We’ve come to the end of Walt Disney World’s historic closure, and wow, what a roller coaster ride it’s been (and we’re not talking the fun kind).
Disney World’s theme parks have reopened after a 4-month closure with some significant changes, but many people are relieved to see any semblance of normalcy return, even if the parks look a little bit different than we remember. And yet, we’re wary. Could a closure like this happen again? As much as we’d like to say no, it’s a little more complicated than that. Take a look.
Disney will have more protocols in place for health crises, but that doesn’t mean they definitely won’t close.
Part of the reason the current closure has been so lengthy (more than 100 days!) is due to the fact that the current global health crisis is completely unprecedented. Disney has had to build protocols for the closure and reopening from the ground up. The last time a health crisis was this severe — during the the 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu — the parks didn’t even exist. (Walt Disney was just 17 at the time and actually contracted and survived the virus.)
Once we emerge from this current closure, it does mean that we may be better prepared in the future. If there is a next time, the company can use what they learned during this crisis to help craft the response to the next one. Depending on the nature of the next health crisis, this could help to shorten a closure or potentially avoid one altogether.
Unfortunately, “the next crisis” is something we do have to worry about, according to Time. This won’t necessarily be the last pandemic in our lifetime. Part of what makes a virus turn into a pandemic is a lack of sufficient treatment or cure. If a future illness can spread effectively despite the health measures that Disney has implemented, it could force another closure as the world contends with it.
In fact, even the path of the current pandemic is uncertain. With case numbers on the rise, especially in Florida, another set of closures and restrictions is not impossible. We have already seen Disneyland’s proposed theme park reopening delayed. The fate of Disney World’s eventual reopening comes down to both governmental guidelines and whether or not Disney can effectively keep guests and cast members safe given the current state of the pandemic.
Health crises aren’t the only situation we need to worry about.
Although this closure has been the longest by far, Disney World has closed before for other reasons. It’s possible we’ll see the parks close again for a non-health-related situation. For instance, Disney World closed in response to the terror attacks on 9/11 because of concern that the parks could be a target. If there is ever such a threat to guest safety, Disney World will not remain open.
Mother Nature poses another threat to Disney World’s ability to stay open. Hurricanes are a pretty regular cause for shutting Disney down. Even with a well-crafted hurricane policy, sometimes it’s safer if the parks close when a particularly inclement storm comes through, to ensure the safety of Cast Members and guests. In fact, Florida is facing an especially active hurricane season this year. It’s feasible that Disney will need to close if any of these storms threaten the area.
So, yes, Disney World might close down again — but they might be a little more prepared for crises in the future.
It can definitely feel frustrating that the parks could close again in the future, especially when this closure has been so trying. It is the reality though. Luckily, going forward, Disney will have options to turn to in the event of a similar crisis. The current situation means that new health measures and long-term closure protocols are now a part of the precedent: Disney now has a playbook.
In fact, it’s possible Disney already has teams working on what-if scenarios in the event that this ever happens again! As disappointing as they may be, closures can be necessary to keep guests and cast members safe. Whatever happens, Disney Food Blog will be here to keep you up to date on all the latest at Disney World.
Do you think the Disney parks could close again? Tell us in the comments!