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Disney’s park manager feels “really good” when Disney World resumes

With Minnie and Mickey, Josh D’Amaro beckons to the guests gathered on Main Street USA, in the Magic Kingdom in the final minutes before the park closed, Sunday night, March 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World announced that all of their Florida parks will be closed for the rest of March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Orlando Sentinel

Going up Main Street to Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida may look a little different after the coronary virus pandemic, but it doesn̵

7;t seem to dampen the spirit of Disney’s cast members or its most avid fans.

On Saturday, Disney began its phased reopening of its Florida theme parks amid a record number of new Covid-19 cases in the state. The company is aware that all eyes are on it this weekend, but its leadership has expressed confidence in its increased security measures and changed operations.

“There’s a lot of trust here, from both our cast members and our guests, and we have a responsibility to deliver that trust,” said Josh D’Amaro, president of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment.

While D’Amaro refused to provide specific ticket numbers, he noted that guests make reservations to visit Disney’s parks and resorts as far as 2021.

“People love Disney, they love the experience here,” he said. “They understand that the world is different, they look at us putting together these big plans and we see them book in the short term and long term.”

D’Amaro was officially appointed chairman in May, about four months after Bob Chapek left his position to replace Bob Iger as CEO. He took the helm of Disney’s parks, resorts, cruises, adventures and consumer products just over three months after the company was forced to shut down all of its theme parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting such a massive part of Disney’s business is no easy feat. The segment as a whole accounted for 37% of the company’s total revenue of $ 69.6 billion last year. While rival parks Universal Studios and SeaWorld reopened their gates in early June, Disney postponed its opening to mid-July to bring back its huge number of employees and retrain them in their new security procedures.

As Disney has been preparing to reopen its parks, D’Amaro has spent the past week interacting with cast members and guests during soft opening events in their Florida parks. He said the cast members are comfortable with Disney’s new security measures, which include a mandatory mask policy and temperature controls, and that guests have “cooperated” with the parks’ new rules.

At Disney Springs, which reopened in late May, “all guests wear their face masks and everyone understands their shared responsibilities,” D’Amaro said.

Disney has hired specific cast members to look for guests who “may have had a slight slip” and did not replace their mask after eating or drinking, D’Amaro said. Because of all the signage and communication from the company about expectations and rules, he does not expect that there will be too many events.

Disneyland, California, is still awaiting guidelines from government officials before announcing its new opening date, but guests can expect a similar set of security measures in Anaheim, D’Amaro said.

In addition, the construction of the Avengers Campus, a new land that was scheduled to open in July this year, will “definitely move forward” and “look fantastic,” he said. D’Amaro did not provide any specific timeline for when the new Marvel-themed land would open to the public.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in Florida will open to the public again and will be followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. Disneyland Paris is also scheduled for resumption on July 15.

“We feel really good about everything in place,” D’Amaro said.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.

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