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Here’s what the parks could look like when they reopen their gates.

USA TODAY

Disney World and Disneyland have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. When they do reopen, they could look and feel very different.

They also may not reopen at the same time. Walt Disney World in Florida could reopen within weeks under guidelines recommended in that state. Disneyland may not reopen for months under California’s more conservative plan. Disney’s overseas parks also may take more time to reopen.

A UBS financial analyst predicted last week that the parks would not reopen before January, but a Disney spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the timing or details of plans to reopen any of the company’s theme parks.

The reopening of attractions such as theme parks will be tied to the resumption of nonessential travel. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC on Tuesday that Disney parks would play a role in getting travelers back on commercial flights.

Travelers “need to have something to be able to do when they get there,” Kelly said. “So Disney World needs to open back up. Restaurants need to open back up.”

A local government economic recovery task force in Orange County, Florida, recommended guidelines for reopening Walt Disney World in Orlando similar to guidelines provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

What Disney World reopening could look like

If Disney World follows the Orange County task force recommendations, here’s what a reopened park might look like:

  • In phase 1, the park could operate at half capacity; in phase 2, at 75% capacity.
  • Employees would wear face masks.
  • Staff temperatures would be checked prior to their shifts; anyone with a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees would be sent home.
  • Employees with flu-like symptoms would be required to stay home.
  • Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers would be placed at all ticketing entry, turnstiles and each entry and exit for rides and attractions.
  • Railings and surfaces would be wiped down regularly.

Additionally, queues for rides and attractions would maintain social distancing with markers spaced 6 feet apart. Employees 65 and older would be encouraged to stay home in both phases 1 and 2. Staff would also wipe down surfaces at random.

The group also made recommendations for restaurants, hotels and retail establishments that would likely apply to Disney World.

Restaurant, hotel, retail guidelines could also apply

According to the task force, restaurants could operate at 50% capacity in phase 1 and 75% capacity in phase 2. Tables would need to be spaced at least 6 feet apart. Employees would wear face masks and gloves if they work behind a counter. Staff temperature checks would be required. Menus would be disposable.

In hotels, guests would see sneeze guards at check-in counters. Mini-bars would not be stocked and coffee makers, coffee cups and glassware would be removed from guest rooms. Room keys and bell carts would be sanitized after each use. No conferences would take place under phase 1 or 2. Swimming pools would be open.

In retail, all entry doors would be propped open or automated. Distancing markers would be placed at check-out counters. Employees would wear face masks and undergo temperature checks. Countertops, railings and door surfaces would be wiped down hourly.

In movie theaters, no more than four people per group would be seated in phase 1, with at least two seats between each party. In phase 2, no more than six people per group would be seated, with at least one seat between each party.

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was to outline the first phases of reopening the state’s economy. Josh D’Amaro, the president of the Walt Disney World Resort, is on the governor’s Re-Open Florida Task Force.

As of Wednesday, Florida had more than 33,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 1,200 deaths attributed to the virus, according to data compiled by USA TODAY.  

What about Disneyland? 

Disneyland may not reopen as soon as Walt Disney World. On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a phased reopening plan that appears to put theme parks in a higher-risk category of business that would open later.

The California Department of Public Heath did not clarify whether Disneyland would fall under stage 3, which includes entertainment venues with smaller crowds, or stage 4, which includes mass gathering events such as concerts, conventions and sports.

Stage 4 would mark the end of California’s stay-at-home order, and that would be contingent on the development of an effective coronavirus vaccine or treatment, something that public health officials have cautioned could be more than a year away.

As of Wednesday, California had more than 46,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,800 deaths.

What about Disney parks around the world?

Disney had closed Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris “until further notice.”

France will not allow gatherings of more than 5,000 people to resume before September, which could affect reopening plans for Disneyland Paris.

The announcement, made Tuesday by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, affects sports events, such as soccer, rugby and the Tour de France. French officials had earlier said no such gatherings could take place before mid-July.

France has the third-most coronavirus cases in Europe, behind Spain and Italy, with more than 169,000 confirmed as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 23,600 people have died.

Tokyo Disneyland has been closed since late February. Since then, two reopening dates have come and gone. An April 14 statement on the park’s website said officials will reassess the situation there in mid-May.

One of the first Disney parks to close, Shanghai Disneyland Resort, partially reopened on March 9 as the virus began to abate in China, the country where the pandemic began late last year. However, Hong Kong Disneyland, which shut its gates the same week as the Shanghai resort, remains closed.

Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY

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