Back to Disney?
At face value, it certainly seems like exciting news: Disney World is beginning a phased reopening! Specifically, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom will open on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios will open on July 15. On July 15, when Disneyland Paris reopens, all of the Disney parks but Disneyland will be open for the first time since January.
But even Disney magic can’t make the novel coronavirus miraculously go away. Any trip you take carries risk with it as everyday people and massive companies alike contend with a virus about which so much is still unknown. Likewise, lots of things we’re used to at the Disney parks will be very different—or even temporarily gone—when the parks reopen. Should you plan a Disney trip right after reopening? Here are some things to consider. Plus, learn more about the ways Disney World will change when it reopens.
Disneyland is waiting a little longer
When reopening plans were first announced, Disneyland and California Adventure were originally going to reopen on July 17. But as cases spiked in California—and thousands of people petitioned the Walt Disney Company to postpone the reopening—Disney Parks decided to hold off. While Downtown Disney reopened on July 9 as originally planned, new opening dates for the Disneyland parks themselves have not been re-set yet. Plus, here’s what to know about staying at a Disney resort hotel right now.
You’ll need reservations
All Disney World guests will need to reserve tickets in advance, with the exception of Disney Vacation Club members. So new ticket sales, as well as Disney Resort hotel reservations, will be suspended. If you had already purchased a ticket, or if you’re an Annual Passholder, you’ll get early access to ticket reservations; the company should reach out to you with this information. Annual Passport sales are paused along with new ticket sales. The park will reopen with a significantly lower capacity, so you won’t see the massive crowds that are usually hallmarks of the Disney parks.
You’ll need a mask
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just as masks have been required in Shanghai Disneyland since it opened in May, masks will now be an essential item to pack for your trip to Disney World. All guests ages two and up will be required to wear face masks inside the park. The only times you won’t have to wear a mask are while eating and swimming. While masks—costume masks—are usually prohibited at Disney World (and still are), you’ll now need a mask that covers your nose and mouth. So if you can’t imagine wearing a mask in the summer Florida heat, or trying to ensure that your young child keeps a mask on, you’ll want to hold off on your Disney trip. You can get your Disney fix by “taking” your favorite Disney World rides from home.
Cast members will wear masks as well
It’s not just guests who will have to wear masks in the parks. Cast Members (Disney’s umbrella term for employees, whether they play a character or not) will be wearing masks when the parks reopen as well. So add “wear a mask” to the list of rules Disney employees have to follow.
You’ll have your temperature checked
Just like temperature screenings are becoming the norm at airports and in some businesses, you might need to have your temperature checked before entering the reopened Disney World. Yes, “might”—Disney World’s website says “you may undergo a temperature screening with no-touch thermometers.” This could be the case at both Disney World itself and Disney Springs. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed to enter, and neither will anyone in their party.
Parades and nighttime shows won’t restart immediately
Sadly, but understandably, the park events that, by nature, involve gathering in crowds won’t be able to return as normal. This means that shows like the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular, the Festival of Fantasy parade, and the Hollywood Studios spectacular Fantasmic likely won’t be up and running right away. Specifically, Disney World’s site says, “experiences (such as shows, parades, and fireworks)…may have limited availability or may remain closed.” Continue checking the park’s website for updates on what will and won’t be open on the dates you choose to visit. Here’s more information on what to expect from Disney World’s reopening.
You’ll need to wait to have up-close-and-personal experiences
On the other end of the spectrum, just like crowded events, events and experiences that require close proximity will also need to wait a little longer. This includes character meet-and-greets as well as hair and makeup experiences like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Likewise, playgrounds will likely be off-limits for the time being. So if you can’t imagine a Disney trip without the opportunity to give your favorite character a hug, you’ll want to save your visit for a time when close-up experiences are a little safer. However, “characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests,” Disneyland’s public relations director promised.
Disney World dining reservations aren’t available at the moment
Yes, Disney World dining is (mostly) a top-notch experience. But it’s changing because of COVID-19. As of right now, would-be guests are not able to make dining reservations. And Disney dining plans that were formerly part of vacation packages are also canceled; the price of your vacation package will be adjusted accordingly. The window for dining reservations at Disney World has changed from 180 days to 60 days. So that does mean that, as the reopening date gets closer, you will be able to make dining reservations again. “Select third-party owned and operated restaurant reservations and experiences may not be canceled,” Disney World’s website adds. Luckily, we’ve got 12 Disney copycat recipes you can make at home.
Disney World experience bookings are also suspended
At Disney World, certain experience bookings, like behind-the-scenes tours, are being suspended in the same way as dining reservations. They’ll be reduced to a 60-day booking window and will reopen closer to the reopening date of the parks. And the same statement about third-party experiences as the restaurants—that some might remain operational—applies here, too.
You could certainly consider this bad news (if you’re a regular FastPass+ user) or good news (if you usually glower at FastPass+ users as they pass). But, yes, all FastPass+ use is temporarily canceled. This is primarily because they’re allocating as much space as they can to allow for physical distancing in lines. Even existing FastPass+ selections have been suspended. You may be hesitant to travel to a Disney park right when it reopens, but find out some ways you can still get away this summer.
No Extra Magic Hours
Disney aficionados know that Extra Magic Hours are a massive perk. They vary quite a bit by park and by day, but basically, they’re a few extra hours, before the park officially opens and after it closes, where guests staying at certain Disney Resorts can visit the parks. But when the Disney World parks reopen in July, there’ll be no Extra Magic Hours; they’ve been suspended for the time being. You also won’t be allowed to Park-Hop, meaning that, even if you had a Park Hopper ticket, you’ll only be allowed to visit one park per day. In a statement, Disney said that they “hope to bring back the ability to visit more than one park per day soon” and that Park Hopper passes will, for the time being, be available for 2021 tickets.
Splash Mountain will still be open
The news that Splash Mountain, the log flume ride in both Disney World and Disneyland, is getting a much-needed makeover may have left you wondering if the ride would even be open when the parks were back in session. Well, for better or worse, you’ll still be able to ride the original Splash Mountain when Disney World reopens; the official date has not been set for the closing and refurbishment of the ride. Next, find out the things that have still been happening in Disney World even while it’s closed.
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