MickeyBlog News for December 21, 2020
We finally have a COVID-19 vaccine in distribution, which means 2021 already looks better than 2020.
This week, we’ll talk about the vaccine, a potential new job for Bob Iger, and a bunch of New Year’s Eve/parks and resorts updates.
So, I’ve shoved a ton of updates into the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Here’s a story that involves rumor, innuendo, and speculation inasmuch as fact.
The Hollywood Reporter (THR), which isn’t known for its political insights, has suggested that Bob Iger could become a diplomat.
Iger has previously confirmed that he will leave his role at Disney in December of 2021.
However, he could go sooner if he receives a political appointment.
According to THR, the former CEO could take a job as America’s ambassador to China or England.
Iger obviously possesses connections around the world, and his opening of theme parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai seems particularly relevant.
Still, the fact that a trade industry publication is reporting the story hints that someone on Disney’s side leaked the possibility.
Does Iger want one of these gigs and is trying to pressure the new administration into giving him the job? Or does someone at Disney want him to go?
We will know more if/when Iger accepts/refuses the job.
The Vaccine Is Here
The other significant story this week supersedes our Disney fandom.
The first American citizens have received COVID-19 vaccinations!
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the deployment of two different candidates.
Earlier this week, Pfizer/BioNTech started the widespread distribution of their treatment. Then, last Friday, the FDA signed off on Moderna’s vaccine, too.
Residents of a Pompano Beach retirement home received the first batch in Florida. Broward and Pinellas Counties got the first 21,450 doses.
Meanwhile, AdventHealth in Orlando got the vaccine last Tuesday. That’s significant since it’s the healthcare partner of Walt Disney World.
Essential workers and the people most susceptible to COVID-19 will take their treatments first. Then, they’ll filter to the rest of society.
Similarly, Orange County, California, has administered its first shots as well.
Some sense of normalcy lurks just around the corner, which is wonderful for Disney fans to know.
A safe, quick vaccination of Americans ensures the speedy return of Disneyland and a full-scale celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
Disney Updates New Year’s Eve Options
Disney recently revealed that none of its parks will stay open until New Year’s Day. Even Disney Springs will close at 11 p.m.
However, holiday guests will have plenty of options when the clock strikes midnight.
Disney updated its official website to list official operating hours at several locations. It also shows various ways to celebrate the festivities.
Official resort guests can order holiday baskets with noisemakers, champagne, and even room decorations!
Those of you who don’t want to ring in the New Year in your room can head out to other parts of the resort.
Various hotel lounges, pool bars, and Quick Service restaurants will remain open until 1 a.m., giving you plenty of opportunities to have an unforgettable holiday.
You may also purchase glasses and bottles of champagne at some merchandise stores, which will be open past midnight, too.
Also, some resorts will host scavenger hunts to give guests a way to prove their love of Disney for New Year’s.
Morocco Comes Back
Earlier this year, the pandemic led to an odd story. Disney officials filed a legal claim against the Morocco pavilion at EPCOT.
Previously, the Moroccan government had created a consortium that owned the pavilion. Well, in the wake of the pandemic, this business went broke.
Disney faced the odd problem that a core pavilion at the World Showcase could go out of business. So, it had to intercede.
A while ago, Disney somehow gained complete control of the Morocco pavilion, and it’s starting to reopen.
For instance, Spice Road Table has returned, albeit with a new menu. Disney has also modified the restaurant a bit and added numbered tables.
Interestingly, the menu emphasizes small plates now, encouraging guests to eat shareables and sip sangria and other Mediterranean beverages.
The Morocco pavilion gift shop, Souk-Al-Magred, has also reopened.
So, there’s more to do now than just walk through the Race Against the Sun exhibit.
Resort Reopening Updates
Obviously, the arrival of a vaccine impacts Disney in many ways.
However, several impending park and recent changes probably would have happened anyway.
For example, starting today, you can utilize Merchandise Pickup at all four Walt Disney World theme parks.
This service is only available for the holidays, as the amenity ends on January 2nd.
You can expect it to return again at a later date, probably around the same time that Resort Hotel Delivery comes back.
Speaking of resorts, we’ve learned several reopening dates, at least one of which recently changed.
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort will return on March 22nd, later than the previously announced February 9th.
Another resort that Disney delayed is Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It’d been scheduled for late-August, but Disney didn’t need the extra inventory.
So, the reopening got pushed into 2021. You can stay at Beach Club again starting on May 30th…but you can start booking now!
A week later, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will return on June 6th, although all these dates are obviously subject to change.
You can see that it’s happened before and may keep happening.
Remember to speak with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at MickeyTravels.
They provide their services free of charge and will know all the relevant reopening dates, saving you the aggravation of tracking them.
Park Changes Updates
In park news, Disney has also changed some stuff on various rides. A few roller coasters now load guests on every row.
After collating several months of data, park officials feel confident that this change won’t impact the safety of guests.
That’s the beauty of everyone wearing masks. Nobody has to worry about the spread of droplets while Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster careens down the tracks.
At Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disney has modified the Boarding Group process for the sixth (?) time in 2020.
That count may be wrong. It’s getting hard to keep up. Anyway, this change is more modest in scope than others.
The second Boarding Group attempt of the date moves up an hour from 2 p.m. to 1 p.m.
So, during your next Disney’s Hollywood Studios visit, you should have your phone handy at lunchtime.
As a reminder, you can book a Boarding Group from anywhere at 7 a.m.
However, you must be physically inside the park to schedule a 1 p.m. Boarding Group.
The other big news hasn’t happened yet, but it’s incredibly encouraging.
Disney just performed another round of fireworks testing, hinting that something may happen soon.
Similarly, the Electrical Water Pageant has done some recent testing, and it’s included lights and sounds.
On his way back to Magic Kingdom parking tonight my friend walked by the Electrical Water Pageant dock and… pic.twitter.com/6fWHzn7jce
— Ben Wszalek (@BenWszalek) December 16, 2020
Disney recently promised that the Electrical Water Pageant would come back soon:
Guests at Disney Resort hotels along Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake will once again have a chance to see The Electrical Water Pageant as it will soon make its return to the waterways of @WaltDisneyWorld Resort. pic.twitter.com/ImuN6G3CcL
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) December 16, 2020
Then, the Disney calendar updated to suggest that this exhibition will return tonight, December 20th!
At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s has already brought back some joy. MickeyBlog was onsite for the triumphant return of characters!
The other restaurant update involves Tomorrowland Terrace, which has also reopened.
As mentioned previously, it includes the menu from Columbia Harbour House. Yes, that’s strange.
Okay, that’s everything for this week. Have a wonderful holiday, my many loves!