Despite A Coronavirus Surge, Disney World Has Reopened In Florida

Despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, Disney World pushed ahead with their plans for a phased reopening in Florida, starting today, as the Magic and Animal Kingdoms opened their gates to eager Disneyphiles across the state. The remaining Disney World theme parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studio are expected to follow suit and open up next week on July 15th. In California, another state that is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, Disneyland and California Adventure will remain closed until given the go-ahead by the state government, after plans for a July 17th reopening fell apart due to safety concerns from employees, though Disney’s shopping center, Downtown Disney, did open retail stores this week, which resulted in some pretty lengthy lines.

If you’re planning on a trip to Disney World this weekend, you’ll be upset to know that just because the parks are reopening, doesn’t mean we live in a fantasy world where COVID-19 doesn’t exist. The experience at Disney World will be much different than what you’re used to. All guests over the age of two, according to Disney’s “Know Before You Go” preparation page, must wear face coverings in all public areas.

That means in line, on the ride, while you’re buying tickets, and even when you’re queuing up for a turkey leg. Guests may only remove their face masks to eat and drink, and all restaurants will require a dining reservation. The park also recommends that you are prepared for contactless forms of payment and suggests all visitors download the My Disney Experience App to receive up to date park information and additional safety reminders.

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, posted a cast photo from Florida shortly before the park opened, writing: “We had an amazing morning with the Cast before reopening the park today. I’ve missed you all. So happy to be together again.”

Craig Williams, a vlogger for The DIS — an acronym for Disney Information Station — live-tweeted his experience.

One post showed a lack of crowds, which is alluring:

But it wasn’t all perfect in the Happiest Place on Earth, and reports from park visitors and reporters shared via Twitter offered examples of how the park is struggling to adhere to its own increased safety precautions.

For a little context, as of July 10th, Florida has a total of 244,151 confirmed cases of coronavirus, it’s not the highest in the US (it’s 3rd) but it gets especially scary when you consider how quickly that number is rising. According to Florida’s Local 10 News, on Friday, July 10th, Florida reported 11,433 new cases in a single day, a small decrease from the state’s single-day high of 11,458 recorded just last Saturday. This week alone, the state saw close to 10,000 new cases per day. According to CNN, the number of cases per 100k people living in the state is 1,137 — compared to California’s 767 per 100k.

All in all, the reopening of Disney World is a test balloon for other public spaces to reopen. Unfortunately, the stakes are so high that the test itself becomes a matter of life and death.