Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 3-9, 2020by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 3-9, 2020
Writer's Note, News & Views (Combined)
With Central Florida high temperatures finally dipping into the low 70s yesterday, I finally made my first Disney Park Pass Reservation and visited a Walt Disney World theme park for the first time since they began their phased reopenings back in July. Indeed, my visit to EPCOT yesterday was my first visit to any of the parks in more than 240 days which is longer not only than any period of time since I moved to Central Florida back in 2014, but longer than all but a handful of years since this then-Chicagoan became a Disney Vacation Club member twenty years ago!. And yes, this visit was a very different Disney Parks experience in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 warning signs are conspicuous as guests enter EPCOT next to the currently unused courtesy tram lanes (neither the trams nor the EPCOT monorail are running). Indeed, if you read all of the terms and conditions you must agree to in order to make a Disney Park Pass Reservation to visit any of the operating Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, you will find a very comprehensive release and waver of claims that may arise out of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
I chose EPCOT as my first park to visit during the on-going pandemic because of its wide-open spaces. In the days before the pandemic, I had often visited EPCOT on its busiest days of the year, including this past New Year's Eve. Of course, navigating EPCOT is now more complicated by the "historic transformation" that began before the pandemic, and the Future World part of the park is a maze of temporary walls encircling both active and now-seemingly stalled construction projects.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
All told, I spent nearly five hours at Epcot yesterday, racking up nearly 16,000 steps (over seven miles). I felt like the enhanced health and safety protocols Disney put in place for the reopening of the parks were thoughtful and represented a responsible way to attempt to operate during the pandemic. No, wearing a mask all day is not ideal, and being hyper-aware of what surfaces I touch all-day is disconcerting. But I never felt the park, cast or my fellow guests were increasing the risk to me to an unreasonable level. Cast member rule-compliance to my eye was 100%. My fellow guests were also highly compliant in their mask-wearing and physical distancing—while not quite 100% compliant, they were certainly, better than customers and staff at the handful of Central Florida grocery stores and other locations I have visited during the pandemic, and, on the whole, the guests I encountered were generally better behaved than I have seen at some other times (and especially Food & Wine Festivals) around the parks over the years.
Over the course of my visit, I walked all of the major pathways of the entire park twice. I watched part of one of Mariachi Cobre's performances at The America Gardens Theatre. I visited The Land pavilion and rode both Living with the Land and Soarin' with no more than one ride-cycle's wait. And I sampled the Mac and Cheese when visiting the World Showplace "tent" (which also gave me an opportunity to change masks at a socially distanced table after eating) and heard a performance by pianist Carol Stein who plays a grand piano on the stage in World Showplace. As an Annual Passholder, I generally enjoyed the visit, and, as I'll discuss more below with the news and more views, my day did lack the "full Disney experience" in some ways that may make a meaningful difference to those paying for full-price day tickets for themselves and their family.
After I had been in the park about two and a half hours, I launched our new "MousePlanet LIVE at...." video stream from EPCOT. I shared some of my thoughts about the experience and showed off the Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival decorations in the Future World planters near World Showcase Plaza and walked to the edge of World Showcase Lagoon. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
I have another Disney Park Pass reservation for today with another good weather day forecast. If you are looking for some Election-day distraction LIVE from "The Most Magical Place on Earth," I may just be able to oblige. Watch MousePlanet's social media channels in the afternoon Eastern Time. And remember, for those planning to visit Walt Disney World Resort while it is operating during the pandemic (and until further notice), the theme parks require Disney Park Pass 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. Everyone, of course, also needs to keep an eye on the weather, as we are not quite out of hurricane season, though the latest, Eta, is headed well-away from Florida (toward Mexico and Central America).
For some unscheduled distraction from Walt Disney World Resort today, Tuesday (in the afternoon Eastern time), and re-playable after the live show has concluded, this is the video to watch.
