Disney parks around the world have been shuttered for months in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, and many Disney fans are wondering when they'll next be able to bite into a Mickey waffle or take a selfie with Cinderella. In Disney's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Bob Chapek said, "While it's too early to predict when we'll be able to begin resuming all of our operations, we are evaluating a number of different scenarios to ensure a cautious, sensible, and deliberate approach to the eventual reopening of our parks."
Thanks to this information and updated business guidelines from Florida and California government officials, we now have a much better idea of when Disney World and Disneyland may open. Based on this information and conversations that POPSUGAR had with a New York City pediatrician and a Disney travel planner, here is everything we know so far about when Disney World and Disneyland will reopen and what they may look like when they do.
When Will Disney World Reopen?
Walt Disney World announced on May 27 that they're planning for a phased reopening of the resort starting on July 11. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen July 11, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen July 15. Much like Shanghai Disneyland, the parks will open at a lower capacity to start, and guests will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked before entering the parks.
Select shops and restaurants in Disney Springs are currently open, in accordance with guidelines laid out for the reopening of other businesses in Orlando, FL, as reported on May 7. On May 14, The Hollywood Reporter reported that opening Disney retail shops (like the World of Disney Store) and Disney eateries will be the second phase of reopening Disney Springs. Those shops will resume operations seven days after the May 20 date, on May 27. Guests and employees will be required to wear masks, and there will be "limitations on capacity, parking, and operating hours."
On Monday May 19, 2020, Disney issued a COVID-19 disclaimer regarding the opening of the parks that reads: "Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences, and other offerings may be modified and will be limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or closure based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing." It continued to say that "attractions, experiences, services, and amenities may have limited availability or may remain closed." This remains true, as reports say when Disney World begins its reopening on July 11, there will be no parades, firework shows, or character meet-and-greets.
The demand is definitely there, though, according to Mike Rahlmann, a senior travel counselor with The Magic For Less Travel and host of the Be Our Guest WDW Podcast. "We have been doing nightly call-in shows since the quarantine started. We have lots of passionate Disney fans, so they are chomping at the bit to get back to the resorts and theme parks, even if it means in a limited or modified fashion." He also said that the podcast's fans would be fine getting into the parks with modifications like social distancing, decreased capacity, and face coverings.
When Will Disneyland Reopen?
On June 10, according to reporting in The Hollywood Reporter, Disneyland announced plans to to begin a phased reopening on July 9, with theme parks reopening July 17. The plan was for Downtown Disney to reopen on July 9, with hotels aiming to open July 23. However, that plan was been pushed back for the theme parks; on June 24 Disneyland announced they would delay the reopening of the park and hotels per California state guidelines. Downtown Disney still reopened as planned on July 9. According to the release from Disney, California planned to revisit the theme park reopening guidelines "sometime after July 4," and once the company has a clearer understanding of those guidelines, they'll share a new reopening date.
On Oct. 20, California's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the state's new rules for theme parks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, these guidelines state that Disneyland (which is labeled a higher-risk setting than outdoor stadiums) can operate with a limited capacity of 25 percent when it is allowed to reopen, though that date has not yet been determined. The state's rules say reservations will be required, there will be no day-of ticket sales, and masks will be required in the park. Disneyland may well implement its own additional policies before opening doors.
What Procedures Will Disney Parks Follow When They Reopen?
Florida's Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force has been hard at work putting together a series of safe reopening procedures for Orlando-area businesses, including its world-famous theme parks. With the announcement on May 27 that Disney World will begin it's phased reopening on July 11, we know that there will be limited park capacity, increased cleanliness procedures, and additional hand-sanitizing stations, as well as a mask requirement, temperature checks, and enforced social distancing procedures. You can read more about those guidelines here.
When Shanghai Disneyland opened on May 11, we were given a glimpse into the options Disney is now implementing in its Walt Disney World reopening. According to a press release, this includes "opening with limited attendance and required advanced ticketing and reservations, accommodating social distancing in queues, restaurants, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park, and implementing increased frequency of sanitization and disinfection." With the announcement that these procedures will be in place when Disney World reopens, it's seeming more likely that similar procedures will be in place when Disneyland reopens, though there is currently no formal announcement from the company.
Currently, there won't be any parades, theater shows, nighttime fireworks, or character meet-and-greets, but Disneyland Shanghai is planning a few character experiences that will keep Mickey and Minnie at a safe distance from guests. According to The Hollywood Reporter, none of these measures seem to be deterring Shanghai Disneyland guests, as first-day tickets sold out in minutes.
Should I Go to Disney When It Reopens?
The question of whether you should go to Disney is largely based on whether the guidelines it does put into place would make you feel safe and how they would affect your enjoyment while visiting the parks. Kelly Fradin, MD, a pediatrician in New York City, told POPSUGAR via email, "You must consider whether your concerns about the virus will reduce your enjoyment of your vacation." Dr. Fradin feels confident that "Disney prioritizes the health of its visitors and sanitizes in a very responsible manner," but the decision is ultimately up to you. More vulnerable individuals may also need to consult with their physician and check their state's guidelines regarding travel and physical distancing. Until the parks do reopen, you can always plan a "vacation day" from home with a few virtual rides and delectable Disney treats.
POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.