COVID-19 and Theme Parks: Latest Updates

Covid-19 theme parks WDW sanitizer

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 10/27/2020.

Walt Disney World

UPDATE: 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 water parks are currently CLOSED through March 7, 2021. 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 will also be 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 September 26, 2021. 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 will not be allowed, although you may exit and reenter the same park on the same day, with a reservation.

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 also are cancelled, and a modified version of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival will run through November 22 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 has begun 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 20. The show is now scheduled to open in February 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, with reduced operating hours. Volcano Bay is CLOSED on Tuesdays and Thursdays as of September 8, and will be CLOSED from November 2 through March 2021.

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

Blue Man Group’s shows are cancelled until further notice. Guests who have purchased tickets for Blue Man Group shows during this time can call (258-3626) for assistance. For updates check the website.

The March 17 scheduled opening of the new Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, has been postponed. The Portofino Bay Resort has not reopened, and the Sapphire Falls Resort and Aventura Hotel are CLOSED AGAIN as of August 21. 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 has been CANCELED, although a limited daytime event will be held through November 1. All Grad Bash and Grandventure events scheduled in 2020 are 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 Fantasy have been SUSPENDED THROUGH AT LEAST DECEMBER 6; sailings on the Disney Dream and Disney Wonder are canceled through DECEMBER 11; and on the Disney Magic through DECEMBER 12. 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 posted a COVID-19 Travel Alert announcing that ALL Guests and Crew Members will have their temperature checked by a nurse with a no touch thermometer before boarding, whether or not they feel sick. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4º F or greater will get addition medical screening, and they along with their travel party may be unable to sail.

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) have extended their suspension of cruises in U.S. waters until OCTOBER 31. Princess Cruises has ceased sailing its 18 ships through the summer of 2020. Viking River Cruises has suspended all operations through DECEMBER 31, 2020. Carnival has canceled all sailings through OCTOBER 31, and Holland America has paused all operations from Alaska, Europe, and New England through 2020.

Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney has CANCELED all departures through JANUARY 31, 2021. Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways have suspended all Rhine, Rhône, Seine and Danube river cruise sailings and their associated Escape trips to Amsterdam, Budapest and Paris through January 31, 2021.

Guests currently booked on Adventures through January 31, 2020, 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. Guests currently booked on trips through March 31, 2022 now have until 90 days prior to their Adventure start date to make final payment.

Disney’s Aulani Resort

Disney’s Aulani Resort is in a PHASED REOPENING as of November 1. See Aulani’s travel advisory for more information.

Disneyland

UPDATE October 27, 2020
Disneyland Resort is currently closed. The Downtown Disney district began a phased reopening on July 9th. Beginning in November 2020, portions of Disney California Adventure will be open for dining and shopping only (no rides). There is currently no date set for the reopening of the Disneyland Resort theme parks or hotels.

More information here.

On October 20, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new theme park repopening guidelines that will keep large parks like Disneyland closed until their host county reaches “Tier 4” with minimal new COVID-19 cases. Health officials have said that Orange County (where the Disneyland Resort is located) is not likely to reach Tier 4 until summer 2021 or perhaps later. Once reopened, parks would be limited to 25% capacity, and advance reservations would be required to attend.

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 through November 7, 2020, can change or cancel their stay without fees of penalties.

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

Annual Passholders who have paid in full 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 an 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.

Universal Studios Hollywood

UPDATE: The Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is CLOSED. Universal CityWalk is open on a limited basis. More information check here.

Like the Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood is subject to new theme park repopening guidelines announced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 20, which will keep large parks closed until their host county reaches “Tier 4” with minimal new COVID-19 cases.

Halloween Horror Nights 2020 has been cancelled. The park has also postponed its Peacock Live and Food & Wine special events.

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

Tickets purchased for park visits during the anticipated closure period, will be automatically extended for use through December 18, 2020. Guests may also apply the value of a wholly unused ticket toward a new purchase.

SeaWorld Parks

SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove, as well as Busch Gardens Tampa, reopened on JUNE 11 with seasonal operating hours. SeaWorld and Aquatica are currently open 7 days a week, through October 5; Busch Gardens is currently closed on Wednesdays.

SeaWorld’s parks will reopening 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 will be holding a modified Howl-o-Scream celebration from September 25-November 1, 2020. Tickets are 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 is CLOSED until further notice. 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 REOPENED on July 15. The opening of the Art of Marvel hotel has been delayed through at least October 31. More information here.

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