Today, Walt Disney World presented Disney World reopening date to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force.
In a virtual meeting of a few dozen attendees, Orange County Mayor, Jerry Demings, opened the meeting, reminding us all of the goals of the Economic Recovery Task Force, “The purpose of this task force is that we reopen businesses in a clean and safe manner.”
In the second half of a virtual meeting punctuated by the usual Zoom follies, Senior Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World, Jim McPhee, presented a reopening date for our Florida Disney Parks, as well as new health and safety procedures. These measures included limits on park capacity and new guidelines and requirements for guests (see below).
Proposed Disney World Reopening Dates
Jim McPhee proposed a phased public reopening date for Walt Disney World parks starting on July 11th.
- Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen on Saturday, July 11th
- EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will reopen on Wednesday, July 15
- Dates for Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon were not addressed
- Opening dates for Walt Disney World Resorts were not addressed at this meeting, but afterward, Disney Parks Blog announced that some resorts will be reopening on June 22nd.
- See how these changes affect your current tickets, FastPass+, and dining reservations.
Walt Disney World is taking on an Education>Communication>Engagement approach to make sure that guests are well-informed before visiting the parks, and are assisted properly by Cast Members during a park visit.
Proposed Coronavirus Changes at Disney World
Disney Parks has adopted a “Know Before You Go” mantra for the following changes to park operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Enhanced Protective Measures: A layered approach of protocols including face coverings, hand washing & sanitizing stations, and physical barriers where appropriate
- Physical Distancing: Reduction in theme park capacity that enables appropriate physical distancing in the theme parks and appropriate signage of physical distancing requirements as a reminder
- Enhanced Cleaning/Sanitation: Build upon existing standards of cleaning with heightened protocols in the theme parks
- Temperature/Health Screening: Conduct Guest and Cast temperature checks
- Limited-Contact Enhancements: Reduction of Guest & Cast Member Contact Points
A new reservation system will be available online to retain park entry in advance. We will update as we retain more details on this system.
Entering the Park
- An online reservation system will be used to gain your spot in the park (details coming soon)
- Park capacity will be reduced (percentage unknown at this time)
- Signage will direct guests to maintain safe social distancing while entering the park
- Turnstiles will be touchless, scanned by a Cast Member behind plexiglass
- The finger scanners will not be a part of the park entry process
Purchases and Exchanges with Cast Members
- Contactless payment systems, plexiglass between Cast Members and guests where heavy interaction could occur
- Cashless transactions will be the standard for all purchases
Cleaning and Sanitation at the Parks
- Cleaning and sanitation will be bumped up even a few notches above Disney’s usual spit-spot requirements
- Cast Members will be trained on COVID-19-specific cleaning procedures
- Guests will be encouraged to wash their hands with signage at the parks
Cast Member Policies
- They will be offered specific training on COVID-19 safety procedures
- Cast Members will be encouraged to go home if they feel sick
- Cast Members will have daily temperature checks before reporting to the parks
- The “Social Distance Squad” will be a dedicated team that will engage with guests to help guests follow social distancing guidelines
- Character greetings and play areas will be “temporarily paused”
- Parades, Fireworks, and crowd-gathering events will be “temporarily paused”
- QR Code capability on mobile devices to access menus
- Disposable paper menus available upon request
- Physical distancing will carry over to the dining experience
- Food will be pre-packaged where possible
- Payment for food items will be a touchless system
Shop and Retail Traffic
- Distance markers will let guests know where to stand while in line in stores
- Entryways may be designated as an entry or exit to keep traffic flowing in one direction
Queue and Ride Traffic
- Social distancing will continue throughout the ride queues
- Hand sanitizer will be offered upon entry and exit of the ride
- Ride capacity will be limited to facilitate safe social distancing
These safety measures were similar to those of SeaWorld Orlando’s proposed COVID-19 safety procedures (opening June 10th), presented at this meeting as well, and the approved Universal Studios operating standards. Universal announced they will be opening to the public on June 5th.
What About Resorts?
Walt Disney World Resorts will also participate in a phased reopening.
Disney Parks Blog stated today, “Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on June 22. Other Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort remain temporarily closed.”
Additionally, Disney Parks stated that they are pausing new Disney Resort hotel reservations and ticket sales, “so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations (Disney Vacation Club members can still make new reservations). Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold; we’ll be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional detail.”
Meet the “Social Distance Squad”
A designated team of Cast Members will help to remind guests of social distancing and safety guidelines. Expect to have a lot of Cast Members on-hand for questions and assistance!
Signage will also assist guests in staying healthy while experiencing the magic:
Will I Have to Wear a Mask?
This seems to be the burning question for most guests. Disney World guests ages 2 and older will be required to wear a face-covering of some kind while in the parks unless they are eating (here’s the bright side). Remember your mask from home, but if you do not have a mask, ask a Cast Member for assistance.
McPhee reported in his proposal that mask resting areas will be provided for guests where they can remove their masks and take a break, “We’re also looking at establishing relaxation zones in and around, and off-property for people to go mask-off for a moment.”
Is This an Official Reopening Date?
The proposal was approved bt the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force today. It will be passed to Florida Governor Rick DeSantis for review and final approval.
All of the procedures outlined above are subject to change as the parks figure out what works best and the spread of COVID-19 changes in the Orlando area.
McPhee was asked about recourse for guests that did not adhere to the guidelines and safety requirements in the parks. “We have had the opportunity to be open at Disney Springs with the masks and face coverings requirement now for a week. We have strong language that says [masks] are required when you enter into the property.
“We have our Social Distancing Squad in the area of development that is likely, and effectively encouraging our guests to keep the masks on, and we haven’t encountered any specific issues over the course of the last week in which someone didn’t comply.”
McPhee did not have further comment on recourse for guests who do not comply with social distancing or mask requirements.
Disney World and Coronavirus So Far:
Walt Disney World has been closed since March 12th due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with no projected opening date.
The re-opening of Disney Springs revealed some of the work that Disney Parks have been doing behind the scenes, with new health and safety procedures in place. Cast Members have been trained to advise guests on the new measures, and guests have plenty of signs and guidelines along the way to assist in staying healthy during a visit to Disney Springs.
McPhee stated at the end of the presentation, “We have rethought many aspects of our operations to help enhance safety and provide a great guest experience. We believe this thoughtful, methodical, ramp-up strategy is the right path, and together we hope everyone will do their part to bring the magic of Walt Disney World back into this new environment.”
We will be updating our coverage on the reopening of Disney World, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest!
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