This is the week that Disney World parks reopen after a four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have lots of related news along with information on Disney World transportation reopening and a first-hand look at the new procedures for Disney World buses. Also dominating the news of last week is the highly controversial announcement that Disney will be retheming Splash Mountain. On a tasty note, Disney released three more fan-favorite recipes, along with photos of an adorable new baby at Animal Kingdom. Disney Cruise Line also announced a new promotion. All this and more in the roundup below.
1 – Walt Disney World Theme Parks Reopen This Week
After being closed for nearly four months, Walt Disney World will open to guests this week. Disney Cast Members will enjoy a preview first, then annual passholders on July 9 and 10. On July 11, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open. Finally, on July 15, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open. We’ll be at Magic Kingdom on July 9 and then will visit the other parks over the next few weeks. We’ll be covering our visits in real-time on our Instagram page. We’ll also be bringing you articles about what you can expect when you visit during the phased reopening.
2 – Disney Announces the Retheming of Splash Mountain
Disney has announced plans to retheme Splash Mountain. We’ll be saying goodbye to Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear, although a timeline has not been announced. The attraction will be themed to the Princess and the Frog. The announcement brought strong reactions from Disney fans. Disney has said that the change has been planned for more than a year. Learn more at the link below.
3 – Transportation Reopening Dates
On July 7 the monorail and Ferry Boats will resume their operation. Both the Express and Resort line will reopen. The line to EPCOT will not be operating even when that park reopens on July 15. Bus service will be available to monorail resort guests going to EPCOT.
The Disney Skyliner will reopen on July 15, the same day that Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will be reopening. All three Skyliner lines will be operating. Check the MyDisney Experience app for up to date hours.
Note that at this time Minnie Van service and Watercraft service have not been given a reopening date and will remain closed when the parks reopen.
4 – Safety Measures on Disney Buses
This week we had a chance to take a ride on a Disney bus, and we got an up-close look at the safety measures Disney is taking to promote social distancing on the buses. Disney has installed plastic screen protectors and placed stickers on seats. The stickers are numbered for groups of people to sit together, and then other seats are blocked. If you are visiting Walt Disney World during the phased reopening, be prepared for possible long waits for buses as capacity will be limited.
5 – Passholder Preview Signup Fills Up Within Thirty Minutes
Last month Disney announced they would be giving annual passholders a special preview event July 9-10 and Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. E-mails with event registration when out this week to passholders and the spots filled up in less than thirty minutes.
6 – Disneyland Reopening Delayed
When Disneyland announced their reopening dates, we knew that the plan had to be approved by government officials. This past week Disneyland provided an update that the State of California would not be reviewing their plan until sometime after the 4th of July holiday. Because of this, Disney had to delay Disneyland’s opening. Learn more at the link below.
7 – Disney Shares Virtual Viewing of July 4th Fireworks at Magic Kingdom
With the parks being closed this year, we’re thankful that Disney shared a video of their amazing 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular! While it’s not the same as being there, it was great to watch it! Enjoy the video at the link below.
8 – Disney Cruise Line Announces New Promotion
For any cruises booked by August 31, 2020, for sailings through March 2021, you can rest assured knowing you can change your sail date up to 15 days prior to departure.
Today, having peace of mind in your travel plans is more important than ever. This temporary modification to our standard booking policy allows your family to adjust your sail date should you need to.
- This offer is for new bookings made by August 31, 2020, and existing bookings (within the departure date window)
- Applicable to cruises departing through March 31, 2021
- Guests can change their sail date up to 15 days prior, for any cruise commencing prior to April 1, 2022
Book Your Cruise
To take advantage of this special offer, call (888) 325-3815 or contact your travel agent. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.
- Guests who have booked before August 31, 2020, have the ability to change their sail date up to 15 days prior to embarkation.
- Guests scheduled to sail on or before March 31, 2021, may take advantage of this offer.
- Guests who wish to change their sail date must move to a future sailing that commences prior to April 1, 2022. Standard prevailing rates will apply.
- Guests cannot change their reservation back to the original sail date after taking advantage of this offer.
- Should you cancel your new sail date, any cancellation fees applicable to the original sail date will be deferred and applied as a minimum cancellation fee to the future sailing.
- Standard air cancellation fees apply for Guests who booked flights through Disney Cruise Line.
9 – Disney College Program Suspended Until Further Notice
When the theme parks closed this spring, Disney sent home thousands of Cast Members who were a part of the Disney College Program. Shortly after the closure, they announced that the fall program would be suspended. This week, Disney announced that the program would be suspended until further notice. You can read the statement below.
