Disney parks around the world reopen. What does that mean for us in Central Florida?

Hong Kong Disneyland welcomed families for the first time in months Thursday

Hong Kong Disneyland officially reopened on Thursday after a major drop in coronavirus cases in the Chinese territory. Advance reservations will be required and only limited attendance will be allowed at the park, one of the pillars of Hong Kong’s crucial tourism industry.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Ready or not, Disney theme parks are opening both around the world and soon in our backyard.

Shanghai Disneyland was the first park to begin a phased reopening on May 11. Following suit, Hong Kong Disneyland opened its gates Thursday to families.

“Creating magic today means even more to us than ever before,” Stephanie Young, Managing Director, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort said. “This was especially apparent as thousands of talented and dedicated Hong Kong cast members came together to take great care in preparing the park for the return of our guests.”

The park has four requirements when visiting:

  • Have your temperature screened
  • Wear a mask properly
  • Maintain a social distance
  • Have a magical day!

More than a hundred families ventured to the theme park on Lantau Island to take in the sights and sounds of a Disney theme park for the first time since the parks closed their gates in March.

Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, take photos of the iconic cartoon character Minnie Mouse at the Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday opened its doors to visitors for the first time in nearly five months, at a reduced capacity and with social distancing measures in place. The theme park closed temporarily at the end of January due to the coronavirus outbreak, and is the second Disney-themed park to re-open worldwide, after Shanghai Disneyland. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“As we reopened our park today, we reflected on the strength and resilience of our community, the perseverance of our cast members, the support from our guests and the unwavering commitment of our medical responders,” Young added. “To each of these groups – we thank you for your significant contributions that helped lead us to this special moment.”

The opening of Honk Kong Disneyland is an important step forward for the Walt Disney Co. as it prepares to open U.S. theme parks next month.

“We are excited not only about upcoming milestones for our park, but also for the rest of our Disney parks around the world,” Young said.

In Central Florida, families can expect to visit the happiest place on earth in mid-July.

The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom parks will open first on July 11, with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopening July 15.

Walt Disney World officials announced the following resorts will begin to open Monday ahead of the theme park’s reopening:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort - including The Wave, Contempo Cafe and Cove Bar.
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge - including Whispering Canyon Cafe and Roaring Fork.
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village - including Sanaa, Maji Pool Bar.
  • Disney's Beach Club Villas - including Beaches and Cream, Beach Club Marketplace and Martha's Vineyard.
  • Disney's BoardWalk Villas - including Trattoria al Forno, Pizza Window, BoardWalk Bakery, Leaping Horse Libations, AbracadaBar.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness - including P&J's Southern Takeout, Meadow Snack Bar, Crocket's Tavern.
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort - including Olivia's Cafe, Good's Food to Go, Gurgling Suitcase.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows - Kona Cafe, Capt. Cook’s, Pineapple Lanai, Barefoot Pool Bar.
  • Disney's Riviera Resort - including Topolino's Terrace, Primo Piatyo, Le Petit Cafe, Bar Riva.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort - including The Artist's Palette, The Paddock Grill, On the Rocks Pool Bar.
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort - including Grand Floridian Cafe, Gasparilla Island Grill, Enchanted Rose, Beaches Pool Bar.

[READ MORE: Walt Disney World receives green light to reopen in July]

When the park opens its gates, it will be an entirely new experience for cast members and guests alike. For starters, in order to enter a park, you’ll need both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park. Even those who have an annual pass to the parks will be required to have a reservation.

Face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and up, and temperature screenings will be required in some locations.

Disney’s slogan, “If you haven’t been here lately, you just haven’t been” will resonate stronger now then before as the theme parks that we’re used to are replaced with socially distant experiences that are safe during a pandemic. That iconic picture with Mickey Mouse won’t be the same when you’re standing 6 feet away.

“It may be different from the last time you visited. But together, we can find new ways to create magical moments—and memories to treasure,” Disney said on its website.

About the Authors:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!