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Here's What Disney World Will Be Like When It Reopens in July

Disney World Orlando has officially set reopening dates -- and social distancing restrictions.

MATT STROSHANE/DISNEY
MATT STROSHANE/DISNEY

Following the news of Universal Studios' plans to reopen, Disney World announced its own plans to reopen its gates on July 11. But while it's easy to imagine Minnie Mouse pumping out hand sanitizer and politely swerving your high-fives, the more fundamental ways our once jam-packed magic kingdom will be impacted by COVID-19 are difficult to imagine.

The initial news of the resort's reopening came with some general descriptions of the new regulations, including major capacity restrictions, reduced operating hours, physical barriers, face mask requirements for those over 2 years-old, and a lagoon-worth of hand sanitizer. To recap real quick, the company said it will reopen its parks in phases -- Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Hollywood Studios on July 15. Disney has since elaborated on its plans, painting a fairly vivid picture of the "new magical." Here are some of the main changes you should expect for its mid-July reopening:

First off, you can't buy tickets or make hotel reservations right now

In a blog post published on May 28, Disney announced that it will manage attendance exclusively through a reservation system on its website, and that it's "temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations." 

"Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make a theme park reservation before new tickets are sold," the post reads. "We will be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details."

There has been no update on when the reservations will open back up, but you can check out any updates on the “know before you go” section of  Disney’s website. Speaking of hotels, Disney Vacation club members can still make reservations, and the company announced that Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin reopening on June 22, and Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will also open to members and guests starting on June 15. 

You’re gonna need to wear a mask and get your temperature checked

Disney is taking some serious social distancing measures to keep visitors safe as the park reopens. In a blog post published on May 27, the company announced that all guests ages 2 and up will be required to wear a mask and get their temperatures checked at designated locations (employees will be doing the same). Along with these safety measures, Disney World is encouraging folks to make cashless transactions. 

By the way, we're already seeing Storm Troopers monitoring folks at the recently reopened shopping and dining complex at Disney World, Disney Springs, so expect these park-wide rules will be enforced come July. 

There will be less pomp and more circumstance 

Disney World, unlike its counterpart in Japan, has so far held back on restricting screaming on roller coasters, but it's still making an effort to keep us from spitting on each other. In order to keep people apart as they participate in regular park activities, the company has added signage and ground markings aid in navigation, as well as physical barriers at places like registers and guest relations. 

Disney announced on its website that attractions and experiences like shows, parades, and fireworks may be “limited” for a time, and that it’s possible experiences you have already reserved may be canceled. You’ll find the company’s cancelation policy here.

Dining will look a whole lot different, but there will still be churros 

Disney announced that it's canceling all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including dining plans that are part of packages. The company plans to reopen booking closer to July 11, this time with a 60-day booking window instead of the usual 180-day window. 

Aside from that, the dining experience will look relatively similar, albeit with less guests seated at tables and servers wearing masks. Most restaurants and dining halls will be open. Here’s the latest version of the My Dining Experience app. 

Goodbye FastPass, hello shorter lines

Since there will be fewer people to infuriate with your FastPass, Disney is temporarily doing away with it completely. That means if you have any FastPass+ selections in your booking, they are now canceled. The company is also suspending its “Extra Magic Hours” program, which allowed those who paid more to explore the park at times when the general public had to stay indoors with their leftover churros. 

Hold off on visiting if you’re too vulnerable

Disney warns on its website that, due to the inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19, older folks and guests with underlying medical conditions are voluntarily assuming risk of exposure by visiting the park. In other words, you are bound to come into contact with people at an amusement park, and Mickey Mouse can’t protect you.  

Disney declined to comment on specific questions, but wrote in an email that more information will be released before the opening, so keep checking the site's know before you go section for updates.

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.