Over the past few months, many things have reopened throughout Disney World. But select things remain closed or you might unexpectedly find that popular merchandise items are out of stock or otherwise unavailable.
We’ve seen supply chain issues impact everything from cream cheese to lightsabers. Now we’re seeing some more locations closed or unavailable. Today we’re sharing an explanation for why this might be happening and what you should expect during your upcoming Disney trips.
What We’re Seeing
Alright, so just what is going on in Disney World that you might want to be prepared for? Well, over the past few days we’ve seen various places unexpectedly closed or opening surprisingly late in Disney World.
Truthfully, this is something we started seeing back in June of 2021. At that time, we noticed that the Jardin de Fiestas booth at the 2021 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival was closed off and on. At the time, we were told that the temporary closures were due to staffing issues.
During that same period of time we also noticed that L’Artisan de Glaces in EPCOT’s France pavilion had been closed for several days, though Cast Members did not know why. Note: recently this spot has been open.
More recently, we’ve seen a number of spots unexpectedly closed in the parks and beyond. In early January of 2022, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we noticed that an ice cream cart near the Animation Courtyard area was still closed at the time we visited. We were there around 11AM ET.
We spoke with a Cast Member in the park who confirmed that the cart would have normally been open by that time. Though they weren’t sure why the cart was still closed, they guessed that it might be due to staffing issues.
Also in Hollywood Studios, we’ve noticed that the Joffrey’s Coffee location near The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror had a late start 2 days in a row. On January 6th, we were there around 9:10AM and they were still getting ready to open.
At Disney Springs we also noticed that the Jo Malone London store had a sign on its door indicating that they were temporarily closed. We spoke to some Cast Members/employees at Disney Springs who indicated that, because of COVID-19, there have been some issues with staffing.
The Cast Members shared that these issues have caused the normal hours of operation to change at certain stores. During our time at Disney Springs, we saw that Jo Malone was able to open back up, but we noticed that spots like Sperry and Mac were still closed (at least during the time of our visit).
In Magic Kingdom, we recently stopped by Cheshire Cafe and noticed that this spot was also closed. This spot can open/close seasonally at times so perhaps its closure is no giant surprise, but it had been open more recently so the closure was quite sudden. It is supposed to get a new 50th Anniversary slush soon, so we expect it will reopen at that time but we’ll look for updates. UPDATE: We’re still on the lookout for this spot to reopen.
We’ve also noticed smaller changes taking place in the parks. For example, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom we typically see Mickey, Pluto, AND Minnie in one of the flotillas. The photo below was from early January 2022.
But, just a few days later, on January 4th, 2022, we noticed that the flotilla only featured Mickey and Pluto…no Minnie.
Over at Uniqlo in Disney Springs, during one of our visits we noticed that the second floor of the store was blocked off. When we spoke with the employees there, they indicated that they were experiencing staffing shortages due to members of their staff getting COVID-19 and having to call out stick. They explained that they just didn’t have enough staff to open the second floor at the time we visited.
Tying together all of the recent closures we’ve seen, delayed store/location openings, and little missing items around the parks, we think these are things you should be prepared to encounter during your next trip.
Of course, changes like this can happen for a variety of reasons, but one possible cause that could be behind some of these things is staffing shortages (as some Cast Members mentioned to us in certain cases we discussed above).
Again, Cast Members specifically mentioned staff shortages in response to some of the things we have asked about. In other cases, that wasn’t specifically noted, but it’s possible that staffing shortages could be a cause for those closures/delayed openings/missing items as well. And it’s possible we’ll continue to see the impacts of staffing shortages throughout Disney World.
As an additional note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, various Cast Members were furloughed or laid off. Months after Disney furloughed or laid off thousands of its Cast Members, it needs thousands of Cast Members back again to keep things running. Back in August, we shared how Disney had been posting A LOT of positions for which they are/were hiring, including some with BIG sign-on bonuses.
So COVID-19 could be causing staffing shortages due to present COVID-19 cases as well as impacts from the past furloughs and layoffs.
Disney’s Not Alone
If staffing shortages are impacting at least some of Disney’s operations (as some Cast Members have indicated in relation to select locations), Disney certainly wouldn’t be alone. Right now businesses in the U.S. and around the world are having to deal with staffing shortages.
Recently, England changed some of its COVID-19 testing requirements. According to The Orange County Register, these changes are “designed to cut isolation times” and ease staffing shortages.
