Walt Disney World (FL)

What Will Walt Disney World Be Like When It Reopens?

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Myself, other TouringPlans contributors, and staff, found the concept of what Walt Disney World be like when it reopens to be an interesting discussion point. While the concepts discussed within are inspired by news articles and other sources, there is nothing in this post that is official or should be taken as policy or fact. It is in the interest of discussion and entertainment that we share with you concepts that may, or may not, come to fruition when Walt Disney World reopens in the brave new world in which we find ourselves.

EPCOT Public Health Tips Sign just days before March 2020 closure

To Look Forward, You Need to Look Back

Every economist or statistician looks to the past to be able to predict the future. Patterns and influences echo throughout the ages. When any major event happens, analysts look to similar events and the resulting actions to get an idea of how this new, but similar, event will pan out. Imagine the challenge such people find themselves in with COVID-19. There is no exact event to which these circumstances align. Still, Walt Disney World, and the greater tourism industry, have faced disruption many times before. The closest example that is being looked to the most is the recovery following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

How we experience theme parks now is quite different than the guest experience prior to September 11, 2001. There were no bag checks, no metal detectors, nor any photo ID checks as you drove into one of the resort hotels. I remember the changes after 9/11 felt weird at first, but necessary. A new normal is coming again. We aren’t 100% sure what it will look like, but it will certainly feel strange for a while.

Bag check and security screening for the Magic Kingdom takes place at the TTC.

Reduced Capacity of the Disney Theme Parks

Scroll through any news story that mentions the “re-opening of America” and you’ll see discussion about how resuming business operations will include operating under social distance measures. The CDC currently recommends every person keep a six-foot distance between each other, and that gatherings of 250 or more people not take place. This essentially makes it near impossible for theme parks to open if they are to follow this guidance.

When the time comes for the theme parks to open chances are some sort of social distancing and other measures will need to be in place. Initially, Florida stated that dining rooms of restaurants could be at 50% capacity. This has since changed, and a plan from the State of Florida on how the state will “reopen” has not yet been announced.  It is fairly safe to assume that when the theme parks do resume operations, it will be in a phased roll out, with reduced capacity.

With the potential for reduced capacity this means revenue will be greatly reduced too. Would that mean Disney instating special (higher) pricing to make up for it? Would Disney pause the ability to park hop to help with traffic control and capacity?

Designated Days for Each Theme Park

Another theory that’s floating around is that Walt Disney World will designate certain days of the week for each theme park to be open. This could happen a variety of ways. The logic behind operating some parks on certain days, and keeping others closed, would make traffic flow and capacity manageable, and would reduce operational costs. But, it would also limit the options for spreading people out across all of Disney property.

It might be more realistic to designate certain parks for each category of guest. Essentially you have four types of Disney guests: Disney Resort Hotel Guests, Annual Passholders, Multi-Day Ticket Holders Staying Off Property, and One-Day Ticket Holders. Chances are Disney won’t even bother with One-Day Tickets when they reopen. It wouldn’t benefit them much at all. Designating certain parks for certain categories of guests (i.e. Magic Kingdom would be open to On-Property Resort Hotel Guests on Mondays, and Annual Passholders on Tuesdays) might help Disney control capacity, traffic flow, and other operational concerns.

An additional theory is that temporarily the Disney theme parks would only be open to guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. This is just a theory I’ve seen out there for discussion, and not one I personally believe will be the case. However, doing so would help with contact tracing and wellness checks and would be temporary.

By Reservation Only

Another theory is that the Disney theme parks themselves will become by reservation only, for a while. This might look something like SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove, in which you make a reservation and purchase admission for a designated day. This would allow Disney to allocate their resources. Capacity could be controlled the best with this process.

