Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 6-12, 2020

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 6-12, 2020

Writer's Note & News (Combined)

It's been a sad week around Walt Disney World Resort, as the COVID-19 pandemic has had an even more visible impact on Cast Members, and, indeed, the economy of Central Florida and the travel tourism industry in general. While many cast furloughs began over six months ago now, many of those furloughed and others now will be permanently laid off. As we discussed on last week's MousePlanet LIVE stream on Wednesday night, and as Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported in yesterday's MousePlanet Disneyland Resort Update, The Walt Disney Company announced last week that it was cutting 28,000 workers in the theme parks, experiences and consumer products divisions in the United States.

At Walt Disney World Resort here in Florida, about 6,700 non-union cast members will be laid off, according to Orlando Sentinel. Layoffs will be effective December 4, and I personally have seen several report the news on social media or have told me that they have been laid off as of that date. Disney continues to negotiate with the unions that represent actors and singers, housekeepers, ride operators, and others.

Yesterday, Adrienne reported:

Although the cuts include executive, salaried, and hourly roles, D’Amaro said 67% of the impacted employees are part time, and the New York Times states that most of the employees will come from the California and Florida theme parks. Other business units impacted by the layoffs include the Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Vacation Club. Also impacted are Disney Store cast members and employees of divisions including global products and licensing, games, and publishing.

The cuts also include more than 400 positions at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, according to the Orange County Register, which said Disney last week filed WARN Act notifications for 2,765 non-union positions.

Disney is not alone in reducing its workforce in Central Florida (and elsewhere, of course). Orlando Sentinel reports that Hilton will reduce its ranks by 3,600 in the region; Universal is eliminating at least 2,300 jobs; Rosen Resorts: 1,900; Marriott: 1,900, SeaWorld: 1,900; Gaylord Palms: 1,300; Hyatt: 1,000; and 1,200 airline workers' jobs will be eliminated. Many of those job losses are part-time, but, as that Sentinel article points out, in the tourism industry, the jobs are often low-paying and the employees often work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Again, repeating what Adrienne said yesterday:

With tens of thousands of Disney cast members facing layoffs, Disney fans are asking what they can do to help. Rather than try to re-create the wheel, we want to share some existing efforts:

The Disney Tourist Blog has set up a fundraising page to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which at press time has raised over $30,000. You can donate at this link.

A Walt Disney World cast member has founded the Cast Member Pantry in Orlando to help her fellow CMs during furlough. The group announced this weekend that a sister operation will soon be up and running in Anaheim. You can contribute via the group's Amazon wish list.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County operates hundreds of distribution sites each week. To find a distribution site, or to make a donation, visit their website.

If you know of other organizations that are specifically helping Disney cast members, please drop us a line and we'll help spread the word.

To that, I would add that if you personally know a laid off cast member that can use an additional pair of eyes taking a look at a resume, or some coaching for interview skills, or otherwise just some friendly ears or electronic communications, offer that up freely. I have done that with respect to my cast member friends and I have seen a good part of the Disney Fan Community here in Central Florida make similar offers on social media.

And, in addition to those resources, yesterday, Orlando Sentinel reported that laid off cast member Maxine Wild started the Facebook group The "Ear for Each Other" page to help laid off cast members connect. as of last night, the "closed" (restricted access) group page had over 11,000 members and, according to Orlando Sentinel has "become a marketplace for people to inquire if any unemployed Disney employees know how to fix a car or want odd jobs."

All of the above serves to underscore the need to get us all past the pandemic. The politics of that seem to only inflame things, so I'll just say here that it is my fervent wish that we quickly find some commonalities in this battle against a viral enemy that only survives by having opportunities to reproduce in new hosts. I wrote at length last week about the efforts Disney Parks is taking to operate as responsibly as possible in the face of the pandemic and many friends report guest compliance with Disney's protocols at the parks is very high. More of that everywhere please.

Remember, there are many ways to get from A-to-B at Walt Disney World Resort, and elsewhere. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Reports from friends and social media continue to show that the capacity levels at Disney Parks has risen from the "every attraction is a walk-on" days of earlier this summer. There are crowds in spots, and while physical distancing rules remain and Disney continues to enforce them, wait times for attractions are increasing again and, in some spots, it is more difficult to avoid other parties.

In any event, as we have advised since the phased reopenings began, wherever you plan to visit, be sure to check the latest requirements of the venue. For those planning to visit Walt Disney World Resort while it is operating during the pandemic (and until further notice), remember, that the theme parks require Disney Park Pass advanced date-specific reservations plus valid park admission tickets. You can review all of Disney's requirements for visiting the Resort here. If you are traveling from out of state, be sure to check your home area's self quarantine restrictions applicable to those that travel to and from Florida.

