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So Excited For the Week Ahead; Some Things You May Still Be Asking and Cast Members Gearing Up Safely

Well, the week we have been waiting for is finally here!! I know that I am so excited to be able to walk down Main Street U.S.A. again and see that gorgeous, newly painted Cinderella Castle. I am also even more excited to be able to share it with you guys. So, moving forward into this week, amid the excitement, there may still be some questions that may not have been answered yet. Let’s get to it.

We don’t know when certain guests can book Advance Dining Reservations.

Earlier this week, guests who had an active dining reservation between May 28 and September 2 that was canceled due to the Disney World’s temporary closure were able to begin booking new dining reservations 60 days in advance of their arrival — a shift from the previous 180-day advance booking window for dining. However, guests who did NOT have dining reservations canceled are still in the dark about when they will be able to make new bookings. Many of these guests have upcoming trips beginning as soon as July 11th when the parks begin to reopen, and with restaurants across Disney World property seeing a reduction in their capacity, there will most likely be fewer reservations available. BIG TIP FROM DISNEY FOOD BLOG: For those of you who think you SHOULD be able to book your dining reservations based on Disney World’s current website language, but are still getting that “Paws” message, definitely call Disney directly. We’re hearing plenty of anecdotal evidence that people who are running into difficulty have been able to book dining reservations via the phone lines.

While we don’t know when everyone will be eligible to book new dining reservations, we DO know what in-park restaurants will be opening! Check out ALL of the dining locations that will reopen with the parks here!

We don’t know when Disney World will allow guests to begin making new 2020 bookings or ticket purchases.

New vacation packages for 2021 went on sale on June 24. However, new bookings for 2020 are still unavailable, and Disney has yet to announce when that may change. All we know for sure is that 2020 should become available “later this summer. Disney is faced with a logistical challenge in accommodating guests with existing 2020 bookings. Many hotels have yet to reopen, creating a kind of Disney hotel tetris game for guests who hold reservations. Disney will need to make sure that all guests with existing 2020 reservations are accommodated when it comes to hotels AND park entrance before they open things up for new 2020 bookings. I am sure that this must be a crazy time for Disney right now!

We don’t know when the Disneyland parks are going to reopen.

We know that Disneyland had announced that they would be reopening on July 17, 2020. Since then they have come out and stated that they are pushing that date back and have announced when it will be reopening. We feel for our “Thunderchicken” family and hopefully their home park will be opening very soon. Till then, we will be taking you guys along with us. We also don’t know what Disneyland’s theme park reservation system will look like once their reopening plans are confirmed. We expect many components to closely resemble Disney World’s Park Pass Reservation System, but nothing has been confirmed. It has been reported that Downtown Disney is still planning to move ahead with its July 9 opening, but restaurants will have to stick to outdoor dining.

We don’t know when the Disney Dining Plan will come back

Disney made the decision to cancel existing Dining Plans as well as to completely suspend the Disney Dining Plan for the time being. Disney has yet to say when they plan on reintroducing the Disney Dining Plan.

We still don’t know the future of the Park Pass Reservation System.

Perhaps the biggest source of confusion for guests planning their upcoming Disney World vacations has been the announcement and rollout of the new Disney Park Pass Reservation System. The system went live on June 22 for guests with existing resort reservations, then on June 26 for Disney World Annual Passholders, and finally on June 28 for all other guests with valid theme park tickets.The biggest question we have moving forward is whether Disney will add availability to dates that have already filled up. At time of writing, most upcoming dates are still available for guests with resort reservations or theme park tickets, but for Annual Passholders, nearly all of July and most August weekend days have filled up. So, it will be interesting to see if more availability gets added — and for whom.

We don’t know what the Food & Wine Festival booths will be or what their menus will include.

In an announcement that frankly no one saw coming, A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will begin on July 15th, the FIRST DAY EPCOT is open! That’s right folks, we have a theme park reopening AND the first day of Food & Wine on the same day! Even though I will not be going on opening day of Food and Wine, we will be hitting the Festival many times during its time at Epcot, so no worries!

All we know so far, however, is that the festival will feature 20 “global marketplaces” and will last through the fall. At this time, we don’t know much about those marketplaces, other than that they will include Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the CaribbeanWill all of the marketplaces be returning booths from last year, or will there be some new ones? We know there will be elements from EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival sprinkled in, so could that mean we’ll see a few of those menu items in the mix? We don’t know! Because we don’t know what the booths will be, we have no idea what the menus look like either, and this festival starts SOON!!!