This might also mean that everything in the parks would be reservation only too. This would mean attractions would not have a stand-by line; you would have to reserve everything like you do with a FastPass+ at each attraction. This would enable Disney to control capacity of the rides and ensure queues do not get full of guests who are too close together for safe social distancing. Perhaps all dining would require reservations, again to control capacity. And even quick service locations could be through mobile ordering only, to ensure social distancing too.

Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass+ Entrance

Reduced Shows, Attractions, and Character Experiences

Disney will most likely be concerned about maintaining social distancing and capacity guidance, as well as keeping operational costs as low as possible. Having a theater full of guests for the various shows in each theme park will not be possible. So we can imagine that shows will have reduced capacity and may require reservations, or perhaps to save costs Disney may not offer any live or theater experiences for a while.

Also in the interest of reduced costs Disney may consider keeping less-visited attractions closed. The down side of doing so will be having less places to put guests and less options for keeping them entertained, but it may be worth it. Another potential reduction would be character experiences. One can imagine that the thought of touching or hugging a Disney character who has just touched and interacted with other guests may not be appealing, let alone fit within guidance.

Controlled Directional Flow Throughout Disney Property

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately you have most likely been directed to enter the store on one side and exit on the other, as well as seen the aisles designated for one-way traffic flow. And perhaps you’ve been on Main Street U.S.A during the parade or fireworks and have found yourself directed to walk one way or another. One can imagine that in order to control capacity and social distancing, Disney would implement traffic flow measures throughout Disney property.

Perhaps guests would enter buildings including restaurants, shops, and even hotels in a designated area and exit in another area. Even the parks themselves could have traffic lanes of sorts, in which guests can only move one way or the other throughout the lands.

All Hands Off Deck and Cleaning Stations

Just before Walt Disney World closed, a few members of our team visited the parks. They noticed a fleet of hand cleaning stations that included both hand sanitizer and a sink for hand washing. These type of stations are often found at races and outdoor festivals. One can imagine these stations would return and stick around for a while when Disney resumes operations. It is interesting to theorize if Disney would take this further and have Cast Members stationed at restrooms and restaurants to encourage guests to wash or sanitize.

Over the recent year Disney has added a lot of touch screen technology. Primarily in attractions there are touch screens in queues and for making FastPass+ reservations inside the park. It would seem unlike that Disney would keep the touch screens on, especially inside the ride queues. Would that go as so far as to keep them covered as well?

EPCOT Hand Washing and Sanitizer Station just before March 2020 closure

Transportation Concerns

One of the biggest components any city, state, and destination is grappling with is how to manage transportation. Buses and boats make it very difficult to follow social distancing guidance, especially in regards to required space between individuals and capacity. With regard to transportation it would benefit Walt Disney World to encourage guests to use their own vehicles. In this regard, Florida residents and others within driving distance become a very attractive demographic. Would Disney consider lifting its parking charges to encourage more drive-in guests? Walt Disney World resort hotel guests receive complimentary parking at the theme parks, but are charged to park at the resorts. Would they remove that charge temporarily?

Restricting Access to Resort Hotels

Prior to September 11, 2001, you could pretty much access any Disney hotel for any reason. Photo identification was not required to show to Security Cast Members. Dining reservations were rarely ever required in order to park at the hotels. Now, of course that has all changed, and it could temporarily become more retricted.

To help with contact tracing and exposure, would Disney restrict access to the hotels to resort guests only? In this theory we could entertain the possibility that only guests with a room reservation could enter the resort grounds. This could also include restricting access to transportation like boats and the monorail, accessing the parking lot, and entering the resort’s lobby and grounds.

Monorail open for loading.

Required Masks and Temperature Screening

The one measure that has officially been hinted at, by Bob Iger in a Barron’s magazine interview, is temperature checks before being able to enter the parks. This comment spread throughout the internet and news media with varied responses. Mr. Iger related such checks to “much like the bag checks we do.” A rebuttal to this measure is that persons can have the virus and not have any noticeable symptoms including fever. Still, Disney and other large public spaces are going to have to do something to keep people that are ill from entering the parks and other venues.

