Will Disney Reopen To Locals Only? Here’s What We Found

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

Are US Disney parks reopening to locals only?

With the recent announcements of the reopenings of Disney Springs and the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, we have new details of Disney’s plans and protocol changes to ensure guest and cast safety as we all venture back into this post-health-crisis world.

Disney’s announcement regarding the phased reopening of Disney Springs, their entertainment mecca that consists mostly of dining, retail, and entertainment offerings, was well received by most, especially Florida locals looking forward to returning to the magic. However, the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks and hotels will remain closed for the moment with no official reopening date as of yet.

Disney also announced earlier this week their decision to reopen the Shanghai Disneyland resort on May 11th. Popular opinion is that Disney will closely observe the Shanghai Disney Resort reopening to follow their lead regarding operational adjustments to keep guests and cast safe as we face this new post-health-crisis reality.

Guest Capacity and Other New Disney Parks Reopening Information

line queue crowd at Disney
Credit: Inside the Magic
Among the influx of news and information that is coming in, there are some reporting that both the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California will reopen to locals only in order to control the limited crowd capacity that is only a fraction of what it normally would be. However, this has not been confirmed by Disney and is at this time merely rumored and speculated.  

The new information released by Disney stated:

Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences and other offerings may be modified and will be limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or closure, based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing.

Currently, in Disneyland, reservations are not accepted prior to July. Walt Disney World, however, has been taking reservations for June 1st and beyond, with the added disclaimers that they can and might get canceled. Additionally, accommodations are projected to be extremely limited, and that not all hotels will open initially.

Will Disney World and Disneyland Reopen To Locals First?

Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

With limited hotel and travel, it would seem fitting that the resorts would only encourage locals to visit as they slowly roll out the new protocols with all the added health and safety measures in place.

Both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort boast solid Annual Passholder programs. A safe bet at crowd management, if they take that route. However, a majority of attendees at California’s Disneyland Resort are either locals or Annual Passholders. So, that begs the question, how will Disney approach the guest capacity with that number of guests ready and available to return to the happiest place on earth?

In a recent Walt Disney Company’s Fiscal Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results Conference Call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek answered a question regarding how the company plans to implement the guest capacity concerns to ensure social distancing. To which he replied: “one way Shanghai will address this, is through dated tickets.” Chapek quickly added that this was not to say that this will be the same domestically.

Related: Chapek Breaks Silence and Talks Overall Strategy

Speculation from Annual Passholders and future guests alike have pondered about the possibility of having to reserve a date on Disney’s online planning tools like My Disney Experience to visit. However, that creates a new challenge having to do with the cost and value of those Annual Passes that would otherwise allow AP’s to visit at will. Official theme park ticket procedures have not been confirmed by Disney yet.

Related: Shanghai Disneyland Reopening Tickets Sell Out in Minutes

Florida Reopening Guidelines

The Task Force to reopen Florida approved a phased reopening, kicking off Phase One May 4th.  The allowance of re-opening came with some health and social distancing restrictions such as spacing between tables for restaurants, limited guest capacity, special sanitizing protocols, among others.

Doctor Mickey checks Donald's temperature at Disney

Theme Parks, however, were not included in this phase of reopening. In addition, the state of Florida has allowed the flagship resorts like the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando to mandate their own reopening decision, with the understanding they will also implement the government and federal guidelines already in place.

California Reopening Status

sleeping beauty castle zoom
Credit: D23

California is a little further behind from reopening than Florida and their stay-at-home restrictions are still in place, pushing further back the possibility of a summer re-opening.

With the uptick of announcements this week, we are hopeful we will continue to get more details as we get closer to the re-opening of Disney Parks in the U.S. So, be sure to keep checking back with us here at Inside the Magic and on all our social media channels.

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