Society

Disney reopens parks amid rising Covid-19 cases in Florida

Social distancing and health protocols are being enforced at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, where activities were resumed

Photo: Shutterstock
  • The resort suspended parades, fireworks and other activities that create crowds. Social distancing is enforced in the parks;
  • In California, the company gave up on reopening Disneyland after park workers protested. In Asia, its parks resumed activities in May and June.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, the two main Walt Disney World parks in Florida, reopened this Saturday, July 11, amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the state. Epcot and Hollywood Studios will reopen next Wednesday. 

For the first time in four months, Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck and other Disney characters welcomed tourists – albeit waving from a safety distance – to parts of the sprawling Orlando complex, the most-visited theme park in the world.

READ ALSO: Disney+ and HBO Max to capitalize on Latin Americans’ stacking platforms

According to Valor Econômico, the parks are operating in a fairly different way. Guests and employees wear face masks, undergo temperature screenings and are told to social distance everywhere from streets to rides. Plexiglass separate rows in lines, and ground markings indicate where people should stand.

The resort suspended parades, fireworks and other activities that create crowds, as well as close encounters with characters. Park capacity was also limited, but Disney does not disclose by how much.

READ ALSO: How streaming platforms are taking Latin American productions to new global audiences

Florida has emerged as an epicenter of Covid-19 infections. This week, the state broke a record of deaths in 24 hours: 120 last Thursday (9). Florida also registers more than 4,000 deaths by the new coronavirus and more than 240,000 confirmed cases.

Asia reopened, California did not

According to Reuters, Disney’s reopening of parks in China and Japan, in May and June, respectively, helped provide assurance about moving ahead in Florida.

READ ALSO: Disney streaming chief resigns and becomes TikTok’s CEO

In California, though, the company gave up on reopening Disneyland after park workers protested. It had previously scheduled a return to activities for July 17. In addition, the Californian government said the guidelines for reopening theme parks were not yet ready.

Walt Disney World receives a lot of tourists from Latin America. According to Orlando Sentinel, in 2018, officials from the tourism marketing agency announced that a record 75 million people visited Central Florida, an increase of 4.2% from the previous year. This included an 8.1% increase in visits from Brazilian tourists, to 893,000, one of the biggest international groups the parks receive, and a 13.4% increase in tourists from Mexico, to 382,000.