10 – Disney Magic at Home – Three New Recipes Shared
Disney has shared more Disney recipes for us to enjoy at home. Disney Cast Member Jonathan Frontado shares the first recipe below:
Now more than ever, we’re looking for ways to bring the magic of Disney into your home. We are showcasing one of my personal favorites – Palo!
The Italian-inspired Palo restaurant aboard each Disney ship offers a superlative dining experience reserved exclusively for adults. Guests are invited to indulge in a menu of delectable modern Italian cuisine, coupled with a sophisticated atmosphere and superior service. But while Palo may be reserved for adults, here is a way to bring a taste of this experience to the entire family – make your own chocolate soufflé at home!
Palo Chocolate Soufflé
- 3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the soufflé cups
- 6 tablespoons sugar, plus more for dusting the soufflé cups
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
- 2 ounces (2/3 cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 4 eggs, separated
- Vanilla Sauce (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Set a full kettle of water on to boil.
- Butter six 4-ounce soufflé cups and coat with sugar; set aside.
- Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cocoa to the butter and beat with a whisk to a smooth, paste-like consistency. Reduce heat and cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly add the hot milk, whisking until smooth, then blend in melted chocolate. Let cool for 5 minutes, then stir in egg yolks.
- Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until frothy. Slowly add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Stir a heaping spoonful of egg whites into the chocolate, then fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
- Pour the batter into prepared soufflé cups. Place cups in a large baking dish and add enough boiling water to reach halfway the sides of the soufflé cups.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately, with warm vanilla sauce.
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 small egg yolks
- Bring cream and vanilla bean to a low boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Combine sugar and egg yolks.
- Add 2 spoonfuls of boiling cream to egg mixture and stir well, then pour back into the remaining cream and continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes.
Of course, the dining experience at Palo doesn’t end with the fine cuisine. Palo is also home to a robust menu of adult beverages, including inventive cocktails and classic reserve wines. The restaurant’s wine list, with 99 percent Italian wines, includes about 90 labels from all regions of Italy, including a sparkling Prosecco, a lush red Barolo made just for Palo, and some of the best Super Tuscans.
One of my favorite beverages at Palo, especially paired with brunch, is the restaurant’s signature Balsamic Grande cocktail. This refreshing drink features vodka, a splash of 5-year-old balsamic vinegar and fresh muddled strawberries. Check out this video to see how you can make it at home.
Disney Cast Member Karen McClintock shares an Apple Pie recipe below:
Apple pie is iconic. For many of us, it represents comfort and a feeling of home so it is no wonder this popular dessert is truly a slice of Americana – perfect for a 4th of July celebration!
How popular? According to the American Pie Council, pie is the preferred dessert for holidays and apple pie gets the top nod with 1 out of 5 Americans naming it as their favorite.
In honor of 4th of July, we are serving up America’s favorite pie with our recipe from Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Their version is layered with tart Granny Smith apples and has a cake-like top crust that is simply delicious.
And you know what else 1 out of 5 Americans confess to, according to the American Pie Council? Eating an entire pie by themselves. Hey – no judgement here!
Ava, a 13-year-old junior chef and daughter of Disney photographer Matt Stroshane, made this recipe in her home kitchen with the help of her personal sous chefs (mom and dad) and official taste tester (her 11-year-old brother, Adam). Check out Ava’s video below.
11 – Disney Magic at Home – Celebrate an At-Home Pirate Night
For many Disney Cruise Line fans, Pirate Night is the highlight of a Disney cruise. Since cruising on a Disney Cruise is not available right now, Disney has shared a way to have Pirate Night at home! Disney Cast Member Ashley Long shares more below.
Ahoy, Mateys! Without a doubt, Pirate Night is one of the most popular events aboard a Disney cruise. This swashbuckling celebration is filled with exciting activities for the entire family, including a buccaneer-style feast, family game shows, and special entertainment.
In today’s “#DisneyCruiseLife at Home,” we are going to share tips and tricks to turn your “homeport” into a fun-filled pirate ship. So, assemble your crew and get ready to chart a course towards adventure with your very own “Pirates IN the Caribbean” party.
