Disney Parks and Resorts Update for June 29th

The Princess and the Frog Splash Mountain Concept for Disney

Dear Disney Vacation Club members: I’ve got good news and absolutely terrible news for you. If you’re planning to visit Disneyland in July, please don’t shoot the messenger. Here’s the latest Disney Parks and Resorts Update for June 29, 2020.

Disneyland Closure/Disneyland Guest Requests

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Alas, I’m putting on that hat, as I tell you that any plans you made for the 65th anniversary of Disneyland Resort aren’t happening.

The park’s reopening team has made the difficult decision to delay the return of the Happiest Place on Earth. The state of California hasn’t advanced with its guidelines for the reopening of theme parks.

Government officials decided to wait until after the July 4 holiday. The approach is understandable due to the rise of coronavirus. Disney must liaise with its cast members, especially those in unions, which is virtually all of them.

The timing wouldn’t allow for the appropriate dissemination of information and training of impacted workers. On top of everything else with the pandemic, Disney must protect its marvelous cast members’ safety.

So, the training and health guideline documents are integral to the process. The first weekday after July 4 is July 6. Disneyland’s announced reopening date was July 17.

The math here is self-evident. Cast members cannot return to work and retrain safely in 11 days. So, Disney had to do this.

Currently, the plan calls for Downtown Disney District to reopen on July 9. However, we’re all having to keep an eye on that date, too.

On Sunday, June 28, California’s governor ordered the closure of bars in seven counties. He recommended the same for several other impact coronavirus regions.

Los Angeles County is one of the seven places that must shut down bars until the state’s numbers improve. Orange County isn’t in either group, but Disney must remain wary of a potential second shoe dropping.

WDW Resorts Open for a Week

Two weeks ago, DVC resorts at Hilton Head and Vero Beach reopened, making them the first American Disney hotels back in business. Last week, the DVC properties at Walt Disney World returned.

Hilton Head Island DVC Resort

Attendance was light during the first few days of operations, which is understandable. After all, the parks remain closed. So, they’re hotel-only vacations for DVC members, at least the ones who don’t travel to Universal Orlando Resort.

As always, vloggers swarmed the place to provide content for viewers. You can watch dozens of hours of videos of your favorite reopened DVC resorts, if so inclined.

In doing so, you’ll notice that Disney has modified several aspects of a hotel stay to protect guests and cast members alike. Signs in the hotel lobby all but beg people to use online check-in. Anyone who wants to talk to a cast member there must do so through a plexiglass barrier covering.

Elevator areas have posted signs requesting that guests only go in groups of four or less or as families-only. Hotel room remotes and shower sundries have plastic caps and bags to ensure that they’re clean and safe.

More DVC Resort Changes

Disney is running buses from the hotels to and from Disney Springs, which makes resort hopping theoretically possible. The company has officially stated that resort hopping isn’t allowed right now, but people are doing it anyway.

When you ride the bus to a resort, nobody checks to verify you have a hotel reservation. I suspect that this practice will change once the parks reopen on July 11, though.

On the buses, Disney’s added more plexiglass barriers to protect guests from flying droplets that could carry COVID-19. Also, some seats have indicators that they’re not in use, another way to emphasize social distancing on the bus.

I must say that I kind of wish that I’d planned to visit Walt Disney World during this time. The DVC members who used their points for a June hotel stay got the run of the place.

Seriously, some videos of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort show an empty lobby. Also, I watched someone walk through the entire fourth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Not counting cast members, I never saw another person in the show. My wife commented that it’s like 28 Days Later at DVC resorts right now.

Disney's Contemporary DVC Resort Lobby

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

One DVC resort is undergoing an entirely different sort of change. The NBA will complete its season at Walt Disney World, and the players will stay at three resorts.

Two of them are part of the DVC lineup (Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is the other). So, this event requires some changes. At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, park officials are creating a literal barrier between regular guests and NBA players.

Cast members are constructing fences across the campus. The goal is to maintain an isolated area for the players. Any contact with other hotel guests would increase the risk of infection, which could wipe out entire teams during the playoffs.

In fact, this sort of infection is why the NBA had to stop their season in the first place. One player got COVID-19 and passed it along to a teammate and even some opponents. So, the fence is there to prevent another outbreak.

Still, if you’re staying at the hotel, you never know who you might see! If someone at the Grand Floridian looks 6’8”, it’s probably a basketball player!

