The four theme parks of Walt Disney World will reopen on July 11, about four months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close its doors. Its plan, approved by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force this morning, reveals that despite the good news it will be far from business as usual at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks will reopen on July 11 while EPCOT and Hollywood Studios won’t open their doors until July 15. There will still be a risk of COVID-19 — one that you’ll likely have to take responsibility for — but Disney is implementing measures designed to give people space and minimize the surfaces they touch during their visit.
Capacity will be limited in all four parks when they do reopen, an effort to avoid pushing people closer than the six feet recommended for proper social distancing.
Events that attract large groups of people like parades and “nighttime spectaculars” along with high-touch experiences like character meet-and-greets, playgrounds, and makeover opportunities will remain unavailable indefinitely.
No one will be allowed into the parks without a temperature screening, and once inside everyone over the age of three will be required to wear a face covering. Disney is also considering creating “relaxation zones” where guests can safely remove their masks, which will be uncomfortable to keep on constantly through a hot Florida summer day.
The company will also stop handing out paper maps (encouraging guests to use the map in its app instead) and expand its contactless payment system. Those who buy souvenirs will have to bag their own items, and restaurants will offer disposable paper menus to remove another surface where the coronavirus might be transmitted.
Additional hand-washing and -sanitizing stations will also be set up throughout the parks, which will only be open to those who reserve a time to enter in advance. At the moment, new ticket bookings and hotel reservations are closed, so only those with existing reservations will be able to come when the new system goes online.
This news comes two and a half weeks after the Shanghai Disney Resort reopened and a week after Disney Springs, a retail, dining, and entertainment complex near Disney World opened its doors with similar restrictions.