With Most Live Shows Still Closed, Disney Lays Off Most Live-Entertainment Cast
The on-going pandemic has hit live entertainment very hard. Broadway shows are already cancelled into March 2021. Responsible operators have done what they can to not create events that gather lots of people into a space where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
To that end, Disney put all major crowd-gathering entertainment on hiatus when it reached agreement with state and local health officials to have a phased reopening of the parks. There are no scheduled parades. There are no fireworks shows. The prolonged inability for the Actors Equity Association and Disney to reach agreement on the terms under which those union members could return to the parks early this summer also hampered any plans that may have been underway to bring back socially distanced versions of shows when the parks reopened.
Contract music acts at EPCOT were terminated during the temporary parks closure. In recent weeks, we started hearing news of the end of other long-time Disney musical acts - from Yehaa Bob Jackson at Disney's Port Orleans, who had been on furlough since the resort's temporary closure back in March, to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra at the conclusion of their run at Disney's Hollywood Studios this Fall.
On Friday, social media lit up with news of the cast members in show after show around the resort having received notice that their employment at the resort would end at the end of 2020. Included in the list of live entertainment that has come to an end (at least for now), are Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, Citizens of Hollywood, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Citizens of Main Street U.S.A., Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and more.
On Friday, Bettina Buckley, Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort Live Entertainment, posted a statement entitled, "Update on Entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort," acknowledging the importance of live entertainment to the Resort and the difficult decision "to reduce our workforce as the business impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic have become more long-lasting than anyone could have predicted." The statement also lists some of the modified entertainment that is being offered, including the Frozen Sing-Along, Main Street Philharmonic, the character appearances, Mariachi Cobre, and the upcoming return of Voices of Liberty beginning November 27.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The published statement concludes with the following:
Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process. As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back.
Like most of our fans, we know that our beloved entertainment cast are an incredibly special and essential part of the Disney experience. We look forward to the day when we can welcome back more live entertainment to our parks, and we will share more news about these announcements as we’re able to do so.
For those looking for ways to assist laid off cast members, as we have reminded readers since the 28,000 reduction in force was announced by the Disney Parks, Experiences & Products division, there are a number of efforts underway that you can see in Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 6-12, 2020. You may have also seen folks on social media asking guests to write Disney Guest Services and Guest Communications(email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) to share their positive entertainment experiences over the years, to "flood their inboxes, make it known that Entertainment is what makes Disney World such a magical place." In my opinion, overwhelming Guest Guest Services and Communications cast members right now with angry rants might not be the best way to help, as those cast members tend to be overwhelmed regularly with guest complaints of all sorts (including everything from serious to irrational complaints). Sharing positive guest feedback, however, does not seem to me to be a bad thing.
As I noted above, my day at EPCOT did lack that "full Disney Experience," and that absence of live entertainment around more spots around the park is definitely one of those ways. Indeed, that there are no nightly fireworks at EPCOT as an option, is another. As a local Annual Passholder, I still see value in my pass in the way the park is operating now that the weather has moderated. As a full-price, day guest, your mileage may vary. Then again, as one of my friends noted, if you are looking for a vacation destination that is trying very hard to operate responsibly in this difficult time, Walt Disney World Resort remains one of the few well-known examples.
Virtual Queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Changes Again Today
Disney's Hollywood Studios continues to tinker with the procedures for entering the virtual queue for the highly popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. Starting today, guests with a valid ticket or annual pass and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney's Hollywood Studios can access the virtual queue system and check for an available boarding group starting at 7 a.m. on the day of their park reservation from their hotel or anywhere they may be. For this initial boarding pass distribution, guests will not need to use their tickets to enter the park and have their party be physically present in the park before attempting to obtain a boarding pass.
The park will continue to offer a second virtual queue opportunity at 2 p.m. daily for guests that had not been able to join during the 7 a.m. opening. To enter the virtual queue for the 2 p.m. boarding group distribution, however, guests will need to be inside the park, as before.
The change to the procedure is being called a "pilot approach" which means, realistically, it may change again. Keep any eye out for further tinkering. In any case, the virtual queue is only accessible from the My Disney Experience app, and all of the guests and their tickets need to be linked in one account if you want to try to obtain a single boarding group for your party.
Disney Parks Blog also reports that the park has installed a clear barrier between the two rows aboard each First Order Fleet Transport vehicle inside the attraction. This may increase the ride's daily guest capacity.
