Florida Enters Full Phase 1: Disney World Can Submit Reopening Plans & Date
Walt Disney World, Universal, and other theme parks can now submit reopening plans to the state and local governments for review as Florida prepares to enter “full phase one” to restart its economy. Governor Ron DeSantis detailed what that entails at his latest press conference. Here we’ll cover the pertinent details, plus what this immediately means for Disney Springs and CityWalk.
Under the full phase one, restaurants will be able to increase their operating capacity to 50%. For the last couple of weeks during a partial phase one, restaurants could only fill 25% of their tables. Retail stores, museums, gyms, and libraries will likewise be able to reopen at 50% capacity. Florida’s new full phase one measures are effective beginning on Monday, May 18.
That follows the reopening of CityWalk at Universal Orlando earlier this week, which saw significant waits for seating at the few dine-in options that were open there (multiple reports on social media have shown hour-plus waits at Margaritaville being the norm). It likewise comes two days before the reopening of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World.
It’s unclear how Florida’s forthcoming full phase one plans will alter the operations of these restaurant and retail districts at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. While Disney Springs Released Official Plans & Policies earlier today and CityWalk has a page of Important Safety Guidelines, neither address capacity.
Restaurants throughout Central Florida have increased outdoor seating in an attempt to make their businesses viable and reduce wait times for tables. The increased outdoor seating plus this increase in capacity should help with that, as should more venues beginning to resume operations.
In the cases of both CityWalk and Disney Springs, there’s pent-up demand from locals as well as a general curiosity as to the mechanics and friction of safety measures. Initial reports out of Universal Orlando have pointed to fairly smooth opening days, albeit with modest crowds.
Even with no tourists around, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Only a handful of locations are open at CityWalk and capacity is a tiny fraction of a normal day. Being able to operate at half-capacity should entice more restaurants to reopen, spreading demand and resulting in smaller crowds congregated waiting outside.
As you can see on our List of Restaurants Reopening at Disney Springs & CityWalk, the Walt Disney World restaurant & retail district will have a significantly larger number of locations open from day one–but still nowhere near the full roster.
It remains to be seen whether the Disney Springs lineup will be enough to absorb guest demand. (In fairness, CityWalk venues had shorter notice–we’d expect more to be open next week.)
Turning to the parks themselves, DeSantis indicated that theme parks can now submit reopening plans to the State of Florida for review. These will need to include a specific target date they’d like to reopen the parks.
In addition, the plans should also include guidelines on how to protect guests and employees, and contain an endorsement from the local government. For Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, that will be coming from Orange County.
For its part, Orange County has largely expressed an attitude that mixes cautiousness and tempered enthusiasm towards reopening. Initial guidelines from the Economic Task Force suggested theme parks would likely open in the second phase, before indicating they’d defer to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando in creating tailored plans for their unique operations.
Many on the economic task force are eager to see Walt Disney World reopen because of the ramifications that will have on other area businesses. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has repeatedly stressed the need to reassure and comfort the public that an emphasis is being placed on safety, and that businesses have ample time to procure supplies necessary for reopening.
After Governor DeSantis’ press conference, Mayor Demings stated that Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld have not sought approval to reopen. Demings indicated that he’s been in communication with the companies, and suspects they’ll first open portions of their properties like resorts and entertainment districts prior to the theme parks.
At his briefing, Mayor Demings stated that he believed Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are looking at later dates to reopen, likely in “June or thereafter.” This is consistent with what came from the most recent Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force meeting, where Walt Disney World SVP Thomas Mazloum reiterated that the booking of reservations starting on July 1 is not necessarily indicative that the parks and resorts will be back up and running by then.
This also squares with Walt Disney World Delaying New Reservations Until July 1, 2020 and beginning to cancel reservations during the first week of June. At this point, it seems like any of the parks or resorts being operational in late June is a long shot. Despite Demings’ statement, we still question the notion that the resorts will operate prior to the parks. That’s the easier route, but tourists aren’t going to show up without the parks being open, and locals aren’t going to book nights at hotels.
