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Disney Parks Reopen After Four Months of Closure

ORLANDO, Florida (FNN NEWS) – Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened to the general public today, featuring a host of new COVID-19 social distancing policies.

When Disney World announced it would be closing its parks in Florida and California indefinitely on March 12, it was a surprising move. Only twice before, after the John F. Kennedy Assassination and the 9/11 Terrorist attacks, have the parks been deliberately closed. For four months, as the coronavirus situation has twisted and turned in unexpected ways around the nation, Disney has repeatedly pushed back its opening date.

Following the approval of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Disney announced that the parks would be opening in stages. Annual Passholders were allowed to enter Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on Wednesday July 9, while the general public were greeted today. Hollywood Studios and Epcot will be opening Wednesday July 15.

In an attempt to increase the cleanliness and safety of the parks, Disney has announced new coronavirus policies. Their website details the changes visitors can expect to see, including mandatory park reservations, required face masks for everyone over the age of two, and temperature screenings on entry.

There are also new social distancing requirements. All ride lines are spaced out to ensure 6-foot distancing, park hopping is not allowed, and parades and fireworks have been canceled in order to fight crowds.

Additionally, Disney characters are not allowed to hold their traditional meet and greets with children and families. Mickey and Minnie will have to resign to waving to children as they walk around the park.

Concerning the reopening and new policies, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNN:

“Well, I think what we can say is that we’ve done everything we can to open up responsibly, 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 is the core of Central Florida’s tourism industry. Employing over 70,000 people and welcoming upwards of 70 million visitors annually, the closure dealt a devastating blow. Countless lost revenue has threatened the local economy. Employees received paychecks until April 19, but for three months have been without work. Unemployment requests in Florida have exceeded capacity, and have led to crashes in the online systems.

The opening of Disney parks is a sense of relief to those who need to pay their bills, and to investors who need to see stocks rallying again. It’s also an opportunity for adventurous enthusiasts and fans to return to the “Most Magical Place on Earth”.

The decision to open is not without controversy though, as COVID-19 cases surge in Florida and around the country. Many express concerns about the effectiveness of Disney’s cleaning and social distancing policies. The next several weeks will be closely monitored to see the effects of reopening on coronavirus outbreaks.

Disney’s reopening could very well inspire other businesses and parks around the nation to reopen as well, a contrast to local and state governments that are increasing regulation on travel and business to curb spreading the virus. These opposing moves will certainly encourage more national discussion on the direction of coronavirus policies heading into the fall.

For Disney fans around the country and world who will not be traveling to Orlando anytime soon, a family friendly alternative is available. Thanks to Disney’s launch of Disney+ late last year and its addition of Broadway hit “Hamilton,” Disney fans have plenty of material to stream at home.

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Marcos Barrios is a Florida National News contributing writer. The avid writer and musician is passionate about politics and entertainment in Florida and abroad.

 

2 comments

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