Walt Disney World has endured the longest closure in it's history due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a phased reopening is on the horizon for the Most Magical Place on Earth! While we still do not have an official Disney World opening date yet, we are starting to get an idea of what to expect what the parks do open back up to guests. With the phased reopening of Disney Springs, we are getting a glimpse of what procedures will be in place when the theme parks and hotels open.
Keep reading our guide for everything you need to know about the Disney World opening including new policies in place, exclusive come back travel discounts, and how to still plan for a magical vacation.
Walt Disney World Opening Date Details
With some Disney operations resuming operations this month, Shanghai Disneyland and Disney Springs, it's time to start thinking about how the process will look for Walt Disney World opening.
Currently, Walt Disney World is taking reservations beginning July 1st and onward. Time will tell if travel to the resort will still be possible in June and July but we are optimistic a phased reopening date is on the horizon.
This year will definitely be different in regards to our usual crowd patterns and only time will tell if the summer, Halloween, and Holiday season crowds will behave as normally. With reduced capacity limitations on the horizon, it may in fact be a perfect time to visit during a usually crowded time and have a great experience.
This is also a great year for travel discounts! Disney is encouraging guests to book future vacations and we've seen some great discounts released to our travel partner Get Away Today that include:
- Discount Walt Disney World tickets
- Save up to 35% off Walt Disney World hotel rooms this summer plus our travel agent will book all your dining and FastPass+ reservations for you! Request a quote here>>>
This is a great year to enjoy a vacation with a ton of savings and low crowd levels with these limited capacity measures that will (likely) be in place. Don't hesitate to take advantage!
Disney Springs Phased Re-Opening
- Limited parking and reduced entrances
- Temperature screenings prior to entry
- Face coverings required for everyone
- All Guests ages 3 and older, Cast Members and Operating Participant employees are required to wear an appropriate face covering. Guests must bring their own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining.
- Physical distancing practices including physically-distanced queues and physical barriers
- Temporary operation modifications, including reduced hours at select locations and no scheduled entertainment offerings or high-touch interactive areas
- An increased focus on disinfecting and sanitation, including the addition of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers in key areas
- The area will operate with limited hours from 10 am to 10 pm daily
The Frequently Asked Questions portion of the Disney Springs website also gives insight into how dining reservations and other activities will be navigated during the phased reopening:
- Following state guidance, bars will not reopen during this initial phase.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique remains temporarily closed.
- Rideshare drop offs will be allowed.
- Guests may park in the Orange and Lime parking garages. Surface parking lots and valet will remain unavailable.
- There will be reduced entry points into Disney Springs.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available at a variety of locations throughout Disney Springs.
- Entertainment venues (Splitsville, the Void, etc.)will not be available at reopen and we will share more details at a later date.
- Once the parking garages are full, Guests will no longer be able to park and visit Disney Springs. This includes Guests who have a booked a dining reservation.
- Guests will not be charged a dining penalty fee if they cannot get in due to limited capacity.
Disney has released photos showing the process for entering Disney Springs and the experience throughout.
You can see above that guests will be spaced out in the entrance lines. The signs indicate that guests need to have a mask on and are required to go through a temperature check.
Throughout the area there are arrows on the floor indicating guest directional flow and boxes indicating where not avoid stepping.
These Cast Members seen above are demonstrating what the process of waiting in line for a restaurant will look like in Disney Springs during this COVID 19 reopening.
Disney has also brought over a team of Cast Members to focus specifically on helping to keep guests safe and following social distancing procedures. You will find them dressed in these bright colors.
There are also hand washing stations and hand sanitizer throughout the area.
You can read more FAQ in further detail on the official Disney Springs website. It's also important to note that the website does state that “by visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” so that is something to keep in mind.
Universal Orlando Opening Date
Universal Orlando has presented their reopening plan to the state of Florida and is approved to open to the public with new safety and health procedures on June 5th 2020. Annual passholders and invited guests will be able to enter on June 3rd and June 4th.
