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May 27, 2020

What You Need to Know About Disney World and Sea World’s Plans to REOPEN

By Laura Byrne

Today is the day many have been waiting for…the proposed dates on when Walt Disney World and Sea World will reopen their theme parks. We’re still waiting on word from Busch Gardens here in Tampa.

The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force approved the proposals today which will now go to the governor for final approval.

Let’s start with the proposed DATES:

  • June 11: Sea World
  • July 11: Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom
  • July 15: EPCOT and Hollywood Studios

Now, let’s dive into the details on what your experience may be like if you decide to go this summer.

We’ll start with Walt Disney World since this seems to be attracting the most attention. As you’d expect, Disney is going to build upon current cleaning and sanitation standards. But, here’s the point that may ruffle some feathers. Face coverings WILL BE REQUIRED by all guests ages 3 and older. We know this is a tough one, but let’s be civil and follow the rules for an enjoyable experience. If you don’t want to wear a face mask, don’t go. Simply put.

On the official Walt Disney World Blog, it was announced that new ticket sales and Disney Resort reservations will be temporarily paused so existing ticket holders and reservations can be accommodated. Annual Passholders will eventually be able to make a reservation request in phases before new tickets and hotel reservations are sold. Details about how this new reservation system will be released soon. Read more here.

Okay, let’s turn to the 5 health and safety protocols pitched for the phased reopening of Walt Disney World:


Enhanced Protective Measures:

A layered approach of protocols including face coverings, hand washing & sanitizing stations and physical barriers where appropriate.

For guests this means:

  • Required face coverings while on property (for guests ages 3 and older.)
  • Hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout park
  • Plexiglass at points of sale like retail shops and food and beverage locations where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Physical Distancing:

Reduction in theme park capacity that enables appropriate physical distancing in theme parks and appropriate signage of physical distancing requirements as a reminder.

For guests this means:

  • Reduced capacity of theme parks, restaurants, retail, attractions, transportation like buses and monorail
  • Parades, fireworks and other events that create crowds will be temporarily suspended

Enhanced Cleaning/Sanitation:

Build upon existing standards of cleaning with heightened protocols in the theme parks.

For guests this means:

  • More frequent cleanings of all high touch locations

Temperature/Health Screening:

Conduct Guest and Cast temperature checks.

For guests this means:

  • Temperature checks at main entrances to the theme parks
  • 3rd party screenings via contactless, handheld device

Limited-Contact Enhancements:

Reduction fo Guest and Cast Member contact points.

For guests this means:

  • Contactless payments with Magic Bands, Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Enable cashless transactions at retail and restaurants
  • Expand on mobile food and beverage ordering
  • Temporarily suspend high touch experiences like character meet and greets and playgrounds

Part of spreading the message will be an education, communication and engagement plan. The Education element starts before you go with details on the new protocols and expectations communicated before you arrive. When you get the the parks, the Communication element kicks in. You will see this via signage throughout the parks to remind you of the new guidelines and protocols. Finally, there’s Engagement. When you are the park, Cast Members will communicate the new guidelines to guests and the popular Social Distancing Squad which has been a hit at Disney Springs will be out and about at the parks.

A new reservation system will be put into place as well, so don’t get too excited about going on opening day. Just try to be patient and practice with mask wearing now so it’s not a big adjustment when you get to the parks.

Proposed signage you may see at Walt Disney World parks when they reopen:

Disney Reopens signage

Disney Reopens signage


Sea World’s Proposed Reopening Plan:

Sea World’s plan to reopen its parks including Aquatica and Discovery Cove are pretty similar to Disney’s plan…and other attractions.

Here are the most obvious changes that may impact your family:

Face coverings will be required for guests older than 2.

Physical distancing promoted throughout the parks.

Plexiglass will be installed in high traffic areas

Increased cleaning and sanitization.

Hand sanitizer stations will be significantly increased

Employee and guest temperature screenings

Certain animal interactions will be modified.

Certain tours and interactions will be limited to one-party at a time.

Single direction foot traffic flow in some areas.

Single rider lines will be removed.

Open play areas will be temporarily closed.

Certain parades and character meet and greets will be limited or removed.

Here are some examples of proposed signage you may see:

Sea World Reopens signage

Sea World Reopens signage

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