When Will Disney World Reopen?
“When will Walt Disney World really reopen?” and “will the parks stay closed until [insert date/season]?” have become frequently asked questions. This is due to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and the resort hotels all currently closed. (Updated June 1, 2020.)
With so much uncertainty in the air and people wanting to plan vacations or cancel trips, these questions are unsurprising. Accordingly, we’ve been doing an ongoing series that attempts to offer balance, nuance, and our best guesses with all things considered. To recap, here are questions what we’ve addressed:
- Will Walt Disney World Offer Huge Discounts Once It Opens?
- How Bad Will Crowds Be at Walt Disney World After Reopening?
- What Operational & Health Safety Changes Will Disney Make?
Likewise, you can find regular updates in our Disney Closure & Reopening News & Rumors. In this post, we’ll share official reopening dates for Walt Disney World’s four theme parks, plus the future of the resort hotels, and what operations will look like when they resume. If you want further updates when Disney makes official announcements, sign up for our free email newsletter and we’ll send you notifications ASAP when important new info is released…
The good news is that we have a few pieces of official news in terms of when Florida’s theme parks will begin reopening. First, Universal Orlando that Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and Universal Studios Florida will reopen in early June 2020.
Next, SeaWorld Orlando will reopen on June 11, 2020, as will Busch Gardens Tampa. Legoland Florida has already reopened, as have the majority of smaller regional amusement parks and roadside attractions in the Orlando area and throughout Central Florida. That leaves Walt Disney World as the final park operator to reopen…
For its part, Walt Disney World has already begun to reopen its Disney Springs shopping and dining district.
We shared thoughts and photos from a recent visit there in “Our ‘Ghost Town’ Experience at Disney Springs.” As the title suggests, Disney Springs has not been particularly busy since reopening. To the contrary, it’s been dead most of the time.
When it comes to WDW’s theme parks, fans will have to wait a little longer. Walt Disney World will begin a slow, multi-phase reopening beginning on July 11, 2020.
On this date, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will officially reopen to the general public.
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 affinity groups (such as Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, Florida Residents, Club 33, Golden Oak, etc). The details of these preview days will be announced at a later time.
It’s unclear when these soft openings will begin, but we believe it could happen as early as late June 2020. Walt Disney World could attempt to scale up park operations with the lower stakes, less-demanding local audience.
Disney has also announced that once the parks reopen, advance reservations will be required. It’s likely this will also hold true for the soft opening preview days–we’d expect email invitations with a registration link to go out to affinity group members within the next week or two.
Walt Disney World’s two-dozen resorts will likely open in phases.
It has already been announced that all Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World will reopen on June 22, 2020. When the other hotels will reopen has not yet been announced. Disney initially released a statement suggesting some would reopen on July 11, 2020, but that has since been retracted.
Our expectation is that the first hotels to reopen will be those with DVC add-ons. The hotel side and Disney Vacation Club villas side share infrastructure, staffing, and other resources with one another. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to reopen only the Disney Vacation Club side of the property.
Following the hotels with Disney Vacation Club wings, we’d expect the next phase of resort openings to include those connected to the parks by non-bus transportation (Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Yacht Club), followed by the remaining resorts.
There might even be some Walt Disney World hotels that don’t reopen this year at all if there’s a lack of demand or if they’re being utilized for events or other purposes, such as the NBA or MLS finishing their seasons (think Coronado Springs, the All Stars, both of the Port Orleans Resorts).
If that does happen, guests with existing bookings at those properties would be relocated elsewhere. This already happens now when resorts are overbooked, and frequently entails an upgrade.
It’s also worth noting that there is still an executive order requiring residents of Louisiana and the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) arriving in Florida to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days after arrival.
This does not expire until July 7, 2020–it’s unclear whether it will be extended (we doubt it). Plus, most international tourists still cannot enter the United States. This brings up the issue of demand, which will be an obstacle to Walt Disney World getting back to normal.
The complexity of Walt Disney World is another huge variable, and it’ll undoubtedly take the sprawling Florida resort much more time to ramp up operations than it did to wind them down. There are literally dozens of hotels, hundreds of restaurants, and myriad other components–in addition to the four theme parks. This machine will require a slow restart that’ll take more than a week to initiate.
It’s also problematic that Disney terminated its College Program, clearing out the housing, and sending those students home. The argument could be made that these are moves made to limit liability or cut surplus labor that won’t be necessary when the parks reopen. However, the reality is that they’ve cut or furloughed a lot of labor, and it’ll take some time to get that back.
