When Will Walt Disney World Reopen?

May 21, 2020, 11:22 PM · So with Universal Orlando asking today for government approval to reopen its theme parks to the public on June 5, the next question people will be asking is... when does Walt Disney World reopen?

Universal Orlando kicked off the process of reopening Central Florida's theme park resorts with a partial return of its CityWalk dining and shopping district last week. Walt Disney World's Disney Springs district then followed this week. (Though, to be fair, Disney announced its May 20 Disney Springs reopening before Universal announced anything about CityWalk.) The new health and safety procedures that Universal has detailed at the request of state and local authorities are pretty much identical to those being used at Disney Springs, so if Universal gets the final approval to reopen, it would seem that an approval to return would be available to Walt Disney World, as well.

As soon as Disney wishes to reopen, that is. (Update:Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Friday morning that Disney will present its reopening plans to his office next week.)

Fans have been looking for clues to a potential Disney World return date ever since the resort announced in March that it would be closed until further notice. Hotel reservations provide the most obvious clue, with Disney now canceling previously booked reservations through the middle of June and not allowing new reservations for date before July.

But Universal Orlando included no timetable for hotel reopenings in its proposal to local officials, so it's entirely possible that Disney also might choose to reopen its parks before its hotels. With international borders closed and interstate travel sharply reduced within the United States, frankly, it doesn't make sense to reopen entire hotel complexes to operate at a tiny occupancy percentage.

A phased reopening also has become the industry standard around the world as parks in Asia and Europe return, and Universal Orlando is taking the same approach with its parks, reopening with limited capacity then gradually increasing it. Disney officials have said that they anticipate a gradual reopening at its theme parks, as well.

Elsewhere in Central Florida, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has approved reopening plans for several smaller attractions, including ICON Park, Fun Spot, Gatorland, and Andretti Indoor Karting and Games. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis must now approve those plans, but once that comes, some could begin admitting guests as soon as this weekend.

Legoland Florida also has won local approval for its plan to reopen to the public as soon as June 1. Legoland plans to operate at less than 50 percent capacity initially and require temperature checks, but not masks - though those will be encouraged and provided to guests free of charge who do not arrive with one. Legoland Florida also is looking to open its new Pirate Island Hotel on June 1. Again, those plans will need approval from the governor, which could come as early as tomorrow.

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Replies (4)

May 22, 2020 at 1:05 AM

Disney may have the NBA to deal with as well and while they might be able to open the parks while the NBA is there I think it would defeat the purpose of playing at a place that is supposed to be closed, be a bad look, and Adam Silver probably wouldn't be too happy about it. Theoretically sure you could open MK and keep the NBA contained to the other side of property, but if Lebron, AD, or Giannis get the Covid while they are playing at an open Disney World now everyone looks stupid.

Also George Kalogridis told Mike Pence there will be a phased opening and unemployment benefits should be extended, so take that for whatever its worth.

May 22, 2020 at 2:34 AM

I think there is a good chance Magic Kingdom will open in late June or early July, possibly with a few of the hotels near the park. Until there is more travel from out of area, however, I wouldn't be surprised if that's as open as the resort gets. My gut feeling is that we may not see any of the other parks reopen until late summer or early fall, and there's a very real possibility the resort won't be in full operation (all four theme parks, at least one waterpark, and a majority of hotels) until sometime next year, as until people are traveling it really isn't economical. While I do think WDW will reopen at least one park before Disneyland in California, I expect Disneyland to rebound much quicker and possibly get to full operation before WDW opens multiple parks.

May 22, 2020 at 10:16 AM

I find it interesting that face masks are required at some parks and not others, h2o water park Kissimmee and LEGOLAND as examples. I think safety concerns should be uniformly enforced for everyone safety and not taken into account for when the bottom line would be at risk.

May 22, 2020 at 11:05 AM

Universal has going for it far less space with the parks and such so a bit easier to maintain. WDW on the other hand is practically a city onto itself and so a lot harder to ensure guests can follow all these rules. My mom is still hoping to take her grandkids on a trip there (was supposed to be next week) so looking at this (as a nurse, she knows the risks but wants to go).

It can be tricky as Disney no doubt worries on liability issues if more infections spread and danger to workers. It's smarter for them to let Universal try it first and see how they go before reopening themselves a few weeks later.

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