If you’re a local itching to get your amusement fix, there’s still hope for the next couple months. Smaller attractions like Fun Spot America, WonderWorks, and other International Drive attractions have sought to be treated more like restaurants and stores, which have been allowed to open to a limited number of customers for two weeks. These I-Drive offerings will present proposals of their own to the economic recovery task force next week.
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!
What do you think of this news? Dined at any Orange County, Florida restaurants recently? Have you visited CityWalk since it reopened? What was your experience like? Do you plan on visiting Disney Springs next week? Looking forward to Walt Disney World finally submitting a reopening proposal and date? Optimistic that the parks and/or resorts will reopen in July? We welcome a variety of viewpoints here, and will never delete anything on opinion alone. However, 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. Please do not incessantly harp on the same point. Say your piece and move along.
I have a reservation on June 1 (rebooked from May 12) and Disney has not cancelled it. Yet. It would be nice to know one way or another. Surely the Disney folks in charge know if the parks and hotels will be open in 2 weeks. Obv no one is going to go if the parks aren’t open. So the two have to open together. So I don’t know why they have not cancelled my reservation yet.
The task force is meeting tomorrow to discuss an opening day for Disney Parks.https://www.wftv.com/news/florida/live-updates-orlandos-major-theme-parks-reveal-planned-reopening-dates-tomorrow/SY55QYU3URDCZJVGZTEVD5IZBA/?fbclid=IwAR1TDVdXgdWzT-FL29CddX6Q_BxPBKYOM_MpNtDU2GMSl5b46vLK_XZS1qA
Maybe this has been addressed and I’ve missed it. But, how do we reconcile ADR’s booked 6 months out relative to restaurants at 50% or less capacity. For example, we have ADR’s at very popular restaurants for an early September trip, meaning ADR’s were booked in early March (before the COVID pandemic was entirely understood). I get Disney controlling ADRs (even 6 months out) now and not selling out the restaurant. But in my case, assuming parks and restaurants are operating even at limited capacity in September, how does Disney prioritize who keeps ADRs and who loses to satisfy seating capacity restrictions? Perhaps their assumption is so many families are going to cancel and the restrictions will take care of itself? Any thoughts or speculation?
Well, we had a reservation for sept but will most likely cancel. My wife has asthma and she can only wear a mask for about 20-30 minutes before she begins to have trouble breathing. Also, I’m not going to walk around in a face mask in 90-100 degree heat and 100% humidity.
If they do make mask mandatory like I previously read. We will cancel and rebook for next Fall.
And hopefully there will not be a resurgence. I have a feeling that Disney is going to require this for a long time to come.
As DVC members, we are desperate to use our banked points that will expire on 11/1. I had to cancel our early June Vero Beach vacation, and decided to book 6 nights at AK Kidani in mid-August right before my kids “normally” return to school. Who knows what the world will look like in 3 months! If we go, we plan to wear our masks while indoors, socially distance at the pool, and avoid reservation dining. Even if the parks open, I’m not sure I’d be willing to activate our first annual passes, given the uncertainty. Our last WDW vacation was in 2017 and we’ve been waiting to return to the parks in 2021, in time for the 50th anniversary and opening of all the new attractions. Now THAT is even questionable. I guess we all just have to wait and see how things play out.
To the Disney faithful! I am of the opinion that the facts of the matter lend themselves to a June opening. One, Disney has concluded labor negotiations with the unions. Two, the day after or of Ron DeSantis’s press conference Disney added a Covid 19 when visiting Disney World Resort disclaimer to its website. This disclaimer was put up to say that you are taking full liability for visiting a public area like Disney during this virus. Three, there will never be a good time to open. Four, if Disney was going to cancel all of June, they would have done so by now. Five, the cancellation of the first week of June was an effort to make DeSantis move to full phase 1. Don’t believe me. The cancellation of the first week of June happened a day before his press conference.
