ORLANDO, Fla. - Walt Disney World is about to undergo a very busy week as they gear up for the reopening of its park and several professional sports teams arrive to resume their paused seasons.
On Tuesday, July 7, National Basketball Association (NBA) players will start arriving for the restart of the 2019- 2020 regular season. They will be tested for coronavirus daily once they get here and they could be away from their families for more than three months.
Then, on Wednesday, July 8, Major League Soccer (MLS) players will resume its 25th season at Walt Disney World. The 'MLS Is back' tournament will happen at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex between July 8 to August 11.
Neither of these events will have fans in the stands.
Players from both sports say that they are ready to play though.
“It looks really promising,” said Chris Mueller, from the Orlando City Soccer Club. “In the sense of just seeing how seriously everything's being taken and the measures the league has gone in terms of the details and trying to make everybody feel as safe as possible."
“It's been a long time,” said Terrence Ross, who plays for the Orlando Magic basketball team. “It's the longest I've gone without basketball. Personally, I'm ready to play.”
People in Orlando say they're happy to see sports come back too. Resident Nathan Gardner told FOX 35 Orlando that “we could bring the sporting events back without the fans... as long as they're maintaining their social distancing and stuff like that, especially with the players. They have enough access to testing and all that.”
The first of the Walt Disney World parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 11. Then the other two parks, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, will reopen on Wednesday, July 15. New safety protocols and several other changes will be in place when these parks reopen.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 01: Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)
Here are some of the new safety measures to keep in mind if you plan on heading to the parks:
- Mandatory temperature checks: Guests and cast members will all have to undergo temperature checks before they are allowed into any park. They are also asked to check their temperatures before leaving home to make sure they are not running a fever.
- Face masks required: Face coverings will be required to be worn while in the parks by all guests ages 2 and older. It will also be mandatory for cast members. No word on if they will sell face masks in the parks.
- Social Distancing Squad: Select cast members will be a part of the 'Social Distancing Squad' who will joyfully remind guests to practice social distancing. Signs will be on display throughout the parks.
- Reservations required for entry: In order to control capacity, guests wishing to attend the theme parks will have to reserve their tickets in advance. A press release states: “At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations (Disney Vacation Club members can still make new reservations). Existing ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold."
- Contactless food purchases/cashless pay system: In addition to Plexiglass barriers, Disney says they are taking extra steps when it comes to food service to ensure that the least amount of contact is made while dining in the parks. Cash will be accepted, but MacPhee suggested on Wednesday that Disney's “magic wristbands" will be available to every guest.
- No meet-and-greets: Disney characters will still be present at the parks, but meet-and-greets are canceled for the time being.
- No parades or fireworks shows: To keep people from gathering in large crowds, Disney will not be holding any parades or the nightly fireworks shows until further notice.
- Reduced capacity around parks: In addition to reducing the number of people allowed into the theme parks, capacity will also be managed at retail stores and restaurants to ensure social distancing.
- Water effects will be limited or eliminated: Water areas will remain closed in order to avoid drawing crowds of spectators. With the hot Florida summer months coming, the CDC recently said that the coronavirus is not transmitted through pool water. “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas,” the federal agency states, noting that “Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”
- Interactive play areas will remain closed: Children who love to run around and play in Disney's interactive kid areas will not be able to do so -- at least not for now. Disney says they are keeping those play areas closed to avoid putting their tiny guests at risk.
The reopening of Walt Disney World is an important sign to the Central Florida community that recovery is underway after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, cases continue to rise at even higher rates than when the parks first closed. State health officials advise that people remain safe -- practice good hygiene, keep social distance, wear masks -- when in public.
Orlando resident, Tony Robles, actually said he's worried and added that "to be honest, I've been there enough times. I think with the amount of people they have, I don't think they should re-open yet.”
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest coronavirus news.