Walt Disney World Resort theme parks have started a phased reopening – with significant reduction in capacity – with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park already open. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow 15 July, 2020.
After being closed for nearly four months, Walt Disney World theme parks are reopening with a deliberate, responsible approach drawing on experience from Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disney Springs. Aspects of a Disney theme park day have been re-examined in light of the new global environment, with new policies following guidance from health experts and government agencies. In addition to limits on attendance and controlled guest density, new procedures will be in place for park entry, attractions, dining, retail, transportation and more, with the well-being of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of planning.
With all these changes, the fundamentals of a Disney theme park experience remain the same. Stories will come to life through favourite attractions and beloved characters, as signature Disney creativity and innovation deliver new ways to enjoy these experiences. Cast members are starting to return to work and carefully preparing for their roles, donning their costumes and pinning on their nametags for the first time in months. Because even with everything that’s happening in the world around them, they’re ready to help guests discover magic is here again at Walt Disney World theme parks.
To promote physical distancing, capacity will be limited as guests return to Walt Disney World theme parks. At reopening, guests with a ticket or Annual Pass must use the new Disney Park Pass system to make a reservation in advance for each park entry.
Once guests log in to their My Disney Experience accounts on Disneyworld.co.uk and link their tickets, they have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park; multi-day tickets require a park reservation for each day of their tickets. Families and friends can link their tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time. Park reservations are limited in number and subject to availability.
As guests and Disney cast members work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, the theme parks will feature new protocols during this phased reopening.
“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasises multiple layers of health and safety measures,” said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices.”
These new measures include:
- Appropriate Face Coverings – All guests 2 years of age and older, along with cast members, will be required to wear an appropriate face covering while visiting the theme parks. They must be worn over the nose and mouth at all times, except when eating and drinking while dining.
- Transportation – Capacity and guest density is limited for complimentary Walt Disney World guest transportation, and guests are required to wear appropriate face coverings at all times during their journey. Buses and Monorails will implement a combination of physical distancing and physical barriers to provide separation between guest parties. Party groups will be required to maintain physical distancing while aboard Disney watercraft. Disney Skyliner will load one party per gondola when it returns to operation 15 July, 2020. For those arriving in their own vehicles, auto plazas will offer cashless payment; parking lot trams will not be available at this time.
- Temperature Screenings – All guests will be required to undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius or higher will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those who again measure 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius or higher will not be allowed entry, nor will those in their party.
- Physical Distancing and Capacity Measures – To maintain appropriate physical distancing, a limited number of guests will be able to visit each theme park each day; limits will also be in place for indoor locations within the parks, such as retail shops and dining locations. Ground markings will help promote proper physical distancing throughout the parks, including attraction queues. Physical barriers will be in place in select locations where maintaining a proper physical distance from others may be difficult.
- Cleanliness – High-traffic areas will receive increased cleaning. Guests will be encouraged to frequently use hand-washing stations and hand sanitiser available in the theme parks.
- Cashless Transactions – Guests are encouraged to use cashless options whenever possible, including MagicBands, debit cards, credit cards, Disney gift cards and mobile payment methods.
Cast members have gone through extensive new training to prepare for the theme parks’ reopening in this new environment. Cast members in the Incredi-Crew will wear brightly colored, easily identifiable attire and walk through the parks to explain the new procedures and answer any guest questions, while encouraging everyone to follow these new health and safety measures.
New measures promoting health and well-being will be implemented at Walt Disney World theme park restaurants during their phased reopening. These include enhanced cleaning procedures in seating, dining and common areas, as well as changes to self-serve options. In addition, mobile technology via the My Disney Experience app* is being used in convenient ways to minimise contact, such as Mobile Order at select quick-service theme park locations and Mobile Dine Check-in at select theme park table-service locations, as well as reduced-contact menus at select theme park restaurants.
Most attractions will be available at each park when they reopen. Guests can enter a cartoon world at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when they experience the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, or visit the Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Soarin’ Around the World will take flight at EPCOT, and Magic Kingdom will offer a bevy of favourites, such as The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain.
Seeing beloved Disney characters is one of the most magical moments of any Disney theme park experience. With traditional character greetings and parades on hiatus during this phased reopening, Disney characters will appear in new and different ways throughout all four theme parks, bringing smiles to guests’ faces while maintaining proper physical distancing.
In Magic Kingdom, characters will cavalcade along the traditional parade route throughout the day. Others will pop up in new locations, such as Captain Jack Sparrow suddenly appearing in Adventureland.
At EPCOT, guests may see Queen Anna and Elsa venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase, or Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy out for their own world tour.
Pixar Animation Studios characters will appear on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, waving to their adoring fans. And over in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests should be sure to “move along” if they spot any First Order Stormtroopers.
Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom may see Disney characters setting sail down Discovery River on special boats, such as Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pocahontas and others.
Select atmosphere entertainment groups will return, as well, such as Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom, Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors at EPCOT, and Discovery Island Drummers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Entertainment experiences that draw large group gatherings, such as nighttime spectaculars, will be on hiatus.