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Walt Disney World Plans to Begin 'Phased Reopening' With Reservation-Only System Starting July 11

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As coronavirus restrictions and social distancing guidelines start to relax across the country, Walt Disney World has shared their plans for a "phased reopening" of some of their Florida parks, beginning in July.

The company shared the update on their Disney Parks Blog on Wednesday. "Following the recent reopening of Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, we’re pleased to share that more Disney magic is coming back," wrote Editorial Content Director Thomas Smith. "Today, we submitted a proposal to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force in Florida describing our approach for a phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks planned to begin on July 11."

Pending county and state approval, Disney has plans to begin a "phased reopening to the general public" at Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on June 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will also open to members and guests starting on June 15.

While Disney World cast members and characters will return to the parks upon reopening, there will still be guidelines in place to encourage physical distancing among guests and enhanced cleaning measures, as well as other new health and safety protocols. Events that draw "large group gatherings" -- like parades and nighttime fireworks spectaculars -- as well as "high-touch experiences" like makeovers, playgrounds and meet-and-greets will still be unavailable to guests, with plans to return at a later time.

"We’re looking forward to reopening our theme parks, Disney Resort hotels and stores and doing so in a responsible way," the update details. "In this spirit, our destinations will continue to follow enhanced safety protocols based upon applicable guidance from health authorities and government agencies. As we all must work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, cast members as well as guests 3 years of age and older will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. All guests will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park; cast members will also have temperature checks. Cashless transactions are recommended, and cleaning and disinfection procedures will be increased in high-traffic areas."

Attendance at the reopened parks will be managed through a new reservation system. "At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations (Disney Vacation Club members can still make new reservations)," Smith explained. "Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold; we’ll be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details."

New ticket sales and hotel reservations will resume at a later date, with more details available soon for all hopeful guests, with Disney reminding all future guests, "These policies are under continuous review and are subject to change as we monitor conditions and receive guidance from health and government authorities."

"We’re being deliberate during these phased reopenings, and we’re encouraged by how our guests are responding at Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney Springs," the update concludes. "We’re doing our part, and we need our guests to do their part, too, as we work together to focus on safety."

Disney World theme parks have been closed to the public since March 16. For more information, check out ET's comprehensive list of coronavirus closings, cancellations and postponements.

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