Even though Florida is the new epicenter of the coronavirus in the US, Disney World is moving ahead with plans to reopen this weekend. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are scheduled to open on Saturday to guests with pre-booked reservations, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios will open on July 15.
Disney World’s reopening is a sharp contrast to Disneyland in California, whose planned reopening this month was delayed by an uptick in virus cases.
Matt Hollis, head of the Service Trades Council Union coalition (STCU), which represents Disney World employees, told The Guardian, “There’s absolutely people that are nervous, when you hear the reports of the virus, the statistics, but what they [the Disney employees] see every day is Disney taking the steps necessary to keep them and the guests safe. There’s certainly going to be a learning curve as we learn the new normal, but the cast members will do everything they can to adapt with the new measures designed to keep everyone safe.”
Disney World plans to reopen at reduced capacity, enforce strict social-distancing measures, and implement a rigorous cleaning regimen. Twenty thousand furloughed workers are returning to Disney World for the first phase of the reopening, and the STCU has arranged for two week’s paid quarantine for workers who become infected with, or are exposed to, the virus.
There is opposition to the reopening. As a nonessential business, many believe it’s irresponsible of Disney to reopen right now given the resurgence of cases in the state.
Governor Ron DeSantis, however, expressed confidence in Disney’s plans for reopening. “Disney, I have no doubt, is going to be a safe environment. I think that where you start to see the spread is just in social situations where people let their guard down. Usually like a private party or something like that.”