disneyland photo taken by Peter

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Disneyland’s opening is delayed.
  • Walt Disney World reopening information is being revealed.
  • Universal comments on laying off Orlando staff members.
  • And more!

Disneyland Express shuttle

Like it or not, the coronavirus pandemic is still here. (Why would you like it, though?) In the last few weeks, the pervasive sense that this pandemic is only getting worse has manifested in further delays of major cultural events. Yes, the NBA is still headed to Walt Disney World – in a state heavily under duress because of the virus – but Disneyland is having a rougher go of things. As you may recall, Disneyland was set to reopen on its 65th anniversary, July 17. Whether or not that idea was a smart move, it’s now in the past: due to a number of concerns, including an outcry from a major union, Disneyland’s reopening is now delayed indefinitely. This may be depressing, but it’s important to remember that thousands of people’s health and safety is in danger when the parks reopen. Making sure Cast Members, as well as guests, can be safe should be the only priority. It sucks on a personal level, and Disney’s no doubt losing more money by pushing the date back. But safety is the only thing that should matter now.

Of course, the operative word there is “should”. In Orlando, a majority of parks have reopened, including Universal Studios Orlando. While that may be all well and good for guests in the Central Florida area, it’s been a grim situation for many staff members after a round of layoffs. Universal commented on the story, implying that due to the current situation, they’ve had to make cuts (and there may be more cuts to come). While it’s understandable that major companies are reeling in their own ways, that there are staffing cuts only a few weeks after Universal reopened feels especially frustrating and ill-advised.

Be Our Guest Restaurant | Walt Disney World Resort

Moving over to Walt Disney World, let’s talk briefly about food. Restaurants are making big changes, both those in the hotels and those within the parks themselves. The marquee restaurant Be Our Guest in Fantasyland is going to be making a very major shift – for the time being, you won’t be able to get quick-service breakfast or lunch at the hot spot. There will be a lunch menu, but only with prix-fixe offerings. It’s sure to deter non-reservation-holding guests, but a disappointing twist nonetheless. Be Our Guest is just one of many theme-park restaurants that are confirmed to be reopening on either July 11 or July 15 (based on which parks are open then). As the list states, there will be lots of choices even if the menus are limited and social distancing is heavily enforced. So even if your favorite item isn’t available, you’ll be able to get something.

That’s not to say that everything is moving hunky-dory with the larger reopening. Through no fault of Disney’s own, they’ve had to close down Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs. It’s a good-news, bad-news scenario: the good news is that the bar isn’t closed because there’s been any detection of the virus spreading. The bad news is that the bar closed because, well, all bars have been ordered to close by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Technically, bars are simply not allowed to serve alcohol for the time being, but then…there’s not much of a point in the bar being open, is there? (You could also argue that with cases skyrocketing, there may not be much of a point in theme parks being open, but Governor DeSantis has already shown his hand there, and it’s not pleasant.)

There are even bigger changes afoot at Walt Disney World in the months to come. When the parks reopen in mid-July, Epcot fans will have something to be thrilled by: the much-earlier-than-expected arrival of the International Food & Wine Festival, which will begin on July 15 and extend through the fall. The flip side, unfortunately, is that another fall staple, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, has been canceled. Some events just can’t cut it with new social distancing guidelines. And later on down the road, an even bigger change is coming: the end of MagicBands. In 2021, MagicBands will be phased out and guests will be pushed to use mobile/virtual options with My Disney Experience. You can still buy MagicBands on the Disney Store site, it looks like, but if you never had to use them on a Disney World trip, you’ll never need to worry about them.

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