Disney Parks and Resorts Update for September 21st

Savi's Lightsabers shop at Galaxy's Edge by night

If you love Sanaa, Savi’s Workshop, Dawa Bar, or shopping on Batuu, you’ll want to read the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update. Also, I’ve got a waterpark update that you’re not going to love, along with some Disneyland rumors. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get started.

Disney Waterparks Will Return in March of 2021

Disney fans finally received some long-desired clarification about the return of currently closed waterparks. When the pandemic reached Walt Disney World in mid-March, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach shut down along with the rest of the campus.

Since then, Disney Vacation Club members with Platinum Plus Passes have looked on in confusion as Volcano Bay has reopened at Universal Orlando Resort. That waterpark returned during the first week of June. Yet, here we are in late September, and Disney’s waterparks remain closed.

This past week, park officials revealed a plan to reopen one of the waterparks on March 7, 2021. The company didn’t indicate which of Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach will return. Also, Disney firmly stated that these plans are tenuous. The decision presumably depends on the outbreak status in Florida in the first quarter of 2021.

Typhoon Lagoon wave pool view

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

In fairness, no business on the planet knows more about the pandemic than The Walt Disney Company. So, Disney obviously doesn’t feel comfortable operating waterparks until the situation improves. I’m an ardent proponent of “safety first.” So, I respect Disney’s decision here.

About Platinum Plus Passes…

Some of you with Platinum Plus Passes may feel frustration over this announcement. After all, your annual passes include waterpark and ESPN Wide World of Sports access. Both appear likely to remain closed until March of 2021.

Well, Disney has proactively announced that refunds are coming. The company will send lump-sum refunds to affected passholders. You should receive them in late-October or November. You’ll receive a lump-sum whether you pay once a year or monthly.

Also, if your Platinum Plus Pass is still active when a waterpark reopens, you’ll still receive free admission until the pass’s current expiration date.

So, Disney has treated its passholders more than fairly in addressing the extended closures. Presuming this plan holds, one Disney waterpark will remain closed for 51 weeks. The other will close for more than a year.

Big News at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Quick, what’s the most glaring oversight on the Mobile Ordering service? I feel it’s the lack of Table Service options on the Mobile Ordering system. Until this week, no sit-down restaurants participated in the program.

Thankfully, Disney has introduced Table Service To Go at one of its restaurants. Guests and visitors at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village can order a meal to go from Sanaa.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Here’s how the new system works. You’ll pull up My Disney Experience on your phone. Then, you’ll hit the plus sign on the bottom of your phone. It’s the middle option of five buttons, to the left of the search option.

A series of four new options will display on your phone. You want the one that says Order Food. Disney populates the next page based on your location. So, if you’re at Kidani Village, your first menu choice should be Sanaa.

From that point, you’ll choose your Arrival Window. Afterward, a screen will notify you that you’re ordering Table Service To Go.

More About Table Service To Go

The one thing to understand is that Disney chefs cook each meal to order. You want that because it guarantees freshness and accuracy. However, this approach means that you’ll wait as long when ordering Sanaa to go as you would by dining at the restaurant.

Importantly, this option is currently available for lunch and dinner service but not breakfast. You’ll then add items and customize just like you usually would for a Quick Service Mobile Ordering meal.

Overall, this addition is one that many of us have frequently requested for the past three years. When Mobile Ordering debuted in 2017, the omission of Table Service restaurants felt glaring.

The pandemic might have forced Disney’s hand in adding Table Service restaurants. The hope is that several other Disney Vacation Club resort restaurants will join Sanaa soon. When Disney introduced the Mobile Dine Walk-Up Wait List, several restaurants joined within weeks. So, this Mobile Ordering enhancement could be a game changer.

Disneyland Update

Zeno’s Dichotomy paradox suggests that when you travel half the distance to your goal over and over again, you never reach said goal. I’ve thought about this matter a lot recently due to what’s happening at the Happiest Place on Earth.