Wearing face masks is becoming the norm in many parts of the country already. For many cities and a few states it is now a requirement to be able to go to public spaces. I’m surprised we haven’t seen Disney jump on this and sell official Disney licensed face masks–then again that may not align with the brand’s optics either. Still, if they decide to make it a requirement of attending the parks, it must be tempting for them to monetize it.

For Discussion…

As repeatedly stated, the purpose of this post is purely for entertainment and debate. Furthermore, these theories are not necessarily ones I personally believe in nor support. The matters discussed here should not be mistaken as policy or procedure for Walt Disney World or any other business establishment.

With that said, what are your thoughts? Would you visit Walt Disney World if such procedures were implemented? What do you expect will be done to get the parks opened again?


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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

38 thoughts on “What Will Walt Disney World Be Like When It Reopens?

  • It doesn’t really seem like a place I would want to spend my family’s vacation money. Disappointments around every corner. Being restricted to your own hotel. Finite dinner reservations for only a select few, and drastically reduced attractions and resources available due to lowered cast member employment and cost savings. No thanks.

  • My opinion is that we need to use common sense wash are hands keep a distance to the best of are ability cover are mouth and nose when we sneeze or cough but also don’t live in fear. I think we need to be able to build up some type of immunity to the virus. No more mask! Possibly test at the airport before the flight and if they test positive they can’t board! If they drive they get tested before check in and turned away if positive!

  • I’ve heard there have been a lot of false positives with the testing due to flu vaccines. Im not sure what, at this point, would truly be effective!

  • I’m wondering something about the testing idea. I already knew that just taking temperatures wouldn’t really help, since many people are asymptomatic and would pass just fine through the temperature check point and end up still spreading the virus throughout the park. Six of my husband’s fellow officers tested positive for covid-19 and 4 of those 6 had never had any symptoms. They were having their temperatures checked every time they went into the station and they were always fine. They wouldn’t have known they were infected if it weren’t for contact tracing. They were required to be tested because they had had contact with the first two positive officers, and they were shocked to find out they were infected because they thought they felt fine. So, about the testing idea. If they did test people with quick result testing kits to determine if you had covid or not, what would they do with you if you do test positive? You’ve already spent thousands of dollars and possibly traveled from far away, and now you find out you are infected and contagious and can’t take part in any if your vacation activities. What do they do with you? If you test positive in your hometown, you’re supposed to quarantine. So what happens if you get the news while you’re there? It would be horrible to find out you have covid after you’ve spent so much money and traveled away from home. So, not sure how that would work either.
    I guess they could only open to people within driving distance and on a day to day basis, without anything pre-planned and pre-paid for. That way, if you find out your test is positive, you just turn around and drive back home, only having wasted gas money and time. It’s wicked depressing, but I don’t think we can have normal life again until the masses can get vaccinated.
    I love Disney and can’t wait to go back again in the future, but I would have to feel safe and be able to enjoy myself and have the full experience, for it to be worth the money. I feel bad for my sister. At 44 years old, she has never been and they are supposed to go in November of this year, for their first trip, with their 17, 13 and 11 year old children, as well as their 22 year old adult daughter who has also never been.
    I really wish that their planned trip won’t be disrupted, but realistically, I don’t see how it can be safe enough yet, by then.

  • A quick swab to check for infection when you check-in at your hotel seems like an easy and effective way to keep people safe. Once the test shows negative it can be added with your picture and stored on your magic band. That plus reduced capacity is more than enough to open up the parks and keep people safe. Nothing is going to be 100% no matter what they try. Disney Parks need to open because people are desperate to work and need to support there families. My family and I love Walt Disney World and go every year. We are hoping they open again before the end of May and we will be there to show our support!

