MickeyBlog News for December 6th, 2021
This past week, Disney doubled down on Mobile Checkout, brought back one of its most popular character meals, and took a day to call its very own.
We’ll talk about all these items and, sigh, yes, some pandemic updates in the latest MickeyBlog News.
Happy Restaurant News
Since you’ll get more flies with honey, I’m starting with the happy updates this week.
For starters, Storybook Dining at Artist Point will return at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge this month.
The character dining experience will reopen on December 16th, just in time for Christmas week!
Before the pandemic, Storybook Dining had turned into the most challenging Advanced Dining Reservation to book at Walt Disney World.
I expect its popularity to be that much stronger after 18 months of being unavailable.
Speaking of unavailable, have you tried booking a table at Space 220 lately? You’ve got a better chance of simultaneously buying a PS5 AND an Xbox Series X.
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Thankfully, Disney is aware of the problem. Park officials just introduced Advanced Dining Reservations for Space 220’s lounge seating.
That increases the number of potential seats you can book for your party. Unfortunately, a mad scramble occurred the day of this announcement.
That’s what we’ve experienced anyway. We’re visiting in six weeks, and the reservation system has all but laughed at us.
On the plus side, we’ll all have another option during our next trip. Boatwright’s Dining Hall will finally come back on December 14th.
This popular restaurant resides at Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside. Ergo, it remained closed alongside the hotel.
Now that one has reopened, the other can return as well. Boatwright’s is no Artist Point, but it’s got Nashville hot chicken and jambalaya, and that’s good enough for me.
Happy Store News
Have you visited Walt Disney World lately? If so, you may know about the new Mobile Checkout program that Disney has beta-tested recently.
The system works similarly to Amazon Go in that you can pay for your items without standing in line.
You’ll take a bag and then open My Disney Experience. Then, you’ll scan the barcodes of the various items you want to purchase.
Afterward, you’ll place them in your bag. Once you’ve added everything to your bag, My Disney Experience will display a QR code.
You’ll show the cast member this, and they’ll tell you that you’re good to go. You’ve paid for your items and can leave the store!
Mobile Checkout saves money for Disney because stores don’t need to staff as many workers.
Better yet, you’ll save soooo much time and aggravation thanks to Mobile Checkout. You no longer need to wait in line.
Instead, you decide when you’re ready to pay and exit the store. Those two steps are nearly instantaneous, too.
This form of Mobile Checkout represents the future of commerce, and Disney has decided to lean into it.
The Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom just introduced this service. That’s only the first of many new additions, though.
The Parks Blog just reported that the following locations will add Mobile Checkout soon:
Walt Disney World
- World of Disney at Disney Springs
- Creations Shop at EPCOT
- Emporium at Magic Kingdom Park – New!
- Mickey’s of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Coming soon!
- Island Mercantile at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – Coming soon!
- Disney Clothiers, Ltd., China Closet and Plaza Point
- Pioneer Mercantile and Bonanza Outfitters – New!
- The Star Trader – New!
Disney California Adventure Park
- Elias & Co.
- WEB Suppliers – New!
- Knick’s Knacks – New!
Downtown Disney District
- World of Disney
Sorry, I Have to Talk about COVID
Believe me. I don’t want to talk about this any more than you want to read it, but here we are.
The Omicron variant has caused strong concerns around the world. But, unfortunately, the Delta variant remains a threat as well.
Surprisingly, I’m going to talk more about Delta right now. Orange County, Florida, changed its COVID status from Substantial to Moderate in mid-November.
That seemed like a lovely moment signifying the end of the pandemic. Alas, society hasn’t been that lucky the past two years.
A recent uptick in cases has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to switch Orange County back to Substantial.
So, yeah, the odds of Disney getting rid of its indoor mask requirements just dropped dramatically.
The hope is that this minor surge reflects holiday-related increases in social gatherings. However, the fear is that the daily infection rates will worsen before they improve.
That’s doubly true if Omicron proves more viral, as early tests have indicated.
I guess we’re not out of the woods yet. Just be smart, go back to your previous masking behavior, and use hand sanitizer at places like Disney.
Hopefully, this will all be over again after the holidays, if not sooner.
Other Disney Updates
Do you like Hawkeye on Disney+? You’d better, or we can’t be friends anymore.
Okay, I’m joking, but the first three episodes have been fantastic. Disney California Adventure officials know it, too.
They just added a new show and some character interactions with Kate Bishop and Clint Barton! How great is that?
In less great news, Walt Disney World had a tough week. First, a smoke alarm went off at Creations Shop.
Nick at MagicalNewsLive caught the story as it happened. Here’s a tweet:
— MagicalNewsLIVE (@MagicalNewsLIVE) November 30, 2021
Remarkably, this wasn’t Disney’s worst mishap of the week. Park officials had to evacuate Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
Guests and cast members noticed smoke wafting through a public area. So, workers got the park visitors out of there.
JUST IN: Guests on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster had to be evacuated. Disney tells @news6wkmg there was no fire but smoke in the building. Nobody was hurt and the ride is in the process of reopening. #WaltDisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/FaCqv18T7o
— Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) December 1, 2021
The roller coaster has experienced additional uptime issues this week, but that’s actually good news.
Disney literally sets the standard for maintenance and ride safety. Cast members have been working on the problem.
Elsewhere at Walt Disney World, Disney’s Art of Animation will undergo refurbishment early in 2022.
First, the Flippin’ Fins Pool will close in January for an undisclosed time. Then, when it returns in February or March, the Cozy Cone Pool will close.
Guests at this resort probably won’t have simultaneous access to both pools until April, possibly even May.
Finally, I wasn’t joking at the start. Disney took a day on December 3rd to go for a victory lap.
— Ashley Carter (@AshleyLCarter1) December 2, 2021
After Walt Disney World donated $3 million to charity in October, the mayors of Orange County and Orlando agreed to do something special.
December 3rd became Walt Disney World Day, at least for 2021. It remains to be seen whether this evolves into a permanent thing.
— Megan Mellado WESH (@meganmellado) December 3, 2021
Since Orlando is a major metropolitan city BECAUSE OF Disney, it seems like something that should happen annually.
Feature Image: Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg via Getty Images