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At a time when a lot of people could have really used a visit to a theme park, they were all shut down. In an attempt to balance the economic needs of people with safety, many businesses have begun to slowly reopen with new safety procedures in place. Recently, that has meant the beginning of theme park openings. Last week Universal Orlando Resort was approved for limited reopening on June 5. This morning, Walt Disney World revealed its plan to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force for reopening its theme parks and it looks like the resort will be back open for guests starting July 11.
Once Universal Studios Orlando was given the all-clear, it seemed likely Walt Disney World would reopen in a similar time frame but Walt Disney World is so much larger than even Universal, that it was unclear just how quickly the park would be able to mobilize toward opening. Sea World set its reopen date in an earlier presentation to June 11. It seems quite likely that Disney's longer time frame is simply due to the resort's massive scope.
Last week, Walt Disney World reopened some stores and restaurants at Disney Springs, its marketplace area, and stores owned by Disney opened there today, but until now it was unclear what Disney was expecting would happen with the parks themselves. Disney didn't want to set expectations and so was being very good about saying nothing.
As expected, guests and cast members will be required to wear face coverings. Capacity will also be limited so as to allow social distancing to work. This distancing will cover not just the parks but restaurants, shops, and most importantly transportation. Some of the most crowded places at Walt Disney World can actually be the buses between the locations.
There will be some much loved aspects of Walt Disney World that won't be available in order to keep people at a distance. Character meet and greets are on hold and kids play areas will remain closed. In addition, parades and fireworks will be cancelled in order to prevent crowds from forming.
Walt Disney World VP Jim MacPhee who gave the presentation also mentioned a new online reservation system would be implemented in order to better manage capacity, but specifics on that were promised to come later. However, a follow up release from Disney revealed that sales of new tickets are on hold while those with existing plans are reorganized into reservations that will work. In addition, Annual Passholders will be given some opportunities to make reservations before new tickets get sold.
While there are a lot of people around the country, and even the world, who are excited by the prospect of Walt Disney World opening, it's unclear at this point just how many people are planning to rush off to Disney World now that the option is almost here. The majority of the guests in the short term are likely to be locals, but the majority of guests on a normal day are vacationers from all over. Those people might not be as willing, or able to visit, which could mean Walt Disney World might actually have an easier time managing crowds than some smaller parks.
So now that Walt Disney World has a date to open, are you ready to go? Let us know in the poll below.