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SYFY WIRE Walt Disney World

Disney World eyes expanded Florida reopenings as Hong Kong Disney shuts back down

By Jacob Oller
Disney World reopening

Days after Disney reopened two of its Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando amidst the threat of the coronavirus, Hong Kong Disneyland — which similarly reopened in mid-June — shut back down due to a new spike in cases.

Deadline reports that after Florida's Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened back up over the weekend — taking face mask and temperature checking precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic that's caused much of the entertainment industry to shutter in the past months — the park's Hong Kong equivalent has seen its experiment fail. The Hong Kong government is closing theaters, gyms, and more after their reopening saw a spike in new cases (52 new cases of coronavirus recorded on Monday, as per Reuters). Its Disneyland park was just one business affected.

“As required by the government and health authorities in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, Hong Kong Disneyland park will temporarily close from July 15,” a Disney spokesperson told Deadline. “The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open with adjusted levels of services. They have put in place enhanced health and safety measures that reflect the guidance of health and government authorities, such as social distancing measures and increased cleaning and sanitization.”

Stateside, Walt Disney World aims to "reopen Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Wednesday," according to Orlando's News 6. This news comes as the Florida Department of Health reported 12,624 new positive coronavirus cases Monday, which is the second-highest number of new cases ever recorded in one day (the first-highest came from Florida only one day earlier, with 15,299 new cases). These record-breaking case totals come amid or directly after thousands poured into Disney World, even following social distancing practices, partially empty rides, and constant disinfection.

In fact, Walt Disney World needed to implement a creative policy to keep people's masks on. CNN reports that those guests photographed not wearing their masks on rides would not receive their ride photo after getting off. This follows the policy the company has of "suppressing photos if someone is doing something unsafe on the ride." Not wearing a mask? That's definitely unsafe.

Hong Kong has had a much smaller-scale experience with the virus, as it was able to lock down successfully enough that through mid-June to early July, there were no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases. That success made it a beacon for those looking for how the entertainment industry might reopen, be it with theme parks or movie theaters. However, two weeks after relaxing these restrictions, cases went up enough that the government opted to close back down. That may mean the same fate could be waiting for movie fans and park-goers stateside, as cases surge into the thousands-per-day in many states.

“Unless we have an effective vaccine which can be widely used in the community, we may need to co-exist with the virus for a period of time,” Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said at a news conference.

Those in Florida can find local coronavirus testing resources here.