Disney World reopens as coronavirus cases surge in Florida

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Visitors flocked to the theme park Saturday morning, despite the fact that Florida is one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots, with more than a quarter of a million cases confirmed. 

On Saturday, the state recorded an additional 11,433 new infections, taking the total number to 254,511. 

Ninety-two Floridians died from the contagious virus overnight, with state’s cumulative death count now at standing at 4,197. 

Meanwhile, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration reported that almost 85 percent of the state’s ICU hospital beds are now full.  

However, the alarming statistics did little to deter crowds who excitedly arrived at Walt Disney World where both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened to the public. 

‘It’s the chance to come back and be in the magic,’ Diane Watkins, a preschool teacher from Helena, Alabama,told The Associated Press. 

 ‘Hot or not, mask or not, we’re just happy to be here. I feel like everybody here is in the same frame of mind. Everybody is just so excited to be here.’

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state

Social distanced Disney! Staff were seen standing six feet apart on Saturday morning as they prepared to welcome guests back to the park

Social distanced Disney! Staff were seen standing six feet apart on Saturday morning as they prepared to welcome guests back to the park

Social distanced Disney! Staff were seen standing six feet apart on Saturday morning as they prepared to welcome guests back to the park 

Guests arriving at the Magic Kingdom theme park wait to get their temperatures checked before entering the theme park in Florida

Guests arriving at the Magic Kingdom theme park wait to get their temperatures checked before entering the theme park in Florida

Guests arriving at the Magic Kingdom theme park wait to get their temperatures checked before entering the theme park in Florida

Guests wearing protective masks wait outside the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

Guests wearing protective masks wait outside the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

Guests wearing protective masks wait outside the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

On Saturday, the state recorded an additional 11, 433 new infections, taking the total number to 254,511

On Saturday, the state recorded an additional 11, 433 new infections, taking the total number to 254,511

On Saturday, the state recorded an additional 11, 433 new infections, taking the total number to 254,511

Watkins visits the park around eight times a year, and said she cried when she walked into the Magic Kingdom and saw all the cast members lined up and clapping on Main Street.  

Lori Lovell of Evansville, Indiana, was also there for the park’s reopening on Saturday, accompanied by friends.

‘I have missed coming here. This is where I’ve made so many memories. It’s kind of our second home. Not being able to come here was hard,’ she stated. 

Disney’s new rules include mandatory masks and social distancing. Visitors will need reservations to enter a park, and they won’t be allowed to hop between parks. Both visitors and employees will receive temperature checks when they enter. Fireworks shows and parades have been suspended to prevent drawing too many people together.

Park-goers say that nearly everyone in sight wore masks on Saturday morning. 

Hand sanitizer stations have been set up, and photos showed guests respecting social distancing and guidelines. Since the park is at lower capacity, wait times for rides have significantly shortened. 

Whereas guests would once line up for 90 minutes to experience some rides, they are now able to get through in just five minutes.  

Hand sanitizer stations have been set up, and photos showed guests respecting social distancing and guidelines

Hand sanitizer stations have been set up, and photos showed guests respecting social distancing and guidelines

Hand sanitizer stations have been set up, and photos showed guests respecting social distancing and guidelines

Guests wearing protective masks wait to pick up their tickets at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

Guests wearing protective masks wait to pick up their tickets at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

Guests wearing protective masks wait to pick up their tickets at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World on the first day of reopening, in Orlando

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has reopened for the first time in nearly four months after it was forced to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Guests were undeterred by the soaring number of COVID-19 cases across the state 

Groups were seen respecting social distancing guidelines, and all patrons wore masks 

Guests are seen during the reopening of  Walt Disney World on Saturday

Guests are seen during the reopening of  Walt Disney World on Saturday

Guests are seen during the reopening of  Walt Disney World on Saturday

Park-goers enjoyed a socially-distanced rollercoaster ride. Disney executives believe the opening is safe, and everything has been done in accordance with state guidelines

Park-goers enjoyed a socially-distanced rollercoaster ride. Disney executives believe the opening is safe, and everything has been done in accordance with state guidelines

Park-goers enjoyed a socially-distanced rollercoaster ride. Disney executives believe the opening is safe, and everything has been done in accordance with state guidelines

A guest adheres to the social distancing signage on Saturday

A guest adheres to the social distancing signage on Saturday

A guest adheres to the social distancing signage on Saturday

However, visitors aren’t allowed to hug and greet the costumed Disney characters – who instead wave from motorcades as they make their way through the park.

Disney executives believe the opening is safe, and everything has been done in accordance with state guidelines.  

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products division.

‘This is the new world that we’re operating in, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,’ chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products division, Josh D’Amaro, said Saturday. 

‘I feel really good about our environment. We’re taking this seriously,’ he added. 

Visitors aren't allowed to hug and greet the costumed Disney characters - who instead wave from motorcades as they make their way through the park. A family enjoying the reopening are seen above

Visitors aren't allowed to hug and greet the costumed Disney characters - who instead wave from motorcades as they make their way through the park. A family enjoying the reopening are seen above

Visitors aren’t allowed to hug and greet the costumed Disney characters – who instead wave from motorcades as they make their way through the park. A family enjoying the reopening are seen above

Disney Springs shoppers wear face masks and Disney-themed clothing while Walt Disney World conducts a phased reopening

Disney Springs shoppers wear face masks and Disney-themed clothing while Walt Disney World conducts a phased reopening

Disney Springs shoppers wear face masks and Disney-themed clothing while Walt Disney World conducts a phased reopening

A tent is set up outside the Magic Kingdom to screen the temperature of arriving guests

A tent is set up outside the Magic Kingdom to screen the temperature of arriving guests

A tent is set up outside the Magic Kingdom to screen the temperature of arriving guests 

Keith Cunningham from South Carolina buys Walt Disney apparel at the Bargain World gift shop located near Walt Disney World

Keith Cunningham from South Carolina buys Walt Disney apparel at the Bargain World gift shop located near Walt Disney World

Keith Cunningham from South Carolina buys Walt Disney apparel at the Bargain World gift shop located near Walt Disney World

Tigger entertains guests wearing masks

Tigger entertains guests wearing masks

Tigger entertains guests wearing masks

A Magic Kingdom cast member is shown in a face mask

A Magic Kingdom cast member is shown in a face mask

A Magic Kingdom cast member is shown in a face mask

Disney has been opening its parks back up around the globe for the past two months  

The reopening of parks in Asia helped provide assurance about moving ahead in Florida. 

According to Fox News, Mayor Jerry Demings was also feeling upbeat about the reopening, stating: ‘I will say that even though the virus is still within our community, we have to learn to live with it. 

‘And so, what Disney is doing is really, I call it, akin to a living laugh because this is a wonderful experiment to figure out if we can reopen and reopen our theme parks and do so in a safe manner.’ 

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