“When will Disney World reopen?” Right now Disney World is scheduled to be closed indefinitely “until further notice,” but there are some positive signs that a reopening could be happening soon. When it does open back up though, Disney World is going to see a lot of changes, different from when you last visited.
Since everyone wants to know when Disney World is reopening, we thought it would be a good idea to go more in-depth into the subject to find the best answers we can for you.
(Updated 5/23/20) – It looks like Walt Disney World is going to be submitting their reopening plans to the Orange County Recovery Task Force next week, including a reopening date for the parks. It was rumored that it would happen this week, but we still have to wait a few more days.
Disney Springs has just reopened today with many restaurants and shops open. All its new safety guidelines are in place and everything went very smoothly today. Included are specific safety instructions for physical distancing, face coverings, temperature screening, and increased emphasis on sanitization and cleaning.
Read on for more info on both these stories in the News section below…
In this post, we are going to talk about the Disney World reopening and answer any questions you might have about it. We’ll talk about why we think we are getting closer to a reopening and why it’s taken so long up to this point.
We’ll also let you know what the crowd levels might be like when Disney World reopens and what outside factors come into play in deciding when to open it back up.
Now that Disney Springs is open again, we are going to do our best to speculate on when we think the rest of Disney World might be opening up and when would be the best time to reschedule your trip if you want to be sure.
Don’t worry, Disney World will reopen at some point, but when it does it might be very different, at least temporarily. Disney World execs are working on a heavily modified guest experience which would change a lot of the way guests interact with the attractions, shows and restaurants.
Think of this post as “Disney World Reopening 101” where we’ll answer any questions you have about it the best we can. Any updates or changes that Disney makes to the guest experience, we’ll give you everything you need to know.
Before we get started, read our guide to the Disney World closure if you are looking for information about how to get a refund, reschedule your vacation or find out the latest updates on the situation.
If you are trying to figure out when the best time to plan your next vacation is, we have a post that answers the question “Should I Go to Disney World in 2020 or 2021?”
Also, our 2020 & 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendars are great at identifying the least crowded times of year to visit, while also saving you money!
Also, if you want to be updated as soon as we know when Disney World is reopening, as well as more updates, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
NEWS 5/22/20 – Walt Disney World Presenting Reopening Plan to Task Force Next Week
After more than two months with no concrete reopening date in sight, it now looks like we could possibly find out next week when Walt Disney World is reopening.
According to an interview with CNBC, Mayor Demings said that Walt Disney World will finally be revealing its reopening plans next week to the Orange County Recovery Task Force, including a reopening date for the theme parks.
It was reported that Disney would share its plans this week with Universal Studios, but that report turned out to be false. Universal announced it will be open to the public on June 5, and no doubt that earlier than anticipated date pushed Disney to get there proposal ready ASAP.
Demings said: “Disney has given an indication that next week, they will submit their plans, and once they do, then we will schedule that for a full briefing before our Economic Recovery Task Force as well. So at this point, it’s an undefined time or date, but we do look forward to seeing that sometime next week.”
If Demings then signs off on the plans, they will be passed on to Governor Ron DeSantis for finalization.
This is huge news after the successful reopening of Disney Springs this week and would be a jump start to The Walt Disney Company which is hurting for revenue at this point.
With all the new safety guidelines in place and working so far in Disney Springs, they could presumably be implemented in the parks with the same efficiency.
With reservations and event calendars canceled in Disney World through June 13, any reopening could theoretically take place from June 14 or after. Disney will probably have a soft opening for Cast Members, then, another date for Annual Passholders, followed by a public opening.
Just because the dates are announced to the Task Force doesn’t mean that the public will find out about them, but it most likely will get announced in our opinion. We’ll have to see what happens, but we are cautiously optimistic.
This is a developing story and we’ll have more on it next week with a date hopefully! Stay tuned!
NEWS 5/16/20 – Disney World Website Adds Guest Responsibility Health Disclaimer
Something new just popped up on The Walt Disney World website, a health disclaimer stating the risks associated with visiting Disney World during the current health crisis.
While Disney explains that they have enhanced the safety measures taken across Walt Disney World property by adding new guidelines to protect guests, it’s ultimately up to each individual to assume responsibility.
It goes on to explain the inherent risks of the current health crisis and that some guests, such as senior citizens, or people with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
Guests choosing to visit Walt Disney World at this time will accept all responsibility and risk associated with their stay.
This type of statement is expected on Disney’s part and part of the legal process in reopening. No opening date has been given outside May 20 for Disney Springs, but this is another step in reopening the parks.
