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The 'Happiest Place on Earth' Won't Be Happy If Guests Can't Socially Distance in Disney Land

Marion Charatan

Posted on July 12, 2020 01:58

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It will be hard to keep millions of visitors socially distanced in the age of COVID-19.

I had to mail something out last week; snail mail. My trip to the post office in Seattle turned out to be a waste of time. When I arrived, the line was out the door. The average distance between customers was about a foot (I guesstimated), and I knew I'd be waiting for at least half an hour in an enclosed space. I left.

For me, I'm choosing to play on the side of extreme caution. Until we know more about this insidious virus, I believe it's best to apply every possible safety measure. I have friends who seem to disagree and are traveling, gallivanting, just rushing around without too much concern — but I march to my own drum, thank you. 

It is hard and frustrating not to be able to do what you want to do. If things ever 'return to normal,' I will doubly appreciate the luxury of moving around freely without the worry of getting sick.

One thing on my bucket list is to visit a dear friend in Orlando, Florida and go to Disney Land. I'll never be too old for that!

The "Happiest Place on Earth" reopened yesterday, Saturday, July 11. The flagship Orlando location includes Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It had been closed for 4 months.

A media analyst's report estimated a staggering $11.2 billion dollars were lost since the park closed. But the reopening poses overwhelming challenges for Disney Land management.

There are about 75,000 employees in Disney Land, which hosts millions of guests each year. The Magic Kingdom, where the famous Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle are housed, had more than 20 million visitors in 2018. 

Just think of what it takes to coordinate social distancing in a vast area with so many people. "The Happiest Place on Earth" is roughly 43 square miles; about twice the size of Manhattan. To get into the nooks and crannies of sanitizing shared spaces is going to be taxing for cleaning staff and I daresay, almost impossible to keep up with. 

And what if people refuse to wear masks? We've seen this time and time again, with highly uncivilized, even violent, responses from some.

Even outside, if you're shoulder-to-shoulder, it's advisable to wear a mask — and certainly for indoor attractions. There has been negative reaction to Disney's approval of a mask-free zone in some indoor spaces, even though masks are required in most of the amusement park.

Unfortunately, there has been a large uptick of COVID-19 in Florida. 10,000 new cases were reported as of last Tuesday. 17,000 Disney Union employees' objected to the Orlando park and other Disney venues reopening their doors.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said, “I think what we can say is that we’ve done everything we can to open up responsibly.”

Undoubtedly true. I believe the Disney Corporation's efforts to sanitize were diligent, but still, I am with the employees who insisted the parks should have stayed closed for the time being.

Marion Charatan

Posted on July 12, 2020 01:58

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