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Disney World reveals plans for a phased reopening

Theme parks, resorts, and shops are all included, but so are a new set of guidelines for ticketing and safety precautions

Photo (c) FrozenShutter - Getty Images
Get out your mouse ears -- Disney World is gearing up for a reopening.

In a pitch to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force in Florida on Wednesday, Disney proposed a phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks that is planned to begin on July 11.

With Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort already reopened and operating smoothly, Disney feels it has all the proper safety and sanitation measures in place to move things forward.

The new timeline

Pending Orange County and state approval, here are the dates Disney World attractions will reopen:

Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A phased reopening for the general public will begin July 11.

EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. July 15 is the requested date for those two park sections. 

Expect changes

Disney’s devotees may not get the same exact experience they had the last time they visited a park if they plan to go during the reopening. The company said that visitors should expect changes on how the theme parks will be managed all the way down to how cast members will engage with guests and “create magical Disney memories.”

Its list of modifications goes like this:

Deliberate approach. Disney is not simply opening the gates and letting everyone in. It’s taking a phased approach with limits on attendance and controlled guest density that aligns with guidance on physical distancing. 

Until further notice, experiences that draw large group gatherings, such as parades and nighttime spectaculars, are on hold. The “high-touch” like makeovers, playgrounds, and character meet and greets are also temporarily unavailable. Nonetheless, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Snow White will still be roaming the park grounds to entertain and bring some smiles.

New reservation system. There will be no more going to the ticket window when you get there and buying an admission on the spot. Attendance will be managed through a new reservation system that will require all guests to secure their reservation in advance. 

No new ticket sales or hotel reservations. For visitors who have an existing ticket, they’re good to go. However, the resort is pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations. Additional details are available on the Disney Parks Blog.

Resorts and campgrounds reopen June 15 and June 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will open to members and guests starting on June 15. Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground plan on reopening June 22.

Shopping and dining. The World of Disney retail shop at the Disney Springs shopping and dining complex at Walt Disney World has already reopened. The remainder of those venues will be phased in over the next month or so. 

Enhanced safety protocols. Disney is taking its responsibility in this area seriously and asks guests to do the same. “Our destinations will continue to follow enhanced safety protocols based upon applicable guidance from health authorities and government agencies,” the company said in a news release. 

Those new protocols include anyone 3 years old or older -- even cast members. Here are the new requirements:

  • Face coverings: Guests will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. 

  • Temperature checks: All guests will undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park. To add another layer of safety for visitors, cast members will also have temperature checks. 

  • Paying for things: Cashless transactions are preferred. 

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