OC Capacity & Reopening Guide for Theme Parks, Hotels & Dining

Orange County, Florida’s Economic Recovery Task Force met via conference call to discuss guidelines and mandates for a phased reopening of Universal, Walt Disney World, and other theme parks, plus hotels, restaurants, and bars. In this post, we’ll offer a rundown of the plans covered during the roughly 90-minute meeting.

Before delving into the guidelines and mandates, it’s important to underscore that these are preliminary plans from this task force. Disney and Universal both have members on the group and play an active role in the conservation, but this is not coming directly from them.

Moreover, this is being done at the county level, is subject to change, and could be superseded by state or federal mandates, so grant it appropriate weight. With that said, Orange County and Orlando leaders are working within the parameters and phases set by the federal government’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and intend for this to be the county’s rubric for reopening…

During the call, the task force further stated that their hope is that once Florida’s statewide stay at home order expires at the end of the month, Governor Ron DeSantis will grant local governments the discretion to reopen communities and the businesses therein as appropriate based upon the circumstances. For instance, Miami might need or want to take a different approach than Orlando.

The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force’s goal is to have these guidelines finalized by this Friday (May 1, 2020). The goal is to cement plans, and then allow businesses about one week to 10 days to prepare and acquire personal protective equipment as necessary, before the process of reopening is set into motion.

In his remarks towards the end of the call, Mayor Jerry Demings struck a more cautious tone and felt a longer timeline was likely necessary. He stated that while some businesses might be able to get back up and running within a couple of weeks, but felt mid-May was too ambitious. Demings indicated that June 1, 2020 was more realistic from safety, consumer comfort/confidence, and supply chain perspectives.

Thomas Mazloum, Senior Vice President of Resort & Transportation Operations is Walt Disney World’s representative on the group. Mazloum spoke briefly on the call and made a few recommendations with regard to the hospitality industry.

One was to make ensure all finalized guidelines did not contradict with national and state associations that had already created such guidelines. Another of Disney’s recommendations was to set parameters based upon heath guidelines and safety standards that companies could adapt to as appropriate, rather than rigid rules for specific business types.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the guidelines and mandates for hotels and restaurants. Note that these apply to all Orange County businesses, and are not specific to those within theme park complexes…

Hotels

  • Guidelines:
    • Phase 1: Housekeeping services to be limited, allowing for minimal guest and employee exposure
    • Phase 1: Promote mobile check-in, if available
    • Phase 1: Housekeeping services only clean upon request, or when guests depart
    • Phase 1: Allow employees to work from home if not playing a critical role in serving guests
    • Phase 1: Only deliver room service to the guest room doors
    • Phase 1: Provide self-parking
    • Promote social distancing for all guests and staff
    • Touch-less sanitizer at entry recommended
    • Increase cleaning services and additional sanitation services through cleaning companies
    • Phases 1 & 2: Staff who are 65 years and older are encourage to stay home
  • Mandates:
    • All employees are required to wear face masks
    • Hand sanitizer at entry to be in plain sight
    • All employees with flu-like symptoms advised to stay home
    • Front desk staff to sanitize themselves on a regular basis
    • Consistent cleaning of all guest areas
    • Front desk to utilize sneeze-guards
    • Remove all service items in guest rooms, including glassware, coffee cups, etc.
    • Mini bars not to be stocked
    • Do no offer self service foods
    • Space pool furniture according to distancing guidelines
    • Pool gates and pool chairs to be sanitized regularly
    • Door handles, elevator buttons, and railings to be sanitized regularly
    • Remove all coffee makers from guest rooms
    • Remove all guest collateral items, except those that are single use
    • Sanitize guest keys before and after each use
    • Sanitize bell carts after each use
    • Phases 1 & 2: No conferences or conventions

Restaurants

  • Guidelines:
    • Paper/disposable menus
    • Encourage takeout/online orders
    • Touch-less sanitizer at entry
    • Phases 1 & 2: Staff who are 65+ are encouraged to stay home
  • Mandates:
    • Hand sanitizer at every table
    • Hand sanitizer at entry to be in plain visible sight
    • All employees required to wear face masks
    • Temperature checks for staff prior to shift (temp above 100.4 must not enter premises)
    • All employees with flu-like symptoms advised to stay home
    • Doors to be wiped regularly
    • All staff behind counters must wear gloves (except for bartenders)
    • Bartenders to sanitize hands after making each drink order
    • Seated tables to be six feet apart
    • Phase 1: Limit restaurant and bar capacity to 50%
    • Phase 2: Limit restaurant and bar capacity to 75%

Finally, the guidelines and mandates for theme parks. The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force opted to differentiate between small and large operators, even though the guidelines and mandates are identical at this point. Here, smaller parks consist of Top Golf, Funspot, Andretti Go Karting, Icon, and Gatorland. Large parks are Walt Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld.

As is noted on the conference call, Walt Disney World and Universal will likely set additional guidelines above and beyond those established by the Task Force. These are not the final health protocol and safety policies for either. However, with leadership from both theme park operators serving on this group, the guidelines and mandates were undoubtedly shaped by both Disney and Universal.

Theme Parks (Small & Large)

  • Guidelines:
    • Tape marking of 6 feet apart in ride/attraction queues
    • Staff to regularly wipe down surfaces at random
    • Phases 1 and 2: Staff who are 65+ are encouraged to stay home
  • Mandates:
    • All employees required to wear face masks
    • Touch-less hand sanitizer at each ticketing entry and turnstiles
    • Touch-less hand sanitizer at each ride/attraction entry and exit
    • Temperature checks for staff prior to starting shifts (above 100.4 must not enter premises)
    • All employees with flu-like symptoms advised to stay home
    • Wipe down all railings and surfaces regularly
    • Phase 1: 50% capacity
    • Phase 2: 75% capacity

Other businesses were also discussed on the call, but we’re leaving those off because they’re not particularly relevant to Walt Disney World. If you’re interested in learning about the guidelines and mandates for beauty salons, fitness centers, movie theaters, and dentists, consider watching the full conference call. (Not recommended.)

We’ve been offering a lot of commentary lately about potential protocol for reopening Walt Disney World (see here and here), so we’ll refrain from rehashing all of that here as nothing here really contradicts or supplements those past discussions. Rather, this is the point where possible scenarios are beginning to coalesce into tangible plans–albeit tentative ones. It’s worth reiterating that while illuminating, nothing here is final. Things are slowly inching forward, and should have a pretty clear idea of what to expect by the end of this week as both Orange County and the State of Florida weigh in with final plans for reopening.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of these guidelines and mandates for the Orange County hospitality industry reopening? Do you expect Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort to go above and beyond what’s required here? Surprised by any of the mandates or guidelines? Think this is sufficient or insufficient? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


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