Global Disney Parks and Resorts Opening Status: June 19th
With virtually all aspects of Disney’s theme park empire ready to return, today’s Global Parks and Resorts Opening Status is the last one. We’ve almost made it, fellow DVC members!
Somehow, there’s still a ton of updates to discuss, though. Let’s talk about all the Disney news involving the reopening of the Happiest Places on Earth. Disney even dropped a bombshell at the last moment, so you need to read this!
Disney Park Status:
|Resort||Locations Currently Open||Is Country/State Open|
|Walt Disney World||Currently in Phase Two of Reopening (started on June 5)|
|Disneyland Resort||Currently in Stage Three of Reopening (started on June 12)|
|Disney Vacation Club||Open|
|Disneyland Paris||Reservations canceled through July 14||State of emergency through July 10|
|Hong Kong Disneyland||Yes|
|Tokyo Disneyland||Entire Ikspiari Shopping District (reopened on June 1)||Yes|
Walt Disney World
Most of the updates this week come from Walt Disney World. Some are gonna make you happy, while others will break your heart.
Let’s start with the bad news since it’s 2020. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party won’t happen this year. Disney has canceled all these events. Disney H2O Glow Nights are also not going to happen in 2020, either.
Since the pandemic has grown more aggressive in Florida, the timing won’t make sense for a while. However, Disney hasn’t ruled out events later in the year. For instance, the company wouldn’t commit to the cancellation of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party yet.
“Looking ahead to the holiday season, this may spark questions about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, which includes the Candlelight Processional. We are monitoring our new environment closely and will make a decision on these events as we continue to learn more from government and health officials.”
So, hope remains that the threat of coronavirus will dissipate enough that Disney can hold these events. The Candlelight Processional is especially important to many Central Florida residents and frequent holiday Disney vacationers.
EPCOT Festival Updates
Speaking of which, I have terrific news about everyone’s favorite EPCOT festival. Disney WILL hold the 2020 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival! In fact, it’s going to be the most extensive one ever in terms of dates.
Food & Wine 2020 will begin on July 15, which is also the reopening date for EPCOT. So, when EPCOT returns, it’ll have a festival open and operating.
Also, if you’re disappointed that the 2020 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival got truncated, I have more good news.
A Remy topiary will be at the France pavilion, and his scavenger hunt will return, too. Think of this festival as a combination of your favorites from the spring and fall!
The lone disappointment here is that Disney understandably cannot operate the Eat to the Beat concert series right now. These events are too popular and would require violating social distancing practices, which Disney officials simply won’t do.
So, you’ll have to listen to your beloved 80s and 90s musicians on Spotify instead. On the plus side, none of them is in danger of breaking a hip this way.
Dining at Walt Disney World and Other Changes
The other significant update involves dining at Walt Disney World. For starters, dining reservations are once again available. However, the process is different.
Only a few months after Disney discouraged guests from using phone customer support, the company has reversed course. You must book dining reservations via DVC’s member services phone number (800-800-9800).
Obviously, you’ll schedule reservations for Table Service restaurants, and Disney has also changed something about this process. To prevent unnecessary contact between cast members and customers, Disney will introduce Table Service check-in.
Rather than speaking with a host/hostess, you’ll load My Disney Experience and signal the restaurant that you’ve arrived for your Advanced Dining Reservation. At this point, Disney will put you in the digital queue and then send you a push notification once your table is ready. Frankly, this move is long overdue.
More Disney News
The most important story coming out of Orlando doesn’t come from Disney. Orange County’s mayor has taken action with increasing coronavirus infections in the area. Everyone in Orange County must wear a face mask in public starting on June 20.
Orlando has averaged just under 2,500 new cases over the past week. Through June 4, the worst day had previously been 1,413 cases and the average daily update through June 1 was 700 cases. The mayor has taken appropriate steps to prevent additional infections. Also, this decision provides more safety to Walt Disney World vacationers, who will return in 72 hours.
Gleeful cast members warmly welcomed returning guests. You can read some of the reports on your favorite message boards and social media. I’m a member of Hilton Head’s FB group, which you can join here. The cast members are quick to reply to hotel (and pandemic-related) questions, and the site sometimes posts pictures of Shadow the dog.
Walt Disney World Surprise Reservations Update
Okay, right after I “finished” this article, Disney officials revealed lots of details about how the park reservation system will work. Since this story is evolving right now, I’ll post what I can confirm here and then provide additional updates with Monday’s regular news update.
Park visitors will need three things to get started. As DVC members, I’m sure you already have them all, but they are:
- My Disney Experience account
- Valid theme park tickets or annual passes
- A linked Disney hotel reservation
That last one is important. Some guests book DVC rooms but never link them to My Disney Experience. If you fail to do that, the system will recognize your account differently.
Many DVC members already know this from trying to book Advanced Dining Reservations at the 180-day window. If you don’t have linked tickets or hotel rooms, the system will limit your options. So, take this step as a precautionary measure.