  • Our family has saved and planned for our WDW vacay for a few years. I was able to get an amazing rate for May 30-June 6th at a deluxe resort and we are still holding out. Our flights have changed a few times each week but with all the money and effort (FP, ADR etc) I’m not ready to bail just yet. Our family plan is to be hopeful the resort will open by May 30th even if the parks are due to open June 1st. When I heard in March the only reservations they are taking is for June 1st it made me a little hopeful. I want to be a glass half full outlook with stating that IF everything is slowly opened then I will assume it will be at a reduced capacity which might made it a different experience (with no Parades/Fireworks) but maybe less crowds. Do I stress overall, of course, heck, I even bought Mango Hibiscus Lysol wipes to use on the plane and other public spaces (even for a once over of the resort room) to make it more festive! I’m tired of losing sleep wondering if I will wake up one morning to know it won’t be happening. And if not, we will be going the same time in 2021 then. I will just be the most upset over the rate I was able to get and might not get again next year. Overall I want my family, your family and all the Disney Cast members to be safe, well and healthy. If it’s not this year then will repeat it all again in the future. Stay safe all!

    • I totally get where you are coming from, KS. It is always so great when you find an awesome rate. Fingers crossed this all works. Thanks for reading!

  • Same boat – I rented DVC points through a vendor for a September trip. I know they have a business to run, but it is crazy to think that if Disney can’t reopen for a whole year, that all that money is lost. I hope we can still go, but safely.

  • Back in early Feb, I rented DVC points, through a vendor, for our Sept 10-day stay. These are 100% pre-paid, non-refundable and not able to be changed. I will be happy to have my temperature taken, wear a mask (even in the heat), wash my hands 50x/day, and whatever else Disney wants me to do to visit their parks in mid to late Sept. because I REALLY don’t want to lose $2600!

  • If Disney Parks have to close for a year or more as Mike stated, Disney would be doomed. They are a large part of the economy of Florida. That is definitely not a practical option. Sure, it would be great to have the assurance and know that no one would be exposed to the Coronavirus and that we would all be safe, but then we would be in a “fantasyland”. There is no safe place on earth from the possible catastrophes that could occur. We must be smart, but still live in this world and enjoy the blessings of life not being afraid to live.

  • There’s really only one way to prevent an outbreak in theme parks and that is to not allow entrance to anyone that tests positive. Temperature checks don’t work – around half of positive cases are asymptomatic and capable of spreading the virus. Testing is the only way to be certain. Emirates, the UAE-based airline, tests passengers for COVID-19 on flights from its Dubai hub, results available in ten minutes. I believe this is the future in traveling and theme parks. Not 100% effective as there certainly will be some false positives and false negatives. But way safer than social distancing and ineffective masks. Test negative and let the magic begin!

  • We have a trip booked beginning on June 19th on rented DVC points. We are from Indiana and have saved for years for this trip. I was holding out hope a month ago but have come to the realization that we will need to most likely cancel or reschedule. I’m worried that financially, we will lose our money or at least most of it. I know, as others have said, this seems like a first world problem but for us, we truly saved for this. We are not wealthy enough to just pick up and go whenever we want and I’m grateful for health and safety but I’m also disappointed (which I think we are all allowed to be).

    Temperature screening and limited capacity is totally fine but not being able to use transportation, go on rides, swim, having to wear masks, etc. would not be worth the money spent. We are supposed to book Fast passes + tomorrow for a trip we probably won’t be taking. I’m telling myself it’s practice! If they are limited, however, it won’t be a true test of what we can get. Trying to stay positive but truly devastated. I so appreciate Touring Plans thinking through options with the rest of us and keeping us informed! Thank you.

  • I realized one more thing after I posted it.

    * DVC members will most likely have first priority to the parks and hotels. Disney already has a standing contract with DVC members to provide vacations, so they will need to make sure they are accommodated before Disney can accommodate guests at their resort hotels.

  • My $0.02 on this, and I believe two things will happen: one, is that Disney will be one of the last things to be able to reopen and two, expect social distancing to be the PRIMARY factor allow the park to reopen.

