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Disney Parks releases statement on Coronavirus / COVID-19 as it keeps Disneyland and Walt Disney World open

Doctor Mickey and Minnie at opening of Cast Member medical center at EPCOT in 2008

Update: Thursday March 12 – Disneyland in Anaheim, CA has announced it will close through at least the end of March.

Disney has released a statement from its Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamel Hymel regarding how the parks and resorts are handling the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic that is now in all 50 of our United States.

The worst is yet to come for those who will be impacted by Coronavirus/COVID-19 in the United States. Communities across the company are taking a variety of steps to reduce the spread of the disease by implementing social distancing.

For now Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts remain open; but that doesn’t mean they haven’t already been impacted. Conferences in Anaheim and Orlando have been canceled, which means those travelers and their families won’t be supporting the local economies or visiting the theme parks or shopping and dining districts.

Airlines are cutting back on their routes and cruise lines are also seeing many cancellations. This is already having an impact on businesses and workers who support those industries.

The statement from Dr. Hymel expresses Disney Park’s concern for those who are affected by COVID-19 and offers more information about how they plan to keep guests, cast members, and the communities they are a part of safe and healthy.

“We continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health agencies,” stated Dr Hymel. “For example, we have added additional hand sanitizers throughout the park, increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in high guest contact areas, and are providing information about good hygiene practices and illness prevention to our guests and cast members.”

The statement also includes a list of best practices the parks and resorts already do on a regular basis to maintain a safe and healthy environment:

  • Training for cast members, with ongoing reinforcement on a regular basis
  • Defined cycles for frequent cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas
  • Easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers
  • Quick response to spills, trash and other situations
  • End of day sanitation procedures for restroom, kitchen, and other facilities
  • Frequent cleaning and “wash down” of outdoor locations, including walkways and queues

You can find the first aid and hand sanitizer locations on the Walt Disney World/My Disney Experience and Disneyland mobile apps.

Dr. Hymel also recommends following CDC guidelines for preventative actions to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. These include washing your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, staying home if sick, and following proper cough etiquette.

You should also avoid close contact with those who are sick and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, said Dr. Hymel. “We continue to communicate about these recommendations, as well as other important health information, to our cast,” she continued.

As we posted last night, there is a sliver of good news out of Shanghai as the Disney resort there has been given permission to begin a phased opening. The main theme park of Shanghai Disneyland remains closed though.

What’s next?

What we would like to know is at what point will Disneyland or Walt Disney World make the decision to close their gates to help mitigate community spread of COVID-19? With community spread in all 50 states, it’s mathematically likely that transmission of Coronavirus will eventually happen from a guest or cast member who has the illness but has manageable symptoms and therefore has not been tested.

While sports teams can play their games in empty stadiums and schools can send their students home for remote learning, that doesn’t work for theme parks and resorts. So the decisions are different. But if local cities or states decide to restrict the size of crowds at events or otherwise restrict travel, Disney won’t have much of a choice but to close its theme parks.

Have you changed your plans to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World due to the risk from Coronavirus or do you still plan on going and will just practice safe hygiene? Let us know in the comments what you decided to do