By James Hibberd
June 10, 2020 at 06:27 PM EDT
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It's official: Disneyland is reopening.

The iconic theme park will open its gates to visitors once again with a phased reopening starting July 17.

The date is a major anniversary for the Magic Kingdom — it will be 65 years to the date of the original opening of Disneyland in 1955.

The move comes despite cases of COVID-19 being on the rise in California.

The park plans to introduce a new reservation system that will require all guests — including annual passholders — to obtain a reservation in advance for park entry.

"The Disneyland Resort will reopen with enhanced health and safety measures," the company said in a statement. "Certain experiences that draw large group gatherings — such as parades and nighttime spectaculars — will return at a later date. While character meet and greets will be temporarily unavailable, characters will be in the parks in new ways to entertain and delight guests."

David McNew/Getty Images

Disney already announced plans to reopen Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Orlando starting July 11.

The Downtown Disney shopping district will begin reopening July 9, while Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney Vacation Club Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are planned to reopen to guests and members starting July 23, pending governmental approval.

California has 137,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but actual case numbers are estimated to be much higher. The state is averaging 2,795 new cases and 61 deaths per day, according to the Los Angeles Times. The number of daily new cases of COVID-19 has been rising steadily in the state since testing began in early March, according to Worldmeters. But the state's death rate from the virus has recently been declining slightly since mid-May.

California is moving into stage 3 as part of Governor Gavin Newsom's four-step reopening process. When the stages were originally announced, it was unclear which stage theme parks fell into, with some assuming it would be stage 4, which includes concert venues and convention centers. But stage 4 also requires "therapeutics to be developed," and there have not yet been any yet approved for COVID-19. Two weeks ago, the state confirmed theme parks could reopen in stage 3.

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