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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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

D23 Expo Delayed Until 2022

 by Beth Keating



September 30, 2020


D23: The Official Disney Fan Club has announced that it will be pushing the date of its next Expo to 2022. The previous biannual Expo was held in 2019, and the next one was due to take place summer 2021. Disney has already postponed its next Star Wars Celebration (it should have occurred August 2020, but is now returning August 18-21, 2022) and Destination D gathering (originally set for November 2020, returning in 2021).


The newly slated “D23 Expo 2022” will be held September 9-11, 2022, at the Anaheim Convention Center.  The Expo is D23’s largest fan event, and the 2022 gathering will be the club’s seventh Expo. 

In addition to being an exposition filled with kiosks and exhibits celebrating all things Disney, the event has traditionally been a kick-off event laced with surprise announcements about upcoming Disney ventures, appearances by celebrities, and sneak peeks at new projects, including previews of soon-to-be released feature films. The Galaxy’s Edge expansion at the Florida and California parks was announced at a D23 session in 2015.


Disney has promised that “D23 Expo 2022 will be a celebration unlike any other, as we give fans a first look at the incredible plans for the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company.” The 100th Anniversary will take place in 2023, commemorating the company’s founding on October 16, 1923.


It’s not surprising that Disney is rescheduling in-person events while COVID-19 is still swirling, making travel and gatherings uncertain. Theaters are still closed in many parts of the country, and stalled movie production has pushed back the release dates of a number of the movies that would have previewed at the D23 event. While many of its theme parks have reopened, the company is still waiting for the green light to open the gates at its California locale. 


D23 is continuing to offer fans virtual events in the meantime.




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Disney Announces 28,000 Layoffs – Memo to Employees

 by Ray Keating



September 29, 2020


The Walt Disney Company announced today that it would be laying off 28,000 theme park workers due to continuing problems generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the inability to open its parks in Southern California.

According to various reports, including the Orange County Register, in a statement, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division, said, “In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying healthcare benefits.”


Two-thirds of the 28,000 individuals being laid off will be part-time workers.


The Register reported: “Disney employs more than 100,000 at its U.S. theme parks — 32,000 at Disneyland and 77,000 at Disney World. Disney did not disclose how the 28,000 layoffs would be distributed between Anaheim and Florida.”


Here is the letter that D’Amaro signed to company employees (as provided by CNBC):




I write this note to you today to share some difficult decisions that we have had to make regarding our Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products organization. 


Let me start with my belief that the heart and soul of our business is and always will be people. Just like all of you, I love what I do. I also love being surrounded by people who think about their roles as more than jobs, but as opportunities to be a part of something special, something different, and something truly magical. 


Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world. Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us -- both at work and in our daily lives. We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles. 


As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy. For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity. 


As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic. 


Thank you for your dedication, patience and understanding during these difficult times. I know that these changes will be challenging. It will take time for all of us to process this information and its impact. We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days. Additionally, today we will begin the process of discussing next steps with unions. We encourage you to visit The Hub or the WDI Homepage for any support you may need. 


For those who will be affected by this decision, I want to thank you for all that you have done for our company and our guests. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience, and hope to welcome back Cast Members and employees when we can. 


Most sincerely, 

Josh D’Amaro

Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products 



The laid off workers have been furloughed, with the company paying health benefits, since April. 


Wall Street Journal report highlighted the frustrations that Disney and other theme park operators have had with the California state government. The Journal noted: 


The state’s color-coded system ranks contagion risk into four tiers, from the purple Tier 1, for “widespread,” to Tier 4, yellow, for “minimal.” Each tier spells out restrictions for about 20 industries or other public establishments, including playgrounds, family-entertainment centers, wineries and nail salons. There are no guidelines specific to theme parks, a source of frustration for the industry and some lawmakers.


Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in a press conference Tuesday the state is “getting very close” to unveiling theme park-specific guidelines….


On Monday, a group of nearly 20 California legislators sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging him to consider allowing theme parks to reopen, noting that some indoor public spaces have already been cleared to reopen.


The Walt Disney Company’s stock price declined by almost 2 percent after the market’s close on Tuesday.




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


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


Disney+ Announces Drive-In Event in October

 by Ray Keating



September 29, 2020


I miss drive-in movie theaters. Yeah, I know there are still some scattered around the country, but especially in suburban and urban areas, the value of land simply has driven the drive-in into near-extinction. 

