Orlando resorts and theme parks are preparing to reopen in the coming months. The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force met this week to hear the plans put forth by Walt Disney World and SeaWorld. Universal Orlando has already been approved to reopen for the public on June 5.

Walt Disney World has announced a phased reopening plan for its parks. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Park are targeting Jul. 11 as an opening date. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are targeting Jul. 15. SeaWorld also presented an opening plan at the meeting on Wednesday. The theme park proposed June 11 as the public reopening date. 

There will be limits on attendance and controlled guest density that aligns with guidance on physical distancing. Due to this, experiences that draw large groups such as parades and fireworks will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable, but characters will still be in our parks to entertain and delight our guests. 

The parks will manage park capacity through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. At this time they will be pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations, with the exception of Disney Vacation Club members. Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold.

Additionally, Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on Jun. 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will also open to members and guests starting on Jun.15. Plans to support required physical distancing as well as enhanced cleaning measures, along with a number of other safety and cleanliness protocols, will be implemented as part of this planned phased reopening. 

The World of Disney retail shop at Disney Springs has officially reopened. In the coming weeks, Disney stores will begin a phased reopening of operations globally. 

All guests 3 years of age and older will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. All guests will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park; cast members will also have temperature checks. Cashless transactions are recommended, and cleaning and disinfection procedures will be increased in high-traffic areas. 

SeaWorld also presented an opening plan to The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force. The theme park proposed Jun. 11 as the public reopening date. Face masks, staggered seating, social distancing in lines are all part of the proposed plan. At rides, there will be hand sanitizer both as guests board and deboard.

At the SeaWorld’s water parks, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, there will be increased sanitation at high-touch surfaces like rafts. Lounge chairs will be spaced out.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo: Heather Maguire on Unsplash

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