Walt Disney World parks and water parks are closed, but some key shops and restaurants are open in their free open mall-like section, Disney Springs. Reports make it sound somewhat chaotic and like they’re not enforcing social distancing or mask-wearing. It sounds dangerous, but at least they’ve kept Disney World proper closed and are adhering to the very lax regulations of the state of Florida. Their trash governor, Ron DeSantis, implemented a “Phase One” reopening on May 4th that allows restaurants, retails stores, gyms, tattoo parlors and even hair salons to open in most parts of the state. (Miami-Dade and Broward counties took a little longer to open up. To be fair, our Dem governor in Virginia, Northam, is allowing businesses like salons and retail stores to open at 50% capacity too.) I think we’ll be seeing so many more cases in a couple of weeks, particularly after the ridiculous crowds we saw around the US over Memorial Day Weekend. There’s no word yet on the reopening plan for Disney World, but Universal Orlando is reopening on June 5th. They’re going to have temperature checks for guests, will limit crowds, and are handing out masks for people who don’t have them.
He then went on to detail several ways the theme park experience will be different, for now — all of which he says have been vetted by health and safety officials. Here are 10 of the most noteworthy:
1. Water and mist elements in the park and on rides will either be eliminated or reduced. This will be done in an effort to prevent the potential spread of the virus through water.
2. Parking will be staggered. Staggering parking times in the numerous lots will keep visitors apart as they arrive and allow for easy social distancing.
3.There will be required temperature checks at all main entrances. If a visitor does not pass the temperature test, they will be given time in a cool area to see if their temperature drops below the required level. If not, they will be sent home. Guests will be asked to test their own temperatures at home before arrival in order to avoid this.
4. Guests and employees must wear masks. If they arrive at the park without a mask, a free disposable one will be provided to them.
5. Single rider lines will be eliminated. Normally these lines allow employees to fill up each ride completely when there are odd-numbered parties. The new practice will ensure no guest will have to come within six feet of someone who is not a part of their party.
6. There will be no meet and greets. Characters will still be performing in shows throughout the park, but will not leave the stage to interact with guests post-performance.
7. Capacity will be reduced in the park and on rides. Fewer people will be allowed to enter the park, and fewer people will be allowed on each ride at one time. Many rides will have entire rows of the ride vehicles blocked off to promote social distancing.
8. Touchless payments will be requested. Cash will still be accepted, but touchless will be the preferred method of payment for food, merch, etc. All menus will also be single-use and disposed of after each use.
9. Lines will look different. People will be able to enter a “virtual line” for some attractions meaning they will not need to stand close to others to wait to enter. Entrance times alerts will be shared digitally. Where lines are required, there will be markers on the ground to indicate where people should stand in order to remain six feet apart.
10. Interactive play areas will be closed. Social distancing is near-impossible in these sensory-focused playground areas meant for young visitors, so they will be closed to ensure no children are at risk.
The digital line notification is smart and I hope they keep that available after this passes. Otherwise I have so many questions and concerns. So many people with covid are asymptomatic, or have mild symptoms and no fever. Without immediate testing, there’s no way to know who has it and can spread it. There’s antibody testing but it’s not widely available or particularly accurate. Plus testing positive for antibodies does not necessarily mean a person is immune to re-infection. There are just too many risks to open up theme parks in the US at this time. Meanwhile, there are still over 100,00 crewmembers of Cruise ships stranded at sea with no word on when they will be allowed to go home. I know that’s a completely different issue, but it seems relevant when a huge theme park is about to reopen.
These photos are from 2018 and 2019, Credit: C. Cagnin and Craig Adderley via Pexels.com
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