The new safety and health procedures will be the same ones they have been utilizing for the CityWalk Phased Re-Opening process such as limited capacity, temperature screenings, mask requirements, etc. Additional specific theme park measures include:
- no single rider lines
- virtual queues for popular attractions
- no interactive water/play areas
- single use menus at restaurants
- no buffet or self serving options
- post-show meet and greets closed
- water elements on attractions reduced or closed entirely
Keep our guide bookmarked as we constantly update with more information! Universal Orlando is encouraging future travel and our travel partner, Get Away Today, has great discounts including:
- Buy two days, get two FREE at Universal Orlando. Book here>>>
If you're unfamiliar with Universal Orlando, be sure to read our guide to the theme park which includes everything you need to know about attractions, dining, and hotels!
Universal Orlando CityWalk Phased Re-Opening
Universal Orlando's City Walk (similar to their version of Disney Springs) has already opened with preventative health procedures in place.
This procedures are nearly identical to what we've seen outlined as required in the Disney Springs opening with face masks, temperature screenings, limited capacity, floor markings for social distancing along with other distancing measures.
Here are a few takeaways from the re-opening at Universal ‘s CityWalk:
- Bars, nightclubs and movie theaters remain closed.
- CityWalk is only open from 4-10pm daily.
- All Team Members are undergoing temperature checks and will wear face coverings. Team Members with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be permitted to work.
- Limiting capacity at venues to help enforce social distancing.
- Continuously and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all tables, chairs and high-touch surfaces.
- Offering cashless payments at all venues.
- Guests can remove masks to dine at tables (then put them back on afterwards)
It's helpful to note that most guest experiences with the new procedures at CityWalk have been positive with touchless temperature checks being quick and easy. Masks are also available to purchase on site, in case guests forget their own. There is no getting around the mask policy, however, you have to wear a mask to be admitted. Guests also noted that Universal employees were diligent about cleaning surfaces, such as the popular Voodoo Donut chair, immediately after guests touched it. So far, it appears that everything is operating smoothly with these preventative measures in place which is great news for all theme parks.
Walt Disney World New Policy Updates
Disney's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel announced Disney is working with colleagues in operations, local health and government authorities and US Travel Association on a set of guidelines to ensure the safety of guests during a phased Walt Disney World opening.
These measures include:
- Phased reopening: Disney is evaluating their individual locations on how to best begin the reopening process which may include a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of theme parks.
- Physical distancing and capacity measures: Managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort. These measures will be taken to implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies. This will also likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. Disney is exploring the use of technology to aid with these efforts with the use of the Disney App that we've seen used for virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- Cleanliness and sanitization: Increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes used.
- Screening and prevention support: Following guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across the resorts, have already been implemented.
- Cast training: Further emphasizing Disney's strong culture of health and safety amongst cast members, and continuing to provide new training and reinforcement closer to reopening.
It's important to note that Disney is doing their best to create a safe environment for guests and cast members for Disney World opening while also keeping the experience as magical as possible. Remember: these restrictions won't be in place forever.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek was quoted in an interview confirming that the masks procedure will likely be in place at Disneyland and Walt Disney World as part of these new preventative procedures. You can watch the full interview here to see his remarks on the Shanghai Disneyland reopening and how that will model decisions for the US parks.
Discount Walt Disney World Tickets
Our favorite Disney-approved re-seller, Get Away Today, offers the best Walt Disney World discount tickets around. In addition to great discount prices, their customer service and easy support is absolutely fantastic. They have an entire department dedicated to making sure every order has a wonderful experience and they are on-call to help you during your vacation if you need them.
And at no additional charge, you get FREE concierge Walt Disney World services! These services include having Get Away Today's Walt Disney World expert Brooklyn take care of all your dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, and more! This really takes all the stress out of planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Rather than waking up at odd hours of the night to book all your reservations, why not let their travel agents take care of it for you- for free!
Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.
You can read my review on my personal experiences booking through Get Away Today and how much you can save here!
What to Expect in 2020 for Walt Disney World Opening
The coronavirus pandemic caused many construction projects to be delayed so one of the biggest questions on guests' minds is how this year will pan out with everything we've been looking forward to on Walt Disney World's schedule.
Disney After Hours and Other Special Events
Disney After Hours is a special ticketed event for guests to enjoy either Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Park for extended hours after the park closes. These events have been on the schedule since the closure and leading up to July. Guests who have purchased tickets for Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours, Disney Early Morning Magic and Disney H2O Glow Nights from March 16, 2020 through the end of the actual closure period will be automatically refunded. No word yet on if we will see any of these events still take place when Walt Disney World opens.
