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Thursday, Jan 21, 2021
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The Dish on Disney

Some Disney Updates and What is Coming Disney Parks and More!

Hi everyone! I have some important information that I want to share with y’all! So, let’s get started, shall we?! At Walt Disney World, the park-hopping ticket is back at Disney World for people to use to get into the parks.

As a response to the pandemic, Disney only allowed guests to book a reservation for one park a day. But that all changed with the start of the new year.

Theme park experts said this is likely a boon for locals and passholders who have been propping up the company according to earnings calls.

Ian Hitchcock is a passholder and runs the YouTube channel Park Hop Till We Drop. His family spent the morning at Magic Kingdom before hitting the second park of the day. He said this about the park hopper:

“We actually left Magic Kingdom at about 1:12 and made it over to Hollywood Studios, just kind of taking it easy, not trying to rush anything and we were here right at 2, walked right in.”

They are new rules for the park-hopping:

 1.   You first must make a reservation for one of the parks then visit that one before trying to park hop.

 2. Disney said it plans to allow people to park hop beginning around 2 p.m.

 3.  There’s no need for a reservation, but you can only get in if that park hasn’t reached capacity.

Disney World seems like they are no longer Social distancing on some rides. It’s been a few months since Walt Disney World reopened its gates and welcomed fans back in – albeit in a socially-distanced capacity. While the park has maintained standards to attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some have continued to express concerns about safety, particularly as the pandemic has continued to rage across the United States. Now, it appears as though guests can board some rides without the park’s previous social distancing measures in place.

In March 2020, Walt Disney World parks were among those that closed due to the global pandemic. It was a historic move by Disney, one that lasted for several weeks and had significant financial effects on the company. When the park reopened this summer, it looked very different from the Walt Disney World many fans know and love — in addition to reducing capacity and implementing sanitization stations, the park also enforced socially distanced lines and rides did not run with every row filled.

Now, according to Attractions Magazine, at least one attraction at Walt Disney World parks is no longer requiring guests to social distance when they are riding. In December, Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was seating guests in every row of the ride.

Given that COVID-19 cases in the United States are still on the rise, the relaxation of social distancing standards is notable. Disney responded to questions about rides running at full capacity, stating that park practices are constantly evolving and any decisions have been made in consultation with Florida health experts.

To that point, Disney officials have explained that Walt Disney World reopened with science-based health and safety protocols in place. As of a result of this measured approached, the company has to evaluate its plans and make adjustments as time has passed based on changing circumstances and recommendations from health officials. And due to some attractions’ ride designs, the park is now boarding every ride seat, a choice that has reportedly received support from public health entities. Expedition Everest in particular is known to have sufficient ventilation. Officials also say capacity has not changed since the company’s last earnings call.

It’s also worth noting that Disney Parks is not the only theme park company to make these kinds of adjustments to their attractions. Universal made similar changes this past summer with the help and support of local health officials.

Disney is also still encouraging other social distancing measures, including mask wearing and is still maintaining other measures like temperature screenings and increased cleaning and disinfecting. They’ve even brought in some backup to help with enforcement. That will likely be the case for the foreseeable future — in fact, the Disney Parks Chairman has acknowledged that some of its pandemic-related changes will be here to stay.

These changes have undoubtedly caused some tension for guests at Walt Disney World. Reports of altercations have made headlines, though it’s worth pointing out that incidents like that have been few and far between. While there’s still a debate as to whether a visit to an amusement park is worth the time and potential risk, it hasn’t stopped fans from making the trek. Walt Disney World was reportedly nearing capacity as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

Walt Disney World has also removed 2 projects from this year’s release schedule to back up the plans for next year:

  1. The Tron Light cycle power run ride
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind

Disney World will be offering a 4-day ticket deal for $50 a day to Florida residents. Walt Disney World will be rolling a new deal for Florida residents to be able to come and enjoy the parks for a much cheaper price in 2021.

The “Discovery Disney Ticket” options offer guests a choice of 2, 3, or 4-day tickets at a discount. The more days you want, the cheaper the per-day cost. Guests can visit one theme park each day of your ticket. You can pick a different park each day. You can also choose a Discover Disney Ticket that includes the Park Hopper Option.

    2-day ticket: $75 per day

    3-day ticket: $60 per day

    4-day ticket: $50 per day

The 2-day ticket is only valid through March 11, 2021 and is subject to the following blockout dates: January 16 – January 18 and February 13 – February 15. The 3-day and 4-day tickets are valid from through June 18, 2021 and are subject to the following block out dates: January 16 – January 18, February 13 – February 15, March 26 – April 11 and May 28 – 31, 2021.

To enter a park, both a park reservation and a valid ticket or pass for the same park on the same date is required. Tickets do not have to be used on consecutive dates. The offer goes on sale January 4.

