Disney World News: More Halloween, Million Lights for Christmas & “Cover-up” Controversy
It’s time for another Walt Disney World news and rumor round-up, and this time we have a range of interesting stories. A dash of controversy thanks to a supposed exposé, more details about Halloween, fresh Park Pass availability, and the Million Lights Holiday Spectacular–which sounds a lot like an Osborne Lights spiritual successor!
Let’s start with the latest Disney Park Pass inventory dump for Annual Passholders. This is becoming less and less exciting as it’s now happening with such regularity. In any case, September has seen a near full replenishment of Disney Park Pass inventory on weekdays, including today. Most notable among these is the previously-full September 15 start date of Halloween entertainment and festivities in the parks. (See for yourself here on the Availability Calendar, but note that it does not update in real-time.)
Moving into October, there is still limited availability on weekends, with Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios both fully booked for Annual Passholders many Saturdays and Sundays. The Friday and Monday of the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day long weekend are also starting to show limited availability. It appears that’s the next big “weekend to watch,” so if you’re thinking of visiting then, you might want to read our Labor Day “Crowdpocalypse” Report and its EPCOT follow-up, which contains specific recommendations on which parks to visit each day of the long weekend.
From September 15 through October 29, 2020, Annual Passholders will once again receive a 30% discount on merchandise purchases at most Walt Disney World stores. There are a ton of exclusions, including Memory Maker, original art, newspapers/periodicals, DVDs, CDs, sundries, prepared foods, kitchen products, consumer electronics, and more. Plus, select Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge locations, EPCOT shops, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Normally, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders receive a 20% off merchandise discount as part of AP perks, so this amounts to an extra 10% off. It’s the second time Walt Disney World has offered this since reopening, and probably not the last.
We’d love to use this discount on Christmas merchandise (and probably aren’t alone in that!) and we’d also be more inclined to graze the Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival booths if those offered a discount. (They don’t–we’re saying they should.) Judging by the lack of lines, that might be a smart move by Disney.
Next, we have some new details about Halloween! Walt Disney World has just shared more details about seasonal entertainment experiences coming to Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
At DHS, Minnie’s Halloween Dine will return beginning September 25, 2020 with a “monster feast” served to your table, family style. This modified character meal will feature Minnie Mouse dressed as a happy witch, Goofy as a spooky cowboy, Mickey Mouse as a funny vampire, and Pluto wearing a Halloween collar. (The only difference as compared to our Minnie’s Halloween Dine Review from last year is Pluto added, and mad scientist Donald and Daisy Duck removed.)
Throughout the day in Magic Kingdom, special Halloween cavalcades will pop up on the parade route and head down Main Street, U.S.A. You could come across Mickey Mouse and his pals, all dressed up for the occasion in Halloween costumes. On select days (probably weekends and holidays), there will also be a cavalcade of Disney Villains — from Gaston and Maleficent to Queen of Hearts and Jafar — creeping down the path, or a nightmarish procession featuring the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington!
As another special treat for the Halloween season, the iconic Dapper Dans will return to Magic Kingdom. Beginning September 20, the Dapper Dans will perform a cappella as their undead alter egos the Cadaver Dans. This is one of the unheralded highlights of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that most guests miss (having the unlimited MNSSHP Party Pass last year allowed us to enjoy them many times last year–often as the only guests watching) and we’re elated to see they’ll be appearing daily this year!
Next, some really good and exciting news for fans of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights and good causes! Give Kids the World, a nonprofit that provides families of children with life-threatening illnesses cost-free accommodations during their visit Walt Disney World, has announced the Million Lights Holiday Spectacular.
For 53 nights from November 13, 2020 through January 3, 2021, the Give Kids the World Village will come alive with a walk-through holiday light spectacular at their complex in Kissimmee, Florida near Walt Disney World. More than one million lights will adorn the 84-acre whimsical Village, including a 150-foot lighted tunnel leading to 33 decorated villas; more than 50 larger-than-life holiday-themed wireframes, some spanning more than 40 feet; an enormous incandescent gingerbread arch; and out-of-this-world space-themed decorations showcasing the Village’s newest centerpiece, Henri’s Starlite Scoops.
Adding to the fully immersive lights and sounds experience, Santa Claus will greet guests from the balcony of Towne Hall, with Give Kids The World’s beloved ambassadors, Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry, on hand to lend some holiday cheer. Proceeds from the event will support Give Kids The World’s mission to provide wish vacations for critically ill children and their families.
We are huge fans of the work done by Give Kids the World, and have been truly moved by past visits to the Village. The organization works closely with Walt Disney World, and Imagineering has assisted in designing some of the Give Kids the World Village. We are really excited for the Million Lights Holiday Spectacular. It should be something truly special, in more ways than one. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in November or December, this is absolutely going to be worth your time.
Finally, this Daily Beast article, which purports to reveal a “cover-up” by Disney of cases among Cast Members, has been making the rounds in Disney circles on social media. While it discusses Walt Disney World at the start and arbitrarily features photos from the Florida parks, the story is exclusively about Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort.
You can read it and draw your own conclusions; I view the piece with a good deal of skepticism. It relies exclusively on agenda-driven sources (the text message exchange among Cast Members explicitly states that their goal is to force Disney to close) and has a clear bias against Disney. Look no further than the Daily Beast’s other recent pieces of exemplary, even-handed journalism: “Disney World Reopens with Short Lines and Scared Staff” or “The Disney Fantasy is Dead. Enter At Your Own Risk.”
There are a number of reasons an employer would not share confidential medical information with union reps or other employees. Most of them are laws. Health privacy concerns are also why it may not be the best idea for employers to directly handle testing. (I can’t speak to California, but in Florida’s Orange County, the Maingate testing complex near Animal Kingdom is convenient for Cast Members, never has a line, and delivers prompt results.)
Anecdotally, we have heard nothing but positive things from Cast Members who have returned to work at Walt Disney World. Of course, that’s a relatively small sample and with tens of thousands of employees, there are undoubtedly many who feel unsafe or that their managers are not handling things well. Given the sheer numbers and range of opinions on the topic, that’s all but a statistical certainty.
There’s also likely at least some validity to the Daily Beast’s reporting, as this kind of story has emerged countless numerous times from credible, mainstream sources. While it does not address Disney, this recent Bloomberg Businessweek article about gag rules at U.S. companies is a good read with a more nuanced take.
Turning again to statistics, there unquestionably have been cases among Cast Members at Walt Disney World. That’s an undeniable reality given the number of people Disney employs, Florida’s numbers at the time the parks reopened, and the fact that they all lead private lives outside of work.
The operative question is not whether these cases exist, but whether there have been outbreaks among Cast Members or guests at Walt Disney World. Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County has been asked about this every week in press briefings, and has repeatedly stated that there have not. The Florida Department of Health has looked for outbreaks and haven’t found any associated with any theme parks–only individual cases here and there.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to be skeptical of this; Florida has a vested interest in not finding outbreaks. However, the easiest solution would be to look at the bigger picture–Orange County’s data as a whole. Florida has an A+ rating in data quality reporting, so there’s no reason to question those numbers.
Given Disney’s outsized presence in Central Florida–not just as far and away the largest employer, but also as a destination for residents in the area–it stands to reason that there would be a spike in numbers post-reopening if the environment is unsafe. To the contrary, every meaningful metric has plummeted since Walt Disney World reopened–new cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations.
Ultimately, there’s a lot to be upset about how this public health crisis has been handled in the United States, both on systemic and individual levels. And despite leadership and approaches that have essentially been diametrically opposed, both Florida and California have seen some of the worst numbers in a nation of bad results.
However, some of these mainstream articles that have emerged about Disney feel very much like a headline in search of a story. It’s as if the angle and tone was established first because Disney is an easy target, and then “evidence” was found to support the preconceived conclusion. We hardly have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to Disney. We recognize the company’s many faults (here’s a far more valid and enraging recent headline), and do not hesitate to offer critique where we see fit. In this situation, after spending countless days in the parks & resorts since reopening, experiencing safety measures firsthand, and talking to numerous Cast Members, our view is that Disney’s approach puts safety first and is largely laudable.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of this Walt Disney World news? Excited for the added Halloween entertainment at Walt Disney World? What about Give Kids the World’s Million Lights Christmas display? Thoughts on the Daily Beast article or health safety, coverage of Disney’s reopening, or safety in the parks & resorts? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!
Tom, have you been to see the lights at the Village? I’ve been anxiously waiting to see your pictures and read your review of them. My company decorated one of the villas, and I’d love to see better pictures of it than I’m sure I’ll be able to get. It was a labor of love for us (and took way more trips to Big Lots and Home Depot than I planned for!) We’re going the 12th, and I’m super excited to see it.
I agree with Susan 100% if you are afraid stay home yes the disease can have some very serious consequences especially if you are in a group where your health is already compromised but since you know that no matter what infectious disease is out there you need to be careful but please don’t point fingers because not everyone fits in that category and choses to live their life as normal as they are able during this crazy pandemic! It has and continues to ruin people’s lives ! We are tired of people telling us what we can and can’t do enough is enough! I am an educated adult who sho be allowed as a free American citizen to make my own decisions! You may not agree with my choices but they are my choices not yours! If you don’t agree with them please walk away from me I promise I will stay away fro you!
Try to make sure your exceptional critical thinking skills are not exclusively reserved for Disney related hit pieces. Talent like yours is essential, and in short supply.
This question doesn’t really pertain to this exact post, but, wasn’t sure where to ask it.
Do you for see them not opening Coronado springs? If so, where would they move us? I hope not the Caribbean. For one, the carpeted floors and two, the shower curtains ugh that is the only other moderate resort open at the time in November. So, do you think they would move us to a DVC? We have a split stay. Starting out at Coronado, followed by eight nights at the Riviera. Do you think they would just move us to the Riviera?Also, this is just if Coronado does not open up.
Thanks if you can respond Please
I can’t understand why people who are angry with Disney or afraid of Covid are going? Please stay home and let the people and families who want to move on with life do so. All the Cast Members I met in August were happy to be back at work and very grateful we were there as well.
Thank you. Agreed.
That was our experience over Labor Day weekend as well. I directly asked several CMs about rude guests, job conditions, etc. All said people are mostly polite and happy just to be able to go back.
Notable exceptions were several poor souls who missed the ROTR lottery and didn’t understand either the concept or why they couldn’t ride. I felt bad for both them and the CMs who really had no comforting answer to give them. No drinks were thrown or swings taken though so that’s good!
“After spending countless days in the parks & resorts since reopening, experiencing safety measures firsthand, and talking to numerous Cast Members, our view is that Disney’s approach puts safety first and is largely laudable”
To be fair though, you’ve been largely avoiding indoor dining and relaxation areas where there are large numbers of maskless folks with no air circulation; and in the restaurants, much closer contact between waitstaff and guests than 6 feet to take orders/drop off and remove cups and plates. I’d be incredibly surprised if there aren’t CMs who work in those areas getting sick on a fairly regular basis. I also feel pretty bad for the CMs in indoor ride queues and loading areas with so many “nose peekers” “off one ear” and “chin slings” going through those ride queues at any given time. It’s one thing for us guests to have to share time in a ride queue with them for the amount of time it takes to get from the entrance to the the ride, but the CMs are breathing that air all day long.
In other words, I agree the article was misleading, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if there was some truth in it too.
“I really wouldn’t be surprised if there was some truth in it too.”
Oh for sure.
My guess (and it’s just a guess) is that the Cast Members in kitchens and other indoor, backstage areas are probably the ones more likely to be getting sick than anyone else. Largely because they’re indoors and coming into more prolonged contact with the same people.
I’d be surprised if there’s much guest to CM spread at all. Those are just such fleeting encounters.
So don’t go!!!
I’m tired of the ridiculous exaggeration over this virus. Yes, it can be very serious. But everybody’s life and livelihood is being turned upside down so that politicians can win elections and hospitals can make money. There are so many discrepancies in testing and diagnosing, it’s crazy. None of us really know anything. In the meantime, our kids are depressed, our jobs are in the toilet, and we can’t even enjoy an escape from the daily grind w/o everyone complaining.
Hopefully soon (after the election) a vaccine will magically appear. Until then, we have to deal with it however it works best and is safest for us as individuals.
Don’t blame Disney for trying to stay in business! And don’t blame people who don’t see everything the way you do. You have choices, we all have choices.
Replying to Susan (no reply option after her post)
I work at a hospital that is part of a large healthcare system in one of the early US epicenters of Covid in the US
Believe me when I say, hospitals HAVE NOT been making money off of Covid. The amount of revenue list from cancelled procedures (we cancelled surgeries and outpatient procedures for over 2 months) has been astronomical (patient procedures are still way down month to month from last year, almost 4 months after resuming “normal operations”).
I agree. The thing about The Daily Beast is that they often try to draw misleading conclusions in how they frame their reporting, the reporting itself (including off the record interviews, which should not be surprising given most of the interviewees don’t want to risk losing their jobs) tends to be fairly accurate. While there’s nothing in the article to suggest that these problems exist outside of DTD, they should be concerning to anyone considering going there and should be concerning re: Disneyland to the extent that there is any overlap in management between DTD and DLR.
Listen, people. I’m a teacher. I breathe the inside air of a moldy classroom full of snotty kids. And I get everything. We wear masks all day and practice social distancing as much as possible. I’ve already been sick twice this year, which tells me Mask’s dint work, so why bother? Everyone is forgetting to keep up with hand sanitizer and avid hand washing, thinking that masks are protecting them. They aren’t. Secondly, if Covid were as contagious (with symptoms or life threatening consequences) as the CDC and certain people say it is, trust me: I’d have it. I’ve been tested 3 times for Covid-like symptoms. All negative, even when re-tested. Why do I choose to do it? Well. I might decide to stop teaching, more because of the stress of this pandemic than risks to my health. It’s unbelievably hard teaching both virtual and in-class students at the same time, and the exhaustion and stress is making me sick! Not Covid 19. Disney is a business, cast members there have a choice to work or not work, to risk or not risk. For most, it’s a minimum way job; no one can tell me there aren’t other minimum wage jobs available in America that don’t expose you to people from all over the world if that’s a real problem for you physically or mentally.
