Walt Disney World has fully reopened today! Well, not completely fully, but that should happen relatively soon.
Here’s how it works: today, Saturday, July 11, two of the resort’s four theme parks – Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – have started welcoming the public back. Both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow in just a few days, on Wednesday, July 15; there is still no word on when the two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, will join their brethren.
All this comes after a week’s worth of busy developments – Animal and Magic Kingdoms started opening their doors to cast members on Monday, and then annual passholders were added to the admission mix beginning on Wednesday (we have a full accounting of what those early days were like right here). This gradual approach was designed to test out Disney’s new safety practices and health precautions, and to slowly ramp them up to scale – moves which, in turn, were preceded by the phased reopening of the resort’s dinning/shopping/entertainment district, Disney Springs, which saw similar methodical practices being implemented starting on May 20 (yes, we have another whole article about that, which you can find here). And then there are the various on-site hotels, which have likewise begun dipping their toes in the COVID-19 waters over the past three weeks, starting with Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and several Disney Vacation Club properties on June 22 and a small smattering of others just yesterday (yup, we have even more information on that located here).
The biggest backstory of them all, however, is how and when Disney World first began to shut down in the first place. As the enormity of the global pandemic began to settle upon the country in the middle of March, Disney and the other theme-park operators in Central Florida were at the forefront of closing their businesses for public safety; all six of the Disney theme and water parks first went dark on the night of March 15, after the end of that day’s business, with Disney Springs and the hotels following suit on March 17 and 20, respectively. Initially, the company expected the various facets of its resort to remain shuttered for a period of just 16 days, but, in the case of the parks, that number got elongated to a whopping 113. (We have a pretty thorough accounting of this early shutdown period here.)
Are you planning on heading to the parks today or sometime in the near future? There are, of course, a whole host of changes you’ll notice, and while we’ve covered them pretty thoroughly already, it doesn’t hurt to run down the highlights just quickly right now:
- Only limited attendance will be allowed, meaning that everyone who wants to enter the parks will need to obtain an advance reservation in addition to a ticket.
- Face coverings are required for all guests who are two years of age and older.
- Another key requirement of all visitors: a temperature check, with multiple chances for people to cool down if they fail the first test.
- Increased cleaning will occur throughout the parks and hotels throughout the day, which may result in some periods of downtime for certain rides.
- FastPass+ reservations have been disabled (learn more about this may mean for 2021 and beyond here).
You can follow along with us as we explore Magic and Animal Kingdoms on their first official day back all throughout the day on our various social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, of course, our Orlando Informer Community.