The Orange County Economic Task Force met this morning to discuss further opening of Orange County. At this meeting Walt Disney World presented their reopening proposals.
Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President – Walt Disney World, proposed a phased reopening of the Walt Disney World theme parks as follows:
This reopening plan allows the Walt Disney World Resort to launch, learn and adjust their plans along the way to ensure the safety of guests and cast members. Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will re-open at limited capacity on June 22nd. No date was announced for the reopening of Disney’s Water Parks or other Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Additionally, there will be limitations on daily theme park attendance and a theme park reservation system will be in place that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. More details on this system will be announced as we move towards the reopening date. Additionally, there will be reduced capacity on attractions, dining and transportation.
Walt Disney World has worked hard to develop the following new Health and Safety Protocols for their property.
The objective of the plan is to “Establish and implement enhanced health and safety protocols for a responsible re-opening of the Walt Disney World Resort”. The plan is broken down into five health and safety protocol categories and all focus on Education, Communication and Engagement. The five categories are: Enhanced Protective Measures, Physical Distancing, Enhanced Cleaning/Sanitation, Temperature/Health Screening and Limited-Contact Enhancement.
Enhanced Protective Measures:
As stated, these protocols will be implemented with a focus on education, communication and engagement. Guests will be notified of new protocols and expectations through the Walt Disney World mobile app and website, and signage reinforcing the new health and safety guidelines and protocols will be strategically placed throughout the property explaining that “we all need to do our part”. Additionally, a new Social Distancing Squad of dedicated Cast Members will be present throughout the parks to engage with guests and assist in enforcing new rules and procedures. All of these measures can already be seen at Disney Springs, which began a phased reopening last week and expands today to include select Disney-owned locations including World of Disney and Marketplace Co-op.
In an effort to accommodate already ticketed guests and Annual Passholders, Disney has suspended the sale of new theme park tickets and resort reservations at this time. We know that this has been a trying time for many of our guests, and we understand that you may feel hesitant to continue with vacation plans at this time. We encourage you to reach out to your Once Upon a Time Vacations travel advisor to discuss your thoughts and options for future travel. We are hopeful that things will return to a more normal state as soon as possible, and are appreciative to Disney for their care and dedication to creating a safe atmosphere for all Walt Disney World Guests and Cast Members.
Hope to see you in front of the castle, from a socially appropriate distance, in July.
This afternoon the Orange County Task Force met to discuss the reopening of Orlando. In the discussion, Universal’s John Sprouls proposed the resorts plans for a June reopening of their theme parks, and the motion was unanimously approved by the task force. These procedures and recommendations were developed in accordance with the Mayor, Governor and Medical professionals in the state of Florida.
Beginning on June 1, Universal will begin a phased reopening as follows:
Universal Parks & Resorts COVID Guest Journey
Universal Parks & Resorts COVID Team Member Journey
Universal Parks & Resorts COVID Preventative Measures
“This plan was put together with government and health officials input, consumer research, competitive benchmarking, scenario planning and demand modeling; Reinforce the safety and security of the park creating confidence among guests
Additionally, Universal provided a first-look at new signage installed throughout their parks, including a Guest Communication Handout, Attraction Queue Entry, and Social Spacing reminders and indicators.
The Orange County Task Force made a preliminary walk-through of the parks on May 21st to review their park readiness plan and has made the recommendation that their opening progress forward. The Task Force voted unanimously to approve the motion and Orlando Mayor Demings will present the plan to the Governor tomorrow morning.
Not specifically addressed in the presentation were plans for the reopening of Universal's resorts. As this information is released we will update everyone.
Walt Disney World announced today, via the Disney Parks Blog, that they will reopen World of Disney, Marketplace Co-Op and De-Luxe Burger (mobile order only) on May 27th – one week after the reopening of select non-Disney restaurants and retailers.
With the phased Disney Springs opening there will be new safety and health procedures in place to protect both guests and cast members. These include:
In addition to new procedures, Disney is also working diligently to retrain Cast Members to be better prepared for these changes, and Cast Members will be on hand throughout Disney Springs to assist guests with questions and concerns, as well as remind guests of the required procedures.
