DVC Parks and Resorts Update for March 1st, 2021

Grand Californian lobby from the fourth floor

This past week, a DVC resort flooded, and another announced reopening plans. Also, Disney brought back some band music, and Disneyland Resort plotted its next moves. We have a lot to cover in the latest DVC Parks & Resorts Update!

The Return of Grand Californian

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Disney will reopen The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa soon. This story may sound familiar because history is repeating itself.

DVC officials announced the intent to reopen the Grand Californian’s DVC side during the first week of December. Alas, a surge in COVID-19 cases in the region prevented this from happening. Disney canceled the reopening entirely.

Nearly three months later, the situation has improved. Yes, California reported roughly 1.1 million cases in February alone. However, the prevalence of the vaccine has reduced the spread of new infections.

Here’s a useful Twitter follow to stay informed:

Reporters in Anaheim believe that the region will change tiers soon, dropping from Widespread (purple) to Substantial (red). As a reminder, current laws preclude the parks from operating until the Minimal (yellow) tier.

However, I previously mentioned that a bill in the offing could bring back Disneyland in the Moderate (orange) tier. So, the reduction to the red tier could feasibly place the parks closer to a triumphant return.

How likely is that? Much depends on the distribution of vaccinations. We’re trending in the right direction, though. As such, Disney feels comfortable bringing back the Grand Californian.

The Official Announcement

Terri Schultz, the Senior VP of Disney Vacation Club, updated members about reopening plans. Presuming all goes well, the Grand Californian will return on May 2nd. Here’s the message:

“Dear Member,

Today I’m pleased to share that The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa are currently scheduled to reopen on May 2, 2021. Our Cast Members on the West Coast are excited to make their magic once again and “welcome home” Members with enhanced health and safety measures based on guidance from health authorities and appropriate government agencies.

It is important to note that while the Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will open for Members and their guests, the rest of the hotel, as well as the Disneyland® Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier® Hotel, Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park, remain closed for normal operations and will reopen at a later date. The Downtown Disney® District is open with select shopping and dining experiences. We invite you to continue to visit the website for the latest details about the phased reopening plans for the Disneyland Resort.

Putting Health and Safety First

Our team has successfully reopened Disney Vacation Club resorts and other Disney hotels at our destinations around the world since last June, with each of them prioritizing the health and well-being of our Cast Members and those who visit us. Click here to learn more about our responsible and thoughtful approach to operating our resorts.

Please note that during the initial reopening period of The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, most dining, amenities, activities and services will be modified, limited in capacity or unavailable based on physical distancing and health guidelines. In addition, some areas and offerings will remain temporarily closed or unavailable.

Member Policy Updates

We would also like to share that some of the temporary adjustments made last year to certain Disney Vacation Club policies will be ending soon. We ask that you please visit the Member website for details about policies related to reservation cancelations, the borrowing and holding of points, exchange fees and more. We have appreciated your patience and flexibility as we’ve worked to adapt policies in support of our entire membership while continuing to deliver the vacation experiences you expect from Disney. We encourage you to continue using the Member Online Booking Tool to book or modify a Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation.

As our Cast Members help make dreams come true across the entire Disney Vacation Club portfolio of resorts, please know that we are grateful for your membership and look forward to seeing you soon. Here’s to magical days ahead!


Terri A. Schultz

Senior Vice President

Disney Vacation Club, Guided Adventures & Expeditions and Golden Oak”

More from Disneyland Resort

The comeback of the Grand Californian isn’t the only big news coming from the Disneyland campus. We also learned more about A Touch of Disney, the upcoming ticketed event at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland California Adventure with Mickey ferris wheel at night

Starting on March 18th, Disney will host a ticketed event at the park. For $75 per person, individuals may enjoy the following at Disney California Adventure:

  • PhotoPass service for the date of your visit
  • Character photo access, presumably with social distancing
  • A card loaded with $25 in credit to spend on food and some drinks
  • Free Parking at the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure
  • Park access from noon through 8 p.m.

Here are the caveats and other significant aspects of A Touch of Disney. The park will host the event on Thursdays through Mondays. You’ll remain subject to temperature checks and other pandemic measures in place at the parks. Also, your gift card won’t work with alcoholic beverages. You’ll pay out of pocket for those.

