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Disney World Draws Excitement and Incredulity as Reopening Nears

  • July 09, 2020

At least one Florida official, State Representative Anna V. Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, favors postponing Disney World’s reopening, however.

“Disney is definitely trying to create a safe environment,” she said. “But it does not make sense for any of these parks to be open right now.” Ms. Eskamani noted that Disney employees had anonymously created an online petition asking the company to keep its parks closed until infections subsided. The petition, created two weeks ago, had about 18,700 signatures on Tuesday.

Ms. Eskamani said the state’s “broken” unemployment system and a shortage of affordable housing in Orlando had left many concerned theme park workers with no choice but to go back to work. “Universal workers don’t even have unions for protection,” she said.

Universal declined to make an executive available for an interview.

Disney — with its theme parks closed, Marvel movies postponed and ESPN cable channel without live sports to televise — has seen its business more directly affected by the pandemic than much of corporate America. Michael Nathanson, a media analyst, estimates that Disney lost more than $1 billion between the beginning of April and the end of June. (Disney will release financial data for that period on Aug. 4.) To shore up its balance sheet, Disney furloughed about 100,000 workers, slashed executive salaries, suspended its investor dividend and lined up more than $13 billion in fresh credit.

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