How Disney World’s Safety Protocols For Visitors and Cast Members Have Evolved Since Reopening
Though Disney spent a lengthy amount of time unveiling safety procedures for cast members and guests prior to Disney World reopening last month, as a recent piece in the Orlando Sentinel points out, the company has had to react fast to update procedures and polices to protect for visitors and employees as we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Walt Disney Company continues to have regular talks with union leaders and employees and to work with industry groups to evolve best practices. This is according to Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer at Disney. Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger, in a statement also added, “We are taking a cautious and deliberate approach which allows us to evaluate and adjust along the way, as the situation evolves.”
If you’ve been following along with MickeyBlog, you’ve already seen some examples of this in action! Case in point is the way that the theme parks have tightened their restrictions on the use of facemasks, banning neck gaiters and masks with valves. As the Sentinel tells us they’ve also come up with solutions for employees “who dealt with hot Disney-issued masks, fogged up face-shields or worried about the lack of social distancing.”
Eric Clinton, leader of one of the unions that represents cast members told the Sentinel, “To Disney’s credit, they are being very responsive.” Clinton added, “Safety is front and center. Right in your face. It’s really amazing.” However, Clinton was quick to emphasize that it’s still a work in progress. He said that the union is still in negotiations with Disney over safety issues at some of the attractions.
One example given was that the narrators on Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris and Jungle Cruise have asked for their own microphones so that they don’t need to share equipment. A solution was that Disney has provided cast members with their own microphone coverings as well as put additional microphone cleaning procedures into place. However, the unions would still like to see Disney go one step further, providing the mics to ensure cast member safety.
Another employee Jessica Lella finds that going from inside to outside areas at Animal Kingdom means that her face shield is getting fogged up. As a solution Disney now keeps a box of Hand Wipes accessible. Workers can keep packets in their pockets to wipe off condensation and keep their plastic face shields clean. Lella said of the process, “You literally wipe it down, and then you’re good.” She added, “It depends on the person. It can last half your shift.”
Over at TriceraTop Spin, social distancing markers were clearly marked on the ground of the queue but Cast Members noticed that visitors would lean over to ask an employee manning the console a question. Employees suggested that Disney move the marker nearest to the console back an additional four feet to make sure that there was adequate separation between cast members and visitors.
Lella, speaking to the Sentinel advised that she has yet to run into any altercations with cast members over safety measures though she must occasionally remind guests to cover their noses with their face masks.
Though the system is working for some cast members and the unions representing them, it is not working for all. As we’ve previously reported here at MickeyBlog, Walt Disney World and Actors Equity which represents stage performers at the theme parks are still at an impasse over return-to-work safety protocols. The union believes that performers, especially those that can’t wear facemasks because of the roles they play should be given access to regular COVID-19 testing. Disney disagrees saying that the current policies put into place including regular temperature checks are adequate enough.
Clinton admitted that the cast members he represents have varying options about returning to work. He said, “There is not a one-size-fits-all.” While some employees are excited to be back having felt stir crazy during quarantine, he added that others watch the rising coronavirus numbers and are concerned. However, Clinton remains optimistic saying, “What I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of Disney employees, I would want to know everything is being done to make sure I’m safe and my union is participating in that.” He concluded, “We’ve accomplished these two things.”
Some examples Clinton gave regarding changes being made to accommodate cast members includes providing cast members with lighter, more form-fitting masks to make it easier to breathe during the Summer. Disney is also issuing extra masks to many employees who will now be issued five rather than three. Clinton also advised that Disney has modified their computer system sot that guests can scan in to their sheif rather than typing. Social distancing has also been tightened on employee buses.
One thing is for certain, this is a time of huge changes to the way we live not just at the theme parks but in our daily lives. As we feel our way through this, further updates to policies can be expected. Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for further updates!
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Source: Orlando Sentinel