Stay tuned for more soon…
Check out our Disney Closure/Reopening News Archive to see past stories…
When Is Disney World Reopening?
The question on everyone’s mind is: “When is Disney World reopening?” The latest answer is we still don’t know.
Disney has not announced a date yet for when the theme parks and hotels will be reopen, even though things are getting closer every day. There has been a ton of progress in the last few weeks and big things are now in motion which have us very positive.
In reality, part of Walt Disney World is already open right now! Disney Springs reopened on May 20 with many third-party restaurants and shops accepting customers for the first time in 2 months. This is Phase 1 of the Disney Springs reopening, with 2 more phases coming in the following days.
Disney Springs reopening is also the 1st phase in a much larger plan to reopen Walt Disney World, including the parks and resorts. With the new safety guidelines now in place in Disney Springs, management will evaluate how things go over the coming weeks before doing a full-scale reopening of Walt Disney World as a whole.
Of course, everyone would like to know the exact date the theme parks will be open. Right now we know that Disney is not accepting reservations until July 1, 2020. While we can’t be 100% sure, it would seem that Disney World could open before that date.
It’s possible Disney will want to speed up the process after the announcement of Universal Studios Orlando reopening to the public June 5. That might make a Walt Disney World Reopening possible for the end of June.
Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as Disney is keeping any plans they have tight to the vest for the moment. With other Orlando theme parks recently announcing their plans, Disney is going to present their reopening plans to the Orange County Recovery Task Force in the coming days, including a date.
This makes us cautiously optimistic that we might see Disney World open sometime in June still!
Disney’s latest statement does add some confusion to the matter, however. They are “currently accepting reservations starting in July 2020 at both resorts, as this situation evolves, timing may continue to shift.”
That type of message seems to hint that even though you can make a reservation for July, it doesn’t mean those plans won’t get canceled. This contradicts the idea that the parks will open in June.
The best I can come up with is that we could see the theme parks reopen in June but the resorts not open until July. That would allow for Florida locals to visit the parks and Disney to keep attendance at a minimum for the first few weeks.
Whatever Disney’s reopening plan is, we’ll be finding out soon enough..
Keep reading further down to find out why reopening Disney World is taking so long and what you should do if you have a trip planned or if you are thinking about going to Disney World this year.
What is Open in Disney World?
Though the majority of things are currently closed in Walt Disney World, including the theme parks and resorts, there are a few things open.
Below you’ll find all the latest reopening information we have for Walt Disney World including:
- Disney Springs
- Magic Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
- Water Parks
It’s possible that the theme parks or hotels will open one at a time and without the full lineup of attractions, shows and restaurants. As more info comes out we’ll update you about what is open and what’s not.
Starting May 20, Disney Springs is finally back and it’s the first area of Walt Disney World to reopen after the long closure.
Not every are in Disney Springs is currently open, however and there are some shops and restaurants that are still closed. Disney Springs is reopening in phases and is currently in its first phase.
The third-party restaurants and shops started opening on May 20, while the Disney-owned ones will be open on May 27.
There is currently an attendance limit in Disney Springs with many fewer guests being allowed in at one time. Right now the only parking available in Disney Springs is the Lime Garage and Orange Garage. There is no outdoor parking. When those two garages fill up, that’s it. No more people will be let in until some leave.
Even if you have a dining reservation in Disney Springs, it doesn’t automatically give you access. Once it’s reached the maximum capacity, you’ll have to wait. For that reason, make sure to show up well ahead of your reservation time, especially on weekends.
There are only 4 entrances open in Disney Springs
- Lime Garage
- Orange Garage
- Ride Share Drop-off
- Marketplace Entrance (near the pedestrian bridge)
The rest of the entrances are closed off. This is to limit attendance and check guests using the latest safety measures.
Disney Springs is enforcing a variety of new safety measures and guidelines. These apply to all guests and Cast Members:
- Temperature screenings prior to entry.
- Face coverings required for everyone 3 years and older.
- 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 first new guidelines you’ll notice is the temperature screening located at each of the four Disney Springs entrances. Guests will be required to undergo a touchless temperature scan which only lasts a few seconds.
Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, will not be allowed to enter Disney Springs.
New signs and safety warnings are posted all around starting in the parking garages, on the walkways, and near restaurants and shops. These signs explain the health risks of being in public and explanation of the safety guidelines like distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.
As Disney Springs is reopening in phases, so are the restaurants and shops. Some opened right away and some are still waiting a bit.
