'Getting our soul back’: Disney, SeaWorld given green light to reopen by Orange County officials

VIDEO: 'Getting our soul back': Disney World, SeaWorld reveal planned reopening dates

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — All of Central Florida’s major theme parks have been given the green light to reopen by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Walt Disney World and SeaWorld revealed their plans for reopening to Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Walt Disney World announced Wednesday that it wants to reopen Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11 and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.

“We believe this thoughtful, methodical, phased ramped up strategy to our property is the right path,” said Jim McPhee, senior vice president of Walt Disney World.

Officials said theme park capacity will be significantly limited and a new theme park reservation system will require guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance.

Waiting in line will also be done virtually, and cashless payments will be encouraged, along with mobile food orders.

The strategy also includes masks and temperature checks for both guests and employees, and physical distancing. FIreworks, parades and character meet-and-greets are on hold for now to keep people from gathering in crowds.

“We will be also managing our overall attendance demand from a new theme park reservation system. We will require our quests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance,” McPhee said.

Officials will provide more details about the new reservation system soon.

Plexiglas will be installed throughout the parks and cleaning will be constant, officials said.

The reopen date will be more than a month after Universal’s planned reopening to the public on June 5.

“When something changes as substantially as six-foot social distancing, you essentially have to reengineer your people part of the business,” said Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “And that’s what we’re gonna be doing. And we’re also going to be introducing a brand new reservation system. So these things take time.”

To learn more about Disney’s reopening, click here.

SeaWorld said it would like to reopen SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica on June 11, and is implementing similar protocols.

“Our parks have always been clean. We will just be much more rigorous about the cleaning process. You will see increased cleaning and sanitation, and you will see increased hand sanitizing stations throughout the park,” said Mark Swanson, interim SeaWorld CEO.

The plans now go to Gov. Ron DeSantis for final approval.

“I think people are really excited that we have a date to look forward to now,” said Shelley Campbell Caran, who oversees the blog On the Go in MCO. “The City Beautiful is getting our soul back.”