DVC Parks and Resorts Update for October 19th

Characters floating down boat at Disney's Animal Kingdom

We’ve got closed restaurants, delayed attraction reopenings, updated park hours, and a welcome change to the Disney Vacation Club member portal. And yes, we’ll talk about Disneyland again.

The Most Important DVC Change

Have you ever purchased One-Time-Use points from Disney? I struggle to remember the last year I did NOT buy the maximum amount of 24. At $19 per point, I’m happy with what I get, which is an extra night or two at a DVC resort.

Similarly, I know that many DVC members have received transferred points from others. In particular, families enjoy this benefit, as they can help one another reach the needed DVC points total for a trip.

What’s the issue with owning these points? The rudimentary DVC member website has never acknowledged their existence…until now. When Disney introduced booking tools in 2012, the system lacked many core features.

Over time, DVC has gradually added functionality that should have been there from the start. After all, we’re barely two years removed from members getting to modify DVC reservations online.

Members would like to book and modify reservations using these DVC points. However, the system never allowed this as a possibility until this week.

Yes, you still must purchase One-Time-Use points by calling Member Services. Once you have them in your account, you can finally book them yourself online! It’s a long overdue but handy update.

Also, I cannot speak for anyone else, but my One-Time-Use points show as an Aulani contract. A cast member informed me this is perfectly normal.

Park and Resort Changes

I’m sad to say that a favorite restaurant among DVC members is no more. Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs closed earlier this month, and ownership has since confirmed that it will not return. Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill remains open, but it’s a significantly more expensive option than its Quick Service counterpart.

Speaking of Disney Springs, the feud between The Void and Disney will continue in court. However, the virtual attraction experience will never return to Disney Springs. The owners of this building have removed all signage and other traces of The Void.

In resort news, something shocking may have occurred. I previously mentioned that Disney’s BoardWalk Inn would refurbish its infamous Creepy Clown waterslide, the Keister Coaster.

Well, recent guests at the pool have taken pictures, and those images suggest that…the clown isn’t there. Wallcoverings prevent a detailed view, but the clown’s face juts out when it’s there. The current exterior remains flat.

Now, Disney may bring the clown back, or this could be an optical illusion. Still, it’s interesting to wonder whether Disney has listened to its critics about the pool and its creepiest resident.

Speaking of refurbishments, Imagineers are working on the supports at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Apparently, this will take longer than Disney had projected. The company now lists December 26th as the target return date for the pride of Tomorrowland.

More Park Updates

Of course, the most crucial park story of the week confirms what everyone has long suspected. The Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will close in November. We have an exact date now, as the fun ends on November 22nd.

EPCOT pictured with Food and Wine festival sign at sunset

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

You won’t suffer without an EPCOT festival for long, though. Five days later, the 2020 version of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays begins on November 27th. Remember that Disney won’t host the Candlelight Processional this year, though.

EPCOT has undergone a different change recently. The park has added contactless security scanners at the entrance, making it the latest Walt Disney World park to do so.

Also, we should all get used to Park Passes. Disney has updated its calendar through January of 2022, and Park Passes are available through mid-January. Similarly, Disney has published park hours through the end of 2021.

These updates confirmed the obvious. Walt Disney World won’t host any New Year’s Eve events due to the pandemic. Also, the parks won’t operate late into the night during the upcoming holiday season.

Park Hours Update

Starting on November 6th, park hours will vary on weekdays vs. weekends. Disney has changed operating hours regularly over the past few weeks, too. For now, Christmas week park hours display as:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 AM to 7 PM
  • EPCOT – 12 PM to 8 PM
  • Magic Kingdom – 9 AM to 7 PM
EPCOT Spaceship Earth pictured with clock projected onto exterior at night

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

However, you should check the official site regularly. I’ll visit Disney in ten days, and the various parks’ operating hours change up to four times while I’m there. Disney’s still feeling its way through a challenging situation.

The Dreaded Disneyland Update

The only progress I can report about Disneyland’s reopening involves cancellations. Disney has sent notices to guests staying at the resorts through the end of October. So, November represents the earliest return date.

For its part, Disney has agreed to terms with 11 different Disneyland unions. Meanwhile, the parks have readied safety measures to protect guests. Disney also possesses the knowledge that Florida has traced no outbreaks to theme parks.

Conversely, California officials have softened their stance a bit. State health officials traveled to other, currently operational American theme parks to evaluate safety policies. They returned and informed their superiors about their findings.

While health officials got the lay of the land, Disney spent the week reorganizing some of its core media businesses into a single entity. Executives were too busy to engage in a war of words, which seems to have de-escalated the situation.

Barring another outbreak in the Golden State, theme park reopening guidelines should publish soon. Companies within the industry fear that California will limit capacity to 25 percent. However, hope has increased that Disneyland may reopen by the end of 2020, maybe even Thanksgiving.

Several publications, including the Orange County Register, have noted that the county remains in the Red tier for infections, though. Theme parks cannot return until Orange Country drops down to the Orange/Moderate tier. That’s where we’re stuck for the time being.

About Disney Surveys

Let’s finish with a discussion regarding park surveys. The other day, a snafu with Delta forced me to book a flight one day earlier than expected. While I’d ordinarily rent DVC points from DVC Rental Store, my wife noticed a terrific price at the Contemporary when we couldn’t get Bay Lake Tower.

So, we booked the trip the old-fashioned way, and Disney promptly — within eight hours — emailed me a survey asking why. I’m not even joking. It was a data-mining exercise disguised as a poll, wherein the company asked what encouraged me to book at the last minute.

After researching the matter, I learned that Disney has sent out many of these lately. While some questions vary, the most important ones center on guests’ comfort level with face coverings. This subject remains a hot-button topic now that Florida has entered Phase Three.

Disney's Magic Kingdom and guest pictured with masks during pandemic

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Technically, Disney doesn’t need to require face masks in the wake of a decision by Florida’s governor. However, the company always seeks to prove its safety to California’s governor, as we just discussed.

Disney is also performing routine checks to verify that guests still feel safer with mask requirements. In fact, the company’s gone so far as to ask that guests reschedule if they’re not comfortable wearing a face covering.

Chapek confirmed during a CNBC interview this week that the parks haven’t increased capacity thresholds. He suggests that the maximum remains at 25 percent, an issue some had questioned due to an October increase in ride wait-times.

I ask those of you who receive Disney surveys to complete them. Disney needs to know where its customers stand on coronavirus-related issues. The people who book rooms are the ones who provide the most honest opinions on the subject, along with those who have skipped annual visits this year. Disney is surveying you, too.

These responses help the company decide how to proceed. Make your voice heard, fellow DVC members.

PS: If you’re flying to the parks, check your flight schedule regularly. Delta changed ours three times, as they’re juggling capacity issues of their own. My wife and I would have wound up on different flights if we hadn’t checked. I’d hate for that to happen to any of you.

Have a great week, everyone!

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