Disney World COVID-19 Reopening Plans

Disney World closed March 15, 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. Since then, the big question has been “When will Disney World reopen?”. Today, Disney World presented its reopening plan to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. 

When Will Disney World Reopen?

Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President, Operations at Walt Disney World, presented the Disney World reopening plan. In this plan, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom would reopen July 11, 2020, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios would reopen July 15, 2020. Prior to these reopening dates, there will be some soft open experiences, for example, preview days for cast members.

Disney Vacation Club resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will reopen starting June 22, 2020.

What Should I Expect When Disney World Reopens?

Disney Springs reopening has given a peek at what we might expect when Disney World reopens. Here is an overview of what we currently know.

Disney World Decreased Capacity

There will be limited Disney World guest capacity when the parks reopen. All guests and annual passholders will have to obtain a Disney World park reservation before entering the parks.

Important dates for the new Disney World park reservation system:

  • June 22, 2020 – Disney Resort and other select hotel guests with park tickets can make reservations
  • June 26, 2020 – reservations open for Annual Passholders without a resort stay
  • June 28, 2020 – existing ticket holders can make reservations

Guests with resort stays plus valid theme park tickets can make Disney World reservations through September 26, 2021.

Disney World has stopped selling new tickets for 2020 for now. They anticipate resuming ticket sales and Disney World resort stays later this summer.

Reservations for 2021 Disney World trips can be booked starting June 28, 2020. On that date guests can view park reservation availability for most of 2021. Check here for a full explanation of the new Disney World park reservation system.

Temperature Checks

Cast members and guests will need to have their temperatures checked prior to entering the parks. This will be done with no-touch thermometers like those currently used at Disney Springs.

Disney World Mask Requirements

It should come as no surprise that Disney World will require guests and cast members to wear masks at the parks. There was some discussion about having “relaxation zones” where people can briefly remove masks and rest. However, there was limited discussion around this concept.

Increased Sanitation

Disney World already did a great job in keeping the parks clean. However, they are going to increase sanitation especially on high touch surfaces around the parks.

Limited Contact Enhancements For Disney World

Disney World will increase mobile ordering options in the parks. They will also encourage cashless transactions with mobile ordering and Magic Band payments.

Disney World Social Distancing

There will be markers and signs reminding guests to maintain distance from other guests. Disney has also implemented a “social distancing squad” to encourage guests to maintain a safe distance.

Ride loading and restaurant seating will also be adjusted to allow more separation among guests. This will increase safety overall, but dining and ride wait times may increase despite lower overall crowd levels. 

No FastPass+ Reservations

Disney World announced all existing FastPass+ reservations are cancelled due to the new capacity and social distancing requirements. FastPass lines will be used to expand standby lines to have greater distance among guests.

Changes To Disney World Dining

As of May 28, 2020, all previously booked Disney World dining reservations are cancelled through the end of 2020. Those with existing reservations are supposed to have priority re-booking, but that does not guarantee getting the same reservations.

Disney World dining reservations will move from booking 180 days before a trip to 60 days in advance. Guests who had Disney World dining plans will get a refund. Those who had free Disney World dining plans from a promotion can re-book a future trip with a discount.

Will Disney World Have Parades, Fireworks, or Character Meet and Greets when it reopens?

The current plan suspends all Disney World fireworks, parades, water features, and play areas that might encourage groups to congregate. “High-touch” experiences, like makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique plus character meet and greets, are also suspended when the parks reopen.

Final Thoughts On Disney World Reopening Plan

There were very few surprises regarding Disney World’s reopening plan. I think it will be interesting to see how the pre-arrival theme park reservation system works. As more information becomes available I will share it with you. For now here’s a link to Disney’s official announcement.

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