Walt Disney World Warns Visitors about Covid-19 Risk

May 17, 2020, 10:47 PM · This week Disney will welcome its first guests back to one of its U.S. theme park resorts since closing them two months ago. But while some of the Disney Springs shopping area will be open for business, Disney also would like its guests to know that they're responsible to their own health while visiting.

Yesterday, in Here's What You Need to Know to Visit Disney Springs, we detailed the steps that Walt Disney World is taking to promote guest health and safety as it begins its phased reopening. But now Disney has added a disclaimer to its Disney Springs reopening information page, reminding visitors that Disney says it's not responsible if people do get sick. Here it is:

COVID-19 Warning

We have taken enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other Guests, and Cast Members. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting Disney Springs.

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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

Let's keep each other healthy and safe.

I'm not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice, but in general a company can't just completely dismiss its liability for something with a blanket disclaimer. If Disney were to fail to abide by its stated new rules, for example, it could expose itself to liability for an outbreak, despite its statement. And a disclaimer doesn't mean that a Covid-19 victim who felt that he or she caught the disease at Disney can't file a lawsuit and test that disclaimer in court. Plenty of people try to sue through disclaimers all the time.

But the legality of Disney's disclaimer might not be the big issue here. The big issue is the warning inherent within the disclaimer. Disney is reminding people that Covid-19 is real, it's contagious, and you're putting yourself at risk for contracting it whenever you leave your home - even if you're coming to a place that people generally consider safe, such as Disney.

We've talked about the risks of this coronavirus before, so I would encourage you to go read that post, if you haven't already. I have been in Southern California for the quarantine, so I'm not in position to visit Disney Springs this week. If I were in Orlando, I would feel safe walking around Disney Springs - with my mask on steering clear of others - picking up a mobile-order burger at D-Luxe or some chicken strips from Chicken Guy. But if I didn't cover theme parks for a living, I also suspect that visiting the Springs for a burger or fried chicken wouldn't be real high on my list of daily priorities, either. I'd rather hit up a neighborhood restaurant that needed my support first.

Still, Disney needs some guests coming onto property so that it can put its new procedures to test as it slowly ramps up toward full operation. If Disney's warning keeps sick fans at home - or even just keeps the number of healthy guests down to the point where social distancing becomes easy - well, that's a win for everyone right now.

Replies (14)

May 18, 2020 at 9:55 AM

The Disney publicity machine is turned up to eleven regarding this message. Every local radio station and television newscast is talking about the disclaimer. The blogs will no doubt follow along.

May 18, 2020 at 10:02 AM

@TH What are they saying about it?

May 18, 2020 at 10:07 AM

I think it will also depend on how much effort they put into having guest follow their guidelines. This will help them with the ‘good faith’ effort defense when the lawsuits come.

May 18, 2020 at 10:11 AM

I predicted they would do this. Ever been to a baseball game? They announce that you might get hit by a foul ball. They do this due to the legal theory of assumption of risk. If you decide to go to Disney and get the virus, you cannot sue. Of course you can sue, but you will likely lose. Probably in Florida and not in California. I would not be surprised to see legislation absolving businesses of liability. Please understand I am not taking any position, just stating the facts.

May 18, 2020 at 10:13 AM

Living in north Florida the atmosphere around business is the fear of the ambulance chasing attorney's. Businesses are concerned that an infection would be traced back to your business. I'm sure Disney attorney's have the same concerns.

May 18, 2020 at 10:56 AM

I am an attorney. Bye Bye fingerprint machines at entrance. Something like that could make businesses liable. other than that. Unless people see governments making businesses liable for the CCP virus, I think virtually all juries will exercise common sense and realize there are a thousand places someone could have contracted it and it is both 1. impossible to know where and 2. in many cases out of the employers control to control the minute, small actions of everyone present. Such as touching their nose or coughing unexpectantly etc.

Now this is actually going to be fought out in Calif rather quickly. The gov of Calif has made the absolutely insane executive order that businesses are liable for compensation to all workers under worker's compensation law. Unless they can PROACTIVELY PROVE that the worker contracted the virus somewhere else. Which is pretty impossible in most cases. This does include pain and suffering as well as all lost wages. The worker's comp system is a socialist model (though) so pain and suffering do have de facto caps.

