DVC Parks and Resorts Update for March 22, 2021: Disneyland Open Date, Changes & More
We have an opening date for Disneyland Resort and more information about what will and won’t be available at that time. We also learned about international park changes related to COVID-19. We even found out more about story changes coming to a classic attraction.
I’ll explain everything in the latest DVC Parks & Resorts Update.
When California’s government lowered restrictions about public gatherings, park officials weren’t quite ready. Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said as much when he released a public statement. He indicated Disney would announce a reopening date at a later time.
That time has come, as Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, performed a live interview on CNBC. During this conversation, he stated that Disneyland Resort’s two theme parks will reopen on April 30th.
By that date, the parks will have remained closed for 13 and a half months, a seemingly impossible fact and a concession to the perils of Coronavirus. That’s the negative aspect, but the positive side matters the most. The Happiest Place on Earth will return in less than six weeks!
As a Disney Vacation Club member, that date may confuse you, especially if you’ve been reading these updates. If so, you know that A Touch of Disney will run through April 19th. Also, you’ve read that The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen on May 2nd.
That may sound weird given that Disneyland’s theme parks will come back on April 30th. DVC isn’t moving up its return date for the Grand Californian, though. Instead, Disney will open the regular hotel rooms starting on April 29th. It’s a minimal concern since it only impacts three nights, but I want you to be aware of it.
The Grand Californian counts as your only option for a cash room, too. Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel won’t reopen yet. Chapek confirmed that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will operate at 15 percent of maximum capacity.
Since (theoretically) all the customers will visit from other locations in California, there’s not enough demand to justify running multiple resorts. Keep checking back to learn when these resorts are ready to return.
The Changes at Disneyland Resort
More importantly, Disney will allow only California residents at the parks, a rule they’ll enforce through Park Passes. Since you must schedule one, Disney can tell who lives in California and who doesn’t.
Beyond Park Passes, the best news about the reopening involves an updated attraction. In a modest surprise, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish will open when Disneyland returns. I hadn’t expected this since Avengers Campus won’t debut yet.
However, park officials have decided that the other park modifications may open without fear of causing social distancing problems. As such, the altered version of Snow White’s Scary Adventures will debut on April 30th! If you’re visiting on that day, you should head straight there.
As a reminder, Disney has added new scenes on the ride. One of them delivers the fairytale ending that Snow White deserves. The other one features the Imagineering tricks that you know from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Specifically, it’s the mining section with all the illuminated gemstones.
Disney isn’t stopping there, either. You may recall that Haunted Mansion had closed before the pandemic began in the United States. Imagineers wanted to update some elements of the ride with details we still don’t know yet.
Well, these changes will be on display on April 30th. Disney will reopen the new and improved Haunted Mansion with the rest of Disneyland. Speculation has centered on wait queue improvements similar to those at Magic Kingdom, but that’s unconfirmed. Given the impressive nature of the Hatbox Ghost’s grand return, I’m expecting more, though.
Speaking of Changes: Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise
Disney also unveiled one significant change coming to Magic Kingdom. Later this year, Jungle Cruise will alter its story to prioritize the Skipper. The Parks Blog updated with new details. Simultaneously, some sleuths uncovered permits for work requests that expire in January of 2022. So, we’re not far away from this change becoming a reality.
Which changes should we expect? Disney will draw a line between the animals who “live” at Jungle Cruise, the elephants, giraffes, and lions who have made us laugh over the years. They’ll turn the tables on the unwelcome human visitors, and the Skipper will tie everything together.
Disney suggests that many new scenes will unfold during Jungle Cruise. The Skipper’s presence provides the connective tissue. Of course, this means we’re getting new dialogue on the ride, which seems long overdue. I’m not sure it’s had any new (non-Christmas) jokes since Frozen came out.
I’d encourage you to click the Parks Blog link and read the start of the new backstory. It includes “A Conversation with Alberta Falls,” the current owner of Jungle Navigation Company. The updated sense of humor is already on display.