On the subject of food, you should think of A Touch of Disney as Disneyland Resort’s Greatest Hits. You can buy sample sizes of Dole Whips, Jack-Jack’s Num Num Cookies, and Churros.

These quick bites will allow you to eat all your favorites during a single visit without the risk of gluttony. Simultaneously, most of the dining options will operate outdoors, protecting your safety. Lamplight Lounge and Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining will also be open for the event.

This brings us to the subject of tickets and reservations. You can purchase A Touch of Disney tickets starting on March 4th on the official Disneyland site. Beginning on March 11th, you can book reservations at the restaurants, too. Based on early buzz, sellouts are possible, maybe even likely. So, buy your tickets and schedule your reservations asap!

Flooding on the Boardwalk

No official media sites have published details on this story. So, I’m using social media posts and Disney fansites as the sources here. Please keep that in mind as you read.

Early on Saturday morning last week, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas reportedly experienced severe flooding issues. Enough members of DVC social media groups on Facebook verified this information that it must have happened. However, Disney never commented on it, and none of the local news stations covered it for whatever reason.

Here’s what we know. The second floor of an occupied DVC section suffered flooding. The water damage proved extensive enough to seep through the walls and force emergency personnel to evacuate impacted areas.

Boardwalk Villas DVC resort at Walt Disney World

Tim at DVC News has published some of the images thanks to a member named Alex Adamek. In these photos, management has placed fans in flooded sections to reduce moisture and eliminate pollutants. The other pictures show the fire department appearing.

Apparently, a pipe burst in a section above the lobby. The flooding required some ceiling covering, and blowers were in place to air out the place. Any information beyond that is speculation.

Since the rest of the hotel remains closed and Disney had limited capacity at the Boardwalk, the timing works well. Guests will relocate to other rooms until the matter gets resolved, which may have already happened.

Other Park and Resort Updates

At Magic Kingdom, Mad Tea Party has closed for renovations. This shutdown should prove brief, as current plans call for the ride’s reopening on March 5th.

The news is decidedly less favorable at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. When I was at Tomorrowland a couple of weeks ago, cast members tested the ride and indicated it would reopen soon.

Alas, Disney has since declared that it’ll remain shut down until April 4th at the earliest. The ride will mark its one-year anniversary of being offline this week! That’s right. It closed for unannounced maintenance during the first week of March in 2020, even before the pandemic. Nobody outside Disney knows what the problem is here.

Disney also quietly updated its mask policy again. This new change applies to restaurant behavior. Some guests have gotten into a bad habit of ordering food and then sitting maskless at the table for an hour or more. It’s dangerous to other guests and cast members alike. So, here’s the new policy:

Yes, anyone in a public area – which is basically all of Walt Disney World – must wear masks all the time. The lone exceptions are when you’re actively eating or drinking. By tidying up these loopholes, Disney can better deal with rule-breaking guests.

The other park news this week involves Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Disney Junior character breakfast here will return on March 22nd. The significant change here is that the meal will change to a la carte rather than buffet style.

Finally, we learned about the return of the Garden Rocks series at the 2021 Taste of the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Disney understands that popular musicians aren’t inclined to travel right now. Also, local musicians could use some gigs. So, Orlando bands will perform at Garden Rocks this year rather than your favorite one-hit wonders of the 1980s!

The Real Star Wars

In slightly non-Disney news, Joe Rohde gets a happy ending. The former Imagineer has joined the space venture, Virgin Galactic. The company invented a role for Rohde as Experience Architect. He will map out the consumer experience and describes his job this way:

“This is one of the most profound things that can happen to you. To go beyond the reaches of the earth, to space, and look back down at it. It’s a spectacularly unique opportunity with huge potential for transformational change in a person… What Virgin Galactic is doing, in democratizing space travel, has reached a moment where it is about to enter history. It’s happening right here in New Mexico, and it’s very rare to be a person who gets to be in the place, at the time, that history begins.”

While some Imagineers are building an immersive themed experience at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Rohde will now work on the real deal!

Okay, that’s everything for this week. Have fun, everyone!

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