Walt Disney World reopens with distancing measures amid COVID-19 surge

Florida’s Walt Disney World reopened to the public on Saturday for the first time in four months amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state. 

Visitors walked in with pre-booked tickets, and were asked to wear face mask at all times and maintain appropriate distance from each other at all places.

Welcome back

Walt Disney Co welcomed a limited number of guests to its two most popular parks at the sprawling Orlando complex, the world’s most-visited theme park resort, with a host of safety measures designed to reassure visitors and reduce the chances of catching the sometimes deadly virus.

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Mandatory precautions

At the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, the two parks that reopened Saturday, guests and employees wore face masks, underwent temperature screenings and were told to social distance everywhere from streets to rides. 

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Employees to rescue

Every time the visitors, knowingly or unknowingly, ignored the protocols of social distancing, Disney employees stepped in and began enforcing distancing requirements.

Disney said it had trained employees to nudge guests who become lax about the rules. Plentiful signs and audio announcements every 10 minutes reminded visitors of the new measures.

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Dressed for the occasion

As all the Disney characters waved and interacted with the visitors from a distance, some visitors decided to get creative and dressed for the occasion. People were also spotted wearing Disney face masks.

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Graduating in style

As the tickets were pre-booked, some visitors decided to host their long-due graduation parties in the Disney World. Majority of schools and universities could not host the convocation ceremony and graduation party, like every year, due to the nationwide lockdown and the danger of spreading of the infection.

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Florida: Epicenter of COVID-19

Florida has emerged as an epicenter of COVID-19 infections. Over the past two weeks, the state reported 109,000 new coronavirus cases, more than any other US state. However, Disney World still continued with its plans of reopening as Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, approved the reopening plans in late May, before the current surge.

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Internal dispute over coronavirus testing

About 750 stage performers were absent because of a dispute over coronavirus testing. The Actors Equity union wants Disney to provide regular testing of members who must perform without masks.

Disney has said it is following health experts’ recommendations to focus on other safeguards. If employees seek tests on their own, Disney’s health insurance will cover it, according to a source familiar with the matter.

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Other Disneylands

Disney’s reopening of parks in Asia helped provide assurance about moving ahead in Florida, organisers claimed. Disneyland Shanghai opened in May, followed by the Disneyland parks in Hongkong and Tokyo in June and July, respectively.

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