Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has unveiled plans to re-open its gates following months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disney has proposed a phased re-opening, with its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening on July 11th and July 15th for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, the company said on Wednesday (May 27th)
The theme park will be implementing new health and safety protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Employees and guests must wear face coverings and undergo a temperature check before entering the parks.
- Capacity in Disney’s parks and the resort will be reduced and parades, fireworks and other events that create crowds will be suspended (temporarily).
- Cashless transactions and contactless payments will be enabled.
- The presence of hand-sanitizing stations will be increased.
Disney’s proposal was approved Wednesday morning by the Orange County government. However, it still needs the green light from Orange County's mayor and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
"...I think what we can say is that we've done everything we can to open up responsibly," Disney's CEO Bob Chapek said in an interview with CNN Business on Wednesday. "Taking the guidance of local health officials, state health officials, national health officials, plus our own well qualified doctors on staff to create an environment to create new operating procedures, to create new policies, to do new training, new standards of hygiene. So that when a guest comes in we can continue the trust that guests have always had with the Walt Disney company and enjoy the parks so they can make those magical memories that last a lifetime."
Disney began closing its theme parks at the end of January, starting in Asia with Shanghai Disney (Jan 25th) and Hong Kong Disneyland (Jan 26th). Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World were all closed by March 15th, with Disney Cruise Line suspending sailings.
Shanghai Disney reopened on May 11th, with strict health measures in place, including mandatory face masks, social distancing, and temperature screenings.
The phased reopening of Disney’s Florida parks suggests the company could take a similar approach in re-opening its Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California.
Disneyland and other California-based theme parks currently shuttered by COVID-19 can reopen during Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage road map for reopening the state’s economy, reports say.
Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California and other theme parks all fall into California’s Stage 3 category.
The start date for California's Stage 3 plan has not yet been announced.
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