Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will begin its phased reopening with Disney Springs later this month. The outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex is scheduled to reopen on May 20. But while Walt Disney World Resort is slowly starting to reopen, the company has warned guests that, in visiting, they voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, Disney cautioned guests to expect potentially modified and limited experiences and offerings upon the resort's reopening.
"An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present," a recent update of Walt Disney World Resort operations read. "By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19," which the company defined as "an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death."
While Walt Disney World Resort announced plans to launch a phased reopening of Disney Springs on May 20, no reopening date has been released for any of the Disney World Resort theme parks or hotels. Still, Disney Springs Vice President Matt Simon hailed the shopping and entertainment complex's reopening as "a welcome milestone." And the reopening of Disney Springs may provide important clues about what safety and social distancing measures guests can expect to find implemented when Walt Disney World Resort's four theme parks are reopened.
"With the safety and well-being of our guests, cast members and third-party operating participants at the forefront of our planning, we are eager to begin welcoming you back to this part of Walt Disney World," Simon wrote in a Disney Parks blog. "While our theme parks and resort hotels remain temporarily closed, the phased reopening of Disney Springs is a welcome milestone as we navigate through this unprecedented time together as responsibly as we can."
According to Simon, Disney Springs has implemented new health and safety measures based on guidance from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health authorities. All guests, cast-members, and third-party employees aged 3 and older will be required to wear "an appropriate face covering" over their "nose and mouth at all times" while visiting Disney Springs. Guests and employees will be allowed to remove their face coverings when sitting at a dining table.
In an effort to make social distancing possible, Disney Springs has said it will limit the number of guests allowed onto the property. Parking will also be limited, with all surface lots closed. Guests will also be required to undergo temperature screenings before they are allowed in to Disney Springs. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed in. Ground markings and physical barriers will be placed in various areas to encourage proper physical distancing.
Other safety measures include increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-traffic areas and the placement of hand-washing or hand-sanitizer stations. Simons also urged guests to use cashless payment options such as gift cards, debit or credit cards whenever possible.
"I understand this is a great deal of change to absorb, and I speak for all of us at Walt Disney World in thanking you for your cooperation and patience during this initial phase," Simons said. "Today's world is different, and it's going to require a shared responsibility, with everyone doing their part."
Along with announcing new safety and social distancing measures, Walt Disney World Resort has also warned guests that experiences and other offerings may be modified and limited upon reopening as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the magic of Walt Disney World Resort may continue to look and feel different even when its four theme parks reopen.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.