About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
GOOD Worldwide Inc. publishing
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Disney World is re-opening on Saturday because apparently 2020 has taught us nothing

Disney World is sticking to its phased re-opening plan despite Florida making headlines as a coronavirus hotspot amid a spike of reported COVID-19 cases.

Disney World is re-opening on Saturday because apparently 2020 has taught us nothing
Cover Image Source: A view of the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is currently in the final hours of its grand re-opening. The "most magical place on earth" is sticking to its July 11 phased re-opening plan despite Florida making headlines as a coronavirus hotspot amid a spike of reported COVID-19 cases. According to CNN, Disney first announced it's phased re-opening back in late May when Florida and other Sun Belt states hadn't yet seen the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases that has been reported over the past 14 days. The Florida Department of Health reported a total of 223,783 cases as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, of which 10,044 new cases were reported in the previous 24-hour period alone.


Meanwhile, in Orange County—where the Disney parks are located—a total of 15,194 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Despite these worrying numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who didn't hesitate to Disney's re-opening plans, is still solidly backing the Disney World re-opening. According to Orlando Sentinel, he praised the precautions being taken by theme parks during a news briefing Monday. DeSantis said he doesn't consider theme park re-openings to be a problem since Universal Orlando "is doing a great job" with safety restrictions and Disney's re-opening plans are also sound.


The governor even went as far as to say that he believes attending a Florida theme park would be safer than going to a large private gathering in light of the precautionary measures they've implemented. However, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a late May interview that those in high-risk groups—the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions—should weigh the pros and cons before deciding to visit such theme parks. In the end, it's a risk versus reward calculation, he said at the time.


"We know this virus makes some people sicker than others. These are the folks we are most concerned about," said Schaffner. Dr. Shannon Hopson, an endocrinologist in Corvallis, Oregon, backed this statement, adding: "Anyone who is in the high-risk groups for serious illness would need to be cautious about returning—but also anyone who regularly comes in close contact with those who fit the criteria for being high-risk. I see so many people with the attitude of' 'well if I get it, so be it,' but they forget about the risk to their friends and family [back home]."


Amid mounting criticism, Disney on Tuesday released a health update from its chief medical officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel, on the many virus safety efforts underway. "From increased cleaning and disinfecting across our parks and resorts, to updated health and safety policies, we have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly," Hymel said in a blog post. "We implemented our health and safety measures after considering the guidance of government and local health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to the U.S. Travel Association and Disney's team of health experts."


Julie Tremaine, a freelance travel writer, believes re-opening will be quite a challenge for Disney World given its size and complexity. "Walt Disney World's re-opening has definitely been bumpier than some of the other theme parks, but considering I called the reservation line about 40 times last week before I got through, that isn't stopping anyone from trying to get there for July 11, no matter how complicated it is," she said. "I feel like I'm going to be relearning the entire Disney protocol when I go. There are so many modified experiences, so many restaurants, and resorts still closed, so many new ways of doing things, so many changes just to being at the park itself."


More Stories on Scoop