    That means:
    * Be prepared for the possibility of the parks being shut down for at least a year. I don’t see, barring a medical treatment, any way the parks can reopen in 2020. That’s not what we want to hear, but this is not going away anytime soon, and amusement parks will probably be in the bottom 5% of things that return to normal.
    * Capacity will be limited in the parks, perhaps only to on-site guests when they reopen. And not all resorts may reopen at the same time. Capacity at each resort may be limited as well.
    * Either every park will be open, or they will all be closed. The idea is to spread guests out, so you need everything open. Anything idea that gets people congregating closer together won’t work.
    * Shows that require a crowd might be cancelled.
    * To spread out crowds, nearly every ride or attraction will operate. Things that aren’t popular will remain open to provide options for people.
    * NO STAND BY LINES. PERIOD. Boarding groups and FastPass+ will be expanded and reworked, because they will be required. Timeframes for FastPass+ will be shortened to 10-15 minutes instead of an hour, and you’ll be able to have more than 3 FastPass reservations. (You’ll probably be allowed to add a sameday FastPass as soon as you use one.)

  • I have no doubt FPs have been limited until Disney has an idea what a June reopening may look like. So if the trip is still on, continue to try to modify your FPs.

  • Lots of interesting ideas. We have a trip planned for Christmas and I feel way more optimistic about that than the July trip my husband and I planned to sneak in while our girls are at camp (which I assume will be canceled).

    Anyway…I’m thinking yes on the temp checks and yes on reduced capacity. I’ve thought for awhile that they will open up only to AP and on-site resort guests first. That will give Disney more control over tracing and spacing while focusing on the resort guests who will likely be spending more $ than off-site guests. I don’t see them opening/closing parks on certain days because that leaves them with less ability to space out guests. It’s possible (not highly probably though) that they could consider assigning hotels to certain resort days. Like Mondays XYZ hotels can access MK. ABC hotels go to Epcot on Mondays, etc and then switch? ‍♀️

    I trust Disney to do the right thing by their cast members and guests.

  • So we have a resort reservation for June 8-14th. We booked all of our dining (deluxe plan) long ago and have everything planned out. We are planners, there are 7 of us, and we love to decide where to go and eat far in advance. Something does seem strange on this trip however. When we went to get fast passes, they were extremely, extremely limited. We had a very hard time getting the majority of what we wanted, and have never had this problem before. If something was available, a lot of the time it was only available later in the evening. Things like Flight of Passage, new rides at Hollywood Studios, popular rides at MK, we all unavailable. Now don’t get me wrong, we did still get a lot of things, but in the last 10 years, we have never had issues getting what we wanted 60 days out. Maybe one thing here or there, but this year more than 2/3 of what we wanted was unavailable. Do this many people still have reservations for early June and planned so well? Or did Disney limit or restrict the number of passes? My gut tells me they limited them for some reason. I guess we will see….

  • We have a trip booked in July from the UK and our Villa and theme park ticket balances are all due to be paid in the next few weeks.
    At the moment we have no option but to pay the balances – we can’t cancel flights or accommodation because our trip isn’t within 28 days. Disney says July tickets aren’t currently covered by their “extend to end of 2021” offer and our flights are technically still running. If Disney and flights reopen we can’t cancel without losing everything but we don’t want to risk going.
    I know these are “first world struggles” and I am truly grateful we have our health and wish others the same. However, it is a real financial worry.

  • I know that everything is happening right now to keep public health safe and sound for everyone, but I think Disney Parks should reopen sooner than later, or Americans are going to become more and more restless about things not being reopening.

    Also Yes on Temperature checks, Yes on lower crowds to keep social distancing in line, but using masks and gloves in the heat, I don’t think it will not go well with people.

