Disney Parks and Resorts Update for September 8th

Fountain at the Grand Floridian DVC Resort Lobby

Some monorail DVC resorts will change over the next few months. I’ll explain the details in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts update for September 8, 2020.

The Grand Floridian Update You Need

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will introduce its latest amenity soon. And DVC members have anxiously anticipated this day for several years now.

The resort joined the DVC lineup in 2013. Since then, we have wanted a walkway that will allow us to skip Disney transportation entirely. Sure, the monorail’s an inimitable experience, but walking to Magic Kingdom is more efficient and healthier.

Monorail at Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Well, we’ve almost reached that date. Photos indicate that the walkway is virtually complete. The only sticking point until now involves the boats that frequent Seven Seas Lagoon.

A finite bridge would prevent the flow of marine traffic. So, Disney has constructed a movable walkway bridge that will open and close, depending on boat scheduling.

Strangely, this new bridge will operate like the walking path from Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. When DVC members stay there, we must wait at a pedestrian crossing until the traffic light changes.

At the Grand Floridian walkway bridge, guests will sometimes enjoy a direct path to Magic Kingdom. In other instances, they must wait for the bridge to form the path again. In the interim, the bridge will split into parts, allowing boats to sail through the waterway.

At the time of publication, Disney hasn’t confirmed an opening date yet. However, signs near Magic Kingdom’s entrance have been updated to include “Grand Floridian Walkway.” So, it won’t be long until the path opens to the public. And that’s going to be an excellent day for DVC members, especially those of us who like to get in our daily steps.

Moana Moves into the Polynesian (monorail)

You may have heard that Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will close until next summer. Don’t worry! This news doesn’t apply to DVC members, at least not much.

The historical significance of the Polynesian guarantees that all major changes here will garner headlines. So, high-profile media outlets like GMA and USA Today have recently run stories about upcoming changes at the resort. Here’s what’s going on.

The hotel portion of the Polynesian has yet to reopen. Yes, DVC members have had the entire hotel grounds to themselves for a couple of months now, and that will remain true through the first quarter of next year.

Polynesian DVC Resort Lobby

Disney officials have chosen to renovate the Polynesian, introducing new theming in the hotel rooms. The Polynesian’s updated look will celebrate Moana, the beloved Princess from the 2016 animated movie.

However, these rooms aren’t part of the DVC collection. The impending changes won’t impact inventory at all unless you’re interested in a cash room. If that’s the case, you’re out of luck until next summer, the current return ETA on Disney’s official site.

Otherwise, a DVC stay at the Polynesian will remain mostly unchanged for now. The restaurants, bars, and pools currently in operation will stay that way. You shouldn’t expect the return of places that are closed at the moment, though.

I’m afraid that ‘Ohana and the Spirit of Aloha show appear likely to stay offline until the renovations are over. Still, the Polynesian has operated since Walt Disney World’s opening day back in 1971. It deserves a refresh to modernize some elements.

The Polynesian Monorail Update

The 2020 renovations will still factor into a stay at the Polynesian later this year, though. The Great Ceremonial House will receive updates on both floors. For this reason, Disney must suspend monorail access at the hotel.

The current timeline suggests an early October closure for the Polynesian station. Guests at the hotel must rely on other forms of transportation, like boats or buses. Of course, you could also walk over to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) near Pago Pago.

If you’re new to DVC, you may not understand what this means. The Polynesian features several hotel buildings, each of which possesses a distinctive Polynesian name.

The DVC buildings are Moorea, Pago Pago, and Tokelau, plus the Bungalows on the water. All of them are closer to the TTC than standard hotel rooms.

So, the walk to and from this monorail station is equidistant or possibly even closer than the one at the Great Ceremonial House…but the TTC doesn’t have that marvelous smell. You can look at the distances on this map.

For guests at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, this change qualifies as good news. You’ll have one less stop on the hotel monorail line, making your trips faster. You’ll get to and from the parks quicker than usual.

Renovations Coming at Vero Beach

Another DVC resort has decided to perform renovations, as well. The timing makes sense, given that hotel occupancy is lower due to the pandemic. Give Disney credit for taking advantage of this rare opportunity to improve its resorts at a time when many in the hotel industry are cutting their budgets.

At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, many amenities will shut down in late September. The hotel hasn’t listed exact dates yet, but Disney has indicated that the renovations will take a couple of months.

Disney's Vero Beach Resort

During this time, the hotel’s pool, hot tub, pool bathrooms, miniature golf course, and play area won’t be available to guests. Virtually all other hotel activities are unaffected, and you can still use the beach, too.

Disney Discounts

Are you an annual passholder or a Disney visitor in a southern state? If so, you should check whether Disney has emailed you an offer.

Over the past few days, Walt Disney World delivered a bunch of Magic Is Here offers to guests. These discounts start at $500 per four-night stay and increase from there.

People living in states Disney considers within driving distance of the parks can get 30 percent off a visit. Passholders receive an even better deal at 40 percent, which surpasses a standard DVC cash rate.

These offers technically apply for the fall, but Disney offers the deal all the way through Christmas Day. If you’re a DVC member who wants to save your points, the Magic Is Here package could price you into a trip.

Disney Restaurant Updates

Walt Disney World has witnessed a slight uptick in traffic in recent days, presumably due to the dropping coronavirus numbers in Central Florida. As more customers return, Disney will restore currently closed restaurants and stores.

For example, this past week, Gaston’s Tavern returned. However, the most significant news involves a pair of character meals, one of which won’t bring back its characters for now.

Yes, Cinderella’s Royal Table will return on September 24. Since it’s an indoor restaurant, Disney cannot risk personal interactions. So, Disney Princesses won’t host the meal for a while. Guests really go here for the ambiance and the view, though.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hollywood & Vine will come back on September 25. Minnie Mouse will host her gala affair here, as she’s safely in a costume. Still, for safety reasons, photo ops will only occur from a distance, ensuring everyone’s health.

A couple of weeks later, ABC Commissary will reopen at the park. This Hollywood Studios staple serves a massive number of daily guests. Its return hints that Disney expects larger crowds shortly. The official reopening date is October 8.

Other Disney Updates (PeopleMover)

I don’t have anything official to report about Disneyland yet. I’m paying more attention to California’s governor than his wife, but the situation remains challenging. The governor indicated that theme parks have made a lot of progress, but he suggests it’s still not quite time yet.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover at Disney's Magic Kingdom

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

On a possibly unrelated note, Disneyland has confirmed that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway won’t arrive until 2023. That’s a year later than expected. The explanation for the delay could involve financial constraints, COVID concerns, or some combination of each. Whatever the answer, the ride’s terrific, and everyone on the West Coast should look forward to it.

At Walt Disney World, I have one other ride update. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover will remain closed a few weeks longer than expected.

Park officials had previously indicated a late-October restart for this DVC favorite. Alas, the closure page now displays that the PeopleMover will remain offline until November 21–2020 truly is the absolute worst.

Okay, that’s this week’s batch of updates.

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