MickeyBlog News for July 6, 2020
Happy Independence Day weekend to our American readers! I hope that you’ve had a lovely holiday thus far.
We’ve got plenty happening on the Disney front, as the parks prepare to reopen by this time next week.
Let’s take a look at everything that’s happening in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Disney Wins Two Lawsuits
Okay, I rarely mention Disney lawsuits since most of them are some combination of frivolous, obnoxious, and/or depressing.
However, Disney emerged victorious in two different legal matters this week, both of which have significant implications.
For starters, Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh and Disney have feuded for several years.
The source of the debate involves the tax appraisal method for determining how much Disney should pay in property taxes.
Singh has garnered headlines and controversy for employing the “Rushmore” method when billing Disney.
Company executives had previously argued (successfully) that this method led to unfairly harsh taxes.
An appellate court just ruled in Disney’s favor and absolutely annihilated Singh’s calculations in the process.
The court decided that the “Rushmore” method isn’t viable, which means that everyone in Orange County is about to sue for repayment on overbilling.
From Disney’s perspective, this is potentially a billion-dollar court victory. However, Singh’s office has already indicated that they’ll attempt to get the verdict tossed.
Disney Disability Program Wins in Court
The other lawsuit’s much more depressing. In the wake of program abuse by some, Disney altered its policies for the Walt Disney World Disability Access Service.
The President of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando, Donna Lorman, sued to protect her adult son, who suffers from autism.
The younger Lorman must experience Disney attractions in a set order. Otherwise, he gets upset.
Anyone with a family member who is autistic can relate to her frustration.
Alas, Disney’s a private business with plenty of authority over how it manages line queues.
A judge sided with Disney on the matter, which means that the current system will remain in place.
In case you’re wondering what Lorman sued to get, all she wanted was five additional FastPasses per visit for her son.
Disney argued in court that making this change for all applicable park guests would add 39 minutes to wait-time for everyone else.
Given that argument, I struggle to find fault with Disney’s behavior here, although I’m incredibly sympathetic to Lorman’s situation.
Parents of disabled children are heroes in the greatest sense of the word, and it’s upsetting that the two parties couldn’t arrive at a compromise.
Walt Disney World Announcements
Disney has so much going on right now that I’m going to condense topics more than usual. Otherwise, I couldn’t cover everything.
While cast members continue to worry about Coronavirus as they return to work, other would-be employees received disappointing news this week.
The Disney College Program won’t operate during the Fall of 2020. I don’t expect that’s a massive shock to anyone, but it’s official now.
The bigger surprise is that Disney has placed the program on indefinite hiatus.
Until the pandemic slows down, Disney will not bring college students to town, which is the right call.
The weirdest cast member update involves a former employee. Some genius ran a con during their days as a customer service representative.
Disney recently uncovered the fraud, and this criminal is in a world of hurt.
According to the police department, this individual would falsify reports about customer refunds and then redirect the money to their own bank account.
Although the police haven’t deduced whether these people were complicit yet, some family members also received the ill-gotten money.
Estimates for the amount of embezzled money range from $100,000 to $160,000. So, this person ran this con A LOT from 2016 to 2018.
Meanwhile, Disney’s not above board on its own billing practices, as some annual passholders were in for a huge surprise the other day.
For no apparent reason, Disney billed guests who pay monthly instead of lump-sum. Specifically, Disney charged them four times.
The company has acknowledged its mistake and processed refunds for many already. Still, you should take a look at your bank statement just in case.
Other Disney Springs/Disney World Updates
Cirque du Soleil filed for bankruptcy this past week, a move that business analysts had expected for months now.
The unexpected part of this outcome is that Drawn to Life tickets went on sale this week.
Obviously, the company needs a quick influx of cash. However, the bankruptcy filing cast the very existence of Drawn to Life in doubt.
While we’re on the subject of things running, the Disney Skyliner will return soon! Questions about its usage have continued during the Coronavirus closure.
The gondola system will return to operation on July 15th, the opening date for EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios…which makes perfect sense.
Disney also wants to show its cast members a lot of love this month.
So, the company has announced 50 percent discounts for most Disney merchandise.
The one catch is that the stores must be Disney owned and operated. Still, that’s a tremendous opportunity to fill your wardrobe with Disney gear!
On a less happy note, Paddlefish and Terralina Crafted Italian have both performed layoffs recently. Roughly 150 employees received pink slips.
On a happier note, Splitsville will reopen at Disney Springs on July 10th.
Finally, here are some amusing tweets to enjoy:
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) June 30, 2020
— Eriq Zavaleta (@_AIR_RIQ_) June 30, 2020
— Kellyn Acosta (@KellynAcosta) June 30, 2020
The context here is that MLS players are currently staying at Marriott’s Swan & Dolphin hotels.
Since these places aren’t open to the public yet, the restaurant options are…lacking.
The remarkable part of the story is that the sandwich in question billed at $65. No, that’s not a typo.
Major League Soccer needs to get its act together. This was a humiliating turn of events.
Downtown Disney Updates
The phased reopening of Disneyland is off to a terrible start.
First, Disney had to delay the reopening of the Happiest Place on Earth due to a rise in Coronavirus numbers.
Now, the governor of California has declared that all indoor operations are closed until pandemic cases decrease.
Yes, this new ruling means that all Downtown Disney restaurants can’t open unless they have outdoor seating areas.
The governor also temporarily shut down all bars in the state. So, Disney’s going to have to reset its plans for Downtown Disney’s July 9th return.
Also, an unexpected revelation is that Disney has accused The Void of licensing violations.
The augmented reality stores at Downtown Disney and Disney Springs were already in trouble due to the pandemic.
Now, Disney’s apparently evicting The Void, as the Downtown Disney building has three different documents indicating the decision.
The VOID Downtown Disney Location Receives Lease Termination Notice https://t.co/81oBjgo30G
— virtual reality use (@RealityUse) July 3, 2020
Since The Void’s official website lists five experiences, three of which involve Disney licenses, this situation feels like a mortal blow to The Void.
Finally, since I couldn’t fit it in anywhere else, Tokyo Disneyland has officially reopened. That means that half of Disney’s theme parks are back now!
Okay, that’s everything for this week. Now, stop everything that you’re doing and go watch Hamilton!