As the country begins to reopen, many questions and rumors have been swirling about when Disney Parks will reopen. While not giving any specific dates or a timeframe, Disney has released an official update from its Chief Medical Officer on the plans and considerations for reopening the parks, resorts, and stores. Catch all the details below.
Here is the official statement from Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel:
As you may have heard at Disney’s Q2 FY20 Earnings Results Webcast, our CEO Bob Chapek announced that Shanghai Disney Resort will begin the phased reopening of Shanghai Disneyland on May 11 – an encouraging sign for Disney parks and retail locations all over the world. After so much time at home, I know many of you are eager to enjoy the magic of a Disney parks visit, and we can’t wait to welcome you back.
I’m fortunate to work with Disney’s extraordinarily talented team of health and safety experts who are some of the most experienced in the industry. Together, with our colleagues in operations, and local health and government authorities, we’re evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to do our part towards helping us stay well while we work, stay, and play at a Disney resort and a Disney store. I’m also working closely with the US Travel Association on a set of guidelines the travel industry may tailor to their individual businesses to help demonstrate that safety of travelers is a top focus.
To that end, I want to share an update with you about our plans and considerations as we prepare for the reopening of our parks, resorts and stores. At Disney, we’re exploring:
- Phased reopening: We’re looking at all of our locations and how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of our theme parks.
- Physical distancing and capacity measures: As you can imagine, managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort is a major focus, as we implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies. This will likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. We’re also exploring ways to use technology to aid us in these efforts, like with our Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- Cleanliness and sanitization: We’re planning increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes we’ll use.
- Screening and prevention support: We’ll follow guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across our resorts, have already been implemented.
- Cast training: We’re further emphasizing our strong culture of health and safety amongst our cast members, and will continue to provide new training and reinforcement as we get closer to reopening.
These are just a few examples of the many areas we are developing plans for, so please keep an eye on our online channels, where we’ll provide more details as we confirm and begin to implement our plans. Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening.
In the meantime, our focus remains on the health and safety of the entire Disney community – including the wellbeing of the Cast Members who are caring for and securing our parks and resorts during the closure. We have already implemented a number of enhanced health and safety measures, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in work areas, adjusting practices to promote physical distancing, and providing Cast with access to necessary PPE, including face coverings. We continue to learn from these experiences and will carry these lessons into reopening and beyond.
Finally, I want to recognize the medical professionals working to bring care and comfort in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to do what we can to help support the medical community and our local communities during this time.
We’re looking forward to welcoming all of you back to our Disney parks, resorts and stores. Until we are together once again, we wish you and your families health, hope, and happiness.
RELATED ARTICLE: Top 11 Q & A Regarding Closures, Operations, & Procedures Due to Coronavirus Closure
by Chad and Cindy Nykamp
Okay, by now everyone is aware that Disney has had massive disruptions to just about facet of their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been a ton of related questions ranging from what’s still open, how do these changes affect my tickets, reservations, [fill in the blank]. And of course, the question on everyone’s mind, when will the parks reopen. There has been a slew of information released over the past few weeks on a variety of days, from a variety of departments, and a number of policy reversals along the way. There have also been lots of rumors, speculation, and general misinformation spreading. All of this has led to some confusion. To help, here are the top 12 questions we’ve received from readers over the past few weeks along with the most up to date official information from Disney.
1 – What is Closed?
Walt Disney World theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs locations are closed. All FastPass+ reservations scheduled for when parks are closed are automatically canceled. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and miniature golf locations at Walt Disney World Resort are closed. All Disney transportation is unavailable. Disneyland Park, Disney’s Vero Beach, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, and Disney Aulani Resort are closed until further notice.
2 – What is Open?
The only thing open to guests on Walt Disney World property are Golf and FootGolf operations, which remain available on their regular schedule. The Walt Disney World Golf website indicates that it is still open. This is subject to change.