This week, the National Hurricane Center is tracking two powerful storms in the Gulf of Mexico, now named Gamma and Delta. As of Monday night, Delta is projected to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane later this week, with the western Florida Panhandle within the current track's cone. That means above-average rain and squalls are possible around Central Florida too. There are more Tropical Waves being monitored in the Atlantic which also could develop. Stay aware, the Tropical Storm season still has time left on its very active calendar.

Jibe With Us On MousePlanet LIVE! Fun at Home

As usual, I will provide the latest Disney Parks news on "Fun at Home" Show #27, the MousePlanet LIVE! Stream that starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 Pacific tomorrow night, Wednesday, October 7. Jeffrey R. Epstein, Director, Corporate Communications at The Walt Disney Company apologized for having a scheduling conflict last week, so he has agreed to join us at the beginning of the show this week to talk about what D23: The Official Disney Fan Club has been up to and some of its recently announced plans for upcoming events including D23 Expo 2022. As I mentioned last week, Jeffrey was previously a guest back on Show #5, recently had successful colon cancer surgery following a routine early-screening colonoscopy. Remember, early-screening saves lives, and we're very excited to be able to welcome Jeffrey back to our show with news of a clean bill of health!

Your browser may require that you reload the page at showtime. To participate and provide answers in comments during the live show, you need to view the show on YouTube, Facebook or Periscope/Twitter where you need to be logged in to an account. You can also replay the show here after it has concluded.

After that chat, we again invite you to play along by filling in the blanks in our next rounds of MousePlanet LIVE! Jibe Time, our game show. What has become our weekly "Shelley Caran from OnTheGoInMCO segment"–since she has won so many weeks in a row and has been a great sport for returning to defend week after week–will see Shelley attempt to defend her crown as our winningest Jibe Time player against a prior champion, John Saccheri from BigFatPanda.com, another of our frequent guests. We should have some familiar special guests and MousePlanet contributors play along too this week, in what usually turns into a full-screen fun at home virtual social event.

That's right, playing at home can be your fun too: your answers during the LIVE show help the players score points! Type your answers in the comments on Facebook or Twitter/Periscope, or YouTube (along with the question number you are answering), and see them shown on all our streaming platforms! If your answers jibe with a player, that player gets a point that counts in the score, and we even sometimes like to award points to those who comment! Our points and usual game prizes, unfortunately, have no retail value, but there are bragging rights (just ask Shelley)!

This & That…

…Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort is reopening on December 16, with reservations opening on October 17. Disney Resort hotel guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance plus the length of their stay (up to 10 days maximum). Disney Parks Blog highlights some of the menu changes to expect upon the venue reopening. Mickey and friends will parade through the restaurant, but "the experience may look a little different than the last time you visited."

…The latest printable activity sheets designed by Walt Disney Imagineering were released yesterday on Disney Parks Blog. The new, four-part series of Disney Paper Parks is "inspired by Halloween and the Haunted Mansion," and each one requires scissors, glue, and folding along dotted lines in specific directions. Parental supervision and participation is advised.

…Over the weekend, Disney also unveiled its Halloween Playlist. Steaming services offering the playlist are listed here. Selections include "This is Halloween," "Cruella de Vil," and "Grim Grinning Ghost."

…Pin Traders will want to save November 13-14 for Disney's first-ever virtual pin event. Entitled, "Celebrating Twenty Years of Disney Pins," the $49.99 plus tax per guest event includes "admission" to the two virtual event days via computer or mobile device, opportunity to participate in the Random Selection Process to pre-purchase event pins and remaining pins during the event, an opportunity to preview upcoming pin releases, Disney Artist & Merchandiser Panel, a "Blind Experimental Auction," Video content on various pin topics from "familiar faces," Limited Edition Commemorative Gifts (Welcome & Goodbye Pins), Downloadable art, and guest interaction. Registration opens tomorrow, October 7, at 1 p.m. Eastern. Visit the Shopping Events page of DisneyWorld.com for more information, more shopping events, and to register.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort Hosting Brick-or-Treat 2020

LEGOLAND Florida Resort invited MousePlanet to check out its "Brick or Treat" Halloween celebration as its guests over this past weekend. The event is included with admission each of the next three weekends, October 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, and on Halloween, October 31. They're describing it as "Spooky. Kooky Halloween fun with trick-or-treating!. The press information they provided just ahead of the event's debut says:

At LEGOLAND Florida's Brick or Treat, guests will enjoy safe, neighborhood-style trick-or-treating with plenty of candy, spooky seasonal shows and exclusive LEGO® monsters in the ultimate kids Halloween celebration.