Perhaps that’s why almost every visit to Disney World requires a stop at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios. I love the entire experience, from the tables made like classic cars to the big screen serving up ‘50s sci-fi clips to the burgers and shakes.


A very minor benefit that emerged during this horrible pandemic has been the pop-up drive-in movie “theaters” offered by various organizations. A Catholic Church in my neighborhood put up a big screen in their parking lot, as did a VFW post not too far away.


Now, Disney is getting in on the drive-in game – at least for those fortunate enough to live in southern California. The Disney+ Drive-In Festival will run from October 5-12 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.


What’s on the schedule?


The Red Carpet Premiere of the Disney+/National Geographic show The Right Stuff will happen on October 5. It starts streaming on Disney+ on October 9.


Another Red Carpet Premiere will occur on October 12 for the Disney+ original movie Clouds. That will begin streaming on October 16.

In between these two premieres, the public will be able to enjoy an assortment of classics. For example, that will include celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Tangled, the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and The Sound Of Music Sing-A-Long marking the 55th anniversary of the Rodgers & Hammerstein film. Hispanic Heritage Month will be noted with the Pixar Animation Studio film Coco, and the International Day of the Girl will see Captain Marvel on the big screen. And some Halloween fun will be offered along with a viewing of Hocus Pocus. Disney notes, “Each night will get started with a classic animated short, fan-favorite episodes of The Simpsons or sneak peek trailers from Disney+ Originals on the big screen.”


Here’s the schedule according to Disney:


Monday, October 5 – The Right Stuff – World Premiere Screening (Invite Only)


Tuesday, October 6 – Tangled 10th Anniversary Screening (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Wednesday, October 7 – Coco Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Thursday, October 8 – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Screening (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Friday, October 9 – Hocus Pocus Disney+ Halloween Night (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Saturday, October 10 – The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long 55th Anniversary Screening (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Sunday, October 11 – Captain Marvel Celebrating International Day of the Girl (Open to the public. Register beginning September 28)


Monday, October 12 – Clouds – World Premiere Screening (Invite Only)


Disney also reported: “Capacity is extremely limited and reservations will be required to attend. Beginning Monday, September 28 at 10 a.m. PT, fans can register for complimentary tickets at www.disneyplus.com/drive-in. One registration is required for each vehicle, with a maximum of four guests per vehicle. Event capacity is extremely limited and reservations will be required.”




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


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


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Disneynomics: Disney’s Near-Infinite Opportunities with Marvel

 by Ray Keating

Disneynomics Column


September 27, 2020


When The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “This is perfect from a strategic perspective. This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best.” But I doubt that Iger at the time fully grasped the vast opportunities that would open up.

Looking at what’s happened at the box office for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with 23 movies raking in almost $23 billion, the success of this deal should be obvious to all. Toss in all of the related revenues, and simply based on the movies so far, Disney’s purchase of Marvel turns out to be one of the greatest deals in Hollywood history. Ah, but there is and will be so much more.


Indeed, as time passes, the Disney-Marvel deal should prove to be far more lucrative and impressive, as long as storytellers continue telling quality stories, of course. The gains promise not only to come via movie theaters (post-COVID-19), but thanks to the Disney+ streaming service.


Consider a couple of recent news items regarding Marvel and Disney+. 


Variety reported that, according to sources, Samuel L. Jackson will be back as Nick Fury in a Disney+ series. It was noted, “The exact plot details of the show are being kept under wraps, but multiple sources say Jackson is attached to star with Kyle Bradstreet attached to write and executive produce.” Jackson’s Fury has played a key role in the MCU on the big screen.

And then there’s the release of an extensive trailer for the forthcoming Disney+ series WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. the Scarlett Witch, and Paul Bettany as Vision. WandaVision looks fascinating and reportedly will arrive on Disney+ in December.


Also coming to Disney+ is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki – some time in 2021. What If…? will be an animated series also coming in 2021. What else? Reports point to Disney+ Marvel shows titled Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk


What makes the Disney-Marvel deal increasingly fascinating, even though it was signed and sealed eleven years ago, is that with 5,000+ characters, Disney now has  multiple times 5,000 stories to tap. For one of the great storytelling companies in history, this equates to a near-infinite amount of resources. Tales from the pages of decades of Marvel comic books have been waiting to come alive via the silver screen and now via online streaming. That time is now.


