DVC Parks and Resorts Update for April 5, 2021
The CDC has changed some of its guidelines for safe travel during the pandemic. Also, MagicMobile is now live at the parks, a Disney festival will return sooner than expected, and your maintenance fees could go down if a proposed bill passes.
I’ll explain everything in the latest DVC Parks & Resorts Update.
Updating Travel Guidelines
For many Disney Vacation Club owners, traveling to Walt Disney World has included too many hurdles. You’ve had to quarantine for 10-14 days after leaving the parks, which is a non-starter for those who aren’t working from home.
Thankfully, the distribution of vaccinations has caused the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its pandemic guidelines. These modified rules apply to travelers who have already received the vaccination.
The CDC indicates that you may safely travel everywhere, domestic and international! Yes, you’ll still need to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing. However, you won’t need to quarantine once you return.
Obviously, the CDC would prefer that people not travel until the country reaches herd immunity. That’s an impractical request, though. Now that millions of Americans have received complete vaccination, they’re long past ready to leave their houses.
More Vaccine News
People being travel ready is likely news that’s music to Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s ears, but we still have some potential struggles ahead. Until mid-day on Monday, many thought federal initiatives may put forward the idea of a “vaccine passport” as a method for people to prove they’re safe from infection.
In response to this possibility, Florida’s governor created an executive order that prevents vaccine passports in the state. However, since then, the CDC has announced they will not be pursuing that option. Now, Disney’s unique Reedy Creek Improvement District guidelines provide plenty of leeway here.
Similarly, the executive order’s unique language provides Disney with ways to craft policies that require vaccine passports anyway. So, the ball remains in Disney’s court as it decides the next steps in a return to normalcy at the parks.
For its part, Disney has incentivized some employees to take the vaccine. They’ll receive pay equivalent to four hours on the job. Plus, they can leave work to get the shot. Disney wants vaccinated cast members. Period.
The Timeshare Property Tax Proposal
I’ve never mentioned Wyndham Destinations Inc. before, but it’s unexpectedly relevant this week. In 2015, Osceola County fought Wyndham over a property tax appraisal. If that sounds familiar, it should.
Disney has experienced similar issues with property taxes in recent years. However, the Wyndham fight escalated, leading to a debate over roughly $400,000 in payment discrepancies.
At some point, an unnamed Florida legislator (no, not that one) proposed a modification to the current tax appraisal methodology. Without getting into politics, the Florida legislature is now considering this change. It would save corporations like Disney and Wyndham millions of dollars.
Along the way, the savings would pass down to you as a DVC member. Your maintenance fees will decrease if the legislation gets ratified into law.
Understandably, both Property Appraisers in Disney’s two counties, Osceola and Orange, have come out against the bill. Their downside involves the use of these $175 million in taxes.
The counties spend them on education, public parks, libraries, and other benevolent endeavors. A financial shortfall of that size could lead to layoffs, closures, and educational trade-offs.
To Disney’s credit, the company indicated to the Orlando Sentinel that it’s not lobbying for this bill. Also, legislation like this often goes nowhere—many items discussed by legislators never even make it to a vote.
So, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse here. But I know that some DVC members are discussing the possibility of lower membership dues. Those are the broad strokes about how it could happen.
The Debut of MagicMobile
This past week, Disney parks implemented MagicMobile for the first time. This revolutionary new system liberates you from the tyranny of MagicBands. Okay, I’m kidding here as I happen to love MagicBands. MagicMobile does make them somewhat redundant, though.
This new service will work on your iPhone or Apple Watch, and Android device support is coming soon, possibly even by the time you read this. Apple users will need iOS 14.4 or higher.
Presuming that you’ve got the tech, My Disney Experience is your best friend yet again.
How MagicMobile Works
You’ll load the app and look for the three parallel lines on the home screen’s bottom right. Then, you click them and reach the second page, the familiar one with Photos and Play on it.
You’re looking for the option between them, Disney MagicMobile Pass. When you click this button, the display will walk you through the steps to create an Express Pass. This item works similar to a Boarding Pass on your phone…and I mean the one at the airport, although Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance kind of does the same.
