DVC Parks and Resorts Update for February 1st, 2021
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort experienced a strange week, Jungle Cruise learned its fate, and Disneyland officials weighed their options. This week, a lot happened, and I’ll tell you all about it in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update.
Strange Times at the Polynesian
Guests and visitors at the Polynesian experienced some confusion last week. As you know, the resort’s currently undergoing massive renovations. Some unfortunate crew member clipped the water main and left parts of the Great Ceremonial House without service.
This incident closed the restaurants and restrooms in the building. However, it would have been much more problematic if more people were there at the time. In fact, this construction mishap underscores why Disney shut down the Great Ceremonial House during the refurbishment.
Otherwise, the hotel modifications have gone well. Disney has totally razed the standing monorail station structure and will start from scratch. Even the bridge connecting the station to the hotel is gone. Similarly, the roof that you know isn’t there anymore.
You will already notice one addition when you visit the hotel, though. Disney has introduced 5G cell towers at the Polynesian. These “towers” are really just poles that look like stop lights. They send a limited range signal, at least compared to 4G. So, Disney will need more of them to provide the same coverage.
Disney has committed to the development of next-generation internet across the Orlando campus. In fact, two other DVC properties have already added towers. You may notice them at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas and Disney’s Beach Club Villas, but they’re tricky to spot unless you’re looking for them.
Disney paints these towers with the resort’s colors, making them blend in. So, it’s like they’re hidden in plain sight. Once you notice them, you’ll recognize that they’re already plentiful and should become a staple of Disney resorts.
More importantly, you shouldn’t suffer as many internet issues from now on. Bandwidth has remained at a premium for years due to a lack of hardware upgrades. These towers will relieve some of that strain on internet resources.
Minor DVC Updates
DVC announced some low-key projects that may interest you. I’m talking about stuff like new DVC 30th anniversary jewelry that you’ll find on ShopDisney. It joins the 30th anniversary collection that I mentioned recently.
The membership program has also extended an existing amenity. Here’s the tweet from the ever-reliable Brooke Geiger McDonald:
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) January 28, 2021
Yes, card-carrying DVC owners will continue to enjoy the DVC Member Lounge throughout 2021. Disney introduced it for the 25th anniversary as a temporary amenity. So, we’re all pleased that it’s still here five years later.
Meanwhile, a more unique offering will entertain us through 2021. Here’s the other relevant tweet:
Beginning Feb. 16, 2021, as part of Disney Vacation Club’s 30th anniversary celebration, DVC members can participate in a “Scenic Selfie” Scavenger hunt and collect souvenir buttons at all four parks. #WaltDisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/zFIrRpAmC8
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) January 28, 2021
Yes, starting three days after I leave Walt Disney World, DVC will introduce a “Scenic Scavenger Hunt” in all four theme parks…not that I’m bitter. In each park, you’ll visit a starter station to learn more about your hunt.
For example, you’ll go to Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom and Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Successful scavengers will receive limited edition souvenir buttons at the applicable parks.
You should also visit a special Disney website this week. Here’s the DVC Member Show, which features remarkable performances of Disney songs. Keala Settle of The Greatest Showman will fundamentally alter how you think of It’s a Small World.
The Voices of Liberty sing When You Wish Upon a Star, too. You can watch Settle’s rendition from YouTube as well:
I don’t know what other tricks DVC has up its proverbial sleeve for the 30th anniversary, but I’m excited to find out.
On a final DVC note, the program recently added 24 hotel rooms to its inventory at Disney’s Riviera Resort. So, you’ll have a better chance at booking the room you want from now on.
Changes Coming to Jungle Cruise
Have you used Disney+ anytime lately? Of course you have. You’re a Disney lover. As such, you’ve noticed that certain classic Disney movies come with warning labels now.
When you read the details for a movie like Dumbo, you’ll see the following message: “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”
The message goes on to explain why Disney+ keeps the movies available for people to watch. However, at least one title, Song of the South, will never appear on the streaming service because its cultural depictions are beyond the pale.
Not coincidentally, in 2020, Disney announced a re-theming of Splash Mountain. It’ll switch from its current Song of the South musical accompaniment to the glorious jazz soundtrack from The Princess and the Frog, and the attraction set pieces will change, too.
In the wake of that announcement, critics suggested that Jungle Cruise should modernize if Splash Mountain is. And you can guess where I’m going with this. Yes, Jungle Cruise will receive an upcoming renovation.
Imagineers will not re-theme the attraction. Instead, they’ll modify existing sets to remove culturally insensitive depictions of various characters. Simultaneously, they’ll tell a story that connects each part of the boat ride.
Yes, that appears challenging, but Disney has an ace in the hole here. The Jungle Skipper will play a part in the story, not just as a deliverer of bad puns. Disney hasn’t clarified how this will work yet. Still, the announcement indicated an emphasis on humor, just as we’ve come to expect from Jungle Cruise over the years.
I know that this decision has proven controversial to some. All I’ll ask is that you keep an open mind. Sometimes, change is good.
The California Update
For the Disneyland DVC crowd, I have some welcome information. Your annual passholder discount isn’t going away as expected. Park officials have introduced something for those who just had their annual passes canceled. You’re now a Legacy Passholder.
Details remain vague for now. However, Disney executives understand that it’s rough that you just lost your restaurant and merchandise discounts through no fault of your own. So, it looks like you will keep your previous annual passholder discounts at Downtown Disney. I’ll update more as February 25th approaches. That’s the date when the 30 percent discount will end.
Also, California has eliminated its stay-at-home order for high-risk areas for coronavirus. This policy change occurred early in the week. Since then, Disney has brought back 232 cast members to work at the applicable restaurants. These places had previously reopened but then had to close again due to the stay-at-home order. Now, they’re coming back again.
First of all, I have important news for international DVC members. The United States has extended travel restrictions for most of Europe, including England. These rules apply to South Africa, too. They’d nearly expired, but this declaration indicates that nothing will change until the country achieves herd immunity or, at the very least, mass immunization.
At the parks, I’ve got some happiness to pass along to members visiting Walt Disney World in March. Tickets have gone back on sale at Disney’s Blizzard Beach. The water park will reopen on March 7th. With tickets now available, that date seems firm.
Two things have happened at Magic Kingdom this week. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has cast its final spell. I’m afraid that the interactive game has ended forever. On the plus side, Rivers of America has refilled its water, which should make the park look normal again. That drained tributary was weird.
Something that won’t happen anytime soon is the return of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. The reopening has once again been delayed. It won’t return in February. Disney had done recent testing that stirred hope that its return was imminent. Alas, it’s still at least four weeks away.
More Park Updates
A more general park update applies to large groups. If you travel with a party of ten more, Disney officials will ask you to split into smaller pods. The idea is that large groups wreak havoc with social distancing practices. So, Disney will no longer seat groups of ten or more at restaurants or allow you to stand in line together. It’s safer for everyone this way.
Park officials also updated the face covering policy. Transparent masks have grown in popularity, as deaf people, among others, need them for lip reading. Guests who lip-read may now wear face masks with “integrated transparent plastic panel” designs.
Also, since I know that some of you have asked, immunization won’t change anything. Disney will require all guests to wear face covers for the foreseeable future, even if you receive both doses of the vaccine (or the new one-shot).
Finally, Magic Kingdom has altered its operating dates for The Lunching Pad and Tomorrowland Terrace. These restaurants will only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays now. As with everything else, this decision could change. I don’t want you to plan on a weekday meal and one of these places and get disappointed, though.
Okay, that’s the update for this week. Be smart and safe, my friends.