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Back in January, the first major global theme park, Shanghai Disneyland, made the decision to close, and in the weeks that followed, every other major theme park in the world did the same. By mid-March, every Disney theme park around the world was closed for business, as were most every other location of its kind.
Now, in the middle of May, we're beginning to see the first stages of theme parks reopening. Certainly not every park has announced specific reopening plans, but some parks have begun to open some aspects of their locations, or otherwise hinted at what the future might hold. Here's a rundown of everything we know on that front, and we'll continue to keep this updated with the most current information as new details come in.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World was the last Disney theme park to close its doors, but it will be the second one to reopen. First, Disney Springs, the Walt Disney World marketplace, saw a phased reopening beginning on May 20. On May 27, the first Disney Springs locations owned by Disney, including the World of Disney store, were reopened.
The theme parks are now confirmed to open beginning July 11. On that date, Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom will open to limited capacity. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios will follow on July 15. Face coverings will be required inside the parks, and ticket reservations will be necessary in order to properly manage capacity. Several different events and attractions, like parades and fireworks, will not be available in order to prevent crowds from gathering.
While Walt Disney's World Disney Springs has a date for beginning a phased reopening, Downtown Disney, the equivalent location at Disneyland Resort, does not. This would seem to indicate that Disneyland is looking to stay closed longer than Disney World, and other information might confirm that. Disneyland actually pushed back its dates for accepting hotel reservations to July 1 before Walt Disney World followed suit, which would imply it was clear to that park even earlier that a June opening was not in the cards.
Based on the fact that the reservation shift was one month, but nothing more than that, it's safe to assume that at the very least Disney is hoping the park is back up and running, likely at limited capacity, by then. California clamped down pretty hard when the stay-at-home order was first lifted, but the first phase of reopenings, among less at-risk businesses, has already begun. And while places like Disneyland will likely be among the last to reopen, the info we have would indicate that it will happen in the next couple of months.
International Disney Parks
Shanghai Disneyland was the first Disney park to close, and so, if anything, it's a good sign that it became the first to reopen on May 11. The park opened with temperature checking stations and a requirement that all cast members and guests wear masks, as well as opening to something less than one-third its max capacity. However, it may be the only Disney park open for a while. Hong Kong Disneyland closed only one day after Shanghai, but no announcement has been made about it reopening. However, it does appear that steps similar to Shanghai are being implemented there, so a reopening announcement may be forthcoming.
Tokyo Disney Resort updated its status on June 1, but only reiterated then that it was not currently safe to open, and it gave no indication when that might change. The French government has indicated theme parks like Disneyland Paris can begin reopening as of June 22, but so far the park has not set an official reopening date.
The number two name in the global theme park business, Universal, is, at this moment, the biggest mystery of all when it comes to the future of theme parks. While there was an indication that the Universal CityWalk, the Orlando park's version of Disney Springs, might be planning to see some locations reopenings on May 11, the date came and went without any movement. Now it has been announced that there will be limited reopenings beginning May 14. A few locations will be open for the afternoon and evening only, between 4 and 10 PM.
Universal Orlando presented its plan for reopening prior to Walt Disney World, and was given the go-ahead to reopen to the general public on June 5, with the week leading up to the date being used as a soft opening to test out new cleaning and social distancing measures. As expected, masks will be required for all guests. Universal Studios Hollywood has officially asked the L.A. Board of Supervisors for permission to return to work in preparation for a reopening date in mid-June or early July, but no decision has been made.
Six Flags owns a massive collection of theme park locations across the country, several more than Disney or Universal. With different states having very different rules right now, it's likely that various theme parks will see a variety of different reopening dates. Having said that, Six Flags has stated plans to reopen in mid-May, or soon thereafter, so we could see locations like Magic Mountain begin to open quite soon, though almost certainly at a reduced capacity and with new clearing and distancing guidelines in place.
One significant change will be that all guests, including passholders, will need to make reservations in advance. This will be necessarily in order to be sure that the parks stay within whatever limited capacity they will be planning for and don't get overcrowded.
Seaworld, Legoland And More
Some of the smaller theme parks around the world have already begun to reopen or will be doing so soon. In Florida, Legoland is open for business as of Memorial Day Weekend, and Seaworld is getting ready to reopen June 11.
The California parks are still, like Disneyland, very much in limbo. We know that they'll be able to do a phased reopening once California enters its Phase 3 reopening, which is expected sometime in July if COVID-19 cases in the state remain on the current trend.
Certainly there's a lot left to be decided and plenty of details to be worked out, so keep your eyes peeled here as we'll be updating this article as more information is made public and more park plans are finalized.