It’s already is well under way, of course, with some classic comic stories feeding into the movies, and now, apparently, into WandaVision. Yes, the stories of the Scarlett Witch and Vision, together and apart, offer a wealth of potential material, from the madness of Wanda to Vision trying to synthesize a normal life – with dire consequences in each case. (What? Hey, read the comics, man!) Consider these backgrounds, and check out how Disney describes WandaVision: “The series is a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.”


And Nick Fury? Well, in the comics, his stories range from the battlefields of World War II to espionage and running SHIELD to saving the world from afar.

So, consider everything you’ve already seen at the movies with the MCU – along with what Fox and Sony have offered, such as the X-Men and Spider-Man – the ABC television shows Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel shows that appeared on Netflix (i.e., Daredevil, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders). Add in what we know is coming from Marvel for Disney+. 


Oh, yeah, and note the forthcoming Marvel movies – Black Widow on May 7, 2021, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on July 9, 2021, Eternals on November 5, 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on February 11, 2022; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on March 25, 2022; Black Panther 2 still scheduled for May 6, 2022, and Captain Marvel 2 on July 8, 2022.


“Wow” would not be an unreasonable reaction to all of this. And yet, it barely scratches the surface of what’s available for Disney thanks to Marvel. Sure, Disney’s deal to get Star Wars was impressive, but it likely will pale in comparison to the ongoing results from buying Marvel.




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


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


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort To Get New Look

 by Beth Keating



September 26, 2020


Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a long-time favorite of fans since it opened with Disney World in 1971, is about to get an updated look, and Disney has released a sneak peek at the artist renderings of the new designs.

Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

In time for the park’s 50th anniversary, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort  will get a revamped entryway with a new porte cochere, which will “showcase the iconic mid-20th century architecture the Polynesian is famous for.” This new entry features “a high-pitched, open-truss roof covered in a thatch style.” 


According to Zach Riddley, Walt Disney World Site Portfolio Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, “The open and airy design of the entryway will feature dramatic lighting elements, including beautiful chandeliers inspired by glass floats, fishing nets and oversized bamboo elements. The new chandeliers will match the existing grand chandelier in the resort lobby, artfully bridging interior and exterior spaces.” 


While the color scheme for the refurbishment is being inspired by the colors, patterns and textures already found throughout the Polynesian Village Resort, Riddley says there will also be a “bold façade that features pops of color complementing the Longhouses found throughout the resort. Along the Monorail station, bold new wooden screens will be covered with geometric patterns in bright, tropical colors that complete an exciting new composition that will greet you when you arrive.”


The Disney Vacation Club rooms at the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, which are already hosting guests post-COVID-19 shutdown, will continue welcoming visitors, but the rest of the resort rooms will not reopen until summer 2021. The resort has had two previous re-opening dates, including August 12, which was bumped to October 4, but Disney is taking the opportunity to refurbish the resort while attendance numbers are still down. 


The resort’s guest rooms are being redone as well, and are expected to feature details, patterns and textures from the Disney movie Moana and her home on the island of Montunui. In the meantime, the Great Ceremonial House, where the dining and shopping facilities are located, will be available while work is underway. Monorail service will be paused beginning in early October while construction takes place at the Resort.


The buildings will not be the only place to get a refresh, with the resort’s gardens and fountains also will be getting some changes. 


The Polynesian’s Background


Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort opened on October 1, 1971, and its grand opening ceremony, held later that month, was attended by such celebrities as Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. It has played host to numerous famous guests over the years, and much to the chagrin of Beatles’ fans everywhere, it is the place where John Lennon was staying when he inked the final signature on the official papers dissolving the Beatles’ partnership. 


The South Pacific-themed Polynesian Village Resort is one of the original two resorts on Disney World property, and it was designed by WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering), Welton Becket & Associates (a California architectural firm) and United States Steel Corp. Like Disney’s Contemporary, the other hotel erected for the opening of Disney World, it was built using “unitized modular construction,” whereby the rooms for the resort were built a few miles away then trucked to the site. Each room was constructed as a free standing unit, with its fixtures, plumbing, air conditioning and décor already installed before it arrived, and was then set in place inside a steel frame in its new home on Seven Seas Drive.  There was originally a wave machine in the water just off the beach at the Polynesian, but since it never functioned the way it was supposed to, it was shut off.


