Walt Disney World submits reopening plan for local approval

Walt Disney World has submitted its plan for reopening to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, along with a phased set of reopening dates.

UPDATE – 05/27/20, 7:20 p.m.: Mayor Jerry Demings has endorsed the reopening plan for Walt Disney World. It now will head to Gov. DeSantis’ desk for final approval.

The presentation was shared this morning, May 27, by Jim McPhee, senior vice president of Operations for Walt Disney World.

If this plan reaches final approval, Walt Disney World Resort will reopen along the following timeline:

  • July 11: Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • July 15: Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Some soft openings will be held prior to the July 11 opening date.

Additionally, Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests, along with Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, on June 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Fla. and Hilton Head, S.C. will open to members and guests tarting June 15.

With this reopening plan, Walt Disney World will also implement a new theme park visit reservation system, which will require guests to reserve their trip in advance. Details on this new plan will be released in the future.

Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold, and Disney will be reaching out to those guests soon.

In a post on the Disney Parks Blog, Disney shared that at this time, new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations will be temporarily paused so that the focus can remain on those with existing tickets and reservations (Disney Vacation Club members can still make new reservations.

Disney’s plan involves new health and safety protocols, focusing on education, communication, and engagement with guests and cast about these new procedures and policies.

Health and Safety Protocols

Enhanced Protective Measures

  • Face coverings will be required for guests ages 3 and up while on property. Cast members will receive company-issued reusable face coverings.
  • Hand-washing and sanitizing stations and signage reminders will be set up at appropriate locations in the parks. Cast members will also see sanitizing stations and signage reminders in backstage areas.
  • Plexi-glass will be added to points of sale in retail and food & beverage locations in the parks where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Physical Distancing

  • Walt Disney World will reduce the capacity of its theme parks, restaurants, retail stores, attractions, buses, monorails, and other transportation that enables appropriate physical distancing.
  • Parades, fireworks, and other events that create crowds will be temporarily suspended.
  • Backstage areas and break rooms will be enhanced and modified to enable distancing for cast members while on lunch or break periods.

Enhanced Cleaning and Sanitation

  • More frequent cleaning across high-touch locations and surfaces in operating areas will be implemented.
  • More frequent cleaning across high-touch locations and surfaces backstage will also be implemented, including control rooms, break rooms, and conference rooms.

Temperature and Health Screening

  • Temperature checks will be required of guests visiting, and will be administered at the Main Entrances to the theme parks.
  • In addition to daily at-home temperature checks required for cast members, they will also take part in on-site temperature checks for those working in guest-facing areas.

Limited-Contact Enhancements

  • Contactless payments will be encouraged with MagicBands, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
  • Cashless transactions will be enabled at restaurants and retail locations.
  • Mobile ordering will be expanded to new food & beverage locations.
  • High-touch experiences, like meet-and-greets and playgrounds, will be temporarily suspended.
  • Disney will continue the practice of providing individual costumes to cast members to reduce contact.

Guests will be informed of these new protocols and expectations before arriving through “Know Before You Go” online materials and via the official Walt Disney World app. This information will be reinforced through signage and displays throughout the parks, as well as cast members engaging with guests to help regularly communicate new protocols. Disney has also created a new, dedicated team of cast members for this purpose called the “Social Distancing Squad.”

McPhee also mentioned in the meeting that Walt Disney World is considering establishing “relaxation zones,” where guests will be able to remove their masks and take a break from wearing them safely.

This plan was approved by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. Now Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will review the proposal, and if he endorses it, he will send it on to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for final approval.

Walt Disney World originally closed due to the ongoing pandemic on March 16, and reopened its dining and shopping district, Disney Springs, on May 20.

Stay tuned for updates as we await news on the approval of Walt Disney World Resort’s reopening plan.


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