Adult Disney fanatics, this one’s for you. Since Disney closed its Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, theme-park fans have wondered when it would be safe to watch safety videos in a crowd once again. On May 29, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation approved Walt Disney World’s plan to reopen its Orlando parks: Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. Since then, coronavirus cases have surged in the state, with single-day new case numbers surpassing those of early virus epicenters like New York. On July 6, Florida governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus briefing in the Villages, during which he defended Disney beginning its partial reopening on July 11. As ClickOrlando reported, DeSantis said he has “no doubt it’s going to be a safe environment.” He continued, “The folks who put a premium on safety, that’s showing you that, you know, we’re able to handle this, have society function still when people go into work, but do it in a way that you take some basic precautions, and so we’re really impressed with what Universal has done, and I’ve looked at Disney’s plan … it’s very, very thorough.” On Disney World’s website, the company states that when the theme parks reopen on July 11, “temperature screenings may be required for entry to some locations,” cautioning that “by visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.” Magical.
Walt Disney World’s decision to move forward with its reopening plans stands in contrast to Disneyland’s decision to reverse course. On June 24, Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products team released a statement explaining that the previously announced July 17 reopening date for Disneyland Resort in California has been delayed “until we receive approval from government officials.” On June 10, Disneyland announced the July 17 reopening date “pending state and local government approval.” Now, the state of California has indicated that “it will not issue theme-park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4.” The Downtown Disney District in Anaheim will still open on July 9 in accordance with the state’s restaurant and retail reopening guidelines, in case you can’t wait for a park-adjacent churro.
When Disneyland first announced its reopening plans, it was quick to caution that certain “experiences that draw large group gatherings — such as parades and nighttime spectaculars — will return at a later date.” So no World of Color, no Fantasmic!, and certainly no Main Street Electrical Parade anytime soon. These social-distancing safety measures extend to character meet and greets as well. As with Disney’s other theme parks that have announced reopening measures, Disneyland and California Adventure will operate with “significantly limited” capacity, and guests will have to reserve tickets in advance.
Walt Disney World in Florida has already reopened its Disney Springs shopping district, which began its first phase on May 20 with the reopening of shopping and dining options like Guy Fieri’s Disney World restaurant, Chicken Guy! (The exclamation point is part of it.) On May 27, Disney Springs reopened the doors to the world’s largest Disney gift shop, World of Disney. If you want an idea of what the line to ride “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” will look like in July, here is the physical queue to get into the virtual queue to enter the World of Disney at a social-distance-mandated capacity:
The first Disney park to reopen after global coronavirus shutdowns was Shanghai Disneyland, which reopened May 11 after closing amid the coronavirus outbreak in China on January 24. For its reopening phase, the park is limiting guest attendance to 20 percent of its maximum capacity and “suspended indoor theater performances, installed hand sanitizer dispensers and canceled nighttime fireworks,” according to Variety. While Disney World in Florida is able to also enact these measures, and others like face coverings and temperature checks, Shanghai Disneyland also requires that guests share a QR code on a government-affiliated health-tracking app to prove they are clear of the coronavirus.
As for Disney’s other global vacation properties, Hong Kong Disneyland reportedly tested a soft reopening for employees between May 19 and May 21, and on June 18 it became the second Disney theme park to reopen. Its measures in place are similar to Shanghai Disneyland’s, and it asks visitors to make a “health declaration online” when reserving their visit.
Tokyo Disney’s shopping and entertainment district reopened on June 1. On June 23, Tokyo Disney Resort announced that it will reopen its theme parks on July 1. As for Disneyland Paris? Guests will be able to visit the parks again on 15 juillet.
This post has been updated throughout.