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Brought to fans, investors, entrepreneurs, executives, teachers, professors, and students by columnist, economist, novelist, reviewer, podcaster, business reporter and speaker Ray Keating

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mickey Bars are in Town!

by Beth Keating
Review
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 7, 2020

Without a doubt, my favorite snack at Disney World is the Mickey Premium Bar.  And I can’t go to Disney World without eating at least one – or three. These babies are so beloved by Disney fanatics that their likenesses have been made into plushies, tee-shirt designs, Christmas ornaments, tote bags, jewelry, pet chew toys, Mickey ear hats, purses and more.


I was admittedly jealous when various bloggers started reporting last year that they had discovered Mickey Bars in their local grocery stores. Not only did we not have any shipments to our area, we didn’t even have the kind of grocery store here that seemed to be the recipient of these frozen delights. No Publix here in the northeast!

Imagine my recent surprise when a random trip to my local Shoprite revealed the elusive sky blue box with Mickey’s smiling face. I grabbed the box and drove right home. Miraculously, I resisted the urge to rip the box open right there in the car.


So, after waiting months longer than everyone else to get this novelty, how does it measure up to its parental unit in the parks?  Let’s give it a little taste test, shall we?

The result is that the grocery store version is good, but maybe not quite as good as the ones in the Magic Kingdom. Is it perhaps because there’s a little extra pixie dust while sitting in the shadow of the castle, eating the melting chocolate in the Florida sun? Or is it something else?

While the ice creams are the identical iconic shapes, the grocery store version of the Mickey Bar is slightly smaller than the park’s premium bar. The chocolate coating also seems to be a bit thinner than the Lake Buena Vista variety, and it might be my faulty memory, but the vanilla ice cream in the Magic Kingdom has a richer quality to it. My local grocery store version was vanilla ice cream flavored, but it was made with light ice cream. That gave it a slightly less creamy texture to the feel of the ice cream, but the benefit is that the at-home Mickey bars only have 210 calories and half the fat. I don’t know how to calculate whether that is more or less calories than the Disney World version, though, since we all know that calories eaten at Disney are counted as “zero.” Wink, wink.

Mickey Bar at the Parks

How does the price stack up? The box of six in my grocery store was $6.99, while a single Mickey Premium Bar in the Disney parks is currently selling for $5.69. Obviously, the price point is much better on the grocery store box.

All in all, I’ll still buy the box of six again when I’m feeling nostalgic and need a Disney fix without flying four hours to get to the “most magical place on earth,” but that little bit of magic when you pass under the Disney archway definitely makes everything taste better. The grocery store Mickey ice creams are good, but they didn’t quite reach the “premium” mark.  

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Having Fun with Disney Guru Lou Mongello

by Ray Keating
Feature Story
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 6, 2020

Recently, I not only had the opportunity to chat with Disney guru Lou Mongello, but I had a heck of a lot of fun doing so!


As noted in the show notes to the podcast, “Need some positive stuff right now? Ray did, so he turned to Lou Mongello for an interview about entrepreneurship, opportunity and more, including Disney! Lou and Ray talk about assorted aspects of becoming and being an entrepreneur in tough times and beyond. It’s a positive chat largely focused on opportunity. For good measure, Lou and Ray have a bit too much fun talking about Disney, and playing ‘Tell Me Your Favorites.’”


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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Get the paperback or Kindle edition of Ray Keating’s new book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Are You Missing Having Fun with Disney Park Characters?

by Beth Keating
Review
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 5, 2020

With the Florida, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai Parks reopening with limited character interactions under COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, you might be missing giving Mickey a hug or dancing with Goofy at Chef Mickey’s. (That’s a double whammy….No buffets and no character close-ups right now!) Enchanting interactions with the characters are what make waiting in meet-and-greet lines for an hour worth the wait (or make paying astronomical prices for mediocre buffet food worth the investment of time and money)!


If you need a quick shot of characters doing silly stuff with actual humans, check out this short (six minutes or so) compilation of character exchanges with Gijs Van Winkelhof. We’ve featured Gijs on this site before. He’s the extraordinary, self-taught piano player from the Netherlands who performs at the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Paris. (See our DisneyBizJournal review of his performances here.)

