Bringing you all of the news from the Disney company that you need to know to start your week for Monday March 29th, 2021:
Follow your host Sean Nyberg on his Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram at @SeanNyberg
Don't forget to follow our The DisInsider Facebook page, or find us on Twitter and Instagram at @theDisInsider and of course, for all the breaking news, at www.TheDisInsider.com
Hello there, this is Sean Nyberg and this podcast is being recorded on the evening of Sunday, March 28th, 2021. Alright, let’s dive into the news.
Let me start by saying that The Disney Beat podcast will be off for the next two weeks, my fiancé and I are going on an extended vacation down to Walt Disney World, which will pull me away from the podcasting studio. We have both been fully vaccinated and are very excited to be able to get away for a bit.
However, you can follow our entire trip over on my social media pages, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, at SeanNyberg, all one word. Also, I will be vlogging the trip on my YouTube channel, SeanNyberg.
We have visited Disneyland around 50 times over the years, but this will be the first time either one of us will have visited Walt Disney World. We are staying on property at the Yacht Club and spending a week at the Walt Disney World Parks and will be spending one day at Universal Orlando.
So there will not be a Disney Beat podcast episode for the next two weeks, but please follow my other accounts to get all the videos and photos throughout our vacation.
Okay, NOW, it is time to dive into the news, and WOW, is this another huge week for Disney Parks news.
Aside from the breaking news that hottie Disney reporter Sean Nyberg will be visiting Walt Disney World, we also got some huge announcements from the company.
The biggest story dropped out of nowhere a couple days ago, and this was the public announcement of DisneylandForward, Disneyland’s public persuasion campaign to convince the city of Anaheim to let Disney amend zoning restrictions that would allow Disneyland to expand it’s two theme parks, shopping, retail, and live entertainment districts. Disney is not seeking to acquire new land, they are not seeking public funds, nor are they asking for any tax credits, they are simply seeking changes to the zoning restrictions for the land they currently own.
So, let’s break this down. Here is the deal. Back in the 90s when Disney expanded Disneyland to add the second gate, Disney California Adventure, the company and the city came to an agreement and zoned out use permits for the land. While the specifics are not public, it is very clear that the plans permitted a certain amount of space for theme parks, parking lots, retail, hotels, and dining. This worked fine for Disney at the time, however, Disney wants to grow in California and since they are boxed in by neighborhoods and other businesses, they have to grow within their borders, instead of just building out. This means that the previous restrictions need to be revised to allow for this. What Disneyland wants is to have more freedom with the use of their land. Blend the elements that the previous agreement held separate. Over the past decade the way theme parks are designed and operated have changed dramatically. You see it in Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge and Universal’s Harry Potter lands. The lands have become part of the attraction and the lines between rides, lands, and themed entertainment has really blurred. This trend is only going to continue, so antiquated zoning restrictions is not conducive for this kind of growth. Also, and this is the bigger issue, Disney wants to transform these surface parking structures for something that makes them more money. Sure, parking is expensive, but they make more money if that space was used for retail, dining, and attractions. The previous agreement dictated that certain areas were designated as parking structures and Disney wants to change this. While it sounds great to a Disney fan, there is some understandable push back from the community. If you look at a map of Disneyland, the area to the west of the park is primarily parking and two hotels. These actually act as a buffer between the hustle and bustle of the theme park and the neighboring residential communities. So, if Disney were to replace these parking areas with loud rides, screaming guests, and music, then it could greatly affect the residents of those communities.
This is just one of a long list of issues that the city of Anaheim will have to take into consideration. Disney is one of the greatest entertainment company in the world and they have the greatest marketing department around, so it is no wonder that the DisneylandForward presentation released this week is super effective. Diehard and passive fans alike would take one look at it and think, “this makes complete sense, why aren’t they building this right now!?”
It is like hearing the opening statement from one lawyer in court and not hearing the opening statement of the other.
Personally, I think this is a fabulous idea and I hope Disney eventually gets the green light, I am aware that there are legitimate concerns from neighboring businesses and citizens.