The point is that you will take your Express Pass up to the kiosk at a Disney theme park. I’m talking about the same place where you’ve always used your MagicBand and fingerprint to gain park admission. The Express Pass will do the same.
You will turn the non-display side of the screen toward the kiosk. The system will register that you have active park admission for that day via the Express Pass. The ring will light up, just as if you’d used a MagicBand. Voila! You can go inside the park.
This new system comes with some hidden benefits, too. One family member can control up to five Express Passes, reducing everyone’s aggravation of getting one for themselves. That’s perfect for parents with young children.
Disney has also indicated that MagicMobile will soon add the ability to perform room charges. Yes, just like a MagicBand, you can use your phone to pay for merchandise and meals, adding the cost to your hotel room folio.
Now, you may wonder why you don’t just use Apple Pay instead, which is valid. Still, I’d rather have the ability than not. So, I appreciate the utility.
Park Updates – Fireworks Edition
I want to bring your attention to two things happening/recently occurring at the parks.
The first one involves a position listed on DisneyCareers.com. Disney is apparently hiring a Principal Fireworks Designer. This person will lead the Disney Live Entertainment Fireworks & Special Effects Design department.
I don’t want to get too carried away, but that sure looks like Disney is planning for the days when nighttime presentations have returned. To date, we’ve had no announcements about any of the three remaining shows (Rivers of Light is defunct). We do know there’s been testing, though.
This looks like a very good sign, right?
Park Updates – Bad Criminal Edition
The other story actually happened just before Valentine’s Day, but we just learned about it. The Orlando Sentinel has published an accidentally hilarious report about a rude, defiant guest receiving his comeuppance.
Apparently, the man was vacationing from Louisiana and grew frustrated by Disney’s temperature checks. Now, if you’ve visited the parks during the pandemic, you know that these things take as long as a button click.
For whatever reason, this guy did his best Jean-Luc Picard and determined that the line must be drawn here. So, he skipped the temperature check and made a break for Disney Springs.
Of course, if you’ve visited Disney Springs during the pandemic, you know that many cast members and security guards stand between the temperature check and the entrance/exit.
In a “you had to be there” moment, an absurd chase ensued as the man fled and tried to hide in the crowd. Security caught up with him near a restaurant and proceeded to cite him for trespassing.
At first, the man defended his actions by saying that he’d paid $15,000 for the trip, which apparently gave him the right to flaunt the rules, at least in his estimation.
However, once the police started to arrest him, he requested that cast members take his temperature then and there. Law enforcement officials went a different way That dude went to jail. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets permanently banned from Disney property, either.
Other Park Updates
I’ve got four quick updates for you, one of which matters the most. Disney has already confirmed the end date for the current 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. It’s over on July 5th.
I’ll save you the trouble of looking at a calendar. July 4th falls on a Sunday this year. So, the event will close on a Tuesday. Then, on July 15th, an old favorite returns just in time for the first anniversary of EPCOT’s reopening.
The 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival debuts on that date, July 15th. Even better, Disney isn’t calling this one “Taste of…” Yes, that’s a different approach from the post-pandemic festivals the park has hosted thus far.
I take this to mean that the summer festival will operate at or at least close to normal compared to past years. That’s not confirmed as fact yet, though. If you’re planning a trip during the second half of the year, you shouldn’t feel the need to rush, either. The event will run through November 20th.
Now that you’re happy, I can gently break the bad news that the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover got delayed again. It was scheduled to reopen right about now. Instead, it’ll wait until at least May 1st.
On the plus side, Kali River Rapids has reopened. The Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction always goes down maintenance during the winter. This year, the renovations must have gone better than expected. The ride actually came back a few days ahead of schedule, something that doesn’t happen often at Disney.
Finally, if you’re staying at or visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas anytime soon, I’ve got great news! The Mara has expanded its service. Until now, the restaurant has opened for breakfast. However, Disney recently brought back dinner service as well. Woohoo!
I hope you have a lovely holiday and a wonderful week, my friends!