On May 7, Disney announced that a phased reopening of Disney Springs would begin May 20.
Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Matt Simon:
A phased reopening of Disney Springs will begin on May 20. Following the guidance of government and health officials, a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during this initial phase. The rest of Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed, including theme parks and resort hotels.
As we continue to monitor conditions, and with the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of our planning, we are making several operational changes. Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.
We will apply learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries, and we’re also talking to our unions as we prepare for some cast members to return to work.
During the initial opening phase, Disney Springs will have limitations on capacity, parking and operating hours. Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through this process as responsibly as we can. Additional protocols and procedures may be announced closer to the opening date. Please check DisneySprings.com as we get closer to May 20 for the most current information on operating hours, locations and safety procedures.
We will update the details of Disney Springs’ opening when more information is available.
3 – When Will Walt Disney World Reopen?
We don’t know. On March 27, 2020, Disney Parks announced that both Walt Disney World and Disneyland would be closed until further notice. The State of Florida began a Phase 1 opening on May 4, 2020. During this phase, residents are still urged to stay at home and avoid groups of 10 or more. Only restaurants and retail are reopen but must operate at 25% capacity. Restaurants need to have seating with six-foot spacing. Also during this phase schools, movie theaters, bars, and gyms will remain closed. Finally, face masks are recommended. There is no indication of how long phase 1 will last. The governor only said he hoped it would be weeks and not months. Walt Disney World is in Orange and Osceola counties. The governor’s plan allows for local authorities to have stricter policies if they wish.
While there are a lot of unfounded rumors out there about when Walt Disney World will reopen–they are just that rumors. There is no official word on when the park might reopen. Do note that it is possible to book Walt Disney World vacations for July 1 and after. (Originally it was June 1 and was pushed back to July 1 on May 8). While no opening date is guaranteed, it does appear that Disney is at least hoping to be operating by July 1. We will continue to provide updates on Disney Parks as information becomes available.
4 – How Will Things Be Different Once Disney World Opens?
Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel, released a statement on May 5 about Disney Parks plans and considerations for reopening of the parks, resorts, and stores. This gives us an idea of the operational procedures that Disney is considering for reopening the parks.
5 – What is Happening to Disney Cast Members During the Closure?
During this time of economic crisis, the Disney Company has continued to pay its employees. With the original closure announcement, Disney announced that it would continue to pay all of its Cast Members during the closure period. When they announced the closure would be until further notice, the company updated the policy announcing the decision to pay hourly parks and resort cast members through April 18. Disney recently announced that they would furlough some theme park employees starting on April 19.
“Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation,” the company said in a statement [on April 2]. “However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time,” a statement said.
According to news reports, employees will still receive full health-care benefits, with Disney paying the cost of employee and company premiums. They also will be able to continue with their Disney Aspire education programs, the company said. Disney said that once furloughed, employees are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.
Finally, it has been reported that Walt Disney Company executives are taking a pay cut during this challenging time. Effective April 5, all V.P.’s will have their salaries reduced by 20%, SVP’s by 25%, and EVPs and above by 30%. CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has chosen to forgo 100% of his salary.
6 – When will Disney Cruise Line be Sailing Again?
All Departures Through June 18, Disney Magic Sailings through July 2 and Vancouver Sailings Until the End of June
Disney Cruise Line is aware that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its suspension of cruise departures from the United States. In line with this direction, and with the well-being of our Guests and team members our top priority, Disney Cruise Line has suspended:
- All new departures of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy through Thursday, June 18, 2020.
- All Disney Magic sailings through Thursday, July 2, 2020.
- All departures on the Disney Wonder through June, given that neither the Port of Vancouver nor an alternate homeport is available.
Guests currently booked on affected sailings will be offered the choice of a cruise credit to be used for a future sailing within 15 months of their original sail date or a full refund. These Guests and travel agents will receive an email from Disney Cruise Line outlining details and next steps.
