Disney has finally revealed plans to reopen Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
May 27, 2020
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Disney World announced plans to begin a phased reopening of its theme parks on July 11 with new health and safety precautions in place after closing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios will follow on July 15, according to plans revealed today.

In today's virtual meeting of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, Jim McPhee, senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World, presented Walt Disney World’s plans for reopening.

Credit: J. Andruckow/Getty Images

Related: More Disney news

According to McPhee, a series of health rules and guidelines will be implemented to ensure guest and cast member safety while also keeping the experience "as real and as magical as possible."

These new health and safety guidelines include:

  • Enhanced safety measures, including required face coverings for guests and cast members, increased hand washing and sanitization stations, and physical barriers
  • Physical distancing, including a "significant reduction in overall capacity" across the theme parks, and in their attractions, stores, and food and drink locations
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitation
  • Temperature and health screenings for cast members and guests
  • Limited contact enhancements and increased signage and education

These measures also include temporarily suspending parades, fireworks, and other events that draw crowds, as well as closing high-touch experiences like character meet and greets, playgrounds, and water effects that may draw crowds and compromise social distancing.

Theme park attendance will be managed with a new reservation system that will require guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. According to a statement shared with Travel + Leisure, Disney World is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and hotel reservations so they can work with guests who have existing tickets and reservations. People who already have tickets and annual pass holders will be able to request reservations before Disney sells new tickets, with more details to follow. Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney World will reopen to guests and members on June 22.

Education, communication, and engagement are pillars of the reopening plan, with new "know before you go" guides from Disney and a "social distance squad" that will engage and inspire guests to follow social distancing guidelines.

The plan was approved by the task force. Next, Disney World’s plan to reopen will have to be approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

May has been an exciting month for fans eager to get back to their favorite theme parks.

This news comes just a week after phased reopening started at Disney Springs, the outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort. On May 20, some third-party restaurants and shops opened at Disney Springs, and today, Disney-owned locations are set to open. On May 11, Shanghai Disneyland welcomed visitors back with new health and safety procedures in place, making it the first Disney theme park to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic led to the closures of all six international theme park resorts for the first time in Disney’s history.

Last week, Universal Orlando announced their approved plan to reopen their theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay — to the public on June 5 after a phased reopening beginning on June 1. Universal Orlando’s health and safety measures are very similar to Disney World’s — guests must have their temperatures taken before entering, wear masks while in the parks, practice social distancing, and use virtual lines for popular attractions, among other rules.