Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 30 - July 6, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 30 - July 6, 2020

Writer's Note & News (Combined)

As reported in the news over the weekend, Florida has seen major increases in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, including Orange County, where Walt Disney World Resort is predominantly located. Statewide, a new emergency executive order prohibits establishments that derive more than 50% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol from serving alcohol except for take-out. In other words, "bars" may not serve guests indoors, while table service restaurants may continue to serve alcohol to guests seated within their socially distanced, limited capacity. Several Florida counties, including Orange County, have ordered folks to wear face coverings in most public settings, and many businesses, including Disney Springs and the re-opened hotels, Universal Orlando and Sea World are requiring visitors and staff to wear them in public spaces as well, except when dining (or swimming at the hotels).

Florida also continues to require that all individuals entering the state of Florida from the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Florida or the duration of the individual's presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. With the decline in new cases in those states and the spike in Florida, those three states now require individuals from Florida to quarantine for 14 days before traveling freely around those states.

Meanwhile, Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom remain on track to reopen on July 11, with Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios following suit on July 15. The new Disney Park Pass System opened for park-goers to register to visit the parks upon their respective reopenings. For annual passholders, peservations quickly filled for the limited capacity the parks will offer for most dates in July; as of publication, some availability remains for Resort guests and other ticket holders. The Disney Park Pass System implementation has reservation dates into September 2021, and availability is divided at undisclosed levels for the three categories of ticket holders: those with Disney Resort Hotel (and certain other select hotel) reservations, annual passholders, and other ticket holders ("day tickets"). New park ticket sales remain suspended, but new 2021 hotel reservations are now available. MousePlanet's travel partner, Get Away Today, visited with us on last Wednesday's "Fun at Home" Show #12, and shared that the hotel reservations for 2021 opened earlier that day (ahead of the original expectation), and its agents are ready to help guests book new hotel reservations.

Slots for the limited-capacity annual passholder previews of Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom on July 9 and 10, also filled in well under an hour when emails were received by passholders yesterday. With the pandemic remaining an ongoing concern, of course, anyone planning to visit the parks should stay informed of the latest news from reliable and official sources for any changes. As we reported on our "Fun at Home" Show #12 live stream just after its announcement, and as Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported in yesterday's Disneyland Resort Update, the California resort has had to postpone its plan to reopen the parks on July 17, the 65th anniversary of Disneyland, and the subsequent reopening of the hotels, because the State of California has decided to postpone providing reopening guidance to theme parks until after July 4. Disney D23, the official Disney Fan Club, also announced this week that its 2020 Destination D event, originally scheduled to take place November 20–22 at the Walt Disney World Resort, will be rescheduled for a yet-to-be-announced date in 2021.

Folks planning to visit the parks and resorts should, in particular, keep an eye on the "Know Before You Go" pages of DisneyWorld.com. Some of the latest information posted to the Dining page provides the updated dining reservation policy that goes into effect today, June 30:

Eligible Guests with Dining Reservations Cancelled During the Closure

Guests who had an active dining or experience reservation between May 28 and September 2, 2020 that was cancelled due to the temporary closure of Walt Disney World Resort may—beginning on June 30—make a new reservation online up to 60 days in advance. Eligible Guests who are unable to make a reservation online may call (407) 939-6690 or (800) 800-9800 for Disney Vacation Club Members.

Eligible Guests can make reservations for available experiences by calling (407) 939-6690, or (800) 800-9800 for Disney Vacation Club Members, beginning on June 30.

Dining reservations for Walt Disney World Resort hotel and theme park locations available during initial reopening may only be booked online during this time. Reservations will not be available through the My Disney Experience app during this advance window. Discover which dining locations and experiences will be available during initial reopening.

Splash Mountain to Be Rethemed Based On The Princess and The Frog

Last week, Disney Parks also announced that Splash Mountain will be rethemed at both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom following the further adventures of Tiana and other characters from Disney's 2009 animated film The Princess and The Frog. In case you missed it, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported details in yesterday's, Disneyland Resort Update, and her discussion follows here:

Several weeks ago, a Disney fan launched a petition on Change.org, asking that Disney retheme the Splash Mountain attraction with scenes and characters from the 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog, which features Disney's first Black princess. The petition gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and attracted coverage from news outlets around the country.

The newly imagined log flume ride is set in Tiana's happily ever after. Photo courtesy Disney.

Last week, Disney announced that it had already been working on exactly that change since last year, and will give Splash Mountain a makeover at both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The new version of the ride is set in Tiana's "happily ever after," and concept art shows the crest of Splash Mountain re-imagined as the trunk of a towering tree. Disney's announcement says in part:

"We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure—featuring some of the powerful music from the film—as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance."

The Disney Parks Blog article quotes actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Princess Tiana in the film:

“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

Disney did not provide a timeline for the refurbishment, which is being led by Imagineering senior creative producer Charita Carter.

Senior Creative Producer Charita Carter will spearhead the refurbishment of Splash Mountain. Photo courtesy Disney.

The renewed scrutiny of Splash Mountain was almost inevitable given the racial and cultural discourse across the United States and the world. The attraction features characters from the 1946 movie Song of the South, itself based on the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. The film has been controversial since its first release, receiving both criticism for its portrayal of slavery and racial equality in the South, but also two Academy Awards. Disney re-released the film in theaters several times through the 1980s, but the film has never been offered on a home video format in the United States.

