Coronavirus Reopenings: When Disneyland, the MLB, the NBA and More Will Be Back

NBA Utah Jazz
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As states begin to ease social distancing guidelines, sports, festivals, theme parks and more are starting to plan their returns.

As states begin to ease social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people are eager to get back to their favorite routines and recreational activities.

While it may be a while before everything is fully back to normal, many theme parks and sporting events are starting to reopen to visitors and fans -- with increased safety measures in place -- while musicians and other entertainment businesses are creating unique ways to perform a live concert or hold a convention or conference in accordance with pandemic regulations.

Check out ET's cancellations guide for an up-to-date look on what's still shut down, find out which movies and television shows are getting back into production, and read on for more information on the festivals, events and theme parks that are reopening soon.

NBA Reveals Schedule for Resuming 2019-20 Season

On June 26, the NBA and the NBPA officially announced their finalized plans and schedule for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, which will begin on July 30 in Orlando with 22 of the 30 teams participating.

Per CBS Sports, there will be a maximum of seven games per day, on three courts -- two of which are set up for nationally televised games. Tip-offs will range from noon ET to 9 p.m. ET. There are three total courts.

The top eight teams in each conference were selected to participate, along with six teams (five in the Western Conference, one in the Eastern Conference) that were within six games of the eighth seed in their respected conference when the season was suspended on March 11.

All of the teams will play eight "seeding games" starting on July 30, then begin a typical playoff format that will culminate in October. Should the No. 9 seed in either conference finish within four games of the No. 8 seed, that would trigger a play-in scenario in which the No. 9 team would have to beat the No. 8 team twice in a row to steal their playoff spot. 

Such a play-in scenario would take place on Aug. 15 and 16, with the playoffs beginning on Aug. 17. Before we reach that point, though, there are hundreds of seeding games to work through. It all starts on July 30, when the New Orleans Pelicans battle the Utah Jazz and the two Los Angeles juggernauts duke it out in the fourth round of this season's Lakers-Clippers slugfest. 

NFL Cancels 2020 Hall of Fame Game

With plans still in place for the season to begin as scheduled, the National Football League announced on June 25 that they would be postponing the annual preseason kickoff event, as well as the enshrining of the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees -- which include players like Troy Polamalu and Edgerrin James, as well as former coaches Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, and more --- until August 2021.

“The delay is obviously disappointing but completely understandable,” former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who also would have been enshrined told The Associated Press.

Disneyland Delays Reopning Date

People will have to wait a while longer to be able to go to the "Happiest Place on Earth." After closing its doors March 14 amid the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland Resorts announced on Wednesday that it is delaying the previously announced reopening date.

"The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4," the statement reads. "Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date."

Earlier this month, Disneyland Resorts announced that the Anaheim theme parks would be planning to open its gates on July 17. That is not the case anymore. However, Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9 as previously announced, with health and safety protocols in place for cast members and guests.

Before postponing its grand reopening, to make guests comfortable and safe, Disneyland Resort stated that they will have enhanced safety and health measures, as well as limited park capacity and a reservation system put in place. Once reopened, parades and nighttime spectaculars will be put on hold and return at a later date. Though character meet-and-greets will be temporarily unavailable, "characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests."

MLB Players Agree to 60-Game 2020 Season, Opening Day to Be July 24

According to CBS Sports, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) informed the league on June 23 that players will comply with the league's imposed outline for a 2020 season after weeks of negotiations.

Players will report for another version of "spring" training on July 1, and the league's imposed 60-game season will start July 24. The two sides are reportedly still working to finalize health and safety protocols and there has not yet been an official announcement from the league.

MLB owners voted unanimously Monday night to have commissioner Rob Manfred impose a season. In a statement, Manfred had requested on Monday night that the players respond by 5 p.m. ET so that the league could proceed with scheduling that imposed season.

The league is expected to wrap up its regular season by the end of September and its postseason by the end of October.

In recent days, 40 MLB players and staff members reportedly testing positive for the novel coronavirus. MLB has reportedly ordered all spring training sites to be closed and sanitized and personnel must test negative for COVID-19 before being allowed to return.

Live Nation Announces Drive-In Concert Series

On June 22, Live Nation announced its "Live From The Drive-In" series: nine drive-in performances between July 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee; Maryland Heights, Missouri; and Noblesville, Indiana.

Brad Paisley will headline all the shows, with Nelly opening in Missouri and Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi joining the Nashville bill. Tickets are set to go on sale Friday, June 26.

Attendees will be asked to wear a mask as they enter, but they will not be required to wear them once they are in their parking spot. Cars will be parked with two spaces between each vehicle, allowing room to tailgate and enjoy the show while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

"I’m very excited to do this because I wanted to make sure, if we were going to do anything like this, that they had the important stuff worked out," Paisley told the Associated Press. "My goal would be not to spread this virus to one person. There should be no spread from this. That’s key. I just don’t think it’s worth doing shows if we’re putting people at risk. The idea that we’re outdoors is a great thing. I just think it’s a fun way to watch a concert anyway. It’d be fun if there wasn’t a virus."