However, the elephant in the room, besides Dumbo, is the pandemic and what it did to Anaheim this last year. Covid-19 destroyed Anaheim’s economy and this could really work in Disney’s favor. While Disney’s theme parks were rattled this last year, the company is doing better than ever, but the city of Anaheim was hit extremely hard. Disneyland’s closure for the past year has caused many nearby businesses to shut down, as the 19+ million annual visitors were nowhere to be seen. Small hotels, restaurants, and shops are either barely holding on or are gone. These businesses are often the ones that push back against Disney in these fights with Anaheim. But they are wounded and the reality that Disneyland is the lifeblood of the entire community has been shoved in everyone’s face this last year. This gives Disney a huge advantage for the battles that lay ahead for this expansion. We will be watching all of this closely.
It would be a huge understatement to say that this news caught the Disney Parks news and fan community off guard. Disneyland is notoriously short on space and most fans and news sites have long abandoned any real expansion aside from upgrades to current rides. No one anticipated this and most people were holding their breath to see if Disneyland would meet its April 30th reopening date. It appears that Disneyland in Anaheim California not only survived the pandemic, but is ready to spread its wings over the next decade.
Another HUGE announcement came out this week, this time from Disney’s movie studio division. Disney announced changes to a number of their upcoming theatrical releases, including some release date changes and a few of them coming to Disney+ instead.
Over the last few weeks the months-long sharp decline in new Covid-19 cases in the United States has started to level out, and in some areas, it has actually started to reverse and cases are ticking back up. Not just that, but in many huge markets in Europe, cases have been skyrocketing and a fourth surge is fully underway. This is something that Disney is watching carefully because there is starting to become a real logjam when it comes to big films being released, not just by Disney, but with all of the studios. They need to get some of these films out and they can’t wait another four months. So they chose a number of different strategies for these upcoming titles, here are the changes:
Obviously, these are all subject to change. But, I imagine that the date and method of release for Luca, Cruella, and Black Widow are fairly certain at this point.
There were a number of cast and crew announcements made this week, including:
I want to remind you to please visit TheDisInsider.com to see a number of features that were not discussed in this episode. Over there you can see the official trailer for the upcoming High School basketball series Big Shot coming to Disney plus, a new featurette for The Falcon and the Winter Solider, and an exclusive interview with comedian an actress Cristela Alonzo, all of this and more over at TheDisInsider.com - Go check them out.
Finally, One of the hardest hit businesses over the past year has been the cruise industry. They bore the brunt of brutal headlines in the early days of the pandemic and government mandated safety guidelines for reopening are so extensive that the industry’s grand return will be more incremental, rather than a singular event.
The Disney Cruise Line begins this incremental process by launching a ‘staycation’ sailing event for the Disney Magic at Sea, sailing from UK ports this summer. The event will see primarily two to three night voyages, with some limited four night sailings. These will be round trips from London Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southhampton.
The ships will not be making any stops to allow guests to leave and explore any port cities, rather, the entire trip will take place on the ships. Disney’s cruise ships feature Disney characters, Broadway caliber shows, family pools, waterslides, live entertainment, and fine-dining.
The Disney Magic at Sea staycation is awaiting authorization from UK authorities, once approved the packages will go on sale in April for summer 2021 trips.
On behalf of myself and those of us here at the Disney Beat, along with the DisInsider, we wish everyone good health and prosperity.
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Remember that there will be no Disney Beat podcast for the next two weeks because I will be down in Walt Disney World, but I will be documenting the entire trip on my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @SeanNyberg all one word, as well as my YouTube channel, @SeanNyberg. Go check those out, they will be full of Walt Disney World content for the next two weeks.
Just a reminder that I also cohost the Disney podcast Walts Apartment, that comes out every Thursday and the Disney Parks themed podcast Extra Magic Hour which is released every other Friday. So check those out.
Thank you again for listening and I will see you here again next week for another edition of The Disney Beat podcast, my name is Sean Nyberg. Have a fantastic week!