Walt Disney World Set To Reopen In Phases Beginning In Mid-July, Face Coverings Required For All Guests

Fireworks and confetti fly at Cinderella Castle during the Grand Opening of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Resort December 6, 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Kent Phillips / Getty Images

On Wednesday, May 27, Walt Disney World presented its reopening plans to the Florida Economic Task Force, per Inside The Magic. This plan includes the dates of its phased reopening schedule and is subject to approval.

Jim MacPhee, the senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World, spoke to the economic task force, giving a presentation that included the current planned opening dates of the company’s theme parks, as well as the operational changes the parks are going to implement to ensure the health and safety of their cast members and guests.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen first, on July 11, while EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will restart operations on July 15. Like Universal Orlando Resort is doing early next month, MacPhee stated there will be cast member “preview” days before these dates to help flesh out any issues and test the new policies and procedures that will be put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

He also mentioned there would be strict guidelines on the number of guests who would be able to attend the theme parks on any given day, stating that Walt Disney World is going to implement a “park reservation” system. Under this system, guests will have to register for admittance prior to coming to a park, similar to the procedures put in place for Shanghai Disneyland. MacPhee stated further information about this new method of entry will be discussed at a later date, presumably including how the procedure will affect visitors planning to attend multiple parks on the same day, an issue Shanghai Disneyland does not have to face.

He then talked about the new safety measures that will be implemented throughout the resort, which will include “enhanced cleaning” and “enhanced protective measures.” He continued by discussing the new restrictions that will be put in place to increase physical distancing between guests and cast members.

As part of these new rules, all cast members and guests will be required to wear facial coverings in the parks. MacPhee discussed physical barriers that will be erected in retail and food and beverage locations to help increase the space between people, as well. Along with the reduction in overall park attendance, each restaurant, attraction, and retail location will be limited in the number of guests allowed at any given time. Furthermore, temperature screenings will be conducted for each guest and cast member. There will also be an increase in cleaning protocols, both back of house and “on stage,” consisting of more hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations and more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Finally, MacPhee stated there will be a renewed focus on a contactless experience. This will include enabling mobile ordering at more restaurants across the property and further implementation of contactless payment.

Finally, he discussed those experiences that lend themselves to close proximity between guests and cast. All character meet and greets, parades, and fireworks shows will be canceled until further notice. Playgrounds and water effects will also be closed.

This new announcement comes as the first part of Disney’s planned reopening, which involves the resuming of operations at Disney Springs, took place. Wednesday saw the Disney owned-and-operated locations at the free-to-visit shopping and entertainment district open their doors to guests for the first time in a little over two months.

The full presentation can be seen below; MacPhee begins speaking around the one hour mark.