How Has Walt Disney World’s Reopening Gone?
Okay, all of Walt Disney World’s theme parks have been open for at least a week. Some are approaching two weeks in operation.
The reality is that Disney took a social media beating for reopening during the heart of an outbreak in Florida. Were the attacks fair?
It’s fair to wonder about a simple question. How has Disney’s reopening gone? Let’s talk about it.
We’ll begin with the pink elephant in the room.
If city or state officials determined that Walt Disney World was the source of the outbreak, that would be game over.
For whatever reason, some people want Disney to suffer through such a situation.
The thought seems maddening to me since Universal Studios opened six weeks earlier. Also, it’s a jerk-ish thing to wish on any person and/or company.
MickeyBlog recently reported that Dr. Raul Pino, a state health department official, alleviated the fears of potential theme park visitors.
The doctor confirmed that Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando have avoided outbreaks thus far.
Pino noted that some people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the parks, but that’s to be expected.
After all, guests know that they’ll have their temperature taken before entering a theme park.
Some of them will receive the bad news that they have Coronavirus. It’s a question of math and odds, and the risk of infection is higher in Florida right now.
However, the two parks with lesser pandemic safety precautions are in the clear to date.
Disney wasn’t part of this blanket statement since the data primarily applied to June.
Still, the way that the internet works, if Disney suddenly suffered a health crisis, you’d know it.
To wit, the other day, sports outlets relayed the fact that no NBA player has tested positive for COVID-19 while inside the Disney Bubble.
Yes, some have failed tests before entering the bubble. However, once they get inside, Disney’s precautions have succeeded.
Indeed, the company’s health measures are working, which should reassure everyone, even those who strangely want Disney to fail.
The Safety Measures
MickeyBlog had chronicled Walt Disney World’s safety measures since before they existed.
We researched what the CDC said about the virus and anticipated most of the steps Disney would take to protect its guests.
To our (pleasant) surprise, Disney actually went above and beyond in implementing its policies.
Guests must pass a temperature test before they may enter the parks.
Everyone understands the Florida weather can play a factor in high temperatures.
So, people who fail the first test receive another after cooling down in a tent for 15 minutes.
After everyone proves they’re healthy, they get to enter the new and improved theme parks.
What these visitors discover is how seriously Disney has taken Coronavirus.
Markers indicate where guests should stand at restaurants, attractions, stores, and standing areas.
Hand sanitizers stand ready at most of these places, too. Disney encourages people to use these products regularly during a park visit.
In ride queues, plexiglass walls and other covers separate people in different rows to prevent the spread of infection.
This change has met with the most resistance, as it undeniably takes some guests out of the experience.
For decades now, Imagineers have created line queues and rides that build a unique kind of immersion. People buy into the magic for a time.
Alas, the brilliance of these designer touches must take a back seat to the omnipresence of Coronavirus.
Also, Disney doesn’t want to hide some of these changes. For the time being, the company would rather guests know that they’re living through a pandemic.
Otherwise, people might forget and do something reckless that jeopardizes the health of others.
Ergo, the unusual health-related sights at Walt Disney World qualify as a necessary evil for now.
Speaking of the safety measures, Disney has already had to update some to disappointing guest behavior.
Some people really don’t want to wear masks. They will try anything to get out of it, even though masks protect others.
I had hoped that this issue wouldn’t infiltrate Walt Disney World, but it unfortunately did.
When the 2020 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival opened, a few guests started to abuse a loophole.
Park officials hadn’t wanted to make guests try to eat and drink while wearing a face mask.
So, the initial policy entitled park visitors to remove their masks when they had food or beverages in their hands.
Sadly, some people bought drinks or snacks and then wandered around for hours with their masks down, thereby creating a safety issue for others.
Recently, Disney updated its policy to prevent such behavior.
Now, when you’re trying to eat or drink, cast members expect you to move off the main walkways and stand stationary until you’re finished.
You can no longer walk while you eat/drink. If you try, a member of the Incredi-Crew will ask you to step aside.
To its credit, Disney has shown the willingness to adapt when guests get out of line like this. It reinforces consumer confidence while at the parks.
Beyond health, guests primarily expressed concern over the park experience.
With so many changes in place, people understandably worried that the 2020 visits would seem lackluster.
Disney has rewarded the early adopters who have returned to the parks.
These people have received unique park visits, ones where they feel like they have the entire place to themselves.
The wait-times for rides are comically low. People are riding Avatar Flight of Passage multiple times…in an hour!!!
The longest wait-times are still 45 minutes or less most of the time, meaning that guests are experiencing more at the parks than ever before.
As you might imagine, people are receptive to this sort of exclusivity.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to visit Disney theme parks when the lines are short?
Park planners have also tweaked some of the amenities. No, character meetings or parades aren’t available.
However, Disney now offers Cavalcades and the like at the parks.
At Magic Kingdom, you never know when a parade float might head your way.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, characters sail down the river in boats, waving and dancing as they go by.
These experiences were never available before, which makes them seem special…and that’s what we all want at the parks, right?
Glowing praise wouldn’t describe public opinion accurately. It would be something even beyond that.
You may not understand this statement unless you’ve visited Florida lately or watched the news in the area.
The place has handled Coronavirus about as well as Dan Snyder has run the Washington NFL football team. It’s a mess, y’all.
Some people haven’t taken the pandemic seriously, which has caused Florida to become the face of Coronavirus this summer.
At the time of publication, Florida has suffered more COVID-19 infections than all but four other countries, not including America.
When SeaWorld Orlando opened, their safety measures were such that several vloggers packed up their equipment and left after less than two hours.
That’s Florida in a nutshell. People want to live their lives and to gain tourist revenue.
However, much of the state hasn’t taken the necessary steps to make that happen safely for everyone.
Then, there’s Walt Disney World.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to keep saying it because it’s essential.
Some people who live in Orlando feel safer at Disney theme parks than they do anywhere outside of their own homes.
A few of them are dining at Disney restaurants exclusively because that’s the only food supply they trust.
Guests from out of state aren’t as plentiful as usual. However, the ones who make the trip don’t want to leave.
Right now, the Most Magical Place on Earth also doubles as the safest place in Florida.
Hopefully, that trend will continue until we have a Coronavirus cure.
I feel much better about my Disney fandom based on the company’s behavior during the pandemic. That’s for sure.
If you don’t believe me, watch one of MickeyBlog’s livestreams from the parks. They tell the whole story.
Feature Image Rights: Disney