- What be ye Goin’ to Wear? Head to your closet and grab your boots, pants and your favorite striped shirt (preferably one with black, red or navy stripes) for a rugged swashbucklerlook. You can also step it up a notch with a flowy white top, dark vest, and pirate hat. If you would like to add a cool accessory to your pirate-inspired wardrobe, here are the instructions to create your very own pirate bandana, courtesy of our crafty friends at Disney Family.
- To the Galley! Our Pirates IN the Caribbean event celebrates “a pirate’s life” in our restaurants with a special menu featuring Caribbean-inspired specialties. You can get into the buccaneer spirit and bring a taste of the islands to your house with these mouthwatering Guava Glazed Barbecue Ribs. Just click here to download the recipe.
- Mermaids Tales! You best be wary of the summoning tune of a mermaid song! Here is a way to pay tribute to these alluring mythical creatures with a batch of yummy and whimsical mermaid tail cookies from our swashbuckling friends at Disney Family.
- All Hands Hoay! Here is a fun activity for the little adventurers in your crew. This 3D paper craft will add a few more tiny buccaneers to your pirate band. Just click here to download the template and instructions.
12 – Disney Magic at Home – Learn to Draw a Disney Castle
Disney is also sharing a video on how to draw a Disney castle. Disney Cast Member Kevin Rafferty, Jr. shares more below.
We’re excited to share one hosted by Disney Imagineer Amy Young, showing you how to draw a Disney Castle!
Walt Disney Imagineering has many talented artists who dream up big ideas, and given Imagineering’s storied history of designing Disney castles, there’s no better icon to learn to draw from an Imagineer!
As you start the drawing process, feel free to combine some of the elements in this video with your own imagination to draw your own vision for the castle. Or stick with the steps Amy shows you. Either way, we hope you’ll channel your inner Imagineer and enjoy this step-by-step tutorial that will be fun for the whole family.
13 – Meet the Zebra Foal Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
In May, a new zebra foul was welcomed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney recently shared an update. Dr. Mark Penning shares the news below.
On May 6, the animal care team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge welcomed a new female Hartmann’s mountain zebra foal to the herd. I’m so happy to share with you photos of little Phoenix as she recently made her first appearance on the resort’s Sunset Savanna.
The name Phoenix was chosen by our team as a symbol of strength and renewal. Phoenix was born to mom Peebles, and she’s already quite active and enjoying bonding time with her mother. This is the second Hartmann’s foal born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge this year.
Phoenix was born as part of the Species Survival Plan program, overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The program ensures responsible breeding and genetic diversity of thousands of animal species. As part of this program, Phoenix is the fourth zebra born at Walt Disney World this year, and 13th overall since we began participating in the breeding program.
14 – NBA Officially Announces to Finish 19-20 Season at Walt Disney World
The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association announced today that they have finalized a comprehensive plan for a July 30 restart to the 2019-20 season, which includes stringent health and safety protocols, a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the goal of taking collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice.
In addition, the NBA and Disney have reached an agreement that makes the Arena, the Field House and Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex the venues for all games for the remainder of the season, which will resume with 22 teams returning to play and with no fans in attendance.
The NBA and the NBPA confirmed today an agreement on health and safety protocols that will govern the resumption of the season. The rigorous program, which addresses risks related to COVID-19 and focuses on the well-being of players, coaches, officials and staff, was developed in consultation with public health experts, infectious disease specialists and government officials.
As announced on Wednesday, the NBA and the NBPA have agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart will be to find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country. Leaders from the NBA and the NBPA have also discussed strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community. In recognition that long-term change can only come from an informed and sustained commitment, conversations regarding these efforts will continue and additional details will be released at a later date.
“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
“It is very exciting to officially announce the restart of the 2019-2020 season,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “It has taken true collaboration between the League and the Union – special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps – along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others. Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country. We will continue to work with our players and the League to develop specific plans in Orlando as well as long-term initiatives to bring about real change on these issues.”
“We’re glad to be able to provide a unique venue where the NBA can resume its season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and staff to Walt Disney World Resort as they prepare for the exciting return of professional basketball.”
Under the competitive format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will be the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference.
The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight “seeding games,” as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. The complete game and national television schedules for the seeding games will be announced tonight. The NBA and its broadcast and technology partners are collaborating to enhance game telecasts and bring fans an immersive, interactive viewing experience.
At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular-season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the eighth playoff seed in that conference.
If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Team 8) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference (Team 9), then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.
The NBA’s standard playoff tiebreaker procedures will be used to break any ties on the basis of winning percentage. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The 2020 NBA Finals will end no later than Oct. 13.
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