Some organizations in the U.K. have declared “critical incidents” due to staff shortages. Certain hospitals have indicated that they’d pause select non-urgent surgeries due to the impact of COVID-19 and staffing shortages. In other parts of the U.K., there have been cuts to train services, and staffing shortages have caused garbage to pile up on some streets.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed isolation and quarantine requirements related to COVID-19. According to NBC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci has indicated that these new guidelines take “into account both public health data and worker shortages.”
Dr. Fauci has indicated, “You have so many people simultaneously testing positive you want to make sure that, particularly among essential workers, that you get people out there much sooner.”
According to the Boston Globe, “CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance is meant to help prevent another economic shutdown and keep businesses open.” Dr. Walensky was quoted telling the Associated Press, “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”
The news surrounding staffing shortages is something you almost can’t avoid. From CBS News sharing information about New Jersey hospitals facing staff shortages, to NBC Connecticut noting that staffing shortages have impacted schools, the effects seem to be widespread.
Many sources have been sharing information about staffing shortages specifically with relation to nurses and those working in hospitals, but other areas are not exempt from the impacts. Places like schools, stores, and even animal shelters are all being affected.
Department stores have also been facing staffing issues. As CNBC reports, Macy’s is shortening operating hours at its stores for the remainder of the month of January 2022 due to COVID-19 case numbers and staffing shortages.
Omicron and COVID-19 have been greatly impacting staffing, as well as other things. Recently we’ve seen the U.S. and the entire globe hit record daily COVID-19 case numbers. Omicron has been detected in the wastewater in a Disney World county, Florida has hit record COVID-19 numbers, and Omicron is expected to impact international tourism to Florida.
We’ve been looking for all of the latest COVID-19 updates to help you plan for your trips. You can click here to see more about travel restrictions related to Omicron and click here to see more about Omicron and Walt Disney World.
On top of this, businesses are facing “The Great Resignation.” According to Bloomberg, more than 24 million U.S. workers quit their jobs between April and September of 2021, “and many are staying out of the labor force.”
Couple COVID-19, the Omicron variant, and the staffing shortages with “The Great Resignation,” and these closures, delayed openings, and adjusted store hours might seem much less unexpected.
What to Expect During Your Next Trip
So what should you expect during your next Disney World trip? Well the situation with COVID-19 changes constantly, so the impact of the Omicron variant and more could be very different in a few weeks’ or months’ time. Things with these kiosks, stores, etc. in the parks could change tomorrow, next week, or some time in the future.
But if you are traveling to Disney World soon, you’ll want to be prepared to potentially encounter a few closures, delayed openings, or adjusted hours when it comes to the stores, kiosks, and other locations in Disney World. You may find that a kiosk opens a little later than you’re used to or encounter other closures.
This might not impact your trip at all, or it might only be a minor inconvenience. In the case where a store remains closed for the entire day or for a lengthy portion of the day, however, it could impact your plans.
Be prepared to face these potential issues and focus, as much as possible, on remaining flexible so you can continue to enjoy the remainder of your trip. If a store or kiosk is closed, be sure to ask a Cast Member where else you might be able to find the same/similar items to the ones you were looking for at that store.
As we mentioned briefly above, staffing shortages aren’t the only things you’ll want to prepare for. We’ve also seen supply chain issues impact merchandise and more throughout Disney World. The cream cheese shortage has caused one Disney World spot to stop selling a signature item.
We’ve also seen merchandise shortages lead to the closure of a shop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with no reopening date set yet.
At the Mitsukoshi store in the Japan pavilion at EPCOT, we’ve seen that one area in the back of the store (where the Kimonos usually are) has been blocked off.
It appears the kimonos and shoes are all out of stock. It seems, however, that the area is possibly having some work done or being rearranged, as things looked a bit better there during a return visit. This may be related to supply chain issues or just a planned redesign, but it’s still important to keep in mind for upcoming trips.
UPDATE: During a more recent visit we saw that this room had been restocked again and was open to guests, so the changes here might have just been part of a scheduled rearrangement or adjustment.
Staffing shortages and supply chain issues could impact your Disney World trip. The good thing with Disney World is that you can usually find the same or similar items at other nearby locations. But if you ever encounter an issue with a closure or delayed opening, be sure to ask a Cast Member for help.
We’ll continue to look for more Disney news and share that all with you.
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Have you noticed any changes around Disney World potentially due to staffing shortages or supply chain issues? Tell us in the comments.