This morning was the annual Shareholder meeting for the Walt Disney Company. Lots of things were discussed in the hour-long call including updates on attraction and parks opening, Disney+ updates, movie updates, and of course, the always entertaining questions.
Here are some of the highlights:
Bob Iger started off the meeting, reminding everybody that this will be his last Annual Shareholders meeting and he will depart the Walt Disney Company on December 31, 2021.
Up next was the boring part where shareholder proposals were rejected (including a proposal that would have put a Disney CM on the board, because how could you (apparently)).
Then came Disney CEO Bob Chapek with some pretty big announcements.
First that Disney+ now has over 100 million subscribers (wow).
This is pretty amazing considering how new the streaming platform still is, even with the success of The Mandalorian, WandaVision and a few other franchises. Also amazing considering that most people who had Free Trials for the first year have now had those run out.
For those who have Hulu and are also fans of ESPN, it was announced that ESPN+ could now be accessed from the Hulu app beginning tomorrow (March 10th).
In movie news, Black Widow is still heading to theaters on May 7th. But don't expect a simultaneous release on Disney+ premiere, doesn't look like it's going to happen. So sadly, for those of us who may not be quite ready to head to the theater by May, we're going to have to wait a bit. This will probably be the first Marvel movie many of us miss seeing in the theater. But you can see the strategy here I guess.
Next up came the parks portion of the meeting.
First up was the announcement that the California Parks will open sometime in late April. This makes sense considering how long the parks have been closed, having to bring back unionized Cast Members, re-hiring processes, training and of course all of the other logistics that go into restarting a park that has been closed for a year.
Rest assured though, the park attractions have been running through all of this so at least they don't just have to clear off the cobwebs from all the attractions not named Haunted Mansion.
In a bit of a shocker Bob Chapek also announced an opening date for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, October 1st.
While at first glance this may not make sense, upon taking a deeper dive into the strategy here, it kind of does. There is already a LOT of demand for the parks in FL. They are slowly moving to get back to "normal" park operations over the next few months, and throwing a new attraction into the mix just would be another added thing in addition to the million other things going on.
Still, we'd be shocked if we don't see soft openings happen this summer, probably for an extended time period.
On that same subject, Avengers Campus which was originally supposed to open in the Summer of 2020 is also scheduled to open at some point this year. No specific date was given but I wouldn't anticipate this opening in late April when Disney California Adventure opens or even in the weeks or months following.
Again, pent up demand + lowered capacity limit given the California guidelines for opening parks pretty much means it's not necessary at this point. Best to do it right when you can have a proper opening.
For the international parks, Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea will open in 2023 and in Disney Cruise Line news the Disney Wish will have it's first sailing in 2022.
Speaking of the Disney Cruise Line, they are obviously wanting to get it back up and running and sailings could resume this fall depending on a variety of factors, including Vaccinations. Something other cruise lines have emphasized as well. It looks like the entire industry is on the same page on this one.
Next came the questions and answers portion, which are always wildly entertaining, and out there.
One of the questions was regarding Gina Carano to which Chapek gave the following answer: “I don’t really see Disney as characterizing itself as left-leaning or right-leaning, yet instead of standing for values, values that are universal, values of respect, values of decency, values of integrity and values of inclusion.”
For some reason that we always fail to understand, Bob Chapek gets a lot of hate from Disney fans. But this answer was absolutely perfect.
In the "somebody really asked this" category, somebody asked the CEO of a major corporation if he was going to fire the head of one of their most lucrative divisions during a Shareholders meeting. That's Disney for you.
His response when asked if hew as going to fire Kathleen Kennedy "We look forward to having Kathy Kennedy run our Lucasfilm operations for years to come".
This years meeting was definitely shorter than years past, but a lot of great information was shared.
Once again, it's great to see things being talked about "opening" vs the other way around.
Grand Opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT Set for Oct. 1, 2021, in Honor of Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary
‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration’ will also include opening of La Crêperie de Paris as part of newly expanded France pavilion
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (March 9, 2021) – During today’s virtual annual meeting of shareholders of The Walt Disney Company, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT will be Oct. 1, 2021. This new family-friendly attraction will officially debut as part of the kickoff for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure invites guests into the flavorful world of Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award®-winning “Ratatouille,” where they will feel as if they shrink to the size of Chef Remy and scurry through Gusteau’s famous restaurant. Guests will find Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in a newly expanded area of the park’s France pavilion, where the real is made fantastic in a reimagining of Paris inspired by the film.
