ORLANDO, Fla. — It is the day theme park fans have been waiting for: Disney World officially reopening.

What You Need To Know

It has been nearly four months since Disney shut down its parks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 9 a.m., guests were welcomed back into the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.

Earlier this week Disney hosted cast member and annual passholder preview days, where they tested out the new safety measures that are now in place. Call it a final rehearsal before today, when the parks welcomed back the general public.

Among those guests was annual passholder Jeff Ruble, who said he got emotional at the sight of the Magic Kingdom's signature visual, Cinderella's Castle.

“I got a little teary eyed when I saw the castle, but yeah, it was awesome,” said Ruble.

Visitors had their temperatures checked and were required to wear a mask during their entire visit, except when in a few rest areas.

Ruble said inside the park people appeared to be following the rules.

“It is definitely more crowded then it was yesterday at the passholder preview," he explained. "But everyone seems to be keeping their distance and everyone is wearing their masks correctly.”

He added that the park is doing its best to encourage social distancing and at each ride they hand sanitizer stations.

“They have a whole bunch of physical distancing markers," he said. "There are physical distancing signs on all the trash cans.”

Economic experts, meanwhile, say this will be a new challenge for Disney.

“It’s going to be a learning curve, this is a whole different operating environment for these theme parks than they’ve seen before,” said Dr. Sean Snaith, of University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting. 

On Thursday, Disney resumed selling tickets again and allowing customers to book hotel stays for the remainder of 2020. They are gradually opening up restaurants and hotels as well.

For those waiting to visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Disney plans on opening up those parks to guests Wednesday, July 15.

Annual passholders who do not already have a park reservation this month may be out of luck, as Disney’s park availability calendar shows the company has hit capacity. However, there are still reservations available for other ticket holders and Disney Resort guests.

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