Here's What Disney World's Reopening Looked Like Amid Coronavirus
Socially distanced princesses, mask vending machines, and more were a part of Disney World's reopening.
Disney World reopened on Saturday, July 11, in Orlando, Florida, to the delight of some and the horror of others. The iconic theme park has been closed since mid-March, but reopened as Florida's coronavirus situation is hitting a critical level. The positive test rate in Florida peaked on July 8 at 18 percent, and the state reported an additional 11,433 cases of COVID-19 on July 11. That number is just shy of Florida's highest single day of new cases (11,458 on July 4), according to The New York Times. The total number of cases in Florida is now over 254,500 since the pandemic began, the third highest of any state in the U.S. (behind New York and California).
Disney previously opened Disney Springs, its outdoor shopping and dining area in Orlando, on May 20, before opening the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks on July 11. Epcot and Hollywood Studios will follow on Wednesday, July 15. In California, meanwhile, Disneyland is still shuttered.
Whether you're planning a trip to Disney World in the near future or you're just curious as to what's going down in the House of Mouse right now, read on for 20 photos and videos from reopening day that show how much the coronavirus has changed Disney World. And for more changes coming to Disney, check out This Classic Disney Ride Is Being Changed Due to Its Racist Associations.
Of course, the visitors who ventured to Disney World were thrilled to be back at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Ahead of the official reopening on Saturday, employees and annual passholders, like this one above, were able to get a sneak peak of Magic Kingdom's reopening. And if you want more updates like this one, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Some guests reported the lines outside the park were not socially distanced.
This guest eventually left before even making it to the gate.
But the monorail seemed to be spaced out for social distancing purposes.
There were temperature checks once visitors got to the park entrance.
Once inside, guests were welcomed by Disney Princesses and other characters standing six feet apart.
And employees—AKA "cast members"—waved at visitors on Main Street U.S.A., welcoming them "home."
Face masks were mandatory for Disney guests over the age of 2. And there was even a mask vending machine for those who needed one.
Face coverings that have proven to be less effective against COVID—like neck gaiters and bandanas—were not allowed, WDW News Today reports. And for more on that, check out This Popular Face Mask Isn't as Effective as You Thought, Study Finds.
And though it's unclear just how low capacity was, the place looked pretty empty.
There were markers on the lines for rides to help guests maintain social distance.
And rides were spaced out by putting empty rows in between groups.
There were also more markers to show guests where to stand when they entered attractions, like these in Haunted Mansion's Stretch Room.
Rides were being sanitized between each group of guests by Disney employees wearing both face masks and face shields.
Though, according to some guests, that couldn't be said of every ride.
On the Animal Kingdom Avatar ride, one visitor noticed a lack of cleaning and empty hand sanitizer dispensers. Meanwhile, amusement parks in Japan have some more extreme coronavirus guidelines. Read more here: The Startling Thing Some Amusement Parks Won't Allow During Reopening.
There were reminders to wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash your hands throughout the park.
But bathrooms didn't seem to have distancing enforcements, like blocking off urinals.
Considering how unsanitary buffets can be, it's no surprise Chef Mickey's, a buffet restaurant, was transformed into a family-style dining experience instead.
Self-serve soda machines were not available at quick-service restaurants to avoid cross-contamination from cup to cup.
And reusable menus were swapped for single-use versions instead.
All in all, guests who braved Disney World amid the pandemic seemed to be happy to be back experiencing the magic of Mickey and co.
But Disney was sure to let their guests know there was an inherent risk in catching the coronavirus just by being there (see photo 3 below).
"We have taken enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other guests and cast members. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting Walt Disney World," the sign reads. "An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting Walt Disney World, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. Help keep each other healthy and safe." And for more ways theme parks are changing, check out 7 Things You'll Never See in Theme Parks Ever Again.