Here is the latest list of Disney Springs restaurants and shops and their Open/Closed status:
- 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa
- Blaze Fast-Fired Pizza
- The BOATHOUSE
- Chicken Guy!
- Earl of Sandwich
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
- Frontera Cocina
- Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company
- Planet Hollywood
- The Polite Pig
- STK Orlando
- Starbucks (Marketplace)
- Sunshine Churros (Both Marketplace and West Side locations)
- Wine Bar George
- Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
- Morimoto Asia
- Morimoto Asia Street Food
- Pizza Ponte
- Vivoli il Gelato
Opening May 27
- D-Luxe Burger
- The Art Corner by Artistic Talent Group
- Chapel Hats
- Columbia Sportswear
- Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers
- Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear
- Free People
- Happy Hound
- Lucky Brand
- Luxury of Time by Diamonds International
- Pandora® Jewelry
- Paradiso 37 Entertainment
- Pelé Soccer
- Pop Gallery
- Ron Jon Surf Shop®
- Royally Yours by Arribas Brothers
- Savannah Bee Company
- Sosa Family Cigars
- Sugarboo & Co.
- Vera Bradley
Opening May 27
- Marketplace Co-op
- World of Disney
Read our post with a photo tour of Disney Springs on opening day and find out more info about what’s open there and to see all the changes.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides and dining.
EPCOT is currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides and dining.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides and dining.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on the opening including rides and dining.
The Walt Disney World Water Parks are currently closed. Please check back soon for more info on Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
The Walt Disney World Resort Hotels are currently closed. Please check back soon for more info.
Modifications to Guest Experience After Reopening
Many people thinking about taking a trip to Disney World when it finally reopens are wondering: “Is Disney World still safe?”
There are many ideas that are being thrown around to try and come up with a way that guests can still visit the parks, yet feel safe about their health.
Many new guidelines have been decided, and some already implemented in Disney Springs. More ideas specific to the theme parks are currently being finalized before submitting them to the Recovery Task Force.
Some of these safety enhancements include:
- Phased parks opening
- Use of the Virtual queue to minimize groups of people in line
- Managing guest density in all areas of the parks, restaurants, shops, transportation, etc
- Increased cleanliness and sanitization
- Increased use of hand sanitizer/sanitizing stations
- Screening procedures
- Use of face coverings
- Cast Member training
These are some of the new changes and guidelines coming to Disney World when it reopens. They will be key in reopening the theme parks and keeping them open after that. Below we’ve listed brief descriptions of some of the biggest ones.
For a more detailed look, read our post with all the New Disney World Safety Guidelines and Procedures.
1. Opening the Parks in Phases
It’s possible that Disney will decide not to open all 4 theme parks everyday, or even all at once. We might see the Magic Kingdom open first, followed by the other parks.
They could decide to only open some parks on certain days of the week, and other parks on the other days. This would keep cost down as it doesn’t make sense to have 4 parks open every day if there aren’t enough guests to fill them to the accepted attendance levels.
It’s also likely that Disney will first open the parks to Cast Members first, then Annual Passholders, and lastly the regular public. This is what Universal is doing and we see Disney copying it.
2. Limiting Park Attendance
One modification Disney has confirmed is that the theme parks will have limited capacity and will not hold the same number of guests as they normally do.
Park capacity will probably be between 20-30% at first, then moving up slowly in increments.
3. Reading Guest Temperatures While Entering Parks
Temperature screening is now required in Walt Disney World to gain access to the parks and Disney Springs. Disney has assigned AdventHealth experts to wait near the entrances with electronic readers to measure the temperature on your forehead.
This is easy to implement and a great idea in our opinion. It limits access to the parks to people who have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
We’ll have to see if Disney decides to make temperature checks mandatory on transportation systems like the buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, as well as when checking into a hotel.
Though it’s not a perfect solution, it’s one step in helping to stop the spread.
4. Face Masks
Disney World will require guests to wear face masks while in the parks as a safety measure. This has turned into one of the most hotly debated issues in the Disney Parks I’ve seen in a long time.
Whether you are for or against the decision doesn’t really matter. The point is that you have to wear one if you want to go to Disney World in this period.
If you think it’s too hard to wear a face-covering in 90+ degree heat all day long, I don’t blame you one bit. I understand preferring to stay at home and come back when they aren’t required. But anyone who wants to come right now, there are no alternatives.
Read more about Face Masks at Disney World in our detailed guide.