  • Six outdoor, themed trick-or-treating locations around the park featuring contactless "candy chutes"
  • Two original stage shows, The Groovin' Graveyard and A Candy-Coated Curse
  • The return of character experiences to LEGOLAND Florida, including Rockin' Frankenstein, Mummy, Lord Vampyre, Spider Lady and others
  • Interactive LEGO builds, specialty food—don't forget to enjoy your complimentary Vampyre ShaDOUGH— and more!
  • The official LEGOLAND Florida Mobile App is launching virtual line this weekend! Now, you can join our new virtual line for some of our most popular attractions and build some extra play into your day – you'll save your space in line and be free to enjoy the rest of the theme park until you get a notification that it's time to return and ride! Social distancing has never been easier or more fun.
  • Our trick-or-treating locations have been thoughtfully planned to allow extra spacing for families and contactless distribution of candy.
  • In addition to social distancing, all employees at these stations will wear face coverings (masks and/or face shields) and gloves, and all character/performer interactions will be staged using generous spacing, of six feet or more, and elevated platforms.
  • Since our reopening on June 1, LEGOLAND Florida Resort has safely welcomed families to play in our parks and stay in our resorts with enhanced health and safety measures, including more than 200 hand sanitizer locations, cashless payments, temperature checks upon arrival, and consistent cleaning practices.

I decided to again send longtime MousePlanet readers, Dave & Nan Kent to experience the event on behalf of MousePlanet as hosted guests of LEGOLAND. Fortunately, they live much closer to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which is located in Winter Haven, about an hour's drive from Walt Disney World Resort. For more information about the resort, have a look at my report following my hosted visit last November to see how LEGOLAND celebrated the 2019 Holidays season (and that was my first ever visit to the LEGOLAND Florida Resort or its predecessor Cypress Gardens). For more information and tickets about LEGOLAND Florida Resort, visit its website: Legoland.com/florida.

As regular MousePlanet followers may recall, Dave & Nan are longtime MousePlanet readers, and frequent participants on our "Fun at Home" MousePlanet LIVE! streams. I have previously pressed them in to service as MousePlanet contributors since they are fellow local Central Floridians (for example, most recently, when they took my place as Patina Restaurant Group's hosted guests at Maria & Enzo's at Disney Springs last month).

Brick or Treat is included in the price of admission during the weekends in October and on Halloween at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven. Image Courtesy LEGOLAND FLORIDA.

We expect to have Dave and/or Nan chat with us about the event during "Fun at Home" Show #27 tomorrow night. In the meantime, here's their quick report on the event:

The Brick or Treat event at Legoland was a lot of fun, even for a couple of adults without kids. It should be mentioned that we really like Lego. There were socially distant candy distribution stations, photo ops with live characters as well as in front of large scale Lego sculptures.

The event featured two Halloween themed live shows. “A Candy Coated Curse” is an outdoor show that tells the story of three trick-or-treaters that come upon a witch trapped in the old City Hall building. “Groovin’ Graveyard” is an indoor show that features Mummy Lego and three grave digger percussionists.

While masks are required for all indoor shows and rides, a “Model Citizen” (Lego employee) that we spoke with said they were encouraging guests to always wear masks, but not requiring masks outdoors. We estimate only half of the guests wore mask outside, but we didn’t have any trouble keeping our distance from other folks. There were a lot of hand sanitizers around, but several were empty.

All in all we had a good time.

Photos by Dave & Nan Kent.

REMINDER: Fall Florida Resident Special Offers

Walt Disney World Resort is offering Florida Residents discounts. Of course, reservations are required, limited, and subject to availability. Remember, however, the Disney Park Pass reservations system has different "allotments" of reservations for ticket purchasers, resort guests, and Annual Passholders.

Florida Resident Disney Magic Flex Ticket

Florida Residents can purchase this ticket to visit for 2, 3 or 4 days, one park per day. The 2-day ticket is $130 plus tax and must be used in its entirety by September 30. The 3-day ticket is $174 plus tax and must be used by December 18 (but is blocked out November 21-28). The 4-day ticket is $195 plus tax and likewise must be used with December 18 (and is also blocked out November 21-28).

Florida Resident Merchandise Discount

Florida Residents can receive a 20% discount on select merchandise at Walt Disney World Resort owned and operated locations on Mondays through Thursdays starting today, September 15 through October 29. Proof of residency required.

Florida Resident Resort Hotel Discounts

Florida Residents can save up to 35% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels (Deluxe and Villas), 30% (Moderate), 25% (Value) for stays most nights through December 25, 2020. Details and availability are onthis page of DisneyWorld.com. If considering a resort stay, don't forget to check out the offers from our travel partner, Get Away Today, below.

