Several days ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state would immediately move to Phase 3 of its reopening plan.
Under Phase 3 of the Governor’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan,” “theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.”
But what does that mean for Disney World? Like other Florida theme parks, Disney World reopened this summer with a variety of new policies and practices due to the pandemic, including limited capacity, which was implemented through the Park Pass reservation system.
While Phase 3 would certainly allow Disney and other Florida theme parks to dramatically change some of their current policies, like park capacity limits, will this move actually result in any major, immediate changes in Disney’s policies and procedures? It seems Disney World does not expect to make any immediate changes to its operating procedures for the time being. In an email sent to Fox35News, Disney made the following statement:
“We received the Governor’s executive order and are evaluating it to determine what it may mean for our business. We are not making any immediate changes. As a reminder, face coverings are still required at Walt Disney World Resort.”
According to Fox35News, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that “he anticipates the theme parks will take their time.” Fox News Business Contributor Gary Kaltbaum also said that he thinks the theme parks want to be careful “because you don’t want another episode or a blow-up of the virus and they have to go backwards again.”
Masks are currently required at Disney World parks for guests two years of age and older. Guests can only remove their masks, according to the current Disney policy, when they are stationary. All guests are also required to undergo temperature screenings before they are allowed to enter the parks, and there are markers throughout the parks to contribute to ensure social distancing.
Since Disney World reopened, we have noticed crowd levels have been increasing somewhat. It’s unclear if that’s a result of gradual increases in capacity limits or simply increases in park attendance, or if it’s happening for other unseen reasons. But, on Labor Day weekend we saw some of the highest wait times for attractions in Magic Kingdom that we’ve seen since the reopening.
We’ve also seen Park Pass reservations filling up for upcoming holidays like Halloween. So capacity may not have been increased, but it is definitely feeling more crowded in the parks these days.
In terms of other Orlando theme parks, according to a statement made by SeaWorld Orlando to Fox35News, SeaWorld Orlando has noted that they will “continue to evolve their procedures and manage capacity to maintain compliance with state and local government recommendations, while prioritizing the safety of our ambassadors, guests, and animals.”
For now, it looks like Disney World and other theme parks in Florida will likely not be making any immediate changes with respect to capacity limits as a result of this transition to Phase 3.
We’ll keep our ears open for more news regarding the theme parks and the impact of the global pandemic as the situation continues to evolve, so be sure to come back for all the latest updates.
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