DVC Parks and Resorts Update for March 15, 2021
During The Walt Disney Company’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, we learned a great deal about park happenings.
We gained a general idea about Disneyland Resort’s reopening, a specific date for a new ride’s debut, and some other helpful information. Later in the week, Disney unveiled some new technology, too.
Let’s talk through some upcoming changes in the latest Disney Parks & Resorts Update.
Coming This April…
When California modified its safety rules last week, Disneyland Resort received the official greenlight. Thanks to lesser restrictions, the parks could reopen as soon as April 1st. Nobody expected that date for the grand return, though.
Disneyland laid off 11,500 workers during the pandemic. Simultaneously, the rides remained closed for a calendar year. So, Disney must recall cast members and train others, as some former employees took jobs elsewhere. They’ll need replacements.
Meanwhile, the rides will require an unprecedented amount of maintenance and testing to ensure that they’re ready to operate smoothly once again. For these reasons, an April 1st return never could have happened.
During the shareholder meeting, Chapek refused to commit to an official opening date at Disneyland Resort. However, he did provide a decidedly optimistic timeline, though. Disneyland will reopen to the public in late-April.
Yes, that’s only a few days after A Touch of Disney ends…at most. Disney recently extended the run of the ticketed event by two weeks. Its final date is April 19th. Presumably, the parks will reopen almost immediately afterward.
Yes, that’s roughly five weeks from now, seven at most. I presume that Disney needs to get the lay of the land, so to speak, before anybody can confirm an exact date. That’s probably only a few days away from now, though.
Until then, Disneyland’s Instagram feed posted a lovely message of hope for fans:
Other Disneyland News
Obviously, everything can’t be the same when the parks return. Disney has already announced several changes, none of which will thrill DVC members. Extra Magic Hour, FastPass, MaxPass, and Magic Morning won’t be options for the time being.
Since Walt Disney World hasn’t brought back FastPasses yet and still doesn’t have early admission, these Disneyland decisions aren’t surprising. You should plan for their absence if you’re visiting soon, though.
Speaking of which, at the time of publication, Disney hasn’t provided any updates about resort reopenings yet. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa had previously indicated a return on May 2nd. That date will be late if the parks come back in late-April.
Also, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel haven’t announced anything about their return dates. So, we’re still in wait-and-see mode on a lot of stuff. I’ll provide any new information next week.
Speaking of which, I must describe something else as possible but currently unconfirmed. Orange County, California, has officially returned to the Substantial/Red Tier. As such, indoor restaurants may reopen on March 15th. Disney hasn’t indicated when its eateries will restore indoor dining, but it’s at least possible now.
Speaking of which, Disneyland Resort may only operate theme parks at 15 percent of capacity in the Substantial Tier. When the county improves to the Moderate Tier, it could increase maximum occupancy to 25 percent. That could happen sooner than you think.
On March 13th, the CDC reported 4.6 million vaccinations. That’s the equivalent of one out of every 46 adult Americans receiving vaccination in a single day. Now, there are some catch-all aspects to that number, but it does bring the daily average up to 2.5 million.
💉VACCINE DATA UPDATE (March 13)💉
🚨Record day of reported vaccinations, with 4.6M. 50% higher than past 2.9M record. Looking into why (data dump/lag, +capacity, etc.)
📊4.6M doses today; 7-day avg=2.54M/day
🇺🇸US: 106M doses total
— Drew Armstrong (@ArmstrongDrew) March 13, 2021
We’re moving closer to herd immunity each day!
Remy Enters the Kitchen
When Walt Disney World closed last year, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was only a few months away from its grand opening. Alas, Disney put those plans on hold, as a new attraction would have caused violations of social distancing practices.
Now that the pandemic is diminishing, Disney may safely look forward with its planning. As such, CEO Bob Chapek felt confident enough that he revealed the opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure…and it’s going to sound familiar.
The prize attraction at EPCOT’s France pavilion will debut on October 1st. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s also the date for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
With this decision, Disney has given birthday guests a reason to choose EPCOT instead of Magic Kingdom on that day. It should split the crowds a bit among those parks, while Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge continues to boost attendance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Unless something changes, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will claim the least demand on October 1st. DVC members who want to experience the party without the crowds may prefer that park. As for EPCOT, it’s already sold all Park Passes for October 1st. Thankfully, Disney resupplies them regularly. Keep checking back if you missed the first wave.
By the way, the La Creperie de Paris will open on October 1st as well. That’s something else to get excited about.
MagicMobile Is Here
Disney guests have split into two sub-groups over the past five years. Some prefer MagicBands, while others adore their phones. The latter group has grudgingly used MagicBands as needed. I’m speaking to you right now.
Disney has introduced MagicMobile, a new service that will enhance future park visits for phone lovers. From now on, you won’t need a MagicBand for park admission. Instead, you’ll link your tickets or annual pass on My Disney Experience. Then, you’ll create a digital pass on your phone.
Once you reach the park, you’ll scan your digital pass at an access point. Yes, those are the same places where you currently tap your MagicBand. The access point will acknowledge your valid admission and light up, signaling that you may enter the park.
This technology comes with myriad benefits for you and Disney. You won’t need to touch anything, and the technology works similarly to the door unlock already on My Disney Experience.
Meanwhile, Disney gets guests to enter more efficiently. Also, fewer cast members will need to stand at the entrance gates since MagicMobile will automate the process for many. It should cut down on crowd traffic at the front of the park, too. This new technology is win/win for everyone.
Disney needs this enhancement soon, as all Park Passes have sold out for Spring Break. We’ve had calm at the parks since mid-July. That’ll change later this month, and we’re probably not going back to small crowds again anytime soon. As such, MagicMobile needs to come quickly.
We’ve got some other stuff happening across the Disney empire.
During the shareholder meeting, Chapek revealed an expectation for the return of the Disney Cruise Line. According to the boss, cruises will begin anew in the fall.
Currently, Disney has canceled all cruises through the end of May. Given Chapek’s statement, we’ll get another batch of cancellations for the summer. Then, “with some luck,” Chapek believes cruises may return later in 2021.
In France, the news is less optimistic. You’ve likely heard that Parisian hospitals overflow with COVID-19 cases. A tepid vaccination distribution process has raised fears of another wave of cases overwhelming the system.
For this reason, Disneyland Paris cannot possibly reopen on April 2nd. Based on the Disneyland news, the Paris park appears likely to be the final Disney park to reopen permanently.
In Walt Disney World news, park planners have taken this opportunity to do a bit of renovation. Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club Resorts have both updated a bit. The rooms received a refresh at Yacht Club, while the Beach Club courtyard is currently walled up. Something’s going on behind the scenes there.
Finally, Bob Iger mentioned during the shareholder call that he’s ready to retire from Disney. His illustrious career will end on December 31st. And we’re all in his debt for the foundation he secured during his tenure. I think it’s fitting that he announced retirement just before Disney announced that his legacy product, Disney+, has crossed 100 million subscribers.
Have a good week, everybody!