RICH THOMASELLI JULY 11, 2020 – TRAVEL PULSE
For the first time in nearly four months, the Happiest Place on Earth has unlocked its magical doors.
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., reopened this morning with wildly enthusiastic cast members – yes, even Mickey and Minnie – standing along Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom welcoming guests back to the park.
Only the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are operating today; EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on Wednesday, July 15.
But the reopening is bittersweet, coming at a time when the state of Florida has become the epicenter of a new surge of the coronavirus. Crowds were greeted by temperature tests and mandatory masks, and if you didn’t have a face covering, you were asked to go back to your car and get one or purchase one in the park. There were also hand sanitizers in droves on the grounds, and capacity was limited.
Here’s an inside look of what to expect if you visit.
Disney did not say how many guests it would allow.
Sisters Mary Griffin and Leslie Shinault of Rockledge, Florida, told USA Today that small crowds were a welcome sight, especially in the brutally hot and humid summer season.
“We saw four strollers by the carousel, instead of hundreds,” said Griffin.
“It feels like after a hurricane, when there’s hardly anybody here,” said Shinault.
“It feels wonderful,” said Griffin. “It’s a stress release for me, and this is just what I needed.”
“They’re sanitizing everything, keeping everyone six feet apart in line, everybody has a mask on and there’s hardly anybody here,” Shinault said. “We haven’t been run over by a stroller yet.”
“And there’s no one stepping on your heels,” Griffin told the paper.
But from the temperature checks to the masks to the cancellation of the daily parade down Main Street USA, the coronavirus hovers over everything.
The increase of new infections is hitting several states hard, notably Florida. There were 11,433 new cases alone on Friday in the state; Florida leads the nation with a seven-day average of more than 63,000 cases.