Guests who booked their reservation through a travel agent should contact them directly with any questions. Those who booked directly with Disney Cruise Line and have questions after receiving their email from us should call us at (866) 325-6685 or (407) 566-7797.
Disney Magic European Sailings after July 2, 2020
Guests currently booked on our European sailings through our July 25 departure can change their reservation up until the day before embarkation and receive a 100% cruise credit to be used for a future sailing within 15 months of their original sail date. The credit is non-refundable and standard prevailing rates will apply. Alternatively, Guests currently booked on our July 13, July 18, and July 25, 2020, European sailings may delay their final payment to 30 days prior to their sailing. Guests who booked their reservation through a travel agent should contact them directly. Those who booked with Disney Cruise Line may call us at (866) 325-2112 or (407) 566-3510.
7 – What About Tickets I Purchased?
Unexpired multi-day theme park tickets with unused days, or date-specific theme park tickets with a valid use period beginning March 12, 2020, through the closure will automatically be extended to use any date through December 15, 2020. If you are unable to visit by December 15, 2020, you may apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward the purchase of a ticket for a future date.
Florida Resident Discover Disney Tickets may be used through September 30, 2020.
Guests who have purchased tickets for Disney After Hours, Disney Villains After Hours, Disney Early Morning Magic, and Disney H2O Glow Nights from March 16, 2020, through the closure, will be automatically refunded.
For ticket orders, express shipping and standard shipping will be delayed due to the closure.
8 – What Happens to my Resort Room and Package Reservations Impacted by the Closure?
To provide additional flexibility, Disney is waiving all Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in for your reservation, as well as those rescheduled reservations with arrivals through June 30, 2020. And soon, we’ll share additional options for booking and modifying vacations. Many reservations can be modified or canceled online.
If no action is taken by you before your check-in date for arrivals during the closure period, Disney will automatically cancel your reservation with 7 days of the original check-in date and process any refund due the original form of payment. If you did not book through Disney directly, please contact your travel professional. Please note that cancellation fees imposed by third-party suppliers, including airlines and rentals cars, as well as non-refundable products like travel protection plans, are deducted from refundable amounts for Walt Disney Travel Company packages.
If you did not book through Disney directly, please contact your travel professional.
9 – What Happens with My Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
Below is the statement from the Walt Disney World website regarding annual passes:
This is a truly unprecedented time of all of us, and we want to thank you for your patience as we work through the many details related to the temporary closure of the theme parks. We recognize this may be a challenging time, so we wanted to share how will assist your Annual Passholders.
If you are an Annual Passholder who has paid in full:
As previously announced, all active Walt Disney World Resort Annual Passes will be extended for the number of days the parks are closed. The new expiration date will be reflected on the Annual Passholder’s account prior to the reopening of the theme parks.
As an alternative, in lieu of an extension of their passes, Passholders who have paid in full may choose to receive a partial refund for them park closure period. To To request this alternative option, we ask that you contact VIPASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277. We do anticipate heavy call volume and appreciate your patience as we answer all inquiries.
If you are an Annual Passholder on the monthly payment plan:
On April 5, 2020, we automatically stopped and will waive monthly payments due while the theme parks are closed. We will also retroactively refund payments made between March 14 through April 4, 2020. Payments will resume on the Passholder’s regularly scheduled payment dates once the parks reopen. Please note, pass expiration dates will not be extended and passes will expire upon their originally scheduled expiration dates.
As an alternative, Guests who are paying for Walt Disney World Annual Passes using our monthly payment program may choose to have their monthly payments postponed starting with payments due April 5, 2020, through the park closure period, and then resumed on the Passholder’s regularly scheduled payment date once the parks reopen. Postponed payments will be collected in the months following the end of the Passholder’s currently scheduled payment term. The pass will be extended the number of days the parks are closed. The new expiration date will be reflected on the Annual Passholder’s account prior to the reopening of the theme parks. To request this alternative option, we ask that you contact VIPASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277. We do anticipate heavy call volume and appreciate your patience as we answer all inquiries.
