This Is When Disney World Could Reopen
Disney's been shut down for two months. Here's how long it'll be 'til you can strut down Main Street.
It's been nearly two months since it was time to say goodbye to all our company at Walt Disney World. The Orlando, Florida-based theme park has been shut down since March 16. When the famed House of Mouse announced the closure, it was only scheduled to be "through the end of the month." But of course, that's not how the churros have crumbled. The Disney theme park has been closed to guests for nearly nine weeks now, delaying tons of spring break vacations and leaving many children in tears. But there may be hope for Mickey yet. This week, during a quarterly earnings call, Disney announced that its first theme park to reopen post-coronavirus will be Shanghai Disneyland, which will open its friendly gates on Monday, May 11. Though Disney CEO Bob Chapek didn't reveal when Walt Disney World stateside would reopen, we do now have some clues.
Shanghai Disneyland was the first Disney theme park to close on Jan. 25, which means that when it reopens on May 11, it will have been shut down for 107 days. If Walt Disney World follows the same timeline, Disney fans in the U.S. could see Minnie and Mickey in person by the last week of June or the first week of July.
"While we've announced plans to reopen Shanghai Disney Resort, there is limited visibility into the timing of reopening and the conditions under which we can reopen the rest of our parks," Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Christine M. McCarthy said on the same call. "However, we believe the strength of our brands and our unwavering commitment to the guest experience are valuable assets that will serve us and our guests well once we reopen."
Another positive sign for Disney fans: On May 7, the Walt Disney World Resort announced that a phased reopening of Disney Springs—an outdoor dining and shopping complex attached to the park—would begin on May 20, though there was no explicit news about Walt Disney World itself reopening.
When Disney World does reopen, it won't be the theme park fans have known and loved for nearly 50 years. There are many changes afoot based on new guidelines set by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. For example, Disney World will run at half capacity in phase one of its reopening and at 75 percent capacity in phase two. All employees and visitors will have to wear masks, and there may be a virtual "boarding group" queue system instead of those long lines that snake around the park.
As for Shanghai Disneyland, Chapek said that China has asked that theme parks not exceed 30 percent of their maximum capacity in order to maintain social distancing practices. With Shanghai Disneyland's max being 80,000, that's no more than 24,000 people in the park at once. But Chapek said that Shanghai Disneyland will initially keep attendance down "far below that just to have our training wheels on" and to be extra cautious.
In addition, both employees and visitors at Shanghai Disneyland will be expected to wear masks. Performing characters will not be wearing face coverings, but they will be kept at a distance from visitors. So, even if Walt Disney World does reopen this summer, don't expect any hugs or autographs from Goofy or Pluto anytime soon! And for more on travel changes in the wake of the coronavirus, here are 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.