I’m hearing that once Disney World reopens the parks are going to open in a sequence and not all at once; there will be limited numbers allowed in the parks; restaurants might drop reservations by 50% and have less tables available; ride queues will be limited to keep from overcrowding. I’m on the edge of when this can happen (my reservations are for May 25th – May 29th) and I’ll just re-schedule for 2021 if that’s the best way to FULLY enjoy Disney World.
What will happen when Disney World reopens is a very interesting question.
What will it looks like when Disney World reopens?
There are lots of questions about what things will look like when the parks reopen, whenever that will be. I don’t think even Disney has the slightest idea about when, what things will look like, how they will open things back up. I think it’s really premature to even guess at what the “world” will look like when it gets going again.
First, What are the Rules?
The first thing that will need to be decided before Disney World reopens is, what are the “rules” Disney is going to be working under. Currently in Florida, all sit down restaurants dining is prohibited. That means no table service or quick service seating. Only take out and delivery is allowed. That pretty well does away with any meals. Until that restriction is lifted I don’t see Disney World even opening.
In California, there is an order to stay at home. No employees can go to work. That’s not going to allow Disneyland to open until that ban is lifted.
What rules will the states impose once Hurricane Coronavirus subsides? Will there be required spacing in the restaurants? Will there be enforced social distancing? When you get to the park, will you have to have a temperature check? Will employees have to go through wellness screening? There’s a whole lot of questions that have to be answered.
Next, How does Disney World do Social Distancing?
Disney World is not a place of Social Distancing. It’s not designed for that. It’s designed to pack as many people into the space available as possible. How many times a day, at Disney World do you hear “move down as far as you can filling in all available space”? That’s not Social Distancing.
We do know that Disney is working on more “Virtual Queues” like they are using for Rise of the Resistance. That may be the wave of the future. Instead of FastPasses, you might sign up for a return time for all rides or at least all of the biggies. I don’t have a clue how that would work, and I’m not sure Disney does yet either, but more Virtual Queues will be coming.
While Virtual Queues can help with Social Distancing, people are still going to congregate. Look at all the lines. What do they do? They zig zag to where you are almost touching when you pass. The loading areas for most rides are side by side. Are we going to only use the odd numbers bays? Go with ride vehicles half empty?
Social Distancing at restaurants are easier than rides. Limit the capacity in Table Service restaurants, spread out tables in Quick Service restaurants and require Mobile Ordering and you could open the restaurants back up if the current rules are relaxed but at what cost? Do you do away with the big family style tables at ‘Ohana? Are groups of 10 or more out of luck? Do you fill every other car at Sci Fi Dine In? Is Disney going to have to do away with half the ADR’s?
Will you now hear announcements at shows that say please leave 3 seats between your party and the party next to you? Will every other row be closed? No more please move all the way down the row filling in all the available space?
I think the easiest of the Social Distancing problems is transportation. It’s pretty easy to count and limit how many people you put on a bus or a boat. To not allow standing on a monorail, and to only allow families on the same Skyliner car. It will probably take more Cast Members and some help at the queue areas, but it can be done.
And when it comes time to open the parks back up, do they all open at once, or do you do it in phases? Does the Magic Kingdom open first, then a week later Epcot and so forth? That doesn’t make much sense to me because of the problem of capacity.
How Does Disney Reduce Capacity?
Since the day Walt Disney World opened, in fact, since the day Disneyland opened, the goal of all the Disney Parks has been to get as many guests as possible into the parks. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Disney wants to make as much money as possible so it’s a balance between price and number of guests, but the gist is they want people packed into the parks.
How does that work in the wake of Coronavirus?
It looks like the earliest Disney World will reopen is summertime-ish. One of the busiest times of the year. What do they do to reduce capacity? Cancel half of the reservations? Imagine getting a letter from Disney saying due to the restrictions brought on by Coronavirus, we must cancel your reservation. See you real soon.
That would go over like a lead balloon.
But if you only have half the number of tables available for dining, if rides vehicles must be half empty, if spacing in the lines must be enforced, then what is Disney supposed to do, but reduce the number of people at Disney World?
Capacity reduction is a real problem for when Disney World reopens.
More Questions than Answers
I don’t think we can even speculate what will happen when Disney World reopens. Will there be a miracle cure that suddenly arises? Does this current “shelter in place” work? When the temperatures go up will Hurricane Coronavirus burn out? Is a vaccine found? Will there ever be toilet paper in the stores again?
How many people cancel their trips to Disney World? Does Disney try to reduce capacity and how does that work? What are the rules imposed by the states? Those are just a few of the terrible questions that Disney is wrestling with. (Makes you wonder if Bob Iger had an inkling.)
Answers, probably some reduced capacity on rides, Virtual Queues, less tables in restaurants, Mobile Ordering might be mandatory. There are definitely some big changes are coming.
The Eastern Parks will be the Guinea Pigs
Watch what happens when the parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo open if they open (and they should) before Disney World and Disneyland reopen. I’m sure Disney will test reopening procedures there to bring to the US parks. We might see how Disney reduces capacity in the hotels, in the restaurants and in the parks from watching how it happens over there.
Now is the Time for Professional Help
For over 10 years now, I have been saying if you are going to Disney World you should get professional help from a GOOD Disney Travel Agent. Now that’s more true than ever. With all the questions about Coronavirus, parks reopening, trips being canceled, rescheduling, ADR restrictions, etc. you NEED to have a GOOD Disney Travel Agent in your corner.
I totally and completely recommend my friend Shannon and her team at Destinations to Travel during this time of uncertainty. They are the best at dealing with Disney for cancelations, for rescheduling, for interruptions, for just anything when it comes to going to Disney World. Trust me, they will take care of your needs.
Go over to our Destinations to Travel page and fill out the form and your new best Disney World friend will be in touch shortly
Dad’s Bottom Line
Joe, desperate times call for desperate measures. The next year or two as Disney World reopens is pretty much going to be desperate times. Things are going to be different. I’m sure Disney executives are spending lots of time trying to figure out what to do when all the parks around the world reopen.
I’m not sure Disney World will be open again by your May date. It’s about 50/50 right now. My guess is mid to late May or June at the earliest. It could even slip into the summer depending on what states allow. Rescheduling to 2021 might be a good idea, but as you’ll see in a second, it might be better to stick with May.
It is going to be a very different Disney World and world in general for a while. Just like it was after 9/11. Eventually, things will get back to normal. Coronavirus will go away or at least get under control. The sun will come up tomorrow.
Whatever Disney comes up with to deal with the restrictions and reality is unknown, but when the time comes and we know what we’re dealing with, then we’ll deal with it. That’s what we do. When things change, we adjust. We complain, but we adjust. If Disney World reopens at half capacity for a while… Mmmm, that would mean Disney World with NO CROWDS!!!!!
Throw me in that Briar Patch…