Theme park gates have been bolted since March, but Disney, Universal and the rest expect to welcome guests again as early as June — albeit with coronavirus safety measures in place.
In Florida, industry leader Disney presented a plan to local government Tuesday in which the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom would open July 11. Hollywood Studios and Epcot would welcome guests for the first time on July 15.
Those guests will see new rules in place: character meet and greets, parades and any events that attract large crowds are out. What’s in is making reservations ahead of time — capacity is being limited to ensure physical distancing —and wearing masks. And those temperature checks? They’re happening.
Some of those procedures are already in place at Disney Springs, a nearby shopping and dining destination, which began a phased reopening May 20.
Visitors have already returned to Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. (Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“As we all must work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, cast members as well as guests 3 years of age and older will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels,” Disney Parks’s Thomas Smith wrote Wednesday on the official Disney Parks Blog. “All guests will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park; cast members will also have temperature checks. Cashless transactions are recommended, and cleaning and disinfection procedures will be increased in high-traffic areas.”
Disney noted that its plans are pending approval from local and state governments, although at least one body has reportedly given it the go-ahead.
Disneyland and other Disney venues in southern California have yet to announce a reopening date. However, the OC Register has reported that, provided COVID-19 infection rates remain stable in California, amusement parks will be allowed to open in the next stage of the state’s reopening strategy, which could be as little as a week away.
“We’re being deliberate during these phased reopenings, and we’re encouraged by how our guests are responding at Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney Springs,” the Disney Parks blog read. “We’re doing our part, and we need our guests to do their part, too, as we work together to focus on safety.”
Here’s what others have planned:
While Universal Studios Hollywood’s website said they’re officially closed “at least through May 31,” the Orlando parks (including Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay) have announced they’ll be open beginning June 5. Guests will face new guidelines, including the requirement that each person wear a mask and have his or her temperature taken upon arrival. Everyone will also be asked to follow floor markings intended to keep people six feet apart.
The Orlando version of the aquatic theme park will reopen June 11, a month before the Disney parks there. Many of the same measures their competitors are putting in place, such as required face masks, temperature checks, more sanitizing and social distancing rules, will be in effect there, too.
The San Diego location is targeting July 1 for opening back up. SeaWorld execs planned to meet with local leaders Wednesday to go over new procedures.
Legoland also intended to propose a July 1 restart date for its San Diego outpost.
“The plan is based on guidance from the CDC and gives details on personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, cleaning and sanitation protocols, work and sick policies, employee screenings, COVID training and customer communication including signage and website messaging,” a Legoland rep told the San Diego Union-Tribune in a statement. “The safety and health of our employees and guests is the top priority for all San Diego attractions and we can’t wait to be back open.”
The Florida resort, which includes a water park, will reopen June 1. It’s set to require non-invasive temperature checks and a recommendation that guests wear masks.
Still, just because parks are open doesn’t mean they’re open to everyone. Disney, for one, said it was “temporarily pausing new ticket sales” and hotel reservations to accommodate people who need to rebook.