Disney announced on Thursday that it would begin a phased reopening of Disney Springs in Florida. The news was posted on the Disney Parks website, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This marks the first reopening since the theme parks shuttered in the U.S. back in March to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
"Following the guidance of government and health officials, a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during this initial phase," according to the blog post. It also makes note of the fact that the rest of Walt Disney World will remain closed at this time, "including theme parks and resort hotels."
The announcement also goes into some detail about what kind of operational changes that will be taken to ensure the safety and health of visitors. "Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members."
It also stressed that the reopening would involve limited capacity, parking and operating hours, and recommends checking the Disney Springs website before planning a trip. The announcement comes just one day after Disneyland updated its website to make hotel booking dates available starting on July 1. Other openings will include Shanghai Disneyland Park, which will reopen Monday, which initially closed back in January.
After all the theme parks were closed down by May, Disney World furloughed 43,000 employees in April. "This is a decision that the union doesn't like. However, it's within the company's right to lay off and furlough employees in this situation," said the president of United Here! Local 362, Eric Clinton. The union represents full-time cast members at Disney World, who work everywhere from attractions to custodial to vacation planning. The Service Trade Council Union, meanwhile, is a larger organization that puts all of the relevant unions together. However, their combined bargaining power could not hold off furloughs in this situation.
April also saw the NBA discuss possible plans to resume its season at the vacant theme parks. The league was the first major sports organization to suspend all games due to the pandemic, and is currently looking at a number of locations where it could safely resume the 2019-2020 season.