By the D23 Team
Ready for some magic? Walt Disney World Resort theme parks are preparing for a phased reopening of Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom this Saturday, July 11, followed by a phased reopening of EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios next Wednesday, July 15.
After being closed for nearly four months, Walt Disney World theme parks will be reopening with a thoughtful, responsible approach drawing on experience from Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disney Springs. New health and safety policies, following guidance from health experts and government agencies, will be integrated into the Disney theme park experience. In addition to limits on attendance and controlled guest density, procedures will be in place for park entry, attractions, dining, retail, transportation, and more, as the well-being of guests and cast members remains Disney Parks’ top priority.
“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” says Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices.”
Cast members have gone through extensive new training to prepare for the theme parks’ reopening in this new environment. Cast members in the Incredi-Crew will wear brightly colored, easily identifiable attire and walk through the parks to explain the procedures, answer questions, and encourage everyone to follow the new health and safety measures.
Here’s everything guests need to know before they go:
Disney Park Pass Reservation System
To promote physical distancing, capacity will be limited as guests return to Walt Disney World theme parks. At reopening, guests with a ticket or Annual Pass must use the new Disney Park Pass system to make a reservation in advance for each park entry. Once guests log in to their My Disney Experience accounts on Disneyworld.com and link their tickets, they will have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park; multi-day tickets require a park reservation for each day of their tickets. Families and friends can link tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time.
Health and Safety Procedures
As guests and cast members work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, the theme parks will feature new protocols during the phased reopening. They will include:
- Appropriate Face Coverings
- Guests ages 2 and older, along with cast members, will be required to wear an appropriate face covering in the theme parks. It must be worn over the nose and mouth at all times, except when eating and drinking while dining.
- Capacity and guest density will be limited for complimentary Walt Disney World guest transportation; guests will be required to wear appropriate face coverings at all times. Buses and Monorails will implement a combination of physical distancing and physical barriers to separate guest parties. Party groups will be required to maintain physical distancing while aboard Disney watercraft. Disney Skyliner will load one party per gondola when it resumes operation on July 15. For those arriving in their own vehicles, auto plazas will offer cashless payment; parking lot trams will not be available at this time.
- Temperature Screenings
- All guests will be required to undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those who again measure 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed entry, nor will those in their party.
- Physical Distancing and Capacity Measures
- To maintain appropriate physical distancing, a limited number of guests will be able to visit each theme park each day; limits will also be in place for indoor locations within the parks, such as retail shops and dining locations. Ground markings will promote proper physical distancing throughout the parks, including attraction queues. Physical barriers will be in place in select locations where maintaining a proper physical distance may be more difficult.
- High-traffic areas will receive increased cleaning. Guests will be encouraged to use hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer available in the theme parks.
- Cashless Transactions
- Guests will be encouraged to use cashless options whenever possible, including MagicBands, debit cards, credit cards, Disney gift cards, and mobile payment methods.
New measures will include enhanced cleaning procedures in seating, dining, and common areas, as well as changes to self-serve options. Mobile technology via the My Disney Experience app will be used in easy ways to minimize contact, such as Mobile Order at select quick-service theme park locations and Mobile Dine Check-in at select theme park table-service locations, as well as reduced-contact menus at select theme park restaurants. Additionally, a confirmed dining reservation will be required for Disney Resort day guests; reservations are highly recommended for guests staying overnight at a Disney Resort hotel.
Beloved Attractions Return
Most attractions will be available when the parks reopen. On July 11, guests can visit the Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and enjoy attractions such as The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. On July 15, guests can enter a cartoon world when they experience the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios… the same day Soarin’ Around the World will resume flight at EPCOT.
Character Experiences and Returning Entertainment
With traditional character greetings and parades on hiatus during the phased reopening, Disney characters will appear in new and different ways throughout all four theme parks.
- In Magic Kingdom, characters will cavalcade along the traditional parade route. Others will pop up in new locations, such as Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland. Several times daily, favorite Disney princesses will travel through the streets of the Magic Kingdom in the Royal Princess Processional. Merida will lead the way on her steed Angus, followed by a gazebo float and crystal castle carrying Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, Rapunzel, Tiana, and more. From time to time in Fantasyland, stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella will be perched on a balcony of Cinderella Castle.
- In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney characters will be setting sail down Discovery River on special boats, including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pocahontas, and more. Throughout the day, Launchpad McQuack and more will wave to guests from their party boat as Donald’s Dino Bash! travels from DinoLand U.S.A. to Discovery River.
- In EPCOT, Queen Anna and Elsa will venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase, while Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy will venture out for their own world tour.
- In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Pixar Animation Studios characters will appear on Hollywood Boulevard, waving to their adoring fans. Throughout the day, Disney Junior characters including Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins, and Vampirina will cruise down Hollywood Boulevard waving to fans from custom convertibles. In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests should “move along” if they meet First Order Stormtroopers! First Order Stormtroopers will also join Kylo Ren in patrolling the landing platform at Docking Bay 9. The heroes of the Resistance—including Rey, Chewbacca, and Vi Moradi—will appear periodically above the garage in Black Spire Station or surveying activity around the spaceport where the Millennium Falcon has landed.
Select atmosphere entertainment groups will return, including Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom; Discovery Island Drummers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; and Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors at EPCOT. Entertainment experiences that draw large group gatherings, such as nighttime spectaculars, will be on hiatus.
New Blended Festival Debuts at EPCOT
A new version of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will debut July 15 and continue into the fall. The Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will be the longest festival in Walt Disney World history, blending floral fun from the annual flower and garden festival with the global goodies of the food and wine festival. It will offer more than 20 signature global marketplaces, including Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean. Additional tables will be in place throughout the park where guests will be able to remove their face coverings to enjoy festival dishes while observing physical distancing. Guests can take photos in front of the park’s newest Remy topiary in the France pavilion and purchase merchandise from the 2020 International EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.