When you log into the system and have a linked ticket, the official Disney World website will display a calendar. It shows park availability for each day. At Walt Disney World, you’ll have four different chances to book a reservation since there are four theme parks.
When to Book for Your Next Trip
The reservation system will open sooner than you might expect. The dates are:
- June 22 for Disney resort guests with valid theme park admissions
- June 26 for Walt Disney World annual passholders who don’t have hotel rooms booked
- June 28 for all other guests with valid theme park admissions
You can book from now through September 26, 2021. So, you’ll have 15 months’ worth of dates from which you can pick your DVC vacation park visits.
The early bird will get the worm here. I would strongly suggest that you spend part of this weekend creating an itinerary for your upcoming DVC vacations. That way, you can book at first opportunity on June 22 (Monday).
Disney’s website lists four steps to the park reservation system. They are:
- Link your park admission to your Disney account
- Create your party (how many people you’ll book)
- Select a Park and Date
- Review and confirm your plans
The process looks intuitive and self-explanatory. However, you should expect heavy site traffic during the early days, especially June 22, 26, and 28).
Finally, as expected, park hopping isn’t an option at the moment. So, it’s one park a day for a while. Disney does indicate that it will sell Park Hopper admissions in 2021. Ergo, this policy may be short-term. We just don’t know the precise dates yet.
In Anaheim, Disney is preparing for its return on July 17, the park’s 65th anniversary. In anticipation of this event, park officials have published several health guidelines and protocols.
Most of the changes mirror the ones that Disney has previously announced at Walt Disney World. Here are some highlights:
- Temperature checks for park access
- Social distancing measures in place throughout the parks
- Mandatory face masks for all cast members and guests
- Daily health screenings for cast members
- Temporary cancellations of fireworks, parades, and some shows
- Emphasis on cashless transactions
While Disney union members in Florida expressed satisfaction with the company’s procedures, the ones in California feel differently. Union leaders who represent more than 17,000 Disneyland cast members wrote the governor of California yesterday.
In this letter, the Disney workers expressed concerns that their employer was reopening Disneyland too soon. As I type this, California is currently the third-hardest hit state during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s nearing 170,000 victims and may reach that total by the time you read this.
On June 17 and June 18, the state broke its record for the largest number of newly reported infections since the viral outbreak started. On those two days, California confirmed 7,966 new cases.
Beyond coronavirus, Disneyland’s reopening plans seem reasonable and easily implemented, though.
Hong Kong Disneyland
On June 18, Hong Kong Disneyland officially became the second Disney theme park to reopen. The pandemic has slowed enough in China that Shanghai Disneyland’s return has been smooth sailing.
Early reports from Hong Kong suggest that the same is true there. Obviously, it’s only a couple of days into its reopening, but the opening day was the best-case scenario.
One of the highlights occurred at Disneyland Railroad’s train depot. Park officials have canceled character meetings here, just like everyone else. But this decision didn’t stop characters from hanging out on the stairs to entertain socially distant onlookers.
Other characters wandered through the crowds at random intervals. A couple even boarded some rides to the delight of other guests. It’s too early to say whether these policies were opening day festivities or a permanent part of Hong Kong Disneyland during the pandemic.
Hopefully, Disney will borrow these ideas for its American parks, though. They looked FUN!
Still Waiting For News on…
I would have liked to end this series with exciting news on the final two parks. Disney currently has reopened two and announced dates for two more. Alas, we don’t have finality with Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland yet.
In Japan, Disney’s primary competitor, Universal, has reopened its park in Osaka. Universal Studios Japan is actually the fifth-most trafficked park in the world. Third and fourth place go to…Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
So, the return of one seems like it should set the table for the other. On Monday, Universal Studios Japan opened its gates for annual passholders. I had hoped that the Oriental Land Company, the owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland, would announce its plans soon afterward.
Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. While Universal’s park is in Osaka, Tokyo Disneyland is in…well, Tokyo. That city has gotten hit a bit harder by coronavirus. So, local officials have remained cautious about the approach.
However, rumors abound that all Disney theme parks will reopen by the end of July. The timeline here fits for Tokyo Disneyland. After all, Disney waited about six weeks longer than Universal did in Central Florida. A similar trajectory would mean the return of Tokyo Disneyland in late July.
Then, there’s Disneyland Paris. This park could announce its reopening at any time now. Insiders suggest plenty of activity has occurred behind the scenes in anticipation of a mid-July return.
In fact, it’s about 50/50 whether Disneyland Paris reopens before Disneyland. The date that people have circled is July 15, but this one remains speculative until park officials confirm it.
I expect some movement over the next seven days. However, I thought the same thing at Hong Kong Disneyland. That park stayed silent for weeks, even though it was nearly ready. Then, management suddenly revealed that the park would come back later that week.
So, anything’s possible here. No matter what happens, we’re only a few weeks away from all Disney parks on the planet being back in business. And that’s all that matters, right?
Enjoy this hard-earned bit of happiness during these dark times, my friends!