Slowly but surely restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and other public spaces have been cautiously re-opening as the Coronavirus curve begins to flatten worldwide. Yet, large, high-density venues, like amphitheaters and amusement parks, have taken longer to develop new protocols that are cohesive with both health requirements and the services, products, and entertainment experiences that they usually provide their clientele. Therefore, the next big step toward reopening all public facilities will be the reopening of these high-density venues.
Disney is at the forefront of this effort, as Walt Disney World News Today and Disneyland Paris President Natacha Rafalski announced the grand reopening date of Disneyland Paris and other locations on July 15th, 2020. The reopening will allow guests to return to Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel, and Disney Village. Of course, enhanced health and safety measures such as limited attendance of 12,000 patrons, advance ticket registration, facial coverings for all guests (ages 11 and up) and cast members, physical distancing and sanitation measures, and modified events/ shows must be taken. If all runs smoothly, the second phase will involve the reopening of other Disney hotels and themed locations at the end of July and beginning of August. Disneyland Paris is not alone in this endeavor, however, like many other Disney locations including Walt Disney World, Florida works to implement similar safety protocols before the reopening of the Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, and Epcot July 11th -15th.
Still, for other theme park locations, a quick turnaround in order to open up by mid-July is not as feasible. On June 24th, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure announced its delayed opening, as the state of California has not and will not issue theme park guidelines until at least July 4th. The delay is necessary not only because of a spike in Coronavirus cases and public concern, but strategically there is not enough time to bring back thousands of employees and implement all necessary protocols before July 17th. Disneyland assures, however, that as soon as theme park guidelines are released, a more definite opening date will be set.
In the meantime, Disney and its cast members are vigorously working, making visible changes to its parks as well as hosting and attending intensive training. “Reopening is just the beginning,” said Rafalski, but Disney and all of its parks will continue to adjust and evolve to advise from safety and health authorities. Disney looks forward to “returning to a world of magic,” but patrons should still be aware of the “inherent risk of exposure” to the Coronavirus in “any public place where people are present.” For now, Disney asks that you keep safe and keep dreaming, and they look forward to seeing their patrons soon.
Megan Kern is a second-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.