The Polynesian’s Offerings


The Polynesian is often at the top of Disney fans’ “must-do” lists, whether it is a coveted stay in the waterside bungalows, or a hard-to-get reservation at ‘Ohana. As one of the resorts on the monorail loop, guests are just two stops away from the Magic Kingdom, or a quick monorail transfer to EPCOT as well. It also is walking distance to the Ticket and Transportation Center, where park-goers can hop a ferryboat to the Magic Kingdom (which guests are likely to do once the monorail stops running from the Polynesian during construction.)


The 39-acre Polynesian Resort, colloquially referred to as “the Poly” by fans, is an 847-room Deluxe Resort located on the Seven Seas Lagoon. It is surrounded by beaches, waterfalls, and lots of tiki torches, and guests can watch the nightly fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom from the beaches and marina at the Poly, or in some cases, from their rooms. The “Electrical Water Pageant” also makes its way past the Polynesian at night. 


The Great Ceremonial House is home base at the resort. It is the resort’s lobby, but it also is home to the dining and shopping venues at the Polynesian, including BouTiki. The resort has two pools: The Lava Pool, with its waterfall, 142-foot-long waterslide and kids’ splash zone; and a quiet pool. A stream begins outside of the Great Ceremonial House and continues down to the Lava pool, where a 40-foot high volcano presides.  There are poolside bars available for relaxing.

Courtesy of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

As one of Disney’s deluxe-level resorts, the Polynesian is among the priciest nighttime stays in Disney World, especially if you are sleeping in the Bungalows on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The Bungalows vary in price by season, day of the week, or holidays, but expect to spend in the neighborhood of $3,000 a night (or more). The Bungalows, with their pools on the porch, full kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and washer/dryer units, are like a home away from home, except they are located literally over the water on the Seven Seas Lagoon. You can take a dip in the pool from your waterside porch while eating dinner and watching the Happily Ever After Fireworks.


Most guests staying at the Poly, though, will find themselves in one of 11 different buildings called Longhouses, some with views of the Lagoon or Cinderella Castle, but all are surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Rates for standard rooms can start at $500 and edge upwards toward $900, while theme park view rooms and Lagoon view rooms are in the $684 range to nearly $1200. Club and Concierge rooms are also available, at additional prices, and offer exclusive access to a private lounge with stunning views of Cinderella Castle and the nightly fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The music for the fireworks is piped into the lounge, and a light buffet and beverages are offered in the lounge throughout the day (as an included cost to your room).


The Polynesian’s Food


The Polynesian is known for great food, and a reservation to its ‘Ohana restaurant is highly prized, and during some seasons, nearly impossible to get. You’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn on the day you are eligible to start making your dining reservations to snag this one. ‘Ohana is an all-you-can-eat Hawaiian feast served family-style at your table. At dinner, you can watch the chefs preparing your meal in the open fire pit in the center of the room, while the youngsters in your group participate in games like coconut races or storytelling, led by cast members. It’s located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, and you can also catch the nightly fireworks while you dine if you have the right table, and music from the show is synched into the restaurant. Breakfast at ‘Ohana is a character meal featuring Lilo and Stitch. Note that as of this writing, ‘Ohana is one of the restaurants that has not yet re-opened due to COVID-19, and character meet and greets are on temporary hiatus. (Fireworks have not yet reappeared, either, though EPCOT has been doing some testing lately.)

Courtesy of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

If you are craving Tonga Toast (a stuffed French toast delight available only at the Poly), you can head over to Kona Café. This second floor restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their focus is on continental cuisine with an Asian flair. They also offer sushi prepared in an on-stage sushi kitchen. For coffee aficionados, they offer a special Kona Coffee.  


The Polynesian’s snack bar/quick serve location is Capt. Cook’s, a need-to-know dining spot on the first floor for the reason that it is one of the few places on property that is open 24-hours a day. (Or at least, it was pre-COVID-19. Right now the hours vary, but it is open later than most.) If your flight gets in late, or if you are boarding early, or just need a quick bite on your way back from closing the parks, the Captain is there for you. It features fast food, snacks, desserts, and refillable resort mugs stations. It’s also the only other location to offer Tonga Toast! In addition to American staples such as chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers, the spot offers Polynesian specialties such as Thai Coconut Meatballs and an Aloha Pork Sandwich.


