CBS — Walt Disney World’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios welcomed back visitors on Wednesday, completing a rolling opening of Disney World’s theme parks that started last weekend with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. The parks were the last of Orlando’s major theme parks to reopen. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando opened their doors last month.
The opening comes as coronavirus cases are surging in Florida, and all of the parks have new health and safety restrictions. The number of visitors being allowed in has been capped to allow for social distancing. Visitors and employees must wear masks and get their temperature checked upon entering.
Amusement park experts predicted Disney would take those steps. Disney will be operating at a loss immediately after reopening its parks, but getting some income from fewer visitors is better than getting no money at all, Martin Lewison, a business professor at Farmingdale State College in New York who studies the amusement parks industry, told CBS MoneyWatch.
Disney is requiring reservations, and Disney employees won’t be allowed to take photos of visitors in front of Cinderella’s Castle since it involves touching the tourists’ cameras. Disney World posted on its website that “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
Theme park goers, who have spent weeks stuck indoors from stay-at-home orders, flooded Disney’s online reservation system just hours after the company made it available.
There will be no live shows at Disney World since the reopening has caused a labor dispute between Disney and its actors and singers.
The union that represents those workers has filed a grievance against Disney, saying that members faced retaliation for demanding coronavirus tests. The actors and singers initially were called back to work, but that invitation was rescinded after the union made public its concerns about the lack of testing for those who can’t wear masks while performing, according to Actors’ Equity Association.
Despite the parks being reopened, not all of Disney World’s 77,000-member workforce has been called back to work because of the limits on attendance. A coalition of unions that represents about 43,000 workers says only about 20,000 members have been called back to work.