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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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Disney announces re-opening dates for more resort hotels, but not Port Orleans

Posted Sunday 21st June 2020, 1:00pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Walt Disney World has announced their forthcoming re-opening plans for more Resort Hotels, but sadly it's not good news for Port Orleans fans. It was already known that the Fort Wilderness campground and the majority of the DVC Villas were due to open on 22 June, and now Pop Century and the Contemporary have been added for 10 July which coincides with the first theme park openings.

A number of other resorts now have staggered dates from then through to 14 October, presumably based on how levels of demand are expected to gradually increase. However the two Port Orleans resorts, the All Star resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge do not have any reopening dates listed as yet, indicating that at this stage Disney do not expect to reopen them before Halloween at the earliest, and potentially into next year.

Guests with existing bookings for Port Orleans and the other currently-closed locations who still wish to continue with their planned visit to Walt Disney World will be relocated to other hotels, either at the same price level or as a free upgrade depending on availability.

Opening on 22 June:
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

July 10: Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Contemporary Resort
July 29: Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
August 12: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and Disney's Art of Animation Resort
August 24: Disney's Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort
September 21: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
October 1: Disney's BoardWalk Inn
October 14: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

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Disney submits proposals for gradual re-opening of Walt Disney World

Posted Thursday 28th May 2020, 9:06am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

On 27 May 2020, Disney submitted its proposals to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force for a gradual re-opening of the Walt Disney World theme parks. The intention is to reopen the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on 11 July, and Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios on 15 July.

There will be a lot of initial restrictions though, such as requirement for pre-booked entry slots for guests with existing bookings and for annual passholders, and a temporary block on any new bookings or ticket sales. The My Disney Experience app/website is not accepting any new reservations for FastPasses, ADRs, or imminent hotel bookings. There will also be many social distancing policies introduced, including no close-crowd generating activities such as fireworks, parades and character greetings. Face coverings will be required for cast members and all guests over 3 years old.

There is less detail on the hotels, but it looks as though they will be reopening in phases. starting with Fort Wilderness on 22 June.

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For more information, see the Disney Parks Blog update.

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