This week Disney presented their long-awaited reopening plan for Walt Disney World to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. The phased reopening of Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom will begin July 11th, followed by Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT on July 15th. Disney is taking a deliberate approach to protecting its team members and guests from the spread of viruses.
Disney's Measured Reopening Approach for Cast Members
Disney is providing cast members with reusable face coverings that they will wear while on property. Cast members will also have access to sanitizing stations during their shifts. They will complete at-home temperature screenings before leaving for their shifts; this is in addition to onsite temperature checks. What is unclear is if these onsite temperature checks will be for all arriving cast members or if they will be randomized.
Backstage areas will be cleaned with more frequency, and they will be modified to encourage social distancing. Disney will continue to assign uniforms to cast members instead of having a general wardrobe shared by employees.
Disney's Measured Reopening Approach for Guests
Disney now requires face coverings for guests two years old and older while on property. Where social distancing is not available, Disney will add plexiglass in retail and food and beverage locations. A third-party contractor will conduct temperature screenings for guests at park entry points. Disney will suspend all events that create crowds, i.e., parades, fireworks. Finally, Disney will also limit admission to its theme parks.
Disney Cancelled Your Reservations
Disney is reopening with a new park entry reservation system. Similar to Shanghai Disneyland, park goers will reserve their visit before arriving at the park. This reservation, accompanied by valid theme park admission, will gain attendee's entry. To implement this new system, Disney canceled all Fastpass, dining, and experience reservations held by guests. While this choice provoked the ire of future visitors, it was an unavoidable step.
Had Disney not canceled these held reservations before rolling out their new park entry system, there would have been a bevy of displeased guests with bookings for activities that they could not experience. Even though these guests are incensed now, the guest relations chaos that it is preventing is immeasurable.
Yes, it hurts to lose the elusive Flight of Passage Fastpass, but it is more frustrating to have a Fastpass and not get into the park? Furthermore, Disney announced that they would repurpose the Fastpass queues to support social distancing. I surmise that the main queues will be rendered obsolete for the moment. The FastPass queue will become the main queue as many lines have attractive high touch interactive features that are prudent to avoid as sanitization of those areas is difficult.
Should You Go to Disney World When It Reopens
Disney is taking deliberate measures to reopen its parks safely. Even so, if you are at high risk for severe illness, please consider your visit carefully.
If this is your only chance to have a bit of the magic, wait. The lines will be much shorter than visitors are typically used to; however, the experience won't be as robust as it was a few months ago. If you imagine that you will feel slighted by the changes implemented, save your visit when things are less controlled.
Disney is magical, even if the adventure is truncated. The tips and tricks that we all came to know no longer apply. Here's to My NEW Disney Experience, I invite you to join me on this journey. For those of you who plan on visiting Disney when it reopens, it would be a pleasure to offer a Wi-five should we come across one another at the parks.