There’s lots of uncertainty over exactly when Disney World will reopen following its historic closure last week.
As of this writing, both Disney World and Disneyland announced that their parks would be closed through the end of the month, implying that the parks could reopen on April 1, 2020.
However, due to the continuing headlines about government-mandated closures of public institutions like restaurants and bars, bans on gatherings, and strong recommendations of social distancing, questions are being raised over whether the parks really will open on April 1st.
While we don’t have the definitive answer, we can look to the closure timeline of Disney’s parks both domestic and worldwide. There may be some clues!
Timeline of ALL Disney Park Closures (last updated on May 6, 2020)
The following is a timeline of major developments on the closures, including national, state, and local government orders and mandates, as well as official updates from Disney.
January 24, 2020 – Shanghai city government urges its residents to avoid public gatherings in “key areas” and to stay home for 14 days. Major cities in China begin canceling Lunar New Year festivities. (source)
January 24, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland.
January 25, 2020 – Shanghai Disneyland, in addition to Disneytown, Walt Disney Grand Theatre, and Wishing Star Park, closed indefinitely.
January 25, 2020 – China implements a nationwide measure to screen for the virus on public transportation in response to a spike in confirmed cases and deaths in the country. (source)
January 26, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing Hong Kong Disneyland.
January 26, 2020 – Hong Kong Disneyland closed indefinitely.
February 5, 2020 – It was revealed through a first quarter earnings call that Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland were expected to remain closed for two months.
February 26, 2020 – Japan’s prime minister urges all sport and cultural events to be suspended for two weeks. (source)
February 27, 2020 – Japan’s prime minister urges all elementary, junior high, and high schools to close starting March 2 and remain closed through the end of spring break, which typically is the end of March. (source)
February 27, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing Tokyo Disney Resort starting on February 29 through March 15.
February 29, 2020 – Tokyo Disney Resort closed with an intention of reopening on March 16, 2020 (which would have been a closure of 2 weeks, like the current Disney World and Disneyland closure announcements).
March 8, 2020 – France bans all gatherings of over 1,000 people in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. (source)
March 9, 2020 – Disney announces and REOPENS on the same day Disneytown, Wishing Star Park, and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel with limited capacity and reduced hours of operation. THIS IS 44 DAYS AFTER THE CLOSURE OF SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND. All guests entering the area would need to undergo temperature screenings and are required to wear masks during their entire visit. (source) Shanghai Disneyland Park remains closed as of this writing.
March 11, 2020 – Tokyo Disney Resort announced, five days before they were expected to reopen, that it would be EXTENDING their closure through at least early April, no exact date was mentioned. (If we assume April 1 as the reopening date, that will be a total of 32 days closed.) (source)
March 11, 2020 – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all non-essential public gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled. (source) Disneyland was exempt from this recommendation.
March 12, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing the Disneyland Resort at the close of business on March 13 and continuing the closure through the end of the month.
March 12, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing Disneyland Paris starting at the close of business on March 15 and continuing through the end of the month.
March 12, 2020 – Disney announced that it will be temporarily closing Walt Disney World starting at the close of business on March 15 and continuing through the end of the month.
March 13, 2020 – President Trump declares a National State of Emergency in the US. (source)
March 14, 2020 – Disneyland Resort closed.
March 14, 2020 – Disneyland Paris closed (this was originally slated to begin at the close of business March 15 but was moved up two days per the recommendation of the French government and will remain closed through the end of the month)
March 15, 2020 – Disney announced that Disneyland Paris hotels and Disney Village will close temporarily.
March 15, 2020 – Disneyland Paris hotels and Disney Village closed.
March 15, 2020 – Disney announced that all Disney World-owned and -operated hotels will close March 20th through the end of the month.
March 16, 2020 – Walt Disney World closed.
March 16, 2020 – Disney announced it will temporarily close all Disney owned and operated stores in Downtown Disney and Disney Springs through the end of the month.
March 16, 2020 – Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian, and Paradise Pier Hotel closed.
March 17, 2020 – Disney owned and operated stores at Downtown Disney closed.
March 17, 2020 – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer barred the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption through the end of the month. (source)
March 17, 2020 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that all bars and nightclubs throughout the state will be closed for 30 days. (source)
March 19, 2020 – China reports no new local cases for the first time since the outbreak began three months ago. (source)
March 19, 2020 – California Governor Gavin Newsom orders all residents of California to stay at home and that all non-essential businesses and services be closed. The order is in effect “until further notice”. (source)
March 20, 2020 – All Disney World hotels close.