Our Annual Passholders are some of our most loyal guests, and we stand ready to help during this incredibly uncertain time. If you have any questions, please contact V.I.Passhoder Support at (407) 939-7277. We do anticipate heavy call volume and appreciate your patience as we answer all inquiries.
10 – What About Pre-Paid Dining Reservations During the Closure?
- All pre-paid dining and experience reservations will be automatically refunded if scheduled between March 16 and the closure period.
- Reservations made at locations impacted by the closure will not be charged a cancellation or no-show fee.
- Disney has canceled all showtimes for Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue until further notice. Disney will automatically refund Guests with reservations during these dates.
- All active Tables in Wonderland members will be extended by the number of days the parks are closed.
11 – What Happens with Magic Band Orders?
If you have placed an order and received notification that your MagicBands have been shipped to your home, you will still receive your order.
If you have arranged for your upgraded MagicBands to be delivered to you at your Disney Resort hotel for an arrival date between March 20 through the closure period, your order will automatically be canceled and you will receive a refund of the amount you paid for the MagicBands.
While the Walt Disney World theme parks and Resorts hotels are temporarily closed, we are not currently accepting new MagicBand orders linked to Walt Disney World Annual Passholders or Disney Resort hotel reservations.
12 – What About DVC Reservations Impacted by the Closure?
Disney Vacation Club members recently received an update on vacation points for reservations checking in within the next 30 days. The full notice is below.
I know the last couple of weeks have been a challenge for all of us. As we navigate the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, we continue to make decisions focused on the health and wellbeing of our Members, Guests and Cast Members. Today I want to share another update with you.
As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice. This closure affects all Disney Vacation Club properties, including Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
During this temporary closure, it is our priority to continue providing you with helpful and efficient service, even as the majority of our Cast Members are working remotely, including those in Member Services and Member Accounting.
Until the decision is made as to when the resorts will reopen, all reservations scheduled for arrival during the closure time will be automatically canceled by Disney Vacation Club on a week-by-week basis. Members do not need to cancel the reservation online or contact Member Services. In light of the unusual circumstances and to provide more flexibility, Disney Vacation Club established a temporary cancellation policy to supplement our existing cancellation rules. Details include:
- Vacation Points returned due to a cancellation of a resort reservation will not be placed in a holding account and will be returned to the current Use Year. This applies to all reservations checking in within the next 30 days.
- When a reservation involving Borrowed Points is canceled, the Borrowed Points will be returned to the Use Year they were borrowed from. This applies to all reservations regardless of arrival date. Please allow up to 15 business days for this process to be completed.
The following existing cancellation rules continue to apply:
- Reservation Points returned due to a cancellation of a Disney Collection Resort reservation will be returned as Reservation Points to the current Use Year.
- Reservations made with points Banked from the previous Use Year will be returned as Banked Points to the current Use Year.
- One-time use Points will be returned to the current Use Year as one-time use Points.
In addition, some Members may have questions about reservation cancellations involving Points that are set to expire soon. At this time, we are evaluating the banking and expiration policy and the use of certain Points impacted by the closures. As a part of our evaluation process, we need to be considerate of the impact any changes could have on future inventory availability for the Membership overall. A decision will be made when we better understand how long COVID-19 will impact our operations.
As we anticipate high call volume in the days ahead, we encourage you to use the Disney Vacation Club website for general information – and we ask that you contact Member Services only if you need assistance with an existing reservation. Any Member who would like to book a new Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation or modify an existing reservation may do so through the Member Online Booking Tool.
We realize that disruptions related to COVID-19 are altering your family’s vacation plans, and we thank you for your understanding during this unprecedented time. It is our commitment to stay focused on serving you with ongoing communication and updates.
We look forward to “welcoming you home” as soon as we can.
Senior Vice President
Disney Vacation Club, Guided Adventures & Expeditions and Golden Oak
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.