Theme Park Bits: DCA Is Reopening (Kind Of), Epcot's Next Festival, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Disney California Adventure is partially reopening its doors.
  • Epcot's first 2021 festival has been scheduled.
  • And more!
  • Downtown Disney District extends to Buena Vista Street

    Every once in a while – it feels like it's once a week, but maybe it's less than that – I am once again mentally bowled over by the fact that we've been living through the grim effects of a pandemic for roughly eight months. In the grand scheme of things, eight months isn't that long, but for a business that needs consumer money to thrive, eight months is an eternity. So it's been for the Disneyland Resort, which has been mostly shut down for that period of time. (Yes, I know, Downtown Disney is open, but that's not the first thing you think of when you think of Disneyland, be honest.) Though the attractions remain closed, there is a glimmer of excitement to report from Anaheim: Disney California Adventure is reopening in November.

    Well, kind of. When I say "reopening", I don't mean you can ride Soarin' or Grizzly River Run or Radiator Springs Racers. In this case, "reopening" means that Buena Vista Street will be open next month, with most of its shops and dining locations back open for the public. A few of the dining options, such as Clarabelle's, aren't included in the recent announcement, but the swanky Carthay Circle Restaurant as well as the Grizzly Peak-adjacent Smokejumpers Grill will be back up and running with outdoor dining available. Frankly, this is overdue – Knott's Berry Farm has been doing dining events for a few months, and Disney has plenty of options to offer its guests. What DCA has over Disneyland (in this specific instance) is no doubt its alcohol sales, which may help its restaurants do a bit better with guests.

    Let's head over to Epcot for our next couple stories. In part because Florida is a state run by a sycophantic lackey of a leader who gleefully ignores science, Walt Disney World is much closer to fully operational than Disneyland could be. So it's not just that attractions are open, but some of Epcot's traditional events are preparing to return. One such event is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which will return starting January 8, 2021. Even now, Epcot is planning for a festival full of good food, artistic mastery, and exclusive merchandise. Plus, they're offering a special discount to guests (because even though Epcot is open, they still need people to...y'know, visit).

    Here's some less-than-encouraging news straight from the same park. As you know, one-half of Epcot is dedicated to World Showcase, a massive area in which 11 countries have 11 dedicated pavilions highlighting their distinctive and unique cultures. One of those pavilions is dedicated to Morocco, boasting incredible atmosphere and memorable food and drink. Though the countries typically have some control over the shops and restaurants in the pavilions, that won't be the case for Morocco's: Disney will assume ownership control by the end of the year. This is a little disappointing, because the singular style and quality of the food in Morocco's pavilion was driven by the country, not the park. Hopefully that won't change, but we'll see.

    Speaking of Walt Disney World and things that may or may not change, let's talk capacity. At this point, even though the resort and its parks are open, it's not operating at an incredibly high level due to understandable safety and health issues related to the pandemic. Disney's CEO, Bob Chapek, recently was interviewed on CNBC and acknowledged that, for the time being, Walt Disney World will operate at just 25% capacity. More to the point, that's not going to change until CDC guidelines, and if Disneyland is allowed to reopen in "full", it'll do so at the same capacity. For guests, that means it's not going to be nearly so crowded as usual, but it also means parks may close to new guests earlier and earlier in the day.

    We'll wrap up this edition of Theme Park Bits with a slight, tiny bit of mild good news. I hedge there because this is all related to the grim layoffs Disney announced last month (last week? Does time matter anymore? Who's to say.). Though it was believed that some full-time Disney Cast Members could displace part-time Cast Members and potentially cause them to lose their jobs, one Disney World union has confirmed that its part-timers won't be losing their jobs, both those who work on attractions and in custodial work. Hopefully that won't change for the worse; at the very least, this is a fine reminder that labor unions are a good thing and it's important that they're fighting for Cast Members' jobs.