Gijs offers us a peek at his shows at Café Fantasia in Paris, with a half dozen Disney characters who randomly pop in to visit. The Fab Five unexpectedly show up at various times to try to steal the show, and a few even attempt to play the piano with Gijs. There’s a fair amount of dancing going on as well, with characters visiting with guests in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel while Gijs keeps the music going. Among the songs featured are “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Mickey Mouse Club March,” “Part of Your World” (The Little Mermaid), and “A Whole New World” (Aladdin), while Tigger and Goofy, Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Pluto do what they do best. Goofy especially has a good time with “Jingle Bells.” 

Sadly, this is as close as we may get to a character interaction for the time being!  Disney has promised character appearances in the park, but from what we’ve seen in the already-opened parks, these character sightings are being done in creative ways to allow guests to see their favs, while still keeping the “stars” at a protective distance for both families’ and cast members’ safety.

Thanks to Gijs for sharing these guest videos of his piano performances with his Disney buddies. Hopefully, it will tide you over while you wait for your own chance to interact with the Disney crew.

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4th: Walt Disney and America on Parade

by Ray Keating
Feature Story
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 4, 2020

On July Fourth each year, we Americans celebrate the birth of our nation. Independence Day marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Disney traditionally has been at the forefront of this celebration each year. After all, Walt Disney very much was a patriot who loved history and this country. He once said, “I believe that this spiritual and intellectual freedom which we Americans enjoy is our greatest cultural blessing. Therefore, it seems to me, that the first duty of culture is to defend freedom and resist all tyranny.” He also struck a note of gratitude about this nation: “I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy, and freedom.”

And Walt’s patriotism was distinctly American in that he saw the value of our past, and was optimistic about the future. In Beyond the Wisdom of Walt,  Jeffrey Barnes noted, “When leading, people don’t care about where you’ve been— past credentials, past experiences, past exploits. What they care about is their future— and as much as Walt Disney was patriotic about the past, he was equally fervent about moving forward into the future.” Indeed, Walt summed it up best, “Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life.” As Americans do at their best, Walt tied together the past with the present and the future.

With all of this in mind, YouTube offers us opportunities to take note of the Walt Disney Company’s celebration of American Bicentennial in 1976. First, there’s “America on Parade,” which was held at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland from June 1975 to September 1976. As Dave Smith noted in Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia

“Disney designers, led by entertainment head Bob Jani came up with special floats and a series of costumes featuring oversized heads that told the story of America’s history, culture, and achievements, from its pioneers to present, all marching to a sound track of American popular songs recorded from a band organ, the Sadie Mae. The parade was led by Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as the ‘Spirit of ’76.’”


For good measure, there was an “America on Parade” TV special that aired on April 3, 1976.


God bless, America!

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See related...


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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Get the paperback or Kindle edition of Ray Keating’s new book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York.

Friday, July 3, 2020

July is National Hot Dog Month … Should We Head To Casey’s?

by Beth Keating
News/Review
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 3, 2020

It doesn’t matter that the National Hot Dog Council says National Hot Dog Day is July 22 this year. Hot Dog Day here in New York is July 4th, when Nathan’s holds its annual hot dog eating contest on the boardwalk at Coney Island. 

We watch – some of us in glee, and others in abject horror – as competitors from around the country vie to see who can scarf down the most hot dogs (rolls and all) in under ten minutes. You can watch it on national TV if you so desire. (Yes, Disney’s own ESPN offers coverage.) The big question is always: Will perennial champion Joey Chestnut take home the “Mustard Belt” again?  (In 2019, he took home his 12th win with a total of 71 hot dogs in ten minutes. Yes, 71. That’s an average of 7 hot dogs every minute. Or one every 8.5 seconds or so.) But given the coronavirus concerns, there will be no fans this year for the event.


If you prefer to eat your hot dog at a little more leisurely pace, may we recommend a trip to Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom when the Magic Kingdom reopens? Casey’s didn’t make the cut to open in the first round of restaurants serving ‘em up on opening day so far – we’re hoping it will be back in the game before too long. You deserve to celebrate July's "Hot Dog Month" in style!  

Among the menu selections at Casey’s is an All-Beef Hot Dog Meal with fries that will set you back $9.99. You can also get your dawg as Corn Dog Nuggets with cheese sauce and fries for $9.99. Foot-long Hot Dog Meals with fries are available for $13.49 as either a Bacon Macaroni and Cheese All-Beef Foot Long, or a Chili-Cheese All-Beef Foot-Long.  Plant based “sausage” dogs make an appearance on the menu as well for $9.49 for the sausage in a potato bun and fries, or $11.49 for the loaded slaw dog. Finish your meal off with a $4.29 baseball brownie if you’d like.


