Walt Disney World Resort (WDW), Florida controversially reopened on Saturday 11 July, despite a coronavirus surge across the US state.
Two of the four WDW Florida theme parks, Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom have reopened their gates after being closed for a few days shy of 4 months. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are set to reopen on Wednesday 15 July.
Some of Disney’s competitors including Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando reopened to visitors several weeks ago.
The theme park openings have divided the world, as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in the US state of Florida. On Sunday, the day after the Disney parks reopened, Florida’s Department of Health statistics said another 15,299 people had tested positive — pushing the total number of cases in the state to 269,811.
Not surprisingly, the social media controversy has been raging with questions ranging from “Is this just another time big corporate companies can thrive amidst a global pandemic, while others suffer? Will the “Happiest Place on Earth” soon be a heartbreaking hub of disease? Or is the company simply trying to do the right thing when it comes to supporting its staff and trying to take steps forward in the ‘new normal’?”
What Disney are saying
Disney has said that it is taking all necessary precautions for opening, including enhanced health and safety measures.
“Theme parks, Disney Resort hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences, and other offerings may be modified and will be limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or closure, based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing.”
“Additionally, attractions, experiences (such as shows, parades, and fireworks), services, and amenities may have limited availability or may remain closed. We will provide more information as it becomes available. We reserve the right to cancel any reservations, admission media or purchases and provide applicable refunds.”
Disney will also be limiting attendance numbers, performing more regular cleaning, implementing contactless experiences and hand sanitising stations, enforcing physical distancing, temperature screening guests, and requiring face coverings to be worn by all park guests and workers.
What everyone else is saying
While some hardcore Disney fans are loving the fact their second ‘home’ is back open, others have not welcomed the idea at all.
People have turned to Twitter to share their views on the matter and numerous Facebook groups have popped up, full of Disney fans criticising the move to reopen and questioning people who have decided to attend right away.
Nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on Disney executives and Florida officials to reevaluate their plan to reopen Disney World.
“Of all the businesses that could have afforded to stay closed (including paying furloughed employees) and of all the places to reopen… How one-dimensional, greedy, thoughtless, unintelligent could you be,”
Joanne Bautista, @soli_jo via Twitter
Others are enjoying a little spark of magic, nostalgia, and familiarity, perhaps to help get them through during these troubling times.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t come at the cost of lives.
What do you think about Disney World’s decision to reopen?
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