DVC Parks and Resorts Update for October 12th
I come bearing bad news in the latest DVC Parks and Resorts Update. Let’s tear off the bandage as I explain what happened.
Disneyland NOT Reopening Soon
Disneyland and the state of California just unfriended each other. The move seemingly came out of nowhere, as the parties had shared an amicable relationship throughout the pandemic.
Then, Walt Disney World reopened in mid-July. Disneyland had scheduled to follow suit on July 17th. Well, it’s…long after July 17th, and there’s still no Disneyland.
I’d previously mentioned how park officials had readied the Happiest Place on Earth for its triumphant return. Just this week, Disney’s set up new security gates, started free COVID-19 testing for cast members, and added new safety measures.
In fact, Disney liaised with local healthcare officials before introducing some of its latest social distancing steps. Disneyland now features Spanish language signs to clarify its policies. Also, the parks have added social distancing markers outside of bathrooms. They’ve installed more hand sanitizer stations, too.
Disney’s management feels like the park is ready to go. They’re just waiting on the okay from elected officials. Alas, that sign isn’t coming soon. In the previous update, I chronicled the company’s decision to declare war on California’s governor.
Bob Iger resigned from California’s Economic Recovery Task Force. He’d joined that program as a favor to the governor and felt betrayed that no there is no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme park re-openings.
Last week, Disney unleashed all of its political allies on the governor, placing the elected official in a defensive position. Disney had hoped that the threat of extensive layoffs at Disneyland might sway the governor to act quickly.
This week, the governor replied, and it wasn’t positive. “We don’t anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data. We feel there’s no hurry to put out guidelines and we continue to work with the industry.” Folks, that’s a hard no.
The California Attractions and Parks Association decried the move, “We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon. Each day that parks are closed further decimates the amusement park industry. The governor’s ‘no big rush’ approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”
Disney Strikes Back
Disney’s Chief Medical Officer, Pamela Hymel, countered the governor by stating:
“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach. The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe.
Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and experts in local government and health agencies.
All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols.”
Disney’s argument hinges on the fact that Walt Disney World hasn’t had an outbreak since it reopened. I’ll add that many NBA players have left the Disney Bubble. Since then, some have indicated to NBA officials that they regret leaving as they felt safer there than in their cities.
Disney has proven that it can operate parks and resorts safely. However, California’s governor has decided to keep Disneyland closed for the time being. Disney recently canceled related resort reservations through October 24th, and the honest evaluation is that nothing is likely to change for several more weeks.
A lot’s happening this month that may impact you as a Disney Vacation Club member.
For instance, the next time that you perform online check-in, you’ll notice a new option. The Housekeeping Service menu allows you to choose whether you want maid service during your trip. If you do, you’ll select ‘I’d like service every other day’ (although it’ll actually be every four days for DVC members).
Due to the pandemic, some of you may prefer to avoid having strangers in your room during your visit. If so, you’ll select ‘I’d like to decline service.’ This preference opts you out of all housekeeping during your stay. Note that you can contact the front desk should you change your mind either way during your trip.
Disney doesn’t want guests to feel like housekeeping is mandatory right now. The crew will perform a deep cleaning after every visit. So, your room will be spotless when you arrive. After that, Disney gives you control about what makes you comfortable with housekeeping services.
On a different note, Disney has introduced a new payment option for maintenance fees. In a few days, the DVC site will accept credit cards as a way to pre-pay your fees. You enter your credit card information. Then, when it’s time for annual maintenance fees, Disney will automatically bill the amount to your card, thereby ensuring that you don’t forget.
Members who prefer to pay monthly may take the same approach. However, Disney will only do this by debiting bank accounts. So, you’ll add your checking or saving account instead. I should note that this option is only available to members with US-based bank accounts.
Let’s Talk Aulani
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa will reopen in less than three weeks. As the property prepares for its triumphant return, it’s issuing guidelines about what guests should expect.
Hotel visitors must use face coverings during their stay. This applies to everyone aged two and up. You’ll also use online check-in and contactless payment during this trip.
The resort won’t reopen its Table Service restaurants, AMA’AMA and Makahiki, at the start. Similarly, Aunty’s Beach House and Laniwai Spa aren’t good ideas due to social distancing concerns. So, they’re a no-go, too.
Most Quick Service restaurants will operate, which means you’ll still enjoy a wealth of Polynesian cuisine. The beach, pools, and lazy river will reopen. The hotel reserves the right to reduce operating hours and stop entry due to capacity limits, though.
You can read the full reopening guidelines update from the official website.
Aulani has also messaged DVC members about policy changes related to the closure. Here’s the letter:
“Aloha Aulani Member,
As we previously shared, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is working toward a phased reopening beginning on November 1, 2020.
To provide greater flexibility for Members with an ownership interest at Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawaii, we’ve modified our temporary policies regarding expiring Vacation Points for those with a reservation impacted by the Resort’s closure. If you have previously banked Points that are still eligible for use, they will automatically be extended through Feb 28, 2021, and will be available online for use through the Member Online Booking tool once your Use Year has ended. This includes previously banked April, June, August, September, October, or December 2018 or February 2019 Aulani Use Year points. All other types of Points will follow their normal expiration process.
We encourage you to regularly visit the Aulani Resort and Disney Vacation Club websites for important information regarding your Membership and utilize the Member Online Booking Tool to book or modify a Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation.
We look forward to welcoming you and your family home to Aulani Resort soon.
Disney Vacation Club”
Obviously, the Disneyland battle and DVC updates dominate today’s conversation. Still, some stuff is happening at the parks that you should know about.
Dapper Day is a go for 2021. We’ve already got the events scheduled at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom on November 21st and 22nd, which may or may not still happen.
Now, we know that the Dapper Day Expo will occur in Anaheim on April 10th. On the following day, Disneyland will celebrate Dapper Day. Meanwhile, Walt Disney World will host Dapper Day again on April 24th and 25th. Hopefully, the world will be back to normal by next April, allowing full event participation.
In restaurant news, Disney has reopened Lunching Pad at Magic Kingdom and ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Foodies should take special note of ABC Commissary. Its new menu includes several ambitious dishes, especially by Quick Service standards.
Disney has also announced the return of character dining at Chef Mickey’s. The Fab Five will come back to the restaurant starting on December 16th. Currently, the place only opens for breakfast and doesn’t include Mickey.
With this return, Disney will operate four character meals. They’re at:
- Chef Mickey’s
- The Garden Grill
- Hollywood & Vine
- Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera
Ravello also offers a breakfast character meal on Saturdays at Four Seasons Resort Orlando – At Walt Disney World, but I couldn’t decide whether to count it.
Finally, I have excellent news for those of you with late 2020 trips planned. Disney has increased park hours on some days. Usually, the park has added an hour at night. You can check whether this change impacts your trip by looking at the official park calendar.