COVID-19 and Theme Parks: Latest Updates

Covid-19 theme parks WDW sanitizer

UPDATED 4/7/2021 — The COVID-19 novel coronavirus that began in Asia has spread to America, and has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Obviously, there are more critical public health concerns right now than theme parks. However, for the millions of guests who were planning on visiting attractions this season, not to mention the employees who depend on the travel industry for an income, the virus’s impact on the theme parks is important. Therefore, The Unofficial Guides will maintain this round-up on information about park closures, reopenings, and other effects of COVID-19 until the crisis has passed. LAST UPDATED 4/7/2021.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World theme parks were CLOSED UNTIL JULY 11, when Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom REOPENED following passholder previews on July 9-10; Hollywood Studios and Epcot REOPENED JULY 15. Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park reopened on March 7, 2021; Typhoon Lagoon remains closed. New Walt Disney World hotel reservations and ticket sales are currently available, and advance date-specific reservations are required to visit the theme parks.

The parks reopened with limited capacity to maintain social distancing, and certain attractions — including parades, fireworks, character meet-and-greets, and playgrounds — will not be available. All guests must pass a temperature screening, and all guests age 2 and older must wear face coverings.

Guests are also required to reserve a specific date and park to visit in advance via a new Disney Park Pass online service. Onsite resort guests can make park reservations as of 7 a.m. EDT on June 22; annual passholders can book beginning June 26, and regular ticket holders can reserve starting June 28. Park reservations will extend through January 2023. Resort guests may reserve for the length of their stay, while annual passholders are able to hold up to 3 park reservations at a time.

Park hopping is currently permitted after 2 p.m., but you must have a park pass reservation and use it at the designated park before hopping.

The FastPass+ service is suspended during the reopening period, and dining reservations will be limited to a 60-day window. All existing FastPass+ and dining reservations have been canceled, as have any pre-purchased dining plans.

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

Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort will remain closed to non-DVC guests until Summer 2021.

DVC members’ April through October 2019 Use Year points that are set to expire in 2020 and that were used for reservations during the closure period will be extended for one year from the current expiration date. Additionally, April, June, August, September and October 2018 Use Year points that were banked into 2019 Use Years and used for these reservations will now all expire November 30, 2020. This temporary policy only includes expiring points that were used to book a stay arriving between March 12 and the end of the closure period and that involve a reservation cancelled after February 29. Additional information on these policies is available at disneyvacationclub.com.

Walt Disney World issued updated policies for theme park ticket holders. Unexpired mulit-day park tickets that were valid between March 12 and the parks’ reopening can be used until December 15, 2020, or may have their full value applied to future tickets. Disney is also waiving change and cancellation fees up to the arrival day for reservations through April 30, 2021.

Those with fully paid annual passes to the park will get an extension based on the number of days the park is closed, or alternatively may request a partial refund. Passholders on a monthly payment plan will have their payments automatically stopped as of April 5, and will receive refunds for any charges made between March 14 and April 4; their original pass expiration date will still apply. Alternatively, they may pause payments until the parks reopen, and have the additional months credited to the extension of their pass. Read full details here.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties and Typhoon Lagoon’s H2O Glow Nights for 2020 were also cancelled, and modified versions of Epcot’s seasonal festivals are running with fewer marketplace booths and no concerts.

runDisney

The runDisney 2020 Star Wars Rival Run Weekend has been canceled; registered runners will receive a refund. The 2021 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and 2021 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, were converted to virtual events and so is the 2020 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.

Disney Springs

Disney began the phased reopening of Disney Springs starting on May 20. Capacity and parking is limited, and only select shops and restaurants are reopening with strict social distancing precautions. Select Disney-owned venues (including World of Disney) reopened on May 27. See this page for more details.

Disney Springs phased reopening May 20

Cirque du Soleil suspended of the start of preview performances of Drawn to Life at Disney Springs, which was planned for March 2020. The show is now scheduled to open sometime in 2021.

