MickeyBlog News for January 25, 2021
This past week, a cast member did something heroic, some attractions received updates, some stuff happened at closed Disney parks, and another annual pass option died.
There’s a lot you need to know in the latest MickeyBlog News update.
Walt Disney World Follows Disneyland
Last week, I discussed Disneyland’s decision to end its annual pass program. This move seemed perfectly logical given the fact that the Happiest Place on Earth isn’t accepting guests right now.
Don’t get me wrong. Other stuff is happening at Disneyland and other currently closed Disney theme parks, some of which I’ll discuss in the next section.
Still, people who purchase Disneyland annual passes in early 2020 got to use them for a maximum of 10 weeks out of the past 56. That’s not a good ratio.
Conversely, Walt Disney World returned on July 11th and has operated both parks since July 15th. That’s half a year that the parks have been back in business.
So, Disney’s latest announcement doesn’t make as much sense. Walt Disney World won’t sell new annual passes for the foreseeable future.
Now, if you’re like me and currently own an annual pass, you CAN renew, which is extremely important. The program isn’t going away entirely.
However, with so much in flux at the parks, Disney executives decided to place the program on hold for the time being.
A Disney representative stated: “The Walt Disney World Annual Passholder program remains in place, and we appreciate the continued loyalty and dedication of our current Passholders.”
The Orlando Sentinel interviewed someone who believes that annual passes won’t return until 2022.
This individual points out that the upcoming 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World gives Disney incentive to wait. That’s a sound argument.
He later states, “I don’t think that they’re going to offer the traditional 365 days-a-year, open-access to the parks unless it’s at a very high price, or it’s very, very, very restrictive.”
You should probably presume this is the plan until someone from MickeyBlog or MickeyTravels tells you otherwise.
The Other Disney-Owned Theme Parks
One day, I’ll write an article that explains the complex ownership agreements in place at Disney theme parks around the world.
Disney fully owns and operates three parks out of the six in existence. Two of those three have absorbed the brunt of Coronavirus, at least from a business perspective.
Disneyland Paris returned at the same time as Walt Disney World last July. However, it had to close again just before Halloween.
Park officials had every intention of reopening (again) for Christmas, but those plans fell apart. Now, due to government restrictions, Disneyland Paris will remain closed until at least April 2nd.
Disney didn’t fully own this park until June of 2017. I’m starting to wonder whether company executives wish they had waited. The past 12 months have provided nothing but headaches.
Similarly, Disneyland has engaged in a contentious battle with state officials. Disney feels it can operate safely, while the state’s staggering infection rate has caused the government to err on the side of caution.
Recently, Disney chose to do something about the problem. It opened the Happiest Place on Earth as a vaccination site.
Thus far, the program has worked well, albeit imperfectly. Disney had to close the site two days last week due to high winds that could damage the tents in use.
Still, this idea has proven extremely positive to the greater Los Angeles area. Other locations followed Disney’s lead.
One of them, Dodger Stadium, distributed 7,730 doses in one day. This achievement caused LA’s mayor to brag that it might have been the most significant center in the world that day.
If Disneyland can reach similar landmarks, which falls within the expected range of 7,000-8,000, the park could reopen sooner than feared.
That’s what we’re all hoping for right now.
Hero Cast Member
Here’s a story you should read. The gist is this.
A Disney cast member received a phone call from a woman who was ostensibly trying to buy theme park tickets.
During the course of the call, the Disney employee overheard yelling and potential signs of violence.
Eventually, the woman on the other end resorted to yes/no answers to questions. She couldn’t provide any additional details.
Somehow, the cast member deduced that the woman was in physical danger. So, the phone agent asked whether the woman had any interest in buying tickets.
After the no response, the cast member asked whether the caller required police assistance. At this point, the woman said yes.
The Disney worker signaled the police. An officer arrived on the scene and arrested a man who had choked and struck the female caller.
If not for the assistance of the intuitive Disney cast member, that person would have been badly beaten or worse.
There’s a reason why MickeyBlog swears by the greatness of Disney employees. They always deserve every compliment they get and so much more.
Disney made several park-related decisions this week, two of which have generated plenty of discussion.
One change at Disney’s Animal Kingdom actually forced me to edit an article a few days after the fact!
For the past several months, rumors have suggested that Festival of The Lion King will not return. Some believe that Disney is moving away from live park performances, at least for the time being.
Well, Disney just stepped on the neck of that rumor. The company has quietly hired back some of its performers in anticipation of the return of Festival of The Lion King!
Obviously, the attraction will require some modifications when it reopens later this year. Both the seating areas and tumbling sequences will honor social distancing requirements.
By the way, something else has happened at Harambe Village. The Harambe Market restaurant recently extended its operating schedule. It’s now open from Thursday through Monday rather than weekends only.
As a reminder, this Quick Service establishment operates from 10:30 a.m. through 3 p.m., although those hours are always subject to change. It’s only closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays now, which is forward progress.
The other significant story involves the unexpected closure of Hall of Presidents. Don’t get me wrong. We all knew this was coming once Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election.
Disney always adds an audio-animatronic for the new President. The surprise involves the sudden, unannounced closure of Hall of Presidents.
Park officials have staffed the show with security guards in recent days. Obviously, that’s not great. So, Disney has used the refurbishment as a good reason to let things calm down.
I believe that’s a smart tactic. Based on the most recent update in 2017, Hall of Presidents will likely return during the fall or winter of 2021.
More Attraction Updates!
Disney has also improved safety measures at some other attractions. When the parks reopened, some line queues included plexiglass barriers.
Since then, Disney has added more on rides like Frozen Ever After and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. However, it hasn’t always used barriers in the line queues due to climate concerns.
Without air filtration, these places can get hot. Well, we’re in the winter now, and even Central Florida has gotten colder.
In other words, Disney has a good reason to add the plexiglass barriers now. Sure enough, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean recently introduced them in the line queues.
The other park update involves a place that’s currently closed. Disney California Adventure showed off the first footage of WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. You can and should watch this clip:
Oh yeah, that one’s gonna be gooood.