Ordinarily, the only people at Disney World whose faces are covered are the brave souls donning spherical Donald Duck mascot-heads for the delight of children.
At this moment, however, as the pandemic surges across America, all guests at the Magic Kingdom are required—or at least strongly urged—to wear face masks at all times.
Welcome to the Most Wonderful Place in the World, 2020.
With great, ill-boding fanfare, Disneyland and Disney World announced historic closures back in March, as the pandemic first began to ravage the United States. When the Mouse House announced back in June that Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, would be reopening in July amid early signs that the pandemic was again on an upward trajectory, critics vocally denounced the decision. Now, Florida is the U.S.’s new coronavirus hotspot, having reported a record-breaking 15,300 new cases on Sunday.
Just before the reopening came an ad for Disney’s theme parks about what to expect during the pandemic-era Magic Kingdom. Although it was meant to be reassuring, the ad was anything but. The smizing eyes of masked employees likely failed to assuage many folks’ fears about the famously jam-packed lines for rides and attractions. The ad immediately became the subject of irresistible parody online.
They finally got the Disney World ad right. pic.twitter.com/avy2PUOQXQ
— Jimmi Simpson (@jimmisimpson) July 12, 2020
We are ready to welcome guests back to Jurassic Park. ✨ pic.twitter.com/kHSqTpkWSB
— Jurassic Park Updates (@JurassicPark2go) July 12, 2020
It would take more than an inadvertently creepy ad and the grim specter of death to keep quarantined parents away from the chance to brighten up their kids’ most dreary summer ever.
And how did it go? Based on some of the video documentation that surfaced on Twitter over the weekend, not disastrously. Fear of catching COVID-19 understandably kept the usual summer season crowds away, and masks are ubiquitous.
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) July 11, 2020
Park-goers’ visits were soundtracked by the not-at-all spooky sound of safety precautions dictated over loudspeakers. Can you feel the magic?
An audio message was captured on video playing from a speaker at Disney World on Friday — urging visitors take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. https://t.co/4O37vLeWZ6 pic.twitter.com/sg4Q6t6G2N
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 12, 2020
Of course, some in attendance demonstrated over social media how difficult it is to enforce social distancing guidelines in such a sprawling space, let alone how to do so in a way that still feels magical.
adding video to explain the full issue, which is more than just the above line.
there were also TWO MORE lanes of pedestrian traffic in the SAME walkway.
It’s not a fluke, either – we were directed straight into the bottleneck. (You can hear it in the background.) pic.twitter.com/nhSB3o8gXm
— ???? carlye wisel (@carlyewisel) July 11, 2020
And if these video bloggers are real and not some deep-in-character gallows-humor prank, at least a few people are visiting the park with known COVID-19 symptoms, refusing to let it dampen their spirits entirely.
These streamers are at Disney World, visited first aid last night for cough, shortness of breath, and severe vomiting, and were back in Magic Kingdom today complaining of sore throats pic.twitter.com/1mighq1pUa
— Jenny Nicholson (@JennyENicholson) July 12, 2020
Overall, it seems as though heading to a Disney theme park at a time when America still hasn’t figured out the best way to open a restaurant seems like an enormous risk to take, just for the sake of giving your child a weird memory.
Truly, it’s a COVID world after all. Stay safe out there.
thinking a lot about how I could not go to my mother's funeral but some people just have to go to Disney World
— Nicole Chung (@nicolesjchung) July 12, 2020