MickeyBlog News for September 28, 2020
WOW! The past few days have featured several stories that would headline a regular week.
In fact, a story that we all feel passionately about only ranks fifth this week!
I’ll explain everything in the latest MickeyBlog News update.
Florida Enters Final Reopening Phase, California Remains on Hold
The two main stories this week once again involve differing approaches to public safety.
In California, Disney officials and members of Anaheim’s local government have petitioned for Disneyland’s reopening.
Thus far, their pleas remain ignored, as the state government refuses to publish guidelines regarding theme park reopenings.
California representatives feel strongly that a measured approach will protect public safety.
Once again, Florida has gone an entirely different way. The state’s governor moved to Phase Three of his reopening guidelines.
These new rules are more open-ended today than when they initially announced a few months ago.
As of now, Florida bars and restaurants may operate at full capacity. In other words, social distancing measures no longer apply.
State officials feel confident that COVID-19 outbreaks are entirely under control, enabling businesses to go back to normal.
The ruling also removed all local authorities for closing businesses. The Florida government’s mandate supersedes all local ones.
However, cities and counties can impose 50 percent occupancy restrictions if they receive state approval.
I try to maintain neutrality in all these discussions. However, I know from reading MickeyBlog comments and Facebook threads that opinions are divided.
I’m not touching the politics of this at all. Instead, I’ll state that Disney officials have yet to say whether they’ll increase capacity.
Currently, Disney parks, restaurants, and bars maintain crowd limits. Until Disney states otherwise, nothing here has changed.
You should make all upcoming park visit decisions based on what MickeyBlog has reported thus far. If anything changes, we’ll definitely tell you.
Hong Kong Disneyland Reopens (Again)
While other parks have received more headlines, no Disney property has experienced more hardships over the past year than Hong Kong Disneyland.
The troubles started with civic unrest in Hong Kong, as the Chinese government cracked down on the formerly independent city.
Then, Coronavirus struck China months before the United States. So, the park closed for the first time on January 26th.
On June 18th, China had controlled its daily infection rates enough that the park could reopen.
Alas, another outbreak forced another closure less than a month later on July 15th.
Did you get all that?
Well, I’ve got another update, as Hong Kong Disneyland is once again back in business. Yes, the park reopened a second time on September 25th.
However, park officials have decided not to operate Hong Kong Disneyland on Tuesdays and Thursdays, save for holidays and special occasions.
So, the park is back…with an asterisk.
The pandemic has impacted Hong Kong Disneyland another way, too.
In 2000, Disney had optioned 148 acres of land as a potential expansion area for the park.
The 20-year lease ran out this week, and China couldn’t get Disney to commit to expansion over the next five years.
For this reason, China has reclaimed the land and will continue to use it for COVID-19 quarantining.
At this point, neither China nor Disney is happy about Hong Kong Disneyland’s status, and it’s an ongoing concern.
Aulani Will Return Soon
On March 24th, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa closed due to Coronavirus concerns.
Since then, outbreak concerns have kept the gorgeous resort from reopening.
As you would guess, Hawaiian locals comprise a small percentage of hotel guests. Meanwhile, tourists cannot travel to any of the islands.
Hawaii has experienced a couple of waves of COVID-19 that have caused enough concerns that the hotel industry has been stuck.
Well, the stalemate has finally ended, as Aulani will reopen on November 1st.
The official Parks Blog describes Aulani’s return as a phased reopening, a strategy Disney has employed around the world.
As such, some amenities and hotel rooms won’t be available at the start, but they’ll get added back later.
Still, the headline here is that another Disney property will reopen in a few weeks, another sign that normalcy is returning.
New Fantasyland Opens at Tokyo Disneyland
Last week, I mentioned that New Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland would open on September 28th, and that’s mostly what happened.
However, The Oriental Land Company surprised loyal guests by performing a soft opening over the past few days.
As such, we already know a lot about the two new rides that just opened with New Fantasyland.
The showstopper is The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, which uses remarkable Imagineering tricks to retell the beloved story from the movies.
You can watch a full ride video here:
Here’s a translated version if you’re wondering about the Japanese dialogue:
After watching these clips, I can anticipate your next question. Thus far, Disney hasn’t indicated an intention to add this ride at either American park.
I once said the same thing about Ratatouille, though, and it’ll open at EPCOT in a matter of months.
A ride this good should appear at Disneyland and/or Walt Disney World.
The other ride at Tokyo Disneyland won’t dazzle you as much, but it’s still a ton of fun. MickeyBlog readers, I give you The Happy Ride with Baymax:
Don’t let the adorable Baymax drivers distract you from the ride mechanic, which should seem familiar.
The attraction mirrors the design of Alien Swirling Saucers and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
So, the American parks received the first versions of this one. Still, I give Tokyo Disneyland bonus points for the kawaii vibe of Baymax as a chauffeur.
The End of an Era at Grand Floridian
For those of you who haven’t already heard the news, I’m about to break your hearts, and I’m sorry for that.
The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra took to Facebook on Saturday to reveal that their Disney contract will end soon.
According to the band’s official Facebook page, the group’s final day at Walt Disney World will be October 3rd. Yes, that’s Saturday.
Here’s the full, unedited text of the depressing post:
“It’s hard to find the words but, sadly, our days at the Grand Floridian are over. In fact, as of Oct 3, 2020, our days at WDW will come to an end as well.
The company brought us out of furlough, changed our name to “The Disney Society Orchestra,” closed us out of the GF to play a show of Disney themed show tunes at the Theater of the Stars in Hollywood Studios. We’ve been playing 9 shows a day, 7 days a week since Aug 2nd. The music is a far cry from the closely knit harmonies & sounds we became known for at the GF but. the guys are real pros and they sound great!
Well… Two weeks ago we got notice that the theater is going dark and our last day of work will be Saturday, Oct 3, 2020. As we all know, these are very uncertain times and can’t say what will happen from one day to the next.
So after 32 years of playing together and playing music we love… we’re done. We are so thankful for the opportunity to play in a beautiful setting for the hotel guests and friends we have met & made over the years. We’ll never forget you and how wonderful you’ve made us feel. We will miss you!
Thank you-thank you- thank you!”
Three Other Updates
I’ve hit you with a lot of big stories today, but I’d feel like I let you down if I didn’t mention three other news items.
First of all, the Cadaver Dans have returned to Magic Kingdom in a big way.
The undead versions of the Dapper Dans are participating in Cavalcades and shouting at guests from above the train station stairs. They’re singing some, too.
Also, the new trailer for WandaVision debuted this week.
I’m dubious that it will make much sense to non-Marvel fans…but how many people aren’t Marvel fans by this point?
Here’s the full video:
I’ll do a deep dive on it on MarvelBlog later this week. So, remember to check our sister site, too!
In other Disney movie news, Peter Pan has his Tinker Bell! Yes, Walt Disney’s favorite characters will receive a live-action remake.
The film, Peter Pan and Wendy, has already cast its Neverland villain, as Jude Law will portray Captain Hook.
Now, we know that grown-ish star Yara Shahidi will portray Peter Pan’s mercurial ally, Tinker Bell.
Fans of black-ish have watched Shahidi since she was a pre-teen, which makes her recent career ascension all the more satisfying.
By the way, grown-ish co-star Halle Bailey will play Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
So, if you haven’t been watching grown-ish, maybe you should start.
Okay, that’s everything for this week. Enjoy your lives, my friends.