Disney Reopens Shopping Complex: Disney Springs

Park officials add safety measures like masks and temperature checks to reopen portion of Disney World in Florida.
Posted at 1:56 PM, May 20, 2020

Song: "Every choice we make..."

It's a choice Disney could never have imagined making -  as it reopens the Orlando, Florida, shopping and entertainment complex: Disney Springs. It's the first U.S. Disney facility in the Walt Disney World Resort to resume operations since the pandemic struck. The rest of the theme parks like Disney's Epcot remain closed.

Matt Simon, Vice President, Disney Springs: "This moment is the time for our guests to come onto the property and see all the new safety measures while enjoying Disney Springs for the special place that it is."

Some safety measures include a reduced number of visitors, mandatory face masks for guests, temperature checks, and social distancing guides. Handwashing stations are also available, although the soap dispensers aren't touchless. And if visitors contract COVID-19 during their visit, Disney is not held liable. 

Scott Smith, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina: "People have no idea or have no concept of what it takes to get the parks up and running again. It's a big machine. I mean, you just can't simply flip the switch."

Smith specializes in hospitality and tourism. He says there are so many moving parts — from retraining cast members to preventive maintenance to how food is going to be served. 

Smith: "Disney Springs is really a good pilot study or starting project to just try out at the lowest levels of trying to get an operation … running again." 

For furloughed Disney employees, like Irma Carabello, reopening couldn't come soon enough. She spoke to us during her lunch break.

Irma Carabello, custodian, Disney: "I'm a single mother and I'm excited to be back working so I can have a paycheck. … You can see we've been wearing safety masks. We've been having hand sanitizers everywhere, so it's been perfect."

Disney collaboratedwith the Service Trades Council Union on safeguards for employees. The union represents 43,000 Disney employees who the company calls "cast members." Some of the worker protections include masks and touchless transactions at cash registers, as well as paid time off to quarantine if they become sick with COVID-19. 

Matt Hollis, President, Service Trades Council Union: "I'm confident that we have done everything we can to make sure that cast members are provided with the tools and the assurance that they can return to work in a safe environment."

The first Disney park to close was in Shanghai. It reopened after three months. Now Disney is moving to reopen a portion of its U.S. resort - after reporting a loss of $1.4 billion due to COVID-19 in its current quarterly report. It’s a "whole new world" for Disney. Here's hoping the measures it's taken will be enough to keep guests and workers safe.