Disney to reveal phased reopening plans for major theme parks, Wednesday
ORLANDO, Fla. - Disney's theme parks, known to many as the most magical places on earth, were forced to shut their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, but on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., Disney representatives will reveal their detailed reopening strategy for the company's major theme parks.
Disney executives will submit plans for the re-opening to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, but any decision will ultimately need to be approved by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Earlier this month, Governor DeSantis said Disney's reopening plans must detail, "how they are going to do it, how they’re going to accommodate the guests, how they’re going to protect the staff and then they need to have an endorsement from the local official in their locality."
Disney operates four theme parks at its Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, which bring in more than 150 million visitor each year.
In the financial year ending in September 2019, Disney said its Parks, Experiences and Products division, the company's largest, generated $26.3 billion in annual revenue.
Disney began closing its theme parks in January as the coronavirus began to take hold in China, where it operates Shanghai Disneyland.
Disney’s U.S. theme parks have been closed since mid-March, but with Florida easing lockdown restrictions, the company started taking reservations for both Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Resort hotels that would begin on July 1.
Last week, Disney World allowed third-party businesses at its Disney Springs dining and shopping complex to open with new restrictions.
All workers and visitors older than 2 at Disney Springs must wear masks, temperatures are checked at entrances to keep out anyone with a temperature 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or higher and a limited number of people are admitted to allow social distancing at the high-end outdoor shopping area with restaurants, movie theaters, a bowling alley and a Cirque du Soleil theater.
Earlier this month, Shanghai Disneyland became the first of Disney’s theme park resorts to reopen, with severe limits on the number of visitors allowed in, mandatory masks and temperature checks.
According to CinemaBlend, it's possible the reopening will include major changes to some aspects of the theme park in Florida.
Talks of a major redesign to Epcot's geodesic dome, Spaceship Earth, had been rumored for some time and were finally confirmed at last year's D23 Expo. At that time, CEO, Bob Chapek explained, the plan was to redesign the attraction, which was the centerpiece of the original Epcot. It would no longer be a dark ride that took guests through the history of human communication, but would instead focus more specifically on the history of storytelling.
This would require some of the animatronic vignettes to be redesigned, while others would be completely replaced. The expectation was that the redesign would require the ride to be closed until 2022 and reopen for Epcot's 40th anniversary.
However, that closure was set to begin this week, and with not just Spaceship Earth, but all of Epcot and Walt Disney World closed, it's unclear what the plan is now. No major renovation is currently taking place at Walt Disney World and it's unclear if construction will restart alongside the parks reopening, or occur sometime afterward, so as to keep occupancy in the parks as low as possible.
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