Update from Disney: The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date. Our Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9 as previously announced with health and safety protocols in place for our cast members and guests.
After a couple of months of suspended operations, Disney Parks are slowly reopening across the world. Of course, with COVID-19 still being a concern, the Disney Parks will be reopening with new safety procedures. Curious what kind of experience you’ll get now if you visit a Disney Park? Will Cinderella be wearing a face mask? Will you watch fireworks six feet apart? We’ve broken down the new rules and processes for you.
The Decision to Close
Back in mid-March, Disney Parks made the decision to close all of its amusement parks worldwide. At the time, despite coronavirus cases increasing rapidly, attendance at the Disney Parks was still consistent, with large crowds every day. In a difficult decision that Disney made for the best interest of its loyal customers, the parks were temporarily shut down.
A History of Disney Shut Downs
The “happiest place on Earth” doesn’t take park closures lightly. This was the third time in history that parks voluntarily closed. The other two times were in 1963 after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and after the 9/11 attacks.
Plans to Reopen
Disney started it’s reopening plan a few weeks back with Disney Springs (Walt Disney World Resort) and Shanghai Disney Resort. In proposals submitted to their respective states, Disney plans to open:
- Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida and Hilton Head, South Carolina on June 15
- Disney Vacation Club resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground on June 22
- Downtown Disney District on July 9
- Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11
- Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park on July 17
- EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15
- Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel on July 23
For the sake of safety measures, the Disney you know and love is slightly different if you’re visiting anytime soon.
Tickets & Attendance
- Attendance will be significantly limited and managed through a new theme park reservation system. At this time, Disney is temporarily not selling new tickets and hotel reservations and is only honoring existing tickets and reservations.
- Disney Vacation Club members can still make new reservations
- Disney will contact existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders on how to make reservations
- New tickets will be available for purchase at a later time
- Physical distancing measures are set into practice, with spaces between lines and limited seating on rides
Limitations on Events & Activities
- Parades and nighttime spectaculars (firework shows) that draw large groups will not be available at this time
- “High-touch” experiences such as character meet and greets and makeover opportunities will be temporarily unavailable. But, the characters will still be in the parks to entertain guests.
- Playgrounds will be closed
Cleaning & Testing Measures
- Enhanced cleaning measures will be in effect at all parks, with an extra focus in high-traffic areas
- Cast members and guests will have to wear face masks in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels
- All guests are subject to temperature screenings before entering the park
- Cast members will regularly have temperature checks
- Cashless transactions are preferred
- Disney resort hotels will not allow guests who report that they have “COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone suspected of having coronavirus in the previous two weeks.
Stormtroopers to the Rescue
And who exactly will be encouraging social distancing throughout the parks? In some parks, Disney has recruited Stormtroopers to keep guests in line!
Different, But Still Disney
It may be a different version of Disney, but the decision to open the parks was made after positive guest reactions from the Disney Springs and Shanghai Disney Resort reopenings.
Disney still advises that people who are vulnerable and older may not want to risk visiting their parks at this time. People who aren’t quite ready for the real thing should check out the Disney Virtual Experiences instead.
Some have pointed out the positives of this new experience: there are shorter lines for rides without you having to purchase the Fast Pass! You also might be more likely to get a character’s attention with the competition of dense crowds.
We feel quite confident that it may be a new kind of Disney, but it will still be undeniably happy. If there’s one thing Disney excels at, it’s making dreams come true under any situation.