Those are the first words you will hear from cast members as return to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have officially reopened their gates to all guests (reservations are required) as of July 11th, 2020. EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15th, 2020. 117 days has come and gone since the Walt Disney Company shuttered the doors on its’ Orlando theme parks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before being able to board the monorail or ferryboat there is signage and hand sanitizer placed around the temperature screening tents reminding everyone of social distancing and the possible exposure to COVID-19.
The boarding process for the monorail was fairly seamless and relaxing knowing that only you and your party are in the one section of a monorail. When you finally get through the gates, you are welcomed to an updated Cinderella’s castle with a spectacular new paint job.
The usual crowds that engulf Main Street aren’t there as Disney World has limited their capacity through the park reservation system. The cast members all wear face masks and for the ones who are in the constant proximity to guests wear a face shield as an additional layer of protection. Hand sanitizer is located throughout all the attractions. In tight areas where only a rope would separate lines has now been upgraded to Plexiglas barriers along with “Please Wait Here” floor markers spaced approximated 6 ft apart.
There has also been updates to dining, merchandise, and entertainment offerings. Contactless payment has become a larger push in the parks. Mobile ordering food has also expanded to various quick service locations to deter people from waiting in lines to order food.
As of right now fireworks and nighttime shows have been postponed until a later date. Meet and greets with characters are not accessible, but you will still be able to see your favorite characters from a distance.
Navigating the new normal in theme parks will take some getting used to, but the safety measures put into place made me feel comfortable returning to Walt Disney World. Of course, there is an inherent risk of contracting COVID-19 in any place where you interact with others. So whether or not you decide to visit depends on your personally accepted level of risk and other risk factors. Disney recently announced that they will once again be shutting down Hong Kong Disneyland to abide by government mandated social-distancing guidelines. Time will tell if Walt Disney World will remain open or follow suit as local COVID-19 cases continually rise.
If you do decide to go, and are lucky enough to score a reservation, remember your mask and to download the My Disney Experience app to make your planning much easier. No matter if you feel comfortable a week from now or months down the road, the Walt Disney World Resort is waiting to welcome you back.