Thanks to a recent update made to the My Disney Experience app, we’ve got a whole new perspective of the new World Showcase expansion happening around Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure!
We gotta confess — we were catching the Skyliner at the International Gateway station before the parks closed so we could catch a birds-eye view of some of the construction that was happening in the back of the France pavilion.
But now that Disney World has updated its handy-dandy app, we can do some snooping right from our couches! Although none of the new buildings are labeled quite yet (other than the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along that opened in January) from our virtual eye in the sky we can see the layout of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure’s new courtyard!
The parks may be closed, but Disney has been unveiling special surprises for fans at home since social distancing measures were first introduced — including virtual parade viewings and recipes for some of their classic theme park snacks. Earlier this week we were blessed with the churro bites recipe, and now the the fan-favorite Pineapple Dole Whip.
This refreshing frozen pineapple treat was first introduced at Aloha Isle in the Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom and has since has become an iconic staple at multiple places at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and the recipe is actually so simple! There’s only three ingredients, and you most likely already have them stocked in your pantry and freezer.
For one serving, blend together 1 scoop of ice cream (we’re assuming vanilla), 4 oz. pineapple juice, and 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks in a blender until smooth, then recreate the iconic swirl. Voila! Pineapple Dole Whip in a pinch.
Walt Disney World President Josh D’Amaro has been reaching out to theme park employees, fans and annual passholders through social media and e-mail while the resort is shut down temporarily to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The messages have been ones of hope and future times, but no timeframe for reopening has been hinted at in his words.
On D’Amaro’s Instagram account, weekend posts included a trip to Epcot, where a topiary of Sorcerer Mickey stood in the background, and to Magic Kingdom, where he photographed cast members posed with social distance between them.
“I was struck by the beauty and inspiration of our Flower & Garden Festival topiaries, which are still there,” he wrote about Epcot. “They are a testament to how amazing our horticulture team is.”
With the Magic Kingdom photo, complete with Cinderella Castle and the Walt Disney-Mickey Mouse “Partners” statue in the background, he wrote, “I love seeing so many of our team wearing messages of courage and optimism on their name tags … until the day we welcome all of our cast and guests back to this special place.”
These messages from D’Amaro came just before the bulk of Disney World’s 78,000 workers went on unpaid furloughs, which started kicking in Sunday.
“This was not an easy decision by any means, but I can tell you we have our cast members best interests top of mind, including making certain they will continue to receive full health-care benefits, with Disney paying both the company and the employee share of the premiums during the furlough period,” he wrote in a mass e-mail.
His message also included thanks to first responders and details about the company’s charitable donations of the past few weeks.
Billions in cash burned from shuttered theme parks. Closed theaters. No dividend. Sliding TV ad revenue. There was plenty of terrible news aired during the Walt Disney Co.’s first quarterly earnings call since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom: Viewers are flocking to both ESPN and the company’s new favorite child, Disney+, as a way to keep themselves occupied during lockdown, signs that the empire remains strong even while financial results are mixed at best.
Total operating income across Disney’s vast holdings for Q2 was down 37 percent to $2.42 billion. That quarter ended just two weeks after the US economy was roiled by lockdown measures in mid-March.
Executives estimate the company last quarter took a $1.4 billion hit due to the coronavirus, with $1 billion of that thanks to shuttered theme parks and docked cruise ships. Of that billion, over half was the result of its US parks, Disneyland and Disney World, being closed for two weeks — just a taste of the financial pain to come for the company, even after it furloughed 100,000 workers.
While Shanghai Disneyland is set to reopen May 11, top brass offered no answers as to when its cash-cow US parks will begin to reopen.
“While it’s too early to predict when we’ll begin resuming all of our operations, we are evaluating a number of different scenarios to ensure a cautious, sensible, and deliberate approach to the eventual reopening of our parks,” CEO Bob Chapek said.
At the China park, that will include advanced reservations, social distancing, masks for workers and guests, temperature checks, and contact tracing. Those measures offer a preview of what could be the new normal at its US parks — and other large venues around the country — once they reopen.
Now, the good news: Disney+ has amassed 54.5 million subscribers. After launching in the US in the fall, the service has expanded to western Europe and India, with Japan, the Nordic countries, and Latin America later this year. Disney is already close to hitting its forecast target for 2024 of 60 million-90 million subscribers.
But Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, which together make up its direct-to-consumer division, are losing money — the loss-leading strategy has long been the company’s plan, long before the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed.
“As we said, our company’s top priority, and the key to our growth, is our direct to consumer group,” Chapek said. “I’m pleased to say that the response to Disney+, in particular, has exceeded even our highest expectations.”
As exclusive content has cemented itself as the coin of the streaming realm, Disney is hedging its bets that a robust, well-stocked streaming service with hot franchise titles like Marvel and Star Wars will only continue to increase the value of its biggest asset: the brand. It’s the brand that drives people to theme parks and cruise lines — typically its largest money earner.
The network pushed the debut of the Michael Jordan docuseries “The Last Dance” ahead by two months, and its first six episodes made it ESPN’s highest-rated documentary of all time. The live NFL draft delivered its largest-ever audience of 55 million viewers who tuned into broadcasts made up of over 600 live cameras from inside people’s homes. Overall, primetime ratings were up 11 percent among adults 18-49 in April, compared to the same time last year.
Disney is taking its first steps to reopen their parks in none other than China next week -- and the takeaway/possible road map for what's to come is simple ... lots of slower lines.
New China TV documented an in-depth tour given by the VP of Operations, Andrew Bolstein, which showed how the park plans to safely operate Monday -- when they'll reopen their doors to the public. Bottom line ... social distancing will be key, literally everywhere.
Right from the get-go, ticketholders will have to wait in line with markers on the ground of where NOT to stand, which automatically creates a distance between people of about a meter or so. Going in, they gotta be wearing face masks, have their temperature checked ... and also present updated medical records essentially proving they're coronavirus-free.
But wait, there's more ... waiting. Once inside, there are a lot more markers on the ground, where people are supposed to stay as they navigate the park. The rides are kinda the same deal -- everyone is spaced out, and they'll even load people onto cars via every other row.
What that means ... each ride will have less people on it than it can normally carry (in order to maintain the appropriate social distancing), so to go on Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney fans might have to wait a lifetime and a half going forward ... more so than usual.
It's unclear if Disneyland (Anaheim) and Disney World (Orlando) will adopt similar measures if/when they decide to restart the breakers, but it's likely their plan will be similar. ] ]