Disney parks coronavirus updates

The Walt Disney Company is losing millions of dollars every day that its theme parks are closed, and the company has encountered a few roadblocks along its path toward reopening. Amid a record number of coronavirus cases in Florida, Walt Disney World still aims to reopen in July, and a new report has a list of the attractions that should be open and available to guests who choose to go back as soon as the gates open back up. Meanwhile, over in California’s Disneyland, Disney has reached a new agreement with one of its biggest unions about health and safety protocols that will be implemented for workers at the park.

Social Distancig Stormtroopers in Place at Disney World

Walt Disney World

Attractions Magazine reports that the following attractions will be accessible to guests when Disney World reopens:

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom
  • Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track at Epcot
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Spaceship Earth at EPCOT is said to also be operational, since the planned refurbishment to that attraction has been paused due to the pandemic.

Disney cavalcade concept art

But here’s the unsettling news. Disney previously announced that parades would be put on hold during the coronavirus to cut down on large gatherings of people in the park, but now Disney World is saying some of its characters will appear in “new ways” that are supposed to accommodate for social distancing regulations:

  • Special cavalcades down the Magic Kingdom parade route
  • Friends sailing the waterways of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Processions along the World Showcase promenade at Epcot
  • Motorcades on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard

While these events will happen at random throughout the park, which should help prevent people from gathering in an area ahead of time, the very nature of these things – cavalcades, processions, motorcades – are specifically meant to draw crowds. Other parks have put giant stickers on the ground laying out where it’s safe for people to stand, but let’s be realistic here: we all know how people can behave in large groups, so these little spur-of-the-moment processions sound like a disaster waiting to happen.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are currently slated to reopen on July 11, and EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15, 2020.

disneyland photo taken by Peter

Disneyland

Meanwhile, the Orange County Register reports that Disneyland has reached an agreement with several of its cast member unions about the parks’ planned reopening, addressing some health and safety issues for the employees who will be on the ground in the parks.

“The signed agreement details plans that include enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen and get thousands of our cast members back to work,” a Disneyland statement reads. Some of those new protocols now include:

  • Cast members will receive two weeks of sick pay if they contract the virus
  • Employees must “conduct an at-home COVID-19 assessment before heading into work,” and Disney will provide thermometers
  • Plastic face shields will be given to cast members who have to work within six feet of Disneyland visitors
  • When Disney calls employees about returning to work, cast members will be allowed to refuse the first recall notice, remain on furlough, and receive benefits. If they refuse a second call, they must go on an approved leave of absence or they could be fired.

You can head over to the OC Register to read about the additional demands that other unions are making on behalf of the employees before they return to work. Disneyland, which was originally planning to reopen on July 17 in time for the park’s 65th anniversary, has now indefinitely delayed its reopening.

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