Disneyland to Reopen in July in Phases, No Character Meet-and-Greets, Parades

On Wednesday, Disney announced plans for a phased reopening of several of its themed California properties, pending approval by the state and local government, but its parades and character meet-and-greets will be temporarily discontinued.

As of now, Disney plans to reopen its Downtown Disney District, a walkway of eateries, boutiques and entertainment venues, on July 9; the Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure amusement parks on July 17; and its Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Paradise Pier Hotel on July 23.

The Disneyland theme park will operate at a lowered capacity to help maintain social distancing. Park guests will have to pre-schedule their visits through a new reservation system. The parks will also discontinue character meet-and-greets, parades and nighttime spectaculars to avoid creating large crowds. The parades and meet-and-greets are expected to return at a later date.

The park has also put a temporary pause on new ticket sales, annual passport sales and renewals.

A Disney spokesperson told Newsweek that the decision whether to require facemasks or mandatory temperature checks at the sites will be shared soon.

"These policies are under continuous review and are subject to change as we monitor conditions and receive guidance from health and government authorities," the spokesperson said.

Disneyland Park California coronavirus COVID-19
An employee cleans the grounds behind the closed gates of Disneyland Park on the first day of the closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks as fear of the spread of coronavirus continue, in Anaheim, California, on March 14, 2020. David McNew/AFP

In a statement on the company's blog, Josh D'Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products said a professional team has helped the park implement new health and safety measures reflecting the guidance of local health and government authorities to ensure the safety of employees and guests. A Guest Experience Team will help explain the new changes and safety measures to guests.

"As one of the first major theme parks to close our operations and the last to reopen, we have been deliberate about keeping the health and safety of our cast, guests and local communities top of mind," D'Amaro said.

Disney has already reopened Shanghai Disneyland, the Disney Springs entertainment complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida as well as several Disney stores.

When Shanghai Disneyland in China reopened its doors on May 11, it required visitors to wear masks and undergo temperature screenings before entering the park and maintained social distancing at restaurants, rides and other facilities.

The Chinese government had asked the company to limit the park to 30 percent of capacity (around 24,000 people), but Disney said it expected to reopen at "far below" that number in order to let its employees adjust to the new precautionary measures.

"The frequency of sanitization measures will be increased in order to augment the standards of cleanliness already in place throughout the park, and hand sanitizers will be available at attractions, restaurants and stores," the company noted at the time.

Amid the coronavirus epidemic, Disney reached agreements with the unions for hourly cast members in order to maintain members' health insurance benefits coverage, educational support and additional employee assistance programs during a temporary furlough effective on April 19.

"These agreements provide an easier return to work when our community recovers from the impact of COVID-19," a Disney spokesperson wrote Newsweek.

Update (6/10/2020, 9:30 p.m.): This article has been updated to include comments from Disney.