Disney World Reopening Plan: What we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! The Walt Disney Company has presented a reopening plan for Walt Disney World to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Operating Officer at the Walt Disney Company, presented the plan at today’s meeting (May 27, 2020). While the plan still needs to go through additional approval processes, we currently have some key details related to the proposed reopening.
Disney World Reopening Plan UPDATE (5/27/2020 at 2:00 PM ET)
Based on new information released via the Disney Parks Blog, Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen on June 22, 2020. (Note that the Vero Beach and Hilton Head DVC resorts will open on June 15, 2020.) Also, the Walt Disney World website (in the notice at the top of the page) now shows that the reopening plan “calls for Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Resort hotels to open beginning July 11.” It is unclear whether all of the non-DVC hotels will open at that time, or if there will be a phased reopening. Face coverings will be required for guests over 3 years of age in the common areas of hotels in addition to in the parks.
Furthermore, per the Disney Parks Blog, Annual Passholders and those with existing tickets will be able to make theme park reservation requests prior to the sale of new tickets. New ticket sales have been temporarily suspended, but DVC members are able to make new reservations. Disney will resume selling new tickets and will allow new hotel reservations after the initial period for Annual Passholders and existing ticket holders.
Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are proposed to reopen on Saturday, July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios would follow shortly thereafter on Wednesday, July 15.
Key Safety Protocols
Guests and Cast Members will be required to wear face coverings and maintain appropriate physical distancing. Parades, fireworks, and other events that involve significant crowds will be temporarily suspended as part of the physical distancing requirements.
There will be additional cleaning and sanitation measures available for both guests and Cast Members, such as frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Temperature checks for guests will occur at park entrances via contactless, handheld devices. Cast members will receive onsite temperature checks in addition to conducting their own temperature checks at home.
Disney will continue to emphasize minimal contact operations where possible. This will include increased use of contactless payment via Magic Bands or other mobile-based payment methods, encouragement of mobile ordering for food and beverage, and temporary suspension of playgrounds and character meet-and-greets since they involve high levels of contact.
Overarching Reopening Plan Themes
As part of its presentation, MacPhee emphasized three key themes—education, communication, and engagement. By educating guests and Cast Members, communicating new protocols and requirements, and keeping people engaged with the new safety measures, Walt Disney World will be safer for all involved.
While specific details were limited, MacPhee briefly discussed a new reservation system for park attendance. As part of limiting overall capacity in the parks, Disney will require guests to make reservations in advance to attend a particular theme park on a particular day. This will ensure that capacity is kept at an appropriate level such that physical distancing will be possible.
The mechanics of this reservation system were not discussed, however. It remains to be seen if there will be different rules or limits for different groups of people, such as Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and guests staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort hotel.
Speaking of hotels, no details were given about hotel reservations as part of MacPhee’s presentation. While the measures discussed may be relevant to Walt Disney World resorts (such as physical distancing and additional cleaning), MacPhee focused on implementation in the Walt Disney World theme parks. However, subsequent information released by the Disney Parks Blog and the Walt Disney World website (discussed above) indicate a June 22 reopening date for DVC resorts, while non-DVC resorts appear to be opening later.
What If Folks Don’t Obey the Rules?
One member of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force asked what would happen if guests did not obey the rules. In response, MacPhee noted that Disney has strong language saying that masks are required, and the social distancing squad will strongly encourage people to comply. MacPhee focused on the success of the face mask requirement at Disney Springs since its partial reopening a week ago. All of the Cast Members in the social distancing squad will gently but firmly be persuading people to keep their masks on at all times. Of course, it remains to be seen how this will play out in practice. He also mentioned the exploration of potential relaxation areas where people can go if they need a break from wearing a mask.
Reopening Plan Motion Approved by Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force
While Disney’s reopening plan is still subject to additional levels of review and approval, the plan was accepted without objection by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force as part of its May 27, 2020, meeting.
Although there are still open questions, we can all rejoice that there is a proposed opening date and can begin counting down the days until the most magical place on earth reopens!
For more information, you can check out the Task Force’s website here.