Disney World Will Begin Its Plans To Reopen This Weekend Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases
After closing down operations for several months, a date has been set for when Walt Disney World plans to reopen following coronavirus shutdowns. Although the number of coronavirus cases in Florida continues to rise, operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando are set to resume soon, though the experience will likely be much different than what families are used to.
After temporarily closing in mid-March, Disney plans to reopen Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom located inside of Walt Disney World on Saturday, July 11, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15.
Florida, which has recently been described as the nation's hot spot for the coronavirus, has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. This week, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 6,300 new cases of COVID-19.
During a press conference Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told CBS Miami that he has "no doubt" that Disney "going to be a safe environment," despite the rise in positive cases in the state.
"I think that where you start to see the spread is just in social situations where people let their guard down. Usually like a private party or something like that," DeSantis told reporters. "Theme parks have been doing great, I mean, Universal, look at what they’re doing. And I think that’s the lesson. We have to have society function. You can have society function in a way that keeps people safe, and when you have all the different procedures they have in place … it’s a safe environment."
When Disney World begins its phased reopening this weekend, families can expect the park to be less crowded than usual as there will be a limit on how many guests are allowed in at once. Guests will also have to reserve park entry in advance. Once inside, visitors will have to practice social distancing and have their temperatures taken for entry at some locations. Guests over 2 years old will also have to wear a face covering at all times. To reduce contact, visitors are also encouraged to order food through an app and utilize "cashless transactions."
New rules will be enforced by a "social distance squad," a group of Disney cast members who will encourage visitors to stay safe and keep their distance from others, as People reported. All employees will also have their temperatures taken before work and be required to wear face masks.
While the legendary rides, food, and attractions remain, some aspects of the parks might be absent for the time being. Jim McPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations told the Orange County Economic Task Force in a video obtained by Wesh News 2 in May that character meet-and-greets will be temporarily paused. Parades and fireworks will also be temporarily put on hold to avoid creating crowds and large groups of people in one place. Guests will also be encouraged to educate themselves about new protocols before they arrive and while in theme parks using the My Disney Experience app.
Disney World's shopping and restaurant district, Disney Springs officially reopened on May 20. Like the plan to reopen Disney World, guests who enter must have their temperature taken and wear a mask — anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed to enter. Disney Springs is also encouraging social distancing, limiting guest attendance, encouraging contactless transactions, and increasing cleaning in high traffic areas.
Disney World states on its website that guests "must follow all posted instructions" while visiting the theme park and "voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."
For families who aren't quite ready, you can still experience plenty of Disney magic by riding a few virtual rides at home.
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.
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