Disney World During COVID-19 

While Disney World May Have Reopened, The Theme Parks Still Look Far From Normal


Disney, like many other businesses, has faced great change as a result of the pandemic. “Disney – Cinderella (Explored)” by Express Monorail is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kate Stout, Writer

When COVID-19 first started to spread all Disney parks shut their gates, but as the pandemic rages on, some of its parks and resorts have openedDespite all of this, Disney is in a very different position today than it was a year ago, in terms of both guest and employee experience.


Disney World decided to open back up in the summer, only a few months after they first went into lockdown, although the parks in California have still yet to open their doorsAccording to the Orlando Sentinel, it originally opened at 25% capacity, before rising in December up to 35% capacity, despite growing case numbers 

News Channel Wesh 2 reported that Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek felt comfortable raising the maximum number of guests allowed in the park, due to the safety measure being taken.   

We’re very pleased with how we’ve become adept at operating under these constraints,” Chapek said. 

The article also explains the massive financial losses Disney has faced this year as a result of having to limit the number of guests in the park. 

Disney decided not to go 100% capacity despite being able to since Floridian governor Ron DeSantis announced that all businesses and even restaurants could open fully if they choseThis was officially implemented in September and was the third phase of Florida’s reopening.  

Guest Experience 

Due to COVID-19, Disney has been taking many steps to ensure the safety of its guests.  Whether or not these precautions are enough to prevent the spread of COVID is up for debate, and regardless of how people feel the parks are being visited. 

According to Disney’s official website guests over the age of two years old are required to wear a mask, or at least a similarly acceptable face coveringThese coverings cannot be removed during any time oday or area of the park unless guests are dining or swimmingDisney claims that guests will have to leave the park if they refuse to comply with this rule.  

Additionally, Disney has taken steps to provide both guests and cast members with handwashing stations throughout the park, to help encourage both groups to be as safe as possibleTo make maintaining six feet between people easier, Disney has placed markers on floors so that guests can be sure they are distancing correctly. Even in the parking lots, Disney’s websites share how only every other parking space will be used.  

After guests have entered the park, they must have their temperatures checked anyone with or in the party of someone with a fever of over 100.4 degrees must return homeDisney also provides a list of symptoms on their website, explaining that anyone exhibiting any symptoms should not come to DisneyWhile these safety precautions are helpful, it is important to note that many people can spread the virus without showing any signs.  

During the occasions where direct guest and employee contact is called for, primarily transactions, guests are recommended to use the My Disney Experience app. This app has existed long before COVID-19 but was used primarily for families to plan their day at Disney in advance. This includes Fast Passes and restaurant reservations, now the app is more important for contactless exchanges. 

Today, to enter any of the parks, guests must also reserve their spots in advance, gone are the days where guests could simply show up for a day of family fun. This is done to help monitor capacity, and reservations must be done days in advance. 

Worker Experience  

While Disney has tried to make the best of a bad situation and continue to open and run its parks throughout COVID-19, many workers have still found themselves in a precarious situation.  

A couple of months ago, AP news shared how Disney plans to lay off around 32,000 employeesto help the company, make it through COVID-19. This includes employees that worked directly in the park and those that worked behind the scenes.  

Additionally, Disney is furloughing 37,000 employees, to try to cut costs, leaving many people out of workThe furloughed employees can expect their jobs to return sometime in the future.  

For students at FCUS, this issue may be one that strikes even closer to home, since it is common for a massive employer like Disney to employ parents of students at FCUS.  

Senior Chloe Webber and her father spend time at Disney outside of the pub Rose and Crown in Epcot, where her father works.  

Sophomore Amelia Vega’s mother works selling ice cream in Magic Kingdom, Vega shared how she disapproves of Disney’s decision to open the parks, out of concern for her mother’s safetyShe herself has not been going to the parks either.  

“I don’t think it’s a good idea with everything going on in the world and how gross objects and places really are because of selfish people who don’t believe in science,” Vega explained 

Although, Vega shared that she did understand Disney’s decision from a business perspective.  

“It’s a heated situation but somewhat understandable because businesses aren’t doing so well right now and they are losing money, making it difficult for them to pay their employees when they are home,” Vega continued.  

Not all students agree with Vega’s thoughts on DisneySenior Chloe Webber had no qualms with Disney’s reopening, both so her father could get back to work and so she could visit the parks again herselfWebber described her worries when Disney first closed.  

I was concerned that Disney wasn’t going to open for a long time and my dad wouldn’t have a job for months,” Webber shared, adding that he went back to work in August. “I was glad he was finally going back to work after being off.”  

Webber explained some of the safety precautions being taken that made her comfortable with visiting the park. 

“He always washes his hands and washes his mask when he gets home. He changes at work, so he never brings those clothes home,” Webber said. I was surprised at all the safety precautions Disney has taken including cast members wearing a mask and shield. 

Disney’s opening may be controversial, but the allure of Disney in a time of such uncertainty is undeniable for many and the park offers a welcome escape during such a tumultuous time.  Many may agree, regardless of how safe they feel Disney is being, that hopefully, sometime soon, the parks can be visited without the looming danger of COVID-19