10 Huge Changes You'll See When Disney World Reopens This Summer
The House of Mouse is returning in July, but it won't look the same way you remember it.
The Happiest Place on Earth is about to get a serious makeover. Four months after it shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney World will reopen its gates, starting with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, then Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15, pending approval from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The announcement comes following the successful reopening of Shanghai Disneyland (on May 11) and the Disney Springs shopping and dining complex in Orlando (on May 20).
Though the House of Mouse will still have plenty of magic, you won't see every beloved attraction as it was before. Here's are the huge changes you can expect the next time you stroll down Main Street U.S.A. And for more ways Disney could look different in the future, check out This One Thing Could Change Disney and Other Theme Parks Forever.
There will be a new park reservation system.
In order to regulate foot traffic, Disney World will create a new reservation system to enter the park. Guests will have to establish the number of people in their party and book a time slot in advance, Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World, said in a meeting with the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on May 27.
There will be "Social Distancing Squads."
If you have any concerns once you're in the park, don't fret. You'll be able to consult Disney's so-called Social Distancing Squad, "a dedicated team of highly energetic and informative cast members who are committed to engaging and inspiring our guests to follow the appropriate guidelines." They were first deployed at Disney Springs and received phenomenal feedback, according to MacPhee.
There will be no more fireworks and parades.
The fireworks over Cinderella Castle are one of Disney's most iconic celebrations. However, that's one of many events that will be temporarily suspended as it draws too many onlookers in one area. Parades will also be put on hold for the time being.
There will be no more character meet-and-greets.
That photo with Pluto will have to wait. To protect cast members and guests, high-touch interactions—such as pictures, autographs, and hugs—with Disney characters will not be allowed. You can, however, wave to them as they roam the grounds with a friendly escort (read: security guard) in tow.
There will be temperature screenings.
In terms of health protocols, it will be required for guests to wear face masks, undergo temperature checks upon entry, and use frequent sanitization stations while in the parks. Additional coronavirus information will be posted on the My Disney Experience app and sent to visitors once they book their trip. And for more details about Mickey's safety measures, check out Disney Issues Haunting Warning as Its First Attraction Reopens.
There will be no more crowds.
According to a report by AECOM, more than 58.3 million people flocked to Walt Disney World in 2018, 20 million of whom went to Magic Kingdom, the world's most-visited theme park. But you won't be seeing massive crowds like that anytime soon. Walt Disney World will be running at reduced capacity when it reopens, though officials have not announced exact numbers yet.
There will be empty rows on rides.
This may be the first time ever that you'll see empty roller coaster cars on Thunder Mountain. All major attractions will leave rows of space between riders in order to follow social distancing guidelines. Additionally, you'll see empty tables in restaurants and limited seats on the monorail.
There will be no more splash zones and playgrounds.
Gone are the days of the jungle gym at Mickey's house. Playgrounds will be roped off as Disney cuts down on popular touch points. MacPhee said that select splash zones could potentially be closed off as well.
There will be lots more contactless payment.
You can put away your wallet for now. Disney restaurants and retail shops will be accepting cashless payments, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and payment via Magic Bands, a bracelet you can link your credit card to.
And there will be mobile food ordering.
To do away with paper menus and checks, food and beverage stands will also have a mobile order option. And for more ideas of how the House of Mouse will change, check out the 8 Major Ways Disney World Will Look Different After Coronavirus.