Disney takes steps toward US reopening, but not everyone is happy with conditions
Disney is reopening part of its Florida complex on Wednesday with cautionary language about the lingering risk of the coronavirus and new rules that have some fans vowing not to return under what they consider too-strict conditions.
"Not going till they remove these restrictions that don't keep anyone safe," said one user replying to an Instagram post, voicing displeasure with mask and temperature-check requirements. "All the magic is gone while these demands are in place."
None of the company's domestic theme parks have a reopening date, but the admission-free Disney Springs area - full of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues - is starting a phased opening Wednesday, with more following a week later.
New rules for anyone wanting to visit include temperature screenings, physical distancing and required face coverings for anyone age 3 or older. Visitors have to bring their own masks and wear them at all times, except while eating. There will also be fewer entrances, limited parking, no scheduled entertainment, reduced hours and more hand sanitizers. Guests are being asked not to use cash.
"We understand that these times are challenging, and we appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as we navigate as responsibly as we can," the reopening page says. "Together, we can find new ways to have fun while being diligent to maintain proper physical distancing."
Still, the company warns, there will be risks.
"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," the website says. "By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19."
The company adds: "Let's keep each other healthy and safe."
A "Welcome Back!" blog item by Disney Springs Vice President Matt Simon that laid out details of the new requirements got 180 comments, roughly half of which were in support of the reopening and new rules. But several dozen responses tore into Disney for the new rules and included vows to stay away as long as the measures were in place or sell their stock in the company.
"I will not be back to any part of Disney until the hype and mask wearing has been discontinued," one person wrote. "It has nothing to do with being upset about the inconvenience and everything to do with my being treated as a free responsible adult."
Another urged the company to "stop the fear mongering."
"Masks and temperature checks are not very magical no matter how you try to paint it," another user said. Some sparred with one another before comments stopped being accepted, with mask fans thanking the disgruntled for staying away. Someone recommended that anyone upset by masks stay home "or go enjoy Gator World." (GatorWorld, also in Florida, says it remains closed, but Orlando's Gatorland said it was preparing to reopen and would "encourage" visitors to wear masks.)
One commenter just wanted to know if "some fun cute Disney face coverings" would be for sale.
Wednesday's partial reopening of Disney Springs follows the opening last week of Universal CityWalk in Orlando, operated by competitor Universal Orlando Resort, with similar requirements.
Shanghai Disneyland started welcoming visitors back last week after being closed since late January. The park opened with limited attendance, temperature checks, mask rules and other health requirements; an adjacent hotel and shopping area had already reopened in March.
During an earnings call this month, Walt Disney Co. chief executive Bob Chapek said the company could use similar measures at other locations around the world.
"While it's too early to predict when we'll be able to begin resuming all our operations, we are evaluating a number of different scenarios to ensure a cautious, sensible and deliberate approach to the eventual reopening of our parks," Chapek said.The Washington Post