DVC Parks and Resorts Update for December 7th
Over the last few days, a DVC property didn’t reopen as promised, a new park shopping technology debuted, and characters returned to some Disney resorts. I’ll explain everything in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update.
A Revolutionary Shopping System Debuts
Disney introduced something unexpected this past week, and it’ll revolutionize the way that you shop. That’s not hyperbole. I would ask you to think about the most aggravating part of the shopping experience. It’s standing in line at the cash register, right?
How would you feel if you never had to do that again? You’d happily skip the standard checkout process if you could, right? Well, I’ve got terrific news for you. At three Disney stores, you can now do so!
Seemingly out of nowhere, Disney implemented Scan and Go as a purchase option at these locations. World of Disney at Downtown Disney in Anaheim joins Mouse Gear at EPCOT and Everything POP! at Disney’s Pop Century Resorts. Guests who visit these three shops are in for a treat.
When you enter the store, you’ll grab what Disney calls a Mobile Checkout Shopping Bag. It’s a clear bag so that cast members may quickly glance at your items later to verify the correct payment.
You’ll also need to load My Disney Experience on your phone. That app will do most of the heavy lifting. You don’t even have to search for Scan and Go within the app. The stores will have QR codes that you can scan. They’ll automatically load Scan and Go for you!
Once you’re ready to shop, the Scan and Go process is simple. You scan any items that you want to purchase. Then, you place them in your bag. Once you’ve finished shopping, you will tap a button conveniently labeled Check Out. Disney will bill your form of payment on file.
Afterward, you’ll receive a QR code that you can show the cast member. If the QR code doesn’t work, you can also just show the cast member your receipt on your phone. They may do a cursory scan of your bag to verify that you’re not accidentally shoplifting anything.
Once you’ve spoken with the cast member, you’re done! You no longer need to stand in line and have someone scan your items. You control the pace of your checkout experience!
The other piece of good news here is that the app automatically enables discounts. The system will recognize that you’re a DVC member and/or annual passholder and factor in the discount. You can even use Disney gift cards or Disney Rewards Redemptions Cards for your in-app purchase!
Scan and Go is a gamechanger, my friends. Here’s hoping it quickly expands to most Disney stores. You can watch a video of some DVC members trying it (and getting their discount) here:
The Happiest RVs on Earth
I’m not done with the happy tidings for this week. During the pandemic, Disney executives have spent a great deal of time reevaluating the customer experience. They’ve also listened to customer complaints and carefully studied guest survey results.
One thing they’ve learned is that people miss the characters at Walt Disney World. Sure, the Cavalcades are terrific, but Disney had just introduced a new amenity right before the world lost its collective mind. Disney characters had started appearing at various official Disney resorts.
The idea circles back to hurricane weather ingenuity. Whenever the parks must close due to inclement weather, Disney takes care of its guests by shipping costumed cast members to the resorts. This tactic proved so popular that it became a permanent part of several resorts.
Mickey & Minnie Mouse joined their friends Donald & Daisy Duck plus Pluto and Goofy. DVC members often saw Stitch holding court outside at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Characters from Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland also popped up at the various Disney hotels.
Then, coronavirus caused Disney to drop any activities that involved cast members and guests standing in close proximity. So, Disney characters stopped appearing at the resorts for the body of 2020.
Thankfully, Disney has discovered ways to solve any potential social distancing issues. Here’s what happens. When you’re at a resort, you may notice an RV heading your way. You can’t miss it, as the theming makes the vehicle look like Disney on Wheels.
When the RV comes to a stop, a couple of Disney characters will exit and head straight to a spot away from customers. It’s akin to the way that EPCOT characters stand in the grass away from the park’s walking paths. Disney maintains social distancing and also prevents guests from too-close interactions with cast members.
The costumed cast members will put on a show and play with guests from afar, just like Mary Poppins, Alice, and Winnie the Pooh do at EPCOT. These resort character appearances marry some of the best ideas from the park character showings and the Cavalcades. You’re going to love them because they’re so personal and novel.