International Park Updates: Tokyo Disney & Disneyland Paris
I’ve got good news and bad news and then potentially great news.
Tokyo just announced its plans for The Olympics. One of the main rules involves tourists, as international guests would get to attend. It’s athletes only. Based on this information, you might expect troubles at Tokyo Disneyland. That’s not the case!
In fact, the two theme parks will double their current capacity in the coming days. It’ll increase from 5,000 to 10,000, an encouraging move. Tokyo Disney can do this thanks to the recent cancellation of the state of emergency in the area.
Alas, the opposite applies at Disneyland Paris. I’d mentioned last week that Paris had experienced another outbreak. You may recall the one from November that forced a park closure. Sadly, this one’s worse, as the city has neared capacity on ICU beds.
For this reason, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has imposed a month-long lockdown in Paris and other regions of the country. Based on that information, Disneyland Paris won’t just miss its April 2nd reopening, as previously indicated. Now, it appears likely to become the final Disney park to return for good.
Finally, I offer some hope for international DVC members. Presuming that the COVID-19 vaccination process continues unabated, some international tourists, ones from Europe and Brazil, could return to the United States by mid-May. Here’s a recent vaccination update:
????VACCINE DATA UPDATE (March 20)????
????3.1M doses today; 7-day avg=2.25M/day
????????US: 121M doses total
⚠️We're finally rolling the last-Saturday CDC data dump out of the 7-day, giving a truer picture of the U.S. average rate.
— Drew Armstrong (@ArmstrongDrew) March 20, 2021
Based on this information, a quarter of American adults have received at least one shot. One out of every eight American adults has become fully vaccinated. At that pace, herd immunity of 70 percent would occur on June 23rd. We’d achieve 90 percent immunity by early August.
Based on that information, the potential return of international travelers seems possible soon-ish. Alas, the situation in France reinforces the fact that nothing’s guaranteed for now.
Other Disney Updates
In park news, EPCOT fans experienced an oddity the other day. The park suffered a power outage that impacted three locations: The Seas with Nemo & Friends, The Land, and the former World of Motion pavilion.
If you heard that a bunch of Disney rides had closed that day, here’s your explanation. The lack of power caused the shutdown of attractions like Test Track, Soarin’, and the Finding Nemo ride. Many people griped on social media that it impacted such a high volume of EPCOT entertainment options.
The monorail system at Magic Kingdom also faced a temporary shutdown due to track issues. Simultaneously, Spring Break crowds have led to bus issues at the parks and even at Magical Express check-in.
Expect everything to take a bit longer while park officials adjust to this sudden reversal of fortune with the pandemic. The parks remain under-staffed, but herd immunity is possibly less than 100 days away. When that happens, all theme parks are gonna get mobbed with people.
Other DVC/Florida Updates
Disney has also moved forward with plans for its cruises. The company published itineraries for several summer 2022 options. You may have received an email about it. DVC members may book these trips starting on March 24th, a day ahead of the general public.
Here’s a list of options if you’re interested. Disney Cruise Line is auditioning for new cast members to play characters on cruises. So, it won’t be much longer before Disney Cruise Line makes its triumphant return!
On a touchier subject, I know that many members live in Florida. You should know that the state has lowered the vaccination age limit to 50, meaning you may be eligible now. In fact, Orange County has reduced the age to 40, triggering a feud between the governor and the mayor.
Those of you in the greater Orlando area now or soon could be impacted by this. That’s doubly true for the Johnson & Johnson version, which only requires one shot.
Along those lines, cast members have petitioned the governor to allow Walt Disney World employees to receive the vaccine. That idea got brushed aside by a spokesperson, but it bears monitoring over the next few days.
Frankly, by this time next month, most people who want a shot should be able to get one anyway. However, I think we all agree that sooner is better. I say that as someone who is brimming with Pfizer/BioNTech Super Soldier Serum right now…well, my first shot of it.
I sincerely hope that the rest of you are similarly fortunate or will be soon. The tide has finally turned, my friends!