Disney Announces Reopening Plans for Florida Theme Parks & Hotels
Disney announced plans on Wednesday to reopen its Florida theme parks, which includes the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Pending approval by Orange County and the state of Florida, the phased Walt Disney World parks reopening will begin on July 11, 2020.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Disney closed its Florida theme parks on March 16. Since that time, it reopened the Shanghai Disney Resort on May 11 and Disney Springs on May 20. According to the Orange County Register, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can open during Stage 3 of California’s reopening plan, but no date has been announced.
Attendance Limits & Reservations
To encourage social distancing, the parks will open with strict attendance limits. Disney did not disclose the new maximum capacity percentage, but our guess is 25-30 percent of the normal figure.
You will need a reservation to enter the parks. Due to the new attendance limits, reservations will be limited. While Disney said it will provide more details in the future, here is what we know now.
- Priority will go to guests with existing theme park and hotel reservations
- Annual Passholders will receive reservation priority over new ticket sales
- Disney Vacation Club members are still able to make reservations
- New theme park ticket and hotel sales have been temporarily put on hold
- New ticket sales and reservations may be made after the above groups make their picks
According to a recent survey by The Vacationer, only 27.96 percent of participants feel comfortable going to a theme park with proper social distancing measures. Since Disney is going to have excellent measures to protect guests, we still expect those eligible to quickly grab the reservations.
Certain Events & Attractions Will Be Closed
Events like fireworks, nighttime shows, and parades will not resume immediately. As those events draw huge crowds in confined spaces, it is impossible to get guests to properly social distance.
Characters will still be in the park, but personalized meets will not be available. Disney did not say it, but that probably means character dining too.
It is unknown whether shows like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage will resume in July. They may open with very limited capacity, but social distancing may still be an issue.
Face Covering & Temperature Checks
All Disney employees and guests over the age of 3 will be required to wear a mask. Additionally, guests in common areas at Disney hotels must wear masks.
Considering how hot it gets in Florida in the summer, this may be an issue for some people. It also begs the question of whether or not resort pools will be open since it is not practical to wear a mask when swimming. Reports say Disney will have “relaxation zones” for guests to remove their masks, but it is unknown how that will work.
In addition to masks, all guests and employees will be required to get their temperature checked before entering any of the parks. Those with temperatures over 100.4 F will be denied entry.
To reduce contact between guests and Disney employees, Disney is urging more no-contact transactions. While cash is the most obvious one to avoid, credit cards also pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission.
No-contact MagicBands and mobile food ordering will become even more important. Disney will also encourage online resort check-in.
General Social Distancing Guidelines
In addition to the guidelines discussed above, general social distancing measures should still be followed. Guests should remain six feet apart when possible. If possible, eat your meals outside and away from others.
With Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disney already has the technology to implement virtual queues. Whether or not it expands it into other rides and attractions remains to be seen.
Disney Springs has physical barriers and physically-distanced queues in place. It also has markers on the ground to further encourage distancing. Expect Disney to put those measures into place at its four Florida parks.
Disney has not given much guidance on its hotels. It simply states Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney Vacation Club resorts will reopen on June 22. Expect more information soon, but it is likely more hotels open by July 11.
FastPasses Have Been Cancelled
I received an email from Disney today alerting me that any FastPass+ reservations I may have will be cancelled. This makes sense given the circumstances. Attendance will be down, and the FastPass system does not make sense with limited park capacity. This is likely only temporary, and FastPass distribution should resume in a few months. Disney says it will be using the FastPass queues as a part of its social distancing plan.
Disney Dining Reservations Have Been Cancelled
As expected, Disney restaurants will open with limited capacity. Disney also made the difficult decision to cancel all dining reservations. The ability to make a reservation will open back up as July 11 approaches. Additionally, you will now only be able to make a reservation 60 days in advance as opposed to the usual 180 days.
The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen on July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen open on July 15.
No date has been set yet.
You must wear a mask and get your temperature checked.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Theme parks at Walt Disney World and other destinations are going to look a lot different as long as COVID-19 remains a threat. Tickets may be hard to come by, and it will not be pleasant wearing a mask all day in the Florida heat. Regardless, Disney World will reopen in the middle of July.
Disney is still gathering data from Disney Springs and the Shanghai Disney Resort to see how its procedures are working. For that reason, Disney’s opening guidelines for its Florida parks could change before July 11.
Featured Image by Chris Flynn via Pixabay
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