Answers to the Top 5 Questions about Disney during the Pandemic
MickeyBlog readers have become extremely active on our Facebook page, which we appreciate dearly.
Due to the sheer volume of posts, we cannot possibly answer all of them.
However, what we can do is provide the most requested information from our readers.
Today, I’m answering many of your questions about Walt Disney World during the pandemic.
Has Walt Disney World Fully Reopened?
The answer is technically no…but mostly yes. All four Walt Disney World theme parks have reopened, along with Disney Springs and resorts.
Disney hasn’t brought back its water packs yet. While a competitor, Universal, is operating Volcano Bay, Disney isn’t ready to take that step yet.
Even when one of the water parks does reopen, the other will likely remain closed, as we’re heading into the off-season.
So, one of Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Disney’s Blizzard Beach may return soon, but we probably won’t have our choice of both until next spring.
Similarly, Disney doesn’t have enough demand during the pandemic to justify reopening all its resorts.
Some have returned already, while others remain on schedule to return later in 2020. Then, there’s the wild card…
Why Isn’t the Polynesian Open?
Obviously, I just answered part of this question. Park officials have taken a unique approach to the phased reopening at Walt Disney World.
At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, regular hotel bookings are currently unavailable. Some guests can and are staying at the resort, though.
At the Polynesian, management has reserved some of the hotel buildings as Disney Vacation Club inventory.
DVC members utilize a unique inventory system that’s real estate-based and must honor specific federal and state laws. Disney must make these rooms available.
The rest of the hotel has yet to reopen, and we recently learned it will remain closed until next spring.
The Polynesian claims the title of oldest theme park resort at Walt Disney World, a claim it shares with Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Both these properties opened with Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971.
Obviously, Disney must renovate its hotels every few years. Park officials have capitalized on the current opportunity to re-theme the Polynesian.
When the hotel reopens, many of its rooms will share color schemes, styles, and décor from the movie, Moana.
Long before that film’s release, Moana Mercantile at the Great Ceremonial House provided guests with glorious shopping opportunities.
In Hawaiian/Polynesian dialects, the word Moana means a body of water, which always made it the perfect theme for parts of the resort.
The upcoming renovation will cement those ties.
Are All Restaurants Open?
No, and you can probably guess why. Disney has thoughtfully introduced fine dining at all its resorts.
The meals available at these places rival anything you’ll find at any other theme park in the world.
Places like ‘Ohana, Boma, and Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood exemplify fine dining.
However, Disney has no reason to reopen these places while the host resorts remain closed. Who would go?
Similarly, theme park traffic doesn’t justify the operation of all restaurants.
Current guests would have to eat five or six meals per day to keep the places operating at a profit.
So, Disney has yet to reopen many of your favorite places to eat.
Just at Magic Kingdom, Casey’s Corner, Columbia Harbour House, and The Crystal Palace remain closed.
This situation provides you with an opportunity to spread your wings a bit, though.
If you’re anything like me, you’re likely to visit the same restaurants each trip.
Well, the current situation will force you to mix things up a bit, giving you a chance to discover something new that you love.
Why Are Park Operating Hours Reduced?
The answer circles back to what I said earlier. Thus far, during Walt Disney World’s reopening, guests have remained hesitant to return.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has stated with conviction that he won’t operate theme parks at a loss.
Ergo, some cost-cutting measures are necessary. And even that aspect presents only part of the picture.
Disney has worked relentlessly to craft a safe environment for theme park guests. And the results speak for themselves.
Orange County officials haven’t tracked any outbreaks to Walt Disney World. So, the measures in place have protected guests during the pandemic.
To maintain that success rate, cast members require extra hours to clean and sanitize the entire park. It’s a thankless, comprehensive job.
Disney feels more comfortable about the process by giving its staff more hours to eliminate potential danger.
The reduction in operating hours protects you.
Also, park officials understand that with crowds so light, guests can do everything they want during a shorter visitation window.
You’ll feel like you have the park to yourself a lot of the time anyway, which means you’ll only notice the shorter hours at closing time.
Is EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival the Same as Usual?
I’m not quite sure how to approach this one. Disney has chosen not to host the 2020 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival this year.
That’s a technicality, though. The park runs the Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival instead.
Think of this event as a combination of Food & Wine and the Flower & Garden Festival, which had barely started when the pandemic forced EPCOT’s closure.
Disney has kept elements of the spring festival and married them with many staples of Food & Wine.
In a way, the current exhibition provides more excitement than any recent festival since it’s a two-in-one deal.
Will I Get to Ride Rise of the Resistance?
Okay, when you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you should prioritize at least three of the rides.
Depending on when you last visited, the following attractions may be new to you:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Disney has added all these rides since the summer of 2018. During a regular park visit right now, you should have no trouble riding three of them.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway stands as the second-most popular ride at Walt Disney World in late 2020.
However, you should still get to experience it, as long as you keep an eye on wait-times on My Disney Experience.
Sometimes, the wait could require as much as an hour, but it’s also been under 20 minutes several times this week.
If you monitor the situation, I’m confident you’ll get to ride the Runaway Railway.
I cannot make you any promises about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Here’s what I know. Disney opens the Boarding Group system twice daily.
The first time occurs at 10 a.m., while the other takes place at 2 p.m.
You need to stop what you’re doing at these times and try to book a Boarding Group.
If you’re diligent, I like your chances, but luck remains a factor.
To increase your odds, book Park Passes for Hollywood Studios on multiple days.
Okay, that’s the answers to this batch of questions. I know that you have MANY more. So, please keep asking them on Facebook, friends!