As Attractions Reopen, They Can Close Again, Too

June 9, 2020, 1:55 PM · "Buzzkill" Robert here to dampen your mood. Keep in mind as theme parks announce their reopening dates that parks can "re-close," too.

Consider what just happened in South Korea, where global top-20 attendance park Lotte World has had to close following a visitor testing positive for Covid-19. Korean media reports that a high school senior from Seoul who visited the park on June 5 reported that she had tested positive for the virus.

South Korean officials have been reacting aggressively to contain the virus ever since it first appeared in the nation. Lotte World closed for disinfection on Sunday and is planning to reopen on Wednesday. Officials also closed the student's school and ordered the immediate testing of students and faculty. The government also is working on contract-tracing everyone who was in the theme park during the hours that the student visited. Those individuals will be ordered to get tested and quarantine.

South Korea's aggressive use of contract tracing and testing is allowing the park to reopen after a few days, rather than being closed indefinitely as theme parks in America and around the world had to when the pandemic hit. But this incident should remind us that even as communities begin to see success in fighting Covid-19, this virus has not gone away and will keep flaring up until it is eradicated.

For a Biology professor's take on how the virus spreads - and how people can bets protect themselves and their communities - please see our post, The Risk in Reopening.

Replies (23)

June 9, 2020 at 2:18 PM

Absolutely... I'm planning a trip to Orlando soon and I know that at moments notice those plans can vanish. It's tough to argue when parks close for health reasons. I had my March trip to Orlando postponed. I know us people plan well in advance but in this day and age you might also want to plan for a "plan b" or "c". I know I am.

June 9, 2020 at 3:03 PM

Hey Manny, Make sure you tell us the details when you return. We all want to know what is was like, firsthand or what you did not like..

Have a safe trip...

June 9, 2020 at 3:58 PM

First, the reasons South Korea have been able to handle this is that they have stuff like using sensors, etc to monitor citizens for temperature changes and very strident on testing. Given that some folks in the U.S. act like wearing a mask for a ten-minute store visit is akin to having numbers tattooed on their arm, you can imagine how that might not work here.

Second, I sadly believe that even if numbers escalate, some states will not shut down again. There's still a sect who hold that "numbers are all inflated and it's overblown, in months, you'll find only 20,000 people really died" etc. Yet even those who accept it will go on about "it's going to be out there, we have to get used to it and we can't sacrifice economy for a few thousand lives."

Just see the words of a certain poster here to get that mentality which is why I doubt anything short of a full on massive wave is going to instigate another shutdown in much of the country.

June 9, 2020 at 5:08 PM

You got it Brian thanks, will do. We have Disney World tickets here's hoping we are able to get reservations... it will be one unique trip no doubt.

June 9, 2020 at 5:13 PM

@MikeW I totally agree. Other than states producing NY numbers from before, I don't see any state willing to walk back to another shut down.

June 9, 2020 at 5:47 PM

one also has to keep in perspective that south korea is a neighbor to north korea, which is one of the most oppressive countries in the world. If not one of the most powerful like China. And. Devotes a greater percentage of it's small national product to the military than most every other country in the world. Like Israel, they are under the constant realistic threat of being literally wiped off the map, as north korea constantly loudly threatens to do to them.

So. Yes. Sadly. Like Israel, they cannot afford to have as much freedom and liberty as some of us are working our hardest to maintain in America. While wearing a mask within 6 ft of people indoors at the same time.

The mass media (except for a few outlets) is completely in the tank for 1 presidential candidate in Nov. (It really should be documented as massive campaign contributions ethically and morally). Do only to that strong political bias by most american news sources (except for the 1 with the biggest audience of all but still under a majority of all viewers), there will be discussion of shutdowns (on some level) in late Sept or early Oct. If only to put people in a bad mood when mail in voting starts in the middle of Oct, and remind people that 2020 has sucked. When people are unhappy they are much more likely to vote for presidential challengers, even if the challengers policies created the unhappiness. Many people are not smart enough to figure those last 2 sentences out

June 9, 2020 at 6:06 PM

Thanks Dave for three paragraphs that are completely irrelevant to anything anyone was talking about.

June 9, 2020 at 6:13 PM

We've now gone 7 consecutive days with new positive cases over 1000. Over the past month we've had the odd day over a 1000, but nothing like this since the pandemic began.

This is very real, and anyone who thinks Disney is all gung-ho about opening next month ... think again. If the daily cases continue to top 1000, or even worse, it starts to rise towards 2000/day, I can't see Disney taking the risk and open up on July 11th.

Universal and SeaWorld are Disney's guinea pigs, so let's see how this all pans out over the next few weeks.

