RUMOR: Disney Planning for Walt Disney World to Remain Closed for the Rest of 2020?

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Could Disney be planning for the possibility of Walt Disney World being closed for the rest of 2020? There’s a rumor that Disney is looking into a “worst case scenario” that could include that possibility, according to a Disney insider who has been proven to be correct in the past.

With all of the Disney Parks being closed, the biggest questions on many Disney fans’ minds are “When will the Disney Parks reopen?” and “What will the Disney Parks be like when they reopen?”

Unfortunately, we don’t have concrete answers yet to either of those questions. And  honestly, neither does Disney. But with most Disney Cast Members being furloughed as of today, the Parks reopening somehow seems further away than its ever been.

But would Disney consider keeping the parks closed through the end of the year? Obviously it depends on where Florida and California are with the pandemic, but it seems like it might be a discussion that Disney Executives are at least having behind closed doors right now.

Given that even by President Trump’s three phase reopening plan, theme parks wouldn’t even be able to realistically resume operations until Phase 3, Disney is no doubt bunkering down for the long haul.

Whenever the parks reopen, expect a very different Disney experience. At least at first.

Here’s where insider WDW Pro from the WDW Magic forums is saying Disney is at with reopening at the moment. Again, these are rumors and plans do change. And we’re not saying that Walt Disney World will stay closed throughout 2020… just that Disney is reportedly planning for that possibility.

Ready? Here goes…

I now have multiple corroborating sources that have informed me of some specific things.

1) There is a worst-case scenario plan for WDW that is either developed or under development which prioritizes maintenance for the remainder of 2020 if the parks and resort are unable to reopen. This would see certain areas of the resort under much less upkeep in order to limit costs. This might also see many of the roads closed at WDW to public access.

2) Disney is currently in talks with the NBA to resume the NBA season / postseason with the players finishing all games at the ESPN complex. Details are being negotiated, and could fall through, but players would likely stay at Caribbean Beach Resort with Cayman, Sea Breeze, and Victory Way closed except to NBA and Disney vehicles. The aim would be to restart the NBA in late May to early June. Again, this could fall through, but it is being worked on and I believe some details have already begun to leak.

3) DeSantis has been in communication recently with Disney, Universal, IAAPA, etc, and is keen on getting the parks up and running as soon as safely possible. This is a marked departure from the approach the California government is taking. While Disneyland may remain closed for a long time, there is actually optimism that WDW may be able to reopen during the summer with intense restrictions and limitations.

4) The “Secure Circuit” protocol is still the preferred plan for reopening. Secure Circuit does the following:

  • Magic Kingdom reopens with limited capacity, no theaters, no parades, no castle shows, no fireworks and sanitized ride vehicles after every guest exit.
  • Magic Kingdom resorts reopen with strict distancing guidelines in place.
  • Monorails would not operate.
  • Ferries and boat transportation would operate with distancing in place.
  • Health checks would be introduced at every security checkpoint. This would include temperature checks and Q&A (including locations you have traveled to in the past 14 days).
  • Guests will have to sign additional legal forms clearing Disney of liability for potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • EPCOT will remain closed if other parks are able to reopen prior to September.
    Hollywood Studios reopens with limited capacity, no indoor theaters, no parades, no fireworks, and sanitized ride vehicles after every guest exit.
  • Animal Kingdom reopens with limited capacity, no indoor theaters, no parades, no Rivers of Light, and sanitized ride vehicles after every guest exit. Maharajah Jungle Trek would remain closed, and no close encounters with any animals at any place in the park will be permitted. Details about Animal Kingdom are still being developed.
  • Transportation guidelines are still being developed.
  • Dining guidelines are still being developed.
  • No character meet and greets.
  • No character dining.
  • Water parks will not reopen while Secure Circuit is in place.
  • DVC details are still being developed.
  • Sanitation stations will be available throughout the parks, as well as directions on the ground to keep guests moving in proper directions for limited pedestrian crossing.
  • It is likely, though not officially determined, that masks will be a requirement for adults.
  • Magic Bands mandatory for all guests, fingerprints temporarily on hold.
  • Non-MK resorts are unlikely to reopen until Phase 2 begins (Secure Circuit is for Phase 1).
  • Disney is currently evaluating every single ride and queue to determine how and if it can operate with strict distancing guidelines. This includes determining how to move people through the queue in a safe manner even if virtual queue is in place for that particular ride. For example, even just moving through the queue of Pirates exposes guests to whatever guests passed through the queue 20 seconds prior.
  • Chapek ultimately makes the call on when to reopen and how, once DeSantis gives the green light… so while the protocols for Secure Circuit have been developed, there may be changes from the top.
  • What’s on and what’s off for future construction is now largely on how much and when Disney receives US government money, as well as the realities of the economy on the other side of this situation. Expect Disney to NOT announce cancellations of projects in 2020, but also for some projects to simply sit with no announcement. Disney is likely to be very bearish in 2020 until we get Q4 economic data.

It sounds like whenever Walt Disney World reopens, it might be a small World after all… limited to just the Magic Kingdom in Phase 1. So you might want to hold off on that once-in-a-lifetime trip to WDW until at least next year.

Again, we can’t personally verify this information but we can verify the source. WDW Pro has been reliable in the past.

For the sake of Cast Members, I really hope the Parks open sooner rather than later.

[Hat Tip: @8bitfabi on Twitter]

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A Disney fan, but never a "pixie duster." As a former newspaper editor, web developer, and Disney comics freelancer, I'm able to combine that experience into writing about Disney objectively. I previously built The Kingdom Insider website from the ground up, and was Managing Editor for years. Current co-host of the Clownfish TV YouTube channel. Opinions my own. Yes, they're STRONG ones. Deal with it.

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