Belmont Stakes Leads the Triple Crown Return

The 2020 Belmont Stakes faced dramatic changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of being the third and final leg of the Triple Crown schedule, the race was the first, and frontrunner Tiz the Law took the crown as racing fans now look forward to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

The distance of the race was also reduced from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8, and there were no fans in attendance at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, when the 10-horse lineup went to post at 5:42 p.m. ET on Saturday. 

"The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times," said New York Racing Association President and CEO Dave O'Rourke in a statement in May. "While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020."


NBA Announces Plans to Resume Play in Orlando

More than three months removed after suspending the 2019-20 NBA season, the league announced a tentative plan to resume play late in July at the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Players will be sequestered at one of three Disney properties, and any athlete deemed high enough risk for the virus may opt out of returning to play.

CBS Sports reports that, as of now, the plan is for each of the 22 teams who remain in contention to play eight "seeding" games to determine playoff standings, with a possible play-in series between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed of each conference if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed. The playoffs would then commence in a traditional format, with seven-game series in each round until a champion is crowned.

PGA Tour Resumes at Charles Schwab Challenge

Pro golf returned with a fanless, socially distanced Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, from June 8-14.

"Golf doesn't need fans for drama," said ESPN reporter Michael Collins of the first round back. "Golfers don't need to be miked up with no fans; just keep the on-course mics on, and we'll hear everything just fine. It started with a Brooks Koepka F-bomb, which, let's be honest, is just what everyone was hoping for. It looks like the sky didn't fall."

However, not everyone thought it went quite so smoothly. "Social distancing is going to be harder than we thought in golf," Nick Pietruszkiewicz noted. "The players handed their clubs back to their caddies over and over; that was supposed to be a no-no. Rules officials got pretty close without wearing masks. Fist bumps happened regularly. Overall, this week proved that golf was ready. It should be back. But some of the adjustments are going to take longer than we think."

NASCAR Reopens Races to a Limited Number of Spectators

NASCAR became the first major professional U.S. sport to resume competition in front of fans during the pandemic, opening up the Dixie Vodka 400 NASCAR Cup Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida to 1,000 first responders and military families on June 14.

A number of safety measures were in place for attendees at the raceway -- which can normally hold over 50,000 fans -- including mandatory face masks, social distancing, temperature checks and cashless transactions.

Garth Brooks Announces Plans for Live Drive-In Concert

Country singer Garth Brooks announced on June 10 that he would be performing a concert on June 27, which will stream live to 300 drive-in movie theaters across the country.

"They're going to run it just like a regular concert, but this is going to be all over North America, one night only," Brooks said on Good Morning America. "We are excited because this is a reason to get out of the house, but at the same time you get to follow all the COVID rules from every individual state and you get to have fun and stay within the guidelines of social distancing ... we're calling it 'social distancing partying.'"

Disneyland Announces Phased Reopening Plans

After closing its doors March 14, Disneyland Resorts announced on June 10 that it is planning to reopen its park gates on July 17.

As part of the phased reopening, Downtown Disney District will begin reopening July 9. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park were to reopen on July 17 but that has been delayed. Pending state and local government approvals, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen July 23.

To make guests comfortable and safe, Disneyland Resort will open with enhanced safety and health measures, as well as limited park capacity and a reservation system put in place. Once reopened, parades and nighttime spectaculars will be put on hold and return at a later date. Though character meet-and-greets will be temporarily unavailable, "characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests."

Walt Disney World Announces 'Phased Reopening' Plans With Reservation-Only System

On May 27, Walt Disney World shared their plans for a "phased reopening" of some of their Florida parks, beginning in July with a reservation-only system.

"Following the recent reopening of Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, we’re pleased to share that more Disney magic is coming back," wrote Editorial Content Director Thomas Smith on the Disney Parks Blog. "Today, we submitted a proposal to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force in Florida describing our approach for a phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks planned to begin on July 11."

Pending county and state approval, Disney plans to begin a "phased reopening to the general public" at Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on June 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will also open to members and guests starting June 15.While Disney World cast members and characters will return to the parks upon reopening, there will still be guidelines in place to encourage physical distancing among guests and enhanced cleaning measures, as well as other new health and safety protocols. Events that draw "large group gatherings" -- like parades and nighttime fireworks spectaculars -- as well as "high-touch experiences," like makeovers, playgrounds and meet-and-greets, will still be unavailable to guests, with plans to return at a later time.

French Open Could Be Held Without Fans

The French Tennis Federation announced May 10 that the clay court tournament at Roland Garros could be held without fans.

Bernard Giudicelli told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that organizers are considering every option for the tournament, which was initially slated to be held May 24–June 7 but was rescheduled due to the pandemic for Sept. 20–Oct. 4.

"Organizing it without fans would allow a part of the economy to keep turning, [like] television rights and partnerships. It's not to be overlooked," Giudicelli explained. "We're not ruling any option out."