The Disney Parks Closed a Year Ago. Here’s Everything That’s Happened Since.

Over the last few weeks, people from around the country have reflected on the past year since the global pandemic resulted in closures, shutdowns, and stay-at-home orders.

Magic Kingdom

On March 14th, 2020, Disneyland closed its gates, and two days later, Disney World would do the same. Let’s take a look at what the last year (and even a bit longer) looked like as well as looking ahead to what’s coming next.

When the closures began.

January 25th, 2020

The first Disney park to close worldwide was Shanghai Disneyland, which closed its gates on January 25th, 2020.

The first time we saw anything related to a Disney closure due to the pandemic ©Disney

January 26th, 2020

Hong Kong Disneyland would soon follow, closing one day later on January 26th, 2020.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s closure announcement © Disney

February 29th, 2020

A month later, Tokyo Disney Resort began its temporary closure on February 29th, 2020.

Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

March 14th, 2020

The next time we would hear about a closure announcement, it would be for one of Disney’s domestic theme parks. On March 12th, 2020, the Disneyland Resort announced its temporary closure, initially projected to last through the end of March. Disneyland’s first day of its now year-long closure began on March 14th, 2020.

Disneyland on its last day of operations before their closure began: March 13th, 2020

March 16th, 2020

March 14th was also the day when Disney Cruise Line suspended all departures. Walt Disney World Resort quickly followed, along with Disneyland Paris Resort. Both resorts began their closures on March 16th, 2020.

© Disney

As of March 16th, 2020, every single Disney park was closed worldwide due to the pandemic. This unprecedented moment in the company’s history would last around two months before the world saw its first reopening.

What happened in between Disney World closing and reopening.

May 11th, 2020

The months of May, June, and July were filled with reopening announcements from around the world. The first theme park to reopen, fittingly, was the first theme park to close: Shanghai Disneyland. The resort reopened on May 11th, 2020, less than four months after it closed.

Shanghai Disneyland ©Disney

May 20th, 2020

Two months after Disney World closed, the shopping and dining district Disney Springs began its phased reopening on May 20th, 2020.

©Disney

May 27th, 2020

One week later, Disney World presented their proposed reopening timeline and procedures to the Orange County Task Force. Their proposal was approved by the Task Force as well as the Governor of Florida.

Source: State of Florida

June 18th, 2020

On June 18th, 2020, Hong Kong Disneyland became the second park to reopen worldwide. Since then, the resort has re-closed and re-opened a couple of additional times.

©Disney

June 22nd, 2020

A month after the reopening of Disney Springs, Disney World began its phased reopening of select resort hotels on June 22nd, 2020. Initially, hotels with Disney Vacation Club villas and properties reopened.

Grand Floridian Lobby on its reopening day

June 24th, 2020

Over on the west coast, Disneyland Resort proposed its initial reopening plans on June 24th, 2020. The plan called for the theme parks to reopen on Disneyland’s 65th anniversary, July 17th, 2020. Just a couple of weeks later, however, Disney had to delay those reopening plans.

©Disney

July 1st, 2020

The month of July kicked off with the grand reopening of Tokyo Disney Resort, which took place on July 1st, 2020.

Tokyo Disney Resort Reopening

July 9th, 2020

Despite delaying the reopening plans for the theme parks, the Disneyland Resort was able to reopen the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district on July 9th, 2020, nearly four months after it closed.

©Disney

July 11th, 2020

After several days of Cast Member and Annual Passholder previews, Disney World began the phased reopening of its theme parks on July 11th, 2020, starting with Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The theme parks reopened nearly four months after its closure began.

Main Street U.S.A. on Magic Kingdom’s reopening day

July 15th, 2020

A few days later, on July 15th, 2020, Disney World continued its phased reopening by welcoming guests back to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

July 15th was when the world was introduced to Winnie the Pooh and his butterfly net at EPCOT!

July 15th also marked the reopening of Disneyland Paris! As of this date, the only Disney park to remain closed worldwide was the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Since its reopening, Disneyland Paris has had to re-close and has been closed since that time.

Disneyland Paris © Disney

What’s left to do?

Disney World continues its phased reopening.

Since Disney World began its phased reopening in July of 2020, it’s been more or less “full steam ahead” when it comes to bringing guests back. As of this writing, capacity has increased, more hotels have reopened, and the parks in Florida are on track to begin their 50th anniversary celebrations in October.

Concept art for Cinderella Castle’s evening makeover for the 50th anniversary celebration ©Disney

Several hotels are still closed, including Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside and French Quarter, Disney’s All Star Music, Sports, and Movies (Movies is set to reopen on March 22nd), and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which is scheduled to reopen this summer.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Lobby

There are many popular dining locations across Disney World that are still closed as well, including ‘Ohana, Casey’s Corner, Victoria & Albert’s, Citricos, and Jiko, just to name a few. So, Disney World’s phased reopening is very much still in progress.

Disneyland still needs to reopen!

While Disney World’s four month-long closure seemed like an eternity in Central Florida, keep in mind that Disneyland has been closed for over an entire year now. By the time it reopens (Disneyland hopes to reopen in late April), the closure will have lasted over three times as long as Disney World’s closure.

Disneyland Entrance

In the meantime, Disneyland has found unique ways to welcome its guests and fans back to the resort without operating the theme parks. In addition to Downtown Disney’s reopening in July of 2020, Disneyland was able to reopen Buena Vista Street in California Adventure on November 19th, 2020 as an extension of the shopping and dining district.

Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure

And starting on March 18th, 2021, Disneyland will welcome guests back to all of Disney California Adventure (minus the rides) at “A Touch of Disney,” a dining and shopping ticketed event inside the park.

© Disney

It has been a year for the ages in so many ways. Twelve months ago, we could not have even begun to imagine what the rest of 2020 would look like as we witnessed Disney reopen theme parks, pitch reopening proposals to state and local tasks forces, and introduce health and safety guidelines that feel second nature to us now. Over the next twelve months and beyond, you can count on our continued coverage of the phased reopening of Disney World, Disneyland, and the parks around the globe!

Click here to read more about what the last year has been like for us!

What has been your fondest Disney memory from the last year? Let us know in the comments!

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