MickeyBlog News for December 6, 2020
This past week, Disney made shopping easier, shuttered a full media outlet, planned a legend’s departure, closed a park, and brought back characters.
The latest edition of MickeyBlog News will come with enough ups and downs to remind you of Splash Mountain.
Characters Return to Walt Disney World! (Sort of)
Okay, I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high. What I’m about to discuss follows a similar pattern to the fireworks news last week.
You may remember that Disney has chosen to bring back an extremely limited form of nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
Well, we’re about to witness the return of some Disney characters as well.
Once again, it won’t be quite the experience you remember, but it’s a strong step forward.
Disney Characters to Return to Walt Disney World Resort Hotels https://t.co/UCjIRm3aKb
— The DisInsider (@TheDisInsider) December 3, 2020
Just before the pandemic started, Disney had introduced character experiences at its official resorts.
Really, the premise wasn’t new, just not something that the hotels offered regularly.
Costumed cast members would dance and play at designated spots at the various resorts. It’s also something the hotels have done during hurricane weather.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Disney stopped these character interactions for a while, but they have returned once more!
Disney has overhauled some vans to make them look like party RVs. When you notice one driving to your hotel, the fun’s about to begin!
Characters will exit the van and move to a spot that’s socially distant from guests. Then, they’ll interact with and entertain everyone in the area.
Thrilled hotel guests have already spotted characters at multiple Disney resorts, and more are expected soon.
Think of the modified character interactions as the equivalent of a hotel Cavalcade.
Disney Enables Scan-And-Go Merchandise Purchases
Whenever one tech company comes up with a brilliant idea, others are sure to follow soon.
I mention this because Amazon opened its first cashier-less grocery store back in February. You can learn more about it here:
The benefits of this idea were readily apparent before Coronavirus turned into a troublesome societal issue.
Now, the premise seems brilliant and slightly prescient. With contactless purchases, you skip personal interactions altogether.
You walk through a store, pick out the items you want, scan them, and then purchase them via your smartphone.
Well, Disney loved the concept enough to duplicate it. As of this week, you can buy some items without standing in line to pay for them.
Disney calls the program, Scan and Go, and it’s available now at three stores.
You’ll find it at Mouse Gear at EPCOT and Everything POP! at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Californians have access to Scan and Go as well. Disney has implemented the technology at World of Disney in Downtown Disney.
I know that you’re all excited to hear about this new feature. I’m happy to report that it works just like it sounds.
You will use My Disney Experience’s new menu option, Shop in Store. Then, you’ll select the place where you’re shopping.
Next, you’ll grab a unique shopping bag that enables mobile checkout. Afterward, you find items you like and scan their price tags.
The My Disney Experience shopping cart will calculate the price of the items in your bag.
When you’re ready to check out, you already have your payment information stored in the system.
The app will display a QR code that you’ll show a cast member to prove that you’ve paid for your goods
That’s all you need to do to Scan and Go, shoppers!
Bob Iger Confirms December 2021 Departure
While the change feels like forever ago, former Disney CEO Bob Iger only left his dream job 10 months ago.
At the time, Iger indicated that he’d take on the role of Executive Chairman, which has proven to be more of an advisory position.
In recent days, Iger has garnered headlines for several intriguing updates.
The first is that he’ll officially walk away from his Disney career in December of 2021.
The second is that he’s finally confirmed the longstanding rumor that he wanted to run for President of the United States.
MickeyBlog had discussed this possibility several times over the past few years, but the Fox acquisition came with a strange requirement.
Fox’s former owners wouldn’t sell the assets unless Iger agreed to remain at Disney for another two years.
So, that took him out of the presidential campaign. However, Iger’s third reveal is that he still feels a desire to perform public service.
Disney’s Executive Chairman stated that he’d like to work for the Biden Administration if they could find a role that fits his skill set.
As a reminder, Iger previously worked with both current President Donald Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom on projects.
Iger later resigned from both task forces, which could prove problematic in his campaign to get a new gig.
Whatever happens next, Disney fans will relish the final 12 months of Iger’s tenure, as he’s the most successful Disney CEO ever.
(Before you get angry with me, please remember that Walt Disney never held the title of CEO.)
More Disney Delays, Closures, and Layoffs
Disney simply cannot catch a break in 2020. Every time I think the company has reached a turning point, some sort of setback occurs.
This past week, Hong Kong Disneyland closed due to the pandemic. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Oh wait, you definitely have. This decision marks the THIRD time that COVID has forced a park shutdown.
Hong Kong Disneyland will remain closed for the rest of 2020 and take a wait-and-see approach for the start of the new year.
The same thing has happened at Disneyland Paris, but park officials there are trying to make the most of a bad situation.
Some stores and other activities like World of Disney and Golf Disney have reopened for the holidays. Presumably, they’ll shut back down in early January.
Similarly, Disney Cruise Line has canceled another wave of reservations.
Disney’s cruise business will remain on hiatus through at least the end of February.
At Disneyland, the news seems to get worse each week. I’m sure you’ve heard that Los Angeles has almost run out of ICU beds.
With the state in crisis, Governor Newsom has rolled back some of the reopening changes.
For this reason, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa wasn’t able to reopen on December 3rd as planned.
Similarly, Disney has performed yet another batch of layoffs at Disneyland Resort. The film and television divisions also let go of hundreds of workers.
Finally, park officials revealed that Downtown Disney restaurants will close again unless they currently offer take-out as a dining option.
All Disney owned and operated restaurants will shut down as part of this decision.
More Depressing Disney Updates
As part of the fallout from the company’s cost-cutting measures, we’ll lose a staple of Disney media.
Radio Disney will close for good during the first quarter of 2021. Yes, I’m talking about the radio station that you’ve listened to since the mid-90s.
This move qualifies as a shocker because Disney has launched so many of its teen stars via Radio Disney.
Mega-celebrities like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus wouldn’t be household names without the boost they received from Radio Disney.
Despite Disney’s success, terrestrial radio as a whole has collapsed over the past decade, and satellite radio’s only in a marginally better position.
Disney may have decided that it can make Spotify lists for a fraction of the cost of operating a full radio station. This one feels like a real loss, though.
Speaking of which, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent death of David Prowse.
The towering British bodybuilder leveraged his remarkable physique into superhero commercial work in his home country.
Prowse later attempted to conquer Hollywood by campaigning for the role of Superman, which he lost to Christopher Reeve.
However, Prowse got to train Reeve and later did similar work for Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride.
Remarkably, neither of these jobs would define him. Instead, it was his work as the man behind the mask in Star Wars.
Prowse portrayed Darth Vader during production, only for James Earl Jones to add his voice later.
An outspoken man, Prowse never hid his disdain for the prequels. It led to his eventual banning from Star Wars conventions by George Lucas himself.
Even so, Star Wars fans adored Prowse throughout his career and will always remain grateful for his Force Choking contributions to the franchise.