Disney World Reopens with Short Lines and Scared Staff, as Florida COVID-19 Cases Spike

Some of the public love the short lines, while one union says it is unclear how Disney World can responsibly move toward reopening with COVID-19 cases spiking in Florida.

REUTERS/Gregg Newton

Take a gander at any of the public social media groups for enthusiasts of Orlando, Floridas Walt Disney World and youll find a common refrain: the theme park, which reopened on Friday amid a COVID-19 catastrophe, has super-short lines for all its top roller coasters right now.

The reopening also comes one day after unionized Disney staff lobbied, unsuccessfully for COVID-19 testing. The result, say Disney megafans who visited on reopening day, is a weirdly empty park.

Distanced Disney rules, some fans say.

Ummm Disney, can you be like this all the time!?? one person posted in a public Disney group, alongside pictures of virtually non-existent lines for popular rides.

Walking onto every ride with 5 mins wait if that! another wrote. I wish everyday was like that.

Some shared wait-time maps of Disney Worlds Animal Kingdom, which showed 5- minute waits on all major attractions. Others commented that plague-Disney was a great way to see the park without the crowds and expressed amazement that Disney Worlds typically in-demand tickets were so readily available for the rest of 2020.

Some of the emptiness is the result of Disney Worlds safety measures as COVID-19 cases see a frightening surge in Florida. Face masks are required in the park (although not elsewhere in Florida), and visitors will have their temperatures checked before entering.

Although Disney-goers could previously travel between the theme parks distinct sections (like Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom), inter-park travel is now limited. Disney World has also changed its programming, eliminating large parades and fireworks shows to discourage large crowds.

Still, questions abound about whether the parks will be able to avoid COVID-19, especially for employees who work there full-time. A recent Disney World promotional video might have accidentally inspired more fears than it soothed.

It is deeply disturbing that while coronavirus cases in Florida surge, Disney is refusing to provide regular testing to one of the few groups of workers in the park who by the very nature of their jobs, cannot use personal protective equipment. Now is the time for Disney to pause, focus on the science and put the safety of their actors and stage managers first by making regular testing available.

The following day, Disney rescinded its re-employment call for workers represented by the Actors Equity Association. The union has since filed a grievance with Disney World, accusing it of retaliat[ing] against workers fighting for a safe workplace during this pandemic.

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