More Views of EPCOT, New Merchandise and Christmas Merchandise
The remaining views of EPCOT this week start with The Land pavilion, news of an unexpected refurbishment at Frozen Ever After, a new look at the Remy topiary and the new Ratatouille sign at France, a bit of the Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, and lots of merchandise at MouseGear.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
The Wishes Come True Blue collection also includes the first-ever adjustable Mickey Mouse Ears with adaptable straps according to Kidscreen. It is part of the adaptive products initiative Disney launched in August for those in wheelchairs or have other accessibility needs.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
This & That…
…Last week we reported that Disney's Animal Kingdom announced the birth of a baby white rhinoceros, a male calf weighing approximately 150 pounds. This week, Disney Parks Blog showed off video of the newborn bonding with his mother.
Fresh off the hooves of the news that an endangered white male rhino calf was born earlier this week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, we are thrilled to share a sneak peek of the newborn! https://t.co/b620TngVbA 🦏 #DisneyMagicMoments pic.twitter.com/A4ulFyIZRB— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) November 1, 2020
…Last week, we showed a photo of the construction at the site of the future location of Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew at Disney Springs on the West Side near the pedestrian entrance to Orange Garage closest to Splitsville. This week, Disney Parks Blog shared some of the concept art for the new location.
Disney says that the "overall design of this sweet spot will have a unique spin on a classic donut shop featuring graphic pops of color, iconic signage, and a beautiful outdoor seating area in the 'donut garden.' Before guests enter the venue, they may catch a glimpse of a culinary experience unfolding through the windows of the exposed kitchen where hot and fresh donuts will bake daily." Image courtesy Disney Parks Blog.
…In the past, when there were military jet flyovers at the theme parks, we would see an announcement on Disney Parks Blog or receive a press release ahead of time. With emphasis on avoiding events that draw crowds, this year, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, "The Thunderbirds" flew over EPCOT in honor of November's National Veterans and Military Families Month on October 29, without an advanced heads-up. Disney Parks shared video on Twitter.
Earlier today, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – “The Thunderbirds” – flew over @WaltDisneyWorld Resort to kick off November’s National Veterans and Military Families Month and honor current, past and fallen military heroes. ✈️🇺🇸 https://t.co/61jbqm6hGI pic.twitter.com/JLEFD1fnlk— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) October 29, 2020
…With Winter Holidays celebrations starting to get underway around the Resort, the latest "Foodies Guide" is now available.
There are so many festive foods to enjoy this holiday season at @WaltDisneyWorld Resort, so we’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorites. Check out these holiday highlights on the Disney Parks Blog: https://t.co/VMGgZvrAXC 🎄🎅 pic.twitter.com/RXphQ4wqTD— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) November 1, 2020
…Speaking of food, Amorette's has a new mini dome cake in the shape of The Child from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. The daily limited quantity cakes are available through November 30.
We’re celebrating #MandoMondays with the debut of a new Mini Dome Cake inspired by The Child! Available at Amorette’s Patisserie through Nov. 30, this cake showcases Cookies & Crème filling and will be limited to 40 cakes per day. (One per transaction while supplies last.) pic.twitter.com/z9Vs0LPHye— Disney Springs (@DisneySprings) November 2, 2020
…With Thanksgiving just ahead, some of the operating partners at Disney Springs have started letting us know about their offerings this year.
Visit RaglanRoad.com for reservations and information. Image courtesy Raglan Road.
Paddlefish will offer Traditional Turkey Dinner ($29) featuring herb-roasted turkey breast, chourico cornbread stuffing, whipped potatoes, green beans, cranberry relish and pan gravy. A children’s portion of the special can be purchased for $12. To pair with your festive feast, select bottles of red or white wine will be available for Thanksgiving Day only for $30. Reservations are available and can be made at PaddlefishRestaurant.com or by calling 407-934-2628. Image courtesy Paddlefish.
