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Walt Disney World sets July 11 reopening date for Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom

Curtis Tate USA TODAY
Walton Sun

Walt Disney World plans to reopen July 11, according to a presentation the company made to an economic recovery task force Wednesday.

The theme park has been closed since March 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and its reopening will follow its Florida rival, Universal Orlando, which is set to reopen on June 5.

Jim McPhee, senior vice president of operations for Walt Disney World, said the company plans a phased reopening of the park, with the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening on July 11. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios is set to reopen on July 15.

Officials in Orange County, Florida, and Gov. Ron DeSantis must approve Disney's plan.

The Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, includes multiple theme parks, resorts and experiences that draw in millions of tourists each year from around the world.

Disney Springs, a large shopping, dining and entertainment complex located on the eastern side of the park opened in a limited capacity May 20.

SeaWorld Orlando announces planned opening date

SeaWorld also presented its plan to the county's Economic Recovery Task Force and plans to reopen for employees as soon as June 10, and the public on June 11.

Other theme parks nationwide are getting ready to reopen. Six Flags Frontier City in Oklahoma City is set to reopen on June 5, becoming the first Six Flags park in the country to reopen. The Drive Thru Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will reopen Saturday, though the theme park will remain closed for now.

Legoland Florida will reopen on Monday.

It isn't clear when Disneyland and other California theme parks such as Knott's Berry Farm can reopen. The state is taking a more cautious approach to reopening its economy. It will likely be months before mass-gathering events can take place.

Cedar Fairs, which operates Knott's Berry Farm and several other theme parks in the United States and Canada, has said it doesn't expect to reopen any of them soon.

What will theme park-goers experience during a pandemic?

When they reopen, theme parks will look very different to visitors. They'll operate at reduced capacity. A temperature check will be required on entry, and visitors will be encouraged, if not required, to wear face coverings.

Rides, restaurants and retail will maintain social distance, with signs and markers showing visitors what's expected. Hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations will be installed. Contactless forms of payment will be preferred, though some places may still accept cash.

Park operators promise more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of touch points and surfaces. Park employees will get temperature checks, wear face coverings and maintain social distance.

The reopening of big attractions such as Disney and Universal parks is expected to help jump-start travel and related business, including airlines, hotels and car-rental companies after consumer travel plummeted in recent months.

This story originally published to usatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.