Thousands Pour Into Disney World for Grand Reopening After Coronavirus Shutdown

Gregg Newton/AFPMatt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images; Joe Raedle
Gregg Newton/AFPMatt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images; Joe Raedle

Walt Disney World’s grand reopening in Orlando, Florida, drew thousands of guests on Saturday, as the popular destination opened its doors for the first time since March after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney World kicked off its phased reopening on Saturday, opening up Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.  Photos and videos show guests flocking to the parks.

“haven’t even made it in the gate yet and my heart is pounding out of my chest. just had to squeeze past a lane of opposite traffic while there’s this densely packed line for guest services. this is unacceptable — and I haven’t even made it into the park yet,” Theme Park journalist Caryle Wisel documented, expressing concern over what she was experiencing.

While videos and photos show do show long lines and crowded areas, there was a noticeable decrease in the volume of guests on some of the streets, as seen on social media.

Disney has provided an extensive explainer on its enhanced health and safety measures moving forward, basing the measures in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies. Enhanced cleaning, physical distancing, and reduced contact serve as “guiding principles” moving forward.

As detailed, Disney is requiring guests to make reservations to enter the park via the Disney Park Pass reservation system as a means to limit the number of guests in the park.

However, as the Orlando Sentinel reported, “Disney has not revealed how many people it will allow into the parks each day going forward.”

The outlet reported:

On Saturday, the queues for Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World snaked out of their buildings into the open-air walkway, where riders waited in groups spaced 6 feet apart. Disney has suspended the use of Its FastPass reservation system and single-rider lines for the reopening.

The Dumbo ride was spinning, but only three cars were occupied.

Visitors jockeyed along Main Street for pictures with a repainted Cinderella Castle as a background. It was harder to get a shot of the iconic building without other park goers in the scene, unlike previous lightly attended days where only annual passholders or Disney World employees could attend.

Additionally, temperature screenings will be required at some entries. Those with a confirmed temperature of 100.4 or greater will not be permitted to enter the park, nor will those within their party. Because of that, Disney is asking guests to check the temperatures of everyone within their parties prior to heading to the parks.

Face coverings are also required for all attendees ages two and up. Guests are required to wear them at all times, unless they are dining or swimming. All employees were wearing face coverings, per the Sentinel, and “workers with high contact with patrons, such as ride operators, were equipped with clear face shields as well.”

“At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings,” Disney notes.

Its website also contains a coronavirus disclaimer, which states in part: “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

“I think what we can say is that we’ve done everything we can to open up responsibly,” said Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, in May. “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.”

Disney Word’s reopening comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Florida. The Sunshine State reported 10,383 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total to 254,511 cases and 4,197 resident deaths as of Saturday afternoon.

Disney’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios are slated to reopen July 15.

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