Here We Go Again Re: Disneyland
I hadn’t updated the specifics of Disneyland Resort for a while, as Disney and California officials had reached a stalemate. Nobody expressed happiness over the sustained closure of Disneyland, but at least the entertainment complex had reopened.
Since mid-July, guests have spent a lot of time shopping and dining at Downtown Disney, so much so that Disney California Adventure brought back Buena Vista Street to address some of the crowd overflows.
Well, the situation has devolved in recent days. Like many other parts of the country/world, California has experienced a surge in new COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, the state recorded 25,320 of them, with 9,218 cases in L.A. County alone.
As such, the Governor has rolled back the status of several parts of California. They’re returned to more stringent coronavirus rules. Once again, Downtown Disney has gotten caught in the crossfire here. California has dispensed a stay-at-home order for Orange County, forcing Disney to close all its Table Service restaurants.
Some eateries will remain open at Downtown Disney. The one requirement is that they must provide takeout and delivery options already. Sit-down dining is off the menu in Orange County once more. This crackdown even applies to outdoor patio seating, leaving grab-and-go as the only option.
The Grand Californian and Other Closures
The uptick in COVID-19 cases has impacted many Disney Vacation Club members. As you may recall, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was supposed to reopen on December 6th. Obviously, with the stay-at-home order in place, that couldn’t happen.
DVC’s management had intended to bring back the Grand Californian exclusively for members. No standard reservations were accepted for December, only ones via the DVC member portal. This was actually the second time Disney announced the hotel’s reopening, with the other one coming on July 23rd.
So, coronavirus woes have delayed the Grand Californian’s return twice. Beyond Disneyland, it’s still having other ripple effects. Hong Kong Disneyland has also closed again due to a more modest outbreak. Disneyland Paris couldn’t return for the December holiday season as planned. And Disney Cruise Line has canceled all reservations through February of 2021.
You can imagine how much this news has impacted cast members. Disney performed another batch of layoffs this past week, many of them involving the entertainment divisions. However, California’s recent changes mean that currently employed Downtown Disney cast members will go back on leave. And workers at the Grand Californian had spent part of November preparing the hotel for a return. Now, they’ll probably get laid off again, too.
While we’re on the subject of outbreak impact on the parks, Florida’s Governor has taken a different approach. He recently stated that Florida will not lockdown again. No matter where you stand on the topic from a public safety perspective, it’s welcome news to DVC members.
Walt Disney World won’t close down again, no matter what. So, you can safely plan your next trip. This announcement also assures that Walt Disney World’s 50th-anniversary celebration can occur as planned.
Meanwhile, over at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, hotel officials have confirmed upcoming pool changes. Here’s the relevant tweet:
Here’s a statement from Disney on the fate of the Boardwalk clown slide 🤡:
“We look forward to Mickey and his pals clowning around at Luna Park Pool. Guests will enjoy the same great ride down Keister Coaster slide with a brand-new look.” #WaltDisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/hiLxY90Q5z
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) December 4, 2020
Speaking of DVC, Disney has done something thoughtful this holiday season. Card-carrying members and annual passholders receive a 10 percent discount at some Holiday Kitchens during A Taste of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
This discount is only available from 7 p.m. through park closing, and it doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages. Still, it’s a welcome amenity for loyal Disney customers.
Also, those of you interested in D23 membership should perk up at the next tidbit. Disney has ended the Gold Family Membership plan, which admittedly isn’t the greatest change. However, D23 will replace it with the Gold Duo plan.
The official D23 site indicates that Gold Duo will “provide the benefits of a D23 Gold Membership with the opportunity to add a second D23 Gold Member for the current price of a D23 Gold Family Membership.” So, it’s two for the price of one! That’s a great deal for $129.99.
Current Gold Family Membership will transition to Gold Duo on January 1st. If you hold regular D23 Gold Membership, you can add Gold Duo for only $30. So, you’re the real winners here.
Okay, that’s everything for now. I do have a treat for those of you missing the Candlelight Processional this year, though. Disney posted a full 2019 performance that you can watch: