The Most Magical Place on Earth might be open during a global pandemic, but at least its cast members now have a place nearby to see if it’s impacted them. Walt Disney World finally has a covid-19 testing center that can serve park employees and their families, following repeated demands from one of the park’s unions.
A Disney spokesperson told io9 that the company has temporarily provided land for a state-run facility for the Central Florida community, which cast members and their families can access. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the testing center will open at Disney’s main gate office complex in Kissimmee, Florida, near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Park employees can make appointments on Disney’s designated testing website and are issued swabs for self-administered tests that are supervised by medical professionals. (No explanation was given for why the employees has to do the test themselves.) Results are expected within three to five days, although it’s unclear whether nationwide delays in testing results could impact those timelines.
Walt Disney World’s Actors’ Equity union has been fighting for the covid-19 testing site, with hesitation from the corporation—something it also pushed back against at the company’s California location. The president of Workers United Local 50, which represents over 7,700 Disneyland restaurant workers, previously told io9 that one of Disney’s biggest sticking points was in-house testing. The company repeatedly refused to add on-site testing, instead, telling employees they could get tested on their own time.
“If you’re not testing, how are you going to identify who’s been exposed?” president Chris Duarte told io9 in June. “It’s missing a piece of the puzzle.”
“We have offered the location to help with community testing and any suggestion that this has been done as a result of any one union is unfounded,” Disney said in a statement. “The Florida Division of Emergency Management will operate the location which is available to cast members and their immediate families as well as Florida residents. Our actions support all cast and our community at large.”
The number of daily covid-19 cases in Florida has decreased since the statewide high in mid-July (which reached over 15,000), but it’s still not under control. Florida saw almost 8,000 positive test results on August 12. As of now, the state is sitting at over 550,000 cases and nearing 9,000 deaths because of the pandemic. It’s enough to make you wonder why Disney World continues to remain open, but it turns out the park hasn’t been immune to the public health crisis. The park recently scaled back its hours of operation due to smaller crowds, as the pandemic has affected tourism and international travel.
Disneyland is still closed because the state of California hasn’t issued its safety guidelines for theme parks to reopen. Considering the state is likewise facing an ongoing surge of novel coronavirus cases, it may be a while before those safety measures can be approved, let alone implemented.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Disney had opened the facility for its employees. In fact, while Disney loaned Florida its property temporarily, it’s a state-run facility. We regret the error.
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