Demand is another hurdle. Over 30 million Americans have now filed for unemployment in the last two months, and millions of employers have closed their businesses and slashed their workforces. It’s by far the worst string of layoffs on record, adding up to more than one in six American workers. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate could go as high as 20% in the near-term, and possibly surpass the 25% rate reached during the Great Depression. Consumer confidence is likewise plummeting.
While some of this will bounce back when the economy reopens, some of the damage will be lasting. Americans have already expressed an overwhelming reticence to travel on airplanes and be in large venues right now. Between that and economic anxiety, a majority of Americans may be unable or unwilling to take a Walt Disney World trip right now. That too will likely impact Disney’s reopening plans.
All of this is a very long-winded way of saying (and explaining) that a lot still remains up in the air when it comes to Walt Disney World’s reopening. Even now that we have official reopening dates for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom plus Epcot and Hollywood Studios, there are still many unknowns.
In the last week, we’ve seen Walt Disney World Cancel All Reservations–Free Dining, Restaurants, FastPass+ & Dining Plan. We’ve also seen Park Hours Cut Significantly for Reopening. Additionally, Character Dining Has Been Cancelled. These are just a handful of changes–with many more likely to come. This might leave you wondering what you should do if you have a Walt Disney World vacation planned for July 2020 and beyond.
Ultimately, that’s a personal decision. If the lack of parades, fireworks, character meet & greets, playgrounds, nighttime spectaculars, and other entertainment are important to you, waiting is recommended. If the health safety protocol and requirements are too burdensome or sound like they’ll ruin the magic for you, waiting is also recommended. However, if you want to experience the parks with significantly limited attendance and other advantages, now might be a good time to visit. We cover all of the upsides in our new post, “The Dawn of a Temporary Disney Era.”
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!
Do you plan on visiting Walt Disney World in July 2020 when the parks reopen? Hoping to visit earlier for soft openings? Or will you wait until modified operations and restrictions end, and the experience is closer to “normal” again? Do you agree or disagree with our advice and assessment? 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!
We have reservations at old key west for 1st week in October. Plane tickets from Baltimore & Seattle. We don’t have park tickets yet. Any rumor as to what plans are to sell park passes or if there will be any considerations for dvc members with reservations. Trip kind of useless without park passes.
Disney is not selling park tickets for 2020 at present, but will resume sales “later this summer.” Of course along with a ticket, one now must also have a reservation. Details, more or less, are here. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/experience-updates/parks/
My family rearranged a holiday due to take place in April when flights to USA from U.K. were cancelled. We are now due to go end of October. Having been to Disney many times we don’t want it to be disappointined. We have the option to rearrange again for May 2021. Would his be the best move or should we cancel and perhaps get a better deal for next year starting afresh
I doubt that travel between the UK and US will be allowed at the end of October. You can book and see what happens, of course. Right now, infections are increasing very fast in the Orlando area, though the epidemic has not yet reached the monstrous dimensions of New York back in March and April. The cheerful good-news responses of local and state governments are not encouraging, though at least some effort is going into reducing sources of social contact. It does appear that merely wearing masks in public greatly slows the spread of the virus. I live in a town where that’s become customary. On the coast, many beaches will be shut this weekend.
I think the New York Times maps and database remains free access, and of course the Johns Hopkins University site (which began with a single graduate student).
There are whispers that college football might be moved from fall to spring.
My understanding is that they are no longer selling park tickets for 2020
My sister and I are booked for the Wilderness Lodge in September 2020. We are coming from the UK. There’s precious little info on whether international travellers will be able to travel to the USA at that time – and apart from an email from Disney saying the Dining Plan is off, and there’s no concierge service (where we’ve booked for) – we’ve heard nothing else. (Disney has offered us a generous discount to cover what’s been removed though, so that’s appreciated.) Does anyone know anything about international visitors that can be shared?
Thanks so much, Tom, for your thorough and insightful analysis. Any historical data on how far in advance soft opening invites are generally sent out? We were finally able to modify our 7/5-7/10 stay to an open resort and are hoping to be invited to a soft opening as resort guests, AP or DVC during those dates. I don’t always receive their emails so I’m afraid I will miss an invite if I’m not constantly checking. Curious if there has been a pattern in the past. Thanks!