The quaintly Imagineered Casey’s gives a nod to the celebrated poem Casey at the Bat with its Americana baseball theme and classic baseball foods. (Disney turned Thayer’s poem into a cartoon short in 1954.) Casey’s Corner is a quick service, mobile order site, right on the hub in front of the castle, a perfect spot to grab a bite for lunch, or while waiting for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. (Yes, the parade is taking a COVID-19 break right now, but it won’t always be this way.)  We’ve also used Casey’s as a late night dining locale, scooping up a foot long and lemonade slushy while jockeying for the perfect spot to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks (no, they aren’t running right now either, but they’ll be back, Mickey willing.)

Some days you might also be fortunate enough to catch “Jim” or one of his fellow musicians in their red-striped vests, playing the piano on the sidewalk outside of Casey’s. They offer up some fun street-mosphere with happy ragtime tunes, occasionally taking requests from park visitors. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” might be appropriate. 

Casey’s changes up its menu periodically, featuring a “hot dog of the month” and a specialty hot dog series around the holidays. We’re partial to the warm cups of melty cheese to dip our fries in – a Disney bargain at only $1.00 a cup.

If you are interested, the specific date of National Hot Dog day changes from year to year. According to the National Hot Dog Council, Hot Dog Day falls on July 22nd this year – it is actually based on when the North American Meat Institute hosts its annual hot dog lunch on Capitol Hill. (So, maybe with large gatherings being cancelled all over the place, Hot Dog Day won’t happen this year? Will Congress be quarantined out of their annual hot dog bash?) 

No worries… hopefully Casey’s will open soon!

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Hamilton" Comes to Disney+ on July 3rd

by Beth Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 2, 2020

We are New Yorkers at DisneyBizJournal.  That means that we are, I think, required by state laws to show up in New York City once a year during the holidays to visit the tree at Rockefeller Center and go to see a Broadway show. Really, you can look it up somewhere. It’s tantamount to people who live in Orlando being magnetically drawn into the theme parks. We’re microchipped or something.

Over the years, we’ve seen dramas including Shakespearian productions such as Christopher Plummer in Macbeth, big budget musicals like Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods, monologue spotlights like Jake Gyllenhaal’s Sea Wall/A Life, and holiday celebrations including Patrick Stewart’s one man version of Christmas Carol. Twice. 


What we haven’t seen is Hamilton.  Hamilton is one of those shows that everyone wants to see, but no one can get tickets. Scalpers command thousands for desirable seats, though the face value of the ticket usually ranges from $149-$449 (it varies widely by day and time and seat location).    

If you, like our family, didn’t have the good fortune to snag tickets to the show with its original Broadway cast, Disney is getting ready to hand you an Independence Day gift. In a spectacular display of foresight, the Hamilton production was filmed over three days in July 2016 with most of the original Broadway cast. Now the three days have been woven into a single film, with input from the creators themselves. Originally set for release in October in theaters, Disney bumped up the “go” date to July 3 and is offering it for streaming on Disney+. Viewers will see the Broadway production in its entirety, as if they are watching it from the best seats in the house.

Inspired by the 2004 Alexander Hamilton biography by historian Ron Chernow, the Broadway show is the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the 2008 Tony award winning creator of another Broadway standout, In the Heights. (You also know him from Moana and Mary Poppins Returns, and he’s currently working on the new live action Little Mermaid film.) Miranda fell in love with Alexander Hamilton’s story as he read Chernow’s biography while vacationing on the beach, and managed to condense 818 pages into a slightly-less-than-3-hour musical. Hamilton is a high-energy, two-act look at the life of one of America’s youngest Founding Fathers, with the story portrayed almost entirely in song, with a blend of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and traditional Broadway styling.

An unusual choice, to be sure. “This is the story of America then, told by America now. It looks like America now,” said Miranda of the decision to use modern musical genres and cast the role of the white Founding Fathers with men and women of varied ethnic backgrounds.  

In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning in 2015, Miranda said of Hamilton’s story, “There’s great drama, there’s a great love story, there’s incredible political intrigue.” And Miranda has helped bring that story to life, not only as the writer and lyricist behind Hamilton, but as the original lead, giving birth to the very first Alexander Hamilton in the show.  Miranda imbues Hamilton’s story with musical deliberations on such weighty topics as the proper role of the Federal government, debated through the give and take of Rap battles.  

