Disney says it will re-open its Florida theme parks in July, hoping to reverse a months-long tide of lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will re-open July 11 and Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, also in Florida, will begin business on July 15, executives said Wednesday.
A number of social-distancing measures will be imposed, said Jim McPhee, senior vice president of operations for Walt Disney World Resort. Customers will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks, he said. McPhee said that parades, playgrounds and fireworks displays, among others, will remain temporarily suspended because of the crowds those events attract.
Disney submitted its reopening plan at an economic recovery task-force meeting in Orange County, Florida, Wednesday morning. The task-force members approved Disney's plan shortly after it was presented. The plan still needs to be approved by Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings before it it sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"We believe our re-opening proposal at our properties reflects a very thoughtful, methodical and phased approach," McPhee said.
The re-opening will be a key test of whether large-scale social gatherings will resume in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Tens of thousands of Disney employees have been out of work since the parks shut down in mid-March as the virus began to spread. With the parks closed, Disney is expected to show a huge revenue dropoff for the quarter that ends in June.
The re-openings come despite a consistent level of coronavirus infections in Florida. The state has experienced at least 500 new cases in all but three days in May, and on Thursday reported 1,204 new cases, the most since April 17. Thirty-nine people have died in Orange County due to coronavirus.
The plans do not include any of Disney's parks in California, which remain closed. State officials there continue to debate the wisdom of reopening, with a health official in the state this week saying the current pace of reopening poses a "very serious risk."