MickeyBlog News for May 3, 2020
Friends, I don’t want to get you too excited, but we finally received some positive news this week. The state of Florida released some guidelines that could allow parts of Walt Disney World to return. Finally, there’s a MickeyBlog News update that won’t bum you out!
After one month of official closures and several other weeks of de facto shutdowns, everyone is finally ready for something new. As of May 4th, the state of Florida has officially entered phase one of its reopening strategy!
What happens during phase one? Many non-essential businesses can return to daily operations. Specifically, restaurants and retail stores can operate. However, some regulations remain in place.
State officials have determined that the safest reopening strategy requires limited capacity, especially indoors. All restaurants and stores can host guests inside. The catch is that they may only allow 25 percent of regular capacity.
Now, you may wonder how law enforcement agencies will prevent restaurants from overcrowding. Alas, nobody has a good answer to this question. State officials believe that local cops will do it, while the latter group claims that it’s the responsibility of the people who have declared the directive.
Meanwhile, many restaurant owners and management teams actively hate the idea. Their argument is that they’ll lose money running at such limited capacity. So, many businesses will remain closed for now.
For this reason, Disney officials have apparently chosen to keep Disney Springs shut down until the state enters phase two. The My Disney Experience app pushed a notification that the entertainment complex will stay closed for the time being.
I have some additional good news about this aspect, though!
Weeks, Not Months!
The governor of Florida explicitly stated that he thinks phase two is weeks, not months, away from occurring. Disney fans should pay attention now, as this possibly applies to them.
During the second phase of Florida’s reopening, restaurants and stores may operate at 75 percent capacity. Yes, that’s triple the customers as allowed during phase one. Also, bars may return during phase two.
So, the return of Disney Springs doesn’t make sense right now. However, once Florida moves into its next reopening phase, the opportunity exists. During phase one, the only places that could return are restaurants and stores, neither of which would allow many customers.
In phase two, almost every business at Disney Springs could return. The only exceptions are enclosed stadiums like Cirque du Soleil, the AMC movie theater, or, arguably, The VOID.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Disney has announced nothing about its intentions during any phase of Florida’s reopening.
State officials are all but begging Disney to do something, though. It’s a perception issue. The return of anything Disney-related would cause optimism that the Coronavirus pandemic situation is improving.
Of course, the statistics call into question whether this is true. Over the past week, Florida has reported almost 5,000 new cases, which means that one out of every six Coronavirus infections occurred during this time.
But When Will the Parks Open?
This aspect leads to an important point. Florida won’t enter phase two until healthcare officials believe that the spread of infection has slowed. Also, they have enough testing and empty beds to confirm/treat patients.
Presuming that everything goes according to plan, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for Disney lovers. The Re-Open Florida Task Force has published its guidelines for phase two and beyond.
Surprisingly, these rules are relatively lenient for theme parks. According to the task force, Disney, Universal, and their peers can open during phase two.
Florida officials would expect the parks to reopen with capacity limits in place. Also, social distancing and cleaning requirements would slightly alter the daily operations.
All these restrictions are ones that we’ve already known and discussed on MickeyBlog. Disney has planned to do these things anyway, as we can tell from images of preparations underway at Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.
Still, Disney may wait until phase three to bring back the parks. During this stage, the task force indicates: “Theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.”
So, phase two would mean that Disney parks come back more quickly, albeit in a slightly altered state. During phase three, the park experience would approximate the one that we’ve always known.
The debate becomes whether you’d like Disney back sooner or better. And it’s one that Disney officials are discussing internally right now.
No matter where you stand on the issue, the guidelines in Florida are undeniably more positive than the ones in California. Ergo, Walt Disney World seems closer to returning than Disneyland.
Again, these proposals aren’t ironclad. The situation remains fluid and will continue that way until the parks officially reopen.
I realize that you primarily care about the American parks. However, some other stuff is going on, too.
For starters, Disney’s going to do a live-action remake of Hercules. So, starting placing bets on who gets to sing the 2023 version of Go the Distance!
Also, ShopDisney has begun selling face masks. I previously said that they’ll become the hot park accessory this fall, the new spirit jerseys! I stand behind that, and I backed it up by picking up eight of them this week.
Folks, you’re going to wear masks during your next park visit. You might as well look stylish while doing so!
The one bit of bad news this week is that Disney has notified some guests of cancellations. All reservations through May 23rd are no longer valid, which hints that the parks won’t return by then.
Similarly, Disney won’t operate the next batch of Disney Villains After Hours events. The ones through the end of May are obviously closed. Some social media users have suggested that Disney has canceled them through the end of June.
This decision is understandable. Disney will need to get guests out of the parks to perform extra cleaning this summer.
Finally, Hong Kong Disneyland has suddenly shown signs that the parks may return soon. So, please keep checking MickeyBlog this week. There’s a decent chance that we will have some happy news coming from China in a few days.
I don’t know about you, but I could really use a win right now. The stay-at-home order has blurred the days so much that I nearly forgot to book my Advanced Dining Reservations for my Halloween Disney trip!