Disney World News: Race Cancelled, 2 Guns Found at Epcot, Park Pass Availability & More!
We’re back with another Walt Disney World news & rumor roundup! In this post, we’ll share the latest on runDisney’s next event cancellation, limited Park Pass theme park reservations availability, increased Cast Member blockouts, and sad news on Ample Hills. Plus, a “stupid criminal” story about an Epcot guest attempting to bring a diaper bag with two handguns and marijuana into the park.
First up, the ongoing saga of Ample Hills Creamery. As we reported earlier this week, Ample Hills Creamery Has Closed Permanently at Walt Disney World, and the second location at Disney Springs will not be built. This comes after the company filed bankruptcy towards the beginning of this year and new owners bought it earlier this summer.
Despite Disney’s statement that “Ample Hills will close at Disney’s BoardWalk and the proposed Ample Hills location at Disney Springs will not open later this year” we held out a sliver of hope that the parties would come to a licensing agreement or something. As passing through BoardWalk yesterday, we noticed that the storefront already had its marquee removed. Not that this is major or surprising news, but it would seem to be the final nail in the coffin of Ample Hills at Walt Disney World. Here’s hoping that a “Salt & Straw: Coming Soon” sign goes up in short order. We could use some good news!
We’ll continue with some more unsurprising news, which is that runDisney has cancelled the 2020 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend that was to be held November 5-8, 2020 at Walt Disney World. Or rather, they’ve moved it to a virtual race–meaning you can buy a shirt and medal, if you want. (Does anyone actually do this?!)
Runners have option of receiving a full refund for the race, or to convert their existing registration to the new virtual event that can be completed from home. Registered participants should have received an email by now with instructions on how to make their registration selection before August 5, 2020. (If you haven’t, more info is here.)
We’re more intrigued by the rationale for this, as well as the ramifications for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January. In terms of the reasoning for the cancellation, we think it’s mostly a matter of optics. Walt Disney World received no shortage of unfavorable headlines during the reopening process, and there might be internal concerns about more of the same–especially as Florida’s numbers remain high and other races around the United States are cancelled.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Walt Disney World Marathon. Physical distancing and mask requirements are unlikely to go away by then, so if that’s the sticking point, cancellation of that is also a foregone conclusion. However, these are outdoor events with no contact and only fleeting encounters. Aside from public perception, there’s little logic behind operating indoor bars that serve food but cancelling outdoor running events.
Next, the latest on Disney Park Pass theme park reservations. If you’ve been stalking the Disney Park Pass Availability Calendar like us, you’ve probably noticed that daily inventory has fluctuated, meaning that it’s dynamic like FastPass+ or Advance Dining Reservations. Notably, previously fully-booked parks becoming available for certain dates, particularly for resort guests.
Right now, there are three separate buckets for Disney Park Pass: resort guests, theme ticket-holders, and Annual Passholders. Of those, the only one that is even remotely low on inventory is (unsurprisingly) Annual Passholders. The dynamic system means that Walt Disney World can reallocate unfilled resort guest or ticket-holder capacity to Annual Passholders, which they did previously with a one-time “inventory dump” last week.
Another such inventory dump appears to have occurred for Disney’s Hollywood Studios between July 27 and August 27, as a flurry of availability suddenly opened up late yesterday. (Sadly, it’s now mostly gone–capacity at DHS is super low right now.)
More significantly, inventory has not yet been reallocated from resort guests and theme park ticket holders for the other parks. Silver Annual Passholders and Weekday Select Annual Passholders are able to return to the Walt Disney World theme parks on August 7, 2020 after being blocked out for the summer.
That’s obviously on top of the entire closure period, which has led to some serious pent-up demand among holders of these popular Annual Passes. In looking at the availability calendar, the first few days these APs are able to return are almost entirely booked at every single park.
We caution against reading anything into this in terms of crowds. Those dates are still totally green for resort guests and theme park ticket holders, so it’s not as if Walt Disney World is hitting capacity those days. We’ve already visited several days when Walt Disney World parks were ‘fully booked’ for Annual Passholders, and the parks have been ghost towns each and every one of those days.
Really, this is more odd than anything else. Walt Disney World significantly limiting AP access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios makes sense–daily demand for that park exceeds capacity, and it makes sense to prioritize on-site guests and those who purchase single or multi-day tickets.
However, that’s simply not true of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. It’s really tough to say at what percentage of capacity these parks are presently operating, but it’s pretty low. All of these parks could easily double their current guest numbers and still accommodate physical distancing and other constraints. It’s hard to say if this is a matter of Disney erring on the side of caution after so much bad PR (that might be a savvy move), or issues with reallocating inventory among the buckets in the Disney Park Pass system.
On a similar note, Cast Member block-outs have once again been extended. The calendars are pure red for Self-Admission, Main Entrance Passes, and One Day Park Hopper Guest Tickets through October 31, 2020–which is as far out as the calendar goes.
Cast Members have been advised that once the blockouts are lifted, their entry will be managed by the Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system. They will have a separate “bucket” of availability, which will presumably even more limited than Annual Passholders. (Priority will always go to resort guests, then ticket holders, then APs, then CMs.)
It should go without saying that Walt Disney World would want to avoid shutting out resort guests. However, at some point this approach with APs and CMs should be rethought for three of the parks. There’s ample surplus capacity, and money is being left on the table in terms of merchandise and food & beverage purchases.
Finally, the biggest headline and smallest piece of news. (Isn’t that how it too often works?) Court documents show that a few days after Epcot reopened from its four-month shutdown, a Georgia tourist was arrested after Disney security found two guns and some marijuana in her diaper bag. The woman was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, per the arrest report (via Orlando Sentinel).
The Georgia Woman, a close relative of Florida Man, was going through Epcot’s security line with her husband and children when Walt Disney World found a 9mm handgun “in plain view” plus a .45 caliber handgun on the bottom of the diaper bag, and a plastic bag containing marijuana. Orange County deputy sheriffs were called to the scene and arrested Georgia Woman after further searching the diaper bag.
While this is absolutely not the type of “stupid criminal” headline that Walt Disney World wants to see making the news right now, it’s worth noting that it’s hardly uncommon. Several times per year, Disney guests are caught intentionally or unknowingly attempting to bring firearms into the parks. It’s just making waves this time given the timing and relative absurdity of the story.
On the plus side, this incident demonstrates that even Walt Disney World’s modified security screening process and new high-tech baggage scanners are effective. All in all, let’s call this news a wash…
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What do you think of this Walt Disney World news roundup? Think the WDW Marathon will happen in January? Amused or concerned by the “stupid criminal” story from Epcot? Thoughts on Park Pass inventory and how it’s being managed? Hopeful that Walt Disney World will get a new ice cream shop in short order? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts 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!
Sounds like you’ve already gotten plenty of feedback from the RunDisney crowd but I’ll add my two cents anyway!
In general I feel pretty safe running and there are still some local races happening here in PA. However, the restrictions they are taking would seem pretty impossible to do at Disney. Obviously a much lower number of people, and then staggered start times spread throughout the morning. The biggest issue is going to be the corrals, where they pack thousands of people together while waiting for the race to start. They’d have to really spread them out. I don’t think Disney would ever do this (especially with all of the challenges and multiple races) but they’d need have start times spread over like a 6 hour period or something. I’d love to see a race with like a 10pm start time! I miss the Tower of Terror 10 miler. We already get up at crazy hours for these races anyway.
Also as others have mentioned, Wine and Dine opened registration before the shut downs and before COVID was really a concern here (though it should have been…). So I think they registered the full amount of people for it but definitely less for Marathon weekend. Last year the full marathon was open for months after going on sale, this year it sold out that day. Similar to your comparisons with the parks not getting crowded because of a small group of loyal people wanting to be back right away, I don’t think that there are THAT many people dying to get back to running a full marathon that it would sell out that fast.
I’m signed up for the 10k and half marathon of marathon weekend. My hope is that they figure out the corral situation – then I feel pretty safe outside running even amongst others. I’ve also heard that finding insurance to cover a race of this size in FL in the current situation could be an issue.
A big part of a RunDisney event is the possibility of having your picture taken with special characters throughout the race. If character picture is still not allowed for the WDW marathon weekend in January, the race will have lost some of its value and they do not sell cheaply!
At a couple of the runDisney events I’ve done, they tested out elevated character platforms (or selfie stations) along the course. That’d be perfect to bring back in light of the current circumstances.
“I’ll just be taking these Huggies here”
Thank you, Hi!
Have you done a RunDisney event or any large run? There’s just simply loads and loads of time near tons of other people. It’s not fleeting encounters at all
Agreed! You can find yourself some elbow room once you get a few miles out on a full or half-marathon course, but the time in the starting corrals (and the entirety of a Disney 5k or 10k run) is in VERY close quarters to other runners. And that’s not even mentioning the circus of packet pick-up at the expo…
Tom, not sure if you’re willing to work for your ice cream a bit but Ample Hills’s cookbook is pretty fantastic. We’ve been doing a different flavor every week through quarantine and they taste like the real thing! Not the same I know but it’s going to be the best we’ve got until we make it back to NYC…
Wonder if Disney is also purposefully limiting APs in the near term because they tend to be local and there is such a bad florida/gulf outbreak right now–and may adjust in the fall if things improve.
One factor that makes Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend vs. Marathon Weeked is the capacity at which they’ve sold each event. W&D went on sale before restrictions started ramping up and the parks shut down, and my understanding is that W&D sold out at its full normal capacity. Conversely, Marathon Weekend registration was delayed and while there’s been no official confirmation, we have enough info to reasonably assume that it was sold at severely reduced capacity–events sold out VERY quickly and there are rumors that cast members have confirmed Marathon Weekend will be a much smaller field than normal.
A ton of road races have been cancelled across the country this year, to the point where it’s becoming the norm for a big race to be cancelled in 2020 rather than for it to go on, and those that are still happening are generally taking measures to space people out in more waves. Those events are outdoors, yes, but under normal conditions it can be extremely difficult to maintain social distancing due to the sheer number of people on the course. My theory is that they didn’t have a good way to distance the number of people who had already registered for W&D–it’s partly optics, for sure, but I think it’s also logistics. These are huge races with huge numbers of people running them. I’m still moderately hopeful a reduced capacity Marathon Weekend will still happen since they’ve already taken the most important step to make it possible by cutting back on registration, but at this point I’m mostly following the W&D news so I know roughly what to expect if MW also gets cancelled.
Re: the virtual races–eh, some people do? If I were registered for W&D I would have considered running it virtually for one of the (admittedly cool) villain medals if it would cost, say, $30. But some folks did the math on what the actual cost of the virtual version is based on the gift card/partial refund participants will get if they choose that option and it’s an average of $80+ per medal. No thanks!
“W&D went on sale before restrictions started ramping up and the parks shut down, and my understanding is that W&D sold out at its full normal capacity.”
How positive of this are you? Admittedly, I haven’t been paying close attention to runDisney, but it was my impression that people thought Wine & Dine sold out abnormally quickly, too.
If not, that changes my analysis.
Agree with all you’ve said! I don’t think they could have managed the logistics for that many people. Masked and outdoors are great risk-reducers. But not so much when you are shoulder to shoulder in the corrals for 30-60 minutes waiting to start. Added to that are the transportation issues just getting all those people to the start line in capacity-reduced-socially-distant buses.
I doubt there was any reduction in the field for Wine and Dine. They went ahead with registration on the original dates. It was only after Wine and Dine registration that they put a hold on subsequent races. I registered on 3/5 via AP early registration and general registration was 3/10. I’m looking back at my message board posts at the time and a serious COVID shut down was not on my radar. I was debating postponing my spring break trip to June (never imagining Disney would completely shut down) and wondering if I should book a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom for the November race because my elderly parents were not sure if they would be comfortable traveling by November.
And to answer your question Tom, yes. Yes there are suckers who have opted to pay the outrageous price of $80 for a medal AND a tee shirt [don’t forget the shirt 😉 ] My family of 4 managed to win registration roulette and get bibs for all 4 of us for the 5K. It was supposed to be my sons’ first runDisney race. The kids have been working hard ramping up their mileage since spring and I don’t have the heart to disappoint them if we can do virtual and still give them a medal. I’ve cancelled my two course challenge which doesn’t seem worth the price. My husband’s first reaction was “no way am I going to pay that much for a hunk of metal and a shirt”. Then he saw the Yzma medal (his favorite villain) and is now “thinking it over”.
Anecdotally, I’ve also heard the theory that marathon weekend was sold at a much lower capacity. I’m part of an online group for thousands of RunDisney nerds and WAY more people were reporting they were unable to get a bib as compared to those who did. People who were in the online waiting room and attempting to process their sale were unable to do so within a matter of minutes after the sale went live. There seemed to be a good number of people who have not missed a race in years (aka who know the ropes of successfully signing up) that didn’t get in.
On another tangent – I myself have started doing virtual races this year (Disney and non-Disney). I’ve had more time on my hands lately (thanks Rona), and virtual races have been a really good motivator to be active. I’m even thinking of signing up for the Indy Mini Marathon – a local half marathon in my hometown. I would have NEVER considered that before the super cool RunDisney Virtual 5K series medals enticed me to get moving!
The big logistical problems would be aid stations and the Expo. Direct contact, food and drink, and the need for thousands of volunteers in the former, and an indoor venue with tens of thousands of people cycling though in the latter and staying for an extended period of time. Both are potentially high transmission situations.
And if any other major league sports are considering the Disney Bubble (much more lucrative than RunDisney, I imagine) they will want to keep outside use of ESPN WWWoS to a minimum
all this sounds to complicated to have a magical time. No shows, pop up parades, no buffets, hot masks, reservations for everything you do….. I don’t think the experience right now, equals the expense or aggravation. I for one will wait until this is all over and thoroughly re-imagined for the long term, and then get my money’s worth. I am a 25+ visit person so i am a veteran. I can wait, even if the Governor can’t.
Absolutely! Every year for last 20 but not this year. We continue to go long after our children grew up and stopped going. For my husband and I it was magical, we still felt like the kids we were on our first trip. We love staying on property and parking our stressful lives at the gate. In a world filled with rules and adult problems, Disney was an escape. For me it’s about returning to the magic of childhood and with the current restrictions, reservations, no hopper passes etc. I can’t see spending the money. Maybe next year.
Absolutely agree. I was booked for my birthday in October and I cancelled. This all is just not conducive to a good time (speaking strictly for myself, of course). Glad I went last February…there wasn’t a care in the world. P.S. On that trip I spotted our Fearless Leader, Mr. Tom Bricker himself and his lovely wife at Epcot. My brush with fame. :))
I agree completely! We have been on the ever other year program for about a decade. Actually had to cancel a trip for late May (and another to Disney Land in July). It just seems like such an endeavor for a half baked (if even baked that far) version of Disney. Not to mention the fact that Florida is basically the world’s epicenter right now. My family and I will wait another year or two before we really even consider going back. Which absolutely sucks, but I also want it to be a much closer to normal experience, and one where we aren’t afraid of catching a deadly virus.
I’m not surprised at all that they cancelled the races. Some of them (Marine corps, army, New York) tried to just limit participation by making qualifying harder but they’ve all been cancelled or gone virtual.
It may seem like something that can be done with physical distance but in reality, people are up on top of each other at the start and largely for the entirety of the race. Not to mention all the huffing and puffing. Yeah, we could wear masks, but I’d rather not run in a group than run in a mask.
Maybe things will be better in January?
“Salt & Straw: Coming Soon” – oh, please, please, please YES!!!!!
surprised by the park passes only being bookable to 31 October 2020 as I already have my park passes for November. I am booked into a hotel so perhaps that is the difference. Just keeping fingers crossed I can go.
That was in reference to the calendar of Cast Member access to the parks. Don’t read so fast. 😉
Here’s my theory on the limited Annual Pass park entrance availability: Disney has done the math and a visit by a Passholder is minimally profitable or even slightly unprofitable now. All a Passholder spends on a visit is food and merchandise. Food has been downgraded to more counter service places which have to be less profit per person and the full service places have tilted their menus towards less expensive items, again less profitable. And social distancing likely has cut down on merchandise purchases.
