Like just about everything else in life, Coronavirus continues to dominate Disney related news the past week. Disney has updated closure dates for nearly all worldwide operations including parks, resorts, Disney Cruise Line and more. Disney also made several revisions to previous policies regarding canceled vacations, annual passes, and Disney Vacation Club. A special offer has been released for guests who had their vacations canceled due to the virus. We also have some feel-good stories about ways Disney is helping those in need during the crisis, as well as a fantastic series of articles on ways to experience Disney magic at home. All this and more in this week’s news round up.
1 – Disney Parks Extends Closures Until Further Notice
On March 27, 2020, Disney Parks announced that both Walt Disney World and Disneyland would be closed until further notice. Originally, the parks were scheduled to be closed through March 31. After the first week of the parks being closed, it became clear that it was unlikely the parks would open on April 1. The State of Florida is now under a stay at home order through April 30, in line with the social distancing guidelines set by the US government through at least April 30. There is no official word on when the park might reopen. Do note that it is possible to book Disney World vacations for June 1 and after. While no opening date is guaranteed, it does appear that Disney is at least hoping to be operating by June 1. We will continue to provide updates on Disney Parks as information becomes available.
2 – Disney Updates Annual Pass Closure Policy & Provides Special Offer to Guest Who Had Their Vacation Cancelled
Disney has recently updated the annual pass payment policy during the closure period. Originally, payments were still being collected with passes being extended by the number of days the parks are closed. Now, Disney will stop payment collections, and guests have a choice on how they can proceed. Also, for those guests who have had their vacations canceled because of the closure have been offered a special deal for rebookings. Click on the link below with more information on both.
3 – Disney Cruise Line Pushes Back Return to Cruising
On March 30, 2020, Disney Cruise Line announced they would be extending the suspension of all new departures through April 28, 2020. On April 6, 2020, Disney Cruise Line announced the suspension of all Disney Wonder Alaska and Hawaii sailings due to the closure of Canadian ports. Guests currently booked on affected sailings will be offered the choice of a cruise credit to be used for a future sailing within 15 months of their original sale date or a full refund. Guests and travel agents will receive an email from Disney Cruise Line outlining details and next steps. Guests who booked their reservation through a travel agent should contact them directly with any questions. Those who booked directly with Disney Cruise Line and have questions after receiving the email should call 866-325-2112 or 407-566-3510.
4 – DVC Temporary Cancellation Policy
With the closure of the parks, many Disney Vacation Club members have also had their vacations canceled. Because members are using points with expiration dates, in some cases borrowed points, etc. handling canceled DVC reservations is trickier than just processing a refund. We recently received an update on vacation points for reservations checking in within the next 30 days. Because there is so much information, we’ve created a separate page to cover the DVC details.
5 – Disney Parks Donate Medical Supplies to Hospitals and Medical Professionals
We reported a few weeks ago that both Walt Disney World and Disneyland donated surplus food to local communities. We’re happy to report that Disney has also donated much needed supplies (including some personal protective equipment you probably have in your closet from your last trip) to hospitals and medical professionals. Click on the link below for more information.
6 – Disney Magic at Home – Bringing Some Disney Magic Into Our Daily Lives
Understanding that many of us are looking for distractions or educational content while school is out and most of us are self-isolating, Disney has given us some magic at home. From virtual viewings of parades, virtual tours, and free educational content, there is a lot to discover. Check out the links below for more information.
7 – Disney’s Aulani Resort Donates Fresh Food to Community
Disney’s Aulani Resort is also temporarily closed. Disney’s Nikki Moreno shares the heartwarming story below of how the resort recently donated fresh food to the community.
Pineapple, sweet rolls, potatoes, cookies, and even ti leaves.
The bountiful fresh food normally enjoyed by Aulani Resort guests won’t go to waste during Aulani’s temporary closure. That’s because it will be used to feed the community through a donation made to Aloha Harvest, a food collection and redistribution organization located on Oahu. Over the past week, Aulani Resort has donated approximately 7,000 pounds of perishable food to Aloha Harvest, which delivers it the same day to social service agencies across the island to help feed those in need.
“Donations like this are so important during times of uncertainty,” said Aloha Harvest Executive Director “Phil” Augustus Acosta. “This food helps ensure that people who are already faced with hunger continue to receive resources.”
The donation included fresh fruit and vegetables such as pineapples, watermelons, lemons, lettuce and onions, bread and milk products, as well as treats such as cupcakes, cookies and popcorn.
“Over the past nine years, Aulani Resort has contributed to the community in a number of ways. That’s why during these unprecedented times, this donation was the kindest and most heartwarming decision to make,” said Aulani Resort General Manager Kimberly Agas.
8 – Disney Executives Take Pay Cut
Multiple news sources have reported that many senior leaders in the Walt Disney Company are taking a pay cut during this challenging time. Effective April 5, all VP’s will have their salaries reduced by 20%, SVP’s by 25%, and EVPs and above by 30%. CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% paycut. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has chosen to forgo 100% of his salary.
9 – Disney World Employees Furloughed
During this time of economic crisis, the Disney Company has continued to pay its employees. After the initial closure, Disney announced that it would continue to pay all of its Cast Members during the closure period. When they announced the closure would be until further notice, the company updated the policy announcing the decision to pay hourly parks and resort cast members through April 18. Disney recently announced that they will furlough some theme park employees starting on April 19.
“Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation,” the company said in a statement [on April 2]. “However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time,” a statement said.
According to news reports, employees will still receive full health-care benefits, with Disney paying the cost of both the employee and company portions of the premiums. They also will be able to continue with their Disney Aspire education programs, the company said. Disney said that once furloughed, employees are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.
What’s New at Walt Disney World!
It’s a very exciting time growth and development at Walt Disney World. In fact, there are so many new things opening, coming and happening, it’s hard to keep track. Here’s a cheat sheet to help keep things straight and make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
The Epcot Experience
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Reimagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
NBA Experience at Disney Springs
Coming Soon to Disney World!
Coming in 2020
Epcot Reimagined – Now Through Fall 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50thAnniversary
Drawn to Life – New Cirque du Soleil Show – new opening date unknown
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration – 2021
Star Wars Hotel – 2021
Disney Cruise Line’s Lighthouse Point – Disney’s 2nd Island in the Caribbean – unknown
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