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Walt Disney World, SeaWorld plan opening in mid-July

Photo: Michael Gray / CC BY-SA 2.0 (MGN)
Photo: Michael Gray / CC BY-SA 2.0 (MGN)(WKYT)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 11:53 AM EDT
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Walt Disney World has announced a phased reopening plan for its parks.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Park are targeting July 11, 2020, as an opening date. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are targeting July 15.

The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force met Wednesday to hear the plans put forth by Walt Disney World and SeaWorld.

The plans were approved by the task force. Now they need approval from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Jim MacPhee, senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World Resort, made the virtual presentation on behalf of Disney. The proposed opening will take place in phases and will require a reservation for park entry to limit park capacity. In addition to physical distancing, guests and cast members will be required to wear face masks and plexiglass at registers and other places where distancing is difficult will be installed.

A "social distance squad" will help guests follow guidelines, MacPhee said. The squad, he said, is a "dedicated team of highly energetic and informative cast members who are committed to engaging and inspiring our guests to follow the appropriate guidelines. These social distancing squad cast members were introduced with the opening of Disney Springs [and] have been a huge hit for our guests and very effective in emphasizing the importance of these elements."

Parades and fireworks will be temporarily suspended to enable distancing. Character meet-and-greets as well as playgrounds are also temporarily suspended. Temperature checks will be conducted for both staff and guests.

There will be more options for mobile food ordering and cashless payment will be encouraged.

SeaWorld also presented an opening plan at the meeting on Wednesday. The theme park proposed June 11 as the public reopening date. Face masks, staggered seating, social distancing in lines are all part of the proposed plan. At rides, there will be hand sanitizer both as guests board and deboard.

At the SeaWorld water parks -- Discovery Cove and Aquatica -- there will be increased sanitation at high-touch surfaces like rafts. Lounge chairs will be spaced out.

Universal Orlando has already been approved to reopen for the public on June 5.

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