Disney World reopens as coronavirus cases surge in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” has reopened after nearly four months with new rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are reopening Saturday, while Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow four days later.“It's the chance to come back and be in the magic,” said Diane Watkins, a preschool teacher from Helena, Alabama, who visits the park about eight times a year. “Hot or not, mask or not, we’re just happy to be here.

'Splash Mountain' ride at Walt Disney World, Disneyland to be re-themed

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 'Splash Mountain' attraction at Walt Disney World and Disneyland is being re-themed to 'The Princess and the Frog,' Disney announced on Thursday.On Disney Parks Blog, a Disney official said that the classic attraction will be completely reimagined and that this project has been underway since last year.The ride will reportedly be set in 1966 New Orleans and will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure, featuring music from the film."Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important.

Walt Disney World presenting plans for reopening parks

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World is presenting its plans for reopening after being shuttered along with Florida's other theme parks since mid-March because of the new coronavirus.Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando will present their proposals for phased reopenings before an Orange County task force on Wednesday, said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

VP Mike Pence visits tourism-reliant Florida as Disney shops reopen

ORLANDO, Fla. — Vice President Mike Pence visited central Florida to meet with tourism officials Wednesday as the region’s biggest tourist destination — Walt Disney World — began reopening a shopping and entertainment complex.During his trip to Orlando, Pence was also scheduled to talk to the governor and drop off protective equipment at a nursing home as tourism, the state's biggest industry, continued taking steps toward reopening.Some third-party shops at the Disney Springs complex opened Wednesday with new requirements and restrictions.

Disney Springs reopening comes with a warning about risk

ORLANDO, Fla. — As Walt Disney World prepares to allow some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex later this week, it's posting a warning.While enhanced safety measures are being taken at Disney Springs, “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present," the company said Monday on a website for the entertainment complex.“COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death.

Disney shares Dole Whip recipe while theme parks remain closed

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While its theme parks remain closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney has started sharing the recipes for some of their most popular snacks.After Disney Parks officials recently posted the recipe for churros, many fans made another request: They wanted to know how to make the famous Dole Whip.The frozen pineapple treat can usually be found in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland.

It's a girl! Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomes baby porcupine

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Disney's Animal Kingdom has a new addition!In a news release, Disney officials said although the Walt Disney World is closed, it's animal care team is still working hard to make sure its animals are well taken care of.The new baby they're caring for is a prehensile-tailed porcupine.The news release said, "The baby, known as a porcupette, was born to mom, Peri, on Feb. 25.

'He suffered a lot:' California man who died from COVID-19 visited Disney World, Universal Studios

GLENDORA, Calif. -- A California man who died after testing positive for COVID-19 recently visited Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida, it was reported Thursday, March 19.In a Facebook post, family members of Jeffrey Ghazarian, 34, said he died Thursday morning at a Pasadena hospital after being hospitalized for several days, according to TMZ."He suffered a lot and put up a good fight," his sister stated, according to TMZ. "We will miss our Jeff every day, but we are thankful for all the fun, happy memories of the times we had together."According to his family, Ghazarian flew from Los Angeles to Orlando on March 2 for a work conference.

Disney characters say tourists inappropriately touched them

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World employees who portray Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck each filed police reports this month claiming they were inappropriately touched by tourists.The woman inside the Mickey Mouse costume went to the hospital with neck injuries caused by a grandmother patting the character's head, while the employees wearing the Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck costumes were groped by tourists, according to Orange County Sheriff's Office reports.The incidents come after a 51-year-old man was arrested in November after an employee portraying a Disney Princess told investigators he groped her breast while getting a photo taken.“Everyone should feel safe at work, and we encourage Cast Members to come forward in any uncomfortable situation,” said Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger in a statement. “We provide multiple resources to protect our Cast Members’ well-being, including on-site law enforcement officers who respond, and are available to them, if needed.”A 36-year-old woman who plays Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom told investigators a woman patted the head of her costume five times, causing it to slide down and strain her neck, the Orlando Sentinel reported.The employee told investigators she didn't believe the woman intentionally hurt her, and the sheriff’s office ruled the Dec. 4 incident a civil matter, not a criminal one.The tourist's family said they weren’t aware the employee had been taken to the hospital until they were contacted by the newspaper Thursday.Boone Scheer told the Sentinel his mother-in-law patted Mickey to prove to her nearly 2-year-old nervous grandson that he shouldn't be scared of the giant rodent.“She barely touched him,” said Scheer, adding his mother-in-law wouldn’t intentionally hurt Mickey Mouse. “It was very minimal.”The family was confused whether Disney has a no-touching rule for the costumed characters since they give high-fives and hugs to visitors, he said.Scheer said no one at the park said anything to them after until hours later when they tried to check into their Disney hotel.

Disney unveils Epcot transformation, new details about Star Wars hotel

Disney unveiled new details about its multi-year transformation of Epcot, its upcoming innovative Star Wars hotel, and several other attractions coming to its parks across the globe during a two-hour panel at the company's D23 Expo in Anaheim over the weekend.Details included updates on a Spider-Man ride coming to Disney California Adventure Park, a Moana attraction and an overhaul of the Epcot theme park in Florida.Here's a breakdown of the major announcements:A Starcruiser with fabulous views