Walt Disney World workers want theme park to delay reopening after Disneyland does the same

The Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort is set to reopen July 11. (Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort is set to reopen July 11. (Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A day after Disneyland delayed its planned July 17 reopening due to the coronavirus, the Actors’ Equity Association union that represents some cast members wants its Florida counterpart, Walt Disney World, to halt plans to open even earlier.

Walt Disney World theme parks the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are scheduled to reopen on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

The company has announced that it will require guests to reserve their spots at the park in advance, wear face masks while they’re there and take many other precautions, in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its own team of health and safety experts.

However, the union wants more testing and fewer COVID-19 cases in Florida before employees return to work.

Video: Disney World actors union wants reopening delayed

“If Disneyland has postponed, it is unclear how Walt Disney World can responsibly move toward reopening when coronavirus cases are much worse in Florida,” Mary McColl, the executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. “For weeks, we have made it clear to Disney that testing is a fundamental part of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone, from the guests to the cast. It is deeply disturbing that while coronavirus cases in Florida surge, Disney is refusing to provide regular testing to one of the few groups of workers in the park who by the very nature of their jobs, cannot use personal protective equipment. Now is the time for Disney to pause, focus on the science and put the safety of their actors and stage managers first by making regular testing available.”

Disney did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.

The union represents about 750 Walt Disney World performers, but its members aren’t the only ones who want more time. According to CNBC, more than 7,000 people had signed a MoveOn.org petition asking officials from Disney and the government to reconsider the reopening date.

Florida, the home of Disney’s Orlando resort, is one of the states currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Disneyland announced Wednesday that it won’t reopen when expected because of California regulations: “The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials. Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date.”

The statement noted that the company is still negotiating agreements with unions.

“We have had positive discussions and are very pleased to have signed agreements from 20 union affiliates, including the Master Services Council, which represents more than 11,000 of our cast members,” the Disneyland statement said, in part. “The signed agreement details plans that include enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen, and get thousands of our cast members back to work.”

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