I got excited about the light show because I was hoping it was in park and meant later hours which might mean we would keep our trip in December. 🙁 I’m sure it’ll be beautiful and it sounds like it’s for a great cause, but we never have a car so it wouldn’t be something we’d do. I’m so sad our trip is looking less and less likely. We don’t come often so we want to spend lots of time in the parks, especially at night. I’m really starting to think I’ll have to postpone which really sucks because we all need something fun to look forward to this year. Stay safe everyone!
I totally agree susan
Nicki, maybe you could take an Uber/Lyft ride to see it? ‘Not sure how far away it is, but if I was going, that’s what I’d do. Have a great trip!
I’m currently standing in a very long line for tower of terror. Please do not believe lines are short right now because they are not. This is the 11th year in a row that I have visited Disney the exact same time period. Lines are worse than I’ve ever experienced mostly because they won’t fill up the ride due to virus. If masks are effective then why go overkill and put 12 people on buses and 7 people on tower of terror??
What day it it?
Tom, Could you give insight into your experiences please? Is HS busier than the other parks no matter which day you go?
DHS is about the same crowd-wise every day of the week–slightly busier on weekends.
What day it is probably has less to do with that line than what *time* it is when standing in it. On my two trips to HS last week, there were 40 min waits for ToT in the morning and early afternoon, but you could walk right on it after 4pm.
Do they let visiters in?
If you’re talking about Give Kids the World, tickets for this event will go on sale to the general public on October 1. (So yes!)
I’m confused. Where will the light show be? If things close early, like now, when will they turn on the lights? I loved when Hollywood Studios decorated the streets of NY. Hope that means something similar.
Lots of questions about this, so I’ve clarified the post. It’s at Give Kids the World Village, which is not on-site at Walt Disney World.
I hope it comes back for 2021 as well.
Where or what is “the Village”?
I was wondering the same thing!?!
The Give Kids the World Village. It’s a resort for kids facing challenges such as terminal illness. I’m not sure of the exact location, but its in the Orlando area.
I was so happy to see that Give Kids The World is planning the fantastic light show. Two of my 3 kids have stars in the Castle of Miracles and I cannot say enough good about GKTW!!!!!!! We are a proud alumni family and hope that there is an overwhelming response. The Village had to pretty much close down due to COVID-19 and this will be a wonderful fundraiser!
Just read the WAPO article about Mulan live action. So disappointed in Disney!!!!! To everyone who is legitimately angry with Disney over things like shorter park hours, no fireworks, no passes… don’t read the article or you’ll never go back to Disney. I will skip the movie and encourage others to do the same. Shamefully I will return to Disney. Knowing that terrible things are happening in the world is part of the appeal of the Disney bubble. I guess I’m just a hypocrite.
I seriously think I’ve read it all now (smh).
I read the article, btw, and I have no problem going to Disney. Planning my 2021 trip now, actually. If we had to cancel culture every movie that is filmed in questionable locations & giving credit (as is customary) to the governments that allowed them to film there, we would never see another movie again. It certainly would wipe out every film made in the United States where children are in cages & hate crimes against POC & LGBTQ are at an all-time high.
Every movie Disney makes anymore get people in an uproar. They complained about the live action Beauty & the Beast because it had a gay guy in it. They complained about the new Little Mermaid because Ariel is being played by a black actress. They complained about the new Lion King because Scar didn’t have his black mane. And you’d best believe they would have complained about Mulan had it NOT been filmed in China.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for fans to hold Disney (or myriad other US companies) accountable for their business dealings with and in China. That isn’t to say boycotting Walt Disney World, but to voice displeasure about the decision/ties is not a particularly extreme reaction.
And unlike opposing acts or omissions by the US government, Americans don’t have any direct recourse towards China. Calling attention to things like this and demanding companies do better is about it.
C’mon Peg. Really? I thought these posts were supposed to stick to the topic. There is no comparison of the US to Communist China. Exaggerate much? This is not a social issues platform, but Tom is right. There is nothing wrong with questioning companies when they choose to do business with a region of a country responsible for gross injustice. If Nike, Disney, and all these other companies are going to come down hard on America for what they see as injustice, then they certainly ought not to be hypocritical by doing business overseas in places far more unjust than America. They do it because they can, and they ought to be questioned and held accountable. I do agree we can’t buckle down on everything every company does that we disagree with. But some things are worth speaking up for.
We were sprinkled with some serious pixie dust today in regards to our passes. We have nothing but good things to say about Disney and can’t wait to enjoy the Halloween and Christmas offerings.
We thought we would miss them. Seriously the most amazing thing that happened to us in regards to Disney. I know a lot of AP are disappointed but for us it’s been nothing short of magical, like the Disney I grew up with.