5. Opening a Limited Number of Attractions and Shows
Apparently, with the proposal not all attractions would be running and not all shows either. Only the attractions/shows that can be adapted to fit the spacing needs of the guests would be allowed to run.
I’d be interested in seeing the list of attractions that will be approved. For example, how do you handle roller coasters? Maybe just put one person in each row? In a theater-like the Carousel of Progress, you might have space everyone out by one or two seats. Boat rides could have skip rows to maintain distance like in Shanghai.
In theory, this could work but it would depend on the number of people that actually show up to the parks while they are running like this. Even if you had half capacity as normal, greatly reducing the number of people that fit in each ride vehicle like this might even increase wait times.
That’s where reducing the number of people that can enter the park at one time will be helpful and help the lower ride capacity.
6. Limit Number of Guests in Indoor/Queue Areas
This is pretty straightforward too and makes sense. Right now, for their safety, guests can’t be allowed to get too close, and one of the tightest spaces in a Disney park is when you are in line waiting for an attraction.
The new proposal would allow guests into indoor spaces, but in limited numbers at a time. Ground markers will help guests know where to stand so they don’t stand too close and keep the proper distance.
7. Virtual Queues
One way to help there be fewer people in the ride queues is to use the virtual queues and boarding groups. Yeah, read that right, “Virtual Queues,” as in multiple ones. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up in Disneyland with one, and Rise of the Resistance has been using boarding groups and the virtual queue for months now, so the infrastructure is already in place.
The way it works is guests reserve a spot in the queue using the My Disney Experience app, which then notifies them when it’s their turn in line. At that point, they start walking toward the attraction and get in the physical queue.
I’ve been a big supporter of the Virtual Queue ever since Disney started using it and I think it’s a big time-saver for guests. They can go off and explore the park, grab something to eat and not have to wait hours in line. Once Disney started using it, I predicted that it would slowly get worked into other attractions outside of Galaxy’s Edge too. Now, that looks like it’s happening.
A while back, the Disneyland app was displaying the words: “Virtual Queues” and “My Queues” in the various sections within the apps, which would indicate more are coming.
Right now in the parks, only Rise of the Resistance uses a virtual queue, but we could start seeing more attractions added as soon as the parks reopen.
This change allows Disney to have more control over the lines and how quickly and how many people they let enter at once.
8. Eliminate Close-proximity Entertainment
This is an obvious one as you can’t have everyone gathering in front of the castle to see the fireworks in big groups. This will work, but thinking about the Magic Kingdom though without Happily Ever After is a really sad thought.
I don’t think the parks would be the same without a nighttime show. It’s a tradition to gather around World Showcase lagoon or in front of Cinderella Castle and watch the fireworks at the end of the night. I don’t know how guests would react to this, but it most likely wouldn’t be very positive.
Close proximity entertainment isn’t limited to fireworks shows though, they would also have to eliminate theaters, or keep them open but make guests sit some chairs apart. I’m not sure this would be allowed though under the state guidelines to have no gatherings with more than 10 people.
9. Restaurants and Dining
Dining is definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences in Disney World, but the way guests dine could totally change.
Quick Service Restaurants
Quick Service restaurants are mass-pileups of people waiting in line, so the first thing proposed here is to eliminate queues at quick service restaurants and only use Mobile Order on My Disney Experience. This again would allow for guests to go to the counter for their food and not have to get too close to other guests.
Table Service Restaurants
In line with the current state of Florida mandate, all restaurants have to have limited occupancy, and the tables in those restaurants need to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
10. Character Meets
All character meets with face characters (Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Ariel, Disney Princesses, etc) will likely be suspended. You obviously can’t leave these cast members without any protection on their face and I don’t think many would want to see Tiana with a mask over her face!
Only faceless characters who already wear masks as part of their costume might have a chance at keeping the character meets. These would include ones like Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, etc.
If Disney allows this however, guests will likely not be able to touch the characters or get too close to them.
Because of these rules, we might just see Disney temporarily stop all character meets and wait until the situation gets resolved to resume them.
11. Modified Transportation
Transportation will still be running, however, with greatly reduced capacity. Guests will likely still use systems like the buses, but just have to space themselves out more.
We imagine all guests will have to have at least 2 or 3 seats in between themselves and no standing-room on the buses.
To enforce this, Disney can put tape or signs on each seat that indicate where not to sit. Once guests take up the available seats, the bus leaves and the remaining guests have to wait for the next one.
It will be pretty hard to keep 6 feet from other guests and still fit in the Disney Skyliner gondolas, and capacity there will probably be limited to one party per gondola.
