In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Tokyo Disneyland is temporarily closing down.
  • The Jungle Cruise is going under.
  • And more!

disney ceo

Let’s say you’re Bob Chapek. Hey, congratulations! You just became the CEO of the Walt Disney Company! Good for you, dude. I’m glad you’re spending part of your first week at the top of one of the biggest companies in the entire world by reading the latest edition of Theme Park Bits. It’s a wise move, and much appreciated. Now, for the rest of you, whatever changes are coming to Bob Chapek’s world, he’s no slouch to the Disney theme parks, having overseen them for the last few years in his previous role. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, Bob’s first week as CEO has been marked by some very rough stories. First, in a situation that has only grown more disquieting with each passing day, the Oriental Land Company is pursuing an extreme-measures route and closing down the Tokyo Disneyland Resort from February 29 to March 15 as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. Though it originated in China, the virus continues to be quite virulent around the globe, and this is, if nothing else, an attempt to stop a further outbreak in a massively crowded area. Both Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland have been closed since late January, and there’s little sign of them reopening anytime soon. At this point, you have to start wondering: will Disney pursue a similar route with its Parisian or American parks?

jungle cruise set

That story broke late on the Thursday night after Chapek became CEO. No doubt earlier that day, he was dealing with another fire at the theme parks, or at least the aftermath of said fire. Which is odd, since this is all about water. As you know, the eighth wonder of the world is the backside of water, but what would you say to just standing in some water? That, oddly enough, is what happened to some guests on the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, when…their boat flooded. Yes, really. The good news is that everyone was safe, and no serious harm was done. This might be a sign that the Jungle Cruise may need some serious TLC, though. Such TLC might cost money, but better that than more headlines about how your rides are drowning people.

Rendering of part of Spaceship Earth

Pretty soon, Disney will be implementing some serious TLC on one of its most iconic attractions. Still in Walt Disney World, but we’re heading to Epcot for this story. The long-promised renovation of Spaceship Earth, the park’s flagship landmark, will begin on May 26. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, does that mean Spaceship Earth is going to be closed?” Yes, but according to that post, only “for a time”. (I have no insider information, but I would plan on that “time” being an awfully long one. Don’t hold your breath for it to return anytime soon.) For now, you can see above a reimagined version of the Egyptian section of the ride, and wonder exactly how long it’ll be for us to travel on the wonderful Spaceship Earth again.

“Vacation Fun" logo

The arrival of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is fast approaching at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it’s not the only new option for guests. As mentioned in the past here, you’ll also get the chance to see some of the modern Mickey Mouse shorts in a location appropriately called Mickey Shorts Theater. The marquee attraction there will be Vacation Fun, an all-new short that is exclusive to that theater. The description here makes it sound a little like a protracted clip show, combining moments from past shorts set in different parts of the world. But it’s still undeniably true that you’ll only be able to watch whatever Vacation Fun is in Orlando, and only there. So the rest of us just have to be jealous.

The Food and Wine Festival has begun in full swing at Disney California Adventure, and that can only mean one thing for this column: a brand-new foodie guide. The photo above, which highlights some unique alcoholic beverages and food like a Brunch-Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich with OJ Bubbles (yes, please), is just one virtual taste you’ll get of the overall guide. The festival runs through April 21, and from having attended before (admittedly, back in 2010, at a time when Disney California Adventure had a totally different identity as a theme park), I can tell you that you’ll want to make time for the events and offerings. The OJ bubbles alone should entice you.

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