Covid19 and Travel to Disney World and Orlando: What we Know So Far.

Well folks, today we’re going to talk about the happy little subject of infectious viruses and the likelihood of catching one while you’re at Disney World. Who’s pumped for that, huh? Woohoo!

I’m just out here spreading the magic folks. It’s what I do

Before we start on this fun little journey, here’s my disclaimer to remind you guys that I am in no way an expert on this subject, but I’m just sharing with you what I’ve found in my own research from the people who are the experts to hopefully help you feel up to speed on things, and also maybe save you the time in researching yourself.

Also, this information was correct when written as of 03-10-20.

You’d have to be living under a rock to avoid hearing about the Coronavirus or Covid-19 that’s been spreading all over the world. Like all big news topics, the media is employing their usual tactics of fear-based headlines and selective reporting. However, there is certainly some legitimate cause for concern here, especially for those who have upcoming travel plans. 

Honestly, I go back and forth between “more hand washing and we’ll be fine” to “oh no people are dying maybe we should just all stay home”. First, let’s start with the facts of where we are at right now with regard to the virus in Central Florida and Disney’s official press releases on it.

Note: I’ll be including links to all of the sources of this information because sources are important people. Always make sure any news you read includes them or assume the information is unreliable. This goes for virus info as well as anything you read online. Okay, I’ll get off that soapbox or we’ll be here all day. 

Coronavirus in Orlando, Central Florida

Coronavirus and Travel to Disney World and Orlando: What we Know So Far.

There have been confirmed cases of Covid -19 in the state of Florida for a while now, but we hadn’t had any in our area until now. Sunday they had the first confirmed case of the virus in Central Florida. It was in Volusia County which is the Daytona Beach area, on the East coast about an hour from Orlando. 

As I’m writing this, there have been no confirmed cases in Orlando. But I think at this point we can say it’s just a matter of time. One of my favorite resources I wanted to share with you guys is this interactive map. It sites all the official cases, exactly where they are located and the numbers of people who still have an active virus, those that have recovered, and those that died.  When you look at the map for Florida in the image above, you can see Orlando is kind of surrounded. It seems that it’s not a question of if the virus will turn up in Orlando, but when. 

Walt Disney World Releases Official Statement on Coronavirus

Now, let’s talk about Disney’s official stand on this. First off, we know Disney is one of the most consumer conscientious companies around, and you know they are monitoring this situation incredibly closely. They started taking proactive actions some time ago, with more hand sanitizer stations added, and wiping down and sanitizing the fingerprint pads at the park entrances between each guest. 

The Walt Disney Company has released an official statement here, and it shows the actions they are taking as well as confirms they are using the guidelines coming from the CDC to ensure they are as prepared as possible. They conclude by saying  “We will continue to adjust our operations according to the recommendations of health authorities as the situation develops.”

Disney Cruise Lines Changes Cancelation Policy for Coronavirus

Disney Cruise Lines has also released a statement about the actions they are taking. No one who has recently traveled to infected areas is allowed to board, and they are fever screening all guests and crew before boarding.  They have also adjusted their cancelation policies for anyone that wants to cancel, allowing you to get 100 percent of your cruise price back to use on another cruise in the next year and even longer with international cruises. If you have a cruise planned, be sure and check out those details in the link above. 

International Disney Parks Update

As far as the international parks, the latest news shows a Castmember from Disneyland Paris has tested positive for the virus according to Fox news. He was a night worker who didn’t have any direct guest contact and has been quarantined along with anyone who worked with him. 

Shanghai Disneyland which has been closed for weeks has just said Monday they will begin reopening some areas of the resort, not the actual park, to kick off a “step of a phased reopening”. Every guest entering the resort will be required to go through temperature screening procedures and wear a face mask at all times. Find that full news article here. 

International Disney Parks Update

How Serious is Coronavirus Really?

So, what does all this mean? Well here’s where we get a little dicey, as there is much conflicting information. However, most health officials (who don’t have an invested interest in generating headlines) all agree that we do not need to panic. 

According to the Florida Department of Health, The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.” 

We always hear the reports of those that died, but rarely do we hear any context like the fact that they were older, or had existing health issues which could have affected their ability to fight off the virus. 

The Covid-19 virus is not the first Coronavirus outbreak we’ve had. Included in this virus family are the famed SARS (of the 2002 epidemic) and MERS (from 2012) viruses. SARS and MERS were more deadly than the Covid-19. But, the Covid-19 virus is much more contagious than those other two, so it’s spreading more rapidly and infecting more people. 

One good thing:  according to the CDC, infection among children has been relatively uncommon, and there is no indication that children are more at risk than adults. 

So here’s my personal conclusion of all that. Most healthy people will have minor cold symptoms and fully recover. A normal level of prevention needs to be used, including handwashing and limiting contact with your face when your hands aren’t clean. For most of us, the dangers of getting critically ill are very low and seem to be similar to the dangers we have when getting the regular seasonal flu.

Should You Cancel Your Disney World Trip for Coronavirus?

So should you change your travel plans? That’s got to be your decision. Obviously, traveling to any area highly infected by the virus wouldn’t be a smart move. But traveling to Orlando? That’s harder to say. As of now, you have the same chances of getting sick in Orlando as you probably do anywhere in the United States. It’s important to remember that the amount of those sick in the States is still very low.

However, if you fall into the category of those with higher risk then I would say differently.

Higher risk is those that are:

  • Over 60 years of age
  • Have existing medical problems like 
    high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes
  • Have a compromised respiratory system

It’s got to be your decision, but for me personally, as a healthy person, I don’t hesitate to visit the parks right now. I’m just being a lot more diligent about keeping my hands clean. However, if I, or someone I was traveling with, fell into those higher-risk categories, I’d be cautious about traveling anywhere right now. 

I’m also hesitant to travel on a cruise ship at the moment, given that their environment seems to be conducive to the spread of germs. Especially now that the government has released a statement cautioning against them. Disney is incredibly diligent with their germ prevention, and I’d trust them more than any other cruise line, but it seems that cruises are just a higher risk by their very nature. 

Here’s the link to the CDC’s information on travel warnings and risks. You can use this as a reference, as well as the Florida Department of Health website where they update any new cases. 

Many of you are facing a tough call on this, and none of us know what the next weeks and months will bring, but the best we can do is learn what we can and decide based on that. 

I hope this information was helpful! It helped me honestly, as I feel calmer and more prepared having learned what I can. 

Serena Lyn
Hi there, I'm Serena and I created Living by Disney when I moved next door to Disney World in Orlando Florida. I don't work for Disney and don't represent the company, but after moving here I made it my job to share unbiased tips and strategies to help you get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation!

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