Orlando theme parks to start giving out free insect repellent

August 27, 2016, 11:54 AM · Worried about Zika on your next Florida vacation? Walt Disney World and the rest of the Orlando-area theme parks don't want you to be. Starting tomorrow, the resorts will begin offering free insect repellent to guests, in an effort to calm concern about the mosquito-borne virus.

An outbreak of the virus in South America last year sparked a media frenzy. Typically, a Zika infection results in mild symptoms, at most, potentially including headache, fever, and a rash. But pregnant women can pass the virus to their fetus, potentially resulting severe birth defects, including microcephaly. That risk has led to a global panic over travel to regions where the virus is active... which now includes parts of the Miami area.

The Orlando theme parks are several hours up the road, but with millions of visitors bringing billions of dollars to the area, the parks can't afford to ignore the risk of the virus spreading north. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney will make various types of insect repellent available at its theme parks, starting Sunday. Disney also will make bug spray available in its hotel rooms. Universal Orlando will have repellent available at its guest services locations, and SeaWorld also will make repellent available at its parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa.

(And if you don't immediately see exactly where the repellent is available in the parks on your visit, just ask any cast or team member. They should be able to direct you.)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that "the best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites" — thus, the need for effective insect repellent. The CDC also recommends dressing in clothing that covers the arms and legs, especially for children. Covering a stroller with mosquito netting provides protection, as well. Mosquitos carry a wide range of nasty stuff, too, so even if you're not worried about Zika, it's never a bad idea to do what you can to avoid the bugs.

So let's add putting on the bug spray to wearing sunscreen and drinking plenty of water to our list of theme park safety tips, to help ensure that you and your family stay safe and comfortable on your next visit to the parks.

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Replies (7)

August 27, 2016 at 2:15 PM · Why in the world would someone want to spend thousands of dollars to go to Disney World/Florida when you have to worry about alligators attacking you or your children, contracting Zika Virus that can permanently affect your baby if pregnant, intense humidity and weather during this time of year, etc.

Personally, I don't think it's worth it. If you still want the magical Disney experience, just go to the original, Walt's park in Disneyland and you can avoid all these potential problems.

August 27, 2016 at 2:40 PM · Wow. I was just discussing this with my family. I'm taking a quick trip down there tomorrow. This is a surprise.
August 27, 2016 at 8:28 PM · We just got back from our Universal Studios Florida vacation on August 14th. We were there a week and I have to say we did not see one mosquito during the time we were there. We stayed on the property at Universal (Royal Pacific) and they must treat the grounds and the waterway with something that makes the mosquitoes so scarce. We did wonder if they would start handing out repellent, though since that was the main topic on the news.
August 28, 2016 at 12:02 AM · I'm not looking to start a panic, but it should be worth noting that Zika has been found in Pinellas County in Florida, which is closer to Orlando than being reported here.
August 28, 2016 at 2:28 AM · I never ever had a mosquito encounter in the parks.I guess they spray a lot to keep the bug count down, especially for WDW because there is so much swamp there.
August 28, 2016 at 9:07 AM · I've always been amazed at how well WDW controls mosquitos. I got mosquito bites here at home, all summer. In the parks? Never.
August 28, 2016 at 11:10 AM · Having been to Walt Disney world at different times of the year I am yet to see one mosquito in the whole times we have been there so I would not overly worry too much, just use the spray as precaution but please do not avoid going as it would be a shame to miss out on the wonderful experience that Disney offers as well as Seaworld, Universal Studios etc etc.

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