How Will Disney World Reopen?
There were hints of what’s to come in the Walt Disney World earnings call on May 5th, 2020.
Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger sounded optimistic despite the challenges of COVID-19.
He stated: “I have absolute confidence in our ability to get through this challenging period and recover successfully.”
Iger went on to say: “Disney is resilient and I believe this time it will be no different.”
The call provided some idea of what types of rules could be in place for guests and employees when the park is ready to reopen. For one, Shanghai Disneyland will have a phased reopening beginning on Monday, May 10th. Disney stated that the park cannot exceed 30% capacity and it will be well below that capacity at first so guests can remain at a safe distance from one another.
“[This is] an encouraging sign for Disney parks and retail locations all over the world,” stated Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pam Hymel.
As far as Disneyland and Walt Disney World are concerned, any opening in the United States will have to follow the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Travel Association. These guidelines will be based on current CDC recommendations to ensure that guests and Cast Members remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Protecting Disney World’s Guests and Cast Members from Covid-19
Disney executives have been monitoring new information put forth by the federal government and the medical community for guidance on prevention measures and enhanced screening procedures.
Cast Members would be given personal protective equipment (PPE) – like face coverings – in the event of a reopening. Disney’s theme parks will have an increase in cleaning and disinfection in high-traffic areas and in workspaces.
There will be a gradual or partial reopening of certain dining and retail locations before the theme parks reopen. Disney Springs could be the first to open, followed by other areas of the resort.
Virtual queues could be created on the Play Disney Parks App in order to cut down on lines forming.
Disney must be strict in how they manage the social distancing (density) of its guests inside the parks. This will enable Disney World (and Disneyland) to open sooner in order to meet CDC guidelines in restaurants, queues, rides, transportation, and hotels.
Disney Parks’ Dr. Pamela Hymel announced that some safety measures have already been implemented inside the parks. This includes actions like adding handwashing and hand-sanitizer stations across Disney resorts.
Cast members will undergo new health safety training before any of the parks are reopen to the public.
Despite all of the hints from the earnings conference call, Disney officials were unable to give us a definitive timeline for Walt Disney World’s re-opening. They did announce that Disney Cruise Line would be the last to reopen, after the theme parks.
Disney Springs activity leads us to believe that Disney World will reopen on June 1st, 2020
It has been reported that Walt Disney World Resort is showing some signs of reopening. Specifically, a new sign has been spotted, which shows an arrow pointing local delivery trucks into a service parking lot. There’s also been a change in the Grapefruit garage signage: its now labeled “Cast Parking.”
This leads us to believe that Disney Springs is readying itself to be the first location at Disney World to reopen.
The Florida Task Force has already intimated its statewide Phase 1 reopening, which allows restaurants and retailers to reopen (assuming they adhere to the state’s strict safety guidelines).
Since Disney Springs is a dining and entertainment shopping center, then its possible that the area could be eligible for an immediate reopening. However, since Florida hasn’t given guidance on theme parks, it looks like Disney World is in a wait and see mode for the time being.
But there’s more…
OpenTable shows availability for Disney Dining Reservations
Word is spreading that the Disney Springs restaurant “Wine Bar George” may be the first Disney World dining location to open, or, at least, take reservations. Why? Guests are now able to book reservations (for “Wine Bar George”) starting on May 18th via OpenTable. This is exciting news indeed!
OpenTable, a 3rd party dining reservations site, is not showing availability for any other Disney restaurant at this time. But stay tuned!
Nearby Universal Orlando is already showing OpenTable availability for reservations at Trattoria del Porto at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel starting on May 22.
Disney World will reopen on June 1st, 2020 (maybe)
So far, there’s no May availability for any restaurants on My Disney Experience. However, it’s showing dining reservation availability starting on June 1st, 2020. This date aligns with their room and vacation package reservations (also beginning on June 1st).
Disney does make it clear that this availability doesn’ t guarantee that the park will be open at this time. Guests booking for June 1st and beyond are made aware that their reservations are subject to cancelation. That said, it’s encouraging that June 1st remains on My Disney Experience as the date Walt Disney World will open.
All indications are that Disney World is making moves behind the scenes to reopen. We think June 1st is their target date. Of course, the CDC and statewide guidance will help to make the final decision.
We’re all itching to get back to the park, but we also want to do it safely!
Thanks for reading our “When is Disney World going to reopen” blog post. Stay tuned for more developments and keep checking our Disney World Crowd Calendar and Disneyland Crowd Calendar for updated crowd predictions. And if you need help planning and booking your Disney vacation, please see our Disney Travel Agents page for our recommendations.