Protests ... parks opening ... gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys all open, restaurants up to 50% inside capacity, groups of 50 people now allowed .... what could possibly go wrong ??

June 9, 2020 at 6:43 PM

Well Makorider, we can take refuge in the fact Jurrasic Park isn’t real and we don’t have to worry about a tyrannosaurus running amok.

(Maybe I have been playing JW:Evolution too much)

June 9, 2020 at 9:56 PM

OMG, this guy and his crazy fear mongering needs to stop. Nobody wants to hear your take on Covid-19. Enough.

June 10, 2020 at 6:19 AM

Where will you be when the next flareup occurs? If it is at a theme park, a movie theater, a gym, etc., better watch out. Since there is zero precedence in all of human history for a virus to simply vanish, perhaps we should plan on the eventual return of it. But we aren't. Zero creative thinking and planning. Just "let's hope." What happens when (not if) cases are confirmed in US parks? Well, there is no plan. When a major hurricane head towards Florida, we prepare. But we can't see COVID-19 on the radar, so let's play ostrich with our head in the sand. I am all for figuring out a way to reopen and get some things returned to a state of semi-normalcy. But just pretending like it isn't a problem is reckless. So many people want to embrace the reality they wish they had instead of dealing with the reality we actually have. There will be a cost to pay for this mindset at some point down the road. But that's what we do best in 'Murica ... kick the can down the road. And we have such a long history of showing how well it works!

I agree that at this point seeing things close again is very unlikely. It would take bodies overflowing out of hospitals before that would happen.

Complete reopen w/o a plan = over? No. Complete reopen w/o a plan = we give up trying to stop it. Too bad for the 1+ million it will take to get to "herd immunity". Any plan for them other than "we bought the body bags, let's use 'em"?

What is your local county's plan in the event of a major hurricane strike in Florida during the active spread of COVID-19? That's right, there is no plan. Just "let's hope."

June 10, 2020 at 6:33 AM

Actually there is precedent. The SARS virus eventually simply 'vanished'.

We have no idea whether the Coronavirus will burn itself out in a similar way or whether we will have to live with it for the rest of human history but the economic implications of trying to protect ourselves from it permanently are so catastrophic that I suspect all governments will gradually move to the 'let's hope' model over time because they have little other option.

June 10, 2020 at 8:35 AM

Average Non-Covid deaths/day in the US: Just under 8K
Average Covid deaths/day in the US: Just under 1K
Average Influenza deaths/day in the US: 161
Covid deaths on June 7th in the US: 373

June 10, 2020 at 9:47 AM

Hey Manny, same think happened to us in May, was supposed to go May 1st to May 9th. Had to cancel.

Now I have flight Credits with SW airlines. The Sheraton let us cancel even though it was a non refundable rate and they did not charge us.

Hoping for an October or December trip... October is a fantastic time to go, slow crowds, wonderful weather.

Again stay save and enjoy!!

June 10, 2020 at 10:11 AM

"October is a fantastic time to go, slow crowds,"

As someone who has almost exclusively visited Central Florida in October over the past 2 decades, the slow crowds are a thing of the past. Perhaps this fall will see smaller crowds out of necessity, but October has actually become one of the busiest times of the year after December, Spring Break, and early summer (late May through 4th of July).

June 10, 2020 at 10:40 AM

Hey Russ, I went a few times Around Columbus day and it was great and Slow..

The Halloween events get real busy at the End of October.... But yes it has been getting more difficult to find a slower time...

June 10, 2020 at 11:32 AM

Just a couple of recent findings, according to the CDC, touching surfaces is not a major cause of getting Covid 19. And the WHO reported that asymptomatic people spreading the virus is 'very rare', although it received some criticism for that opinion. Covid is certainly serious and precautions should be taken, but the changing medical opinion just shows that we don't know the final answer either way.

June 10, 2020 at 11:50 AM

@David Brown I agree that many governments will adopt the "let's hope" model. Not because there is no other choice. but because there is no desire to adopt creative solutions.

SARS 2003 didn't vanish on its own. It was effectively eradicated by implementing top-down draconian measures to halt all human-to-human transmission. Isolation worked with SARS 2003 because patients were the most infectious after they developed symptoms, making it easy to identify and isolate. Not so with SARS-CoV2. We are long past the point of any hopes of containment with SARS-CoV2.