  • Our Florida Platinum Plus Annual Passes expire early this May. For three weeks, we have been trying to call the New Special Telephone number to find out how to renew them. After holding for about thirty minutes or so each time, our calls get bounced to Hotel Reservations. At first, I was inclined to believe that Florida AP s as well as some others (reasonably close drives), were going to be the “Guinea Pigs” to test out things in WDW when it reopened. Reading all the speculation, conjecture and downright sadness and disappointment on many of the Disney Blogs, I don’t think Disney is going to renew or issue any new Annual Passes for awhile. CDC, NIH and Federal and State COVID-19 guidelines are going to determine in large measure what Disney can and cannot do at their U.S. theme parks. The Disney Bean Counters and Lawyers will determine the what, when and the how at the parks until the virus can be controlled (therapeutics) or a vaccine is ready and available for the masses. My best guess is that Disney will see how much pent up demand there is for a stay at the WDW resort hotels. Will the water parks be open? Will the resort pools be open. Do you have to wear a mask in pool? Will it come off on a water slide? As Bob Iger said: It is about building TRUST. Parents, guardians and grandparents have to determine is the risk to their health and that of their children and grandchildren worth it. That old : “Risk vs Reward” thing. A Summer WDW, UNIVERSAL. SEA WORLD vacation in the Florida heat without pools, beaches, water parks, fireworks, parades, character meet and greets? No Fantasmic? No castle projection shows? Front and back row only used on the Kilimanjaro Safari trucks? Disney will quickly find out by their advance resort bookings, how much tolerance and money there is for a reduced experience at WDW. Resort room rates and park tickets will be discounted if the demand is not there. Unfortunately for me, my family, grandkids and millions of Disneyphiles, there is a lot of fear and trepidation about the COVID-19 virus. A motivational speaker once said “You can either live your fears or live your dreams.” Sadly, a lot of our happiest vacation dreams still reside within that once magical “Disney Bubble.”

  • I had a trip booked for the first week of June. I had even already made all our dining reservations. My 10 year old daughter and I were super excited to be introducing my 4 year old grandson to Disney World. (So there is no misunderstanding, I have a young daughter and 2 adult sons)..I cancelled our trip a couple of weeks ago. I had no faith that the parks would reopen when originally planned and then I began reading of all the possible changes if it did reopen. It saddened me but I am not paying thousands of dollars for a small bit of experience and being treated as thow we are carrier monkeys. I am afraid that we will not be returning in the future. It makes me ill that my grandson will never have a trip to DW but like I said, it’s not worth the hassle and money. There are far to many other places to visit in this country to waist time and money on something that will never be the same.

    • Hey there “Disappointed” – I can share some of your concerns. If you are saddened about not bringing your grandson, it might be good to wait and see what Disney actually does in this situation. Everything I wrote about is only theoretical. Surely they will have to do something, just like they did after 09/11/01, but it would seem impossible that everything I included in the post would actually come to pass. In the end, you can decide what is best for your family. It is a tough time for all of us, and I hope your family is keeping well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • We have a trip planned for the end of June, we’re DVC members and annual pass holders but live in the northeast. I was told the earliest you can book a new reservation at a Disney hotel is June 1st. I can see Disney limiting park admission or capacity when it first opens in some way. (Guests staying on property, Florida residents, annual passholders etc.) I wonder if they will try to limit or deny access to people coming from certain areas or hotspots for the virus, like New York or Michigan, or internationally, like Italy or China etc. Logistically it would be difficult and a PR nightmare.

  • We have a trip planned for WDW the end of May. Thus far, Disney has not cancelled it – on property hotel, ADRs and FPs are still on the app. We spoke with a cast member last week and all is well for now. We’re waiting it out to see if Disney opens and what the restrictions will be. Crowds on buses, crowds for fireworks, crowds in ride queues, crowds at resort pools and even the “icky ness” of the QS refillable mug station (which really is icky during a “normal” Disney trip) are just a few of the areas that we question. I’m not sure a Disney trip wearing a mask will make for good photo pass pictures, but we’re willing to wait and hear how Disney decides to handle reopening the resort before making a final decision.

