One week after Universal Orlando’s CityWalk became Central Florida’s first major attraction to reopen, Walt Disney World welcomed back its first guests as Disney Springs reopened with limited operations on May 20, 2020.
Currently, many theme parks, the resort hotels, and cruise lines are still not operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or they are operating with modified procedures. For the latest updates, read our guide to coronavirus and the theme parks.
A select number of third-party venues at the Disney Springs shopping and dining complex reopened on Wednesday, May 20, as the first phase of Walt Disney World’s post-coronavirus reemergence. We were there on opening day and took a complete tour of the area; walk around Disney Springs alongside us with the following video, then continue reading for more details on the day Disney Springs reopened:
Parking at Disney Springs
At this time, parking is only permitted in Disney Springs’ Lime and Orange garages. The surface lots and Grapefruit garage are currently closed, as is all resort transportation. However, you can still walk into Disney Springs from the neighboring hotels and ride-share lot.
Disney will limit capacity inside Disney Springs and its garages; guests may be turned away if that limit is reached. When I arrived in early afternoon, only the Lime garage was open, but Orange would reopen a few hours later. Unlike Universal, Disney is not employing parking staff to ensure social distancing between cars, so you’re on your own finding a spot.
The mandatory temperature check at Disney Springs is almost identical to the one at Universal, with guests being scanned by a touchless forehead thermometer before exiting the parking garages.
One interesting difference is that Disney Springs’ temperature checkpoints are staffed not by Disney cast members, but by employees of AdventHealth.
Much like at Universal, I experienced zero wait for my Disney Springs temperature check, and I quickly headed into the complex.
Face masks are mandatory for all guests and employees at Disney Springs. Similar to Universal CityWalk, most guests I saw at Disney Springs were complying with the requirement, although I did see a number of visitors carrying drinks or food with their masks off.
Mask usage seems to dip during the hottest point of midafternoon, when Orlando’s heat makes them especially uncomfortable to wear. Fortunately, I didn’t personally witness any altercations between guests or employees over the usage of masks.
Social Distancing and Sanitation
All throughout Disney Springs you’ll spot signage encouraging social distancing, as well as markers on the ground indicating how to maintain proper spacing while queuing for shops and restaurants.
Note that while Universal’s signage generally tells guests where they should stand, Disney is using a mix of “stand here” and “don’t stand here” signs, which could lead to some confusion.
You’ll also find numerous hand sanitizing stations around Disney Springs, including both alcohol-based dispensers and portable foot-pumped sinks.
Even the garbage cans at Disney Springs are getting in the social distancing spirit: they’ve all had their doors rigged, so you can dispose of trash without touching them.
Dining at Disney Springs
Although Disney-owned venues are not yet operating, there were plenty of popular restaurants open at Disney Springs, including The Polite Pig, Wolfgang Puck, STK, Boathouse, Blaze Pizza, and Chicken Guy.
Restaurants that have not yet reopened include Raglan Road and the House of Blues, which had a clever sign explaining its continued closure.
Shopping at Disney Springs
Like the restaurants, only third-party stores at Disney Springs reopened on May 20, with World of Disney and other Disney-owned retailers expected to join them on May 27.
Entertainment at Disney Springs
Although dining and shopping have started up again, entertainment and attractions at Disney Springs are currently lagging behind. The Splitsville bowling alley, NBA Experience, and AMC Cinema (which has banners advertising the upcoming Mulan remake) are all still shuttered with no announced reopening date.
Cirque du Soleil’s Drawn to Life was supposed to have debuted the week Walt Disney World closed down; now, the production is indefinitely suspended until further notice, and Cirque’s box office remains silent.
The Aerophile observation balloon was also grounded to guests, although employees were spotted working on it.
Unlike CityWalk, which had stiltwalkers and musicians on hand to entertain visitors, Disney Springs didn’t offer any live entertainment on its reopening afternoon.
To this observer, reopening day at Disney Springs seemed fairly smooth, with the complex appearing neither deserted nor overcrowded. Attendance on the first day suggests that there’s a pent-up demand among consumers eager to get back to “normal life,” and many appear willing to accept social distancing restrictions to do so.
Be sure to check the current details on operations at Disney Springs before visiting for yourself. We’ll continue to update you on the phased reopening of Walt Disney World over the coming weeks.
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.