MickeyBlog News for September 20, 2020
This week, Disney has enhanced its dining options, revealed its water park plans, and reopened some beloved places.
Meanwhile, a competitor/partner had to perform another round of layoffs. Oh, and there’s exciting news coming from Japan.
Let’s talk about all of it in MickeyBlog News!
News from the Water Parks
When Walt Disney World announced a phased reopening, nobody knew quite what to expect.
After all, Disney played its cards close to the vest, choosing flexibility over transparency. It was the right call, but the decision has kept Disney fans confused.
For example, neither Disney water park opened with the theme parks, which is odd because Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort came back months ago.
Well, Disney finally announced a timeline for the return of its parks.
The news is understandable, but it’s probably not what many of us wanted to hear, either.
Neither Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon nor Disney’s Blizzard Beach will return in 2020.
One of these water parks WILL reopen next March. We don’t know which one yet, though.
Disney announced a target date of March 7th, which would indicate a closure of almost exactly one year for the returning water park.
The other one will remain closed for more than a calendar year. Disney has indicated that it’ll reveal more information as the reopening date approaches.
Both water parks closed on March 15th and have remained that way. Meanwhile, Volcano Bay returned on June 5th.
Clearly, Universal and Disney executives possess diverse opinions about the safety of water parks during the pandemic.
For at least a few days, Sanaa has earned the title of the most intriguing restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Don’t get me wrong. The place always serves otherworldly cuisine that makes foodies drool.
However, something else has happened at Sanaa that bears discussion.
Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge now offers Mobile Ordering.
Yes, you read that right. Nearly three years after the inception of Mobile Ordering, Disney has finally checked off the last remaining box to perfect it.
When you load the My Disney Experience and check your Mobile Ordering options, pay close attention to Sanaa.
In addition to the standard menu, Disney has added a choice for Sanaa To Go.
This option is exactly what it sounds like, and it works just like every other Mobile Ordering option.
To start the process, you choose an Arrival Window to pick up your food. Note that you’ll wait a while after ordering.
The app reminds guests that all foods are made to order, meaning that they’ll take roughly the same amount of time as if you were eating in the restaurant.
Afterward, you’ll order your food on the Build Your Order screen. You can customize your meal just as with any Quick Service restaurant.
Once you’re ready, you’ll receive a notification to visit the restaurant during your Arrival Window. There, you will receive your food once it’s ready.
So, you already know the process well. The difference is that Disney has added a Table Service restaurant.
Presumably, others will soon join the Mobile Ordering service, giving Disney fans more freedom than ever to pick their meals.
Swan and Dolphin Performs Layoffs
I’m now about to discuss something that isn’t a Disney company, but you probably think it is.
During the ongoing expansion of Walt Disney World in the 1980s, other companies poached conventions with their facilities.
Then-CEO Michael Eisner resented this loss of revenue, and so he worked with a favored construction group.
The entities built a convention-friendly hotel space of their own, which became the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin complex.
Disney never owned this facility outright but agreed to novel terms, allowing the hotel’s operators to call it by an official Disney name.
I mention all this because I’m about to say that the Swan and Dolphin performed layoffs this past week.
When you hear that, you may think that it’s Disney doing the layoffs. No, this is a Marriott company firing Marriott employees.
The Swan and Dolphin will permanently relieve 1,136 workers of their duties on November 13th.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, this group will include: “256 banquet servers, 41 cooks, 67 housekeepers and 88 loss prevention officers.”
The cause for this decision is rather ruthless. The Swan and Dolphin facilities had opened to serve MLS soccer players during their Disney Bubble tournament.
Now that the mini-season has ended, Marriott faces the same occupancy issues pressuring many hotel chains.
So, the workers who came back to cater to soccer players will now find themselves unemployed in a few weeks.
No matter the finances of the situation, the move looks ungrateful from Marriott.
Of course, nobody can act surprised about this. When MLS began, images of Swan and Dolphin meals went viral.
Players referred to the setup as Fyre Festival II. Nobody thought Swan and Dolphin was doing well at the time, and this decision merely reinforces it.
I’ve got a couple of exciting updates for the Star Wars fans among us.
First of all, Savi’s Workshop has returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
When Walt Disney World reopened, an actor’s union remained in a dispute with the company.
So, Disney couldn’t host some interactive experiences until that situation resolved.
Now that everyone’s back to work and happy again, Disney could bring back the event.
However, it’s still a high-touch interactive experience, which requires some modifications due to the pandemic. You won’t get the show per se right now.
Still, what matters is that the popular build-your-own-lightsaber story is back in force. Force. See what I did there? (Sorry.)
Anyway, our dear friend Prince Charming Dev was one of the first to return. You can watch some video of it here:
Savi’s Workshop doesn’t currently require a reservation, which might be the most fantastic news of all. It was extremely difficult to schedule up until March.
The other significant story will make your holiday shopping so much easier.
Staring on September 28th, you can purchase select Star Wars merchandise on ShopDisney.com.
I’m talking about the stuff from Black Spire Outpost at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!
Disney has wisely recognized that it can make a lot of money by making these products available online.
So, the company will add a Star Wars trading post section for a limited time.
Disney hasn’t announced an end date yet, but I wouldn’t expect this opportunity to last into 2021. I would think it’s for the holiday season only.
Other Disney Updates
I’ve got three other park updates to close out this week’s news.
Dawa Bar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has finally reopened.
The beloved Harambe Village spot has mainly been used as a mask-less rest area during the reopening. But it’s finally back, bay-bee!
In less good news, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover will require even more downtime than initially expected.
Disney has updated its schedule to indicate the PeopleMover will remain closed until November 28th. Please play a sad trombone sound for my early November trip.
Finally and most excitingly, Tokyo Disneyland has confirmed the opening date for New Fantasyland.
On September 28th, guests can ride the most heavily anticipated new Disney ride of the year…which now has a name.
The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast will anchor the new area, along with a second attraction, The Happy Ride with Baymax.
The latter ride is just a modified version of Alien Swirling Saucers and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, but the Belle attraction promises a groundbreaking ride system.
Stay tuned to MickeyBlog for news and video about The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, which American audiences are already clamoring to get.
That’s everything for now, so have a great week, everybody!