Bars Closed in Florida

Downtown Disney District hasn’t had its bar plans disrupted yet. California explicitly avoided the closure of bars in a county that would hurt Disney. This decision happened after government officials prevented Disneyland from reopening.

Florida has settled on the opposite approach. The governor has indicated that the reopening plans remain for Walt Disney World, which makes sense in that Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando are already open.

Florida would arbitrarily punish Disney by preventing Walt Disney World’s reopening. The governor did make a change, though. Due to soaring coronavirus numbers, all bars in Florida must close for now.

At Disney Springs, a couple of bars and lounges had already reopened. They must shut down once more until the state gets its daily infection numbers under control again.

Splash Mountain

Here’s a news item that somehow came from left field and also isn’t the least bit surprising. After recent protests in this country involving statues with uncomfortable connotations, a spotlight suddenly shined on Disney.

For years now, many fans have experienced the cognitive dissonance of knowing that a wonderful attraction, Splash Mountain, has ties to a racially insensitive movie, Song of the South.

Disney officials understand that no matter what they do here, they can’t win due to the remarkable political divide in this country. Even so, Imagineers have bravely chosen to update Splash Mountain with a new theme.

Song of the South will go away forever at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. In its place, Disney will introduce characters from The Princess and the Frog instead.

Immediately, an outcry occurred in some quarters over altering a Disney classic. It’s the same bashing Disney tolerated as the opportunity cost for modernizing Pirates of the Caribbean a few years ago.

However, many guests are more than just pleased that Disney’s severing all ties to Song of the South. They’re also thrilled by the thought of Tiana and Naveen battling Dr. Facilier.

Tiana pictured at Walt Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Walt Disney was emphatic about his desire to plus all Disney rides to keep them modern. So, this decision honors his wishes and adds a level of intrigue. How well will Imagineers redesign the ride to build to the climactic splashdown?

Keeping politics out of the conversation, there’s plenty of reason to get excited over a new and improved Splash Mountain.

Park Pass Reservation System Open – Annual Passholder Rules

On Monday, June 22, Disney unveiled its Park Pass Reservation System. If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World this year, you’ll need to use it. Otherwise, you won’t get to enter any of the parks.

This statement applies to regular admission ticket holders and passholders alike. Disney’s altered the rules during the pandemic to limit park capacity, thereby protecting social distancing policies.

Disney phased its park reservations across three dates, but we’ve already reached the final one. So, the situation is simple. If you possess any sort of valid theme park admission tickets, you may schedule three Park Passes.

Anyone who has a valid hotel reservation between now and September 26, 2021, can book more than three. The limit impacts only those without current hotel bookings. I’ve personally verified this, as I have a set of eight Park Passes across two different upcoming DVC vacations.

The Park Pass Reservation System experienced noteworthy hiccups during the first two days. However, it’s running smoothly now. To book your Park Passes, you go to this page and select your travel party and dates.

From there, you pick the park you want to visit on the applicable day. Remember that Disney has removed Park Hopping for the time being. You should put more thought into how you’ll spend the day if you’re used to Park Hopping.

Overall, booking Park Passes is an incredibly simple process. It should only require a few minutes of your time. You can even check availability for your intended dates at this link.

The three-reservation limit for annual passholders and regular ticket holders is problematic to some, particularly Florida residents. For out-of-state DVC members with hotel reservations, the system is close to perfect.

Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris Will Reopen in July

For the past few weeks, I had the pleasure of updating you on Disney park reopening information around the world. For three depressing months, every Disney theme park in the world closed its gates to the public.

Thankfully, Shanghai Disneyland reopened last month, and Hong Kong Disneyland followed earlier in June. The only two parks without confirmed return dates were Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland Resort.

I can now report that The Oriental Land Company (OLC) has chosen to reopen Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea this week. Specifically, the parks will return on July 1.

Disneyland Paris is also ready to return. Its reopening date is July 15, two weeks after Tokyo Disneyland. Disney and OLC communicate closely, and the parties had come up with a plan for all Disney parks to reopen by July 17.

Under this plan, Disneyland would have trumpeted Disney’s comeback with its 65th anniversary, the official reopening date. Alas, the pandemic ruined that like so many other things.

Look at the bright side, though. We’re less than two weeks away from the reopening of some Walt Disney World theme parks!

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