Walt Disney World begins reopening their parks this weekend, here's what you need to know before going

Photo from Walt Disney World (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Walt Disney World is preparing to reopen the first of its theme parks this weekend after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the parks for months.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 11. Hollywood Studios and Epcot will then reopen on Wednesday, July 15.

Things will look and feel a lot different upon reopening, as new health and safety measures are in place and several changes around the parks have been made.

RELATED: Petition to delay Disney World reopening nears 10,000 signatures

Below is some of what you can expect upon returning to the parks.


If you want to visit the parks though, you must have a reservation and valid ticket to enter.

Initially, Disney said new ticket sales and hotel bookings would not be allowed in the early phase of reopening but they have since announced that will resume on Thursday, July 9.  Read more about that here.

Reservations through September 26, 2021 can currently be made on the Walt Disney World website.


Photo from Walt Disney World


Walt Disney World says that when they reopen, guests will not be allowed to park hop. They can only visit one park per day.

This is a temporary limitation due to attendance limitations.


Photo from Walt Disney World


When the Walt Disney World parks reopen, there will be several new health safety measures in place to keep guests and cast members safe.

“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices.”


Photo from Walt Disney World (Kent Phillips, photographer)

The new health and safety measures include:

  • Mandatory temperature checks: Guests and cast members will all have to undergo temperature checks before they are allowed into any park. They are also asked to check their temperatures before leaving home to make sure they are not running a fever. Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed entry, nor will those in their party.
  • Face masks required: Face coverings will be required to be worn while in the parks by all guests ages 2 and older. It will also be mandatory for cast members. No word on if they will sell face masks in the parks.
  • Social Distancing: Select cast members will be a part of the 'Incredi-Crew' who will joyfully remind guests to practice social distancing. Signs will be on display throughout the parks to remind guests, as well as physical barriers in shops, dining locations, and attraction queues. In addition, social distancing will also be enforced on transportation vehicles, like all buses and monorails. The Disney Skyliner will also load just one party per gondola. Finally, for those who drive to the parks, parking lot trams will not be available.
  • Reduced capacity around parks: In addition to reducing the number of people allowed into the theme parks, capacity will also be managed at retail stores and restaurants to ensure social distancing.
  • Contactless food purchases/cashless pay system: In addition to Plexiglass barriers, Disney says they are taking extra steps when it comes to food service to ensure that the least amount of contact is made while dining in the parks. Cash will be accepted but guests can also pay via the My Disney Experience app.
  • Increased cleaning: High-traffic areas of the park will be cleaned more. Guests are encouraged to frequently wash their hands. There will be hand-washing stations throughout the park and hand sanitizer available.

Photo from Walt Disney World


Photo from Walt Disney World


While most of the attractions at the Disney parks will be open, several will have limitations, while others will not be operating at all.

The good news is that Disney favorites like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Soarin' Around the World, and the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are among the attractions that will be open.


Photo from Walt Disney World

Attraction limitations include:

  • No meet-and-greets: Disney characters will still be present at the parks, but meet-and-greets are canceled for the time being. 
  • No parades or fireworks shows: To keep people from gathering in large crowds, Disney will not be holding any parades or the nightly fireworks shows until further notice. 
  • Water effects will be limited or eliminated: Water areas will remain closed in order to avoid drawing crowds of spectators. Even Disney H2O Glow Nights, a nighttime event at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, will not occur in 2020. 
  • Interactive play areas will remain closed: Children who love to run around and play in Disney's interactive kid areas will not be able to do so -- at least not for now. Disney says they are keeping those play areas closed to avoid putting their tiny guests at risk.

Photo from Walt Disney World

Several dining and tour experiences will be unavailable until further notice. These include:

  • Backstage Magic
  • Behind the Seeds
  • Disney Private VIP Tours
  • Disney’s Family Magic Tour
  • Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour
  • Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
  • Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
  • The UnDISCOVERed Future World
  • Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
  • Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
  • Up Close with Rhinos
  • Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
  • World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
  • Wild Africa Trek
  • Wild Africa Trek (Morning)

Photo from Walt Disney World (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Epcot will no longer have cultural representatives in the countries throughout the World Showcase. Many of the employees were furloughed and sent back to their home countries because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Disney and its union agreed to reopen without them for the time being.


Photo from Walt Disney World (Kent Phillips, photographer)

There will still be some character and entertainment experiences for park guests to enjoy though, including but not limited to:

  • Characters in Magic Kingdom will travel along the traditional parade route throughout the day. Some will even pop up in new locations, like Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland.
  • Queen Anna and Elsa from 'Frozen' will be at Epcot, journeying through the World Showcase. Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Pluto will also move through the park.
  • Then in Animal Kingdom, guests can see Disney characters like Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Pocahontas sailing down the Discovery River. 
  • Hollywood Studios will feature Pixar favorites, like characters from 'Toy Story' and 'The Incredibles.' In 'Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge,' guests can see characters from the iconic movie saga, like Rey, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren.
  • Some entertainment groups will return as well, like the Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom, Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors at EPCOT, and Discovery Island Drummers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 

Photo from Walt Disney World (Olga Thompson, photographer)

For EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival fans, a new version of the popular event will debut on July 15. Called 'Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival,' it will be the longest festival in Disney history and will blend the park's annual flower and garden event with the international offerings of the food and wine festival. Culinary options from over 20 places around the world will be available.


Walt Disney World is allowing annual passholders to visit the parks before they are officially opened to the public.

They can visit either Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom on July 9th and 10th. There is no preview for Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Reservations must be made to attend on these dates. Visit the Walt Disney World website to do so.


Photo from Walt Disney World


Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest coronavirus news.