Cirque du Soleil- New Show
Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Animation Studios have collaborated with Cirque du Soleil to create a show of Disney storytelling with Cirque du Soleil’s signature artistry. The new show was originally set to premiere in April- we have no official word on this so only time will tell for the show's new debut date.
Disney was in the middle of a few major and minor refurbishments before the closure for its usual spring time upkeep. All we can do is watch the Walt Disney World calendar on this one- it's safe to say that these refurbishments are still in need of completion and the completion dates will be delayed.
Halloween and Holiday Season
The tickets for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party went on sale as usual and are continuing to sell for the original planned dates through – , 2020. So far, there has not been any word on what changes party guests can expect or any anticipated cancellations.
The Halloween and Holiday season at Walt Disney World are a favorite time to visit for many guests. We have personally pushed our own summer vacation to the Christmas season and I have high hopes that things will work out. The holidays are still a long way off, we expect that things will be in swing (even if there are restrictions) by this popular time of year.
Tips for Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation During this Unusual Time
We get it- planning a vacation right now is difficult. It's hard to anticipate what the world will look like in a few weeks much less a few months away. All you can do is go into this with a balance of optimism and plan realistically! We have a few tips to help you- many of our own staff has had their vacations impacted by the closure so much of this advice is based on our own personal experiences!
Take Advantage of the Discounts Offered
For guests that booked a Walt Disney Vacation travel package for Walt Disney World from the start of the closure dates to May 31st are eligible for this special vacation package offer:
- Guests that had travel plans impacted by the closures are eligible for a free dining plan when they book for new travel dates through June 1st-September 30th. The vacation package must be for a non-discounted stay including theme park tickets and a Walt Disney World Resort hotel room.
- The free dining plan you receive is determined off the level of resort you stay at. Guests staying at value or moderate resorts will receive the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan. Guests staying at the deluxe resorts will receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. You can read more about Disney dining plans here.
- You can call (407) 939 -4251 to learn more and book this offer.
Seriously, this is the year to visit Walt Disney World and save a bucket load of money. If you want to visit this year take advantage of these offers!
Book Airlines with Refundable Options
If you're rebooking a trip through an airline or booking one for the first time, many of the airlines are being pretty generous on waiving change fees for rebooking and offering flexible options. Another thing I noticed when researching all these new policies in affect due to the COVID-19 concerns, many airlines are extending this flexibility to future travel which can help reassure customers that if this continues to impact travel- you can get a refund.
Whatever you end up needing to book whether it is airfare, shuttle tickets, etc. make sure that it is all refundable so you can plan with peace of mind.
Get Refundable Tickets and Hotel Options
This is one of the reasons why I absolutely love Get Away Today! We often plan our Disney vacations up to a year in advance and they offer so many great add on options to cover an unexpected circumstances.
Get Away Today offers refundable ticket options for an additional $25 per ticket purchase which allows you the option of refunding your park tickets! This is a great way to ease any hesitation about planning your Disney Parks vacation. Park tickets are also valid through 2020 and can be rescheduled. They are the only ticket reseller that offers the refundable ticket option.
If you book your hotel and tickets through Get Away Today, consider purchasing their Peace of Mind package which allows you full refundability on your hotel and any tickets in your vacation package. I always use this option regardless because you never know what might come up. But also keep in mind, if your travel was or will be impacted by a closure Get Away Today will work with you on rescheduling with no penalty fees. They have been absolutely fantastic to everyone during this- I cannot applaud them enough. Support a small business and book with them for your trip!
You can contact 855-GET-AWAY for more information and get things rolling to plan your trip for Disney World opening!
Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation!
Be sure to subscribe to our Disneyland deals newsletter for all of the latest information on deals and saving tips to help you save money and experience more! Sign up here. Check out our other Disney World articles:
- Exploring All the Magic of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in One Day: Our Quick Guide for a Successful One-Day Adventure!
- Walt Disney World My Experience App: How to Use this App to Maximize Your Time
- Walt Disney World MagicBand Guide: Everything You Need to Know
- Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park: Mickey Visit’s Ultimate Guide
- Guide to Dining Packages Offered at Walt Disney World: Reserve Your Spot for the Magical Entertainment