By the way, it might be worth staying at the Polynesian for quick access to Pineapple Lanai – the counter service location that is home to Dole Whips outside the parks. 


As is the case with ‘Ohana, several of the dining venues at the Polynesian are part meal, part entertainment. The Spirit of Aloha show takes that to the next level.  Offering outdoor dining at Luau Cove (weather permitting), this open-air theatre includes a full Polynesian-style luau with Aloha pulled pork, Polynesian ribs, roasted chicken, and pineapple guava cake. While you dine, cast members take the stage to showcase fire-knife performers, drummers, and authentic Polynesian dancing. You may even be treated to a hula lesson!

Courtesy of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, on the first floor, is one of several bars on Polynesian property, but it is hard to really classify it as such. If you remember the Adventurer’s Club at Pleasure Island, this place is a nod to that iconic Disney watering hole.  It is also named after the “head” salesman on the Jungle Cruise ride...wink, wink. Trader Sam’s is a tiny, not-easy-to-get-into, interactive establishment where volcanos rumble, seats subtly move up and down, and ordering particular culinary selections will trigger certain “responses” in the room.  Favorite concoctions include the Krakatoa Punch, Uh Oa!, HippopotoMai-Tai and Shrunken Zombie Head (many served in appropriately themed souvenir glasses, of course), and snacks include Hawaiian poke, sushi rolls, kálua pork tacos, pan-fried dumplings, chicken lettuce cups, or bánh mì sliders. You almost have to be in-the-know to find the unassuming entrance to this hot spot, however.  It’s definitely a favorite among park guests for its lively interactions with cast members. (After 8 pm, Trader Sam’s becomes 21 and over, but families are welcome earlier in the day.)


Additional locations to partake of adult libations include Tambu Lounge on the second floor, which offers drinks, coffees, and light meals and appetizers, The Barefoot Pool Bar near the volcano at the main pool, or Oasis Bar and Grill near the quiet pool, serving both drinks as well as slightly heartier poolside fare such as burgers and sandwiches.


Additional Fun


If you are looking to work off some of those meal calories while you are staying at the Polynesian, there is a 1.5 mile long jogging path that will take you through the tropical vegetation, around the Polynesian Longhouses and past Luau Cove. There’s a sand-based volleyball court to play on, and the Polynesian is adjacent to Disney’s Magnolia golf course. You can also head to the Poly’s marina, where there are a multitude of different boats and watercraft for your entertainment and exercise. Pontoon boats, sailboats, Water Mouse boats and more are available to rent for a day spent out on Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake, fishing or just taking in the sights.  


The resort also offers movies under the stars on the lawn of the Great Ceremonial House, daily resort activities such as contests and musical activities, and a nightly village campfire.


You can keep up to date on future construction announcements at the Disney Parks Blog or at Zach Riddley’s Instagram @thezachriddley as details are released.


(Please note: As with many of the activities around the Disney World facility, hours of operation and availability can change at a moment’s notice in this COVID-19 reopening era. Right now, fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant have not yet returned, character meet-and-greets are on hold, and dinner shows like Spirit of Aloha are temporarily dark. ‘Ohana and Trader Sam’s are among the still-closed restaurants. This article gives you a peek at the “normal” operations of the Polynesian, but things aren’t necessarily “normal” right now! On Friday (September 25), Governor DeSantis opened the possibility for restaurants to return to normal capacities; that could change Disney operations yet again in the next few days. Check with the Poly directly if you are interested in a particular activity to see when it anticipates beginning operations.)




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Friday, September 25, 2020

Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” Begins October 1

 by Beth Keating



September 25, 2020


Fall has officially arrived, and in parts of the country, people have started donning sweatshirts and cozy sweaters (sorry, Floridians… the tables will turn in January, I have no doubt).

With Halloween just around the corner, the Freeform channel released the schedule for their annual “31 Nights of Halloween” series. (Freeform is owned by Disney…remember back when it was called “ABC Family”?)  And while the event is billed as the “nights” of Halloween, most of the “nights” begin by showing movies as early as 7 am on weekends, or as early as 11 am on some weekdays. 


