DVC Parks and Resorts Update for November 2nd
This week brought hardship to Central Florida. The Walt Disney Company announced massive layoffs, some of which impacted Disney Vacation Club favorites.
Also, another Disney theme park had to shut down (again), but I do have some good news for DVC members in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update.
We’ll get to the bad stuff, but let’s start with something happy. I know from speaking with other DVC members that the official Disney website frustrates you.
While the site has improved dramatically over the last few years from its Netscape-esque dated look at the start, it still could be better. To Disney’s credit, the IT department keeps pounding away to make positive changes whenever possible.
You’ll notice the latest example the next time you log in and check your points. Until now, you would only have seen your current DVC points available along with the ones for next year.
Well, DVC has modified this page to display your current Use Year, 2020, plus information about available points through 2023! This enhancement allows you to plan points distribution more effectively. You know what you have and when you’ll have it!
When you’re on the My Memberships page, you may also click the button for Manage Vacation Points. It’ll display information called Vacation Points Overview, which includes the date for your Banking Window, your Vacation Points Activity, and other explicit details about your membership.
This change represents a decisive step forward for DVC members, and Disney deserves full credit for it. On the other hand…
Walt Disney World Layoffs
Entering 2020, The Walt Disney Company employed 77,000 cast members on its Orlando campus. By the end of 2020, Disney will have laid off nearly 18,000 of them, almost a quarter of all employees.
This past week, we learned the details, and they’re devastating to cast members. DVC members will lose some favorites, too. Word leaked when some Disney-based social media group posters indicated that they’d lost their jobs. Several of the updates came from cast members with recognizable jobs.
For example, the Actors’ Equity Union revealed that 720 of its 780 members at Walt Disney World lost their jobs this week. These two groups had previously butted heads over safety measures at the parks. Eventually, the union praised Disney for its concessions and thoughtful procedures.
Now, the situation has evolved, as Disney will not earn any revenue from Disneyland for the foreseeable future. This financial shortfall has forced Disney to cut some jobs that seemed sacred. Walt Disney World had already laid off performers like Yehaa Bob Jackson and the drummers at the Japan Pavilion.
This week, the list expanded to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, arguably the longest-running dinner theater show on the planet. Disney terminated all employees’ contracts, meaning that the beloved show is dead, at least for now.
I’ll note that park officials have indicated that they have every intention of bringing back much of the stuff that’s been lost this week. However, that’s easy to say now. It’ll be much more telling when Disney brings back Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Spirit of Aloha, and other DVC member favorites.
More about the Layoffs and Closures
Disney’s cancellations cross into the parks, too. Many longstanding favorites won’t return anytime soon, as Disney has laid off the full casts. Festival of the Lion King, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage are just a few examples.
Disney also laid off the entire teams of Citizens of Hollywood and Citizens of Main Street. Everyone at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor has lost their jobs, too. The list goes on and on, with the end result being that most live performances at Walt Disney World are off the menu for the time being.
Obviously, Disney faced challenges with these performances during the pandemic. They tend to gather crowds, especially in tight spaces and indoor theaters.
So, park officials have only kept the ones with significant demand AND cavernous theaters capable of social distancing. For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is the best example of this exception.
Overall, Disney ended working relationships with cast members for 12 different shows. Some of them, like the Pandora Utility Suit, won’t matter to most, and others like Voyage of the Little Mermaid were on their last legs anyway.
Then, there are the heartbreaking losses like the Green Army Men at Toy Story Land and Voices of Liberty at EPCOT. And don’t even get me started on Festival of the Lion King.
Also, the worst part for cast members is that Disney hasn’t confirmed all its cuts yet. Instead, the belief is that more employees will get laid off at the start of 2021. Part-time restaurant servers, in particular, fear for their jobs.
I’m actually at Walt Disney World right now and have spoken with several cast members. Most believe that Disney will recover in 18-36 months, but it’s going to be grim until then.
Disneyland Paris Shuts Down Again
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard that many parts of the world are currently experiencing another wave of significant COVID-19 infections. The United States reported its first 100,000-case day on Friday, October 30th.
France has similarly suffered over the past few weeks. For this reason, President Emmanuel Macron has declared another state of emergency in his country.
Obviously, with France under this declaration, Disneyland Paris cannot operate. So, this park has followed the pattern of Hong Kong Disneyland by reopening only to close down again at a later date.
Currently, Disney officials expect the French park to reopen for good on February 13th. However, Disneyland Paris also may return on December 19th for a two-week holiday run. If things break right, guests can spend Christmas and New Year’s at the park. Then, it’ll close down again on January 4th.
As a reminder, Disney recently took full ownership of Disneyland Paris. This shutdown represents yet another revenue shortfall stemming from the pandemic. Coronavirus hates Disney and its fans.
Two Other DVC Updates
Let’s end this week with a couple of pertinent updates.
At Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, the reshaping of Luna Park Pool continues. At this point, it’s an open secret that we’ve seen the last of the creepy clown, at least in its current form.
Apparently, changing that form will take longer than expected, presumably because it requires an exorcist. So, this renovation will last into December and possibly even through the start of 2021.
Technically, all renovations at the pool involve the water slide, but the prevailing belief is that the slide won’t change. It’s the surrounding area that Disney’s adjusting, which makes sense since so many of us fear that clown. I’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.
Finally, the layoffs have impacted one DVC favorite. The Wonders of the Lodge tour is no more, which means that you won’t find Ranger Jack at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas anymore. The cast member remains hopeful he’ll get reassigned, but fans of this hotel tour are out of luck. This one’s gone and probably not coming back.
Okay, that’s all the sadness for this week. Stay safe and smart, my friends!