Walt Disney World will reopen Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Wednesday as the next steps in its reopening plan, bringing a mini food fest and some changes to its wildly popular new Star Wars ride.
Disney reopened the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on Saturday after the pandemic forced the parks to close for nearly four months. As the world’s most attended tourist attraction, Disney has been criticized by some for reopening as Florida sees a spike in coronavirus cases. But it has also been praised for taking extra safety measures.
Like the previous theme park openings, these will also have safeguards including reservations required for admission, mandatory face masks, reduced capacity and social distancing protocols. Character meet-and-greets as well as parades and fireworks are suspended, and there are plastic partitions on many rides and features to enforce separation.
Epcot’s popular food and wine festival will return in a smaller version on Wednesday and the new Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios is making some modifications to its operations.
The Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride will have a virtual queue that is similar to the process used before the theme park shut down March 16.
Disney has eliminated its FastPass+ reservations, single-rider lines and virtual queues, at least temporarily, and the Rise of the Resistance has changed how visitors can get a spot on a boarding group. Visitors will able to log into the My Disney Experience app at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. or 4 p.m., according to a post on the official Disney Parks Blog. If spots are unavailable, some may be assigned to backup groups.
That’s a big change from before the shutdown, when Rise of the Resistance hopefuls would get to the park early for the popular ride and log on to the app as soon as the park opened. Boarding groups were usually full for the whole day within a half hour of the park’s opening.
This change eliminates the motivation to arrive ahead of time, Disney said, and helps space out the crowds. Hollywood Studios will limit visitors on the virtual queue to no more than once per day, the blog post said.
Over at Epcot, a mini version of its popular fall food festival will get started early. Called “A Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival,” Disney will open 20 global marketplaces starting Wednesday.
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The Eat to the Beat Concert Series will not be part of the modified festival, but there will be live entertainment like Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors that will perform at America Gardens Theatre.
On Monday, Disney announced it was closing Hong Kong Disneyland because of the pandemic, just a month after reopening. Gov. Ron DeSantis has backed the theme park giant and praised them for strenuous safety protocols in Florida.
“This is Disney’s shot to show the world what the theme park industry can do to operate as safely as possible in the current environment,” said Robert Niles, the founder of the Theme Park Insider blog.