After nearly four months of being closed during the pandemic, one of the last major theme parks in Florida will reopen this weekend. Mickey Mouse is back, but Walt Disney World has a slew of rules and guidelines you’ll have to follow.
Disney World will begin its phased reopening on July 11. On that day, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen. Four days later on July 15, Epcot and Hollywood Studios will open.
There was much speculation over whether Disney World would reopen this weekend, although in May Florida issued guidance for theme-park reopening. This was because Disneyland Resort had to postpone its July 17 reopening date. Not only did California not issue guidance to parks the way Florida had, but there was a considerable outcry against the Anaheim park’s reopening.
Before the opening date for the California park was postponed, a change.org petition called “Schedule Disneyland to reopen at a later date” received 56,730 signatures. CBS News also reported that union leaders representing about 17,000 Disneyland employees sent a letter California Gov. Gavin Newsom saying that the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases makes it unsafe to reopen Disneyland.
Despite continued public outcry and joy over Disney’s theme park openings, Disney’s Theme Park Chairman Josh D’Amaro told The New York Times he was sure Disney can reopen safely.
“The world is changing around us, but we strongly believe that we can open safely and responsibly,” D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park chairman, told the Times. “For those that might have questions or concerns, when they see how we are operating and the aggressive protocols that we have put in place, they will understand.”
Here’s what guests need to know before setting up a trip to Walt Disney World:
Disney had temporarily stopped selling tickets for 2020 dates to its parks due to its closure, but the park changed that just in time for the reopening.
On Thursday, 2020 ticket sales were resumed for its theme parks and resort hotels. But having a ticket doesn’t mean you can walk into a Disney park like usual.
Those with existing tickets, are passholders or bought tickets for 2021 must go through a new “Disney Park Pass System.”
The system works like this:
1. Have a ticket: You must have valid park admission ticket and have it linked to a Disney account, which can be done through the My Disney Experience app or online.
2. Create your party: Go to the reservation site and create your party based on the other people who have tickets and will be going with you. This step can also be done for those traveling alone.
3. Select a date and park: Choose an open date and theme park from those shown on the reservation site.
4. Confirm your dates.
Following Safety Guidelines
Like most major Florida theme parks, Disney will use strict safety guidelines that must be followed by guests and workers.
Workers and guests 2 and older must wear face coverings. The park says coverings must fully cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly, be secured with ties or ear loops and be made of breathable material. Costume masks will not be allowed.
There will also be temperature screenings when entering the theme parks or Disney Springs. Anyone showing a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be moved to another area for re-screening, and not allowed in.
Apart from requesting guests to social distance whenever possible, Disney has implemented measures to ensure it. Directional signage and floor markings will be put throughout the parks for guests to follow.
Cast members have also been trained to interact with guests while following social distancing guidelines.
Physical barriers will also be put in places where it is difficult to social distance, like cash registers and ride queue lines. Amusement rides will also see various forms of safety changes.
Plexiglass shields tied to the railings in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroaf queue pic.twitter.com/p9ZN96B2NS
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) July 7, 2020
Theme Park Tourist, an Orlando theme park blog, reported that rides will have empty rows; hand sanitizers and plexiglass will be placed in some queues; theater-style rides will have guests spaced apart and seated by party; and some preshow areas will be closed, like those at The Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom.
Making Dining Reservations
Eating inside restaurants at Disney has also been changed due to the virus.
Guests can’t just walk into a restaurant and sit for a quick bite. Just like getting into the park, reservations must be done in advance. This only applies to people ages 3 and up.
Reservations can be set up through the My Disney Experience app or the theme park’s website. Most restaurants at all four parks will have reservation times open, while others will be closed to indoor dining. Restaurants with reservations available will allow them to be made up to 60 days in advance.
Since Walt Disney World has been closed, one big renovation project has been completed. Guests making trips to Magic Kingdom should pose for pictures at the reimagined Cinderella’s Castle.
Mosaic art depicting “princess” themes have been given a face lift, and the castle walls have been painted pink.