How Will Disney Approach Its Pools and Water Parks?
With Disney theme parks preparing to reopen, one aspect of the discussion remains in question.
All Disney resorts operate at least one pool, sometimes more. And Walt Disney World hosts two of the three most popular water parks on the planet.
With Coronavirus still a problem, many water parks and pools are on hold. In fact, inflatable pool sales are spiking.
Some folks are understandably worried about public pool settings this summer. So, how will Disney approach its pools and water parks this year?
Let’s start with the science. How safe are pools?
For a change, Coronavirus doesn’t ruin something wonderful. Swimming in a pool is safe, at least according to the CDC. Here’s the applicable quote:
“There is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the water used in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Proper operation and disinfection of pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.”
For Disney fans, this news is especially good. As I’ve previously discussed, Disney doesn’t skimp on cleaning supplies.
Most pool operators utilize Chlorine to kill germs. It’s not the best cleaning solution for this purpose, though.
Bromine is actually better because it’s not a one-time use cleanser. Chlorine attaches itself to bacteria, and the chemical reaction kills both of them.
When Bromine attaches to bacteria, the bad stuff dies while the chemical survives. So, everyone should use Bromine.
Companies don’t because Bromine costs quite a bit more. However, Disney cares more about its customers, and so it splurges on Bromine.
You’ve likely noticed the distinctive smell when riding Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes, that pleasant aroma is a cleaning solution!
So, Disney is better prepared for Coronavirus than most companies. It’s already using a top-notch product to prevent bacteria.
Okay, the CDC believes that pools are safe, and Disney pays for the finest cleaning supplies. What’s the problem, then?
Other factors go into a pool visit. For example, most people spend at least as much time sitting down and relaxing/sunbathing.
Those pool chairs will require cleaning after each use. At public pools, nobody’s going to do that.
Similarly, public beaches are problematic. The lifeguards and other workers on duty rarely engage in such responsible hygienic practices.
Again, Disney’s a bit more forward-thinking here. The resort pools often have more employees than are strictly needed.
These workers can and will perform the requisite wiping down of surfaces if the pools and water parks reopen soon. That’s the thing, though.
With so many other moving parts right now, should Disney add another potential problem into its reopening plans?
We’re talking about hundreds of cast members that Disney would assign to pools and water parks. These workers must remain diligent throughout the day in cleaning all recently used public areas.
Hot spots like the pool safety rails would require that much more focus. Think about how many people grab these rails to enter the pool.
Then, there are the ladders that people climb down to enter the deep end. And the water slides are, well, your imagination can run wild here.
Disney guests love the pools. I know that I spend time at the hotel pool virtually every day of a Disney vacation, even during the winter.
However, safety concerns are troubling, and that’s before we factor in children’s unpredictable behavior.
What Are Other Pools and Water Parks Doing?
The reason why is that most public pools would rely on unskilled labor to sanitize the play areas.
Governments would simply ask too much of teenagers to protect the lives of strangers AND wipe down chairs to the point that they’re droplet-free.
So, your best bet to find an open pool is probably a neighborhood facility. From a health perspective, you’re dropping down the ladder, though.
You wouldn’t have any guarantees that anything has been cleaned. So, it’s another reason why Disney sounds better.
You’re probably wondering about water parks, a situation that’s still evolving.
We have the story about the one guy in Texas who ignored the governor’s orders and opened his water park. Memorial Day weekend guests mobbed the place.
However, most water parks, especially ones owned by large corporations, are sitting on the sidelines right now.
Perhaps the largest water park to return thus far is Island H2O Live! You probably don’t even know it.
The water park is part of the Margaritaville Orlando housing/hotel complex. So, I’m not even sure whether it counts.
Another water park reopening is on the horizon, though. When Universal Orlando Resort returns on June 5th, Volcano Bay will join Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
The current plan calls for the water park to open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. each day.
That’s not quite a full day to start, but it’s much longer than most observers had expected.
Disney’s in a no-win situation right now. Some people are ranting loudly and repeatedly that the company should reopen everything.
Others are emphatic that park officials must protect all guests’ safety, even the ones who don’t want it. After all, anyone could get sick and infect others, too.
By reopening the pools and water parks, Disney introduces new potential trouble spots that require Coronavirus-related upkeep. However, they add more amenities for visitors, too.
People aren’t talking about the pools enough yet, but they will once the parks reopen.
As you know, Disney will require guests to wear facemasks. So, some people will get hot.
What’s the best way to cool off? You jump into the hotel swimming pool!
The need is there for park guests, but the risk is problematic for Disney, too.
Another consideration is that a strong local competitor, Volcano Bay, will reopen. That aspect could pressure Disney to bring back Blizzard Beach and/or Typhoon Lagoon soon.
What Should Disney Do?
I believe that Disney shouldn’t open both but instead pick one for now. I’m dubious that there’s enough demand for three water parks to run in Orlando this summer.
As for the pools, I don’t think anyone believes that the pools should stay closed indefinitely. If the parks and resorts return, the pools should, too.
Of course, the situation is similar to water parks. Disney may not need to open multiple pools at the same resort. Then again, that’s a great way to encourage social distancing.
I realize that I’m all over the place here, but that’s how Disney executives feel, too. They know they’ll get second-guessed for years now just as they know no perfect solution exists.
Disney officials have plenty of reasons to keep everything shut down until the parks have reopened for a couple of months.
Also, when Disney announced its reopening plans to Orange County officials, the company made no mention of pools or water parks.
Even so, my expectation is that Disney reopens one park and most pools at some point this summer. That’s pure conjecture, though.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.