All of Disney's theme parks have stood empty for over a week now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I miss them as much as I'm sure the rest of you do. There are plenty of ways to cope from home — more than anyone could have anticipated, really — and this week, we're aiming to fill that castle moat-sized space in your heart.
Since you're likely stealing glances at this column while pretending you're paying attention to your coworkers on a Zoom call, let's get to it: Here's the theme park news you gotta know this week:
SMALL STATUS UPDATE ON THE PARKS
As of now, Disney has not officially commented on any extension of closures at its American theme park resorts. Currently, the officially announced plan is that Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort along with its hotels and downtown districts will be closed through March 31.
With many Americans self-quarantined at home, it's possible the resorts won't re-open in full next Tuesday, but how long could these closures actually last? There’s no way to guarantee when these parks could be back up and running, so we put together a status update on what’s happening outside the berm in both cities to help fill in the details.
With everything currently shut down at Walt Disney World (except golf courses, and what better time to perfect your swing than a pandemic?), we're looking toward the rest of Florida to see what might come next.
As of yesterday evening, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had requested President Donald Trump declare “a Major Disaster in Florida” for additional resources to handle COVID-19, which has totaled 1,227 cases — a number that doubled over the weekend — and 18 deaths in the state, according to the Orlando Sentinel. A fifth TSA worker at Orlando International Airport was confirmed to have coronavirus — making Florida and California the two states with the highest number of affected TSA agents. Additionally, Osceola County is enforcing a curfew from 11PM to 5AM and Orange County is enacting a stay-at-home order starting Thursday. Another signal: citing an abundance of caution, Walt Disney World's Star Wars-themed RunDisney races on April 16 through 19, which typically see an influx of visiting guests, have preemptively been canceled.
California, home to Disneyland Resort, is urging citizens to remain in their houses with Governor Gavin Newsom's "stay at home" initiative affecting almost 40 million residents, according to The New York Times. Orange County, where Disneyland Resort is located, jumped 30 cases in one day to a total of 125, according to The Orange County Register. Yesterday, Governor Newsom even warned that social distancing could last two to three months.
So what does it mean for the parks reopening — and what does it mean for projects like Avengers Campus, set to debut in mid-July? It's unclear. We won’t know anything until Disneyland Resort officially announces it, but according to The Orange County Register, construction at the theme parks is halted in tandem with the theme park closures.
DISNEYLAND FROM YOUR LIVING ROOM
Well, folks, it's been over a week since Disney Parks closed, which means one thing: We are desperate. There are no more frozen Mickey Rice Krispies in the freezer, our sequined ears are getting dusty, and even dopes like me are melting semi-expired pantry items to try and recreate Epcot eats.
So, what are some die-hard fans to do without the magic of Sleeping Beauty castle, the delightful swirl of Dole Whip, or that sweet, stale smell of Pirates of the Caribbean water while the parks are closed? Recreate it all at home, of course!
These aren’t some rinky-dink creations, either — fans went all-out to make their ride recreations as real as possible, snowballing toward a viral trend of people making their own “attractions” while self-quarantined inside their homes.
Yes, #homemadedisney lets you spend a day in the Happiest Place on Earth without ever having to deal with the parking garage, pay admission, or panic about being unable to quickly eyeball what 6 feet of distance is any time you leave the house.
Fans were off to the races both before and after that one popped. There’s Splash Mountain, a digital Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and even an unbelievably teeny-tiny rendition of the Main Street Electrical Parade (RIP). There’s even one for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, a ride tucked so far inside Disneyland that even paying guests don’t usually make it that way.
@Brookie_Disney followed up her family’s at-home Pirates with a take on Haunted Mansion, featuring a clutch assortment of Halloween props that came in handy:
(The ballroom sequence!)
Still, we can't help but keep coming back to Jess Siswick's creations. Her spin on the Pirates video — an edited version with her "at" Disneyland's Blue Bayou restaurant, like a pandemic version of a response track — was only outdone by this Indiana Jones Adventure recreation, which from the line lanyard to boulder roll is spot-on:
From that to the hand-drawn stretch room portraits and adorable lap bar of her Haunted Mansion re-do — the Walt Disney World version, of course, right down to its light-up MagicBand scanner — everything here scratches that when-can-we-go-to-Disney-again itch:
#HomemadeDisney has inspired so many home creations that she even crafted a sizzle reel for them, done in the style of a Disney Parks commercial.
Looking for more? Don't miss the Festival of Fantasy parade, a visit to Oga’s Cantina at Galaxy’s Edge, Magic Kingdom’s nighttime entertainment, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, or a spin on Frozen Ever After, all without having to wait for a Disney World bus.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Walt Disney World feels so far away that I’m missing my least-favorite ride spiel! This post is, uh, perfect.
THE GOOD OL' DAYS
Since we're all trapped inside and not putzing around on Main Street, USA, I've been collecting suggestions for vintage Disney videos and special little looks to keep us all preoccupied until those gates re-open again. Consider this watchlist a replacement for this week's links section, but with deep cuts of rad Disney Parks looks from your youth and beyond:
- Peep the Virtual Magic Kingdom livestream to pretend the parks are still bustling (in a good way!) via @Meske
- Watch the Walt Disney World opening day special, a glorious 20 minute hit of nostalgia set against a fake audience to feel, just a little bit, like you're watching it in a movie theatre. via @AliciaStella and Defunctland
- Parse through Yesterland's wonderful archives of since-shuttered rides, restaurants and shops in Disney Parks to remind you that this break will also soon be a memory.
- Watch Defunctland's video on Mickey Mouse Park, which was the first iteration for what would eventually become Disneyland.
- Tuck in for The Sweatbox, the hidden-away documentary of the making of The Emperor's New Groove that's been on my must-see watch for years and will finally be conquered this week.
- View the original Disneyland After Dark specials, which are absolutely phenomenal.