A Look Inside Disney World's Reopening During The Coronavirus Pandemic

You'll have to reschedule your 1:1 with Cinderella.

by Mia Mercado
Disney World reopens after coronavirus shutdowns.
Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On Saturday, July 11, Disney World in Orlando, Florida reopened after being closed for four months during the coronavirus pandemic. The closure, which started on March 12, marked the first time in Disney’s history that all six parks were closed simultaneously. Then, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the park reopened its gates for a limited number of guests — the exact number has not been reported — prompting concern from experts and Disney fans alike.

The same day Disney World reopened, Florida reported record-high numbers of new coronavirus cases, according to CNN. The Florida Department of Health reported at least 15,299 new COVID-19 cases for Saturday, July 11, which is the highest number of new cases in a single day by any state. Experts are still advising against going to bars and restaurants, let alone a theme park that sees an average of 53,000 guests a day.

Prior to Saturday, Disney shared its reopening updates which include some requirements to help preserve guests’ and employees’ health and safety. Here are few of those updates:

  • All guests aged 2 and older must wear a face mask. They have to be the over-the-ear kind; bandanas won’t suffice.
  • Temperature screenings will be enforced at certain locations in the park.
  • Guests are encouraged to keep the recommended six-feet between parties.

If you think the scene sounds dystopian, you’re not alone. Before its reopening, Disney posted a promotional video of masked employees standing and waving in front of iconic rides and attractions from Cinderella’s castle to the Dumbo ride. Then came parodies of the Disney ad, pairing the video with music from a horror film or an amended voiceover message urging people to stay home.

Days after the Orlando park reopened, Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened its gates on June 18, announced it would close once again on starting on July 15. While it's uncertain whether Disney World Orlando will continue to stay open, images from the reopening weekend show what the park will look like for the time being, and it's a far cry from whatever pre-coronavirus wishes your heart made.


I Just Can't Wait To Be King... But I Will Still Have To Wait In Some Park Lines


Though lines for rides may be significantly shorter, you'll still meet a long line to get into the park.


Almost There

Octavio Jones/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Guests will be guided to park in every other spot to help maintain social distancing.


Be Prepared (To Have Your Temperature Taken)


In order to be admitted into certain parts of the park, guests must have their temperature checked. A fever of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher is one coronavirus symptom per the CDC.


The Bare Necessities

Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Masks are required for all guests 2 and up, and Disney is, of course, selling Disney-themed masks.


Just Around The Hand Sanitization Station

Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Signs reminding guests to wash their hands frequently are scattered throughout the park.


Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Begging You To Stay Six Feet Apart

Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Up close character meet-and-greets are suspended to comply with social distancing guidelines. Instead, characters will greet guests along the parade route or pop-up in unexpected parts of the park (e.g. Jack Sparrow venturing to Adventureland).


Be Our Guest (So Long As You're Wearing A Mask)


Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.


The Gospel Truth

An announcement reminding guests to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing goes off about every 10 minutes.


Let It Go So I Don't Have To Touch It


To reduce the amount of physical contact, Disney is encouraging guests to bring cards for cashless transactions.


For The First Time In Forever


Along with other new regulations, Disney has limited dining options in its Orlando park to limit the number of large groups gathering.


Topsy Turvy

Octavio Jones/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Physical barriers have been added in select places where it is difficult to maintain strict physical distancing guidelines (e.g. around cash registers or at Guest Relations).


Pull Up Your Sleeves And Get 'Em In Place


Disney's coronavirus cleaning guidelines include giving "extra attention" to high-traffic areas like bathrooms and benches.


Fantasia 2020

Grand Avenue appears empty compared to crowds on March 1.


A Whole New World


Though attendance as more sparse than usual, hundreds of people still stood in line to enter the park.


You've Got A (Highly Sanitized) Friend In Me

Handout/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Employees have been trained to promote physical distancing guidelines in common areas and queues, keeping guests in check.


Whistle While You Wait

While shorter than usual, the lines at Disney are inevitable, even amidst coronavirus.


How Far Some People Will Go To Not Wear A Mask

SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The park has a few "relaxation zones" where a limited-number of guests, at their own risk, are allowed to remove their mask.




If you aren't wearing a mask, Disney won't give you your ride photo.


Once Upon A Dream

It may be bizarre to see the entrance to the park so empty just hours after opening, but it doesn't seem too out of place amidst face mask requirements and self-quarantining.

While the risk of transmission decreases outdoors, it increases exponentially the more people you come into contact with. If you want to play it safe, it's smartest to wait to enjoy the Disney park until health officials say the magic word: vaccine.