April 2, 2020 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces a state-wide 30-day stay at home order to go into effect at midnight on April 2.
April 13, 2020 – France’s president Emmanuel Macron announces that the nationwide containment in France is extended through May 11, 2020 (source)
April 14, 2020 – Shanghai Disneyland updates its health screening protocol, now requiring all guests to scan their Health QR Code upon entering the resort. Only guests with a green QR Code may enter.
April 17, 2020 – Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman & former CEO Bob Iger joined the business recovery task force for the state of California. The committee will meet twice monthly through the rest of 2020.
April 20, 2020 – Walt Disney World President Josh D’Amaro joins the economic recovery task force for the state of Florida.
April 28, 2020 – Reports emerged of Shanghai Disneyland testing their fireworks spectacular, suggesting that the parks are preparing to reopen.
April 29, 2020 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces a Phased Reopening plan for the state. Florida would move into “Phase One” on May 4, 2020, which would allow retail and dining locations to reopen at 25% capacity.
May 4, 2020 – California Governor Gavin Newsom announces that the state will move into Stage Two of their phased reopening plan. In the earliest phase of Stage Two, beginning on May 8, 2020, certain retail can reopen with curbside pickup. A later phase of Stage Two is set to include seated dining and shopping malls, although no date was initially announced for when those businesses could reopen.
May 5, 2020 – Disney announced that Shanghai Disneyland will REOPEN on May 11, 2020. When the park reopens, it will be with reduced capacity, and all Gusts and Cast Members will be required to wear face masks.
Total Elapsed Time, per park, since closures (last updated May 6):
Shanghai Disneyland – 103 days (Jan 25 through May 6)
Hong Kong Disneyland – 102 days (Jan 26 through May 6)
Tokyo Disney Resort – 68 days (Feb 29 through May 6)
Disneyland Resort – 54 days (March 14 through May 6)
Disneyland Paris – 54 days (March 14 through May 6)
Disney World – 52 days (March 16 through May 6)
So, what does all of this mean for Disney World’s reopening?
We’ve noticed a few patterns when looking at this timeline:
1. Disney has been uniformly extending their closures beyond what they originally announced or anticipated
For the parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, closures have been extended beyond what Disney has originally projected or what was publicly anticipated.
When Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland closed, Disney did not set a reopening date and announced that those parks would be closed ‘indefinitely’. However, it was revealed on February 5, approximately 10 days after the parks closing, that Disney expected the two parks in China would remain closed for two months, which would bring their reopening to late March.
The only parks to see a hard reopening date change are the Tokyo Disney Resort parks. When they closed on February 29, they said the reopening date would be March 15. But that has since changed and on March 11, four days prior to the original reopening date, they extended their closure and now project to open instead in early April.
2. Reopenings are happening in phases
So far, the only resort to see any openings at this time has been Shanghai. While the park remains closed, Disneytown and the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel are open with limited hours and capacity.
There is no official word yet if the domestic parks are considering a similar method of reopening when the time comes. Keep in mind that the phased reopening of Shanghai began well over a month after closing.
3. Disney’s activity has been closely tied to local government regulations and mandates
As shown in the timeline, many of Disney’s actions took place shortly after there was a government-issued mandate, recommendation, or measure put in place.
On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all state residents to stay at home and ordered all non-essential businesses and services to be closed; but as of this writing we do not know how long the measure will be in effect and if this measure will have an impact on Disneyland’s reopening.
Based on all of this data, in addition to how the situation is evolving in the United States compared to China and Japan, we may expect a delay in Disney World reopening beyond their original timeline of two weeks.
Remember, Japan originally announced that Tokyo Disney Resort would be closed for two weeks, similar to the announcement of the two domestic parks. Japan has since delayed the reopening by an additional two weeks at the very least.
It’s very important to keep in mind that every country has unique circumstances surrounding the current situation and one country’s timeline might not be a reliable indicator for how another country may respond.
How Should You Proceed With Your Current Disney Parks Reservations?
Since Disney has not announced any extensions or updates to their two-week closure schedule at this time, we advise, as always, to make the decisions that make you and your family the most comfortable in the current state of affairs. For details regarding Disney World’s current refund and cancellation policies, click here. And for details regarding Disneyland’s current refund and cancelation policies, click here.
As always, all of us here at DFB will make sure you are informed and up-to-date on all the latest Disney news, and once we know more information, we will surely keep you updated.
Want to read more about how the closures at Disney World and Disneyland may affect your travels in 2020? Check out our list of resources here!
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Have the closures affected your travel plans to an international Disney park? Let us know in the comments.