Disney Parks and Resorts Update for August 24th

Disney's Beach Club Garden exterior

We’ve got news about changes at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, a lawsuit at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, a disappointing update from Hawaii and some closures at Universal Orlando Resort.

This is a full week for DVC Parks and Resorts updates.

The Good and Bad at Beach Club

Stormalong Bay, the best hotel pool in Orlando, will reopen today. Disney had kept it closed along with the non-DVC part of the resort.

Beach Club still hasn’t returned, at least not for the general public. However, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has finished hosting NBA players for the regular season bubble. So, it reopens to regular guests today, with Stormalong Bay coming back, too.

Disney's Stormalong Bay

On the negative side, Disney unexpectedly announced a monthlong closure for Beach Club Marketplace, an intrinsic part of any hotel stays here.

Apparently, the store will undergo renovations and a layout change, which has led to speculation about congestion issues during the pandemic. I hadn’t noticed anything along these lines, though.

The current schedule indicates a late-September return for Beach Club Marketplace. When it comes back, it’ll feature Mobile Ordering and a new drink refill island setup.

Until then, you can get your drinks refilled at Hurricane Hannah’s or The Market at Ale & Compass. Some to-go menu items are available at the Solarium, too.

DVC Resort Reopening Updates

Most DVC properties have thankfully returned, but we’re still waiting on two. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa cannot return until Disneyland gets the okay from the Anaheim and California state governments.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Once again, the news here is good and bad. Disney has mailed cancellation notices for all guests with confirmed reservations through September 12. However, the Grand Californian and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel have started accepting bookings for September 16 and beyond.

Should that date hold, Disneyland Resort would return in a little over three weeks. At a minimum, government officials are having conversations about the return of the Happiest Place on Earth.

This tweet indicates that Orange County is no longer on California’s coronavirus watchlist. In other words, the situation has gotten significantly safer, a needed step to reopen the parks and resorts.

What about Aulani?

Meanwhile, the news out of Hawaii is much worse. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa won’t reopen anytime soon. The resort was one of the last to close on March 24, and that move seemed precautionary as much as anything.

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, exterior

Since Hawaii consists of a series of islands, it should be easy to close and protect the locals. Alas, that hasn’t happened, as Oahu is currently experiencing a worrisome outbreak. The islands will remain in quarantine until October 1.

Due to the unusual structure of the state, some islands don’t have COVID-19 concerns. So, these businesses suffer mightily from the lack of tourism, an integral part of Hawaii’s economy.

I mention this because tourism officials are toying with the notion of a resort bubble premise. USA Today has published the details. The pertinent part is that tourists must agree to wear trackers, thereby providing contact tracing in case of an outbreak.

Disney has nothing to do with this concept yet. It’s an untested theory from a few government officials worried over the budget. Still, this premise could prove integral to allowing DVC members back to Aulani over the next few months.

The Saratoga Springs Struggle

The most contentious Disney story in recent memory occurred at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. The Orlando Sentinel published this piece, which details an acrimonious lawsuit between the owner of Validus Construction Services and Disney.

According to court filings, this construction developer had previously performed the renovations at two other Disney resorts. The company liked her work and hired to do the same at Saratoga Springs.

I probably don’t need to tell you that these renovations have fallen behind schedule, and this argument explains why. The construction crew discovered what they claim is a significant fire code violation.

According to the lawsuit, “This life-safety issue existed at the property for more than 15 years without having previously been corrected by Disney.” And here’s where the story turns into he said/she said.

Saratoga Springs DVC Resort at Disney

The plaintiff argues that her Disney contact dismissed her concerns and asked her to cover up the problem. She believes that this person behaved dismissively and mistreated her during the discussions.

The lawsuit indicates that Disney and the contractor had agreed to terms on her return to work. Then, the pandemic caused a delay. At this point, Disney fired the company and hired someone else.

Now, lawsuits can argue anything, and many of them have the attention to embarrass a corporation to force a quick resolution. However, we have no idea where the truth lies here. So, it’s a story that bears watching over the next few months.

Universal Orlando Updates

I know that many DVC members are like me. We sometimes enjoy a joint vacation between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.

This next bit of information is critical to those vacationers. Simply stated, Universal Studios faces a financial crisis and is adjusting on the fly to reduce costs.

The corporation has already permanently laid off some of its workers. Now, Universal will perform a couple of hotel closures to reduce operating expenses.

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel just closed the other day. According to published reports, these resorts will remain offline for the rest of 2020. These resorts join Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, which didn’t reopen with the parks and will stay closed until 2021.

In the unlikely event you’re impacted by this announcement, know that Universal will transfer your accommodations to Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and give you a $50 meal credit as an apology.

As a secondary cost-cutting measure, Universal’s Volcano Bay will change its operating dates next month. Beginning on September 8, the water park will close on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of the year. Apparently, the parks didn’t have enough attendance on these dates to remain profitable.

So, if you’re planning a Universal stay during your next trip, please be aware of these changes and adjust accordingly.

DVC Miscellany

Let’s start with an exciting decision from DVC. During the pandemic, hotel availability is higher than ever. So, DVC has decided to take advantage of this rare opportunity by showing off its most elegant hotel rooms.

For the time being, guests who stay at specific DVC properties are entitled to attend a DVC Open House? What’s that? Well, it’s a chance for you to visit some of the most deluxe suites in the DVC library.

Here are the participating resorts:

At most of these places, you can examine the two-bedroom suites and three-bedroom Grand Villas. At Copper Creek and the Polynesian, you can do something even better. You can take a look at the legendary Cabins and Bungalows!

DVC has posted additional details about DVC Open House on the official site. Frankly, you’d be crazy NOT to do this if you’re staying at one of these resorts.

Another essential update applies to DVC golfers. Disney has altered the course rules to improve safety measures. You now book your tee time online and pay for it with a credit card. In the past, guests paid on arrival.

Disney understandably wants to reduce personal interactions and cash payments. So, this improvement kills two birds with one stone. Best of all, when you show up at the course, a sanitized golf cart will be waiting for you! You can skip straight to the first hole without all the annoying overhead!

Disney Miscellany

On the Disney side, DVC members with annual passes should be aware of something. The Disney Park Pass system remains a work in progress. Disney continually updates availability, depending on demand.

In recent weeks, some sold-out dates have suddenly added new inventory. So, if there’s a date when you would like to visit, don’t give up hope if it’s initially booked. Keep checking the Park Pass system, and you may get lucky!

On the downside, over at Disney Springs, something you’ve anticipated has gotten delayed, yet again. Drawn to Life, the latest Cirque du Soleil show, has suffered another setback.

Cirque had intended to launch test shows in mid-March, with opening night officially scheduled in early April. Guests had tickets for the event right when the world caught fire.

In the aftermath of coronavirus, Cirque du Soleil experienced corporate decimation. The company was so hard hit that it had no choice but to lay off 95 of its staff. Currently, Cirque is trying to rebuild its empire, but that will take time.

Drawn to Life had updated its scheduled opening for early November. However, that date has proven impossible as well. So, Cirque has delayed the show until early 2021…and you might not want to bet your life on that timeline. The staff will need intensive retraining to get up to speed.

Okay, that’s everything for this week. Stay safe and smart, everyone!

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