On the tails of Monday's news that Disney will close down Hong Kong Disneyland again, Walt Disney World is moving ahead to reopen Epcot and Hollywood Studios today, bringing all four major parks back online amid an explosion in coronavirus cases in Florida.
First announced back in May, Walt Disney World began its phased reopening over the weekend when it opened Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom on Saturday. And that was not without controversy: especially after Florida recorded nearly 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday – smashing the single-day record for a state.
Disney World employees had petitioned to delay the reopening as cases surge, CNN reports. All eyes are on Disney and whether their extensive safety measures will be enough.
So what can you expect of the parks' reopening? Read on to find out.
What's Opening Today
Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios are opening their doors today, Wednesday, July 15. Disney Vacation Club, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and Disney Springs have also begun reopening.
Disney has confirmed that the parks will be operating at lower capacity, but have not disclosed by how much.
What to Expect at the Parks
The Tampa Bay Times gives some insight on what to expect at Epcot and Hollywood Studios as they open today. These are some of the measures being taken at parks to improve safety:
Know Before You Go
- You'll need a park reservation to enter
- Capacity is limited, so tickets are harder to get
- Face masks are required for all guests ages 2 and up (including Cast Members)
- Temperature checks may be required in some areas of the parks
- No FastPass+ reservations, single-rider lines or virtual queues at Hollywood Studios
A mini version of the “Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival” opens today, running indefinitely. The popular music series has been canceled, but you can still find live entertainment at America Gardens Theatre.
Theme Park Insider has a list of the Epcot food festival bites, from crispy pork belly to Flanocho, pierogis, and more. The al fresco food festival will run indefinitely starting today.
Hollywood Studios Changes
Want to get your spot on new Star Wars land's most popular ride, Rise of the Resistance? Disney has changed how visitors get a chance to ride.
Visitors must log into the “My Disney Experience” app at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., or 4 p.m. to vie for a spot. Rides are limited to once per day.
Increased cleaning procedures
- Added thousands of hand sanitizing stations
- Park audio instructs visitors to wash hands regularly
Adjustments to increase social distancing
- Parades, fireworks, and many indoor shows have been suspended
- Additional seat spacing on rides, including some with physical dividers
- Social distancing markers and signs throughout parks
- Plexiglass partitions at shops and restaurants
Reduced contact for transactions & experiences
- Reduced contact for transactions and experiences
- No more fingerprint scanners at park entrances
- Contactless payment at restaurants and stores
- Character meet-and-greets suspended (Characters will still be visible during spontaneous entertainment, on floats, and in boats)
Amid Florida's growing COVID-19 cases and controversy, Disney World's four parks are now back up and running.
Disney has gone to great lengths to make its Orlando parks safer, with capacity limits, face masks, temperature checks, sanitizing, and social distancing. The adjustments to the visitor experience at Epcot and Hollywood Studios signal that Disney will do what it takes to stay open hopefully safely.
Only time will tell if it will be enough.