Read the full piece over on the Disney Parks Blog or on the Disney Springs website.
In line with the directions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disney Cruise Line has made the decision to extend their suspension of summer cruise departures through Monday, July 27th. Concern for the health and safety of guests, crew and cast members guided this difficult decision.
If you are currently booked to sail on one of the affected departures your Once Upon a Time Vacations travel advisor will be reaching out to you to discuss your options at this time. Currently, Disney is offering a choice between a cruise credit to be used towards a future sailing, to be taken within 15 months of original sail date, or a full refund. Our advisors will be reaching out you based on sail date, so please be patient as they work through their list of affected guests.
Newly impacted Sailings are as follows:
Disney Cruise Line Coronavirus (COVID-19) Additional Information
Disney Cruise Line consistently receives among the highest public health inspection scores and has health and safety protocols in place. We also have a comprehensive plan that outlines protocols for managing illness and closely follow the guidance of public health officials. In light of COVID-19, Disney Cruise Line is operating at elevated cleaning and sanitation levels. Among the procedures currently in place include:
Information via Disney Cruise Line
Portions of Universal Orlando’s entertainment district, CityWalk will begin to serve guests from 4-10 pm daily. All theme parks and resorts remain closed through at least May 31st.Here’s what we know.
At this time valet parking will not be available, and self-parking will be complimentary.
Opening locations include:
Blue Man Group, all nightclubs and Universal Cinemark will remain temporarily closed.
In accordance with CDC guidelines Universal has enhanced their sanitization procedures and implemented additional safety measures including distance spacing and screenings.
Here’s what you need to know:
Read more here.
In a bit of good news, Disney has officially announced that Disney Springs will begin a phased reopening on May 20th.
Based on the recommendations and guidelines set forth by government health officials, a limited number of shopping and dining locations, all owned by third-party vendors, will begin to open during this initial phase. All other Walt Disney World property locations will remain closed.
From Disney Parks Blog:
“As we continue to monitor conditions, and with the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of our planning, we are making several operational changes. Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.
We will apply learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries, and we’re also talking to our unions as we prepare for some cast members to return to work.
During the initial opening phase, Disney Springs will have limitations on capacity, parking and operating hours. Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through this process as responsibly as we can. Additional protocols and procedures may be announced closer to the opening date. Please check DisneySprings.com as we get closer to May 20 for the most current information on operating hours, locations and safety procedures.”
This is the first in a series of steps that we will see as the entire Walt Disney World Resort makes plans for their phased reopening. As announcements are made, we will continue to update everyone.
This week is National Travel & Tourism week, and today, May 6th, is National Travel Agent Day! The past couple of months have certainly been unlike anything else we have encountered, and we want to applaud and recognize the resilience of travel agents and others working in the hospitality industry at this time.
Globally, the travel and tourism industry accounts for over 330 million jobs – that’s 1 out of every 10 jobs around the world. Here in the US, the travel and tourism sector supports 9 millions jobs and accounted for approximately 2.8% of the U.S. DGP in 2018. U.S. Department of Commerce. To say our industry has been affected by the ramifications brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic would be an understatement.
But we will survive.
We know and understand that travel will be one of the last sectors to fully recover, but we also recognize how vital travel is to people around the world. Travel brings us together. It allows us to connect with our family and friends away from the distractions of our everyday lives. We gain new experiences. We make memories. We laugh, we love, we learn, and we connect with each other when we travel. Travel will return. And hard-working travel agents will be here to help you make meaningful travel memories.
Here are just a few key things you may not know about travel agents and how we book travel:
So, when you are ready to travel again, please book your travel with a professional travel advisor. We don’t care who, or what travel agency – ultimately, we are all on the same team. But please, use a live person and do not click “book now” on a travel booking website.
Know WHO you are booking with. We cannot stress to you enough the importance of working with a legitimate travel agency for your travels. Online booking sites, big box wholesalers and travel clubs do not have your personal interest at heart. There are countless travel-related horror stories circulating at this time. People are unable to reach the website customer service teams, are being given incorrect information or no information at all from wholesalers. Numerous online travel booking sites have completely shut down in light of the pandemic, leaving customers stranded. Others are stuck speaking with travel club “agents” who have no idea how to proceed through this event, as they signed on with a travel-related MLM Company on the promise of free vacations. Google it or search Facebook for “Scammed by <insert OTA or Wholesale Retailor here> and read the guests stories for yourself.