We don’t know what’s happening with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional. 

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was canceled for 2020. This news, as sad as it was to hear, made sense, as many of the key components of the Halloween parties, including fireworks, parades, and character meet and greets, have been suspended until further notice. Because of that fact, we may unfortunately be hearing the same news for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but we have yet to hear an official announcement from Disney. We also don’t know the current status of the Oogie Boogie Bash in Disneyland. Some people in the Mayne Mafia have asked about Festival of the Holiday’s as well and we haven’t gotten an update on the future of EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional for 2020. So far, Disney has not called back any groups or shows that focus on singing. This could have to do with the fact that, according to the New York Times, singing seems to be a risky activity given the global health crisis. Even though it is a special part of the Christmas holidays at the park, we know that Disney is doing its best to keep their cast members and guest as safe as possible and that is their priority.

We don’t know when Park Hopping will return.

Recently, Disney announced that Park Hopping, the ability to visit multiple theme parks in a single day, would be temporarily suspended. However, if you purchase a 2021 vacation package right now, you are able to add on Park Hopping. So, as of right now, Disney hasn’t ruled out bringing back Park Hopping in time for 2021 vacations. BIG TIP: If you currently have park hopping added on to your ticket, you have the option to use the ticket later (many tickets have been extended for use into 2021), modify your package, or cancel your tickets. Wanna get a refund? Click the link below for details.

We don’t know the opening dates of some Disney World’s Resort hotels.

Last but not least, we are still in the dark on the reopening status of many of Disney World’s hotels. We know that hotels are reopening in phases, with only Disney Vacation Club resorts currently open.

We also know that some resorts, like Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, are temporarily closed to the general public to host the NBA as they conclude their season at Walt Disney World but I do know that they were taking reservations at one point at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort later this year at one point. Now whether this changes (which it most definitely could) we will have to wait and see.

But, some hotels don’t have reopening dates yet at all! These include Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts (French Quarter and Riverside), and Disney’s All Star Resorts (Sports, Movies, and Music).

BIG TIP: If you’re staying at a Disney World resort hotel that won’t be opening by the time you’re scheduled to travel, or a resort hotel that doesn’t have an opening date yet at all, definitely get on the phone with Disney to modify your reservation. Disney has stated on their website that reservations that are not moved to an open resort hotel will be automatically canceled seven days before the scheduled arrival date. If you still want to go to Disney World — modify to an open resort ASAP.

All this information (or non-information) can be overwhelming and I, just like you, am a guy who just loves going to Disney. I will however, always strive to bring you the latest information coming down from Disney and get it to you in the best way possible, sometimes in a crazy and entertaining way. Together, we will be able to enjoy the parks and make the most magical experience possible moving ahead.

SAFETY IS THE FOCUS

As I mentioned earlier, Disney World is working hard on making that visit to the parks safe and enjoyable in the most magical of ways. With that, the cast members who are now back at “home” are working hard to get everything ready for us. Starting with transportation, it looks like the monorails may be gearing up for guests. According to Disney Food Blog, it looks like workers were installing more barriers in the monorail waiting and exiting areas, isolating guests from one another when they’re not able to socially distance at the recommended 6 foot guideline as well as there are new installations inside the cars to help promote safety and social distancing. The skyliner is also reported to be up and running on July 15th so we will keep our eyes open for that as well.

Though our world may look a little different as Cast Members return to familiar and cherished places, we can imaging that they are eager to open the gates and navigate this new world together with health and safety top of mind. Take a look at some of the first special moments as cast returned to their favorite parks and began prepping to welcome guests home with a smile in their eyes. 

I know that we cannot wait to join these awesome cast members as we also return to our “home” Remember, we are all learning these “new normals” together and please be sure to be kind and courteous to the cast members, as well as other guests that may be new to the area or their first time here at Walt Disney world. Remember, we are all in this together.

If you are looking to reschedule your Disney vacation or book a new reservation, be sure and go to our official travel sponsor, Fairytale Journeys Travel, at https://www.fairytalejourneystravel.com, and they will help you navigate through all the stress, without you having to worry about it and they do it free of charge!

Be sure and make sure you keep checking back here at spokesmayne.co for updates coming down and follow on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram as we head into the parks this coming week and beyond!

Disney Parks Blog; Disney Food Blog; Spokesmayne