Disney taps Star Wars stormtroopers for coronavirus social distancing enforcement06/02/2020
Disney World proposes phased reopening starting July 11
FOX Business’ Kristina Partsinevelos says Disney plans to reopen its Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios theme parks on July 11 and July 15 with various preventative measures put in place.
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Walt Disney World has tapped some well known Star Wars characters to help enforce social distancing at its parks in an effort to keep visitors safe as it begins to reopen after being closed due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The franchise's iconic stormtroopers, patrolling from a balcony at a shopping complex within Disney Springs, have been monitoring the safety of guests at the high-end outdoor shopping area while providing a bit of comedic relief.
The soldiers are part of Disney's “dedicated team of highly energetic and informative cast members who are committed to engaging and inspiring our guests to follow the appropriate guidelines," Disney’s senior vice president of operations, Jim McPhee previously said.
The themed entertainment complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, comprised of restaurants, movie theaters, a bowling alley and a Cirque du Soleil theater, reopened its gates under modified operations on May 20, ending months of inactivity created by the pandemic.
HERE'S THE TEAM LEADING DISNEY THROUGH THE POST-CORONAVIRUS WORLD
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Although Disney gave the park the green light to reopen some restaurants and shops at the complex, guests are still required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks and maintain a safe distance from others.
Video from Attractions Magazine shows the armored Imperial soldiers reminding guests to "keep moving" and to stay in their "sector."
DISNEYLAND GIVES GLIMPSE INTO ITS POST-CORONAVIRUS REOPENING PLANS
In between their safety instructions, the soldiers can be heard lightening the mood by engaging in witty banter.
"Make them look, show them who is in charge," one soldier can be heard saying. "Like this. 'Hey, some nice face coverings down there. Probably nicer than these helmets.'"
"They all have face coverings," the other soldier said, while a crowd below laughs.
DISNEY SPRINGS ADDS CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL DISTANCING TEAM TO PROTECT GUESTS, CAST MEMBERS
"Well, I made them all look," the soldier responded.
"And now they know who is in charge," the other said.
The company's "social distancing squads" have been highly popular among visitors, McPhee said.
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Disney Springs was one of many of Orlando’s theme park resorts — a major part of Florida's tourism industry – that have been shuttered since mid-March when the spread of the virus forced them to shut their gates.
While Florida navigates its phased reopening, theme park operators have been working around the clock to revive their stifled businesses, which includes bringing back furloughed employees.
Over the next few weeks, and depending on approval by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Six Flags Entertainment Corp., Comcast Corp.'s Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. are planning to phase in operations.
Meanwhile, Disney is eyeing a tiered reopening, with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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