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Things That Are Still Happening in Disney World—Even Though It’s Closed Indefinitely

While Disney fans wait for the parks to reopen here's a look at things still going on behind the scenes at Disney.

Downtown DisneyMediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images/Getty Images

Behind the scenes

Disney closed its parks in the United States to guests in March due to COVID-19, and currently, there’s no reopening date set yet. However, not everything has come to a complete stop at either Disney World or Disneyland just because it’s not open to the public. Animals still need care, security still patrols the grounds, and the performers are staying warmed up. Check out the inside scoop on what’s happening behind the scenes right now. While you’re at home, you can even try riding 20 of Disney World’s best rides virtually.

baby zebraCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

A baby zebra was born at the Animal Kingdom

If you’ve ever been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you know the park is filled with wildlife, all of which need to be cared for despite the closures. Not only is Disney’s Animal Care team continuing to care for the thousands of animals who live there, but they’re also taking care of new critters who have joined the family. The newest addition: A Hartmann’s Zebra foal was born on March 21. Find out 15 surprising facts about Disney’s most famous characters.

flag ceremonyCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

The American flag is flying high over the Magic Kingdom

Even though there are no guests arriving at Disney right now, security teams across the resort are still in place to make sure the property is secure. Every morning at the Magic Kingdom, the security guards have a flag-raising ceremony and salute the red, white, and blue, keeping the flag flying even in these difficult times.

medical saluteCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

Emergency workers are thanked

Security workers at Disney parks around the globe, including Orlando and Anaheim, showed their thanks to medical workers on World Health Day, April 7, from inside the shuttered parks. At Walt Disney World, night guards held up large “THANK YOU” signs in front of the Cinderella Castle illuminated with blue lights, and at Disneyland, the custodial staff spelled out “Thank You” and “Gracias” in bright pink flowers at California Adventure.

dapper dansCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

The Dapper Dans keep making music

The Dapper Dans are the retro barbershop quartet that can usually be found harmonizing along Main Street in both Disney World and Disneyland, singing tunes from classic Disney films as they are shown here, happier times. While the parks are on hiatus, they’re taking their unique voices online instead, keeping their vocals ready to spring back into action by having multiple quartets singing together. How well do you know your favorite Disney movies?

a light shines in walt's apartmentCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

A light shines on at Disneyland

For decades, Walt Disney’s apartment in Disneyland Park could be identified by the iconic Victorian-style lamp that glows in the window every night. Even though the park is temporarily closed, the light is still shining as “a source of inspiration” to cast members and guests alike. Speaking of lights, this is why Disney rarely has power outages.

baby porcupineCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

A baby porcupine makes its debut

Just a few days after the baby zebra made its appearance at the Animal Kingdom, a little ball of orange fluff and tiny quills made its debut, too. The porcupette, as baby porcupines are called, was born to mom, Peri, on February 25, but wasn’t quite ready to come out and play until the end of March. If you’ve seen the One Day at Disney documentary on Disney+, you may remember seeing Peri participate in an ultrasound with a Disney veterinarian. These adorable pictures of baby animals will make you fall in love instantly.

resort hotel windows lit up to make a heartCourtesy BlogMickey

The Contemporary Resort’s heart shines

Security staff at the Contemporary Resort are tasked with making sure that every floor of the property is safe and secure, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use their time to send a message to Disney fans. Every night, the buildings light up with a large heart created by illuminating a pattern of room windows; and the Bay Lake Tower has been seen sporting Mickey ears, too. These are the Disney hotels with the best views.

jammitorsCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

Jammitors jam out

The JAMMitors, are a funky group of “janitors-turned-percussionists” usually seen making rhythmic music with everything from garbage cans to buckets on the streets of EPCOT, shown above in their pre-COVID 19 location. Today, they are sharing their syncopated sounds using pots and pans, trash cans, and even an old tire from their homes. Need a good laugh? Check out these Disney jokes!

seas keep swimmingCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

The seas keep swimming

The Animal Kingdom isn’t the only place on Disney property with live animals. EPCOT’s Sea Base is home to 4,000 swimming creatures big and small that also require full-time care. The Sea Base Care Team is making sure the sea turtles, angelfish, dolphins, rays, sharks, and tropical fish swimming through the 5.7-million-gallon Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium, are all doing well while the parks are temporarily shuttered. When the park is open, the indoor aquarium offers a cool respite for couples and families alike. This is what the letters in EPCOT stand for.

second harvestCourtesy The Walt Disney Company

Lending a helping hand

Even though the parks are temporarily closed, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts are helping the local communities they’re located in. Both resorts donated surplus food to help local communities during the temporary closures to Second Harvest Food Bank, including excess inventory of salad greens, dairy, fruit, vegetables, packaged goods, and banquet meals. Read on to find out the truth behind these 12 popular Disney rumors.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.