Universal Orlando

UPDATE: Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks REOPENED ON JUNE 5 to the public, with a soft opening for employees, invited guests, and select annual passholders on June 1-4. Universal Orlando’s hotels began a phased REOPENING on June 2.

Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are open 7 days a week. Volcano Bay has reopened as of FEBRUARY 27, 2021.

Universal Orlando CityWalk reopened for limited daily operation (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; midnight on weekends) starting May 14. Only select dining and retail locations are currently open; find out more here.

Blue Man Group shows have permanently closed at Universal Orlando.

The March 17 scheduled opening of the new Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, was postponed to December 15, 2020; Surfside Inn and Suites is currently closed through May 4, 2021. The Portofino Bay Resort reopened on December 1, 2020. Sapphire Falls Resort is expected to reopen in May 2021; Aventura Hotel is currently CLOSED INDEFINITELY as of August 21, 2020. Guests have the option to modify or cancel room or package reservations. Guests with specific questions can call this number for more information: (877) 801-9720.

Halloween Horror Nights 30 was CANCELED, although a limited daytime event was held through November 1. Halloween Horror Nights 30 will now be held September 3 through October 31, 2021. All Grad Bash and Grandventure events scheduled in 2020 were cancelled.

Single and multi-day park tickets are valid for 365 days from original purchase. Annual passes will be automatically extended by the number of days that the parks are closed, and all monthly payments were suspended effective March 25.

Universal Orlando offered a Stress Free Booking Policy through June 30, 2020. During this period, new ticket purchases (excluding Annual Passes) for travel through 8/31/20 are fully refundable. Hotel reservations made for travel through 8/31/20 are fully refundable up to 24 hours prior to arrival; one night’s room deposit will be forfeit when cancelling within 24 hours of arrival. Vacation package reservations for travel through 8/31/20 may be modified or cancelled for free if such modification is made at least 24 hours prior to arrival; a $50 change fee or $200 cancellation fee is charged within 24 hours.

Further operational updates can be found here.

Disney Cruise Line

UPDATE: All sailings on the Disney Cruise Line have been SUSPENDED THROUGH JUNE 2021; Disney Magic Sailings are canceled through September 18, 2021. In addition, itineraries and ports of call may be subject to change. More information here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory recommending that travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide. The CDC says that cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of State also recommends against cruise ship travel, and warns that repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for US citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.

Disney Cruise Line has temporarily modified their cancellation policy. Guests booked on a cruise that has been canceled can choose between a 125% credit to be used for a future sailing within 15 months of their original sail date, or a full refund. Call 1-866-325-2112 or 407-566-3510 or contact your travel agent for more information.

If you have a non-Disney cruise planned, be aware that all members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) extended their suspension of cruises in U.S. waters through JUNE 2021. Princess Cruises has ceased sailing its 18 ships through MAY 14 2021. Viking River Cruises has suspended all operations through JULY 31 2021. Carnival has canceled all sailings out of the United States through at least JUNE 30 2021, and Holland America has paused all operations to and from Canadian ports until 2022.

Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney has CANCELED all departures through APRIL 30, 2021. The only exceptions are the March 15 Arizona and Utah Adventures, and April 10 Costa Rica Adventure, which will depart as scheduled.

Guests currently booked on Adventures through May 31, 2021, can change their reservation and receive a 100% credit to be used toward a future Adventure. They must make their change 45 days prior to the Adventure start date, and may select an alternative adventure and/or a new travel date for itineraries departing through December 31, 2022. Guests currently booked on trips through March 31, 2022 now have until 65 days prior to their Adventure start date to make final payment.

Disney’s Aulani Resort

Disney’s Aulani Resort began a PHASED REOPENING as of November 1, 2020. See Aulani’s travel advisory for more information.

Disneyland

The Disneyland Resort began a phased reopening on July 9th, and the Disneyand and Disney California Adventure theme parks are now expected to reopen with limited capacity on April 30, 2021. A park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date are required to visit the park, and until further notice only California residents may visit the parks.