  • We are huge Disney fans and travel a long distance to get there. Many of the “ideas” seem very reasonable to me and are already practiced in other theme parks. When we are planning our trip we also plan where we want to get our dining reservation…so we have essentially chosen the park we will be in as well. Buying your park ticket for a specific day is not an over reach for Disney trip planners and many other theme parks already do that. Since resort guest’s do pay to park at the resort, making the parking free to them at the parks to reduce the number of people on a bus sounds like an awesome choice. I would much rather be in my own vehicle than squished into a bus on a hot Florida day or late night. I already joked that Disney needs to be making face mask’s…If I am going to buy them why not buy them with my favorite character to bring a smile to another. Yes, take my temperature…I like knowing now anyway and then I do not have to carry my thermometer. These would all be reasonable attempts to help get us through and yes, in the end we may just have a more enjoyable time too….if we give change a chance and remain flexible. (Flexibility is already the key to Disney fun!)

  • Its like you are learning the practice of good habits specially kids and enjoying
    A safe day of your vacation in a nice safe
    Place of disney.

  • Sadly , with the parks being so overcrowded , fast passes almost impossible to get without spending Many hours on line and most importantly to us – the over sell at vacation club – hence rooms being harder to book – we had already opted to non renew our platinum plus tickets and have banked our points into RCI.
    As Florida residents And Disney Visitors since opening in 70’s. It’s very disheartening. We would welcome limited attendance, in any way that helped make the parks more open and enjoyable ,to all who were there on a given day.

  • With the rise in number of resort rooms, I predict that one day- virus or not- the parks will only be open to resort guests, AP holders and Florida residents. Your experience starts at check-in, not the TTC.

    And I would go one step further and speculate that has been the plan even prior to C-19.

  • I think there might be something to the everything-by-reservation idea. Maybe they offer something similar to a touring plan using their app, where you select which rides/attractions you want to experience that day and the app directs you to which one you can do next. Probably need to be priced at a premium though, like a VIP tour is.

    It would give them some control over people’s movement in the parks and ensure that queues are able to allow for social distancing, but I have no idea if they’d be able to operate the parks profitably under those circumstances.

  • Interesting thoughts!
    I could understand limiting capacity at each park each day, but I would doubt that they would only open certain parks on certain days. Not everyone who visits stays an entire week and I bet some people would be unhappy to buy a ticket and then be told they can’t go to the park they wanted to because it is closed on that day.
    Social distancing will make visiting Disney challenging for sure but I am sure people will be patient so they can do what is safest for everyone. Have a good day!

  • Things that will most definitely happen: phased opening, reduced park capacity, reduced restaurant capacity, Reduced hotel capacity, no parades or fireworks, reduced ride capacity, reduced show capacity, no shows with live actors, no character meets.

    What might happen: Higher ticket prices, limited bus/monorail/ferry/skyliner transportation, opening parks to only on-site guests and AP holders, park reservations required, all attractions require FP+.

    Now, how all that will be accomplished is anyone’s guess. We are likely a year from a vaccine, but I am hopeful that the clinical trials for new symptom therapies prove successful. I think if that happens this country will open back up by the end of the year and the old normal will be the new normal once more.

  • We have a reservation for first week in October at WDW. As Californians, this was meant to be our once a decade type of trip. We haven’t cancelled yet because I’m still somewhat hopeful. But I want to have FUN if I’m going to cross the country and spend $$$$. If we are forced to wear masks, not able to see all the attractions, not have park hopping, have to rent a car, walk in traffic lanes, and basically have restricted access, then it won’t be worth it to go anymore. We’ll be paying full price for a limited and subpar experience.

