On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis instructed Disney and Universal Orlando to submit their plans and strategies for re-opening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, on Wednesday, Disney Springs shopping and dining complex will begin to entertain guests once more in a partial limited re-opening.
Though specific new measures such as requiring all guests and employees to wear masks, temperature screenings before entry, and plexiglass dividers between registers have been put in place, Disney is making it clear who is responsible for any sickness.
“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,” reads a disclaimer on the Disney World website via The Hollywood Reporter.
It concludes: “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”
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Additional “enhanced health and safety measures” are expected to be put in place by Disney, which will open retail shops such as the World of Disney Store and various Disney restaurants one week from Wednesday. The company is retraining staff to better sanitize and cleanse high-traffic areas where the coronavirus may be able to spread through touch. Social distancing is also expected to be enforced in some capacity. As of now, there is no firm date for Disney’s American parks and resorts to fully reopen.
On May 11, Disney reopened its Shanghai Disneyland park—the first of its parks to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move was seen as a testing ground of sorts for Disney’s remaining properties and the early returns have been positive thus far with the entire week selling out almost immediately. This suggests that demand has not diminished due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. Though Shanghai Disneyland can fit a maximum capacity of 80,000, it has been capping attendance at 30 percent, or 24,000 daily visitors.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek admitted in a recent interview with CNBC that cultural differences between China and America—such as the regular wearing of facemasks—may prevent domestic reopenings from operating as smoothly. Analysts estimate that 80 percent of Disney’s parks and resorts revenue is derived from its Orlando location and that the company has lost roughly $1 billion during the pandemic stemming from its global park closures.