Disney World Set to Reopen Following Multi-Month Closure Over Coronavirus Concerns

Following a more than two-month closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Walt Disney World plans to reopen on July 11. According to a proposal presented to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on Wednesday, the Orlando, Florida, theme park is planning a phased reopening that will see Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks reopening on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Hollywood Studios on July 15, according to CNN Business. The plan will have to be approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings before it can be approved by Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis.

According to PEOPLE, the plans for a slow reopening, which would begin with "soft opening preview days." Jim McPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations, said that such a process would "allow us to launch, learn and adjust along the way." Attendance will also be capped, with the theme park "managing attendance demand through a new theme park reservation system" in which "guests will have to reserve in advance." The company also plans to reduce "capacity on attractions, in restaurants and in retail stores, as well as on methods of transportation."

The park will also be undertaking extensive new safety measures. Upon arrival, guests, who are encouraged to o health checks at home beforehand, will have their temperatures checked. Both guests and cast members will also be required to wear face masks or coverings. The park will be "increasing our use of plexiglass barriers," where close interactions are necessary,” and the use of the parks' existing digital "magic" wristbands will allow food orders to be mobile rather than face-to-face, limiting person-to-person interaction.

Such measures have already sparked backlash. After the company announced the reopening of the Lake Buena Vista, Florida, theme park Disney Springs alongside a number of new safety measures, some flocked to social media to slam certain requirements, including the requirement that people wear masks. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear cloth face coverings when in public, as they help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

As the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, all of Disney's 12 parks in North America, Asia and Europe closed. After closing on Jan. 24, Shanghai Disneyland, the company's largest international park, reopened its gates on May 11, and in May, Disney announced that Disney Springs would begin a phased reopening on May 20. Meanwhile, as Disney World prepares to welcome back guests, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando are also preparing to reopen, with Universal planning to open June 5, and SeaWorld planning to open June 11.