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What magical news.
In a statement shared with Fox News, Disney confirmed that executives presented plans for the phased reopening during a virtual meeting with the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force this morning. Now, Disney hopes to reopen Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.
“Our plans call for a phased reopening for our theme parks, beginning with the Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, on Saturday, July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open on Wednesday, July 15,” said Jim McPhee, the senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World, during the meeting with the task force.
“We believe our reopening proposal for our property reflects a very thoughtful, methodical and phased approach and we’ve incorporated all of the reopening protocols throughout our guest experience, and our cast experience.”
SeaWorld Orlando also pitched its proposal for a gradual reopening during the Wednesday meeting, with hopes of reopening its three Orlando parks to the public on June 11, SeaWorld's interim CEO Marc Swanson said during the call.
If Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signs off on the ideas, the plans will be forwarded to Gov. Ron DeSantis for approval, per The Associated Press.
Demings also disclosed that two health officials from the county visited both theme parks on Tuesday for inspections, WESH reports.
If Disney World and SeaWorld ultimately get the greenlight to begin gradually reopening on their targeted dates, visitors will have to heed new rules and other health safety measures in the fight aganist COVID-19. Guests (ages three and up at Disney, ages two and up at SeaWorld) and employees will have to wear facial masks and comply with temperature checks, while abiding by new social distancing rules. Inside the park, frequent hand washing will be encouraged for all and enhanced cleaning policies will be enforced throughout.
Looking ahead, park operations at Disney will also be modified to better promote physical distancing. Large group gatherings, like parades and nighttime spectaculars, and “high touch” experiences, such as character meet and greets, makeovers and playground activities, will return at a later date, Disney said in a statement.
As for park entry and accommodations, Disney is temporarily pausing the sales of new tickets and Disney Resort hotel reservations to “focus on” guests with existing tickets and reservations. Annual Passholders and existing ticket holders will be allowed to place reservation requests in phases before the sales of new tickets commence once again.
In addition, this new theme park reservation system is subject to attendance limitations and availability.
Crosstown rival Universal Orlando announced last week that it aims to reopen Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay on June 5, following a similar meeting with county officials. Authorities approved Universal's plans and sent them along to DeSantis. The theme park’s Universal CityWalk has already reopened.
Disney World also allowed third-party businesses at its Disney Springs dining and shopping complex to open for business once again last week, albeit with new restrictions and proactive safety measures.
Shanghai Disneyland was the first of Disney’s theme parks to reopen earlier in May, with strict limits on the number of guests allowed inside, mandatory masks and temperature checks.
Disney World is central Florida’s biggest employer, with 77,000 workers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.