12. Increased Hand Washing and Sanitizing Stations
As we talked about before, Disney did a great job by installing hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the Disney World parks and resorts before the closure. In one post, we even shared how to find hand sanitizer stations in Disney World using My Disney Experience.
These are obviously key to limiting the spreading of germs, and Disney is increasing the number of locations in each park.
When visiting Disney Springs, hand sanitizer and hand washing stations are everywhere. There are also many signs instructing guests to keep sanitized throughout the stay.
This needs to be implemented no matter when Disney World opens. Having an abundant amount of hand sanitizing locations in the parks is just good hygiene anyway and a welcome addition.
13. Hotel Check-In
Another way to eliminate people waiting in line is to promote Disney’s Online Check-In service. This is a quick and convenient way for guests to check-in to their hotel room, without ever having to go to the lobby and do it.
Just use the Online Check-In feature on your mobile app before your arrival. Then when your room is ready, you’ll get a notification telling you to go to your room. No front desk and no lines. We aren’t sure if Disney will make this mandatory, but they will certainly push it to guests.
Our Thoughts on the Changes
The first point to bring out is that not all of these measures have been announced by Disney at this time. Many of them are sure to happen like face masks and temperature screening, and the others are also very likely.
They are trying to come up with a solution to open Disney World as soon as possible. From our point of view, most of these procedures are really good ideas and will help do that.
Things like increased hand sanitizing stations, more virtual queues or figuring out how to eliminate the finger scanners at the park entrance would be great additions and helpful to guests all around.
My first thought is that it will be really hard to keep guests under control and make sure they follow all of the rules. Making sure people keep a certain distance from each other, getting them to keep face masks on is going to be a challenge.
All it takes is one or two people that don’t respect them, and the health measures are thrown out the window.
The other aspect to look at is how these changes all affect the “Disney World experience.”
I want Disney World to reopen just as much as the next person, but with so many regulations in place, (no fireworks, not all attractions and shows running, not all the character meets, etc) to me this wouldn’t be the Disney World we know and love.
It would let some guests still go and experience their Disney World vacation without canceling, but at the same time, it’s not the real thing. I’m not sure I could recommend anyone to pay the amount of money it takes to go on a Walt Disney World vacation knowing that they wouldn’t really get the full experience. Not even close to that.
If you are a Florida local, that’s a different story. But if you have to spend thousands of dollars to not get the real-thing, it might be better to wait.
Either way, I appreciate the effort on Disney’s part to figure out a way to let people back into the parks, yet still putting their health and safety first.
Once again, these new procedures are not confirmed from Disney and many of them might never get put into the parks. We’ll have to see how things shake out over the next weeks or months when Disney World does reopen.
Will Disney World Open to Everyone?
One idea that has been thrown around is that Walt Disney World won’t open to the general public at first and will limit guests to Florida Residents and locals.
As of now Disney has not announced this and we don’t know if they are considering it seriously.
They may decide to do something similar to the Universal reopening where for a few days entrance is limited to Annual Passholders, then to be followed by a general public opening a few days after that.
Right now we see that to be the most likely scenario. I think we’ll see Cast Member previews for a couple of days, followed by a couple of days for Annual Passholders and then open to the public. I don’t think Disney will have to limit attendance to Florida residents only at that point, because there won’t be that many people coming from out of state or internationally to make that big of a difference.
When Disney makes its reopening announcement in a few days we should be hearing much more detail on this.
Why is it Taking so long for Disney World to Reopen?
This question comes right after the most recent announcement by Walt Disney World in which we learned they are not taking new reservations before July 1, 2020.
They must have identified July 1st as a date they are at least “fairly” positive about and think Disney World will be ready to reopen at that time. July 1st is still not set in stone and things could potentially get pushed back even further depending on how things shake out.
Even leading up to next week’s probable announcement of a reopening date, Disney left a strange message saying that just because guests have reservations doesn’t mean things won’t change again and they have to be flexible to move reservations around.
Hardly the ringing endorsement that they will be opening in June, and a bit cryptic, even for Disney.
So what does that even mean and why is it taking so long for Disney World to open back up?
The answer to that is complicated. Even though originally Disney is said it was only closed through the end of March, here we are in May and it’s still not open yet. In fact, guests can’t make any new reservations until July at this point.
While past indicators are not always a perfect prediction of the future, one look at the international Disney Parks might give us some idea of how we can expect this whole mess to play out.
Look at Shanghai Disneyland, the first park forced to close. Yes, it reopened on May 11, but it was closed for almost 4 months. The hotel and shopping district reopened first, but they were under very strict screening, while Shanghai Disneyland park remained closed.