June 10, 2020 at 12:17 PM

Honestly, the criticism regarding asymptomatic spread falls on the media that latched on to the comment to discredit the WHO. I don't have a lot of faith in the WHO frankly because of they way they're funded and organized, but the media completely dropped the ball in failing to grasp and understand the WHO's statement, which is frankly just common sense. If you're asymptomatic, then you are not producing particles that ultimately spread the virus. Therefore, the risk of a truly asymptomatic person spreading COVID-19 is next to impossible since their body is not producing virus particles that can be atomized and dispersed into the atmosphere. Instead of reporting this common sense fact, the media went on a rampage by misinterpreting what asymptomatic truly means, and cited hundreds of "experts" to refute the WHO's statement. In the end, the WHO had produced an accurate statement that the media blew out of proportion as some radical position, and interpreted its meaning all wrong. The WHO then had to issue a clarification to correct the media's misunderstanding.

This is what happens when you've got thousands of journalists (and wanna-be journalists in the Twittersphere) that don't do science or medical reporting and have nothing else to write about. The fact of the matter is that if someone is a truly asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus, they are not going to spread it. The problem is that many of the symptoms are so mild that people may actually have COVID-19 and dismiss those symptoms as something else (allergies, cold, flu, etc...), and are instead spreading the virus to the masses because the mucus and other immune responses to the coronavirus are carrying the virus in its particles and becoming airborne.

@Brain - The end of October is definitely busy, but the beginning and middle of October have gotten increasingly busy over the years. After the Great Recession, we never saw lines longer than 30 minutes for even the most in-demand attractions. However, on our most recent fall visit in October 2017, the headliners had standby waits that never fell below 45 minutes. FP+ may have a little to do with it, but we've definitely seen an increase in crowd levels over the years during the month of October that has been observed by others as well. Now, if you want "slow", visit between MLK Weekend and President's Day Weekend. That's when we last visited WDW earlier this year, and while it wasn't "dead", the crowd levels were significantly lower than they were during our last fall visit.

June 10, 2020 at 1:38 PM

Hello Russell, I'm sorry but I have to disagree with the statement "If you're asymptomatic, then you are not producing particles that ultimately spread the virus.". Being asymptomatic means that you don't show any symptoms of a disease even though you have it. The best example of asymptomatic transmission is Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary, who infected many people with Typhiod Fever although she herself never contracted the disease.

It is possible to get the infection from someone even if they never shows symptoms of having the disease which is why distancing and masks are helpful but not a guarantee of safety.

June 10, 2020 at 1:56 PM

But see Vaughn, that's exactly why people latched onto the WHO's statement and turned it against them. The WHO used studies and known exposure pathways to evaluate the risk of an asymptomatic person spreading the coronavirus. Based on currently available data, this virus spreads almost exclusively through suspended particles exhaled from a person that is having an immune response to the virus (creating mucus, phlegm, and other bodily fluids to combat the contagion). Those fluids are what carry virus particles beyond the body, and would only exist in those exhibiting symptoms. Typhoid Fever is transmitted through direct contact and ingestion of contaminated food and water, which is how Typhoid Mary ended up spreading the infection as a cook.

There is little evidence to support transmission of coronavirus through surface contact (even when the viral load on a surface is unusually high and touched immediately after deposition) or through food and drink. From all accounts, this virus spreads predominantly through suspended particles in the air from exhalation of viral liquids from the nose and mouth. Without those liquids to suspend the virus (not present in asymptomatic carriers), there is no pathway for the virus to spread.

June 10, 2020 at 4:29 PM

Russell, correct I hadn't considered that contact transmission for covid-19 is remote. I am making the assumption that as it is a virus that even though you haven't shown symptoms you would still have the virus and as such could pass it along. Now we must stop as to much reasoned, best I can do anyway, may upset the current balance and cause a breach in the space-time fabric with horrific results.

June 10, 2020 at 11:38 PM

Russell--first. You like how the WHO is funded? Up until 20 days ago it was funded mostly by US, but controlled by China anyway. Now that the pres has decided to fund an new world health org (the new WHO), the old WHO funding is dominated by Communist china. You like that, really?
2. If you are blaming the media on what asystematic is. Consider Dr burks and Dr Fauci have been describing the term as people who did not know they were sick spreading the virus. They have been describing it that way since the beginning of march. Is sounds like you think they have been irresponsible in that description as well? I have watched the briefings live. they described it that way many times.

I would ask you more questions about your interesting comment. But a brand new totalitarian country that has it's own self declared sovernity has been declared as of around five pm pacific time in a decent portion of seattle. It's been established by Antifa and blm. they want absolutely no cops and racially segregated hospitals and schools. So. It sounds super cool, super diverse, super tolerant. Everything that much of the same media and the demo party has been lecturing us we need to be much more like blm. Super Awesome.

Don't believe me? Tune into any reliable news source that keeps up on breaking news. It's real it's happening.

And. Since it's not so far away from Disneyland and Magic mountain. There is a realistic chance it could delay those opening plans we were all excited to just get.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Shop Discounted Tickets

Theme Park Guides

Get Our Newsletter