Guests have been evacuated from Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom wrapped up its difficult year of 2020 with an evacuation late on New Year’s Eve. The ride was stopped at around 9:15 PM, though My Disney Experience still listed it as having a 35-minute wait. They stopped letting guests into line around the same time. Several logs were backed up in areas. Work lights were turned on inside and Cast Members were visible evacuating guests. We learned in June 2020 that Splash Mountain at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland would soon be re-themed to The Princess and the Frog, though no date for the re-theming has been announced. As the year went on, Splash Mountain broke down several times, including during Magic Kingdom’s reopening in July. It then went on to be temporarily closed and drained. Soon after it reopened, a log was fully submerged in August. Guests were evacuated in September. In October, things were looking up when a classic projection scene was finally restored. But only a week later, the attraction’s goose animatronic fell over and was covered in nets. They wished they could say Splash Mountain left its troubles in 2020, but unfortunately the ride broke down once again at 10:00 AM on January 1, 2021 which was yesterday. Thankfully, this issue was not as serious as the night before and they still allowed guests into line while the ride was broken down. It was back up and running within ten minutes.

How do you feel about Splash Mountain’s frequent technical issues?

Over at Disneyland Resort, Disney Legend and former EVP of Attractions Ron Dominguez known as ‘Mr. Disneyland’ passes away at 85

     Ron Dominguez, a Disney Legend and former executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, passed away at 85 on Saturday

    Dominguez is survived by his wife of 41 years, Betty, who he met at Disneyland

    Known as ‘Mr. Disneyland,’ he previously joked his childhood home was ‘located right about where the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and Cafe Orleans are today’

     Starting in July 1955, Dominguez took a summer job at the Anaheim amusement park as a ticket taker at age 20

     In 1974, the businessman became Vice President of Disneyland and, in 1990, then the executive Vice President, Walt Disney Attractions for the West Coast

     Dominguez was, later, inducted as a Disney Legend in 2000 and has a window on Main Street

     He was reportedly in hospice for the ‘past six weeks following a fall in which he broke his hip, according to the Orange County Register. He passed away today. Additionally, the giant palm tree by the entrance of the Jungle Cruise had been a gift to his grandparents, who wed in the 1890s. 

Starting in July 1955, Dominguez took a summer job at the Anaheim amusement park as a ticket taker at age 20, before he was promoted to ‘temporary supervisor of Main Street U.S.A’ within a year. Over his career, he held various supervisor positions throughout the park, until he landed the role of director of operations in 1970.

In 1974, the businessman became Vice President of Disneyland, and, in 1990 earned the title of executive Vice President, Walt Disney Attractions for the West Coast. I don’t want to give too many information, but I just want you guys to know who he was at least.

Disneyland Resort could be requiring a proof of COVID-19 vaccination when it reopens. Should they? I would say yes they should. Coronavirus vaccination verification is fraught with potential controversy. COVID-19 vaccination mandates by private businesses like Disneyland could raise issues related to civil rights, religious objections, disability protections, privacy concerns and viral transmission rates.

Like many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, much remains unknown about how vaccination verifications will be rolled out and their effectiveness. One key health-related question: Can vaccinated people transmit coronavirus?

Businesses anxious to avoid hot-button issues like mandating and tracking vaccinations will ultimately turn to national and local governments for guidance. The issue could be even more complex in the United States where a rigorous national COVID-19 testing and contact tracing strategy has not yet been developed.

Park Reservation System may cause issues for Disneyland. Why? If you are planning to visit a Disney Park in 2021, there will be some huge changes you’ll have to keep in mind — the first one being that all U.S. Disney Parks are requiring reservations in order to get in. That means that unless you have made a reservation in advance (or the day of, if you’re lucky enough to score a last-minute reservation), you will not be able to spontaneously visit a Disney theme park. The new reservation system — called Disney Park Pass — has been in place at Walt Disney World Resort since the Florida Disney theme parks reopened amid the pandemic in mid-July. And, if you’re a Disneyland fan, bear this in mind: the Disney Park Pass system will also be in place at Disneyland Resort.

So, how will theme park reservations work at Disneyland, and what issues may arise? Who will get priority reservations, and why some may be left disappointed? In this article, we take a deep dive into how the Disney Park Pass system might work at Disneyland Resort — and why it may be a concern for Annual Passholders — once the California Disney Parks reopen their gates. Disney officials have confirmed that they are ready to roll out the Disney Park Pass reservation model at Disneyland Resort as soon as Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are allowed to open.

Patrick Finnegan, Vice President, Disney California Adventure Park & Downtown Disney District, said previously, “We are ready to launch the theme park reservation model in use at Walt Disney World to maintain capacity limits [at Disneyland]…Many of the lessons learned in Florida are already being adopted as we prepare for our reopening.”

However, aside from this September update, the only information about the Disney Park Pass system at Disneyland that we have to rely on is what is written on the Disneyland Resort official website:

    Park Reservations: Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited to comply with governmental requirements and promote physical distancing, we will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all Guests, including Annual Passholders, to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. Theme park reservations will be subject to availability. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon.

They might not have much information from Disneyland specifically, but they can speculate about how the Disney Park Pass system will be implemented at Disneyland. The other question is who will get priority? Perhaps the biggest question that Disneyland Resort locals, Annual Passholders, and hopeful Guests want to be answered is this: who will get priority Disney Park Pass reservations?

