Disney Springs: How the reopening works

Disney Springs: How the reopening works

Disney Springs: How the reopening works

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Today was the grand day, the one that Disney fans had been anxiously waiting for: the reopening of Disney Springs, the dining/shopping/entertainment district of Walt Disney World. This is just the first step of what will eventually be the complete reopening of the resort, though there is no word yet on when the theme parks and hotels will come back online (remember, Disney has simply offered “until further notice” by way of a target date).

Today’s big development comes right on the heels of Universal similarly opening its CityWalk complex, which happened last Thursday, the 14th. (For a lot more info on that, check out our day-of impressions here.) In both instances, the theme-park operators have unfurled several new safety guidelines that dictate how guests may enter the premises and how they may move about it once inside – and while the two destinations aren’t that different in terms of their approach, Disney Springs is, admittedly, significantly larger than Universal CityWalk and, thus, has a few more variances.

So, what’s it like set foot back on Disney World property 64 days later and during the COVID-19 pandemic, to boot? We’ll walk you through the whole process, step by step.

How do I enter Disney Springs?

The process to enter Disney Springs is a bit different than what we see over at Universal’s neck of the Orlando woods. Parking itself is only slightly altered, with just the Orange and Lime garages being open and the valet service unavailable – unlike with CityWalk, there are no orange cones blocking off every other parking spot in order to help facilitate social distancing. Additionally, the number of entrances to the dining and shopping complex have been limited to just four: from the ride-share drop-off location, the Hotel Plaza Boulevard pedestrian bridge, and, of course, from the two aforementioned parking garages.

These entryways funnel visitors to one of the health checkpoints that have now been set up on the property (located on the second-floor exits of the Lime and Orange garages and the Marketplace entrance), which is where your temperature is taken. Again, like at Universal, if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, you will be diverted for a secondary attempt at an additional screening spot. If your temperature is still running high here, you will be turned away from Disney Springs, along with everyone else in your travel party, as well.

What does Disney Springs feel like now?

Health precautions signage in Disney Springs

Before we can get to what, exactly, Disney Springs felt like for us after a two-month absence, we first need to discuss the ins and outs of navigating your way through the socially-distant entertainment sector of Walt Disney World.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that every guest who is the age of three and above must wear a face covering at all times while on-site – with the sole exception of when he or she is eating, of course. If you don’t have one, you will not be allowed entry (unlike at Universal Orlando, Disney doesn’t have any masks for sale – at least, not yet).

Once you set foot into Disney Springs proper, you’ll notice a preponderance of signs – some of which are obviously temporary, while others look remarkably permanent – that remind you to keep at least six feet of distance from everyone who’s not in your group. Joining these signs is a cavalcade of markers on the ground, showing you where to stand while waiting in one line or another. What’s interesting here is that many of these take the exact opposite tack from Universal: whereas CityWalk’s show you where to wait, Disney Springs’s denote where not to stand (though there are still plenty of the “please remain here” variety, too). And where social-distancing stickers can’t be laid out, physical barriers have been erected, such as around cash registers or at the area’s Guest Relations.

(These markers aren’t just for telling you where to place yourself while in a line – they will also, at times, direct you where the flow of traffic should go, such as over certain bridges or when specific doors are made into either an entrance or exit only.)

Let’s focus a bit on everyone’s favorite part of Disney Springs: the food. There is, as of right now, a pretty good swath of restaurants available for this early reopening period, representing both counter- and table-service options:

  • 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck
  • B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co.
  • Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza
  • The Boathouse
  • Chicken Guy!
  • D-Luxe Burger
  • The Daily Poutine
  • Earl of Sandwich
  • Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
  • Frontera Cocina
  • Haagen-Dazs
  • Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
  • Joffrey’s Handcrafted Smoothies Kiosk
  • Morimoto Asia
  • Morimoto Asia Street Food
  • Paradiso 37 Entertainment
  • Pizza Ponte
  • Planet Hollywood
  • The Polite Pig
  • Starbucks (both locations)
  • STK Orlando
  • Sunshine Churros (both locations)
  • T-Rex
  • Vivoli il Gelato
  • Wine Bar George – A Restaurant & Bar
  • Wetzel’s Pretzels (both locations)
  • Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
  • YeSake Kiosk

Again as at CityWalk, most – if not all – of these venues direct you to wait outside until your party is called to be seated. The number of tables, whether located inside or out, have been drastically reduced, compiling with Disney- and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued mandates, and the menus came either in digital (such as QR code) form or one-time-use paper form. (We also noticed that many refills for drinks required a one-time-use cup, as well.)

Reservations were, naturally, strongly encouraged, although they had to be made using OpenTable (as opposed to Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience app), and even though having one wouldn’t guarantee you admittance to Disney Springs, should parking be all filled up. In our experience, wait times weren’t actually that bad, given all the restrictions on capacity and regulations for increased sanitation, but we imagine this won’t be the case for too long as more individuals get more comfortable with the idea of venturing out into the (Disney) world again. Finally, when it comes time to pay, Disney will attempt to steer you into cashless options, whether that be using Apple Pay or picking up a Disney gift card at, say, Guest Relations.

Floor markings all over Disney Springs tell you how to maintain distance from other guests

(What about Disney Springs’s shopping and entertainment options? There are so many of the former, all we can do is note that some of the most popular ones that are currently open include World of Disney, Aerophile, UNIQLO, and Marketplace Co-Op. The latter is much easier to tackle, since Disney has suspended all entertainment offerings for the time being.)

We don’t know if it’s because we’re already used to many of these changes from our recent time at Universal CityWalk Orlando, or if it’s because we’ve missed strolling around Disney World so much, but we didn’t find ourselves being too fazed by this new, post-outbreak Disney Springs. (Naturally, the beautiful weather today certainly didn’t hurt things.) The crowd level was low and, for the most part, easily navigable; we didn’t find anyone who wasn’t compiling with the face covering and social-distancing requirements; and the processes for viewing menus or paying for our meals was as straightforward as can be.

Given how well everything seemed to go today, and given how quickly Universal added on a few more venues to its phased reopening of CityWalk, we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Disney add more elements to the roster here soon.

I’d like more theme-park COVID info, please!

Welcome back!

Sure! We’d be happy to help.

Here are the articles that we’ve been consistently maintaining during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak:

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando first shut down

The theme-park resorts start to open back up

How to visit CityWalk during COVID-19

How the Shanghai Disney reopening could influence its Stateside counterparts

Disney Springs is currently open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, although individual venues may have wildly divergent hours. We’ll do our best to keep this article updated with the latest details.

Last updated 10:11 am, May 28, 2020

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Marc N. Kleinhenz Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he now works exclusively for Orlando Informer as a writer, editor, and podcast co-host. He’s also written for 32 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, The Escapist, and California Informer [OI's sister site]), has had his fiction featured in several publications, and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.