MickeyBlog News for June 1 2020
Magic Kingdom is coming back soon, y’all! We’ve got all the excellent news in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News!
Disney Will Reopen in July
On Wednesday morning, more than 5,500 viewers tuned into Orange TV, the little-watched government channel for Orange County, Florida.
Six hours later, less than 50 people were watching.
What happened to cause a spike in viewers? The Walt Disney Company presented its plan to reopen its four Walt Disney World theme parks.
Jim McPhee, the Senior Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World, revealed Disney’s return date as well as all the ways the company will protect guests.
MickeyBlog has covered all aspects of the story, and you can get additional details here. The basics are pretty simple, though.
Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen on July 11th. Four days later, on July 15th, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will return.
We will discuss the caveats in just a moment, but let’s savor the news first.
After almost exactly four months of closure, all Walt Disney World theme parks will return by July 15th.
I realize that March 16th feels like an eternity ago. Still, we’ll soon savor the return of one of our favorite distractions ever.
How the Reopening Will Work
Disney had understandably changed some aspects of its parks. It’s a nod to the lingering dangers of the pandemic.
However, some modifications stem from a different aspect. Disney has apparently completed its entirely new reservation system during the downtime.
Presuming that the new system works effectively from the get-go, company officials deserve a tremendous amount of credit for turning a negative into a positive.
In fact, I wrote about Disney Genie on April 15th. This virtual assistant will alter the way that park guests experience Walt Disney World.
I previously stated:
“Unlike most other park changes, Disney could progress with this one right now. After all, their tech team is working from home. A project like this fits the bill since it’s software more than hardware.
Don’t be surprised if Disney Genie is ready to go well ahead of schedule. The company’s executives should have a mandate in place about prioritizing it.”
At this moment, the best guess is that Disney did this and is preparing to launch some aspects of its futuristic system.
The catch is that the company must make several changes beforehand. Let me explain why.
One of the secret tricks at Disneyland involved multiple FastPasses. As frequent visitors knew, World of Color worked on a different system.
So, guests could hold an attraction FastPass and a World of Color FastPass simultaneously, which wasn’t supposed to be possible.
Disney’s old FastPass system couldn’t communicate with the location of the World of Color kiosks for many years. Imagineers had to make those kiosks standalone FastPass distributors.
I suspect that we’re witnessing the same thing with Disney’s reservation system. The new process cannot connect to the old one.
To begin the Disney Genie era, Disney had to do something drastic…
A Hard Reset
Friends, if you had any reservation for Walt Disney World this year, I’m the bearer of bad news.
Disney has emailed its customers to inform them of impending changes. The company’s in the process of switching to an entirely new reservation system.
When that happens, virtually all existing reservations will vanish. In other words, all dining reservations, FastPasses, and experiences will require rebooking.
Also, you cannot book new hotel reservations or buy park tickets right now. Everything is on hold until Disney switches to the modern system.
Also, Disney is temporarily eliminating FastPasses and the Disney Dining Plan. If you’d previously booked a vacation package with the FREE DINING offer, you will receive 35 percent off your next hotel stay instead.
Disney has taken these steps in response to theme park admission limits that will filter to the resorts, too.
Until Coronavirus has become less problematic, the company must protect guests. The best way to do it is by creating a short-term operating process.
Unfortunately, such changes require Disney to discard standard operating procedures in place before the pandemic.
So, we’re all in a whole new world at the moment.
My colleague, Whitney Littlejohn, has done a remarkable job with a FAQ about Disney’s changes.
I highly recommend that you read her work to learn more about the changes.
Also, if you’re wondering about Disney’s ticketed events, Holly Ramey has an update here.
Their informational writing exemplifies why people should use MickeyTravels to book Disney vacations. The services are free, while the agents are some of the most informed Disney experts on the planet.
MickeyTravels agents can keep you feeling in the loop even during this time of unprecedented change.
Disney’s Safety Measures
There’s so much to cover this week that I worry I’m overwhelming you. However, I want to stress the topic that matters most.
Disney is more concerned about your safety than any other theme park. The company has proven this through actions, not words.
As McPhee mentioned in his presentation, Disney was the first park to close and will be the last to reopen in Florida.
Also, Walt Disney World will wait six weeks longer than Universal Orlando Resort and four weeks longer than SeaWorld Orlando.
The company’s doing this to give medical officials more time to control the pandemic. By mid-July, there should be plenty of tests and a flattened curve.
McPhee presented several initiatives for the reopening of the parks. They include:
- Enhanced cleaning and sanitation
- Enhanced protective measures including face mask requirements
- Limiting contact between guests and cast members
- Physical distancing
- A Social Distancing Squad to verify proper etiquette
- Temperature screenings for guests and cast members
Disney’s detailed plan received immediate approval from the county and state governments. So, all four parks are sure to return by July 15th.
Changes and Other News
Unfortunately, some other changes come with the territory.
Character dining is temporarily suspended, which breaks my heart, even though I totally understand the why of it.
Also, for the first time ever, Disney will limit annual passholder park visits. It’s a tactic to give everyone a fair shot at a park visit during the pandemic.
While critics maintain that Disney parks will be empty this summer, the company’s executives have braced for demand to exceed supply by a significant amount.
NEW: Disney has confirmed new information about annual passholders.
"During the limited capacity period, it may be difficult for Annual Passholders to get park reservations to visit on certain dates. To manage capacity, total reservation days held at one time will be limited."
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 29, 2020
In the short term, Disney will require advanced reservations for park attendance. Annual passholders will face limits on how many reservations they can book.
The decision will undoubtedly frustrate some, but it’s an understandable one. In fact, I would argue it’s especially thoughtful to out-of-towners.
After all, the majority of Walt Disney World visitors are vacationers from other parts of the world. They wouldn’t have a chance to book if annual passholders could claim all the reservation dates.
I understand that the changes in place are massive in scale. I strongly recommend that you follow MickeyBlog regularly.
The site is churning out lots of daily updates, many of which include essential park-related information.
Until next time, stay sane, everyone! We’re only a few weeks away from some sense of normalcy returning at Walt Disney World!