‘Severe illness and death’: COVID-19 disclaimer accompanies reopening of parts of Disney World

By Starr Rhett Rocque

Dreams of visiting Disney World properties this year aren’t completely shot, but those dreams come at a (potentially) steep price.

The Disney Springs shopping, dining, and entertainment complex is set to reopen on Wednesday, May 20. The reopening will take place in phases, with subcontracted shops like Planet Hollywood and Earl of Sandwich opening first, followed by Disney-owned shops such as World of Disney, D-Luxe Burger, and the Marketplace Co-Op on May 27.

Days before resuming business, Disney Springs posted a disclaimer on its website (and also a post on the Disney Blog) to would-be guests explaining safety measures that will be taken and to remind people that visiting Disney Springs during this period of time isn’t without risk.

“An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death,” reads the disclaimer.

It continues, adding that there will be limited parking and reduced entrances, temperature screenings prior to entry, face coverings required for guests, and other safety measures, like an increased focus on sanitation and disinfecting, handwashing stations, and hand sanitizers placed in strategic locations. There is also a special task force of cast members who will be engaging with guests and making sure that social distancing is in effect.

Finally, the statement concludes with, “By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.” There’s even a section on the FAQ page addressing people who don’t want to wear a mask.

Disney World resorts and properties in the United States have been shuttered since mid-March, which means several billions of dollars in lost revenue. It’s unclear when the full Orlando-based resort will reopen, but it likely depends on the success of this first phase of openings.

Not surprisingly, Disney’s new safety precautions are being met with mixed commentary on the Disney Parks blogs. There are people who are thanking Disney for taking safety measures, but then there are those who are seemingly more concerned with being forced to wear face masks—or that their toddlers would refuse to wear face masks—than they are the potential of transmitting or catching the potentially fatal disease.

Here’s a sampling of some of the spirited discussions:

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