Photo by Matt Stroshane
Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, will be one of the first two Walt Disney World Resort theme parks to reopen in July.
After 17 weeks shut, the theme parks opt for a phased reopening with limited capacity and no parades or fireworks.
When Walt Disney World closed its gates on March 16, no one knew when the theme park universe would reopen to the public. To slow the spread of COVID-19, every business across Disney’s Orlando property was shut—the four theme parks, dozens of hotels, all shops and restaurants, everything. The first signs of hope surfaced more than two months later when Disney Springs partially reopened on May 20.
Now Mickey fans can rejoice: Walt Disney World has an official opening date of July 11. The public reopening will begin with Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15—about five weeks later than Universal Studios’ June 5 reopening date. All Disney theme parks around the world—including Disneyland Resort in California, Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disney Resort—now have tentative or confirmed reopening dates.
As is the case with most (if not all) theme parks, Walt Disney World will restrict attendance to lower numbers to facilitate social distancing. Shanghai Disneyland reopened on May 11 to 30 percent of its maximum attendance and required advance reservations for theme park tickets. Walt Disney World has not defined its limited capacity but followed Shanghai Disneyland’s lead on June 22 by also introducing the Disney Park Pass System, a platform through which guests make mandatory theme park reservations.
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According to a Disney Parks press release, Disney is “temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so [it] can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations.” Eager visitors with existing hotel reservations at a Disney resort received access to the new ticket reservation system first and will be followed by annual passholders and guests who had purchased tickets prior to the March closures. Within hours of the Disney Park Pass System launch, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) reached maximum reservation capacity for July 15 and 16. This is no surprise, given that DHS is home to Walt Disney World’s two newest rides: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the Star Wars–themed Rise of the Resistance attraction in Galaxy’s Edge.
One major factor to note when making reservations is where you’re coming from. The state of Florida currently requires guests traveling from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days. Walt Disney World is not exempt from this requirement: If you plan on visiting the Florida theme parks and will be arriving from one of those states, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days before you are allowed into the parks.
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In addition to requiring temperature checks before entry and face coverings for all guests and cast members while inside the theme parks, Walt Disney World will put a temporary pause on parades, fireworks, and nighttime spectaculars. “High-touch” experiences will be put on hold as well; costumed characters will roam the park at a safe distance from guests instead of posing for meet and greets, and there will be no more princess makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (for now). The goal is to keep queues and exchanges to the six-foot minimum.
This article originally appeared online on May 27, 2020; it was updated on June 23, 2020, to include current information.
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