‘If I’m Going to Get Sick and Die, I Might as Well Do It at Disney World’

Guests posed with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, hugged Tiana and other princesses and stood in long lines for Space Mountain and the Prince Charming carousel.

The dispensers were available at park and resort entrances, at food stalls and near most bathrooms. One employee at a food station said he had been urged to make disinfecting wipes more visible so guests could use them if they wanted to. When asked, employees were able to point to where people might find hand sanitizer or bathrooms to wash their hands in an area of the park where dispensers seemed to be scarce.

“We have added additional hand sanitizers throughout the park, increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in high guest contact areas, and are providing information about good hygiene practices and illness prevention to our guests and cast members,” said a Disney spokeswoman, adding that the company is closely following C.D.C. recommendations.

But for many parents at the park on Friday, an additional factor for continuing to travel to Disney is that there have been few reports of children getting the coronavirus. In China, 2.4 percent of reported cases were children, according to the World Health Organization, and no deaths of children were reported by China.

Aimee and Charlie Cotherman, of Oil City, Pa., said that ahead of their trip to Orlando last week, they were worried about the coronavirus, but decided to still visit with their children, ages 8, 6 and 3, as well as their two-month-old baby, because “percentages are in our favor,” Mr. Cotherman said, referring to the low number of children infected.

“We were worried about coronavirus as we saw things closing down and hoped we could still get our trip in,” Ms. Cotherman said, adding that her family was washing their hands and using hand sanitizer regularly.

Corey Higgins, a mother of two who was at the park with her husband and children for the third time in her life, said she noticed additional hand sanitizer around the park and felt like she saw more people cleaning around the park.

“Me and my husband have been monitoring things, but didn’t feel like we needed to cancel our plans,” she said. “We have wipes, we have hand sanitizer, we aren’t elderly and honestly, if you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it. If I’m going to get sick and die, I might as well do it at Disney World.”

Other theme parks

At Universal Studios, the path from the parking lot to the security check point had a number of hand sanitizer dispensers that people paused to use while walking in and out of the park. At security, guests had to put their belongings into security bins and have their finger scanned on a touch screen pad, like at the Magic Kingdom, but many said this didn’t bother them because hand sanitizer was nearby. Lines to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter were long, with people dressed in costume.

“We are reviewing and enhancing our already aggressive cleaning protocols,” Alyson Lundell, senior director for public relations at Universal Orlando Resort, said in an email. “And for the comfort and convenience of our guests, we are increasing the number of hand sanitizer units in our parks.”

On social media groups frequented by people planning Disney vacations, anxiety seemed to rise as some questioned whether to visit the parks and others speculated about whether Disney’s American parks would follow in the path of Disney’s Hong Kong and Shanghai parks, which closed in February.

“I had to leave the Facebook groups,” Ms. Higgins said. “Between people panicking there and the news making this scarier than it really is, I just had to get out.”

Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., about 30 miles from Los Angeles, has been tied to various outbreaks of measles in recent years, and one outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, but those issues have appeared to not affect visitation. The current closure was only the fourth unscheduled shutdown in the park’s history.

Disney World has only previously closed during hurricanes and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dave Shilby, who was at Disney World with his 11-year-old granddaughter, Ireland Wilford, said they came from Jacksonville for the day, and were washing their hands regularly, but didn’t want to stop living their lives.

“I don’t want to ever think about living my life in fear,” he said. “If you live in absolute fear, you’ll be worried all your life. When it’s your time to die you could be lying in bed, on a plane or in a park, and you’ll go.”

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