Reopening Disney: The Genie is in the Details

Reopening Disney: The Genie is in the Details

Disney News on Parade for June 4th, 2020

Last week we spoke about the big headlines of reopening Walt Disney World. Today we get into the details. We often talk about the devil is in the details, but this time it may be the Genie in the details. You’ll see how that may play out in several topics we cover in this podcast and post.

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Walt Disney World

Ticketing & Reservation Changes

  • All ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations are temporarily paused while existing tickets and reservations are being handled.
  • Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make a theme park reservations before new tickets are sold.
  • All FastPass+ selections are canceled.
  • All dining reservations are currently cancelled.
  • All experience bookings are currently cancelled.
  • The 180-day booking window will be shifted to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings
  • All Disney dining plans are canceled and those with such plans will receive a refund.
  • Those who booked Free Dining packages for dates affected by dining plan cancellations will receive a 35% room discount if they do not cancel their reservation.
  • Attendance will be managed through a new theme park reservation system on
  • Attractions, experiences, services and amenities such as shows, parades and fireworks may have limited availability or may remain closed.
  • Both a park reservation & a valid admission for the same park on the same date is required. Parking hopping still uncertain.
  • Unexpired multi-day theme park tickets with unused days, or date-specific theme park tickets with a valid use period beginning March 12, 2020 through the end of the actual closure period will be automatically extended through December 15, 2020.
  • Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours, Disney Early Morning Magic and Disney H2O Glow Nights from March 16, 2020 through end of the actual closure period will be automatically refunded.
  • Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.
  • It remains uncertain what will happen to Disney Platinum Plus, Disney Premiere and Disney Water Park passes, how they will be compensated.
  • Mobile Ordering may be modified to reserve identified time slots for returning.

Bob Chapek noted in a CNN interview:

“Well, we won’t open up a park unless we can cover our variable costs — essentially our cost to operate the park. So then beyond that it becomes a question of trying to cover your overhead and your capital expenses that you have. “

The question is, are you ready to go back to the parks?

The Solution? Genie

Genie Software App Proposal by Disney.

When presented at the last D23, here is what was shared about “Disney Genie”:

  • “Disney Genie,” is a new digital offering set to debut in late 2020 that will enhance the way you plan for and experience your Walt Disney World trip.
  • It is intended for first-time guests or a seasoned pro.
  • Its customized itineraries are geared to interests, from princess-themed days to Epcot foodie days.
  • Guests will be able to tell Disney Genie what you’d like to experience, and it will quickly evaluate millions of options to present you with an optimal day.
  • It’s supposed to be flexible. If you change your mind for any reason, Disney Genie will re-optimize your day.
  • Certain features of Disney Genie will also be available through your preferred travel professional.

Reopening Activities

Disney Springs

  • Ghirardelli has reopened. The menu is limited, but if they’re missing something you love, ask. They may be able to accommodate you.
Ghirardelli at Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • World of Disney Magic has reopened–but not quite as much magic. To see the original magic, watch the following:
  • Once Upon a Toy has reopened but not Void & Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which takes up 2/3 of the original space. Familiar plastic partitions can be seen in the front.
Once Upon a Toy. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Tommy Bahama is now reopened
Tommy Bahamas at Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Sprinkles is open for carry out and pre-orders. Also, try the ATM!
Sprinkles reopens. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Storm Troopers are on patrol to direct social distancing in a fun way.
Storm Troopers at Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction Elsewhere:

  • Cinderella Castle 50th Anniversary construction has resumed
  • Grand Floridian walkway has continued
  • Arrival Entrances at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Epcot
Cinderella Castle under remodeling for 50th. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Cast Members Returning

  • 9 Resort Table Service Restaurants and 20 Resort Quick Service Restaurants will reopen when DVC guests are welcomed back. Cast Members are being called back to these restaurants in time for opening on June 22nd.
  • Disney World will be bringing back thousands of furloughed workers in the next few weeks and may need to shuffle around more people to replace its college interns, according to Eric Clinton, who leads Local 362
  • All Full-Time Attractions and Resorts Associated with DVC and many Part Time will be asked to come back in June.
  • Disney International Culture Representatives will not be coming back immediately, and those roles will temporarily be filled by other Cast Members. This is largely due to travel restrictions.
  • College interns are not expected to be returning any time soon as well, according to Clinton.
College Program Cast Members During Last Days at Magic Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


League owners and the National Basketball Players Association are expected to approve a season restart plan that would invite 22 teams to Orlando, Fla. with 13 teams from the Western Conference and nine from the Eastern Conference. Games are expected to begin on July 31st.

Mickey Mouse refs a Harlem Globetrotters game. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


MLS Players Association Approves Proposal to Allow Tournament at ESPN:

  • The acceptance of the MLS proposal allows the league to avoid a lockout that has been threatened by MLS and will soften the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic.
  • MLS has been shut down since March 12.
  • The teams are expected to arrive in Orlando in three weeks for the tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
No end to the soccer fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Reopening Around the World

  • Disneyland Resort–Reservations have now been pushed back to July 15th and beyond, hopefully in time for its 65th anniversary
  • Tokyo Disney Resort
    • Ikspiari has reopened but is waiting further to open the parks. You can see this area, similar to Disney Springs or Downtown Disney below:
From YouTube Channel J. Jeff Kober
  • Monorails at Tokyo Disney Resort are being replaced. You can see what the monorail experience is like below.
From YouTube channel J. Jeff Kober
  • Hong Kong Disneyland was being prepped for reopening, but nothing has happened perhaps because of rioting.
  • Shanghai Disneyland
    • Re-opened indoor stage shows
    • Implemented a virtual boarding system with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Shanghai also has a premiere pass ($11 for just that attraction).
Queue to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Disneyland Paris is believed to be reopening the same time as Walt Disney World

We finish to another segment of the interview CNN did with Bob Chapek. Here’s the question, followed by his response:

The last three months have been unprecedented to the world, but also to Disney World. You became CEO as the Covid-19 pandemic turned the economy and the company upside down. How are you personally leading through this crisis?

“Well I think, you know, you return to your roots. You return to the fact that we have something that is the envy I think of every company, which is, one of the strongest — if not the strongest — brands on Earth, unbelievable casts that are passionate about what they do, about the magic that they deliver to our guests. We’ve got an unbelievable wealth of franchises and content that we can create to put on places like Disney+ or in movie theaters. So, really, our strength in the past is our strength in the future. And that’s what will drive us to that restoration of the magic. And so, I’m bullish about the future. I’m extremely bullish about the Walt Disney Company and its ability and its mission to create those magical memories that last a lifetime.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

With all of this craziness, a lot of people are probably wondering when or even how do I plan my next trip to Disney. May I suggest that you seek out David Zanolla. He’s so on top of things–he calls me at midnight to inform me of the latest and greatest. He’s going to take care of you, and it won’t cost you any more than if you booked directly (which is actually more painful if you end up on hold trying to make modifications). Call today at 309-863-5469 or reach out to him via

J. Jeff Kober

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