It’s time for another Walt Disney World news round-up! This one covers a range of topics, including the reopening of another hotel, Park Pass availability/strategy, closure & opening of mini golf, the announcement of yet another movie based on a WDW attraction, and more face mask warnings appearing in the Walt Disney World theme parks and My Disney Experience app.
Let’s start with a big kudos to the NBA and Disney on the conclusion of a successful “bubble season” at Walt Disney World. In July, the NBA resumed its season, bringing 22 teams to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to compete for a spot in the NBA Playoffs. It was a colossal undertaking, with zero positive player cases and the development of a rapid-return, cheap and easy-to-administer saliva tests coming from the experiment.
After three months and 205 games, the 2020 NBA Finals concluded with a Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Miami Heat. To celebrate the Lakers winning the NBA Championship, Cinderella Castle was lit in purple & gold last night after the game. Unsurprisingly, no one proclaimed “I’m going to Walt Disney World” after the game–more like “I’m going home!” Although technically I think the winners and losers both did spend one last night at Coronado Springs…
Speaking of Coronado Springs Resort, the hotel is still scheduled to open on October 14, 2020. Once that occurs, the trio of hotels that played host to the NBA will all have reopened, whereas most other Walt Disney World resorts have had their dates pushed back or removed from the calendar entirely.
We likely won’t know the full impact of the NBA bubble season on Walt Disney World’s reopening until the inevitable documentary. It sure seems like the league’s use of Walt Disney World paved the way for the parks to reopen even as cases surged in Florida, and buoyed Disney’s business over the summer when guests were in short supply.
As for Coronado’s reopening, here are the restaurants that will return initially:
Rix Sports Bar & Grill
Three Bridges Bar & Grill
While that’s a pretty formidable slate of options for a Moderate Resort (many more than Caribbean Beach), it still leaves many restaurants shuttered. Notably, the hotel’s new table service restaurant, Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood will not reopen. Additionally, the El Mercado de Coronado food court will not return immediately.
Coronado Springs is probably the resort most likely to see permanent restaurant closures. With a variety of options aimed at conventioneers plus new restaurants that debuted last year with Gran Destino Tower, it probably had too many restaurants even pre-closure.
Aside from restaurants, it sounds like pretty much everything is returning at Coronado Springs Resort. The Dig Site, including the Lost City of Cibola Pool, activities, volleyball courts, movies under the stars, and both fitness centers will reopen with the hotel. Bus transportation will also be offered from Coronado Springs to the theme parks and Disney Springs.
As shared a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been seeing Coronado Springs Resort on both ‘blind booking’ sites. It’s currently available from late October through November 2020. Rates are in the $100 to $120 per night range. That’s a solid price–especially if you luck out and get upgraded to Gran Destino Tower.
Next, as one thing opens, another will soon be closing. Walt Disney World has announced that Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf will be closing for the winter on November 5, 2020. We just did Fantasia Gardens last week; while fun and busy, it was definitely in need of a refurbishment. Lots of the features looking in poor shape, surfaces in need of replacement, and drainage issues.
The good news is that all of your mini golf needs will not go unfilled if you’re visiting Walt Disney World this Christmas season. Winter Summerland Miniature Golf will open on November 6, 2020 and operate through January 30, 2021. Fantasia Gardens will then resume operations on January 31, 2021.
Totally switching gears, Disney is developing a Space Mountain movie with ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ writer, per the Hollywood Reporter. The iconic roller coaster is getting the movie treatment, with the studio hiring Joby Harold to write the script for what is to be a live-action adaptation. The producers of Disney’s billion dollar-grossing live-action Aladdin will also be involved.
The Space Mountain movie project is in the early stages of development and is intended for theatrical release. Part of me wishes this were destined for Disney+ with some intentionally cheesy B movie premise paying homage to sci-fi classics of the 1950s and 60s. (My first choice would be for it to not be made at all, but if that’s off the table…)
Rather than being something that’ll someday end up being incorporated into the Magic Kingdom attraction, the Space Mountain movie could be added to the film loop at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. Just think of the synergy!
Instead of being shoehorned into its own attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean style, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant could be updated to promote both the Space Mountain movie and another Walt Disney World theme park. Yes, still totally pointless–but still a better option than messing with the ride.
Next, a quick Disney Park Pass update. We’re likely going to do fewer of these going forward as refills become more regular and availability becomes less scarce–especially for Annual Passholders.
The noteworthy thing here is that availability at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is starting to fill up for resort guests in November and December 2020. Oddly, this includes dates that the park is available for APs. If you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you should be aware of this trend. (It’s an especially curious move given that ‘full’ Disney Park Pass availability was pretty much the only benefit to staying on-site…and now that’s also gone.)
Since this is happening exclusively with DHS, consider booking that park multiple days if your plans aren’t 100% firm (and they probably aren’t, given all of the park hours extensions). It’s easier to change from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to another park than vice-versa.
On a related note, we’d also recommend prioritizing your most important Advance Dining Reservations as lunches rather than dinners due to the fluidity of park hours. ADRs are becoming increasingly difficult to book, but the walk-up waitlist works pretty well. That’s always an option for dinner if you can’t score any good reservations.
Continuing along, Walt Disney World has debuted a new mask warning in the parks. This new sign, pictured above, informs guests (in polite terms) that they’ll be kicked out of the park if they don’t comply with the face mask rules.
There’s also a new My Disney Experience push notification that offers a gentle reminder about the health safety policies and thanks guests for complying. We first noticed the new sign and received the push notification on Friday afternoon at Animal Kingdom.
Walt Disney World has repeatedly tweaked its signage and in-park announcements, which seem to get longer each week. We haven’t noticed compliance falling, but there have been some high-profile “incidents” shared on social media with belligerent guests refusing to wear masks.
We’re also guessing that there’s been some confusion about Florida’s Full Phase 3 Reopening, which suspends fines for not complying with face mask restrictions in public spaces. However, it does not apply to businesses that can deny entry to anyone not complying with their rules. We’ve seen some mild confusion on this among readers, and the same has likely been true for Walt Disney World itself.
What are your thoughts on the latest Walt Disney World news? Excited for the upcoming Space Mountain movie? Have a stay or meal planned at Coronado Springs Resort? Disappointed to see fewer Disney Park Pass options for on-site resort guests? Thoughts on the new face mask warnings in the parks and My Disney Experience app? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!