Local businesses rejoice as Disney World reopens

The welcome sign at Disney World. Photo courtesy Disney World

LAKE BUENA VISTA — After being shuttered for nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the magical amusement park Disney World has recently fully reopened with new safety protocols in place.

The reopening took place during the same week that Florida set the United States’ coronavirus record for the most new cases in a day, leaving some to ask if Disney World reopening was a good idea, and will it bring surrounding businesses the traffic they desperately need?

Bianca Rosario, manager at the solar-powered McDonald’s located on Disney property, has had a bit of experience since Disney partially reopened on Saturday — and fully reopened Wednesday.

We’ve been super busy since Disney reopened, but not as busy as we expected because it’s drive-through only right now and we are not able to serve a full menu,” Rosario said. “Most people will visit the restaurant because it’s new and we have high technology equipment here, like riding bicycles to charge your phone.”

However, some businesses have been in the Disney area for years and they have experienced the same business flow this week.

Even though Disney World has several dessert shops, most visitors in Central Florida will go to Twistee Treat, an ice cream parlor that has been located near the Disney property for years. Business at Twistee Treat has dramatically increased since Saturday.

Gaby Tovar, who has been working with the company for a few years, wasn’t surprised by the increase in sales.

“Practically we were the only place open still during the pandemic, so when Disney World closed, our sales never dropped. Families would come through the drive-through and we would have extremely long lines to a point where it would wrap around the plaza and on the street,” Tovar said. “But, since the theme park has fully reopened, we did hit our all-time sales record.”

Tovar is acutely aware of the spike in cases in Florida and what that could possibly mean for her job.

“I can’t really speak for all Twistee Treat locations because ours is family owned, but with the increase of cases so far we haven’t discussed any plans. But our location has increased mask-wearing and cleanliness,” Tovar said.

Disney World has undergone some noticeably changes upon reopening. There have been sanitation centers put up around each park. As for employees, they have been issued face masks, thermometers, COVID-19 training and will also have no disciplinary actions toward their attendance; guests must wear face masks and take their temperatures upon entering.

Diego Henry, a Disney World employee, has recalled the reopening in a release.

“If I felt like going to work would jeopardize my health, I wouldn’t have done it. I’ve had to tell a few people, to make sure that their mask is covering their mouth and nose,” Henry said. “But I give Disney a round of applause. I feel safer at work than I do at the grocery store, where people don’t wear masks.”