MickeyBlog News for November 29, 2020
Usually, holidays mean slow news weeks. That is NOT the case in 2020.
I’m about to tell you about a high-speed rail, the return of a beloved Disney amenity, and the loss of a revered Imagineer.
You’ll want to pay attention to the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
High-Speed Rail Coming to Disney Springs
For a while now, we’ve known that Brightline and Disney were negotiating terms.
As a reminder, Brightline builds and operates high-speed rail systems across the state of Florida.
Brightline’s business model centers on connecting popular tourist areas and metropolitan areas, allowing guests to travel quickly without a car.
The service has already introduced stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Obviously, all roads in Florida lead to Orlando, the primary tourist destination of the state, the south, and arguably the entire country.
Disney understandably wants to get in on this action.
A Brightline station would provide more potential customers with ready access to Walt Disney World.
Well, these plans will come to fruition. Disney and Brightline have agreed to terms on a new station.
Interestingly, the location will be somewhere in the Disney Springs area of the Disney campus.
Brightline had previously broken ground on a railway station at Orlando International Airport.
So, these stations will connect and provide flyers with convenient access to Disney Springs.
You can get off your plane and take a train to Disney!
Should you ride a bus later, you’d get to tell everyone that you went full Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!
Seriously, though. This station will revolutionize Disney transportation, something I’ll discuss in more detail in an upcoming MickeyBlog article.
Joe Rohde Retires
Sometimes, you hear a story, and you hope it’s not true. You don’t want to believe it.
This week, we learned that legendary Imagineer, Joe Rohde, will retire on January 4th, 2021.
View this post on Instagram
His contributions to The Walt Disney company seem nearly impossible to encapsulate, but MickeyBlog tried the other day.
I think I speak for many Disney fans when I say it’s a heartbreaking turn of events.
Speculation has ensued about how much of Rohde’s decision was his own to make.
Just this week, Disney executives confirmed that layoffs have extended beyond initial expectations.
We’d previously learned that the company would lay off 28,000 employees, an almost incomprehensibly massive number.
Sadly, that estimate proved optimistic. Management has determined that Disney needs to reduce the staff by another 4,000 workers.
The timing of this announcement has caused many to jump to conclusions about Rohde.
However, all we know for now is that many Imagineers lost their jobs. Rohde may have decided that at 65, he’s too old to start over with a new generation.
Rohde indicated that he has plans for what he wants to do next and suggests that he’s looking forward to his post-Disney life.
The creative lead for Disney’s Animal Kingdom also mentioned that he was between projects at Disney.
Given that these last up to seven years each, he’d have committed to working into his 70s to stay with Disney any longer.
Draw your own conclusions here, but please never forget what Joe Rohde has meant to Disney over the past 40 years.
The modern face of Imagineering has gone, leaving a huge vacuum in his wake. It’s your time now, Zach Riddley et al.
Fireworks Are Back…Kinda!
The holidays have arrived at Magic Kingdom, and Disney wants them to feel special.
During the pandemic, a park visit must provide a bit more escapism and immersion than usual.
So, Disney’s doing its part to distract guests from their problems (and a horrible year).
The latest enhancement will bring joy into the hearts of park visitors this holiday season.
Here are all four blasts from Magic Kingdom Fireworks last night! I love how they're all different and they all match the projections! pic.twitter.com/hhszKWZ279
— VikkiMouse (@VikkiMouse321) November 27, 2020
Unexpectedly, Disney has chosen to restore fireworks at Magic Kingdom. I should stress that they’re not the full-blown affair you’re used to watching.
Instead, park officials complement the digital projections on Cinderella Castle with something called “pyrotechnic Pixie Dust.”
The idea calls for low-level fireworks to shoot from the castle’s rooftop areas into the night sky.
However, the effects will be modest and not justification for guests to huddle to watch them.
Fireworks aka "Pyrotechnic pixie-dust moments" have returned to Magic Kingdom. 🎆🎆
The “occasional bursts of merriment” will happen each night as part of the Cinderella Castle projection effects through Dec. 30. pic.twitter.com/vIIGWSQPtC
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) November 26, 2020
Disney prioritizes social distancing and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize guest or park member safety this holiday season.
You’ll still get to stare at some gorgeous fireworks while watching the holiday scenery projected on the castle. The fireworks will be a muted affair, though.
— Brady Cox (@DisneyDude_71) November 28, 2020
A Holiday Festival Begins!
December starts on Tuesday, which means that EPCOT must switch its festivals.
Each year in November, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival ends, only to be replaced by a holiday exhibition.
Despite everything in 2020, we’ll still get a new festival at EPCOT in December.
Yes, Taste of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays started the other day, and MickeyBlog went live to bring you scenes from opening day.
This year’s event will be unlike any other, with several annual features modified to ensure guest safety.
Of course, the most appealing feature this year is probably a one-time-only thing.
EPCOT offers holiday Cavalcades featuring the Fab Five, Anna & Elsa, and other beloved Disney characters.
Park guests will be treated to unforgettable performances this holiday season, which more than makes up for the other changes taking place.
This festival alone justifies a trip to Walt Disney World during the 2020 holiday season.
You’ll have more reasons to attend, though. EPCOT hosts musical performances for JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season.
So, you can hear some of your holiday favorites from outstanding vocalists. At America Gardens Theatre, Voices of Liberty will entertain guests, too.
By the way, the cookie stroll returns for 2020 as well!
About Disneyland Paris
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Disneyland Paris closed due to a governmental order.
At the time, Disney indicated that the park would re-open for the holidays before closing again in early January.
Well, you can probably guess what I’m about to say next. The situation in France has declined precipitously in recent days.
Disneyland Paris won’t get to come back this year. In fact, Disney has pushed back its target return date into February…and even that’s tenuous.
As an additional piece of bad news, Disneyland Paris has revealed that some shows won’t return with the parks.
Performers at The Lucky Nugget Saloon, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… with Mickey & Friends, and Lights, Camera, Action!: Extreme Stunt Show must find new work.
Disney will allow these workers to transfer elsewhere, but the shows are done for now. Similarly, musicians at the parks must find new work, too.
Since Disney Paris remains 10-12 weeks away from returning, more names may get added to the list of closures.
Okay, those are the biggest stories this week, but stay tuned! Disney’s Investor Day is 10 days away. Some parts of it may leak this week.