Disney removed a promotional video it had posted on Twitter after the ad sparked controversy over the park's reopening amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak in Florida.
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened on Saturday with social distancing and other public health measures in place, including regular temperature checks, mandatory facial coverings and limitations on park capacities.
Reservations for July reportedly sold out quickly. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are set to reopen on Wednesday.
Throughout the weekend, Disney faced criticism on social media for its decision to reopen given Florida's recent coronavirus numbers. The state shattered the national record Sunday for the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any state since the beginning of the pandemic, adding more than 15,000 cases as its daily average death toll continued to also rise.
Close to 50% of all of Florida's cases have been reported in the last two weeks.
Disney posted a promotional video to its Twitter and Instagram accounts featuring cast members saying "welcome home" that received mixed reactions. On Twitter, several users manipulated the audio and re-posted the video set to horror movie soundtracks.
Disney promptly took down the Tweet containing the video, but left it up on Instagram.
“It's the chance to come back and be in the magic,” said Diane Watkins, a preschool teacher from Helena, Alabama, who visits the park about eight times a year. “Hot or not, mask or not, we’re just happy to be here. I feel like everybody here is in the same frame of mind. Everybody is just so excited to be here.”
Watkins said that when she and her 16-year-old daughter walked into the Magic Kingdom on Saturday morning, then saw all the cast members lined up and clapping on Main Street, she cried.
“It was very emotional,” she said.
All of Disney's Orlando parks closed in mid-March in an effort to stop the virus’s spread. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando closed around the same time but reopened several weeks ago after instituting similar rules to protect employees and customers from the virus.
Lori Lovell of Evansville, Indiana, strolled around Frontierland on Saturday morning with friends.
“I have missed coming here. It just feels really good to be back. This is where I’ve made so many memories. It’s kind of our second home. Not being able to come here was hard.”
Disney's new rules include mandatory masks and social distancing. Visitors will need reservations to enter a park, and they won't be allowed to hop between parks. Both visitors and employees will receive temperature checks when they enter. Fireworks shows and parades have been suspended to prevent drawing too many people together.
Park-goers say that nearly everyone in sight wore masks on Saturday morning. Capacity is nowhere near where it is under normal circumstances, they said.
“I’ve been here on spring breaks where you can barely walk around. The walkways are very wide open,” said Lovell.
There were lots of hand sanitizer stations around, and people were respecting the physical distancing cues and guidelines. Since the park is at lower capacity, there was only a five-minute wait for the popular Buzz Lightyear ride — normally it's about 90 minutes, Watkins said.
Some attractions and dining areas aren't yet open. Another change: visitors can't hug and greet the costumed Disney characters. Instead, the characters are in “cavalcades,” or motorcades, as they make their way through the park.
Disney has been opening its parks back up around the globe for the past two months. In May, the company opened Disney Springs, a complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in Lake Buena Vista.