We’re still in a pandemic, and Disney is still adapting. The latest Disney Parks news from Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort is so relevant to the times we’re living in. The holiday season is upon us, but the pandemic is, too, and Disney is adapting as a company in more ways than one — while still finding ways to delight Guests during these unprecedented times.
Here is a roundup of the latest Disneyland and Disney World news this week.
Disneyland Resort Decreases Operations
This week, due to a stay-at-home order enacted by California Governor Gavin Newsom, more of Disneyland Resort had to re-close. For the next few weeks — or pending further news from the state — outdoor dining will not be available at Downtown Disney and, by extension, Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure. Restaurants like the highly popular Carthay Circle had to re-close, along with other locations that are not offering takeout, like Naples, Ballast Point, and Tortilla Jo’s. You can read up on all of the restaurants currently open here.
Following the temporary ban on outdoor dining in Southern California, Disney opted to ban all consumption of food and beverage on Disneyland Resort property. This prevents Guests from removing their face coverings — if face masks are only allowed to be removed when Guests are eating or drinking, then banning eating and drinking will, in turn, ensure that masks must be worn at all times. To help enforce this, Disneyland Resort placed new signage throughout Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street, and areas that were previously open for sitting and eating are now blocked off.
Disney also adapted to the state’s stay-at-home order by postponing the partial reopening of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The hotel has postponed the reopening of its Disney Vacation Club villas until further notice.
However, there is good news. It has been reported that to bring more Guests to Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street, Disneyland Resort will be opening more areas for retail. Disney has not announced what this means — such as which shopping locations will be opening and when — but we are certainly excited that Disney has a plan moving forward for accommodating Guests still wanting to visit Disneyland Resort property in the coming weeks.
Mobile Checkout for Pandemic-Era Shopping
Another way Disney is adapting to the pandemic is by elevating the Guest shopping experience. At select retail locations at Disney World and Disneyland Resort, Guests can now use a mobile checkout service. In a designated mobile checkout area of the store, Guests can scan and pay for all of their merchandise items, all using the My Disney Experience app or Disneyland app.
This new service is highly convenient for Guests and also helps prevent interactions between Guests and Cast Members. While interacting with amazing Cast Members makes a Disney vacation so special, there are some interactions — like the process of purchasing items from a merchandise location — that may be streamlined and made safer when digitized. Think of mobile checkout similar to how you may experience self-checkout at your local grocery store. You just go through the process all on your own, possibly quicker, and you prevent interacting with others amid the current pandemic.
Characters Appear at Hotels
Even more socially distanced character experiences have arrived at Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World. In the past week, Goofy and Pluto were spotted at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, waving to Guests from a distance as they traveled to and from their Disney World hotel rooms and the theme parks.
The addition of Disney characters at the hotels of Disney World shows that Disney continued to adapt to this pandemic era. Characters may not be able to hug Guests right now — Disney World opened its theme parks in July, and since then Guests haven’t been able to hug Mickey Mouse. But Disney is still finding new and exciting ways to bring magic to Guests and help create lasting memories from their Disney World vacations, which are often once in a lifetime.
Disney World Magically Enforces Face Masks
All Guests two and older are still required to wear appropriate face coverings on Disney property. But as this pandemic rages on and as new health and safety protocol remains in place at Disney World, Cast Members are finding new, magical ways to enforce masks.
We shared the stories of several Cast Members who have found new ways to encourage Guests to wear the required face coverings. Sometimes, reminding a Guest of a rule in a new, helpful way can make the rule seem a bit more magical. One Disney Parks employee even carries around a Mickey Mouse plush toy wearing a mask — showing that if Mickey can wear a face mask, Guest can, too.
“We always try to keep it fun — we’re Disney,” said Jackie Swisher, Vice President of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay up-to-date on the latest Disney Parks news.
Want to book a trip to Disney World, Disneyland, or any other Disney property around the world? Click here to work with the Authorized Disney Vacation Planners at Academy Travel, where the Disney vacation magic begins!