For several consecutive weeks, California politicians and government officials have stated that they were close to announcing reopening guidelines for theme parks. Each week, a new batch of quotes arrives, all of which hint that safety-related park parameters are in the offing…but they never come.

Splash Mountain at Disneyland

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

So, there’s a distinct “here we go!” aspect to the latest update. The governor of California recently stated the following:

“We will be making announcements soon as it relates to theme parks and amusement parks. I am not here today to make that presentation, but want folks to know we are actively working in a number of sectors.”

The lack of forward movement by California politicians appears to be a source of frustration for Disney leadership as Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock stated,  “We are disappointed with the state’s lack of progress in providing the industry with guidance and clarity on reopening. We have proven we can operate responsibly, with strict health and safety protocols at our properties around the world and at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.”

California’s average new daily infection totals increased a bit last week from the prior one. Still, the lack of significant outbreaks hints at the return of theme parks.

In fact, a hot rumor this weekend indicated that an announcement could happen as soon as September 21. We won’t know by the time this article goes to press, but it’s entirely possible that you’ve already heard some good news by the time you read this.

If not, the belief is that—unlike the Dichotomy paradox—owners at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will finally receive some good news soon.

Theme Park Updates

I’ve got several park updates to pass along this week. The most surprising one involves Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. More than two months after Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened, Savi’s Workshop has finally returned.

This popular lightsaber experience has changed somewhat due to the pandemic. However, it doesn’t require reservations, giving more DVC members a chance to shop here.

Inside Savi's Workshop at Walt Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Nobody had expected this sales experience to return this soon. As you know, it’s a high-touch interactive attraction. So, cast members wipe down every lightsaber after you inspect it. Also, guests use hand sanitizer while entering and departing Savi’s Workshop. This makes it safe for guests to buy novelty lightsabers from Savi’s team again.

Speaking of Star Wars shopping, ShopDisney will add Galaxy’s Edge merchandise on September 28. Presumably, Disney wants to generate more revenue this holiday season, and specialized Star Wars gear definitely does that.

Disney hasn’t announced which items will be available. Still, it’s a terrific opportunity for those DVC members who cannot visit the parks this year to add some gear to their collections.

Speaking of holidays, Halloween isn’t right around the corner at Walt Disney World. It’s already here! Disney has switched to fall decorations, and they’re fittingly spooky. For the next six weeks, every day will feel like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) at Magic Kingdom.

When you visit this park, you’ll find many seasonal opportunities. The best of them is the Cavalcades, as Disney characters wear Halloween costumes while performing. In fact, the Cadaver Dans even participate in a Cavalcade!

Disney’s doing everything it can to ensure that your fall visit will match and possibly surpass previous years. Yes, we all miss MNSSHP, but fall 2020 decorations and amenities are remarkably impressive. Also, 2020 might be the only year some of them are ever available.

More Theme Park and Disney Vacation Club Updates

DVC members should know about a couple of current/upcoming changes at resorts. Disney’s BoardWalk Villas will get a minor refurbishment next month…and I mean very minor. The only thing cast members will fix is the Keister Coaster water slide at Luna Park Pool. Yes, the pool will remain open, but the slide is off limits from October 5 through October 30.

Over at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, attentive shoppers have already noticed new products. Disney has introduced some of its ’Olu Mel merchandise from Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. Since Aulani remains closed, it’s thoughtful of Disney to make these very kawaii products available at Walt Disney World.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one of the most popular bar and lounge areas has reopened. Dawa Bar at Harambe Village has returned after an extended absence. DVC fans are overly familiar with this place adjacent to the entrance of Tusker House, which remains closed.

In other park news, Disney has extended the closure of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. The estimated return date has moved back to November 28.

Also, while we’re talking about parks, I should mention Universal Orlando Resort, as something unexpected has happened. This past weekend, two Halloween Horror Nights houses opened for a test run.

Obviously, Universal Studios wouldn’t do a trial unless it were at least considering a limited version of Halloween Horror Nights this year. The two available houses were the ominously named Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. You can read a full description of these tests at the Orlando Sentinel.

Okay, that’s everything for this week. Stay safe, my friends.

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