According to SongoftheSouth.net, Disney released the film in several format, including VHS and laser disc, in various countries for 20 years from 1977 through 1997, but in 2001 removed the movie from distribution worldwide. The film is not available through the Disney+ streaming service, and Disney CEO Bob Iger told shareholders in March that he feels the movie is " just not appropriate in today’s world," even with disclaimers that the film contains outdated cultural representations.

Oriental Land Company, operator of Tokyo Disneyland park which also features the Splash Mountain attraction, says it is discussing whether to follow the domestic theme parks in revising the attraction, according to an article in The Asahi Shimbun.

Splash Mountain reopened at Magic Kingdom after its seasonal refurbishment this winter just before the temporary closure of the parks. Good Morning America reported that when Magic Kingdom begins its phased reopening in July, the attraction is expected to operate with its existing themed elements. March 1, 2020 File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Plan For NBA to Resume its 2019-20 Season at Walt Disney World Finalized

On Friday, Disney Parks Blog shared that the National Basketball Association officially announced its plan to complete the pandemic-interrupted 2019–20 season at Walt Disney World Resort in July. Team practices and games will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Arena, HP Field House and Visa Athletic Center. Games will begin on July 30, with 22 teams that will compete to determine seeding for the NBA Playoffs. The playoffs and NBA Finals will end by October 13.

The games will be held without spectators. The players, coaches, referees, support personnel, and others will be housed on property separate from other guests. Details of those quarantine restrictions and how that will impact others visiting Walt Disney World have not yet been fully released.

Cirque du Soleil Seeks to Reorganize Under Bankruptcy Laws

Yesterday, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, producer of six shows in Las Vegas, and Disney's creative partner in the development of "Drawn to Life" at Disney Springs which has had its debut delayed by the pandemic, was seeking debt restructuring protection under Canada's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. All 44 Cirque du Soleil shows worldwide were shut down in March because of the pandemic, laying off 95% of its workforce.

Cirque du Soleil has posted a brief FAQ about its CCAA action and its impact on ticket holders.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the "Drawn to Life" show at Disney Springs "could potentially open this fall while the Montreal-based circus arts show company seeks to reorganize financially under U.S. Chapter 15 bankruptcy laws." Orlando Sentinel said, "Cirque spokeswoman Mélanie Fontaine said it could premiere this fall if there were no government regulations in place prohibiting large gatherings." Tickets for shows beginning November 5, 2020, are currently on sale on CirqueDuSoleil.com.

Join us Wednesday for MousePlanet LIVE!

Coming up tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m Pacific, we will again be live with any late-breaking Disney news, and then we'll be joined by special guests and MousePlanet Contributors chatting about "All Things Disney" and we'll see what they have been cooking up at home. It will be our thirteenth consecutive week for our MousepPlanet LIVE! show.

"Fun at Home" Show #13 begins at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m. Pacific, Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

A countdown clock and brief pre-show will begin a few minutes before showtime. If you have loaded this page before the pre-show begins, be sure to refresh your browser to see the show.

During our live shows, share comments with us: @MousePlanet on Facebook, Periscope and Twitter.

This & That…

…Mariachi Cobre, the music group that has been performing at Epcot's Mexico pavilion since its 1982 opening, provided its #VoicesFromHome this week with the song "The World Es Mi Familia" from the Disney-Pixar film Coco. Mariachi Cobre is expected to be performing at America Gardens Theater in an appropriately socially distant manner when Epcot reopens.

Mariachi Cobre performers shared their #VoicesFromHome on Disney Parks Blog this week with a song from "Coco." Video ©Disney.

Disney Parks Blog shared photos of Phoenix, the Zebra foal born last month at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Resorts Availability, Ticket Advice & Special Offer

Note: MousePlanet does not edit past Updates to reflect price increases; for up-to-date prices, check the most recent Walt Disney World Resort Update.

With Disney now accepting Resort Hotel reservations for 2021, our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages. Remember, of course, Disney has temporarily paused new park ticket sales, and, at present, requires guests to use the Disney Parks Pass System to reserve dates for guest park visits.

As always, we remind our readers that Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets are rarely offered at deep discounts unless you are a resident of Florida or eligible for U.S. Military Personnel benefits. Historically, non-Florida residents tend to benefit the most by purchasing tickets in advance (and, of course, being mindful of the rules relevant to those tickets). As prices go up, it becomes even more important to pay heed: Don't get scammed! Never buy tickets from an unofficial or secondary outlet, such as through eBay or Craigslist. Never rent or purchase tickets from people approaching you outside Disney property stating they have remaining days or leftover tickets. This practice is against the terms of use for Walt Disney World Theme Park admissions, and may result in denial of entry. There is no way to determine if these tickets are valid until you try to use them to enter the parks. When available, only purchase Disney theme park tickets directly from Disney, an authorized seller, or a travel agency like MousePlanet travel partner Get Away Today.

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NOTE Universal Orlando Resort reopened June 5, and Get Away Today still has a great Universal Orlando Resort ticket offer available:

You can get 2 days free when you buy a 2-day, 2-park ticket.