I think the business/investment community is just assuming that court's will just rule this gov's executive order unconstitutional. Even though Work comp courts have been closed, employer decide to admit or deny liability before a court date, as a regular thing. So. It's surprising courts have not ruled on it yet. The Gov made the decree on march 15.

Calif is such a big state. If it is not ruled unconstitutional one would think the US stock market would tank 15 percent just on that one law alone. As well as the certainty that tons and tons of business would never come back and tons and tons of storefronts would be permenentely empty and vacant.

May 18, 2020 at 11:34 AM

THanks for the info. That should do wonders for California economy. This should be like..Buyer Beware. You choose to go out you assume the risk. I have no issues with people choosing to stay home. Choosing is the key! Here in North Florida things are opening up

May 18, 2020 at 11:34 AM

It's a typical byproduct (disclaimer bills) of precedent ruled law systems, as are all US state law systems except for Louisiana (under 'French law').
In Europe, a warning is a warning, not a disclaimer. (Near to all European countries resort under 'French law' structure, except the UK and a few with hybrid systems)

May 18, 2020 at 11:53 AM

I know it's off topic but Herwig Delvaux profile photo ROCKS!

May 18, 2020 at 2:30 PM

I have read how folks envision the nightmare of legal lawsuits regarding reopenings/possible infections and such which are likely to tie up civil courts and keep personal injury lawyers busy for years on end.

May 19, 2020 at 12:43 PM

>> Near to all European countries resort under 'French law' structure, except the UK and a few with hybrid systems

Well, originally Roman law (Corpus Juris Civilis) if you want to be fussy and Avoid the confusing “Civil Law” term (as that means something else in Common Law - the law system from which most of the US is a spin off)

May 19, 2020 at 12:48 PM

@davedisney Our insane governor who moved quicker than anyone to shut down his state, thus saving California from the wild outbreaks suffered in most every other populous state? Too bad other governors aren't that kind of insane.

And you say it's a crazy decision to make employers shoulder some of the risk of ordering their employees back to work too soon? Again, I'll take that kind of crazy over states that allow rich owners to force their low-income workers to choose between their lives and their jobs.

It's so funny, people love to slam California, but from here I can't imagine living anywhere else in the US.

May 19, 2020 at 5:19 PM

Thecolonel-- to have the virtual total shutdown from march 14 to the end of April I supported, given the help from the federal gov't in the CARES act passed in april. SO. I SUPPORTED the gov's early shutdown. However. Given that neither the fed (or any other level of gov't) gov't (or you) does not have a magic money tree. It was very unwise starting May 1. And. Extremely unwise to give money to people who commited a crime to come to the state, when there is 1 citizen starving or without shelter. Spending money like that makes me and a lot of other people, withdraw their support for welfare spending, until govt's change that policy of rewarding lawbreakers.

Starting May 1, staying shutdown resulted in a lot of small businesses closing forever. The longer the shutdown stays the more it will happen. I still support some reasonable restrictions and mitgation measures while businesses are operating, to ensure ICU hospital capacity, but many Gov's restrictions go way past what it needed. Starting by the end of MAY, it looks like that is changing.

So. The amount of business that are open June 1 will likely be a good mix in order to keep a decent amount of businesses from going out of business, while preserving ICU capacity.

As you should know if you think about it for a few minutes. By your own argument it is a highly contagious disease. By that measure, you or any Gov't DOES NOT KNOW where anyone contracted the disease. The Calif Gov essentially makes employers 100 percent liable all the time, which will destroy the calif economy if the policy continues and is not ruled unconstitutional. Tell me how it would not destroy the calif economy? Plan on your personal taxes rising 100 percent (doubling from the current rate) if it is not repealed.

May 19, 2020 at 5:42 PM

Well said. We we're told we need to flatten the curve not to overwhelm the health care system. Mission accomplished!
What good is waiting till a vaccine or cure to go back work if there is nothing to go back to. If people want to stay home im all for it. But business needs to move on. We've had minimum restrictions in Florida and have been open for a couple of weeks and our infection rate was down to 3.5% on 118,000 tests last week.

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