Walt Disney World in Florida is opening to the general public for the first time in nearly four months on Saturday. “The Most Magical Place on Earth” will now require visitors to make wear masks and social distance in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The park is first welcoming visitors to its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Wednesday. Last Thursday, it,” as Florida sees a surge in coronavirus cases.
“It may be different from the last time you visited,” Disney says on its website. “But together, we can find new ways to create magical moments-and memories to treasure.”
In addition to masks and social distancing, guests and employees will receive temperature checks when they enter, and visitors are required to make reservations in order to enter the park.
To discourage people from gathering inside, daily parades and fireworks shows, a trademark of the Magic Kingdom, are no longer on the schedule. “High-touch” experiences, including character meet and greets, will also be be put on hold.
“This phased reopening will demonstrate a deliberate approach, with limits on attendance and controlled guest density that aligns with guidance on physical distancing,” said a statement in May about the phased reopening.
The reopening comes as Florida is now a U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than a quarter of a million confirmed cases in the state — 10,383 of which were reported since yesterday — and over 4,000 deaths due to the virus, according to the state’s department of health.
“We’re seeing patients come in on the hour,” Dr. Randy Katz, an ER physician at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, said this week.
“This is absolutely the busiest it’s been since it all started,” he said.
In response to the surge, many of Florida’s cities and counties have begun reinstating restrictions that had been lifted in May, when cases appeared to be on the decline, The Associated Press reports.
The United States has broken another record in the number of new confirmed cases, with more than 66,000 cases reported on Friday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.