From when the shopping district opened back up to the parks, is approximately 2 months.
Tokyo Disneyland is another example. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea both closed on February 28, and the closure has been pushed back to at least June.
Up to this point, Disney wasn’t even the one that got to decide when the parks would reopen, it’s the government.
Two separate recovery task forces have been set up in Florida made up of some of the best business people in the state to figure out exactly how the reopening of tourist attractions will be handled.
In following the guidelines from the best health experts in the country, Florida State Governor Ron DeSantis has helped businesses, especially in the tourism sector, to realize the need for organized guidelines that will keep tourists and workers safe.
Obviously, Disney is going to cooperate with whatever guidelines the authorities are recommending. They have been using the information received from the health authorities to formulate the best reopening plan possible.
At this time we don’t know when the state of Florida will enter Phase 2 or 3, though it seems like that will happen shortly with Universal already getting the go-ahead to open on June 5.
Currently, we are getting mixed signals and don’t exactly know how to read the dates. Disney Springs is now open, but Disney also just announced that no new reservations can be made before July 1, 2020 and said that guests might have to change their reservations again.
We do know that Walt Disney World will be having a phased reopening, meaning not all at once. Disney Springs is obviously the first phase, but not all shops and restaurants are opening immediately. It will take some time to get it back up to 100% running.
After that, we will start to see the hotels and theme parks come back online.
Disney keeps pushing back the reservation dates, and seems to be canceling the current reservations week-by-week as they continue to evaluate the gravity of the situation. They will probably continue this until they come up with a definite reopening date. Reservations for the second half of June are still in place but look for those to start being canceled soon.
Disney won’t list an official “reopening date” until they are 100% sure they can live up to that date, and right now they aren’t there. Since they aren’t accepting new reservations before July 1, it certainly doesn’t sound like they feel comfortable an opening can happen in May or June.
Obviously, Disney doesn’t want to name a date that they won’t be able to open in time for, getting up peoples’ hopes, only to dash them. They also don’t want to mention a date too far out into the future.
Even though it seems like they feel somewhat confident that they will be able to reopen on July 1 for example, they still aren’t going to say that date is official, and they’ve left room for interpretation on the off chance they can open back up earlier.
I have no inside information to what Disney is talking about internally, but the way things are progressing it looks like Disney World is really trying to reopen by July 1, if not before. That could happen if everything falls exactly right, at least for the theme parks.
Instead, Disney has even more work to get the resorts in shape for guests, and those are more likely going to reopen in July.
Another interesting question is what Disney will do with the Cast Members who are part of the college program and international program? They were required to leave their housing complexes back in April and they also had their internships terminated. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to train these students, and it will not be an overnight thing.
It may be that for this initial period they are not needed, and Disney is choosing to bring back its furloughed Cast Members who live locally first, and then slowly bring back the college and international students at a later date.
I am cautiously optimistic about the recent developments and the most positive I’ve been since the beginning of the closures. I think we’ll finally find out next week when the parks will reopen at least. I guess there is some light at the end of the tunnel after all.
Financial Factors Might Force Reopening
Of course, Disney won’t open the parks back up until it’s safe to do so, but with the financial strain being put on the company, you can be sure they will take whatever measures possible to expedite that opening and making it safe for guests again.
Quite frankly, Disney is in trouble financially, at least in the short-term. Disney has already commented that they were expecting to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the Asian park closures in Q2, but that was before Disney World and Disneyland closed too. Last year in Q2 Disney had $6.1 Billion in revenue in the Parks, Experiences and Products division of the company.
Think about what losing essentially all your sources of income in that division for possibly months will do to their bottom line. When all is said-and-done we are talking about losing billions of dollars. Billions, with a capital B.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said during the Q2 Earnings Call that the closure of the parks cost them $1 billion in Q2 alone, but the full brunt of the losses are expected to hit in Q3 when all of the parks were closed at once.
This is like what happens when a hurricane hits Disney World, only to every park, hotel and entertainment venue Disney owns all at the same time and for an extended period of time. That’s not to mention the revenue from the Box Office which has dried up and greatly reduced income coming from the Media division too.
Disney has realized they will need some help in the short term and have recently announced another debt offering of $11 billion, bringing the total amount of new debt in the last 3 months to $23 billion.
Disney will use this to bring up their cash reserves and for “general corporate purposes.” This means they know they need more cash flow to weather the storm, which could go on for a while.