For those unfamiliar with Alexander Hamilton, he was George Washington’s righthand man during the Revolutionary War, wrote many of “The Federalist Papers” supporting passage of the Constitution, and served as America’s first, and perhaps greatest, Secretary of the Treasury. In his book, Chernow observed, “In fact, no immigrant in American history has ever made a larger contribution than Alexander Hamilton.” And since no one is perfect, Hamilton also exhibited terrible political instincts, and supplied the nation with its first major political sex scandal.


In the 2015 CBS interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda also said of Hamilton, “This is a guy who on the strength of his writing pulled himself from poverty, into the Revolution that helped create our nation.”  

Hamilton was the winner of eleven 2016 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and also won the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a special 2018 citation from the Kennedy Center Honors. The show began as a break out hit off-Broadway at The Public Theater, before moving to Broadway in 2015. When the Broadway theaters bring up the curtains again post-COVID-19, the show will resume at its home at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Among the original Broadway cast members appearing in the film are Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, and fellow Hamilton Tony winners Daveed Diggs as the Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, and Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr; and Tony nominees Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Christopher Jackson as George Washington and Jonathan Groff as King George. 

Lest you think the tale of Alexander Hamilton is just a story for erudite, ivy-leagued, elbow-patched old men who spend their time debating the minutia of history of the days of yore (Hamilton’s hip-hop accompaniment notwithstanding), there is an unusual subplot to this musical. The creators of Hamilton have teamed up with The Rockefeller Foundation and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to produce the Hamilton Education Program (EduHam), which has served more than 160,000 students across the country since 2016. Through EduHam, “students study primary source documents from the Founding Era, learn how Lin-Manuel Miranda used primary source documents to create the musical Hamilton, and finally create their own original performance pieces based on the same material.”

In the spring, as the ramifications of COVID-19 began closing down schools across the country, sending kids into home schooling scenarios, the EduHam team, already working on a family-based component to their programming, stepped into high gear and launched EduHam at Home, a free family version of EduHam that will continue to be available through August 2020.

One of the central objectives of EduHam is to not only get students excited about history, but to familiarize them with using primary source material. The website includes an instructional video by Miranda, 45 people from the Revolutionary period (some of whom appear in Hamilton), and 14 historical events for students to explore through the use of more than two dozen original documents from the period. Interviews with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton biography author Ron Chernow are available to students on the site as well. Check it all out here. As part of the program, the students have the opportunity to work their way through exercises that help them pen their own original works of art based on the historical material. 

When school is in session, and students from across the area descend on the Richard Rodgers Theatre to experience performances of Hamilton for themselves, each school picks a student ambassador to perform original material they have created as part of their Hamilton curriculum. The ambassadors climb up on the stage in front of members of the Hamilton cast and their fellow students to share what they’ve crafted. What an amazing opportunity, and a generous component for the students, from the theatre community, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

As a short warning to families (this is Disney+ after all), Hamilton is rated PG-13 for moments of adult language. Hamilton aficionados are aware of the “F-Bomb” that finds its way into the Broadway version of the show several times. If left intact, that would have garnered the film version an R rating, under the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rules. Miranda has addressed this issue on his Twitter feed, acknowledging that, rather than cutting the lines entirely, a few of the profanities are muted or have a record scratch overarching the word in order to maintain a PG-13 rating so the kids can watch the show too.  He suggests that viewers should feel free to sing along to their hearts content over the missing words. 

"You can sing whatEVER you like at home (even sync up the album)! Love you. Enjoy," Lin-Manuel offered on Twitter to his fans. (Admit it, those of you who love the show will, in fact, be singing away at the top of your lungs anyway.)  

In a New York Times interview, Miranda acknowledged, "If we have to mute a word here or there to reach the largest audience possible, I'm OK with that, because your kids already have the original language memorized. I don't think we're depriving anyone of anything if we mute an F-bomb here or there to make our rating." Considering the Richard Rodgers Theatre holds about 1300 guests per show, and the audience for Disney+ is seemingly limitless, his compromise is undoubtedly a valid one. Besides, Miranda wrote the show himself, so if anyone is allowed to make edits, he certainly has that prerogative. It’s his show.  (Fair warning: There is still one F-bomb intact in the songs.)

If you would like more information about the Hamilton musical, visit the website here.

