LAKE MARY, Fla. - It was a big day for Walt Disney World fans as annual passholders get their first look at the parks since the shut down in March. The general public could also start booking their own tickets on Thursday.
Disney had temporarily paused ticket sales and hotel bookings to focus on helping existing ticket holders and annual passholders plan their visits through the new Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system.
The resumption of new ticket sales and hotel bookings was announced on Wednesday evening on the Disney Parks Blog website.
"In just a few more days, we’ll begin welcoming the first guests back to the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, starting July 11 with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and followed July 15 by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios," wrote Avery Maehrer, Manager of Communications, Walt Disney World Resort. "We’re continuing to prepare for these openings in a measured and deliberate way, implementing health and safety measures with cast members and guests in mind."
Guests will need to prepare for a much different visit than the last time they were there.
The park has set capacity limits, so there will be significantly fewer guests.
If you want to visit the parks, you must have a reservation and a valid ticket to enter. Reservations can be made on the Walt Disney World website through the same Disney Park Pass system used to manage attendance during the reopening period for all other ticket holders.
Making your way into the park is also different: Disney has stopped the use of its parking lot trams.
Other safety measures include face masks: anyone age 2 and older must wear a face mask, including cast members. You will also have your temperature checked. Park entry and most cash transactions are now touchless.
Disney also made changed to the rides to protect people from COVID-19. Some of them have plexiglass barriers or keep guests spaced out. Several handwashing stations are set up throughout the park.
According to the Disney Parks Blog, tickets and hotel bookings may be released at different times throughout the day on Thursday.
"In addition, we will use virtual waiting rooms as needed to manage the high volume of guests looking to plan their visits," Maehrer wrote.
It is recommended by Disney that guests who are planning to visit this year check out the “Know Before You Go” page at DisneyWorld.com/Updates.
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom open Saturday while Epcot and Hollywood Studios open Wednesday.
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