According to Moody analyst Neil Begley: “This transaction will add to Disney’s significant liquidity as it will free up revolving debt capacity otherwise assumed set aside to back outstanding commercial paper and near-term maturities, and essentially removes any question that the company has robust liquidity to help carry it through this ‘black swan’ cycle.”
Even when Walt Disney World reopens, that doesn’t mean the company’s financial problems are over. It could take years to fully recover and get attendance and revenue back to pre-closure levels.
Because of this, Chapek announced that he will be going over all expenditures with a “fine-toothed comb” and already $900 million in expenditures toward new construction has been cut for 2020.
If the losses pile up too high there are a lot of upcoming Disney projects and attractions that could be cut or delayed to save money at the current time.
All of this is why Disney is potentially looking into anything they can that will allow guests to return to Disney World and the other theme parks, while still keeping high levels of guest safety.
What Will the Crowds be Like When Disney World Reopens?
Whenever Walt Disney World opens back up, there will no doubt be a lot of Disney fans who are chomping at the bit to get back in the parks. Many people have had to cancel their prior reservations and will be waiting for the first chance possible to take their vacation.
Then there are the Orlando locals who are used to going to the parks every week who right now are going stir-crazy not being there.
This doesn’t mean however that these two groups make up the majority of Disney World visitors and that crowd levels are going to be high when it reopens. Actually, on the contrary, we think that Disney World crowd levels are going to be low for at least some months after.
Much of the U.S. is behind Florida in the reopening process. Included in that number are states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois and other states that Disney relies heavily on for visitors.
Until these people can travel freely, Disney World won’t have very many visitors to reopen back up the theme parks for, even if they wanted to.
Then there is the economy…
After the stock market has drastically fallen from all-time highs, the economy right now is incredibly unstable and there is a tremendous amount of consumer uncertainty. The U.S. just had its worst Unemployment Report EVER with almost 40 million Americans now out of work in the last 9 weeks.
Many financial experts feel we are already in a recession, now it’s about making the right moves to avoid a full-on depression.
So even though there is nothing that many Americans (and international visitors) would like to do more than relive the nostalgia and the warm, comfortable feeling Disney World gives you after going through such a rough period of time, if guests don’t have the money, a trip just isn’t happening.
Plus, many countries have grounded airlines meaning international visitors might not be able to go to Disney World because they are stuck in a country where they can’t even take a flight to the U.S. if they had the money.
Visitors from England, Brazil, Canada, etc, make up a huge portion of Disney World visitors annually, and they can’t currently come to Florida.
Our best guess is that you will see an initial wave of visitors who have already paid for their vacation and locals who are anxious to get back to the parks, and then as the economic reality kicks in for many people you will see some periods of extremely low crowds. Expect it to be similar to what we saw after 9/11 and after the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
This isn’t necessarily bad for whoever is able to afford a trip to Walt Disney World after it opens back up. Having fewer people in the parks is a dream come true for many fans as it means less competition for FastPasses, lower waits for attractions, and easier to get dining & hotel reservations.
What Kind of Deals Will there be When Disney World Opens Back Up?
With lower crowds also comes another benefit for guests going to Disney World: Lower Prices. When Disney World reopens, we expect to see many deals on vacation packages, hotel rooms and even park tickets.
Whenever the demand is low for vacations, Disney World has to offer deals to entice more guests to come and visit. It’s why usually in a normal year you can get a lower price during September and January, when there are fewer people wanting to go to Disney World, instead of December when demand is through the roof.
Again, looking back at 9/11 and The Great Recession, can give us a good idea of what to expect once this current set of circumstances is also behind us. Both times the crowd level for the parks was extremely low and Disney was offering some amazing deals to get people to come back.
I think we might even see BETTER deals now than after those previous two events. After 9/11, people weren’t traveling because they were afraid of their safety. After the last financial crisis, people weren’t traveling because they didn’t have any money. The current set of events is a perfect storm of both scenarios and people will find themselves wary of traveling for their own health and not being able to afford it.
Disney is also very much associated with being expensive, and even if people do want to take a vacation to get away and de-stress, they might instead opt for someplace closer and cheaper instead of Disney World.
All this means that you should get ready for some incredible deals on Disney World vacations. Disney knows all these factors and they will be desperate to get attendance back up to normal levels. In order to do this, they will need to offer guests an incentive to come to the parks when other circumstances are telling them they shouldn’t.
We don’t know just how deep these discounts are going to be yet, but we’ll have a much better idea once Disney World reopens and we can see how bad/good attendance actually is.
