Walt Disney World has just announced that a phased reopening of Disney Springs will begin on May 20, 2020. In this post, we’ll share details about the reopening of the entertainment complex, which will open its restaurants and retail ahead of the theme parks.
This decision by Walt Disney World to reopen Disney Springs follows the guidance of government and health officials, and will be done in stages. During the initial phase, a limited number of shopping and dining options that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open.
Walt Disney World notes that the health of guests and Cast Members is at the forefront of planning, and as such, Disney is making several operational changes as it starts the process of resuming operations at Walt Disney World. Here’s some of what to expect when Disney Springs reopens…
While Walt Disney World doesn’t explicitly say so, our assumption is that the decision to reopen will be made by each third party restaurant or store. As with other businesses around Florida and the rest of the United States, they’ll each likely make their own risk assessments, as well as determinations as to viability with significantly limited capacity.
Other complicating factors will include availability of employees and potential supply chain issues. (At least the restaurants and Cast Members have a couple weeks’ notice here.)
Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both Cast Members and guests, limited-contact guest services, and additional safety training for Cast Members.
Walt Disney World additionally indicates it will “apply learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries, and we’re also talking to our unions as we prepare for some Cast Members to return to work.”
It also follows the Shanghai Disneyland Reopening Date Announcement, which provided more specific requirements for guests. The big question following that was whether guests would have to wear face masks when Walt Disney World reopened.
The detail in this Disney Springs announcement about both Cast Members and guests using “appropriate face coverings” would seem to suggest that will be the case. (Although, once again, everything is subject to change in these quickly evolving and highly dynamic times.)
During the initial opening phase, Disney Springs will have limitations on capacity, parking, and operating hours.
Given this unprecedented situation, Walt Disney World requests everyone’s patience and understanding as they navigate through this process as responsibly as we can.
Additional protocols and procedures may be announced closer to the opening date. Please check DisneySprings.com as the May 20, 2020 reopening date draws nearer. That page will have the most current information on operating hours, operating restaurants & shops, and safety procedures.
As locals, we’ve become frequent visitors of Disney Springs. It’s our “home” AMC and between that and its top tier dining, it’s often one of our go-to choices for a night out.
A late night at Disney Springs is right up there with dinner in Epcot followed by late night laps around World Showcase, which obviously is not possible at this time. It’s gotten to the point, as noted in our More Mellow Music from Disney World & Beyond, that I’m even nostalgic for the Disney Springs BGM. And it’s not very good!
To that end, if you’re looking at a visit to Disney Springs to get your Walt Disney World fix, check out our resources for the entertainment complex. For starters, there’s our Disney Springs Tips & Tricks.
I’m personally already looking forward to our first meal at Disney Springs. Right now, I’m craving Chef Art’s Famous Fried Chicken & Doughnuts.
Speaking of which, I should probably review the spectacular brunch at Homecomin’…or perhaps we should test it out again just to be sure that it’s still spectacular. Yeah, eat there again first…
Or maybe we’ll do the excellent Liz Angus Burger at STK, which we previously called the “best lunch deal at Walt Disney World.” Or perhaps we’ll feast at the food trucks, like Cookie Dough and Everything Sweet, Mac & Cheese, or the fantastic 4 Rivers Cantina. Or the latest monthly option for D-Luxe Burger.
Or or or–the World Disney Springs is our oyster! Sorry, we’ve been cooped up at home for a while. I’m just mildly excited by the prospect of restaurant food for the first time in a long time!
We’ve expected that Disney Springs will open prior to the theme parks and resorts for a while, especially as that squares pretty well with the parameters established by the State of Florida and Orange County for reopening the economy. The added upside here is that Walt Disney World can test & adjust on the fly, seeing what works and doesn’t.
Disney Springs is an environment populated by third party tenants and local guests who aren’t paying admission and are generally lower maintenance than tourists visiting and staying at Walt Disney World for multiple days (or over a week) at a time. (Calling it “lower stakes” as compared to the parks doesn’t feel quite right, but that’s exactly what it is.)
A few things are worth noting in that regard. First, Disney is quick to point out that third party tenants are the ones reopening, and not ones that are Disney owned and operated.
It’s possible that Walt Disney World is not ready to reopen its venues but wants to avoid contractual conflict with third party tenants and is thus beginning the phased opening of Disney Springs. It’s also possible that Walt Disney World simply hasn’t negotiated a deal with its unions yet for reopening, and will announce that its venues in Disney Springs will likewise reopen on May 20 with the third parties.
For those looking at the opening of Disney Springs and wondering what it means for the theme parks, we can once again look to Shanghai Disneyland. Not because it’s conclusive, but it’s at least instructive.
Shanghai Disney Resort’s Disneytown complex reopened on March 8–over two months before that resort’s one park is resuming operations. For what it’s worth, Disneytown also reopened faster after its closure, welcoming guests after a little over one month of downtime. Disney Springs will have been closed for roughly two months when it reopens.
Ultimately, the reopening of Disney Springs still doesn’t tell us when the Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels will open, but it’s a step in the right direction. At minimum, this bodes well for subsequent phases and might mean that more of Walt Disney World reopening in Summer 2020 is still in the cards.
These incremental steps to ‘power up’ the machine that is Walt Disney World may take some time, but the cautious and methodical approach will hopefully pay off with smooth results. Here’s hoping for the best as Walt Disney World–and everyone else–tries to reestablish a sense of normalcy!
Will you visit Disney Springs once it reopens, or will you wait? Anywhere you’re excited to eat first? Thoughts on the health protocol and safety measures? Do you agree or disagree with our Disney Springs restaurant recommendations? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!