Don’t throw away your shot… Take Disney up on the opportunity to see this Broadway phenomenon with its original cast.  It’s a chance that too few were able to see in person.
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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Disney Guests Begin Rebooking Dining Reservations

by Beth Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 1, 2020

As we reported Monday, Disney World guests whose previous dining reservations were cancelled when Disney pulled the plug to make way for their new Park Reservation System were able to begin rebooking their Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) yesterday (Tuesday, June 30).

So, given the fiasco that became the booking process for many guests last week as they tried to claim their “Park Reservations” online, overwhelming the website, how did the re-entry into the dining system go? For our family, the experience was … okay.  


The process was fairly smooth. I got on to the My Disney Experience section of the Disney website right away. I’d decided to wait several hours to access the system, figuring it would be easier once the initial crush of diners had subsided. There really wasn’t much difference between booking these dining reservations and booking dining reservations a year ago. Where the breakdown occurred was that there were fewer restaurants available for booking. Not surprising, based on the fact that character dining and buffets are dark at the moment, and overall attendance at the parks will be limited. 

However, there were dining locations that were not open/not available that were surprising to me, such as Chefs de France (listed as temporarily unavailable) and Columbia Harbor House (quick serve, but not on the roster of opening locations). Oga’s Cantina, which had initially been on the list of venues slated to open, is now missing from the roster. Sci-Fi Dine-In is on Disney’s list of re-opening restaurants, but when I tried to book there, the calendar wouldn’t advance beyond August 29. Epcot’s Tutto Italia was not listed on Disney’s roster as opening, but dining reservations were available when you checked Tutto Italia’s availability page.  Over at Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we always make a stop for zebra domes, the Lodge’s quick serve location, The Mara, is not opening yet, nor is Jiko – The Cooking Place. In many cases, things weren’t always what they seemed. You needed to look closer at the reservations availability, and not just at the master list, because the two didn’t always agree.


How did we make out with our own rebookings?  We were able to recapture about half of the original reservations we’d had before the restaurant power down, not always on the same days or times though. Among the disappointments? We lost the Edison and Oga’s  (neither is currently on the list of opening restaurants) and Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Wilderness Lodge (it’s character dining – not happening right now). 

For those looking for modified character dining experiences, both Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera and Garden Grill at Epcot, currently the only locations with character appearances at meals, still had reservation slots available. In the end, though, we decided the pricing wasn’t worth a “dance-through” by Mickey and friends, as opposed to the normal photo taking/autograph session we would typically experience with character dining.  At Topolino’s, there were two slots available at 8:30 am and 10:55 am for “Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends” on the day we checked. At Garden Grill, there were three slots available in our time frame (5:45, 6:20, 6:35). 


Other dining locations that we always visit that aren’t scheduled to open yet are the quick-service locations Woody’s Lunchbox (how we love those Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwiches and BBQ Brisket Melts!) and Columbia Harbor House.  We were thrilled to see, however, that Flame Tree Barbecue over in Animal Kingdom is opening. Well worth the stop – a quick serve with delicious portions big enough to share, with seating under gazebos along the river to relax for a while.

If you are looking to rebook your meals, here’s a tip: Make a list of which parks your Park Reservations are in before you begin looking at restaurants, because that will distinctly limit your choices and your meal times. Park closing times differ dramatically. Our family usually visits a park in the morning and early afternoon, then park hops to Epcot, since that is where we think some of the best dining is. Park-hopping is off the menu right now, so you’ll have to make sure that the restaurant you are booking lines up with the park that you have Park Reservations for – on a specific day - or you aren’t getting in to the park to mosey on over to the restaurant when it’s time to eat.

Walt Disney World’s dining page has information on the availability of meal reservations at Resort hotels, Theme Parks and Disney Springs dining locations, as well as the Know Before You Go page to help you with rapidly changing information. And it is rapidly changing. With Florida’s COVID cases on a steep rise, things may even be different by tomorrow.

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Which Would Be Surprising: Disney World Opening as Scheduled or Delayed?

by Ray Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
June 30, 2020

At this point, would you be more surprised if Walt Disney World opened on schedule or if it was further delayed? There’s a great deal of speculating on this, to say the least, and given recent developments, justifiably so.

Right now, Disney’s plans are to open the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. For good measure, July 9 is the Annual Passholder Preview Day for the Magic Kingdom.


