guarantee that at the moment.
So, this announcement makes perfect sense. Guests can only book at a time when the parks are almost certain to have returned. And if they haven’t, we have worse problems than possible Disney vacation dates.
To a larger point, the whole situation exemplifies why you should use a Disney travel agent. These tireless experts will do all the heavy lifting for you in planning a Disney trip. They’ll worry about dates that you can and can’t book right now. Best of all, their services are free to you!
An Exciting Disney Update
Okay, you’ve had your vegetables, so you’ve earned some dessert. Even though this announcement won’t help you for a while, it’s decidedly good news.
Disney has revealed one of its first steps toward thanking its loyal guests. It only applies to some of us, though. Did you have a Disney vacation booked at any point from March 16th through May 31st? If so, your favorite company wants to do something nice for you.
When you reschedule the vacation that you previously postponed, Disney will throw in a free dining plan. The company calls it the Summer Recovery Free Dining Package.
The level of your free dining plan – Quick, standard, or Deluxe – depends on the hotel tier where you had reservations. If you want a better plan, you can pay an upgrade fee to get it rather than the regular price. So, it’s a ridiculously generous offer on Disney’s part.
This package is available for visits between June 1st and September 30th. You can read additional details here. Disney is emailing qualified customers. If you believe that you are one but don’t receive a notification, contact the company to discuss the matter.
Also, I don’t want to bury the lede here. This announcement demonstrates the confidence that normalcy will return by June 1st. That’s good news in and of itself…and not just for Disney fans.
Have a great week of videogames and Disney+ in the safety of the great indoors, my friends!