I’m optimistic too (fingers cross for my June 13 reservation), but they’ve been cancelling 1 week at a time on either Wednesday or Thursday each week. If there’s no cancellation notice by Thursday this week I’m very optimistic of them not cancelling any more reservations (unless cases spike or other outlier event)
Thanks for keeping us informed! Your site is the best!
So, why was my comment deleted? I did not attack anyone when I said that I would be interested in visiting Disney this year if all the comments from those who say they are not going because of temporary restrictions hold true.
Tom, if you want a reason to delete a comment than I will give you one right now. You can shove this little nazi censoring blog of yours where the sun don’t shine. And remove my account, as I do not support such garbage.
Are you talking about your comment on this post? https://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-springs-official-reopening-policies-masks-temperature-checks-capacity-more/comment-page-1/#comment-2036135
It’s still there, and I’ve never deleted any of your comments.
Oh goodness. Snowflakes will be snowflakes
Wow Jeff that was really harsh, particularly as it seems you had your threads mixed up. I hope you are feeling less tense and upset by now.
sorry to see such horrible words directed at anyone here, let alone Tom. Giving each other the benefit of the doubt is magical and distinctly patriotic 🙂
I think that many will go to Disney Springs. Universal City walk opened 2 days ago and there were lines of people there. I have a reservation in Disney Springs for lunch on the 20th and I plan on going. I am not opposed to any of their screenings or the wearing of masks. I think it is a great first step for Disney. This week non Disney stores and restaurants and next week Disney stores and restaurants, Also on Monday they will be allowed 50% capacity as we move to phase 2. Everyone has their own opinion and can follow their minds but for me this is no different than going to any other restaurant or store in the area. People have been crowding up the grocery stores all through this pandemic and at least with Disney Springs you are outside. I can’t wait!!
Hi Cathy I second that!! Lol! I live in NJ and I cant wait until all this is over im checking the website every day I love this website I come to florida every yr in august to Disneyworld and I say the same thing you go everywhere else with a mask on so at least in Disney springs I will enjoy myself after all this I cant wait to get there mask and all I am retiresin g next Oct and I am moving to florida I love it have a Blessed Day and enjoy yourself.
Stay home people. 2 family members work for Disney and have underlying health issues. By reopening they will be forced off unemployment ( have not seen a red cent yet ) and their lives will be at risk every second they are on the job. Is it worth it to visit a dead man and his pet rat?
The PUA unemployment benefits are extended to people unable to work due to serious health issues. Instead of demanding everyone to continue not working and not getting paid, try directing those with actual health issues to https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#faqs.
If Disney employees aren’t getting their unemployment benefits as you say, and it doesn’t surprise me, my state is the same way, why force everyone to stay home and keep not getting paid when numerous people just want to get back to work and get paid?
Any…I just looked up the quarantine mandate today. I believe from the tristate area that quarantine is still in place for Florida.
We are not in Quarantine. We are starting phase 2 on Monday, Hair salons, nail salons are already open and on Monday Gyms and Spas will be added. All of our beaches are currently open.
Karen, are you referring to the travel mandated quarantine coming into FL? If so, than yes, that is still in place for anyone traveling from NY, NJ, CT, and LA. I’ve been wondering myself when these might get lifted but haven’t heard much of it.
We live right here and we r annual pass holder I’m not in a rush to go we don’t need more people coming down here from all over the USA I have no problem with a mask. BUt wait until it’s 95 out and humidity is 90. Might change my mind. BUt on the other hand my daughter will not want not wear one she has sencory issues and can’t stand anything on her face or head. So that’s a deal breaker for me.
Universal Riverwalk is open, but you know that.
No one knows the extent of the “pent up demand” but it’s clear that a lot of people have no intention of going to a park or restaurant in the near future since there’s no vaccine and not really an effective treatment, either. This group of people may be large enough to make restaurants and parks unprofitable even if all restrictions are cancelled.
(I’m in this group. While I’d love to go back, I’m not “dying” to go back, and at this stage while the risk is low (and always has been in most places), it’s far enough above zero that I’m not willing to return any time soon. Of course, both the evaluation of the risk and how you respond to it are individual decisions, and YMMV.)
