Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, reopened all of its parks on Wednesday, July 15, despite a rise in cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, in Florida. The amusement park has implemented several safety procedures, but with a record number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state — and the recent closure of Hong Kong Disneyland — you might wonder: will Disney World close again due to coronavirus?
Following a four-month shutdown which began on March 15, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened to the public on Saturday, July 11, and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios followed suit opening their doors on Wednesday, July 15. Most Disney World hotels are open as well, but the reopening of the popular theme park comes as Florida is seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started. On Sunday, July 12, Florida topped 15,299 in a single day, the highest number of one-day cases reported in any state since the beginning of the pandemic. Following the case high of July 12, on Thursday, July 16, Florida’s Department of Health reported nearly 14,000 new positive one-day COVID-19 cases and 315,775 total confirmed cases in the state. As of Thursday, July 16, the total case count in Orange County, which is where Disney is located, is 21,229. However, despite the increasing cases, as of July 17 there were no publicly announced plans to close Disney theme parks again. In response to a request for comment, a Disney representative referred Elite Daily to the park’s public commitment to guest safety and information about the reopening phases.
Even with the rise in cases, Disney World remains open, but the company took a different approach with its Hong Kong location. Disney announced the closure of Hong Kong Disneyland on Monday, July 13, citing the government and health authorities’ new protocols, which were announced due to a rise of 52 cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.The city government's social distancing regulations reverted from gatherings of 50 people to a group gathering limit of up to four people. The new restrictions also included a hefty fine for people caught wearing no mask, per Bloomberg. “As required by the government and health authorities and in line with the prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, Hong Kong Disneyland park is temporarily closed until further notice,” Disney said in an announcement on its website. The Hong Kong Disneyland hotels will remain open with adjustments to safety protocol.
Around the United States, some state governments, such as California, have reacted to increasing case numbers by ordering recently reopened businesses to close again. Due to the spike in California, on June 24 Disneyland Resort in California announced it would push back its phased reopening plan, which was originally set to take place on Friday, July 17. So it could be Disney World will react similarly if the cases in Florida continue to rise.
The current increased safety precautions at Disney World include a limited park capacity, a reservation requirement to get into the park, social distancing guidelines and visual markers to enable maintaining distance, and the cancelation of parades and other shows which encourage crowd gathering. Disney World has also indefinitely suspended fast passes to allow for more space for guests to implement social distancing in attraction lines and canceled dining reservations to keep restaurant capacity limited. Guests ages 2 and over are required to wear a face covering in the park and have to undergo a temperature screening prior to park entry.
Although Disney is taking as many precautions as they can to make its theme park experience safe for guests, Disney Parks warns it’s still a risk to go to a public space like a theme park. On Disney World’s reopening page, the company issued a warning for those who come to the park. “An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the company wrote. “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”
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 Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.