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Disney World is reopening -- Here's what we know

May 27, 2020
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and national governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

In mid-March, both Disney World and Disneyland closed their gates to guests because of growing coronavirus concerns. From the U.S. to Europe to Asia, all Disney parks around the world were indefinitely shuttered.

But now, on the heels of Shanghai Disneyland reopening on May 11, and after 118 days of closure, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has announced a planned, phased reopening date of July 11.

Disney World has presented a detailed reopening plan to the Orange County Reopening Task Force that outlines not only when it plans to reopen, pending necessary state and local approvals, but also how things will operate when it does again unlock the gates.

Disney, and likely all the major theme parks, will look very different in a socially distanced world when they reopen.

Here's a look at when guests may again walk down Main Street U.S.A.

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Disney World targeting phased July 11 reopening

Walt Disney World has submitted a plan to reopen the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on Saturday, July 11, with Epcot and Hollywood Studios to follow with a Wednesday, July 15 reopening.

In the task force meeting, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney World, Jim McPhee, elaborated that there would also be some soft-opening tactics utilized in the days leading up to the official openings for cast member previews and other select audiences.

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Related: Ultimate guide to visiting Walt Disney World

Advance reservations required

Just like at the reopened Disney park in Shanghai, guests wishing to visit Walt Disney World will need to make a reservation before heading to the park. There will be capped attendance at the parks and within the individual restaurants and attractions, though exact numbers and details on the reservation system were not yet available. For reference, Disneyland Shanghai reopened with less than 30% of regular capacity.

Disneyland Shanghai (Photo by Hu Chengwei/Getty Images)

Related: Guide to the best restaurants at Disney World

No shows, no parades, no character meet-and-greets

Certain types of traditional Disney offerings that generally draw large crowds, or are considered high touchpoints, won't be available when the magic restarts in mid-July. For example, Disney has said not to expect parades or the traditional fireworks displays to happen anytime soon, as those are intrinsically tied to theme park visitors congregating in a small portion of the theme park.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Character meet-and-greets will also be suspended when the park reopens, so prepare your kiddos that they won't be getting a close-up with Mickey and friends anytime soon.

Temp checks and masks are required

Not only will there be a touchless temperature check required to enter the park, but face masks will be required for guests (and cast members) ages three and up. This isn't just a suggestion, this is a rule. And yes, July in Orlando is hot even without a mask. Disney will have what they call "relaxation zones" where you will be able to temporarily remove your face mask, but start shopping for a mask you think could stand up to the Orlando heat if Disney is back on your summer travel agenda. (I expect a surge in the sale of neck fans.)

In terms of temperature requirements, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to enter.

Disney will also have a social distance squad that will work to help encourage and implement the new safety and distancing regulations for the parks, just as they are already doing in Disney Springs.

Related: How to save money on a Disney vacation

(Photo by Hu Chengwei/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hu Chengwei/Getty Images)

Contactless payments

When it reopens, not only will Disney reopen with an increased reliance on its touchless Magic Bands and online resort check-in, but it will further lean into other forms of contactless payments to encourage as much of a cash-free environment as possible.

Mobile food ordering was already in place at counter-service restaurants at Walt Disney World, but expect to see an expansion in reliance on this way of ordering and paying for food with minimal contact and human interaction.

Charge everything to your magic band (Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)

It won't all reopen at once

It's now clear that Disney parks around the world won't all reopen at once -- just as they didn't all close at once. Even within the U.S., California and Florida are just ... different. Although the closure dates for Disneyland and Disney World were just a couple of days apart, the states' governors are now approaching the pandemic in their own ways.

While we now have a planned reopening date for Disney World, Disneyland may well have its own unique reopening timeline. In fact, to date, while the park in Shanghai has reopened, we don't yet have reopening dates for the other parks in Asia, such as those in Hong Kong and Tokyo. There is no announced reopening date for Disneyland Paris.

Related: How coronavirus could forever change the way we travel

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

In terms of hotels, the official Disney Parks Blog reports that the Disney Vacation Club resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will reopen at Walt Disney World to members and guests beginning June 22.

Bottom line

There's no denying that theme parks are going to present many challenges for safe operation in a socially distanced world. It doesn't matter if gatherings are slowly reopened to 10 people, 50 people, 200 people or more, theme parks bring together thousands and thousands of people with multiple shared touchpoints. From restaurants to shows, hotels, lines, rides, transportation needs and more, modifying a place like Disney World in a way that it can safely reopen will be an unparalleled challenge. But, it's an unparalleled challenge that Disney is ready to tackle beginning on July 11.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023