Terralina Crafted Italian will offer a special Thanksgiving Dinner. The restaurant will serve a Roast Turkey with Apple-Pancetta Stuffing ($25) with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans and rosemary-sage gravy. A children’s plate can be purchased for $10. The bar at Terralina Crafted Italian will offer a special cocktail throughout the month of November, but that pairs perfectly with the Thanksgiving special. The Cranberry Mule ($14) combines vodka, ginger beer, cranberry juice, lime juice and fresh cranberries. Reservations are available and can be made at TerralinaCraftedItalian.com or by calling 407-934-8888. Image courtesy Terralina Crafted Italian.
Patina Restaurant Group restaurants at Disney Springs will offer Thanksgiving dinners. Reservations recommended at the restaurants' websites. Maria & Enzo’s and Enzo’s Hideaway will serve up an Italian twist with a gourmet meal starring their Roasted Turkey Breast and Pancetta: $37 per adult and $19 per child nine and under. The Edison offers a traditional prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu with all of the classic trimmings prepared from scratch: $35 per person and $19 per child nine and under. Morimoto Asia offers a pan-Asian feast including everything from their highly acclaimed carved Peking Duck to bowls of their piping hot signature ramen varieties. Image courtesy Patina Restaurant Group.
…And, as we await Thanksgiving, Morimoto Asia is also offering "Toki Tuesdays!" The intimate evening of authentic Japanese style street food was inspired by the sweet and savory ready-to-eat dishes sold by outdoor vendors along the open air markets of Japan. Hosted by Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga, Toki Tuesdays will take place on November 10 and November 17. Limited to only 30 tickets per night, the exclusive and socially distanced dining experience will adhere to the restaurant’s Dine Safe: Commitment to Care protocol with predetermined seating at individual tables and will operate in accordance to all local and state regulations. Held on the second floor of Morimoto Asia from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests will be privy to an impressive lineup of menu items and beverages that celebrate the flavors of Japan. Featuring classic recipes with a unique flair, attendees can expect everything from spicy beef miso ramen to seasoned octopus fritters. Tickets are $42++ a person and the price will include your first drink. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Four stations will feature the following authentic Japanese street food:
- Takoyaki - Octopus fritters with okonomi sauce, bonito, nori, pickled ginger
- Okonomiyaki - Osaka style savory pancake with pork belly, cabbage, Japanese mayo
- Yakitori - Grilled chicken skewers, chicken meat ball skewers
- Ramen - Spicy beef miso ramen, scallions, corn, beansprouts, sesame
Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular Begins November 13
Give Kids the World Village's Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular starts in just a couple of weeks. Earlier this month, the Village shared a video update of the progress. Date-specific tickets are on-sale, and only a limited quantity are available. Visit GKTW.org/lights.
Give Kids the World Village installation of Night of a Million Lights Holiday Spectacular is underway. Video courtesy Give Kids the World Village.
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. The press release about the event which runs from November 13 until January 3 is below.
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.
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.
Get Away Today can help you book the newly released 35% discounted Disney hotel stays for travel in early 2021! One of the HUGE benefits of booking with Get Away Today is its price monitoring that comes automatically when anyone books their Walt Disney World Resort vacation with Get Away today. Once this new rates became available, for example, they automatically applied it to all of its guests with qualifying packages. Some guests saved over $2,000 - just like that!
Here is an idea of what to expect for pricing:
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort (moderate)
November 15-20, 2020
Tickets: 2 Adults and 3 Child (ages 3-9) 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $3,581.97 with 'Magic is Here' Offer (regular price $3,933.53 - $351.56 savings)
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (moderate)
Dates: January 25 - 31, 2021
Tickets: 4 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $3,029.60 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $3,303.76 - $274.16 savings)
Disney's All-Star Movies Resort (value)
Dates: February 10-16, 2021
Tickets: 2 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $2,018.58 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $2,217.86 - $199.28 savings)
Disney's Yacht Club Resort (deluxe)
Dates: February 10-16, 2021
Tickets: 2 adult 4-Day Base Walt Disney World Tickets
Total cost: $4,019.42 with Special Savings Offer (regular price $5,407.60 - $1,388.18 savings)
You can see more examples on its website.
When you know what price range you are thinking about, call 855-GET-AWAY during regular business hours (Monday - Friday 9am-5pm MT) and tell them MousePlanet sent you!
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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