Each day features a different lineup, but the movies are taken from a stable of 44 films in rotation, including a few that will be making their Freeform premieres. If you miss your favorite frightfest, fear not, because the odds are it will be around again in a few days. 


Among this year’s cinematic offerings are Tim Burton’s Corpse BrideCasper (1995); The Goonies; BeetlejuiceThe Simpsons“Treehouse of Horror-thon”; Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins; Ghostbusters (1984); Ghostbusters II; The Craft; The Addams Family (1991); Addams Family Values; BoxtrollsMatilda; Jumanji (1995); Goosebumps (2015); Warm Bodies; The Mummy (1999);The Mummy Returns; Twitches; Twitches Too; Halloweentown; Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge; Shrek; Scared Shrekless; Scream; Scream 2; Scream 3; Toy Story of TERROR!; Hotel Transylvania; Monsters, Inc.Monsters, University; Willy Wonka & the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryGremlins; and Sleepy Hollow (1999).


Freeform will also be premiering Hotel Transylvania 2 and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacationon Saturday, October 10; The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and The Scorpion King on Monday, October 12; and on Saturday, October 24, Ghostbusters (2016).


Of course, no scarefest would be complete without the cult status Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus, which make a number of showings during the month.  With Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on hiatus this year, it’s as close as you’ll be able to get to the Sanderson sisters, though you’ll still be able to see Jack and Sally in their own cavalcade at the Magic Kingdom.  And….wait for it… there is also the obligatory plug for the Disney Parks, which probably need all the help they can get this year anyway, with Decorating Disney: Halloween Magic, which shows up several times in the line-up.  


If you want to “plus-up” your screen time during the season, Freeform is also offering a series of free downloadable backgrounds for your video calls based on the “31 Nights” films, including The Nightmare Before ChristmasHocus Pocus, or The Addams Family.  You can get them here.


We won’t print the Spook-tacular schedule in its entirety here (you can go to Freeform for that), but you might be interested in the offerings for Halloween day (and night). Chances are, you won’t be out running “Amok, Amok, Amok” this year anyway… Socially distanced Trick-or-Treating is hard!


Saturday, October 31st
7:00 am – Twitches
9:00 am – Twitches Too
11:00 am – Halloweentown
1:00 pm – Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
3:00 pm – Hocus Pocus
5:10 pm – The Addams Family (1991)
7:15 pm – Addams Family Values
9:20 pm – Hocus Pocus
11:30 pm – Ghostbusters (1984)




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

“Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” Debuts on Disney+

by Beth Keating



September 24, 2020


Friday evenings in our house of late seem to have morphed into watching the newest episode of whatever Disney+ series we happen to be following. It started when we were watching The Mandalorian, followed by Disney Gallery/Star Wars: The MandalorianDisney Prop Culture, then Muppets Now.  


By far one of my favorites, though, has been One Day At Disney Shorts. I find fault only with the fact that the episodes are way too… well, short (they are only 5-7 minutes long). I’d like to see more from the cast members as they go about their day. If you haven’t been following the series, you’d be amazed at the enormous variety of careers that are melded together to make the Disney empire work.

In last week’s segment drop (Episode #42. Dr. Natalie MyIniczenko), we “met” a veterinarian at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was an interesting look at the tremendous amount of effort that goes on behind the scenes in taking care of the thousands of inhabitants at Animal Kingdom. As the 7-minute episode ended, I really wished I had been able to see more of the hands-on work the vets and staff undertake in nurturing the animals.


It turns out, I’m going to get that chance. This Friday (September 25), Disney+ will be debuting “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” an original eight-episode docuseries that gives viewers an all-access pass to see exactly what the veterinarians and animal caretakers do backstage in caring for the many feathered, hooved, and finned creatures who make their home at the Disney Parks. 


The series will help you learn more about the creatures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. The series is from National Geographic, now partnered with Disney (and the creators of some great educational content on Disney+ for all you families who may be homeschooling again this fall!)


There are more than 5,000 animals who make their homes at Walt Disney World. In addition to getting a peek at how animals like the lions get fed, and how the animal care team provides enrichment for the various critters, you’ll also get to see many of the animals up close as the staff interacts with the animals to provide for their medical care and day-to-day needs. You’ll even get to see a few of the new babies born along the way.


New episodes of “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” narrated by Josh Gad, will drop each Friday for an eight-episode run. 




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.