When Disney officials announced that Disney Springs would re-open in phases, I wasn’t sure how long and spread out each phase would be. Now, we have entered the second phase in which some Disney owned and operated locations have reopened – the biggest of which is the massive World of Disney store. This new phase brings a surge of Disney energy back into Disney Springs. A member of our field research team ventured there to scope out what was open and what it is like to visit Disney Springs during this next reopening phase.
Virtual Queue for World of Disney and Marketplace Co-op
Most likely this will not be the case long term, but at the moment guests wanting to enter World of Disney or Marketplace Co-op need to enter a “Virtual Queue.” What that means is that you check in with a Cast Member at the entrance to the store, providing your phone number, and they will text you when it is your turn to enter the store. This is similar to the system that is used for waiting for a table at many full-service restaurants at Walt Disney World. The challenge is that the communication about this from Disney to its guests has not been that great. This resulted in lots of folks crowding around the entrance, unaware of what to do. Our field team counted 359 people in line for the virtual queue, as in to get their name into the system, at World of Disney around 10:45 a.m. on reopening day. I am hopeful that this is purely because of reopening day hype.
Other Disney Owned Locations Remain Closed at Disney Springs
Many of the smaller venues that are owned and operated by Disney have not yet reopened. Places like Candy Cauldron and Disney Style at West Side remain closed. We can theorize multiple reasons for this including staffing, the size of the venue, and overall demand each particular retail location not warranting the cost it would take to have it open at the moment. Reopening stores in phases does allow Disney and their hardworking Cast Members to get used to the new procedures before expanding the locations. To our field research team’s deep dismay Amorette’s Patisserie and The Ganachery also remain closed.
Exit Only Doors at Many Locations
To help with social distancing and crowd flow, many location have designated entrance doors and exit only doors. It is interesting to see the signs in place. One has to imagine that this may get difficult to manage if Disney Springs becomes busier over the summer once the theme parks reopen.
Additional Changes at Disney Springs
Required face coverings and temperature scans do remain in place, and will for quite some time. Additional changes to Disney Springs include the elimination of paper guide maps. The brochure stands were removed from the entrances to Disney Springs. The LEGO Store is another location that reopened this week, but the interactive play area remains closed – no surprise there. The Disney Food Trucks were removed from the West Side – goodbye cookie dough food truck, we barely knew thee.
With all this reduction in offerings at Disney Springs there was one surprising addition: Stormtroopers. These Stormtroopers stood on a balcony in the Town Center, above Ever After Jewelry, with First Order banners draped beneath them. Their addition surprised me immensely. Turns out they are their to provide an entertaining way to get social distancing messaging across. Perhaps they are also a test for how to incorporate this type of entertainment and messaging into the theme parks when they reopen.
Our field research team, having visited Disney Springs a few times now, recommends bringing multiple face coverings or masks if you plan to be at Disney Springs long, to help with the heat, rain, and humidity. We also encourage you to be prepared for adjustments in procedures at the situation progresses. We will keep you posted with updates to our TouringPlans blog and social media channels.
As mentioned, it seems Disney could have done a better job communicating the virtual queue process for its big merchandise stores. Other than that, things seem to be going fairly smoothly at Disney Springs, all things considered. Will you visit Disney Springs anytime soon? Let us know in the comments.