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Credit: Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images

Walt Disney World reopens two parks amid pandemic with strict safety measures

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Jul 12, 2020, 1:14 PM EDT

Walt Disney World reopened two of its theme parks in Orlando, Florida, this weekend after remaining closed for the last four months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are now accepting a reduced number of visitors, who must wear face masks and have their temperatures checked upon entry. Strict social distancing measures are also in place, meaning that costumed characters can only interact with customers at a minimum distance of six feet. In addition, whole rows of seats are left empty on rides, which are constantly disinfected by employees. Parades, firework displays, and other park events that draw large crowds are still on hold.

Despite all the strict safety measures and general virus concerns (Florida recorded over 15,000 new cases on Sunday), thousands of people attended the reopened parks, according to the New York Times. In an effort to put patrons at ease, Disney World released a video (see below) of mask-wearing employees repeating the phrase "Welcome home."

"People trust Disney, and we have a big responsibility to deliver on that trust," Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park chairman, told the NYT. “As hard as the world is right now, this feels like a turning point — it’s a signal that people have hope.”

​​​​​Epcot and Hollywood Studios (which boasts Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) are scheduled to open back up this Wednesday, July 15. Disneyland's reopening in Anaheim, California, is indefinitely delayed.