Guests who already hold unexpired Disneyland theme park tickets can check park reservations online at Disneyland.com/parksupdates starting April 9, and can book reservations beginning April 15. New park ticket sales will begin at 8 a.m. PT on April 15. See this page for more details.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa reopens on April 29, 2021, with limited capacity. Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will plan to reopen May 2. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel are closed, and will reopen at a to be determined.

More information here.

From on March 18 through April 19, 2021, portions of Disney California Adventure will reopen for the new A Touch of Disney outdoor event. Food and merchandise will be available, but no rides. This is a hard ticket event and advance purchase is required; read more details here.

Disneyland’s current Annual Pass program has been ended. All existing Disneyland Annual Passholders will receive a prorated refund for the time remaining on their pass. A new passport program will be announced in the future.

The Downtown Disneyland shopping district is currently open, including portions of Disney’s California Adventure. As of January 26, 2021, select dining locations have reopened, and food or drink may be consumed by guests on Disneyland Resort property.

The Disneyland Resort has posted a page of coronavirus information, and guests who have reservations to visit during the closure will receive a refund. Guests with reservations at Disneyland Resort Hotels can change or cancel their stay without fees of penalties.

Disney California Adventure’s Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween parties were canceled for 2020.

Universal Studios Hollywood

UPDATE: The Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is REOPENING ON APRIL 16, 2021, with an annual passholder preview on April 15. Universal CityWalk is open on a limited basis. More information check here.

Universal Studios Hollywood is requiring all visitors to be California residents, and have both admission tickets and advance reservations, which will be available online starting April 5 for guests holding existing tickets. New theme park tickets are on sale starting April 8.

Halloween Horror Nights 2020 was cancelled. The park has also postponed its Peacock Live and Food & Wine special events. A modified Halloween event will be held in 2021.

Universal Studios Hollywood has posted the same Safety and Travel Update as Universal Orlando, and made additional hand sanitizers available.

SeaWorld Parks

SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove, as well as Busch Gardens Tampa, reopened on JUNE 11 with seasonal operating hours. SeaWorld is closed on select Tuesdays, and Aquatica is currently open 7 days a week; Busch Gardens is currently closed on Wednesdays.

SeaWorld’s parks are operating with social distancing protocols. Temperature checks and face masks (for guests over age 2) will be mandatory.

During the park closure essential personnel, including animal care experts, continued to look after the health, safety and nutritional needs of the animals in our care. The animal rescue and rehabilitation operations also continued to operate. Check for updates here.

Busch Gardens Tampa held a modified Howl-o-Scream celebration from September 25-November 1, 2020. Tickets were limited; visit this website for more information.

LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND Florida resort REOPENED ON JUNE 1, including the theme park, water park, and two hotels. LEGOLAND San Diego has reopened for limited previews, and will officially reopen on April 15. More information here.

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex REOPENED ON MAY 28. Check their website for updates.

The visitor complex will offer refunds for already-purchased daily admission tickets, as well as for private programs, such as the Astronaut Training Experience, Overnight Adventures, Special Interest Bus Tours and Dine With An Astronaut. More information here.

Mall of America

The Mall of America REOPENED ON JUNE 1. For any updates check their website.

Airports and Airlines

At this time, air travel is still available within the United States, and all major airports are OPEN.

Currently, foreign nationals may not travel to the United States from the 26 European Schengen countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), the United Kingdom and Ireland, China, Iran, or Brazil. Foreign nationals who have visited any of the above countries within the past 14 days also may not enter the United States; U.S. citizens and permanent residents who visit those locations will be allowed to return home.

The following airports have posted pages with COVID-19 information:

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Paris theme parks are CLOSED AGAIN as of OCTOBER 30, 2020, and the planned reopening on APRIL 1, 2021 has been postponed. The opening of the Art of Marvel hotel has been delayed. More information here.

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