UPDATE 5/29/2020: Walt Disney World theme parks have been approved by the governor to begin their phased reopening on July 11th.
Representatives for Walt Disney World met with members of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force today to present their proposal for reopening their four theme parks. Disney is hoping to open the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks on July 11th, and then EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th. These dates are not yet finalized as the plans must first be approved by the state governor’s office.
As part of their presentation, Disney introduced materials explaining the various safety protocols they plan to have in place. These include examples of various signage for the parks, as well as new procedures that will be put into place for both guests and team members. Let’s explore some of these details below.
Walt Disney World is planning to require that all guests make a reservation before visiting the park. This is part of their plan for opening the parks with limited capacity without affecting the guest experience. Details for how the reservation system will work have not yet been released. The image above shows how they hope to educate guests of new safety protocols before they arrive, as well as during their visit.
The next image is an overview of the new safety protocols that will be in place throughout the theme parks when they reopen. These are just summaries and do not represent the entire plan. Face coverings will be required for both guests and cast members, as will temperature checks before guests enter the park or cast members report to work. There will be enhanced cleaning throughout the parks, and additional limited-contact enhancements will be added.
The next image goes into further details for these new measures. (Click on the image to see a higher resolution version.) For guests, face coverings will be required while on property. Temperature checks will be at the theme park entrances. Bag searches will be done contactless, using a handheld screening device. Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be located throughout the parks. Plexiglass is being added at retail and food & beverage locations to help in situations when social distancing may not be possible. Transportation, including monorails, will be running at a reduced capacity to better facilitate social distancing.
Some experiences will not be available when the parks reopen. All parades and fireworks, as well as other shows or events that create crowds, will be suspended when the parks reopen until further notice. Playgrounds, certain interactive experiences, and meet and greets will also be temporarily suspended.
Cashless transactions, contactless payments, and additional mobile order locations at more restaurants will help limit contact between guests and cast members. See the image above for additional safety measures that will also be in place to better protect cast members specifically.
Even with all of these enhanced safety protocols in place, Disney wants to make it clear to all guests that “COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death,” and that by “visiting Walt Disney World, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.” Warnings like this will be placed outside of each theme park entrance, as seen in the sign examples in the image above.
Other health-related reminders will be located all throughout the theme parks as well, as seen in the following image. Signs have been designed to show which tables may not be available for seating in a dining location, to remind guests to wash their hands frequently and for 20 seconds, and even to limit handling of items in gift shops.
As have already been implemented in places like Disney Springs, which is currently open to guests, floor markings will also play a pivotal role in helping guests to social distance. The image below shows a few examples of floor markings that we may see when the theme parks reopen.
Pending approval from government officials, the phased reopening plans Disney have submitted have the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom possibly opening on July 11th, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.
Walt Disney World has only released details for when some of the Disney Vacation Club hotels may be opening, but details for the rest of the resort have not yet been released. DVC properties at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen to Members and Guests on June 22. Disney Vacation Club properties in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will open on June 15.
Even with the enhanced safety measures, Walt Disney World wants to remind its guests that “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
Learn more about current reopen dates and plans at the company’s official website. Stay tuned to our site for more details on the possible reopening of Walt Disney World, and other major theme parks in Orlando. Subscribe to the news feed or enter your email below to never miss an update. Images: Walt Disney World / Orange County Task Force