New Year’s Eve festivities are moving ahead as scheduled at Walt Disney World, despite increasing COVID-19 case numbers.

In Central Florida, WFTV reported that local hospitals are beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 patients due to the spread of the omicron variant. The state as a whole reported another record-setting day with more than 77,000 new COVID-19 cases. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, said Wednesday that large New Year’s Eve celebrations should be avoided, saying, “I would strongly recommend that, this year, we do not do that. We feel you should continue to go through with those plans of having a home-related, vaccinated, boosted gathering, with family and close friends who are also vaccinated and boosted.”

Other large celebrations are being scaled back, such as Times Square in New York limiting capacity and requiring proof of vaccination. Disney World, however, has not altered its plans for fireworks shows and dance parties on Dec. 31. While these large gatherings will occur outdoors, health experts have begun recommending masks even in crowded outdoor settings due to the omicron variant being much more transmissible. Masks are only required indoors at Disney World parks. 

While data from other countries has suggested that the omicron variant carries a smaller risk of hospitalization, the World Health Organization has said it’s still too early to determine its severity.  

Disney World Swan sued over convention cancellation penalty

A trade union has filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney World Swan Resort for seeking a $1 million penalty for canceling an upcoming conference.

As reported by Florida Politics, the International Union of Operating Engineers had scheduled its 2022 winter meetings at the resort back in December 2018, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. IUOE informed the Swan in December that it was canceling the event over COVID-19 concerns, but the hotel refused to waive the cancellation fee. 

“Travel to and from the event will place many attendees in situations where their exposure to COVID-19 and potential serious illness is a statistical certainty,” the union’s federal lawsuit stated. “IUOE believes the public health crisis and the threat to the health and the lives of its 400 attendees will render performance under the Contract illegal, impossible or impracticable.”

The Swan, along with its sister hotels the Dolphin and the Swan Reserve, are located on Disney property, but is owned by New York-based real estate firm Tishman and MetLife Investment Management and operated by Marriott International. 

What’s in Universal’s ‘Harry Potter’ contract

Alicia Stella of Theme Park Stop has a new deep dive on the contract Universal signed with J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. for the theme park rights to the “Harry Potter” franchise, answering some common questions about the structure of the deal. 

The contract, which is publicly available through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was signed in 2007, and has been renewed through the summer 2029. While the contract does not disclose how much money Universal pays to Warner Bros. and Rowling, it does detail what sort of payments are made — an annual fee, a royalty on every licensed product that is exclusive to the parks, and on photo purchases, including on-ride photos. 

However, Rowling and Warner Bros. do not receive a percentage of all Universal ticket sales. 

Go read the full article at for more on how the contract telegraphed expansions to the Wizarding World in Universal parks and what would happen if the contract was terminated.