June 13, 2020 – With new social distancing measures in place, Disney World in Orlando reopened on Saturday – as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to increase across Florida.
Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park welcomed guests on Saturday morning after two days of gentle opening. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on Wednesday.
All guests will have their temperature checked, face masks are required and hand washing stations abound. To control the number of people in the parks, entry can only be obtained by purchasing tickets in advance. Events that attract crowds such as fireworks and parades have been canceled.
“We have taken improved health and safety measures – for you, our other guests and cast members. You must follow all of the instructions displayed during your visit to Walt Disney World Resort, “says Disney World on its website, adding that” By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks associated with exposure to COVID- 19 “.
Disney parks closed in mid-March as the coronavirus ran across the country. The security measures were announced in late May, even before Florida became a COVID-19 hotspot.
On Saturday, the state health department reported 95 new deaths and 11,433 new positive cases over a 24-hour period. Overall, Florida has reported 244,151 cases with 4,197 deaths. South Florida is particularly affected.
An epidemiologist says that reopening during the Florida outbreak in cases will make Disney World “the happiest place on Earth … for the coronavirus.”
“There are several hospitals that are short of beds in Florida, with health workers warning that there will not be enough ventilators and rooms, and cases in the state are breaking new records daily,” says the Dr. Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health told Variety. “Going forward with the reopening, I think, is a disaster.”
Tourism is the engine of the Florida economy and Disney is leading the way. Industry leaders hope the reopening of the park will boost the state’s economy.
“The importance of Disney to our region’s economy and the appeal of global tourism cannot be overstated, and we are delighted to see Orlando’s # 1 employer officially back in the game,” said said the VisitOrlando website.
Two tourist attractions in the Orlando area, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, reopened last month. Orange County health department director Raul Pino said there had been no major outbreaks of the reopenings.
“I would be lying to say that we have not seen any case here and there which mentions one of the parks. But we haven’t seen any epidemics in any of the parks open so far, and we’ve been looking for it … we haven’t found it, “Pino said at a press conference.
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