Walt Disney World had taken the unprecedented step of closing down operations at the start of the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic. Disney theme parks worldwide had closed indefinitely by March 16. Walt Disney World’s 25 resort hotels closed almost one week later. The closures put tens of thousands of Disney cast members out of work, and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars per day.
Late June, however, Walt Disney World announced that it would begin a phased reopening of its theme parks and resorts. Many resort hotels had re-opened on June 22. Disney announced the theme parks would begin reopening in July. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are currently slated to open July 11, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios will open July 15.
Walt Disney World is one of the largest employers in the Central Florida area, employing at least 65,000 cast members across a wide range of properties and disciplines. Many of these cast members found themselves furloughed and at the not-so-tender mercies of Florida’s antiquated unemployment system. The news that they would finally be going back to work was welcomed by many of them.
More importantly, however, Walt Disney World has made Central Florida one of the world’s premier vacation destinations. Everyone wants to travel to Florida to take a stroll down Main Street, USA and meet Mickey and his friends. The entire economy of Central Florida is geared around catering to tourists visiting the various theme parks.
Today saw the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom conduct a soft opening for cast members and annual passholders. The soft opening is being used by Walt Disney World to test its new social distancing and safety procedures put in place to guard against the Chinese Coronavirus. The soft opening was greeted with joy by many hard core Disney fans.
Hearing magic kingdom main street loop with the up song I AM CRYING ITS BEEN TOO LONG TT
— – (@Ilo_Na_Chu) July 7, 2020
hi i went to magic kingdom today pic.twitter.com/vMYzfRzNR6
— katelyn (@katemarieugh) July 7, 2020
I’m starting to get emotional about being at Magic Kingdom on Saturday. I’m so excited to finally be back at my favorite place with my favorite person. My heart is happy.
— Danie (@helloitsdanie) July 7, 2020
the front and back of the new, renovated cinderella castle in magic kingdom at orlando 🥺 ITS SO PRETTY pic.twitter.com/rquxXsHkiU
— linds ♡ (@gottabeLJ) July 7, 2020
Not everyone welcomed the news that the Magic Kingdom was reopening for business, however. A petition circulated two weeks ago begging Walt Disney World to keep its theme parks closed amid a resurgence of Chinese Coronavirus cases (but not deaths). The petition was supposedly signed by over 7,000 cast members.
The dried up husks of humanity that make up Leftist Twitter were shocked and horrified that Florida would allow Disney to reopen its theme parks with the Chinese Coronavirus supposedly running rampant and filling hospitals from Tampa Bay to Cocoa Beach with hacking, wheezing plague zombies.
Yeah, so so much for social distancing in ride lines at Magic Kingdom. I can’t believe Disney World reopened. Schools will open next month. And 43 ICUs in Orlando are at capacity.
Don’t come to Florida. We are not okay. pic.twitter.com/qeDuV3ER6B
— stcychng (@stcychng) July 7, 2020
We believe in magic, we’re hoping #covid magically disappears.
Magic Kingdom Orlando
*Not responsible for states or countries unwilling to allow you to return following your visit.*
— Smirk Twain (@CleverPolitics) July 7, 2020
Magic Kingdom. I hope Disney has a good supply of Body Bags-https://t.co/dSYvDBoxum
— Barry Cohen (@BarryCo17857773) July 7, 2020
The Magic Kingdom reopened today for ‘cast member previews’. Now I’m no virologist, but I can’t imagine that having the Main Street Philharmonic wandering around blasting brass instruments is going to do much to keep infection rates down. https://t.co/lBJMPOyXd4
— David Couch (@crutchley) July 7, 2020
Disney is going to have to rename Magic Kingdom to Tragic Kingdom. https://t.co/Z4e7udPeKL
— RadicalR (@Radical_R) July 7, 2020
something about magic kingdom opening and florida ICUs reaching max cap doesn’t sound right
— . (@arielaaaaah) July 7, 2020
While 14 ICUs at hospitals in the Orlando area have indeed reached capacity as of today, it’s not clear whether this is the result of the rise in Chinese Coronavirus cases, or whether it’s a case of people delaying treatment too long for other illnesses.
Despite the naysayers, most people have welcomed the news that Walt Disney World will once again be open for business. Cast members are excited and thankful to be going back to work. Area businesses will be grateful for any tourist bump that increases their sales. Locals and tourists alike will welcome the sense of normalcy that open theme parks will bring.
Personally, I’m looking forward to getting back into the parks. Especially since my sources have told me the wait times for just about every ride were five minutes or less.
Perhaps I’ll finally be able to ride Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom.
Update: Turns out the lack of ICU beds is due to the Chinese Coronavirus…but not for the reason the Left wants everyone to think.
Official figures show there are 203 coronavirus patients hospitalized — an increase of 40 compared to the previous record set over the weekend — and hospital bed availability is down to 13%.
Central Florida Regional, Orlando Health South Seminole, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs, Encompass Health Rehabilitation hospital of Altamonte Springs, all have 0% ICU beds available. Oviedo Medical center has two ICU beds available, according to the AHCA hospital bed dashboard.
In Orange County, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orlando Health-Health Central and Orlando Health Dr. Phillips Hospital are showing zero adult ICU beds available.
News 6 reached out to AdventHealth and Orlando Health, the regions largest healthcare providers, to verify if the state-run dashboard is an accurate reflection of local hospital capacity. According to the AHCA, the dashboard was updated as of Tuesday afternoon.
Orlando Health Director of Public Affairs Kena Lewis said the AHCA dashboard is up to date with information provided by the hospitals but the numbers don’t reflect the overall bed capacity because, if needed, they can scale up to meet increased demand.
“In mid-March, as patient volumes declined and fewer beds were needed, Orlando Health began consolidating units to reduce the number of beds – including ICU beds – that were staffed and in operation. The current operational bed count is what we report to AHCA and what appears on their website. That number is not Orlando Health’s total bed capacity. Across all of our operations, we have nearly 3,300 beds. Nearly 200 of those are ICU beds and we have the capacity to surge up to 500 ICU beds if it becomes necessary,” Lewis said in an email. “We are carefully monitoring the increases in patient volumes. If the need for additional beds grows, Orlando Health will re-open units and make other necessary adjustments in order to meet the needs of the community.
A spokesperson for AdventHealth said the hospital system has available hospital bed capacity and the number on the AHCA dashboard does not reflect the actual number of available beds.