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Florida county task force proposes Disney World, Universal open at their own discretion

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A Florida county task force on Wednesday proposed that Walt Disney World and Universal Studios reopen their theme parks at “their own discretion.” 

Chuck Whittall, the co-chairman of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, read a proposal for the large theme park companies to create their own guidelines that align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

He drafted the proposal with Thomas Mazloum, the senior vice president of Walt Disney World Resorts and Transportation Operations.

“Theme parks and other venues of that magnitude shall each develop their own specific and unique set of guidelines following the CDC recommendations and using best practices that will protect the life, health, and safety of their employees and guests,” the drafted statement said. 

“They will be permitted to open at their own discretion with their internally determined level of safe capacities throughout the various phases,” it continued. 

Whittall suggested putting the decision of reopening in the corporations’ hands because of their economic contribution to the community.

“Ultimately they’re going to be judged by the marketplace,” Whittall said. “If the guests feel safe, they’re gonna show up. If they don’t, they’re not.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings said he agreed with Whittall’s approach, adding the large theme parks are like cities themselves and could phase in reopening of shops and restaurants when the county’s small businesses begin operating again. 

“Why wouldn’t they be allowed to open?” he said. “I think when you talk about them you’re not talking about those large entities as if they’re one large conglomerate, and they certainly have the ability to be able to phase in opening.”

“And I know that they will follow those guidelines because of their corporate responsibility and their potential liability and exposure,” he added.

The mayor said the statement was “good language” to start and the task force should flesh it out to prevent any “unintended consequences.”

Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., have been closed since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of March, Disney announced its U.S. parks would be closed until further notice. 

Universal Studios parks closed on March 14 and will not reopen until at least May 31. 

Orange County has documented 1,371 cases of coronavirus and 33 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health data.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Disney World Florida reopening Universal Studios walt disney world

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