Coronavirus Chronicles: Disney World Fully Reopens to Crowds as Florida Surpasses 300K Coronavirus Cases

July 15, 2020–Disney World Fully Reopens to Crowds as Florida Surpasses 300K Coronavirus Cases

Olga Thompson/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Walt Disney World fully reopened for business Wednesday, marking the first time since mid-March all theme park portions of the Florida resort were available to guests.

The Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park once again welcomed guests, and EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios did the same Wednesday.

All four locations were busy, with some attractions’ wait times exceeding an hour. Guests noted on social media that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was popular, and the wait time for the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride was at nearly an hour not long after the area reopened. Disney World reopened at well below the average daily attendance to better allow for social distancing.

Disney last month received state and local approval to reopen the sprawling Orlando destination. However, as confirmed cases in the novel coronavirus began to skyrocket in Florida, the move was met with heavy criticism and pushback.

On Wednesday, July 15m the state surpassed 300,000 cases of COVID-19 with 10,181 new cases reported.

Along with criticism of the company, there has been a mockery of would-be park visitors. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Monday called those going to the Disney World amid the pandemic “dumbasses.”

“It’s crazy that we’re in the middle of a pandemic that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people and there are still folks out there like, ‘Life isn’t scary enough. Let’s go on a roller coaster!'” Noah said on his show. “What dad is so cheap that this vacation is worth the risk?” Pointing out park staff are just as much at risk as the guests, Noah quipped, “The safest job they have right now is inside a 200-degree rat costume.”

Disney has clearly warned that while numerous precautions such as new health and safety measures are now in place, guests assume all risk of possible infection should they enter the gates. “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 portion of Disney World’s warning on its website. “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. Help keep each other healthy.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been under criticism for his response to the pandemic, previously backed Disney World reopening. “Disney, I have no doubt, is going to be a safe environment,” he told reporters. “I think that where you start to see the spread is just in social situations where people let their guard down. Usually like a private party or something like that.”

Major League Soccer has restarted its season at the resort and the NBA will restart its season there this month.

Disney announced that it would once again close Hong Kong Disneyland due to a recent rise in virus cases in China.

But on Wednesday, Disneyland Paris partially reopened after months of being shuttered due to the pandemic.