I think pent-up demand is generally exaggerated and predicated upon the popularity of beaches and local restaurants that don’t have the same cost barrier to entry. I also think economic reality has yet to set in for a lot of Americans, and that will further preclude the booking of vacations.
On the flip side, I think the “no intention of visiting” category is probably also exaggerated–or at least will erode over time as more people grow restless, more willing to take (what they view as) acceptable risks, and willing to comply with restrictions/limitations.
Where all of that will ultimately intersect in terms of demand is anyone’s guess. Suffice to say, I’d expect views to change pretty dramatically on both ends of the spectrum by the end of summer.
If anything screws this up it will be the limited restuarant occupancy. You can’t pay staff and bills at 25%.
I don’t think so. 50% of capacity starting today and by many of the groups I am in there are many who will go and just follow what they say. It all has to start somewhere and if people are afraid to go it will be awesome for residents not to have the crowds when they first open but I am doubting that. Disney Springs reservations for Wednesday are already filling up. One thing I know. Disney will not close and the people will eventually come. Just a bonus for me if they don’t come right away.
There are so many factors, that it’s impossible to accurately forecast…
Regardless of business size there is operational cost v. capacity income, consumer confidence in both financial security as well as health and safety, liability/legal, state restrictions (ie things FL’s quarantine on those coming from the NE as well as quarantine’s in your home state after returning from a visit to certain places, the potential spike that could take 5-6 weeks to see as most of the country is relaxing, and so on.
My husband and I want nothing more than to be able to travel again. However, the more we rush, the more likely we are to have a backslide causing this to go on for longer and longer. I understand all of the arguments from all of the sides, but the politicizing has no place in a pandemic. When health experts (like epidemiologists who spend their life learning and studying this) say we need masks, testing, and contact tracing, then the rest of us NON experts need to respect that. When (again lifelong learned) economists say that ripping the bandaid off rather than approaching reopening cautiously and methodically will do more harm than good, we NON experts need to respect that. If we could all just value the advice of the experts and implement their guidance, then we could all be stepping back toward normalcy at a slow but steady pace. Personally, I’d much rather that than the very likely spike(s) and shutdown(s) that will continue to happen as long as we have a state/local by state/local approach with little rhyme or reason to any of it.
We live in the NE and traveled 5 times to Disney in 2019. We also went in Jan 2020 and had plans to go back end of March. We are such Disney addicts that we’d still go even if the parks weren’t open but the resorts were. With all of our trips we often resort hop and visit Disney Springs several times. I’d book a trip just to do that again…sigh. We are so over this. Will gladly wear a mask anywhere Disney instructs but fear all the coasters and water rides/water parks will remain closed. But don’t worry if you’re mask flies off Disney will have a 4 pack available for $20 I’m all of their shops!
I’m in the same boat as you. Our next trip is scheduled for June 29th, so we’re really hoping they’re open by July 1st (we’ll happily push our dates if needed). I’m also not deterred by the masks. I’ll do whatever Disney wants me to get inside the parks at this point. I’d even be fine with going with only resorts (as long as the pools are open) and Disney Springs open. We’re just anxious to get our Disney Magic fix after months inside.
Has the 14 day self quarantine for people from the tri state area (NY,NJ,CT) been lifted? Last I heard you couldn’t travel from these areas without quarantining.
No, the self quarantine for NY, NJ, CT and LA is still in effect.
Some progress…slow and cautious, but I would love more info from Disney. I wish they would give a prospective reopen date for parks and resorts. Just don’t have any idea if we will be going in September when we are booked. The not knowing anything is the hardest part of this wait-and-see.
As mentioned in the article, the reopening plan requires a prospective reopening date be included. The sooner these are submitted and approved, the sooner we’ll know the plan. Your September date is a long time off in perspective of park closure length so far, but the way things are moving in Florida, my guess is they’ll be open well before September and maybe some of the restrictions will be lifted by then.