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ABC Exclusive: Inside Disney World as parks ready to reopen Saturday


ORLANDO — Walt Disney World is set to reopen Saturday for the first time since coronavirus-related closures in March, and the park is undergoing some major changes to make sure the happiest place on Earth is safe.

The iconic Orlando destination is slated to open Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11. The resort’s two other theme parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, are opening four days later.

“We’re really focused on having a thoughtful and methodical reopening strategy that’s phased on various attendance levels that allow us to launch, learn and adjust,” said Jim MacPhee, the park’s senior vice president of operations.

“Good Morning America” has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look inside Disney World’s health and safety measures put in place for guests and employees.

The reimagined experience, inspired by Disney resort reopenings around the world, begins the moment visitors arrive for their stay.

For example, Disney Hotels now offer mobile check ins. Using the My Disney Experience App, guests who check in online will receive room-ready notifications and can use their MagicBands or the app’s digital key feature to enter their rooms.

Disney World is limiting daily attendance in all of its parks and facilities. Now, guests must book reservations to enter the park.

Other measures include temperature checks at park entrances, mandatory face coverings for all guests and employees, increased handwashing and sanitizer stations and mobile ordering at restaurants.

Big events that encourage mass gatherings, such as the Happily Ever After fireworks show, will not be scheduled.

Attractions will have added safety measures. At Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris, for example, guests must enter through partitions and each row on the ride is divided by a barrier.

Disney World’s reopening comes as coronavirus cases surge in Florida, and some are raising concerns about the timing.

“We believe very much so we should be reopening. We’ve been focused on this, we’ve got the best protocols in place, and it’s a guest-choice environment,” MacPhee said.

Disney began a phased reopening of the Disney Springs dining and shopping district on May 20. The Orlando-area complex reopened with limited capacity, parking and operating hours, and all employees and visitors over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings.

With 77,000 workers, Disney World is central Florida’s biggest employer.

The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of this station.

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