Also debuting Oct. 1 in this section of the pavilion will be a delicious new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options. The menu will feature sweet crepes, savory buckwheat galettes (naturally gluten friendly) and authentic French hard cider. The attraction, restaurant and pavilion expansion are all part of the historic transformation of EPCOT currently underway, bringing a breadth of new experiences to the park in a celebration of curiosity, discovery and the magic of possibility.
“The World’s Most Magical Celebration” begins Oct. 1 on the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. This 18-month event will feature new experiences at the resort’s four theme parks and beyond, where shimmering EARidescent décor will appear as if by magic. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and La Crêperie de Paris will now join in the festivities for this landmark occasion; more details about the celebration will be announced in the future.
For more on the transformation of EPCOT and “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” visit WDWNews.com and DisneyParksBlog.com.
Disneyland Resort Introduces A Touch of Disney, a New, Limited-Capacity Ticketed Experience at Disney California Adventure Park
Disneyland Resort Introduces A Touch of Disney, a New, Limited-Capacity Ticketed Experience at Disney California Adventure Park Beginning March 18
Feb. 24, 2021 (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – It’s time to experience some of the sights, sounds and flavors of the Disneyland Resort with A Touch of Disney, a new, limited-capacity ticketed experience that begins March 18, 2021, at Disney California Adventure Park. A Touch of Disney offers some of the world-famous food and drinks from around the Disneyland Resort, plus a chance to see Disney characters, shop for the latest Disney merchandise and pop in at unique photo locations.
Like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, food and fun go hand in hand, and guests are in for a treat once again with churros, DOLE Whips®, the mouth-watering Monte Cristo sandwich plus new items to discover. Disney California Adventure is well known for its creative, photo-worthy cuisine and that means guests can expect special treats, plant-based menu items and new twists on classic favorites from around the Resort.
While guests will recognize the magical Disney environment the moment they step into the park, A Touch of Disney is different from a traditional visit to the Disneyland Resort theme parks. Along with Disney cuisine, guests may catch a wave from Mickey Mouse and his pals, and they’ll hear a specially curated soundtrack of reimagined Disney songs. The soundtrack will be broadcast throughout the park, setting the stage for A Touch of Disney as a radio announcer shares jingles and reminders about many can’t-miss experiences.
A Touch of Disney creates a memorable guest experience with a distinctive value. The introductory $75 ticket* includes admission, parking for the experience at Mickey & Friends parking structure, unlimited downloads of Disney PhotoPass** photos taken during the day of the experience, and a $25 A Touch of Disney dining card valid towards the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages (subject to restrictions including not being valid for alcohol).
Beginning March 4, guests will be able to purchase a ticket for A Touch of Disney for select days from March 18 through April 5, 2021. Tickets for this experience will then be released for dates on a rolling basis until the experience ends. Tickets must be purchased in advance and online at Disneyland.com for a specific date (subject to availability). Ticket prices are subject to change.
This limited-capacity experience will be offered Thursdays through Mondays, from noon to 8 pm. Attractions remain closed for now.
Close to 1,000 cast members will return to work as a result of this experience, plus the recent reopening of outdoor dining on Buena Vista Street.
Disneyland Resort Legacy Passholders will enjoy a special opportunity at A Touch of Disney, with details to come on the Disneyland Legacy Passholder Facebook page.
Classic favorites and creative cuisine
A Touch of Disney offers a selection of iconic food and beverage items from both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, from the world-famous DOLE Whip® to the classic Monte Cristo sandwich that is usually found in New Orleans Square. Many items will be served snack-sized, ideal for enjoying a variety of bites and sips from mid-day through the evening. Guests will find these favorites at locations around the park, including six seasonal and creatively themed marketplaces.
For something savory, guests can’t go wrong with lobster nachos, torta de papas street tacos, or an item that’s usually found at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar: sweet and spicy chicken wings. On the sweeter side, guests might choose a specialty churro or the new carrot cake funnel cake fries. Many kid-friendly menu items also will be available, like the Chieftain chicken skewer imported from Bengal Barbecue, the PB & J roll from Lamplight Lounge and the “Route” beer float in Cars Land.
