Will the omicron outbreak force the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks to close again?
People who follow theme parks closely - such as regular Theme Park Insider readers - knew the answer to that question before they finished reading it. But Disney's theme parks became the market leaders because they attract millions of visitors who don't keep in daily contact with the parks. When they read stories saying that Hong Kong Disneyland is closing, it's understandable that some of them might wonder if the US parks could be next.
After all, Covid infection rates are soaring across the country, especially in Florida. I've already been asked by infrequent readers what I think about the potential for a closure, so I suspect that many other people out there might be wondering the same.
First, there is zero chance that the Walt Disney World theme parks will be closing anytime soon. A hurricane striking central Florida this summer is probably the next realistic opportunity to force an unscheduled closure at those parks. The Walt Disney World Resort has enforced, and likely will continue to enforce, stronger Covid protocols than required in Florida, but Disney will not close voluntarily unless cancelations and call-outs leave it no other option.
Even in California, which has been much more aggressive at fighting Covid (with a much lower death rate, as a result), there's almost no chance that we will see a return to the lockdown that kept Disneyland closed for 13 months. Even if rising hospitalization levels fill available ICU beds, California likely will target additional restrictions on unvaccinated persons rather than a general lockdown.
Universal Studios Hollywood has been requiring proof of vaccination under Los Angeles County rules. But Disneyland's Orange County has not been requiring theme parks to do that. And so far the state has not stepped in to demand that.
So does that mean you are completely in the clear if you are thinking about a Disney trip? Not so fast.
Even if the parks remain open, you still have to get there. And flying anywhere in the United States feels like a crapshoot right now. The Magic Kingdom being open does you no good if you are stranded in an airport up north. Driving means watching the weather to help make sure you're not stuck on the road like all those people were in Virginia earlier this week.
Along the way and in the parks, no one should expect fully-staffed accommodations, stores, and restaurants. If you do encounter fast and attentive service these days, lucky for you. But you are better off expecting the delays that come with short staffs, as call-outs limit the number of employees available to work. Disney tends to do better on this than many other employers, but again, it's not like you can teleport straight from your living room into Disney. (I know, we wish.)
As always, things can change. So the most important things to have with you if you are thinking about going anywhere anytime soon are (1) vaccinations, including boosters, for you and everyone in your family, (2) a supply of N95, KN95, or KF94 masks which you will wear properly over your nose and mouth indoors and outside in close crowds or where instructed, and (3) an immense amount of patience for the workers who are trying to take care of all their customers.
Yes, Walt Disney World and Disneyland remain open for guests. But it's as important as ever that guests do all they can to help make - and save - the magic for everyone while visiting.
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