One thing to keep an eye on is the Disney Free Dining promotions. Disney just announced that a special vacation package is now available for anyone having to reschedule due to the closure, and this includes the Free Dining Plan. We should definitely be getting more offers later in the year, maybe at record levels.
Keep checking back as we’ll continue to update you with any new deals that come out.
When Should You Book Your Next Disney Vacation?
This is a good question for you, especially if you have a Walt Disney World vacation coming up in the coming weeks or even months. If you had a Disney World trip planned for May, and at least the first half of June, your trip has already been canceled.
Before we talk specifically about this situation you should read our guide to the Best Times to Visit Disney World. That helps you to make the best decision based on all the factors like weather, crowds, events, etc, as well as ranking every month.
Since the closure, we’ve had many readers tell us they have an upcoming vacation to Walt Disney World and they don’t know whether they should postpone their upcoming trip or go on with their current plans.
First, let me say I hear you and I feel really bad for anyone who was looking forward to a trip to Disney in the coming weeks and beyond. As adults, we are obviously disappointed not to go, but I can only imagine if you have to break it to your kids that something they’ve looked forward to so much is now canceled. It stinks big time.
Just try to understand that closing Disney World is for the health and safety of you and your family and the millions of other guests going, plus the thousands of cast members working there. Unfortunately, it has to be like this for the time being.
After Disney’s latest announced of no new reservations before July 1, people who want to book a new reservation have no choice but to wait at least until then.
However, if you already have a vacation booked for the second half of June, you have a couple of options.
Right now you aren’t forced to change your vacation plans if you have a June or July arrival date. You can wait until Disney makes their next announcement and gives us more clarity on the situation.
We should start hearing more about specific dates in the coming weeks and you could see how far they get pushed back before making your next booking.
Don’t worry about a refund right now. If you have a future arrival date that eventually becomes part of the closure, Disney will fully compensate you and you will get your money back or get to reschedule your trip without paying any fees or penalties.
If you are nervous about traveling right now anyway and just think it’s safer to push it off until later in 2020 or even 2021, then I say go ahead and do that right now. At least you’ll get a jump on the empty rooms and beat the majority of the other guests trying to do the same thing.
Even if you reschedule a trip in July or after, and Disney ends up still being closed on those dates, Disney will still give you a refund, so there is very little downside to booking something right now if you desire to go.
When is a “safe” date to reschedule your Disney World vacation to? Like I said before, right now it’s impossible to book anything new in May or June. Yes, Disney World might be open by sometime in June, but you can’t make new reservations.
That brings us to July. Even though it’s possible to book a trip starting July 1, the very earliest I would personally start thinking about booking my family trip would probably be September. Yes, I think the parks will open earlier than that because Disney will implement some of those proposed safety measures we already talked about before making it possible.
This isn’t ideal however imo, because you don’t want to be in that first group of guests that go back to Disney World right when it opens. If they are testing out a bunch of new procedures, there are sure to be growing pains with them. Not only that but if entertainment and attraction choices are limited, it wouldn’t be an ideal time to go imo.
If you really want to feel comfortable then plan for Fall 2020, September or October. By then, whatever new safety measures they put in should have all the bugs out of them, and it will also give Disney some time to restart all their construction projects.
The bad thing is not knowing when the new attractions will reopen. If you are going in 2020, then you might have wanted to wait until Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is open. That was “Summer 2020” before, but now that’s easily turned into Fall 2020, if not Winter 2021.
If you really want to be safe, you could always wait and go for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. We don’t know the exact dates yet, but anywhere in Fall 2021 should be fine. There will be new entertainment, attractions and lots of festivities.
Our guide on Visiting Disney World in 2020 vs 2021 breaks down both years and the pros and cons of vacation planning in each of them.
Once again, now one knows for sure when Disney World will reopen and to this point and it’s all speculation. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more info about the Disney World reopening including the dates. Until then, stay safe and stay tuned!
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No. The Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels are currently closed until further notice.
Right now the Disney World is officially closed indefinitely without a reopening date. July 1 could be a possibility, with reservations available from that date on. However, no one really knows when Disney World will reopen at this time, but it will definitely be longer than originally thought.
Disney is working on a modified guest experience when Disney World reopens which will help increase the safety of guests. How that impacts the guest experience remains to be seen.
Disney Springs is currently open, including the majority of restaurants and shops. This is the first phase of the reopening plan.
I want to know what you think about Disney World opening back up…
- When do you think Disney World is Reopening?
- Which modifications would you like to see implemented in the parks?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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