Walt Disney World Resort will gradually reopen in July, if a proposal the company made to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force today is approved by local and state authorities. The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom would open on July 11, and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios would follow on July 15. A number of new procedures will be implemented to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and certain regular park features will be temporarily suspended to prevent crowding.
When the parks reopen, guests can expect many of the same precautions that Universal will be taking when its parks reopen in June. Capacity will be much lower than usual. Temperature checks will be required before anybody is allowed into a theme park. Masks will be required everywhere on property—that’s required, not recommended. These apply to both guests and Disney cast members.
To encourage social distancing, events that draw large crowds, like parades and fireworks shows, will be temporarily suspended. Character meet-and-greets won’t be happening, and playgrounds will be closed. Regular hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the parks, mobile ordering will be prioritized at restaurants, and contactless payment through Magic Bands and other methods will be strongly encouraged. Disney will also have teams of employees reminding guests to maintain distance and follow all its guidelines.
Because of the reduced capacity, Disney will be implementing a reservation system for guests hoping to attend the parks. You won’t be able to just roll up the morning of and waltz into the Magic Kingdom. Until that system goes into place, Disney has suspended selling tickets or letting guests make hotel reservations. Full reservation details haven’t been revealed yet, but per the Disney Parks Blog, Annual Passholders and people who have unused tickets will be able to make reservations before new tickets are sold again.
Here’s a brief summary of these procedures from Disney’s proposal today.
It’s entirely justified to ask whether theme parks should be reopening at all during a pandemic, especially with cases continuing to rise in many states, and many medical experts predicting a second wave later this year. Disney’s plan is considerably more cautious than its competitors, though. And with its reopening date coming over a month after Universal’s, Disney will be more flexible in reacting to whatever happens with the pandemic as we head into the summer. Traveling to a theme park in this crisis might not seem like the most sensible decision, but these precautions could help calm the fears and concerns of Disney fans.