MickeyBlog News for March 29, 2021
This week, Disneyland planned for the future, while Main Street, U.S.A., closed its candy factory for a while.
Also, we learned more about new park entry procedures and Disney’s movie releases.
Let’s talk about the new information in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News!
The biggest story of the week will remain a talking point for some time to come, as it’s just getting started.
Disneyland park officials just surprised everyone by announcing a new project. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the park’s reopening.
Instead, the absence of Disneyland for the past year has caused Disney (and its fans) to appreciate the parks even more.
During the downtime, park strategists have had plenty of time to stop and think about what Disneyland will look like years from now.
From a meta-perspective, Disneyland’s management team is always on the go, fixing anything that’s broken and prepping for the next quarter.
This group hasn’t had the luxury of thinking five or ten years down the road before they announce projects such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or Project Gamma.
Then, Imagineers dedicate their lives to these projects, hoping to leave an imprint on Disneyland’s legacy.
The big picture sometimes gets lost in the shuffle…until now. Disney has spent some of its unplanned downtime thinking about tomorrow.
You’re going to love what they’ve come up with, even though the ideas lack specificity thus far.
Disney just announced DisneylandForward, a project that plans for the next generation of Disneyland visits!
What We Know about DisneylandForward
You may recall that relations between Disneyland officials and the city of Anaheim had grown strained in recent years.
Disney felt like it should have more control over park expansion and development.
Meanwhile, several Anaheim City Council members campaigned with the platform of controlling Disneyland a bit more.
When the pandemic occurred, both parties appreciated how much they needed one another, as they politicked state officials for the parks’ return.
Now, Disney wants to leverage that newly improved relationship into an even happier Happiest Place on Earth.
This new plan, DisneylandForward, will chart a course for the next decade in Anaheim.
Back during the 1990s, Disney had liaised with Anaheim’s council regarding plans for specific parcels of land that it still owns.
Over the next few months, the company intends to work with local officials to reconfigure previously abandoned plans.
Presuming the parties work together amicably, Disney will upgrade currently unused space across the 490-acre campus.
The announcement suggests new stores and restaurants. We’ll also get some as-yet-unnamed attraction additions.
While park officials cannot reveal details yet since nothing will finalize for a while, they hinted at themed lands like Zootopia and Tangled.
You may recall that some international Disney parks are working on such locations now. Disneyland could import some of those plans.
Notably, Disney wouldn’t commit to a third park yet. However, speculation quickly ensued about the possibility of a third Disneyland gate.
You may wonder how Disney will pay for this. I’ve previously mentioned the revenue potential of Disney’s three streaming services.
The company could feasibly generate billions of dollars by the end of 2024, the time when these projects would start in earnest.
I’ll go into greater detail in an article later this week. So, please keep checking back for that!
The Sad News from Disney Parks
A lot happened this week, not all of it good. For example, Main Street Confectionery and The Chapeau are closing tomorrow.
So, Magic Kingdom fans won’t get to visit two of their favorite Main Street U.S.A. spots for a while.
However, Disney has good reason to make some renovations. Main Street Confectionary will receive an expansion during this closure.
Park officials promise that guests will have more room to shop. Even better, the store will offer new interactive experiences when it reopens!
You’ll miss Main Street Confectionary while it’s gone, but you’ll love the new version even more.
By the way, you can find some of the missing treats at Emporium for the time being.
Meanwhile, in heartbreaking news, Disney Legend Jim Cora has died at the age of 83.
He had worked on the opening team for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. Then, he earned a role as the head of the Tokyo Disneyland Project.
We’re all grateful for Cora’s contributions to Disney theme parks around the world.
In even more tragic news, you may have heard that a guest died at EPCOT last week. Sadly, it’s true.
A park visitor suffered a medical issue right by Spaceship Earth. First responders arrived on the scene soon afterward.
Sadly, they were unable to save the victim. AdventHealth Celebration Hospital declared the man dead on arrival.
The Orlando Sentinel later reported that the 66-year-old died from heart issues unrelated to anything that happened at the parks.
MickeyBlog extends our condolences to the family of the loved one.
The Happy News from Disney Parks
Thankfully, many recent developments at the parks will bring more happiness into your life.
For starters, Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, just revealed that survey results suggest guests are more satisfied with park visits during the pandemic.
Social media lambasted Disney for its decision to reopen the parks last July. The data suggests that Disney was right, and they were wrong, though!
People feel safer at the parks than in their own homes, something I’ve stated after both of my pandemic-era visits. Disney’s doing it right!
In other Walt Disney World developments, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort has finally reopened after a year’s absence.
Yes, that means World Premiere Food Court is back, too! And don’t forget about the Secret Menu here, either!
Something else new at the parks hearkens back to a previous discussion. You can now add MagicMobile passes via My Disney Experience!
As a reminder, these passes work like MagicBands in allowing you entry into Disney parks.
The pleasant surprise here is that you don’t have to use your phone. Apple Watches also work with this technology!
Along those lines, Disney has started testing facial recognition software, an upgrade I’d mentioned as a possibility early in the pandemic.
Some guests no longer feel comfortable using the fingerprint scanner to the point that Disney waves guests through without using it.
You can verify your identity with facial recognition software just as you do on your smartphone/tablet.
While Disney hasn’t committed fully yet, this idea seems like the future of park entry.
The other park news is more about your health. In California, anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for vaccination.
In Florida, everyone over 40 is, and that number should lower again in a matter of days. Herd immunity means fully operational Disney parks!
Disney Movie and TV News
I haven’t covered Disney entertainment news much lately, but something happened this past week that you should know.
Disney committed to releasing its next two blockbuster movies in theaters and via Premier Access on Disney+.
In doing so, the films’ release dates bounced around a bit. Cruella now arrives in theaters on May 28th, while Black Widow debuts on July 9th.
These may turn out to be the final two day-and-date titles that Disney debuts for a while as the movie theater industry appears ready to return.
Until recently, California and New York City hadn’t allowed theater reopenings, preventing major exhibitors like Regal Cinemas from operating.
If customers flock back to theaters, Disney will make more money through box office than they can on Premier Access.
However, these two titles will attempt to double-dip a bit, earning at least some money from people who watch the films in theaters and then buy them at home.
The rest of Disney’s schedule isn’t taking this approach, at least not yet. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Fists will debut on September 3rd.
Disney officials made no mention of a Premier Access release for it. But they did indicate that Luca, the upcoming Pixar film, will be available to all Disney+ subscribers.
Starting on June 18th, you can watch Luca for free with your subscription. That’s three straight Pixar films available on Disney+ much sooner than expected.
The other Disney+ news involves National Treasure. The streaming service will produce a television series based on this premise!