Disney Parks and Resorts Update for August 31st
This week, Disney has introduced a better way to dine at a Table Service restaurant, confirmed a reduction in park hours for the fall, and reopened some more places.
Also, some jerk slugged a Disney security guard over a children’s mask, a monorail crosswalk is nearly complete, and we have health/status updates for Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Here’s what you need to know in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts update for August 31, 2020.
Mobile Dine Waitlist Arrives
As a Disney Vacation Club member, I’m sure you’re aware of the aggravation that stems from trying to dine at your favorite restaurants.
During non-pandemic times, you must book 180 days in advance. Currently, the window has shrunk to 60 days, but you’ll still struggle to grab all the Advanced Dining Reservations that you want.
From Disney’s perspective, restaurant capacity estimates function as a moving target. A few no-shows are more than enough to disrupt a full meal service.
For years now, guests have wished that they could join some sort of digital waitlist for places like California Grill. That way, they would put their names down, and Disney could contact them should a table become available.
Finally, the pandemic has encouraged Disney to introduce this measure. As of last week, several restaurants joined the Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist program.
This new system works via the My Disney Experience app. You check the app on your phone and search for your desired restaurant. You’ll now notice a couple of new features.
The most important one is ‘Check Dining Availability.’ You select today’s date and do a search for ‘Now,’ indicating that you’re hungry and want to know which places have open tables.
My Disney Experience will indicate which “walk-up eligible restaurants” are available. Should you notice a place where you’d like to dine, you signal that you’d like to join the waitlist.
An important caveat here is that you must be near the restaurant. Otherwise, Disney won’t display availability. As I mentioned, you can also check a specific restaurant. It’ll show an estimate for the walk-up wait time for a party of four.
The Participating Restaurants
The following restaurants are currently participating in this new program:
- Ale & Compass Restaurant
- Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
- California Grill
- Chef Mickey’s
- Kona Café
- Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera
- The Wave… of American Flavors
- Whispering Canyon Café
Disney added five of those nine restaurants this past week. So, the list of options will likely expand more in future weeks.
Importantly, all these places reside at DVC resorts. As a pro tip, you can get on the waitlist while you’re at the hotel. You can then hang out in your room, shop in the lobby, or sit by the pool.
I strongly suspect the Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist will become an invaluable part of a DVC resort stay, presuming that Disney doesn’t abandon it once the pandemic ends.
A First in Orange County – Disney Security Guard Attacked
As I’ve watched people at Walt Disney World, I’ve admired how much park guests have followed safety guidelines. Watch a livestream sometime if you don’t believe me. Virtually all visitors wear their masks appropriately while at the parks.
Alas, it only takes one to ruin things for everyone. To wit, an incident occurred at EPCOT two weeks ago. The story didn’t come out until the other day, and it’s about what you’d expect.
A mother and father decided to take their three children to EPCOT. When they arrived at the security entrance, a park official indicated that they were wearing incorrect face covers. We don’t know specifics about what was wrong yet.
The aggrieved family returned to their cars to retrieve other masks. Once they came back to the entrance area, a security guard informed the father that one of the children still didn’t have the right kind of mask.
The situation digressed from there, as the father lost his temper. He proceeded to threaten the security guard, indicating that he knew where the individual lived. A death threat followed, and then a sucker punch came after that.
So, the family’s park day turned into daddy going to jail for the day, all because the parents didn’t verify EPCOT mask guidelines. That’s a cautionary tale for the rest of us.
Notably, an Orange County official indicated that this was the first confirmed instance of violence due to Mask Rage. So, there’s that.
More Great News about Disney Safety Measures
Perhaps you’ve noticed that Florida’s daily coronavirus infection numbers are in steep decline. I’m less than two months away from my next visit. So, I’m checking regularly, and I’m thrilled to know that Orange County has finally controlled the pandemic.
I’m not alone in this regard, as the governor and other state healthcare officials have provided several encouraging updates this week. To everyone’s joy, the theme parks have totally avoided an outbreak thus far.
The healthcare team in Orlando has tracked all the reported cases in the area. To their knowledge, none of the parks has experienced any sort of significant COVID-19 transmission.
This information doesn’t apply exclusively to Walt Disney World, either. Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando have avoided outbreaks, too, which is a bit surprising given the shaky word-of-mouth about the latter theme park’s safety measures.
Florida’s governor feels so enthusiastic about the state of the theme parks that he has considered increasing capacity limits. Now, that’s a bit premature as none of the parks is close to current occupancy limits at the moment.
However, the downturn in coronavirus cases could cause guests to reconsider a theme park vacation later this year. I know that I’m feeling a lot more confident about my trip.
I’ll quickly discuss several other updates that could impact your next DVC trip.
The current schedule goes through November 14. None of the parks will remain open past 7 p.m. until then. Disney Springs will remain open until 10 p.m., though. If you haven’t booked your trip yet, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa may appear more attractive for this reason.
Another DVC resort has updated its restaurant offerings…kind of. Now that the NBA players have left the facility, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has reopened to the public.
So, one (arguably two) of its restaurants has reopened. The Ale & Compass Restaurant is back in business, as is The Market at Ale & Compass. I think of Beach Club and Yacht Club somewhat synonymously, but I know that some of you don’t. Ergo, this may be music to your ears, or you may not care at all.
Something that does impact you is happening at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. As I mentioned last week, Beach Club Marketplace has closed for an unexpected renovation that will last about a month.
Meanwhile, the Solarium has become a temporary snack vendor and merchandise retailer. No, you’re not misremembering. The Solarium is kind of a hallway area leading into a square room.
Disney has lined the space with refrigerated goods. Then, in the larger area, you’ll find some grab-and-go foods plus some mouse ears, shirts, and whatnot. It’s…kinda weird. It’s also kind of fun. Personally, I love it when Disney does something temporary. I tend to grab my phone to take pictures of the odd setups.
I rarely discuss Disney celebrity news or movies in this space, but I’d be remiss if I skipped this subject. Chadwick Boseman, the iconic Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died on August 28.
— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) August 29, 2020
The actor was only 43. According to the family’s statement, Boseman contracted stage III colon cancer in 2016, the same year Black Panther debuted in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War.
Remarkably, Boseman apparently filmed challenging action scenes while suffering from the effects of cancer and chemotherapy. Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, eulogized Boseman over the weekend. In that speech, he indicated that Boseman hadn’t shared the news with others. He just powered through an impossible circumstance.
As Disney fans, I think we’re all hurting over this one. A great man, terrific actor, and inimitable cultural icon has died far too young.
Hug your loved ones, my friends. And, if you’re like me, you’ll re-watch Black Panther, too.