Orlando, FL

Orlando, should Disney World be raising capacity during a pandemic?

Evie M.

It's clear people are tired of the pandemic, but does that mean theme parks should be raising capacity so we can have a little fun?

If you haven't heard the news, though Disney World is still at limited capacity as hospitals around Central Florida are placing patients in hallways during an uptick in COVID positive cases, they are planning to increase capacity soon. According to officials speaking on behalf of the Happiest Place on Earth, last week, company management claimed they "hope to increase that steadily by the end of the year."

When Disney World first reopened to the public, the capacity was set at 25%, moving up to 50%. I'm sure everyone remembers how social media exploded with video and images of massive crowds that had to wait in long lines due to pandemic closures. Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek had even confirmed the raise in capacity, stating:

“In terms of the parks, and when we’re going to sort of be able to raise our capacity limits, we’ve actually already started that, given the guidance that just came today, from the CDC, and earlier guidance that we got from the governor of Florida, we’ve already started to increase our capacities, those obviously today’s guidance that we got from the CDC in terms of those that were vaccinated do not necessarily need to wear masks anymore, both outdoors and indoors.”

But is 35% good enough?

As for other Orlando theme parks, Universal Studios Orlando was on board with full capacity all the way back in June. In a conference call, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBC Universal proudly said:

“So people are are not only coming back to our theme park and enjoying the experience out of their house but they’re buying stuff. They’re buying Harry Potter wands and all sorts of things, so very pleased with how the theme park in Orlando is doing ... and you know, we really have no capacity constraints there anymore and so the summer is looking pretty, pretty strong."

It is understandable to want to release a little tension and enjoy the summer, but is this really the time? According to recent news and some tips from "internal sources," Disney hotel occupancy is "now expected to be at just 65%" instead of the assumed 93%. In his statement a few days ago, Chapek confidently announced:

“In terms of the Delta variant, we see strong demand for our parks continuing.”

Though, apparently, it's the "first time this has ever happened at Walt Disney World."

Could this be to travelers cancelling plans due to fear or a normal seasonal cycle like some news sources say? Is it the indoor mask rule, like some commenters believe? Also, not that long ago, meaning the end of July, the "Disney World area" was "under crisis mode" due to COVID, with numbers at the time reporting 3,893 new Coronavirus cases in a fourteen day stretch. As of today, August 17, there have been 184,091 confirmed total cases, with 2,315 added today in Orange County.

What are your thoughts, Orlando? Will you be going to the parks or hunkering down? Should people be staying home or is it right to go to the theme parks? Let me know in the comments.

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