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One year today since the Port Orleans resorts closed due to COVID

Posted Saturday 20th March 2021, 8:21am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

One year ago today, Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside and Port Orleans Resort French Quarter were shut down due to the spread of COVID-19. All of the Walt Disney World theme parks closed on Monday 16th March 2020, and the Resort hotels followed a few days later at 5pm on Friday 20th March to allow guests enough time to make arrangements to return home. At the time, Disney indicated that these closures would last "at least" a month - although I thought the reality would be considerably longer than that (News Item). However not even at my most pessimistic did I think that a year later we'd still be in the same situation.

The theme parks tentatively started to reopen - albeit with a lot of restrictions - from 11th July 2020, and some of the resort hotels (especially the DVC Resorts) saw phased reopenings around the same time and over the following months. Many of the hotels are still closed though, some with no indication at all of when that situation may change. All Star Movies is due to reopen next week, with the Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge following in May and June respectively. The Polynesian is set for a mid-summer reopening after a refurbishment program. However there is no reopening information at all about Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter, All Star Sports & Music, Animal Kingdom Lodge or the Boardwalk.

Sadly, until travel restrictions start to be lifted - which will rely on widespread uptake of the vaccination programme - it seems unlikely that Disney will find itself requiring the extra room capacity any time soon. Let's hope April's expected announcements might provide some good news as Disney ramps up plans for the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World in October 1971. For any further updates, please keep an eye on our COVID News Page.

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Merry Christmas 2020

Posted Friday 25th December 2020, 8:47am (EST) by Admin

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Well it's that time of year again, but what a different year it has been! From March, everyone's carefully laid plans were in tatters, theme parks and resorts had been shuttered, and tens of thousands of dedicated cast members were to lose their jobs before the end of the year. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this horrible year, and especially to all my friends at Port Orleans.

Let's hope that 2021 will offer us a glimmer of hope for a return to something at least close to normality. My own plans for visiting from the UK in 2020 were completely cancelled, but maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to return to strolling along the banks of the Sassagoula River again before 2021 is out.

I wish everyone as Merry a Christmas as is possible under the current circumstances, and let's hope and pray for a better New Year.

--- Andre

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Massive Layoffs announced at Disney, including "Ye Haa" Bob Jackson

Posted Tuesday 29th September 2020, 8:17pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Disney have just announced that they are laying off a massive 28,000 cast members across their Florida and California sites, most of whom had previously been furloughed. Presumably with the end of their financial year tomorrow, Disney had to make some tough decisions based on predicted forthcoming attendance and revenue, neither of which would appear to be picking up any time soon.

Sadly, this awful news includes the loss of Riverside's own "Ya Haa" Bob Jackson, who has been the hugely popular permanent entertainer at the River Roost Lounge for 23 years. Bob just posted on his Facebook page:

And that's how it ends, not with a bang but with a whimper. I've just learned my act will not be returning to Disney. I made so many friends over the last 23 years, it was a great time, we had a lot of laughs together. I'll be continuing my Sunday shows for now. I'll keep you posted, I'm still digesting all of this-


Bob is still planning on continuing a virtual show at 6pm on Sunday via his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yehaabob) but whether that will be as his Disney "Ye Haa" Bob persona or as Bob Jackson, pianist and signer, I don't know. See you there on Sunday anyway.

Since COVID hit, like many other entertainers, Bob has had no regular work beyond his weekly online shows to help keep everyone entertained and a few local church gigs. I'd like to suggest that if you ever saw one of Bob's shows and it made a difference to your vacation - which must be almost all of us here - now would be a good time to send him your thanks and support by popping a few dollars into his 'virtual tip-jar' at www.paypal.com/paypalme/BobJackson512. I know I'm going to anyway.

Such a terribly sad day. I wish Bob all the best for the future; he has been the heart and soul of Riverside for 23 years and whenever it eventually re-opens the place just won't be the same without his infectious, tirelessly energetic performances. Good luck Bob, you will be sorely missed at Port Orleans - and your hair still looks great.

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Walt Disney World releases 2021 resort hotel availability and prices - but not Port Orleans

Posted Wednesday 24th June 2020, 1:00pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Every day seems to bring new announcements from Walt Disney World about their post COVID-19 reopening plans. Today however we saw a somewhat more normal annual event: the release of the Resort hotel rack rates and booking availability for the forthcoming calendar year. Sadly, today's release has come as yet another blow to Port Orleans fans as neither Port Orleans Riverside nor Port Orleans French Quarter show any availability at all for 2021. The same goes for the All Star resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge.

None of these resorts have as yet been given any reopening dates, and currently the last confirmed date is Coronado Springs reopening on 14 October. Whether this means that Disney is just not releasing any booking availability until they have announced confirmed reopening dates, or if they genuinely do not expect some or all of these resorts to reopen for perhaps another 12 months, is unclear at the moment.

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New theme park daily reservation system commences on the My Disney Experience website on 22 June

Posted Monday 22nd June 2020, 7:00am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Disney's new park-entry reservation system - allowing guests to choose admission to just one theme park per day - opens online on the My Disney Experience website (not the app) at 7am EDT on 22 June. Initially this will be for guests with existing Disney Resort hotel bookings, as long as they also have valid park admission passes linked to their account. [Update: it broke, many guests had to wait a few hours or more to get in]

On 26 June, Annual Passholders without hotel reservations will be able to start booking daily park admissions - but there is a limit of three booked dates to be held at any one time.

On 28 June, all other off-site guests with any other ticket type will be able to make reservations.

All of these bookings are subject to availability and the currently limited park capacities, and sadly we can expect some sort of reservation system to remain in place for the foreseeable future — perhaps even until September 2021.

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