Across the country in California, Disney announced last week that it would not reopen its Disneyland Resort on July 17, as previously announced. No new date was supplied. Disney highlighted the fact that the State of California would not have its theme park reopening guidelines ready until after July 4, and that would leave Disney insufficient time to get their Donald Ducks in a row for reopening.

Keep in mind that as recent as June 25, the Orlando Sentinel reported that a Disney representative said the Florida parks would be reopening as scheduled. In addition, Disney has all the necessary governmental approvals for reopening in Florida. So, as far as we know, Walt Disney World will be open for business starting on July 11.

The current COVID-19 situation in Florida raises big questions, though. After all, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state has been, unfortunately, dramatic over the past month. As the Sentinel noted today, there were 6,093 new coronavirus cases reported in Florida on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 152,534. And 58 deaths brought the state’s death toll up to 3,505. (Data source for the following chart from the Orlando Sentinel.)
And consider the following, as reported on Monday: “From Sunday to Sunday, Florida saw 43,784 new reported cases of COVID-19, the highest amount in a one-week period since the pandemic began.”

The Washington Post noted: “Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday as a crushing new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Across the nation, 40,587 new daily cases were reported. Florida, Texas and Arizona are emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row.”

A key problem in Florida is a chunk of individuals – largely younger people – ignoring the threat and proper safeguards. That has resulted in new restrictions on businesses, as the InsuranceJournal.com reported:

Earlier Friday, state officials said they would ban alcohol consumptions at bars as health officials attribute the new outbreak to young adults flocking to establishments after reopening three weeks ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus’s spread.
Bars, like restaurants, were supposed to limit patrons to 50% of their normal capacity, under the state’s emergency orders. Patrons had to sit at tables, with groups 6 feet (2 meters) apart. No congregating at the bar or on the dance floor was permitted.
The new order prohibits any establishment that makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales from serving alcohol for consumption on site. Bars are still permitted to sell alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite. Restaurants that primarily sell food can still serve alcohol to customers seated at tables.
Business and Professional Regulations Secretary Halsey Beshears said he issued the order because too many bars and patrons were breaking the rules, overwhelming his department’s inspectors.
“This was more than we could keep up with,” Beshears said.

Beshears added, “People in general just wanted to get out and experience a normalcy... Sadly, 90% are getting it right. It’s the other 10% that are ruining it for everybody.”

Also, among the counties in Florida closing beaches for the July 4 weekend are Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Martin. However, most counties will have their beaches open for the holiday weekend.

Then there’s the economy. Consumer reactions to both the increases in coronavirus cases in Florida, as well as the grim state of the economy (such as record levels of unemployment, threats of more layoffs coming, and widespread uncertainty and insecurity) promises to cut deeply into those journeying to Disney World. It’s hard to fork over significant dollars to have fun with Mickey when wondering if the next paycheck is coming, or there is no paycheck.

Having said all of this, Disney needs staff on hand for the arrival of the NBA and Major League Soccer. The MLS already has begun to arrive, with the soccer tournament running from July 8 to August 11. And NBA teams are scheduled to arrive between July 7-11, with the rest of the season tipping off on July 30. There also are plans to provide entertainment to the players and their families.

At the same time, though, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged in an interview today that he couldn’t guarantee the restart or completion of the NBA season, given the unpredictability of the coronavirus.

ESPN reported on June 29: “Overall, 668 players have been tested since the start of full-team training on June 4. That translates to a positive test rate of 2.7%, which compares favorably to the 5.3% positive rate that the NBA recorded for its most recent round of testing of players.”

It also was noted: 

According to the Florida Department of Health, Orange County has had at least a 15.9% positive test rate over the past five days for which data was announced, with a total of 4,128 new positive case recorded in that time. Orange County is home to much of Walt Disney World Resort, including the Swan and Dolphin hotels, where teams and MLS staff are staying.

In neighboring Osceola County, where the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is located, cases and positive test rates also have been increasing. Over the past five days, a total of 687 new positive cases have been recorded, with the positive test rate ranging from 9.3% to 22.7%.

So, moving pieces galore make Disney’s decision-making difficult, and from the outside, hard to predict. At this point, I throw my hands up in the air, and wouldn’t be surprised whichever way Disney goes – opening Disney World as scheduled or pushing it off.

While COVID-19 might have other things in mind, Disney at least for now looks set on reopening. Of course, the company can and will limit attendance, and work to make Disney World even more of a bubble than it usually is.
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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Get the paperback or Kindle edition of Ray Keating’s new book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York.