Beginning March 11, table reservations for Lamplight Lounge and Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining will be made available for A Touch of Disney. Table reservations do not provide admission to A Touch of Disney and dining at those locations requires A Touch of Disney ticket that is valid on the same day as the table reservation. Reservations are recommended, and additional details are coming soon.
Guests may enjoy wine, craft beer and specialty cocktails, along with non-alcoholic beverages, at select marketplaces or dining locations. The Sequel is a favorite at Lamplight Lounge, and the Ginger Rogers is found at Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining.***
For added convenience and contactless payment, guests can take advantage of mobile food ordering on the Disneyland mobile app.**** Mobile order makes it easy to schedule when guests want to pick up favorite treats from the marketplaces, or from select participating locations inside the park such as Smokejumpers Grill, Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats, Award Wieners and Cocina Cucamonga. Placing a mobile order on the Disneyland App does not provide access to A Touch of Disney. Only guests with A Touch of Disney ticket valid for the date selected will be permitted to enter the experience.
Wave hello to Disney and Pixar characters
Once again, it’s time to wave hello to some favorite Disney and Pixar characters inside Disney California Adventure. As guests stroll through the park, they may see Mater and Lightning McQueen in Cars Land or Joy and Sadness at Pixar Pier. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are part of the magic, too, and you might be surprised as some of their fun-loving pals show up in unexpected settings.
In addition, guests will discover unique, new photo spots, and some will be available only to guests who attend A Touch of Disney. For example, they may get to pose for a photo in front of a Pixar Play Parade float, or with one of the colorful convertibles from Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, near Casa della Tires in Cars Land.
Disney PhotoPass photographers will be at select locations throughout the theme park to help guests create new memories at Disney California Adventure during its 20th anniversary year. Unlimited downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the day of the experience are included with admission.
Shopping from Buena Vista Street to Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff
Select retail locations also will be open, selling the latest apparel, accessories, souvenirs and even Disney Parks Designer Collection ears. Guests will enjoy popping in and out of the shops along Buena Vista Street, where the animator’s studio in Off the Page invites guests to peruse its selection of imaginative keepsakes. One of the newest retail trends are Disney NuiMOs, miniature character plush that can strike a pose in adorable mix and match styles. Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff, the whimsical merchandise and confectionery shop at Pixar Pier, offers a scrumptious selection of treats including specially themed candy apples.
Outdoor carts will carry Disney treasures, too, including themed balloons that have become a must-have for many guests.
Downtown Disney District remains open seven days a week
Downtown Disney District will remain open seven days a week with unique shopping and dining that includes Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Naples Ristorante e Bar and LaBrea Bakery. Star WarsTrading Post recently opened in a new location as a destination for all things Star Wars. Guests are advised to check Disneyland.com or the Disneyland app for hours and details at Downtown Disney District.
Buena Vista Street will remain open as an extension of Downtown Disney District through March 14, and will be closed as of March 15. Beginning March 18, Buena Vista Street will become part of A Touch of Disney.
Health and safety measures designed for a magical Disney experience
With the health and safety of everyone in mind, A Touch of Disney will operate with limited capacity and enhanced health and safety measures in place based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies.
Guests may visit Disneyland.com/ATouchofDisney to learn important details about the experience and about health and safety measures prior to arrival, such as the requirement for temperature checks and for all guests, ages 2 and older, to wear an appropriate face covering. Guests will find everything they need to know before they go!
* Tickets are required for all guests ages 3 and up, and prices are subject to change. Tickets for the experience will not be available at the Resort, are non-refundable, and may not be resold or transferred for commercial use. The number of tickets available are limited and no discounts apply. Each guest may purchase up to eight tickets. Experience elements and information including, but not limited to, offerings, menu items, merchandise, and services, are subject to restrictions, change or cancellation without notice. No refunds given for any such changes or cancellations whether due to inclement weather or otherwise.
** Disney PhotoPass is subject to the Disney PhotoPass terms and conditions. Online registration is required.
***Guests must be age 21 or older to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Limit 2 alcoholic beverages per Guest per transaction. A valid form of government identification will be required to verify age. A Touch of Disney dining card will not be valid towards the purchase alcohol.
****Message, data and roaming rates may apply. Availability subject to handset limitations and features may vary by handset or service provider. Coverage and app stores not available everywhere. If you’re under 18, get your parents’ permission first.
DOLE WHIP is a trademark of Dole Food Company, Inc. Used with permission.