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Walt Disney World Reopens with New Guidelines, Restrictions

“The Most Magical Place on Earth” has reopened after being closed for nearly four months due to the pandemic. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened Saturday, with new rules and procedures in place to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open Wednesday, July 15. “It’s the chance to come back and be in the magic,” said Diane Watkins, a preschool teacher from Helena, Alabama, who visits the park about eight times a year. “Hot or not, mask or not, we’re just happy to be here. I feel like everybody here is in the same frame of mind. Everybody is just so excited to be here.” Watkins added that when she and her 16-year-old daughter walked into the Magic Kingdom on Saturday morning, and saw all the cast members lined up and clapping on Main Street, she cried. “It was very emotional,” she said. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando also closed in mid-March, but reopened several weeks ago after implementing similar rules to protect employees and guests from the virus.

Disney’s new rules include mandatory masks and social distancing. Visitors also need reservations in order to enter a park, and cannot hop between parks. In addition, visitors and employees will have their temperatures checked when entering the parks. Fireworks shows and parades have been suspended, in an effort to prevent crowds from gathering. Guests mostly appeared to be adhering to the physical distancing cues and guidelines. Some attractions and dining areas are not yet open. Another change is that visitors are not permitted hug and greet the costumed Disney characters. Instead, the characters are now in “cavalcades,” or motorcades, as they travel through the park. Last May, the company reopened Disney Springs, a complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in Lake Buena Vista.