Please understand that Travel Professionals like those of us here at Once Upon a Time Vacations and our sister organization Storytellers Travel are focused on doing what is best for you, our loyal guests, so that you don’t have to worry. Our agents are making calls to all our suppliers and destinations as information is released, dealing with the hold times, making changes and cancellations and ensuring that you are our top priority right now! Providing the best service possible to you is of the utmost importance to us, just as providing the best medical care is of utmost importance to a Doctor or Nurse.
We know many of you are disappointed by the cancellation of your vacations. We appreciate you and hope to have happier news soon. In the meantime, take a moment to hug your travel advisor digitally - they could use the encouragement! Please feel free to thank your personal advisor in the comments below - we’ll make sure they get the message!
To our guests – we thank you for entrusting us with your precious vacations. We can’t wait to get back out there and celebrate the #SpiritofTravel with you.
And to our industry colleagues, you are warriors and we can’t wait to travel with you again.
Until we meet again,
The Teams at Once Upon a Time Vacations and Storytellers Travel
Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Issues Statement Addressing Preliminary Guidelines for Reopening
5/5/2020 2 Comments
Today via the Disney Parks Blog, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel shared the steps that the Walt Disney Company is currently exploring in preparation for park reopening. No dates were announced, but we now have information related to what Disney is doing to ready their Cast Members and Parks for an eventual return to business.
Dr. Hymel stated that “together, with our colleagues in operations, and local health and government authorities, we’re evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to do our part towards helping us stay well while we work, stay, and play at a Disney resort and a Disney Store.” Per her statement, Disney is exploring the following options as they prepare for reopening of their parks, stores, and resorts:
These are only a few examples, and as the situation continues to develop changes can and will likely occur in accordance with guidelines put forth by the CDC, local governments and other health experts.
Dr. Hymel also shared that she is “working closely with the US Travel Association on a set of guidelines the travel industry may tailor to their individual businesses.”
These guidelines include:
Here at Once Upon a Time Vacations we know that getting back to travel is a priority for many of our guests, and an indication that we are moving towards a bit of normalcy again. We promise to continue to bring you official news as it is shared by Disney, Universal, the local and national governments, and other business leaders related to our industry.
In the meantime, we hope you are doing well and staying safe at home. As Mickey likes to say, “we’ll see you again real soon.”
Preliminary Guidelines Released for Phased Reopening Stategy Outlined by Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force
5/4/2020 1 Comment
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis outlined his three-phase state reopening. Under his plan, the state can begin reopening businesses on Monday, May 4th. Under DeSantis’ plan, individual counties have flexibility to determine when and how they will handle the reopening.
Today the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force announced their own plans for a phased reopening of the Orlando area following the current “Shelter at Home” mandate, originally scheduled to expire today. According to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orange County will not begin the phased reopening on May 4th, though he will allow restaurants and retail shops to reopen as long as they do so in compliance with the governor’s order. Demings did not provide an exact date for the reopening of additional businesses. He also expressed concern that the May 4th date does not give businesses adequate time to prepare for safely reopening and wants to ensure that Orange County vendors are allowed the necessary time to get ready for a safe reopening of their establishments.
Nightly curfews will remain in effect in Orange County for the forseeable future and Universal Orlando will delay the opening of Universal Epic Universe by one year at this time.
The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force consists of four subgroups: The Guidelines for Reopening Business, Business Readiness Group, Compliance and Consumer Confidence Group, and Bringing Back Tourism Group. The will be meeting again later today and is expected to make an announcement tomorrow regarding initial plans for a reopening of the Orlando area.
Regardless of when Orange County decides to move forward with a reopening schedule, the recommendations for the operations of theme parks, hotels and restaurants outlined by the Governor will be upheld. At this time, those include the following:
Disney and Universal mandates:
Restaurants, including those located in theme parks:
Information obtained from the following sources: