Disney World Announces Official Reopening Dates
It’s a big day for Walt Disney World, which just announced reopening plans and official opening dates for Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom, followed by Epcot & Hollywood Studios. This came in a comprehensive presentation to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. In this post, we’ll share the details, including temporary health safety protocol, rules, plans for soft opening opening, guest reservations, and more.
Regular readers of our Walt Disney World Closure & Reopening Updates know we’ve been following these weekly OC task force meetings since they began. It’s been an interesting albeit tedious process. These virtual meetings typically run over an hour, with early ones containing a bunch of nonsense and only a few worthwhile nuggets of info. However, even those provided insight into Walt Disney World’s plans days or weeks prior to the same announcements via Disney’s official channels.
The last couple of weeks, Orange County TV has become must-watch television (well, YouTube–watch for yourself here). It has gone from only a few dozen streaming viewers for each meeting to a few hundred last week to thousands this week. For good reason, as the stakes have gotten higher and the substance of the meetings more compelling…
Last week, the bulk of the meeting was devoted to Universal Orlando Resort’s comprehensive reopening presentation. Executives from Universal highlighted their preventative measures plan and laid out a “guest journey” that would stress the importance of communication, engaging guests and building confidence to encourage visitation.
More significantly, Universal dropped the bombshell announcement that Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay would open for employee previews on June 1 and 2, followed by an Annual Passholder soft opening on June 3 and 4, and then to the general public on June 5, 2020. This accelerated timeline surprised a lot of people, us included.
Although initially rumored to be presenting their own reopening plans at that meeting, both Walt Disney World and SeaWorld waited until this week’s meeting to do the same.
Rumors have since swirled that Disney leadership was caught off-guard by Universal’s announcement. Supposedly, this process has been less collaborative in nature than previous security and health safety plans, which were designed in tandem by the three major players in the Orlando theme park market.
We cannot speak to the veracity of those rumors, but it’s worth noting that Universal Orlando isn’t alone in moving fast. The same day of Universal’s big reveal, Legoland Florida announced it would reopen first on June 1, 2020. Last Friday, FunSpot Orlando announced it had already opened (you read that correctly), and Gatorland followed suit the next day.
Roughly one-dozen area water parks and smaller scale amusement parks or attractions have likewise received approval to open–before the end of this month or first few days of June.
SeaWorld Orlando presented its plans first during this week’s Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. During this, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced a general public reopening date of June 11, 2020 for SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove. (With an operational employee appreciation day prior to that.)
SeaWorld also shared specific “enhancements” to park operations, including mandatory masks for guests & employees, physical distancing, temperature screenings, and more. (All pictured above–pretty much identical to what Universal announced last week.) Notably, SeaWorld will not have an advanced reservation system for entering the park–also the same as Universal Orlando.
As for Walt Disney World, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings appeared on CNBC late last week and confirmed that Walt Disney World would submit their proposal and plans this week, which would be scheduled for presentation at today’s task force meeting.
Disney further corroborated this yesterday, with a tweet confirming they would present phased reopening plans today. With SeaWorld’s presentation finished, all eyes turned to Walt Disney World…
Even though we know what health security & safety measures will look like thanks to the opening of Disney Springs (and due to announcements by WDW unions), a number of questions remained to be answered today.
Would Disney present plans for a TBD opening, or reveal a target date as well? Would all parks reopen simultaneously, or just Magic Kingdom at first? What limitations would be placed on park capacity? Would advance registration be required for entry? How would this work for Annual Passholders? What about the two dozen-plus resort hotels? Would Walt Disney World reopen to Florida residents first, or everyone?
Well, we now have answers to these questions. At least, some of them…
Presenting for Disney during the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force was Walt Disney World’s Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Operating Officer. He shared Walt Disney World’s reopening plans, beginning with opening dates.
The big news here is that Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will officially reopen to the general public on July 11, 2020. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot will officially open on July 15, 2020. Prior to these dates, Walt Disney World will host a series of Cast Member previews and soft opening days for select audiences to ramp up operations. The details of these preview days will be announced at a later time.
For the official opening dates, Walt Disney World will employ a new theme park reservation system for visiting, the details of which will also be shared at a future date.
Additionally, Walt Disney World will utilize the above health and safety protocols, including mandatory masks, temperature screenings, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning & sanitation, and the reduction of contact between Cast Members and guests (including encouraging Mobile Ordering, contactless payments, etc.)
We’re not going to linger on any of these details, as this is all pretty much identical to what’s already happening at Disney Springs and what was revealed weeks ago by the Walt Disney World unions.
If you haven’t read our previous posts about the reopening of Disney Springs, here are photos and videos of what it looks like, and here’s what you can expect in terms of temporary health screening & safety requirements.
More significantly, Walt Disney World confirmed that it will temporarily suspend parades, fireworks, and other high-density entertainment during the first phase of its reopening.
Likewise, character meet & greets, playgrounds, water play areas, and other areas where physical distancing is impossible or impractical will be temporarily suspended during phase one.
All of this will be reinforced and effectively conveyed to guests well before they arrive at Walt Disney World via new education, communication, and engagement strategies.
Presumably, this will begin when guests book vacations or, if already booked, via push alerts and email notifications sent to guests. It will continue via the My Disney Experience app, in-park signage, and new Cast Member teams that will communicate with guests.
Walt Disney World concluded its presentation by reiterating some behind the scenes plans taking place to train Cast Members, educate the public, and prepare the parks for their soft opening dates and official reopening dates in July 2020. The approach was described as methodical and deliberate.
This still leaves questions unanswered for anyone contemplating a summer vacation to Walt Disney World. Most notably, they did not address its resort hotels in the presentation, nor did it offer even a vague timeframe as to when the soft openings will begin.
As we’ve said before, Walt Disney World’s two-dozen resorts will likely open in phases. Deluxe Resorts with Disney Vacation Club properties will likely be first, then non-DVC resorts connected to the parks by non-bus transportation (Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Yacht Club), followed by everything else.
The process of hotels reopening could take a few months. There might even be some resorts that don’t reopen this year at all if there’s a lack of demand (think Coronado Springs, the All Stars, Port Orleans Resorts), in which case guests with bookings at those properties would be relocated elsewhere.
UPDATE: Walt Disney World Announced Opening Dates for Hotels & DVC Resorts!
With Walt Disney World starting its official process over a full month after Universal Orlando, it’s entirely possible that the “unofficial” opening will begin far earlier. This could include a few days of Cast Member previews followed by a couple weeks of the soft opening time that targets DVC Members, Annual Passholders, and Florida residents. This is an approach that has previously been discussed during these task force meetings, so it’s not exactly far-fetched.
During a longer preview timeframe, Walt Disney World could refine its approaches and have operations more polished before tourists with vacation packages arrive in full force (well, more like reduced capacity force). This would also give Disney more time to scale up operations, getting some of the hotels open for the bigger mid-July opening. The last few paragraphs here are merely our speculation, not anything discussed during Walt Disney World’s presentation. In any case, we’re expecting a deluge of additional news for Walt Disney World directly via official channels in the near future (possibly later today, possibly when Governor DeSantis approves the plan). We’ll keep you updated once we know more!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Will you be visiting Walt Disney World right away when the parks reopen in July or will you wait? Surprised by the details of Disney’s reopening presentation to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force? Optimistic that things will be “back to normal” at Walt Disney World sooner rather than later? A variety of viewpoints are welcomed here, but we will not tolerate insults, arguing, or politically-charged comments. Don’t ruin a 95% fine comment with an unnecessary cheap shot—that 5% will get it deleted. Additionally, please do not debate the efficacy of masks or other health safety policies–all such comments (for, against, otherwise) will be deleted. Those arguments are played out and isn’t the appropriate forum for that. (Saying you will or will not visit in light of certain measures is fine.)
What are you thoughts on how this may affect park hopping? I know that more information will be available as they implement the new reservation system but I was curious. I haven’t been able to find any information on it. We had a trip scheduled for 06/11-06/15 and we rescheduled for 08/02-08/06. We has quite literally just finished booking dining when I saw the news about cancellation of dining. Haven’t heard about park hopping though.
I plan on wearing the hottest mask available, passing out, hitting my head and getting free fast passes for life, or would probably settle for two Mickey Bars!
(If you can’t tell this is a joke)We have had 3 trips cancelled thus far, needing some humor to not think about the hours and early mornings of planning trips just to be vanquished in an instant.
Thanks for the post Tom, appreciate your efforts throughout all of this!
Did Tom or anyone explain why MK and AK before the other two parks? Just curious the reasoning. Thanks in advance.
Sven, I was wondering the same. I thought they’d just open MK as a control. AK was not on my list at all. To me, the narrow walkways are not conducive to social distancing and it’s also the warmest (hottest really) park, not good for the wearing of face masks. I also think if the number of Covid cases goes up significantly after Universal opens, maybe Disney won’t open at all.
I don’t trust Florida to accurately report new cases. To paraphrase Churchill, I cannot forecast to you the action of Florida. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Florida’s tourism industry. I know many won’t agree, but the economy (money) should never have more value than human lives.
MK: busiest and easiest to fill. Also the flagship park at the resort.
AK: animal health and well-being. Just like us, interaction/stimulation is really important. When animals suddenly lose the audience they’ve become accustomed to, they can get depressed just like you and me.
Not going until there is a vaccine with widespread availability to the public.
Does anyone know if Hoop will be open? We love this restaurant experience!
Oh! We’ll be vacationing elsewhere until the ludicrous mask policy is gone.
I purchased a 3 day pass for that week in March. 7/14-19, iirc. I’m wondering if that will be honored or does “advanced registration system” mean everybody has to rebook at some special date?
In which case I won’t bother trying to fight the rush.
Haven’t gotten so much as an email about my tickets I bought, which is frankly a little shocking at this point.
I look forward to receiving some guidance from Disney with respect to annual pass-holders, especially those who have purchased the full passes with no blackout dates and have already paid in full. How will the reservation system be implemented? Plus, if we are traveling on I-4 and get stuck in traffic, and miss our check in time, do we lose it? Is the holding area for temperature checks climate controlled? If people are standing in the sun waiting to get a temperature check, and their temperature is elevated because of that, are they denied entry, or, do they go to a climate-controlled space for a re-check? I purchased my full pass, and paid in full at the time of purchase. How will my pass be extended if I can’t get in on the days that I want to because the reservations are already at capacity? Thank you.
There is a cooling tent in Disney Springs for that reason. You can cool down and retest.
I have been to Disney on numerous trips in the summer over the years. Temperatures oftens soar into the high 90s or even over 100. On almost every one of these trips, I have seen numerous people of a variety of age groups pass out due to the heat. Masks in this heat are going to cause emergency situations I fear. And lighter ones may not provide adequate protection to be worth bothering with. Just not sure it is going to be a good thing in the hot, humid Florida environment.
I find it curious that WDW is opening so late. In fact, it’s opening at a point when masks might no longer be needed. Of all the things to change in these plans, ditching masks is probably the easiest adjustment to make. It looks like WDW is using the other area parks as the canaries in the coal mine. If anything breaks out at those parks, they’ll have time to notice it and adjust plans accordingly. But if there’s no outbreaks by the time WDW opens, they’ll have that extra layer of liability protection (see, we waited to make sure it was safe), and there’s the possibility that a month+ without outbreaks might see the need for masks drastically reduced, that other parks might be advancing to additional stages (see, those other parks don’t require masking, so we followed their lead). It does make me wonder.
I agree. All these businesses are backed into a corner. They have to follow CDC guidelines. If I were Disney I would want other parks to go first and take the fall. As so many folks have already expressed, the masks in the heat are seemingly a disaster waiting to happen…. hopefully, it’s nothing worse than a couple guests/cast members passing out. Then the CDC will have to set a new guideline stating “masks should not be worn in temperatures above…. and masks should not be worn if you are experiencing breathing difficulties ..”. Or something like that. Then the parks will have to comply. IT seems a little bit like a big game being played.
I also think that part of it is the sheer size and scope of Disney World compared to the other parks. Universal is the next largest and pales in comparison to the operations of Disney World.
There may be some guinea pig motivation as well, but I think the bigger motivation is how difficult it is to restart the machine.
NO MASKS ON VACATION, NEVER, PERIOD! Disney Execs. WAKE UP!!
Then don’t take a vacation to a densely crowded tourist hub until the pandemic cools off.
Poof! No masks on vacation, problem solved.
Was waiting on the mask issue my April vacation was cancelled by disney ok so I rescheduled for july now masks will be required so sadly I need to tell my daughter once again we will not be going to disney what gets me is that when I cancell disney dose not refund park tickets says they can be used at another time who says I will be in a position to go back at a later time I don’t think that is right I will just wait and c if someone starts a class action lawsuit for ticket refunds and don’t forget those pricy flights that I may also lose out on yes I understand when they shut down why but when I reschuled they told me no ticket refund now forced to wear masks and less magic no thanks
One of the things I have noticed missing from these conversations is the safety of cast members. While masks might be a slight inconvenience for guests Disney has to make sure employees feel\are safe in order for them to agree to come back to work. Disney cast members need to feel that the company is doing all they can to protect them from the spread of the virus as they work to provide a magical experience for guests. Masks, along with following all other CDC guidelines, is the glue that will get the cast members back. This goes hand in hand with kind to them upon return to the park and having respect for the safety of others.
Tom ,did any annual pass holders notice an FP Planning card next to their annual passes in the Disney app? These showed up tonight in my app and there are multiple cards for each of my family members with the last date of my stay on them…?? I have fast passes planned out already for my stay from 7/18 to 7/25. Just curious if anyone else noticed this.
Not seeing it now, nor any of the fast passes I booked yesterday morning for our July 26-31 trip. Also, can’t do any ADRs right now.
We have a trip in November. My 180 ADR day is tomorrow morning. Am I correct when I look at the website that I cannot make reservations currently? Is that suspended for the time being? Thanks.
Joe, I’m curious were you able to book this AM? Maybe by calling?
I called and used the chat – that’s what I was told, Joe. “Our system is on hold and can’t modify or make reservations at this time. We do not have an estimated date”, etc.
I have a question. I made reservation for restaurants such as CRT, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and a couple more. It’s so expensive to eat in this types of restaurants because of the experience a person gets by meeting princess. I am totally ok with that. But now with this new procedure will the princess still be part of the experience in dining at restaurants?
Almost certainly not. They aren’t going to have the princesses wear masks, which means that they will only appear in ways/places where they can stay far away from people. A restaurant does not meet that definition.
Character meet & greets, including character dining, will not return to normal any time soon.
They have loaded a lot of the new reopening info onto the MDE app and it is more detailed than what they posted on the Disney Parks blog. Just an
Any thoughts on how this will play out for cruises? We have a land and sea trip booked in November but we have to cancel by the end of July to not lose a portion of the down payment. I feel like it will be too far out to make that decision! We also have very small ones, it will be so hard for them to keep masks on 🙁
Cruise ships were already floating Petri dishes before sars-cov-2. I’d avoid for now.
I imagine a lot of people will not be open to wearing masks and missing parades / fireworks. It will probably help Disney keep crowd levels low.
We have a trip booked for August. Not sure what we’re doing, but the masks will not be a deterrent, and our son is too young to stay up for fireworks anyway.
Thank you for another thoughtful post!
I appreciate all of your commentary. I’m so excited to return to Disney and am grateful they are requiring masks.
I’m glad you’re happy about masks ut many of us are disabled and not able to wear them. You should have a better attitude about those of us that cannot wear them. We allow you to wear them if you want.
@Cheryl…wow – you’re all over the place. First you think the government is lying to you, and now you and many parkgoers have a disabiity that limits wearing a mask. I’m truly sorry to hear that. But if that’s the case, it’s probably safest for you to stay home until the public safety emergency is over. Sure, the rest of us could wear surgical respirators to protect ourselves from non-mask wearers, but wait – they’re in short supply. I’ve worn mine working directly with patients many, many, any times more than the one patient per use standard. Why? People can’t be inconvenienced for a short period of time for the greater good.
So again, I truly hope you don’t expose yourself to the sars-cov-2 virus needlessly, because this disease is no joke. Be well.
I just got an email from the DVC management that said “Disney Vacation Club properties at the Walt Disney World Resort on June 22.” If the theme parks won’t open till July 11th and July 15th this seems to be a waste of time for points unless you just want to go to get away with on the Springs being open.
Don’t know if anyone has already posted this — but there is some info about Disney resorts opening https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/05/plans-unveiled-for-the-phased-reopening-of-walt-disney-world-resort-theme-parks-resort-hotels-and-disney-stores/
Alyx, we’re all adults too and go to Disney twice a year as we have family and friends there. The parks are secondary for us. We enjoy the hotel and restaurants a lot more, so it would be no big loss for us to skip the parks.
We decided to canceled our April trip a few weeks before Disney shut down. Would hate to cancel the November trip. We’re taking a wait and see attitude. Everyone is reopening and no one knows if the numbers will rise again. Stay safe.
Gee, after reading all the comments (and I mean ALL the comments), it seems my trip scheduled for the end of November might just be a go for us. Why cancel when it sounds like the majority of people refuse to go if masks are required. The place will be deserted. That would work well for those of us who don’t want to be around large crowds. Hmmm…food for thought.
I was thinking the exact same thing. Our trips in November as well. I can deal with masks (I work in the health field so I have to wear them all day anyway) and I’m going with adults so characters, parades and the like aren’t a deal breaker.