Walt Disney World Plans To Begin A Phased Reopening Starting In July

In a completely unprecedented move, The Walt Disney Company shut down their theme parks around the world back in March following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. They've been losing millions every day the parks stay closed, but now that restrictions limiting public gatherings are starting to lift, Disney has begun reopening their theme parks, starting with Shanghai Disneyland earlier this month. Now Walt Disney World in Florida will be next in line with an eye towards reopening in July.

The Hollywood Reporter has details on Disney World reopening in July following a presentation by the park's senior vice president of operations, Jim MacPhee, to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force headed by Mayor Jerry Demings and nearly four dozen other members of the business community. The proposed date for a phased reopening is July 11, beginning with Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, followed shortly thereafter by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Disney World will reopen in a fashion similar to Shanghai Disneyland. The park will operate at a lower capacity while still requiring guests to go through a temperature checkpoint for admission. Attendees will also need to wear a mask at all times (unless they are eating). There will be social distancing policies in place for lines for admission, attractions and food, including a contactless payment system to avoid handling cash. Hand sanitizing stations will also be increased throughout the park and cast members will "vigorously help maintain social distancing" among park attendees.

Also like Shanghai Disneyland, there will be no parades, firework shows, or up-close-and-personal character meet-and-greets, all in order to avoid too large of a gathering of people in one space. Combined with the limited capacity, these measures should be enough to keep people from being in close proximity to each other and hopefully avoid a resurgence of coronavirus.

Though Disney recently reopened their Disney Springs shopping and dining district, Disney World is taking a little more time to reopen than their biggest direct competitor, Universal Studios. Last week, Universal Studios Orlando proposed their plan for reopening on June 5, and the task force unanimously approved. Sea World is also looking to open earlier, with their proposal eyeing a reopening date of June 11.

But how many people are prepared to return to theme parks? Based on the crowded beaches spotted around the United States during the Memorial Day holiday last weekend, it appears there's no shortage of crowds eager to get back to having fun, so there will likely be great demand for the limited spots available for entry into Disney theme parks. We just hope that this doesn't result in a surge of coronavirus cases, because that's the last thing we need right now.