I am visiting Disney World End of August. Will everything there likely be back to normal? I don’t want to have to wear masks and have all these restrictions or it will not be fun.
I feel like I can get the most straight forward, reliable, and comprehensive information from your blog so it is my “go-to”. Thank you and please continue to your updates.
Very informative article and have helpful material. You are doing well job. Keep sharing good stuff.
I am concerned that my arrival from NJ on June 25th will be a disaster. My DVC hotel is open and I do not want to be confined in my hotel room on private Disney property. I live in a small town in NJ and have no exposure to COVID so I am still trusting Disney’ to let me enjoy my vacation
For your next update: On June 5, 3020, it was announced that the restrictions for travelers from Louisiana has been lifted. It remains in place for NY, Conn., NJ.
This was no real surprise. Texas reopened to travelers from Louisiana in late April and Louisiana entered into Phase 2 today. Originally an early hotspot, Louisiana is long past its peak level, and is in a sustained downturn in hospitalizations and new cases.
NJ enters phase 2 reopening on 6/15/20. Hoping the restriction is lifted by 7/11.
Is the presentation that Disney is giving tomorrow being live streamed?
WESH.com (Orlando NBC affiliate) will be live-streaming
With the news that NBA is making plans to use WDW/ESPN to host the playoffs in late July; how do you think that plays into the reopening plans, especially the resorts. Do they (players) use off-site accomodations?
FL could also be wary of an influx of out of state guests and might push to keep the resorts(hotels) closed in hopes that park visitors come from the local pool instead of travelers for the summer.
I don’t think the NBA plays into things at all. The resorts their staff/personnel/players will use likely wouldn’t reopen to the general public anyway, and ESPN Wide World of Sports would simply be closed to the public. Not like most guests will want to go there, anyway.
Do you think the Epcot Food and Wine Festival will happen this year?
As of right now, I’d say yes. Things could always change, but I’d imagine having Epcot open by the start of Food & Wine would be the latest target.
So if Disney is open and I have reservations starting the day the executive order ends do you think we are safe with the expiration of the executive order?
Disney is regulated by Orange County, Florida and the Florida state government. They are expected to submit reopening plans to the County soon, I think this week. I anticipate that both governments will support Disney (and Universal) in opening and staying open as long as it’s feasible.
I expect Disney to have adequate safety standards and might visit myself–it might be a pleasant experience with fewer than usual people. Disney has a reputation to uphold, and given what happened to certain non-Disney cruise lines recently, I expect Disney to be very careful.
My non-professional guess is that if you feel safe to travel in June, it’s a good month to do so. Things won’t necessarily get better later on (and I’m planning a trip to Portugal in August!).
Unless there’s a spike caused by Memorial Day, I’d expect that order to expire on July 7. However, I have no unique insight as to that.
Of course there will be a spike. It is to be expected as people begin to resocialize. It all comes down to how we handle it now that we know what to expect. Are we going to handle things like responsible and intelligent adults or are we going to overreact again?
BTW, the CDC has issued three new pieces of information that have been largely ignored. First, the transmission of virus by contact is far less likely than first thought. Second, the overall mortality rate is now down to 0.4 percent and expected to go lower. And finally, the mortality rate for those under the age of 50 is less than 0.1 percent. Also remember that Dr. Fauci, a person whom most people have chosen as their pandemic guru, has reversed himself three times since this mess started, ach time liberalizing his outlook.
Life is waiting for us to start living it again. If we take reasonable precautions to protect the vulnerable we can all do so. What you do and how you do it is up to you. Be comfortable. Be safe. Consider others.
Right, that’s how science works. You develop a hypothesis based on available data. When new data becomes available, then you revise the hypothesis. Revising recommendations based on new data is what responsible scientists do. It’s not a flaw in Dr. Fauci’s skills; it means he’s doing it right.
Agreed, but one not only has to test and alter the hypothesis based on downstream accumulated data, but one has to present the hypothesis as such, not as fact. This, IMO, is where Dr. Fauci erred. He neglected to present his hypotheses as such. IMO this was irresponsible, and moreso. Further, as he soon enough must have realized how his opinions were being taken to heart he, to the best of my knowledge, never corrected this.
Again IMO, were Dr. Fauci part of one of my teams I would greatly value his input but never let him speak publicly. He is the consummate scientist with the one “fatal flaw” of the researcher; he sees the world through lens of his science alone and fails to understand that the general public does not comprehend that limitation and thus can easily misconstrue the context of its value.