Annual Passholders and locals make up a huge majority of daily Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme park visitors. And although Disneyland Resort has a robust Annual Passport program and many APs feel truly valued by the company, it wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise if not all APs got priority access to Disney Park Pass reservations.

At Walt Disney World, Annual Passholders are on an even playing field when it comes to obtaining Disney Park Pass reservations, though their pass blackout dates still apply. However, at Disneyland, perhaps it would make more sense for higher level APs to get priority reservations over others.

Disney could decide to allow for those with the more expensive Annual Pass types to get first dibs on obtaining Disney Park Pass reservations, and then those with less expensive passes can go next, and so on. This would make sense since Disney introduced the less expensive Flex Pass, which has very few blackout dates but already required Guests to make a park reservation in advance on peak dates.

disneyland annual pass

Credit: Disney

Alternatively, there is also a chance that those with reservations at one of the three hotels of the Disneyland Resort (the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa) will get priority.

Why would this be a possibility, if APs are the most reliable Disneyland Guests and we know Disney values them? Well, in the past, Disneyland has given priority registration to hotel Guests — we saw this occur when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge first opened.

When the new Star Wars-themed land opened at Disneyland, Disney said that those with onsite hotel reservations were guaranteed access to this new area of the park. Essentially, if you booked a stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, you were automatically given a reservation for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if something similar was in place when Disney Park Pass reservations become available for Disneyland.

Note that Disney has not shared any details about who (if anyone) will get priority reservation access to the Disney Park Pass system when Disneyland and Disney California Adventure reopen. This is simply our speculation based on what we know so far and what we suspect may need to happen.

How far in advance can reservations be made?

Additionally, a possible concern for Disneyland fans is the question of how far in advance Disney Park Pass reservations can be made.

At Walt Disney World, the Disney Park Pass reservation system is expected to be in place at least until 2022. And, right now, Guests can make theme park reservations for any of the four Disney World parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) very far in advance. Just a couple of months ago, fans were already making theme park reservations for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary on October 1, 2021.

However, it’s important to note that Disney World Guests are used to making reservations several months in advance. Typically, a person who books a Disney World vacation package can make a dining reservation for a table-service restaurant six months ahead of time. Additionally, certain Guests were able to make FastPass+ reservations (though not currently available due to the pandemic) up to 30-60 days in advance depending on your ticket or package type. At Disneyland, on the other hand, that isn’t the case. Dining reservations for restaurants at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, or any of the three onsite hotels can only be made 60 days in advance. And many people don’t even think about making reservations until around a week or so beforehand. Since Disneyland Resort is mostly visited by locals and Annual Passholders, there typically isn’t much of a need to plan so far ahead of time.

Therefore, we wouldn’t be surprised if Disney Park Pass reservations at Disneyland and DCA were treated similarly to dining reservations. There is a chance that a Disneyland Guest may not be able to make a theme park reservation until 60 days before the date of their planned visit. Or maybe, given the way the Disneyland Flex Pass AP works, a theme park reservation will only be allowed 30 days ahead of time.

There is also the concern regarding out-of-state visitors, whether they are theme park ticket holders or Annual Passholders.

For those who plan trips to Disneyland in advance with the intention of staying anywhere from two days to a week, there may be concerns regarding how many Disney Park Pass reservations will be allowed at once. If a Disneyland AP from another state plans to spend four days at the theme parks and stay offsite, how many theme park reservations will they be allowed to make at a time? That isn’t a question we can currently answer, but it is certainly something to consider. At Disneyland, however, staying onsite isn’t nearly as common — Disneyland Resort only has three onsite hotels, and each costs much more than the least expensive Disney World hotel. So, there is a chance Disney will need to adjust this policy for Disneyland. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the Disney Park Pass reservation system at the Disneyland Resort. We aren’t yet sure if the Disney World rules for theme park reservations will apply to Disneyland. For now, we remain hopeful that Disney will make some adjustments to the theme park reservation system so that it suits the needs of the typical Disneyland Guest.

Disney has also confirmed about what is coming this year! Are you guys ready for this?!

Disneyland Resort:

  1. Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
  2. Avengers Campus
  3. DCA (Disney California Adventure) and Down Town Disney’s 20th anniversaries will be celebrated in this month of this year.

Walt Disney World Resort:

  1. Ratatouille ride at Epcot
  2. Epcot fireworks
  3. 50th Anniversary (October 2021)

Disneyland Paris:

  1. Re-imagined Marvel-themed hotel
  2. New Cars attraction

Hong Kong Disneyland:

  1. It will continue to have 15th anniversary celebrations.

Shanghai Disneyland:

  • It will be celebrating its 5th anniversary in June 2021.

All of this information came from the Disney news I look at.

So, what do you guys think about all of these things happening with Disney?!

I would like to hear some comments, thoughts, opinions, or concerns down below!

Feel free to ask me questions if you have questions!

Stay tuned for more Disney updates.

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