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Orange County Recovery Task Force Defers to Disney’s Discretion Regarding Parks’ Re-Opening

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The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force and Mayor Demings met today and discussed the opening of theme parks and large public facilities, a conversation which included Thomas Masloum, Vice President of Walt Disney World Resort & Transportation.

Following the meeting, Task Force member Chuck Whittall, President of Unicorp, made this statement:

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

Underscoring the Mayor’s belief in the responsible closure of the Disney Parks, as no COVID-19 outbreaks have been traced to Walt Disney World, Whittall maintains that reopening decisions should be made by Orange County’s theme parks: “Ultimately, they’re going to be judged by the marketplace. If guests feel safe, they’ll show up. If they don’t, they’re not.” Social media, Whitehall pointed out, will play a major role in that “marketplace judgement.”

Agreeing with Whittall’s statement, Mayor Demings reflected upon the size and impact of the theme parks on Orange County:

“When you look at those large theme parks, they’re like cities unto themselves. And so nothing should be done in the way of our recommendations should appear to be punitive towards them, because as a corporation… if they can see small business units [re]open and they have something similar, i.e. restaurants and shops that they can open… why wouldn’t they be allowed to open?”

Recognizing that the theme Parks and large entertainment facilities are all separate entities and need to be treated as such, the Mayor recommended that the final statement by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force be further evaluated and refined prior to its release:

“I know they will follow those guidelines because of their corporate responsibility, and potential liability, and exposure… so  the language that you’re offering I believe is good language… The bright minds on the call need to kick it around a bit to ensure there aren’t any unintended consequences.”

Once pandemic restrictions have been lifted, Mayor Demings remarked, these large facilities could be ready to open “with short notice,” as their size and capacity will enable them to establish social distancing for their guests.

To listen to the theme park reopening discussion at today’s Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force meeting, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjlhEiHqrZo&feature=youtu.be&t=1844

All of the Disney Parks, including Walt Disney World Resort, remain closed and no reopening dates have been given at this time.

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