UPDATE & REMINDER: Give Kids The World Village to Host Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular

Give Kids the World Village, the nonprofit resort near Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida that provides critically ill children and their families weeklong, cost-free vacations, but has temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, issued a press release last month about an upcoming event to provide a way to celebrate the Holiday Season this year and support the Village. Tickets are now on sale. Visit GKTW.org/lights and be aware that ticket prices vary by date and only a limited quantity will be sold.

Give Kids the World Village will celebrate Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular for 53 nights, from November 13, 2020, until January 3, 2021. Artist rendering courtesy Give Kids the World Village.

The text of the release follows:

For 34 years, the non-profit Give Kids The World Village has been brightening the lives of critically ill children and their families from around the world; and now, local businesses led by Presenting Sponsor Dreams Unlimited Travel will have the chance to illuminate the Village – literally. For 53 nights from Friday, November 13, through Sunday, January 3, 2021, the Village will come alive with Night of a Million Lights, a walk-through holiday light spectacular that is sure to warm the hearts of Central Florida residents. More than one million lights will adorn the 84-acre whimsical Village, including a 150-foot lighted tunnel leading to 33 decorated villas; more than 50 larger-than-life holiday-themed wireframes, some spanning more than 40 feet; an enormous incandescent gingerbread arch; and out-of-this-world space-themed decorations showcasing the Village's newest centerpiece, Henri's Starlite Scoops. Adding to the fully immersive lights and sounds experience, Santa Claus will greet guests from the balcony of Towne Hall, with Give Kids The World's beloved ambassadors, Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry, on hand to lend some holiday cheer.

Corporate and community partners can get into the holiday spirit by adopting a villa, with the creative freedom to decorate it however they'd like for display throughout the 53 nights of the event. A friendly contest among the villas is guaranteed to bring some added fun and excitement, with long-time Village supporter Dreams Unlimited Travel already planning on ways to outshine the competition.

"We can't think of a better way to celebrate the season than by shining some light on the wonderful work Give Kids The World does to bring happiness and hope to critically ill children and their families through this event," said Dreams Unlimited Travel CEO Pete Werner.

Beginning on October 1, guests can purchase tickets on the Give Kids The World website at www.gktw.org to walk among the brilliant lights, vote on their favorite villas, and take part in a variety of family activities in a socially distant manner. Most of the Village's wheelchair-accessible attractions will be available at no cost, including The Enchanted Carousel, Marc's Dino Putt, Kelly's Sunny Swing, and Lori's Magical Flight – all elaborately decorated for the holidays. Complimentary hot cocoa and ice cream will also be served throughout each evening. In addition, guests can visit the Village's most iconic venue, the Castle of Miracles – featuring a mysterious forest, a wishing well that burps, a magic tree that makes pillows, and more. The Castle is highlighted by thousands of stars that fill the ceiling and the adjoining Star Tower, each placed in honor of a wish child who has visited the Village.

Proceeds from the event will support Give Kids The World's mission to provide wish vacations for critically ill children and their families. When wish-granting organizations receive a request from a critically ill child who wants to visit any of the world-class theme parks Central Florida has to offer, Give Kids The World fulfills the wish – providing each child and his/her family with a magical week-long stay at absolutely no cost. Each family receives transportation, accommodations in one of the Village's 166 storybook villas, all meals and snacks, nightly entertainment, tickets to Orlando's world-class theme parks and attractions, and priceless experiences at the Village. Since 1986, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 176,000 families from 50 states and more than 76 countries.

"Children with critical illnesses face countless appointments, treatments and hospital stays, and they are often told ‘no' due to the limitations of their illness. We feel privileged to give wish children and their families a week of ‘yes' where they can forget their worries, experience joy, and spend priceless time together," said Give Kids The World President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. "We look forward to sharing some holiday joy with the community while making it possible for future wish children to have their wishes fulfilled."

Give Kids The World Village closed to wish families in mid-March due to the global pandemic, delaying more than 4,000 wishes. The Night of a Million Lights is designed to raise funds to ensure that wish trips can return bigger and better than ever before once the time is right reopen.

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Resorts Availability, Ticket Advice & Special Offers

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 2020 and 2021, our travel partner Get Away Today is available to help you book rooms and packages. Disney has resumed new park ticket sales, but, at present and for the foreseeable future, requires guests to use the Disney Parks Pass System to reserve dates for guest park visits in addition to having a valid admission.

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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You can get a vacation quote from Get Away Today here. Checkout Get Away Today's Universal Orlando Resort ticket offers too.