And Disney seems to me to almost be pushing Passholders towards canceling their passes. Making it harder for a Passholder to get into the Parks by limiting their allotments when there’s plenty of spare capacity moves them into canceling. And if they dump inventory at the last minute they can answer lack of park pass complaints by saying, “but on the day of you could have gone”. Just for laughs I went to Disney’s web site and you can’t just buy a Pass of any kind on line. Attempts to find a link keep returning you to the same place where your only option is to click a link to Chat to get one. But there are lengthy sections about how to cancel your AP.
I think you’re putting too much faith in Disney’s business savvy and foresight. (Keep in mind that a lot of these plans were put into motion before Florida’s spike in case numbers, at a time when internal tourist projections were more favorable.)
Per visit spending among Annual Passholders is lower than tourists–so you’re right to that extent. It also goes without saying that in a limited capacity scenario, WDW would want to prioritize resort guests and day ticket holders (hence the different buckets).
However, there are fixed operational costs that don’t change if 10,000 guests show up or 15,000 guests show up each day. Walt Disney World is better off taking the extra 5k plus that reduced level of per visit spending. Right now, there are no in-park restaurants or stores (aside from Splash Mountain’s gift shop) that are hitting their capacity limits.
Of all the items you addressed, the one that intrigued me the most was Georgia Woman. What was she thinking knowing she had to go through security? I guess she wasn’t thinking, considering it was a double whammy, guns and pot. Well, at least we know Disney security is on the ball.
I don’t understand why cast members are being blocked until the end of October either. Cast members spend a lot a Disney. I do understand why they wouldn’t allow them to bring friends and family in, but to block cast members themselves makes no sense.
it happens at airports all the time too, these people say “oh i forgot it was in the bag. it’s ridiculous and so irresponsible.
I could only imagine with a limited number of spots open in the park Disney wants to make sure non-Disney customers are coming in. I’m sure they spend a lot but they probably also get discounts and we know what Disney loves the most …
I can only hope that there is a YouTube video “Lifestyle Hack” series showing people how to pack their diaper bags with weapons and as much weed as possible using Marie Kondo folding methods. “Stand your herb on edge so that it is happy to greet you! Your handgun looks so smart nestled up against your Boudreaux’s Butt Paste!” This is sarcasm (“the laziest of the humors!”) for the record – I do not advocate violation of the law.
I think Disney should team with Howard Johnsons to recreate a 1950s-era style motor lodge restaurant/ice creamery to replace Ample Hills. With the peaked orange roof and everything. Now that’s some Americana!
Hahahaha! Absolutely! I would watch that.
Why are the numbers going up every year?
In 2019 there were 4,432 guns confiscated at US airports
In 2018 there were 4,239 guns confiscated at US airports
In 2017 there were 3,957 guns confiscated at US airports
In 2016 there were 3,391 guns confiscated at US airports
In 2015 there were 2,653 guns confiscated at US airports
In 2014 there were 2,214 guns confiscated at US airports
Needless to say, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport usually ranks number 1 for airport gun confiscations each year. Probably just a coincidence that she’s from Georgia
Hartsfield Jackson is consistently the busiest airport in the world. It would be odd if they didn’t also have the highest numbers for most other things, too.
“Walt Disney World found the a semi-automatic 9mm handgun”
Every time the media describes a handgun as “semi-automatic” I just have to laugh. EVERY handgun since the old west has been a semi-automatic weapon, heck even revolvers from the old west were semi-automatic. All it means is that if you fire a round, the next round is loaded into the chamber.
I’ve removed that term as redundant since my intent here is to report/share the news and not sensationalize it.
The only reason I’m sharing this at all is because of the absurdity of the details. As noted in the article, this happens from time to time and isn’t a particularly big story. It’s the details here that are a bit…odd.
Clearly this woman was very worried about someone stealing her child’s diapers!
Just think about the absurdity the next time you hear someone say “hot water heater”. Your life might be changed forever.
Semi-auto also means that after firing, all you need to do is pull the trigger again and the gun will fire another round. Traditional revolvers still need to pull the hammer back between shots before you can fire the gun. Also there are automatic pistols where all you need to do is keep the trigger pulled and it will continually fire. Though I’ve never seen one lol
No problem, Tom. I was picking on the media (Orlando Sentinel Story) for always doing it, like someone else said it’s redundant and silly like a HOT water HEATER.
Especially when it’s COLD water that is going into the heater to be heated … Cold Water Heater?