    • Yes, it would be a disappointing experience. Thankfully these are all theoretical situations and most likely not every single one of them will come to fruition. I am sure Disney will communicate the procedures once they are ready to, and I am sure they will make it as magical as possible. Thanks for reading, Tracy!

  • We had planned and already booked a post-Labor Day 2020 trip to WDW. We even planned out and reserved most of our dining 2 weeks before everything shut down. We live in STL, so we don’t get to go to Disney as often as I’d like. This will be our first trip for our almost-2-year-old and second trip for our 4-year-old (she went when she was 18 months old).

    I had an emotional breakdown a couple of nights ago about how excited I had been for this magical family vacation, and how now our girls likely won’t be able to experience many of the things that make Disney so magical (fireworks, parades, shows, characters). After grieving for a bit, my husband gently reminded me that while I’ll know and probably focus on the things that are “missing”, my girls won’t know any different (although my 4-year-old is already talking about which characters she wants to me), and the trip will still be magical for them even if it feels “different” for me. I know I’m constantly going to have to keep reminding myself to see it through their eyes and to focus on the excitement rather than the disappointment and longing for what I wanted it to be, but it’s a good perspective.

    Now, my super-planning brain is just stressed out. I can’t make touring plans, or even depend on the park-days or dining reservations that I already have if we have no idea what will be open, what restrictions there will be, etc.

    • This is a very tough time for sure, Becky. Not being able to plan with any certainty is very, very difficult. Thanks so much for reading, I hope you and your family keep well.

  • I think that last sentence, Brent, is the most important of all. It is going to be very interesting to see. This is a tough time for everyone. Myself, and the TouringPlans team, appreciates you reading and commenting.

  • Given the challenges of social distancing in a theme park setting, I don’t really see how the parks can open before a vaccine is available unless we get to a point where there are no new infections for a few weeks. I suspect the re-opening will be slow and systematic, probably starting with a few resorts and Disney Springs (I believe Shanghai just re-opened the hotel, dining, and shopping areas but kept the park closed). This will bring some people back but not overwhelm everyone. Most guests at this time will probably be Floridians, though economic challenges will remain. Masks will likely need to be worn in public spaces and removed only when dining (such as in Shanghai). Restaurant seating can be modified to maintain social distancing practices. The same won’t be true for transportation such as buses and monorails, which likely will remain out of service for quite some time (I say this as a CM). I can’t see myself going back to work without extra layers of protection until we know this crisis has passed.

    As for the idea of parks being open on alternating days, I don’t see it happening. Rather, I see capacity control at each park to evenly distribute those guests across the parks. On a ‘normal’ day there may be 100,000 guests entering the parks but I expect when we first open we’ll see less than 40,000 a day. Perhaps a cap of 10,000 per park, per day would allow for adequate distancing. Rides may have to limit themselves to families and groups traveling together. One problem with the alternating days’ idea is it would violate the terms of some annual passes. The same would be true if park-hopping were prohibited. The company will face lawsuits from pass holders.

    Overall, I think there is a reason why Disney offered to pay the health insurance for CMs for a year and that is because the company knows it may not be able to return to normal operation for at least that long, if not longer. If Disney believed it would be able to open in June, I doubt it would have furloughed so many CMs. Whenever we do re-open, the World will be a very different place than the one we left on March 16.

  • So many “ifs”. Social distancing in theme parks is almost impossible. Wearing masks and gloves in summer heat in Florida is unacceptable. Tempers will flare. As for myself we have a July reservation and I have my doubts about going. Will the virus surge up again when social distancing is relaxed? Will people be able to go especially if they don’t have the income? I see many arguments in the parks, if some one has a coughing spell, what will be the people’s reaction? Will guests want to come with a possibility the virus could come back with no vaccine? Will certain parks be open? Just picking a date to reopen is not going to be easy. The public safety must come first. Disney is well aware of this. So many questions need to be answered before any gates open. I would love to see disney reopen soon, but not putting the public’s health in jeopardy

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