Disney Makes Changes Amid the Challenges of the Pandemic

By Day’Jah Williams, Staff Writer-

A Peek Behind the Curtain showed the new Disney and what has changed as a result of the current pandemic.

The third part of the series, Keep the Magic Going, helped explain Disney’s past, present, and future, including precautions that have been taken because of Covid-19.

Jeff Hickman, the manager of the Disney College and International Recruitment, spoke to students about his experience with the company.

Hickman has been with The Walt Disney Company for 21 years and first began his career working in Disney stores. He eventually worked his way up to the position he now holds.

“Even going through college I knew I wanted to work for Disney,” Hickman said. “I didn’t know exactly how but I knew that was exactly what I was going to do when I graduate.”

Hickman began his presentation by sharing the common goal for all Disney staff, employees, and volunteers.

“No matter what you do, at the end of the day your goal is … creating happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere,” Hickman said.

Hickman explained they know people from everywhere of any age and background come to Disney to escape from reality and enjoy themselves.

Disney has followed four basic rules, or “keys,” for decades that include safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency.

The company is planning to add a fifth key, inclusion, to the pre-existing four.

Hickman shared Disney had to close its property in phases at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It took about three weeks to get four theme parks, two water parks, 20+ hotels, Disney Springs, Wide World of Sports complex … just completely shut down,” Hickman said.

With news plans for safety set in place, Disney started to reopen in phases. As a safety precaution, Disney has been limiting guests’ capacity levels.

“The max capacity we are allowing into our four theme parks is 35 percent of what would be our 100 percent maximum,” Hickman said. “If you want to come to a Disney park now, not only do you have to buy your ticket but then you also have to use the app or the website and book a park reservation.”

Disney made the change to ensure social distancing measures and help the guests feel safe.

Reservations help the staff know how many guests are in the parks in real-time, what future bookings look like, and help keep measures for guest safety. They also have implemented strict policies such as requiring facial coverings for all attendees.

Parking announcements, stricter cleaning procedures, and housekeeping services have all been updated to adhere to the safety guidelines concerning Covid-19 and to make the guests feel more comfortable.

For cast members, they have distributed thermometers, face masks, and hand sanitizers. Other items such as local emergency lines and free Covid-19 testing locations have been set up for employees to utilize.

For guests, all registers have plexiglass dividers, every other parking spot is utilized, and temperatures are taken at the entrance.

If the guests have a temperature, they are asked to step away for a cool-down minute and they are checked again. If they still have a temperature, they are not permitted into the park. Guest safety is of the utmost importance to the Disney Company.

“It always comes back to the people, and that’s who really drives the experience at Walt Disney World,” Hickman said.

More A Peek Behind the Curtain event information can be found here. The next event, Public Health during Covid-19, will be held on March 23.

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